TNT Diner

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

NOTICE: TNT Diner has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved TNT Diner.
Visit the new section.

Archives: March 2009


Lunch on the cheap: Three buck Vietnamese sandwiches

A search for parking turned me on to a really cheap $3 lunch today. I was intending to eat at Vien Dong, home to tasty, inexpensive Vietnamese soup. I turned right off 38th, looking for parking and found a surprise – a second Cafe La Vie tucked into a refurbished house in a residential street. It’s an outpost of the other Cafe La Vie on 38th.

The second Cafe La Vie has been open for about seven months and, like its sister restaurant around the corner, the menu is micro focused on Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches and Vietnamese coffee. The second location, however, is far more clean and spacious than its original counterpart.

Read more »


Going organic: The Mark in Olympia gets state organic certification

Our sister paper The Olympian reported today about The Mark restaurant in Olympia receiving organic certification last month by the state Department of Agriculture. Read the story here. The Mark, a restaurant serving Spanish, Italian and Basque style rustic cuisine with a Northwest sensibility, is the only restaurant in the state currently certified by the program (another restaurant, Seattle’s Sterling Cafe, participated, but dropped out).

I spoke with restaurant owner Lisa Owen recently about the certification process. She said about 70 percent of what’s on her menu is organic, and she alerts diners of organic menu choices with

Read more »


Drop-In Dining: On the burger trail in South Sound

Twelve cheeseburgers in two weeks. It’s not anything I’d recommend to anyone who has any concern for their arteries, or who wants to live to be, say, 40.

But in a burger quest, it must be done.

The impending invasion of Sonic and Burgerville launched my burger mission. The Sonic Drive-In chain is scheduled to open its first South Sound location in late April on Puyallup’s South Hill. Burgerville, announced plans to come to the Tacoma market this year.

My assignment: test the pulse of our smaller, independently operated burger joints. I hit pavement and visited eight burger joints. I also detoured to three high-end restaurants with decadent interpretations of the classic American burger. Finally, I pointed the car eastward to mull a restaurant with a commanding view and 50 burgers on the menu.

Did I miss your favorite? Want me to write about it? Comment here or e-mail to

I might need some time to purge my arteries, but I’ll be back on the burger trail soon enough.

Pictured here: The El Gaucho burger. Photo by Peter Haley/The News Tribune

Read more »


Sea Grill closes this weekend

Sea Grill serves its last meal this weekend, most certainly disappointing news for Tacoma’s dining community. Sea Grill was one of the anchor restaurants in the revitalized Pacific Avenue restaurant row.

Here’s the announcement from Sea Grill’s owners:

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the closing of the Sea Grill. Sunday, March 29, 2009 will be the last day of operation.


We want to thank General Manager Mike Neumann, Executive Chef Matt Brandsey and Private Dining/Marketing Manager Whitney Young, along with the rest of the Sea Grill team for their endless devotion and countless hours of hard

Read more »


Nita’s Koffee Shop

Jeff Mayor ad I visited with Nita Bariekman for a while last week. She was great! You would never guess her age after visiting with her. She still get’s to her shop at 7:30 a.m. every weekday to make soups ad pies for the lunch crowd. I tried the lemon meringue pie and it was fantastic.

You can read Jeff’s story here and I have added the video to this post.



Read more »


Drop-in Dining: Veg feasting around Tacoma

Mongolian Grill chef John Kim will stir fry your choice of vegetables and tofu at the River Road restaurant in Puyallup. Photo by Janet Jensen/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 were like. Have a suggestion for a Drop-In Dining feature? E-mail us at

By Debbie Cafazzo

As a vegetarian, I know I can always make special requests when dining out. But I love it when I don’t have to.

There’s nothing that excites me more than when I open a menu and see a section tailored to vegetarians. And it’s an even bigger thrill when the vegetarian selections are creative and offer something more for the diner, instead of a meat-oriented dish with something subtracted.

Here, I write about three of my long-time favorite veg-friendly restaurants, and a couple of new discoveries.

Note to readers: Share your opinion here if you know of a great South Sound restaurant that caters to vegetarians or vegans. Jut comment here and share your experiences with other TNT Diner readers.

Read more »


Burger mania: where to eat?

A few weeks ago, A&E editor Craig Sailor assigned me a burger story for the GO section that will publish later this month. His directive: eat at 10 burger joints. Report back who has the juiciest burgers and tastiest fries.

So I trekked to Wally’s in Buckley, Friesenburgers by the Tacoma Dome, Mary’s Burger Bistro on Pacific and a few others. I don’t know if I’ll get to 10 by early next week, but I’m hoping to get to at least seven (clogged arteries and all).

Read more »