TNT Diner

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

Archives: Aug. 2012


Philly fanatic: In search of the perfect steak sandwich

The first sign of a great Philly steak sandwich? The cling-clang of a spatula on a grill. That’s when you know a joint is grilling a Philly the way the cheesesteak gods intended: made to order on a hot griddle.

This summer, I’ve been searching for the perfect Philly cheesesteaks, which are sandwiches built on a sturdy bun, stuffed with chopped, griddled steak and dotted with peppers and onions. Melted cheese turns it into a cheesesteak. They’re named after the city in which they were created.

Back in 2009, I rated Tacoma’s DelBrocco’s and

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Desserts that have gone bananas on South Sound menus

I love a banana split made with housemade ice cream. This one comes from Boathouse 19 in Tacoma.

Baked into a bread, sliced for a sundae or turned into a pudding – I’ve noticed so many more banana desserts on menus this summer. Some are so good, they may bump Corina Bakery’s banana pudding – which I’ve nicknamed “banana crack” – off the top of my dessert list. Read on. Read more »


Grab and go: Two sandwich places that make a fast lunch

The Viafore Special is made on a French roll.


I recently went looking for Philly steak sandwiches (read the story here) and kept finding sandwich shops that don’t make the cheese-laden steak bombs. Although they were sans steak, I stumbled on two institutions that I really should have had on my radar before now -  Viafores in Fircrest and Hal of a Sub in downtown Tacoma. What I found were two neat sandwich shops that made my food in under five minutes. Hellloooo, half-hour lunch break, I found you a partner. Read on. Read more »


Hidden gem: Dessert at Oasis Cafe in Puyallup’s South Hill

The peanut butter cheesecake at Oasis Cafe in Puyallup's South Hill neighborhood.

Here’s another installment of my hidden gem series – cafes and restaurants in out-of-the-way locations that are worth your dining dollars.

South Hill is home to strip malls and chain restaurants and a serious shortage of dessert bakeries. With the July closure of the cookie bakery, Cookies Your Way, dessert bakeries on South Hill are pretty much limited to the cupcake bakery Jubilee (or a grocery store or chain).

That’s what makes such a find in Oasis Cafe in the Sunrise Medical Campus near Emerald Ridge High School. It’s a hidden gem of a cafe buried in a complex of medical offices. The cafe is difficult to find -look for the lovely dining patio with the gurgling water feature. Inside, you’ll find a cafe with an order-at-the-counter protocol and a spacious, light-drenched dining room decorated with religious murals and messages.

What struck me was the display case full of a dozen desserts that had the appearance of a pastry chef at work. Read more »


Peterson Brothers 1111: A new player in Hilltop’s thriving bar scene

Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood already is home to an eclectic array of eateries – from Vietnamese to barbecue to acclaimed apothecary cocktails to hand-crafted truffles. A new Hilltop tavern – Peterson Bros 1111 – is a solid addition to the neighborhood. The bar is the project of Tacoma natives and twin brothers, Justin and Robby Peterson.


Coming to the Hilltop: A combo art studio and eatery with sandwiches and beer

Later this summer, Ben Davis intends to open Broken Spoke, an eatery that will double as an art studio in the Hilltop neighborhood. He’ll be in good company food wise – that’s in the same block as Vietnamese restaurants Le-Le and Pho King – and a block or two from 1022 South, Tempest and Peterson Bros 1111. Read more »


Boxcar Grill moves to Sixth Avenue in Tacoma

The patty melt at Boxcar Grill is my favorite melt in town. Staff file photo

The little diner that could is chugging along once again. The Boxcar Grill is moving to Sixth Avenue. They expect to reopen later this week or next.


The story of Boxcar Grill began last year at Freighthouse Square. Daughter-mother team Liz and Velda Gilham opened their diner last July and began a months-long struggle of closures and openings that lasted months. There were facility problems – the hot water went south, the walk-in cooler tanked and the heating system stumbled. The Gilhams reopened for what they hoped was the last time in mid-January, but it lasted just a handful of months. Construction blocked their entrance and they had to close again when a new sidewalk was poured. Read more »


Off the radar: Strip malls hide culinary finds

The stores in a strip mall represent not much more than a check on your to-do list. Nestled among nail salons, check-cashing places and chiropractors, I occasionally stumble upon a culinary gem – a restaurant so interesting, I can’t believe it’s in a strip mall. This is my continuing series looking at ethnic eateries hidden in strip malls of the ’burbs. Today’s tour heads to Lakewood, Puyallup and Gig Harbor.

Where: 9701 South Tacoma Way, Lakewood; 253-581-0102; serving lunch and dinner daily.

Tacoma Szechuan operates in a Lakewood neighborhood dominated by Korean food, which makes it

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