TNT Diner

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

Archives: March 2013

March
29th

Meals by the Mile: Exploring Vietnamese dining in Tacoma’s Lincoln neighborhood

In our latest installment of an occasional series exploring South Sound’s restaurant neighborhoods, Sue Kidd delves into the Vietnamese eating district in Tacoma’s Lincoln neighborhood. In recent years, the district has become a magnet for all kinds of restaurants – from soul food to tacos, dim sum and burgers.

March
28th

Exploring Lincoln: How did all those Vietnamese restaurants sprout up in that Tacoma neighborhood?

This view of South 38th Street near Yakima in February of 1941 shows the newly completed paving of the busy roadway. Better known now in the 21st century as an area filled with Asian markets and restaurants, in 1941 it held a variety of businesses to suit the Lincoln neighborhood. The 38th St. Grill and soda fountain was located on the right, at 3801 Yakima Ave. So., directly across the street from the Model Bakery (in shadow). An Arctic Bottling Co. truck is doubleparked outside the 38th St. Grill to make a delivery of sodas. Reardon's Golden Pig restaurant in the Harry Todd Block, 775-77 So. 38th, is on the left side of the street with the Independent Cleaners, 771 So. 38th St., next door. Quality Upholstery & Shade, 767-69 So. 38th, is further down the street as are the Clowers Furs and Dory Cafe. There were apparently no traffic lights at the corner. Cars, bicycles and pedestrians had to cross with caution. Photo courtesy of the Northwest Room/Richards Studio Collection, Tacoma Public Library, 253-292-2001, search.tacomapubliclibrary.org/images
This view of South 38th Street near Yakima in February of 1941 shows the newly completed paving of the busy roadway. Better known now in the 21st century as an area filled with Asian markets and restaurants, in 1941 it held a variety of businesses to suit the Lincoln neighborhood. The 38th St. Grill and soda fountain was located on the right, at 3801 Yakima Ave. So., directly across the street from the Model Bakery (in shadow). An Arctic Bottling Co. truck is doubleparked outside the 38th St. Grill to make a delivery of sodas. Reardon’s Golden Pig restaurant in the Harry Todd Block, 775-77 So. 38th, is on the left side of the street with the Independent Cleaners, 771 So. 38th St., next door. Quality Upholstery & Shade, 767-69 So. 38th, is further down the street as are the Clowers Furs and Dory Cafe. There were apparently no traffic lights at the corner. Cars, bicycles and pedestrians had to cross with caution. Photo courtesy of the Northwest Room/Richards Studio Collection, Tacoma Public Library, 253-292-2001, search.tacomapubliclibrary.org/images

Two decades before Vietnamese restaurants started sporting suburban addresses, the Lincoln neighborhood around South 38th and Yakima streets introduced Tacoma to Southeast Asian cuisine. In this link, you’ll find snapshot reviews of the Vietnamese and other restaurants in the neighborhood surrounding Lincoln High School (east of Tacoma Mall). But, first, here’s a look at how all those restaurants wound up in a single neighborhood.

In the early 1980s, East Asia Market anchored the neighborhood. Some trace the creation of the Vietnamese eating district to owner Andy Chang and his family, who opened the first version of the Vietnamese grocery store in 1981. The market imported ingredients shoppers previously could not access outside Seattle’s International District. With the introduction of those ingredients and a growing influx of Vietnamese immigrants, the Vietnamese dining district followed. East Asia Market changed locations once before adding “Super” to its name, expanding its inventory, and moving to the former Red Apple Market space just beyond a three-block span that holds a concentration of Vietnamese restaurants like no other in the region. Read more »

March
28th

Vietnamese dining: A quick guide for newcomers

Pho soup at Vien Dong, a restaurant that opened in 1989 in the Lincoln neighborhood near Lincoln High School. The neighborhood is a destination for affordable Vietnamese food. Lui Kit Wong/Staff photographer
Pho soup at Vien Dong, a restaurant that opened in 1989 in the Lincoln neighborhood near Lincoln High School. The neighborhood is a destination for affordable Vietnamese food. Lui Kit Wong/Staff photographer

In my dining series exploring the concentration of Vietnamese dining in Tacoma’s Lincoln neighborhood, I write much about how Southeast Asian cuisine is tuned to a hot-sour-salty-sweet symphony. Depending on the dish or the palate of the chef creating it, flavors will broadcast varying degrees of salty-sour or sweet-spicy.  You know you’re in good hands if a dish sings in perfect tune and you can taste each component in harmony.

Say what, again? All that might sound confusing if you’re a Vietnamese dining neophyte. To help those who’ve never sampled the cuisine, I’ve got a quick guide to get you started. Read on. Read more »

March
22nd

Niche spirits: New South Sound distilleries are on the way

South Sound already is home to four craft distilleries producing gin, vodka and whiskey. Coming soon are two more distilleries expected to receive their state and federal licensing sometime this summer. The micro distilleries are examples of the next phase of craft distilling in Washington state – niche distilling.

March
20th

Opening Thursday: Netshed No. 9 in Gig Harbor

Netshed No. 9  – Gig Harbor’s newest waterfront restaurant – will open Thursday. The restaurant will operate at 3313 Harborview Drive. The menu is all about breakfast – listing everything from sourdough ricotta pancakes to chicken and waffles, stuffed biscuit sandwiches, sausage breakfast burgers with tomato jam, chilaquiles, ham steak, frittatas, scambles and waffles made on 100-year-old waffle irons.  Read more »

March
19th

First bite: It’s Greek To Me gyros sandwich

Gyros sandwich from It's Greek To Me.
Gyros sandwich from It’s Greek To Me.

Jim Wick’s recent move of his 22-year-old Greek fast food restaurant It’s Greek To Me was completed last week in Tacoma’s Sixth Avenue neighborhood. I took a first taste during opening week and found a kitchen sticking to the same formula. As always, the gyros were shaved from a spinning vertical meat cone of ground beef and lamb, which the grill cook stuffed into a griddled pita. Plenty of tzatzki yogurt sauce mingled with crisp lettuce, onions and tomatoes, which were predictably pale pink (summer, please hurry up and deliver real tomatoes).

The big change is the atmosphere – seven tables can hold about triple the amount of diners than its previous location across the street. There’s also an outdoor patio and two bathrooms (a big improvement). Tip: The awkward door facing Sixth Avenue isn’t the best way to access the building. Park in the small lot behind the building and enter from the back entrance. The style of ordering – at the counter – remains unchanged. And the time-honored tradition of having a gyro loaded with tzatziki handed to you in your car? Still intact. The new building has a drive-thru Read more »

March
18th

Coming to Gig Harbor – Lunchbox Laboratory

An outpost of the Seattle restaurant Lunchbox Laboratory will open on Point Fosdick Drive. A spokeswoman for the restaurant chain confirmed the restaurant will open in Gig Harbor, but no opening date is scheduled. Read more »