TNT Diner

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

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Archives: Feb. 2011


Tacoma’s Wingman Brewers is officially licensed

I just saw on the Wingman Brewers Facebook page that the small production brewery is now fully licensed. Just to refresh your memory, here’s the article I wrote in January about the brewery.

Owner Ken Thoburn and his three business partners will start production with a handful of beers Read more »


Salvadoran flavor: Local restaurants create devilishly good stuffed corn discs

Pupusas are hand made at Mi Chalateca, an El Salvadorian restaurant in Federal Way. The griddled corn based dough is stuffed with beans, cheese or pork and typically eaten with hot sauce and pickled cabbage, top left. Photo by Janet Jensen/Staff photographer

Pupusas are neither tacos, gorditas nor quesadillas, but think of them as the Salvadoran cousin to all three.

Pupusas are thick, fragrant corn discs that can be stuffed with cheese, slow-simmered pork, a smear of beans, shredded zucchini or even spinach. They’re griddle-warmed and served piping hot with a side of curtido, a Salvadoran pickled cabbage-carrot salad goosed with fresh oregano.

Dig your fork into the middle of a queso pupusa and a gooey ooze of cheese spills out of the center. As one of my dining partners noted during a visit to a pupuseria, “What’s not to love about hot wads of dough stuffed with melted cheese?” I concur. They’re devilishly good.

At less than $2 per pupusa, they make for a filling and inexpensive meal. At pupuserias, the restaurants that specialize in the stuffed corn discs, pupusas are meant as an appetizer for brimming bowls of soup, grilled meats, fried yuca and stews – all specialties of Salvadoran cuisine.

These Salvadoran dishes can be found at pupuserias El Pulgarcito in Lakewood and Mi Chalateca in Federal Way – small restaurants big on Salvadoran flavor.

Here’s what they have to offer: Read more »


JW Restaurant coming to Gig Harbor March 4

The face and initials will be familiar to anyone who is a frequent diner in Gig Harbor. Jason Winniford, the former general manager of Brix 25, is opening his own restaurant in downtown Gig Harbor. Click “more” to read about his new restaurant, JW. Read more »


Cheers opened in downtown Tacoma today, here’s a look at the menu (including those stuffed burgers I keep writing about)

Cheers Downtown opened today. I wrote a few weeks ago about the restaurant that took over the old shuttered McCabe’s restaurant. Cheers Downtown is an outpost of Cheers South Hill in Puyallup. If you’ve never been to the sister restaurant, think of Cheers as an upscale sports bar with a whiff of sophistication (read: nobody will spill a plastic keg cup of beer on you. They have actual glasses! And bathrooms you don’t have to be afraid to go into!). The menu runs wide and deep with heavy emphasis on sandwiches and those decadent stuffer burgers that I’ve written about once or twice (ahem).

I looked inside today and saw a sports bar that might be one of the most stylish you’ll find around here. The space is expansive, with high ceilings, wood floors and several different dining areas. Seating is well spaced, and I liked that. One area is reserved for family dining, too. A mammoth stone fireplace warms up the center of the restaurant. You can’t turn your head more than 25 degrees without your eyes hitting a flat panel television. It almost made me wish, for about five seconds, that I liked watching sporting events. I wonder if I could talk the staff into tuning all the flat panels to the Iron Chef? (kidding…)

Click “more” to see a copy of the menu that general manager Lindsey Jones e-mailed me. I’ll have a first-bite report soon. Read more »


Bruno’s European Cafe triples its dining room with a move to Pacific Avenue. And across town, a diner develops a following for its German theme nights

Pictured here are cabbage rolls from Bruno’s European Cafe in Lakewood. Photo by Lui Kit Wong/Staff photographer

Bruno’s European Cafe, which I reviewed last April, was a hole-in-the-wall like none I’d ever seen. In a tiny storefront off Pacific Highway Southwest in Lakewood, four tables provided seating for fewer than 18 diners. That capacity only could be achieved through communal seating. The line perpetually snaked out the door. I didn’t mind. It always was worth the wait.

Well, no more. The restaurant is on the move and is expected to reopen sometime in the next week in a Tacoma space about three times the size of its former Lakewood location. UPDATE: The restaurant passed its health inspection today, Feb. 23, and will open this Friday, Feb. 25.

You’d never know that Bruno’s old location had a kitchen the size of a walk-in closet. Despite the lack of space, chef/owner Bruno Tomaszewska, with his wife Kristina, produced gigantic German flavors. Think succulent rouladen, hearty goulash, ethereal potato dumplings, spaetzle and latkes. Oh, the latkes. Read more »


Porter’s BBQ of Tacoma will move from Dome neighborhood to South Tacoma Way

The smoked pork ribs at Porter's Place Southern Cuisine & BBQ are supple, smoky and three-napkin good. The restaurant recently closed, but expects to reopen in two months on South Tacoma Way.

Porter’s Place Southern Cuisine & BBQ of Tacoma is on a rib hiatus, but it will be smoking ribs and pulling pork for sandwiches again in about two months.

The restaurant shut down recently after operating for about six years in its perch just above La Quinta near the Tacoma Dome. An email from Porter’s owner Alton Porter explained Read more »


Five things to do for your sweetie, a Valentine’s Day survival guide

Restaurant people might loathe me for writing this while experienced diners might quietly applaud me.

I’ve been burned too many times to be a diner on Valentine’s Day.

I’m not alone. Every year, readers call me the morning after Valentine’s Day complaining about Restaurant X not meeting Diner X’s standards. I feel for them.

Valentine’s Day is a formula for a potential mess – an overburdened kitchen and a clientele with high expectations for perfect execution on a high-pressure night. Talk about performance anxiety. My sincerest apologies to restaurant owners. I don’t intend to hurt business, and I know you need it more now than ever.

All that being said, diners will still insist on dining out Valentine’s Day. I get that. And restaurants really could use your money.
Here are a few thoughts to help with the experience: Read more »


Goodbye shuttered building, hello Cheers Downtown. Oh, and stuffed burgers will be on the menu

Cheers Downtown is just days from opening. The sports bar and restaurant expects a grand opening around Feb. 18 (stay tuned for an exact date). It’s been nice to watch the gutting of the old downtown Tacoma McCabe’s that once was vacant and shuttered. Cheers Downtown will mirror its sister restaurant Cheers South Hill, a restaurant that I’ve written about here and here for sloppy, messy, cheesy stuffed burgers. Cheers Downtown General Manager Lindsey Jones said that the menu will look a lot like the Cheers South Hill location except Read more »