TNT Diner

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

Archives: March 2011


Meals by the mile: Reviews of 10 neighborhood eateries along MLK in Tacoma’s Hilltop

LeLe is a longtime Hilltop destination that serves Southeast Asian cuisine in a vibrant atmosphere.

By Sue Kidd and Craig Sailor
Staff eaters

Along Martin Luther King Jr. Way, a lively blend of restaurants turns the Hilltop neighborhood into an eating destination like no other in Tacoma.

The restaurants are an outgrowth of the eclectic and transitional nature of the Hilltop: The longtime institution Bob’s Bar B Q Pit shares a block with 1022 South, a young and edgy lounge producing some of the most interesting cocktails in the region.

The 20-plus-year-old Fish House Cafe flanks the restaurant’s eating district with southern down-home goodness at 19th and MLK, while several blocks away, the effortlessly cool newcomer Tempest Lounge bookends the area.

Up and down side streets, visitors will find Vietnamese, Thai and some of the city’s fluffiest doughnuts. We delve into the MLK neighborhood of the Hilltop for our latest installment of 10-in-one, a review of 10 restaurants in a single neighborhood. Read more »


Pick-Quick Auburn: Shiny, new and nice, but not the same burger drive-in

A double cheeseburger from Pick-Quick in Auburn, which opened March 8. The original Pick-Quick opened in Fife in 1949.

Hey Pick-Quick fans, have you ventured to Auburn yet to sample the freshly opened Drive-In burger restaurant? It opened a week ago Tuesday.

I stopped in and found a restaurant that was shiny new and with a 1950s sensibility that seemed 21st century designed. A walk-in dining room with high ceilings, big windows to watch the burger crew at work, a sign advertising sustainability, and separate cans for garbage and composting made me think: Burgerville meets In-N-Out. Read more »


Get your Irish on tomorrow with these St. Patrick’s eats around Tacoma

A handful of chefs have emailed menus for St. Patrick’s Day eating, and I’ll post more as I get them. My money goes on Charlie McManus for his fried white and black pudding (Yum, blood sausage). And colcannon. Click “more” for menu details. Read more »


Sneak peek: A look at the dinner menu at the new JW Restaurant in Gig Harbor

Jason Winniford’s new restaurant JW is the hottest seat in Gig Harbor. The small restaurant with seating for fewer than 30 opened March 4 and the word is that they’ve been packed ever since. I took a first look at the restaurant recently and will have a first bite report next week. Click “more” to see the menu that features seared sea scallops with risotto, wild boar bourguignon with grilled polenta and a tri tip steak with mashed potatoes. Read more »


Alert the children: Cookies Your Way relocates to Puyallup

They’re back! The tuxedo cookies at Cookies Your Way in Puyallup. I gobbled these down like that kid from Willy Wonka.

Remember that cookie store at Frieghthouse Square – Cookies Your Way? It was hard to miss, especially if you’re the type who is drawn to the smell of freshly baked cookies. It was disappointing when the store closed last March and took that wonderful cookie scent with it.

A year later, Cookies Your Way has resurfaced. I found it in a warehouse in Puyallup. And it’s open to the public. Read more »


First bite: Crockett’s Public House in Puyallup offers a mile-wide selection of comfort eats. And, yes, they have chicken and waffles

Juan Jimenez, executive chef at Crockett’s Public House, shows off an order of fried chicken with cinnamon waffles served with maple syrup, butter and Louisiana hot sauce. Photo by Janet Jensen/Staff photographer

The third time I circled the same block in downtown Puyallup, I knew the restaurant was going to be packed. Crockett’s Public House opened Feb. 21 and has been inundated every time I’ve visited. It doesn’t help that the restaurant has limited parking. So expect to park and hoof it.

After a meal of chicken and waffles, I was thankful for that three-block jaunt after dinner. The food is not for the caloric timid. Mile-wide menu choices offer pub favorites with a backbone of comfort eating: steaks, fish and chips, burgers, melts, sandwiches, pasta and homestyle eats like slow-cooked short ribs and house-made meatballs. Kitsch shows up in the form of sloppy Joes and chicken and waffles. Presentations can be engaging and this is a place with a sense of humor. It’s a great place to dine with kids and friends. Bring grandma, too.

In an economy where diners hound me about value and low price points, the menu pricing will find fans. Read more »


Sweet treats: Gibson’s Frozen Yogurt opens in Tacoma’s Stadium neighborhood

Gibson’s Frozen Yogurt Shoppe offers fresh fruit as a topping.

The country’s malls once were full of frozen yogurt stands and TCBY was a household name. I don’t know how or why, but frozen yogurt fell out of favor as a retail business here. Sort of like how bagel chain shops just fell off the planet.

With the health benefits of low-calorie yogurt and active yogurt cultures, I was just thinking recently I wouldn’t mind seeing a few more shops beyond where I get my self-serve yogurt fix at Tacoma Mall’s Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt franchise (4502 S. Steele St., 253-476-2401,

And now I have a new sweet find – Gibson’s Frozen Yogurt Shoppe, which moved into a small storefront in the Stadium District. It opened Feb. 14 on North Tacoma Avenue (the back door faces the Stadium Thriftway parking lot).

Thirty toppings, eight yogurt flavors, self service. Yogurt weighing in at a caloric investment of 80-100 calories per 4-ounce service? Gibson’s, I like you. Read more »


Barbecue quandary: Can you call it Q if there is no smoke involved? Also, a review of ribs at Bob’s Bar-B-Q Pit and Branks BBQ

The ribs at Branks BBQ in Sumner are supple and smoky.

Philosophical barbecue question: Can a restaurant call itself Mesquite BBQ if it doesn’t use a barbecue grill, a pit or a smoker, or even mesquite wood – or any wood – in the cooking process?

That was the head scratcher for me when I paid a visit to Mesquite BBQ, which opened in January on South Tacoma Way.

Signs outside advertise Texas, American and Hawaiian barbecue. During two visits, what I tasted was slow-cooked meat something akin to pot roast.

It had no whiff of mesquite, held no telltale pink smoke ring (the universal early alert system for good barbecue). The meat looked like it had been oven baked. Indeed, that is how meat is cooked at Mesquite BBQ – in a conventional oven. Servers confirmed that for us on two visits and after a lot of questions.

It made me want to leave and head for my two favorite places for barbecue – Bob’s Bar-B-Q pit on Tacoma’s Hilltop and Branks BBQ in the Sumner valley. In fact, that is where I headed after eating at Mesquite …. Read more »