TNT Diner

Good eats and drinks around Tacoma, Pierce County and South Puget Sound

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Archives: 2008


Toast New Years with tempting bubbles from Tempest

The Tempest Boom Boom Champagne Cocktail. Photo by me.

I stopped by Tempest Lounge last night to talk bubbly with Denise Tempest. For New Year’s Eve, Denise has all kinds of bubbles to sample – by the glass or in cocktail form. Denise’s champagne cocktails pair well with a story in today’s SoundLife section about making party cocktails using sparkling wine. Like the story we ran in SoundLife today, Denise has a French 75 on the menu. She also has an orange-vodka champagne cocktail she mixed up called the Tempest Boom Boom (see the pic above). Click the “read more” button for her Boom Boom recipe, and for a few other recipes for champagne/sparkling wine cocktails.

If you drop in at Tempest for New Year’s Eve, here’s something else of interest: A flight of three bubblies for $11. It comes with pours of Lady of Spain Cava (Spain), Lucient Albrecht Cremant Rose (France) and Jansz Premium Cuvee (Tasmania).

Happy New Year to all. Be safe.

Tempest Bar and Lounge
913 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma; 253-272-4904

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The Old Spaghetti Factory turns 40 and costs you $3

I dine at the Old Spaghetti Factory.

There, I’ve said it.

But only when my three screaming nieces come to visit.

One thing I’ve always appreciated about the Factory (beyond welcoming misbehaving children) are the prices. And now it’s getting cheaper.

The Portland-based chain is celebrating its 40th anniversary in January. On Jan. 6 dinner will cost you $3. And then prices get knocked down 40 percent on Mondays and Tuesdays for the rest of the month. Here are the details from the press release:

On Jan. 6 at dinner, a complete

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Reflecting on 2008: The good, the bad, the ugly

I was inspired by TNT Diner reader joelchang, who posted his good, bad and ugly list for 2008 on the You Plate Special thread.

Below is the start of my good, bad and ugly list. Click the “read more” button to see the rest of my list, plus joelchang’s list.

And now it’s your turn to post your good, bad and ugly lists. What makes your list? Comment here, or e-mail to and I’ll post them here.

My good list for 2008 (in no particular order):

1. Pupusas at El Pulgarcito in Tacoma. These warm, gooey treats are a bargain at $1.95 and are representative of the quality eats that come from the kitchen of Salvadoran restaurant El Pulgarcito. If you haven’t been to El Pulgarcito yet, get yourself there and try the queso (cheese) or calabazita (zucchini and cheese) pupusas.

2. The Big Al’s Combo at Lucky’s Hot Dog Diner in Puyallup. Brian Britton and family make a mean hot dog in their downtown Puyallup store. Get the Big Al’s, which is a casings-on snappy dog on a poppy seed bun and dressed in the mustard-onion-relish trifecta of hot dog perfection. It’s great walking around food. After you’re done there, walk up the street to Indulge Cupcakes for a red velvet wonder.

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Long-gone Italian restaurants – a reader with a question

This in the TNT Diner inbox this morning:


I’m a former resident of Tacoma, south end.  We used to go to two different Italian restaurants in that end of town, La Pergola in Spanaway, then South Tacoma, and Amerigo’s in University Place ….. I am looking for some kind of contact or any recipe info the TNT might have published.  We’re talking the 1950’s.

Thanks for your help.

Richard White

Unfortunately, a hand search of our microfiche library could take days or weeks and I’m on deadline for two stories and a project

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Drop-In Dining: Alt Heidelberg German Restaurant

Marliese Hall, co-owner of the Alt Heidelberg Restaurant in Fern Hill, serves Creig Sundstrom of Auburn a lunch of a reuben sandwich, half red cabbage and half sauerkraut, with a side of potato salad. Peter Haley/The News Tribune

EDITOR’S NOTE: Drop-In Dining is a restaurant dining report where reporters drop in unannounced and sample the food, on TNT’s dime, then report what the scene and the food was like. Have a suggestion for a Drop-In Dining feature? E-mail us at

Alt Heidelberg German Restaurant
Where: 8233 S. Park Ave., Tacoma, 253-472-1219
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Closed Mondays.
Price range: $ (Entrees up to $14)

By Sue Kidd

The scene: Alt Heidelberg German Restaurant is like eating in someone’s home. The restaurant is as big as a living room and looks like one too, with homey knickknacks and photographic nods to Germany. A stray printer sat on a dining room table on one visit (just like home!). A compact kitchen with open pantry shelving, laden with containers of bread crumbs and jars of apple sauce, looks like a kitchen that grandma would putter around in. Alt Heidelberg has four tables and room for about 20 diners. You best call ahead to see if there’s a table. It fills with just a few parties.

The food: German on steroids. Big portions, big menu, big German oomph. Alt Heidelberg serves food that’s classically comforting in a brats-and-beer-and-shnitzel kind of way. Judging from the visible action in the open kitchen, much of it is created from scratch.

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Around the Corner Cafe essay contest ends with no winner

Earlier this year, Kim Farnes and Carl Scanson, the husband and wife owners of Orting’s Around the Corner Café, hatched an essay contest to give away their café. They intended to hand over their business to someone else in order to spend more time with their daughter Kirsty, who will leave home soon and join the Air Force.

The idea was pretty novel: Those interested in winning the restaurant would send a $100 entry fee and write an essay about why they wanted to assume the café that Farnes and Scanson have operated for four years. The couple hoped to get more than 4,000 entries. They intended to use the money to pay off the loan on the building that houses their café, and also would offer the new restaurant operator six months free rent and a bargain on a lease to continue operating the business after that. (click the Read More button to see the story we ran in June about the contest.)

But, it just didn’t work out.

"We didn’t even get close. We got seven entries," said Farnes. "Had we done this last year, it would have been totally different," Farnes said. "People are too sketchy right now about taking on a business."

They closed the contest Dec. 1 and returned the $700 the contest entrants had sent. But Farnes didn’t want that to be the last of it.

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Opening of Ranch House BBQ Restaurant delayed

The opening of Olympia’s Ranch House BBQ Restaurant is the latest casualty of the winter storm dump. “We’re on complete hold,” said an exasperated co-owner Melanie Tapia when I talked to her on the phone a few minutes ago. She had hoped that the restaurant would reopen by Jan. 2 – just over a year after a mudslide closed the barbecue restaurant, located off of Highway 8 just outside Olympia in Thurston County.

But with heavy snow that has delayed construction and county inspections, Tapia thinks late January is a more realistic opening date.

It’s been a

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Drop-In Dining: Trackside Pizza

EDITOR’S NOTE: Drop-In Dining is a restaurant dining report where reporters drop in unannounced and sample the food, on TNT’s dime, then report what the scene and food was like. Have a suggestion for a drop-in dining feature? E-mail us at

Trackside Pizza
Where: 201 N. Meridian, Puyallup, 253-845-7437
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily,
Price range: $$ (entrees up to $ 30)

By Craig Hill

The scene:
Owner Shaun Brobak said he initially didn’t like the location next to the railroad tracks for his new pizza place. But, after examining it, he decided to embrace the location with a railroad theme. This means railroad signs on the wall, train names like “The B&O” and the “Puffing Billy” for the pizzas and, of course, Trackside Pizza for the name.

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