A visit to the Freighthouse Square food court always seems to bring something new. But that also means something has gone missing. Right now, that’s Fam’s Southern Fried Chicken. The southern restaurant that was next door to Mediterranean Palace has closed. In its place is R.J.’s Burger Joint, a walk-up restaurant that serves flame-grilled burgers and inexpensive sandwiches in the $5-$7 range. The restaurant opened last week.
A burger restaurant is a welcomed addition to the mix of Freighthouse food that’s heavy on ethnic. Vietnamese, Korean, Greek, Indian, Mexican are all under one roof. Freighthouse is an excellent lunch destination with several walk-up restaurants in a centrally located food court with open seating. The food produced at Freighthouse is intended for quick eating. Some of it is quite good. Some of it is not. But there’s always something interesting there. We like the variety so much, we wrote about it here as part of our 10-in-1 dining series where we review 10 restaurants in a central location.
On our visit to R.J.’s last week, the kitchen staff didn’t commit the ultimate burger sin of serving a blackened hockey puck, but the burgers we sampled weren’t exactly dripping with juice, either. R.J.’s burgers fall someplace between medium well and well. Patties are thick, about 1/3 pound, and burgers come with a variety of toppings. They’re served a la carte. Fries, onion rings and sides cost extra.
We didn’t have to be told that the burgers were flame-grilled – we could smell the sizzling meat, and we could see the flame in the back of the semi-open kitchen. The wait was probably close to 10 minutes, not that I’m complaining. Fresh-grilled burgers take time.
The bacon cheeseburger ($6.99) was a two-hander, three napkin burger: big and messy. The grilled bun was slathered with a swipe of tangy burger spread (similar to Thousand island), and the burger came dressed with red onions, sliced tomatoes and lettuce. A slight disappointment: The bacon tasted overdone and was overly chewy in a truly unappealing way. Skip it. The mushrooms Swiss burger ($5.99) was undressed – no veggies, just meat, cheese, ‘shrooms and mayo.
Fries are of the freezer variety and were fine. The cashier also told us that the onion rings were from the freezer. We passed.
We didn’t sample, but saw four kinds of panini sandwiches on grilled ciabatta bread: a bacon lettuce tomato, a three cheese, turkey mushroom Swiss and pesto turkey, all priced $4.99-$6.99.
R.J.’s also serves breakfast, and has a menu just for kids.
Coming later this week: A look at another newer walk-in burger restaurant across town.
In other Freighthouse news, Cookies Your Way is gone. So is Cyber Pasta. The sausage restaurant space also remains vacant. Little India Express is still there. I’m happy to report that B&B Barbecue and its delicious smoked meats are still there. They’ve got a display case with sweet potato pie, too.
R.J.’s Burger Joint
Where: 2501 E. D St., Tacoma, inside Freighthouse Square