TNT Diner

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

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Archives: July 2009


Marlene’s salad bar offers fresh ideas

It seems like salad bars are hard to find anymore. They used to be in restaurants and grocery stores everywhere, then they seemed to fall out of favor.
So when I find one I haven’t tried before, I like to dig in deeply.
There’s plenty to dig at the salad bar at Marlene’s Market & Deli, near the Tacoma Mall. The bar contains 33 items, nearly half of them organic. There are seven salad dressings, all made from scratch.
And you won’t even feel guilty about packing your veggies home in a take-out container. The clamshell containers are made from compostable sugar cane.
We’d like to hear about your favorite salad bars for an upcoming News Tribune article. Where do you go when you’re craving fresh veggies?

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Tijuana Taco still cooking after 40 years

It was the summer of 1969. Men landed on the moon for the first time. Woodstock rocked.
And in Lakewood, a family restaurant was born.
Tijuana Taco opened as part of a multi-state chain, but the Lakewood location is the sole survivor, according to Kelli Van Scyoc-Gomez, daughter of Rocky and Sharon Van Scyoc, the original owners.
In August, the restaurant marks 40 years in business at the same location, off 100th Street near Lakewood Towne Center. There are celebrations and special prices all month.

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Frozen Custard: A frosty find in Bonney Lake

Frozen custard from Old School Custard, with add-ins of sprinkles and Butterfinger pieces

I started the week with pie, so it seems natural to end the week with ice cream. Actually, custard, not ice cream, if you’re keeping tabs. They’re both frozen desserts, but frozen custard is so, so, so much better, I hesitate to even call it ice cream.

TNT Diner reader VibeGuy posted about Old School Custard in Bonney Lake on the pie thread Monday, immediately making me crave a taste. It’s an independently owned and operated store right next to Jersey Mike’s, which I rated high for meaty subs in this article here.

I can see why VibeGuy is an enthusiastic fan of Old School. Frozen custard is the frosty princess of the ice cream universe

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More pie finds: Southern pie at B&B’s Barbeque

Sweet potato and pecan pie at B&B’s Barbeque.

I’m still in search of seasonal berry pies, but I did encounter decadent Southern style pie. I dropped in at B&B’s Barbeque for a slice each of sweet potato and pecan pie. And, no, I did not eat both slices by myself. I shared. Mostly.

The pies are a chewy, rich experience at B&B’s Barbeque, which is located inside Freighthouse Square (also home to Cookies Your Way, a dessert emporium for lovers of straight-out-of-the oven homemade cookies).

Sweet potato pie and pecan pie are the pie choices at B & B –

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5,000 calorie lunch? No problem

Our Adventure writers Craig Hill and Jeff Mayor penned a great travel food article about which restaurants in outdoor destination areas are good for loading up on calories before or after a strenuous outdoor adventure. Read the story right here.

When we were discussing the story, news editor John Henrikson asked at the news meeting if a hike from the car to Big Bubba’s Burgers counts as an outdoor adventure. My answer: yes. Just don’t think of the calories in a one-pound Big Bubba burger if you don’t go rowing beforehand….


Pie finds: Where do you eat yours?

Peanut butter pie at Dock Street Sandwich Co.

Why does it seem to be so difficult to find pie? I’ve found exactly two places in my recent dine-arounds that serve memorable, flaky crust, delicious pie – Dock Street Sandwich Company in Tacoma and Don’s Drive-In in Puyallup

But I’ve got my pie radar set to "locate pie now!" And my radar keeps blipping empty. With berry season here and farmers markets, roadside stands and grocery stores loaded with berries – this is the time of summer we all want to dig into pie. We make it at home, but why does it seem so few restaurant serve it up for dessert? Or am I missing the restaurants that have great homemade – not prefab – pies?

Tell me where to find pie, please.

I’ll share my pie finds with you, if you share yours. Take a look at these two pie finds:

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Chili Thai rises above the crowd

By Craig Sailor
The News Tribune

One can be forgiven for strip mall overload. There’s only so many nail salons, tanning joints and Teriyaki #1’s a person can take before the eyes glaze over. And yet to dismiss the ubiquitous Asian restaurant simply because of its location would be a disservice to some potentially good eating.

Chili Thai is a three-restaurant chain (University Place, Puyallup and Lacey) that doesn’t stray far from the tried and true Thai-American strip mall formula. But it’s in the preparation and presentation of the food that gives these restaurants a little edge over their competitors. Quality ingredients – well prepared and presented on elaborate dishes, often with fresh orchids – are the hallmark of this eatery.

The setting: The University Place Chili Thai location tries for a somewhat upscale ambience with dark walls and booths but stumbles with mismatched furniture. A loud (visually and audibly) refrigerator emblazoned with Coke logos in the middle of the dining room gives the eatery a frat house feel.

We started with the reliable standby of chicken satay ($7.95/top photo) and were rewarded with four generously sized chicken skewers. Accompanied by peanut sauce, a pickled carrot-cucumber-onion salad, toast points and a mound of shredded carrots, the coconut milk marinated chicken had satisfyingly dark grill marks on it. Neither the sauce or seasoning took away from the savory pleasure of the chicken.

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Little Holland: Get in line now

There’s not much time left to enjoy a Mighty Mike.

Business reporter C.R. Roberts writes in this story that the days for Little Holland – the burger lover’s favorite little drive-in joint on the border of Tacoma and Fircrest — are numbered. They close July 25.

Insert big sigh here. In my Burger Trail series I wrote in March, I gave Little Holland high marks. Can it be saved? I hope so.

That reminds me, I need to do more research for my Burger Trail, II series. I ate at Don’s Drive-In in Puyallup

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