TNT Diner

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

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Archives: Jan. 2010


Bacon, cheese and gravy: Gussied up fries on menus around Tacoma

Fries and gravy from Hotel Murano’s Bite Restaurant in Tacoma. Photo by Lui Kit Wong/Staff photographer

Thin or thick, I don’t have a preference. But do make mine crunchy on the outside, creamy-unctuous on the inside. I’m picky about my fries that way.

I used to think I was a fry purist: crisp potatoes with a sprinkle of salt, please.

And then I had the garlic herb fries at Pacific Grill. Insta-fancy-fry convert. And then I had fries and gravy at Bite at Hotel Murano. And then came along the bacon cheesy fries at Crown Bar. And have you ever had the yuca fries at Asado? Amazingly good.

At Bite and Crown Bar – fancy fries are dishes that command their own real estate on the menu. They’re served solo, sans burgers. They’re big plates of crisp fries covered in elevated ingredients that will make your favorite fast food restaurant fries seem like sad, little, soggy ’taters.

Here, a look at my four favorite fancy fries around town. Read more »


Merende closes after this weekend, but could there be a future?

The rumors are true, Il Trattoria di Merende is closing after this weekend.

I just got off the phone with Julia Martin-Lombardi, who opened the restaurant with son Ian Lombardi, and Ken Lombardi in December 2008. She confirmed the restaurant will close, but she’s hoping it’s temporary. The restaurant will remain open through the weekend. I asked her to keep TNT Diner readers informed.

So why the closure? Martin-Lombardi said….. Read more »


Opa Greek Cuisine closes Saturday

The gyro sandwich at Opa! Greek Cuisine. The restaurant will close Saturday after more than two years of business.

The voice mail messages are becoming all too familiar. Usually it’s a reader calling saying they went to Restaurant XYZ and it was closed for business.

But today? Today, the voice mail was from a restaurant owner.

“Saturday is our last day,” said Ernesto Gomez, owner of Opa! Greek Cuisine on Sixth Avenue, who has run the restaurant with business partner Roberto Ruiz since August 2007.

When I called him back to ask him why they were closing, he said, “We were fighting for a long time to survive, the situation just caught up with this.” It was a combination of a crowded restaurant market and the downturn in the economy. “The winter was bad for everybody,” he said. So they put the restaurant on the market and sold it to someone else (more on that in a bit).

So what’s next for the business partners? Read more »


South Tacoma farmers market opens this June

Coming to South Tacoma this summer: a new farmers market.

The seasonal market will operate on Sundays, with an opening date of June 20. The market intends to start small with room for less than 40 vendors.Most vendor spaces will be dedicated to farmers selling produce, with space for a few vendors selling prepared foods.

The idea for the market stretches back at least 18 months. Neighbors long have been vocal about attracting either a farmers market or a store with fresh produce to the area.

Organizers got verbal approval Monday for the farmers market to be located in a lot … Read more »


South Sound restaurants raise money for Haiti

A few events happening around town to raise money for Haiti:
1. Buy a glass of McGavick wine at Primo Grill or Crown Bar and proceeds will benefit Doctors Without Borders.
2. Moctezuma’s is hosting something they’ve cheekily titled “Tacos for Haiti.” They’ll donate proceeds from one day’s business to the Red Cross to benefit Haiti.
Click more for details… Read more »


Epic beers: What to drink before you die

The selection of microbrews at Gravity Beer Market includes a mix of longtime favorites and constantly changing new selections. Tony Overman/Staff Photographer

I’m working on a story about the Gravity Beer Market in Olympia for our Wednesday SoundLife section. If you haven’t checked out the selection at Gravity, you really should. They have an incredible bottle selection with lots of unusual finds. Just for fun, I asked owners Jeff and Roma Bert for their list of “epic beers.” That is, beers everyone should drink before they die. And their selections are…. Read more »


First Bite: Zato Grill in Bonney Lake

Wok seared pork ribs with hoisin sweet chile glaze served with cole slaw is among the menu items at Zato Grill in Bonney Lake. Photo by Janet Jensen/The News Tribune.

Oh, how things can change in just a few years. Bonney Lake long has sowed its culinary seeds deep in fast-food chain restaurants.

But during the past five years, restaurants such as Sushi Town, Old School Custard, Puccini’s Venetian Subs and All Spices Thai have added much-needed variety in the East Pierce community.

And 2009 continued that trend, but with more grown-up offerings. Andre’s Bar & Grill, which opened in May 2009, and Hop Jack’s, new in August 2009, both gave Bonney Lake diners a decidedly more sophisticated experience.

And now another restaurant has joined those ranks – Zato Grill. It’s a handsome restaurant with an urban vibe. And tucked into a strip mall next to the movie theater, it’s an unexpected find. It opened Dec. 13. Read more »