TNT Diner

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

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Archives: Dec. 2010

Dec.
17th

Bar Burger Noshdown: The five South Sound bar, tavern and brewery burgers you’ve just got to bite into before you die

The Asado Burger with yucca fries. Photo by Peter Haley/Staff photographer

Thick and towering, goosed with flavor, diminutive and tasty. Today’s bar burgers were the best of the best for flavor, texture and ingredients that I sampled for this week’s 20-burger salute to South Sound bars, taverns and breweries.

Chorizo, Nueske’s bacon, arugula and Gorgonzola – today’s burgers all feature unusual twists that made them memorable. And what’s better than a burger? A burger with fries (just add beer). If you’re a fan of fries, today’s installment is devoted to you.

Today’s burgers: Asado, Maxwell’s, Pacific Grill, The Hub, The Right Spot

Thursday: Crown Bar, Harmon, Bite Restaurant, West End Pub, Cheers South Hill

Wednesday: Engine House No. 9, El Gaucho, Katie Downs, The Parkway, Ram

Tuesday: Powerhouse Brewery, Cliff House, Matador, Blazing Onion and Beach Tavern.

YOUR TURN: Nominate your favorite South Sound burger for inclusion in the TNT Diner Burger of the Month Club. I’ll feature a different burger every month and invite diners to write their own reviews (the best written reviews will earn prizes, such as cookbooks). Just comment here to nominate a burger. Read more »

Dec.
16th

Bar Burger Noshdown: South Sound bars, taverns and breweries offer some of the most delicious burgers in the region. Here are five more to try.

The Harmongous burger at Harmon Brewery in Tacoma.

Kobe beef and Washington grown beef are the themes for today’s featured five burgers in my “20 burgers you should eat before you die’” series.

Bar noshing doesn’t get any better than a big, cheesy gut bomb of a burger. It’s the anytime accompaniment to a cold pint at your favorite watering hole. My six month odyssey of sampling bar burgers at South Sound bars, taverns and pubs continues today with five more burgers you have to try before you die.

Here are the bars featured for this burger series:
Tuesday: Powerhouse Brewery, Cliff House, Matador, Blazing Onion and Beach Tavern.
Wednesday: Engine House No. 9, El Gaucho, Katie Downs, The Parkway, Ram
Thursday: Crown Bar, Harmon, Bite Restaurant, West End Pub, Cheers South Hill
Friday: Asado, Maxwell’s, Pacific Grill, The Hub, The Right Spot

Here are my next five picks for bar burgers worth your time and extra napkins: Read more »

Dec.
15th

Bar Burger Noshdown: Five more burgers to savor in South Sound bars, restaurants and brewpubs

The bison burger at Engine House No. 9 in Tacoma

Bar noshing doesn’t get any better than a big, cheesy gut bomb of a burger. It’s the anytime accompaniment to a cold pint at your favorite watering hole. My six month odyssey of sampling bar burgers at South Sound bars, taverns and pubs continues today with five more burgers you have to try before you die.

Here are the bars featured for this burger series:
Tuesday: Powerhouse Brewery, Cliff House, Matador, Blazing Onion and Beach Tavern.
Wednesday: Engine House No. 9, El Gaucho, Katie Downs, The Parkway, Ram
Thursday: Crown Bar, Harmon, Bite Restaurant, West End Pub, Cheers South Hill
Friday: Asado, Maxwell’s, Pacific Grill, The Hub, The Right Spot

Here are my next five picks for bar burgers worth your time and extra napkins: Read more »

Dec.
14th

Bar Burger Noshdown: Hundreds of napkins, plenty of heartburn and 20 bar burgers you should eat before you die

The bacon cheeseburger at the Beach Tavern in Tacoma.

Bar noshing doesn’t get any better than a big, cheesy gut bomb of a burger. It’s the anytime accompaniment to a cold pint at your favorite watering hole.

I’ve spent the past six months touring South Sound bars, taverns and pubs in search of perfect bar burgers. (Yeah, I know it’s a tough gig I’ve got here.) What follows today through Friday is my report of the top 20 bar burgers I wrapped my hands around.

I compiled this report largely based on recommendations from TNT Diner blog readers. Other recommendations came from chefs and foodies about town.

Here are the bars I’ll be writing about:
Tuesday: Powerhouse Brewery, Cliff House, Matador, Blazing Onion and Beach Tavern.
Wednesday: Engine House No. 9, El Gaucho, Katie Downs, The Parkway, Ram
Thursday: Crown Bar, Harmon, Bite Restaurant, West End Pub, Cheers South Hill
Friday: Asado, Maxwell’s, Pacific Grill, The Hub, The Right Spot

I set up a burger mission statement from the beginning. Read more »

Dec.
13th

Pot pie as big as your head: Sidebar Bistro in Tacoma puts a nice twist on an old comfort classic

Chicken pot pie is as big as my head at the Sidebar Bistro.

Tacoma’s Sidebar Bistro elevates sandwiches beyond the ordinary and does a brisk lunch business because of that. I’ve written about their Reubens and BLTs, and recently tried the Sidebar Cuban sandwich (stay tuned for a report on that). I’d never ventured much into the entree section of the menu, but a chicken pot pie on my last visit caught my eye. Read more »

Dec.
10th

A tale of two tortas: Zocalo v. La Fondita, a showdown (with avocado) in the Lincoln neighborhood

A carnitas torta sandwich at La Fondita in Tacoma is loaded with pork, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, jalapenos and a smear of mayo.

In the middle of the Lincoln district, a tiny taco truck serves some of the best Mexican eats in Tacoma. I’ve always found it curious that one of the city’s finest Mexican restaurants is not only on wheels, but it’s also squarely in the city’s Vietnamese eating district. In a neighborhood brimming with pho and banh mi, La Fondita has owned the block on tacos, tortas and burritos. That was until three or four months ago when Zocalo, a bakery and torta shop, opened at the corner of South 38th and South G Streets directly across from La Fondita.

While La Fondita specializes in street style Mexican eats, I’d consider the torta one of its specialties, or at least La Fondita makes a really spectacular version. And at Zocalo, tortas clearly are a specialty. Three menu pages are filled with torta choices.

If you’ve never had a torta, they’re portable Mexican sandwiches. A typical torta is made on a squishy six-inch round roll and stuffed with your choice of marinated, grilled or roasted meats (pork, chicken, steak, etc.), jalapenos, sprigs of cilantro, crisp veggies, avocados and a smear of mayo. For my torta tastes, La Fondita’s always has been superior to any other taco truck in town that I’ve tried, let alone sit-down restaurant.

With the two restaurants vying for dining dollars mere steps from one another, I thought it was time to wage an eating battle to see if La Fondita would remain the victor of a torta smackdown. Read more »

Dec.
9th

Chew on this: Farro risotto at Maxwell’s Restaurant + Lounge in Tacoma

Roasted onion and goat cheese risotto is made with farro at Maxwell’s Restaurant + Lounge in Tacoma.

Risotto at Maxwell’s Restaurant + Lounge is a dish made simply: Vegetable stock, herbs, seasoning, onions, goat cheese and Parmesan.

Executive Chef Matt Colony does include one more ingredient that gives the dish a nutty twist – he makes his risotto with farro, a chewy grain with a firm bite (it’s also spelled faro). The resulting risotto is deliciously nutty and firm, yet also creamy and rich from the goat cheese and lightly sweetened with slivers of roasted onions.

“It’s a complete grain. I love using it in risotto. I’ve cooked it for an hour before, and it never overcooks. It still has bite to it. I like the chewiness,” explained Colony Read more »

Dec.
8th

Cheap, good, fast: Mastering the art of the 5-minute takeout lunch in downtown Tacoma

The University Gyros House offers a bargain-priced $3.99 falafel sandwich.

Six bucks and five minutes. Some days, that’s all the commitment I want to give to lunch.

My go-to cheap-and-fast lunch spot long has been Freighthouse Square. With its revolving cast of restaurants, free parking and lunch deals squarely in the $6 range, it’s the ultimate in cheap, fast and (usually) good. The one drawback: don’t get too attached to a restaurant. Maybe it’s because it’s an incubator for tiny businesses, but the restaurant turnover at Freighthouse is exceptionally high.

I’ve been trying to spread out my geography for cheap lunches. I’ve had a few tips from TNT Diner readers, who suggested I dine at two new downtown Tacoma restaurants, University Gyros House and Happy Teriyaki, both located between 19th and 22nd on Pacific. I tried both, and I’m happy to report they were cheap, good, fast. Read more »