TNT Diner

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

Category: Ten-in-one restaurant series

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
18th

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 »

April
23rd

Ten-in-One: Ten reviews of eclectic eateries in the Proctor neighborhood


Rosewood Cafe in the Proctor District. Peter Haley/Staff photographer

By Sue Kidd and Craig Sailor
Staff writers

Stand at the corner of North 26th and North Proctor streets in Tacoma’s North End and you’ll find yourself at the center of the city’s largest concentration of eating options: Asian, Italian, coffee, delis, Mexican, cupcakes, prepared meals, diners, upscale, pizza, wine bar. Even a bowling alley cafe. Your News Tribune reviewers just couldn’t get to all of them – unless we renamed this feature 20-in-One. Here, in our fifth installment of 10-in-One, are 10 quick reviews of the most intriguing Proctor eateries. Read more »

April
22nd

Sneak peak: Pizza at Europa Bistro Proctor


The pizza Greca at Europa Bistro in Proctor.

This Friday, we’ll publish the fifth installment of our occasional Ten-in-One: Meals by the Mile series. this time, we’re visiting Proctor.

Today, take a bite out of the pizza greco at Europa Bistro. Click “more” to read about it. Read more »

April
21st

Sneak peak: A look at what we ate in Proctor


Chocolate pot du creme at the Rosewood Cafe in Proctor.

This Friday, we’ll publish the fifth installment of our occasional Ten-in-One: Meals by the Mile series where we review 10 restaurants located within a compact area. For this Friday’s GO section, we’re paying a visit to the Proctor dining neighborhood.

We thought we’d prime your appetite the next few days with previews of dishes we enjoyed during our reviews.

Today, take a bite out of the pot du crème on the menu at the Rosewood Café. Click “more” to read about the dessert pictured here. Read more »

Dec.
11th

Meals by the mile: Ten eateries in Parkland

King Lieu and her son, Frank, right, are owners of Lieu's Restaurant in Parkland. In foreground is a hot & cold hors d'oeuvre  platter available at Lieu's. Photo by Lui Kit Wong/The News Tribune.
King Lieu and her son, Frank, right, are owners of Lieu's Restaurant in Parkland. In foreground is a hot & cold hors d'oeuvre platter available at Lieu's. Photo by Lui Kit Wong/The News Tribune.

Today, we offer our fourth installment of 10-in-1: Meals by the Mile. In our series, we dine at 10 restaurants located in a compact area and report the sights and scents of the restaurant district. Our current installment takes at look at the Parkland restaurant district.

Parkland’s main drag is Garfield Street, the gateway to Pacific Lutheran University. But this street needs help. Buildings, many past their prime, sit among vacant lots and less than busy sidewalks.

One thing this stretch of asphalt doesn’t lack is restaurants. From the casual elegance of Marzano to the college vibe of the Northern Pacific Coffee Company, this area’s eateries appeal to many tastes. On Garfield Street, no one should go hungry.

These 10 restaurants, in no particular order, are within walking distance of each other….

Read more »