TNT Diner

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

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July
25th

New on Sixth: Hawaiian food, Carolina pulled pork, an ice cream cafe and two restaurant moves

Co-owners, Angela Hernandez, left, and Gloria Gentry hold up a dish of southern fried chicken wings at Southern Exposure on Sixth Avenue. The restaurant opened in May and is one of several new restaurants in Tacoma's Sixth Avenue restaurant district. Lui Kit Wong/Staff photographer
Co-owners, Angela Hernandez, left, and Gloria Gentry hold up a dish of southern fried chicken wings at Southern Exposure on Sixth Avenue. The restaurant opened in May and is one of several new restaurants in Tacoma’s Sixth Avenue restaurant district. Lui Kit Wong/Staff photographer

Handmade pasta baked in a wood-fire oven.

Experimental vegetarian fare served alongside roasted bone marrow.

Argentinian steak paired with South American wines.

East Coast deli sandwiches.

And plenty of craft beer.

If you want it, Sixth Avenue’s got it.

Now add these to Sixth: lavender ice cream, a loco moco plate, Carolina pulled pork and Oklahoma burgers.

This is the summer for movement on Sixth Avenue — Tacoma’s most varied restaurant neighborhood — with four openings and two restaurant moves along a 2-mile stretch from Stevens to Steele streets.

So far this summer, Sixth Avenue has gained a Hawaiian plate lunch restaurant, a Southern restaurant with Carolina roots, an ice cream cafe and a pop-up restaurant operating out of a bar.

Next up is a big move for Primo Grill. That longtime Sixth Avenue anchor and respected chef-owned restaurant closes at Sixth and Pine on Saturday, with a planned reopening Aug. 8 a few blocks away at Sixth and Oakes. Another restaurant on the move this summer was The Red Hot, Tacoma’s go-to tavern for craft beer and gourmet hot dogs.

And then there’s this news: Hilltop Kitchen owners Chris Keil and Matthew Schweitzer are purchasing Sixth Avenue’s Marrow, the upscale restaurant with a dual purpose menu for vegetarians and meat-eaters opened by Jaime Kay Jones, Jason Jones and Kyle Wnuk in 2011.
Read on. Read more »

June
12th

Restaurant update: Le-Le looks to be three months from reopening in Tacoma

LeLe is a longtime Hilltop destination that serves Southeast Asian cuisine in a vibrant atmosphere. File photo. Lui Kit Wong/Staff photographer

Water damage appears to be keeping Hilltop restaurant Le-Le shuttered for now. Here’s what I know about what’s happening next for the Tacoma Vietnamese-Thai restaurant. Read more »

Jan.
29th

12th Man cookies and sweets – a sugary salute to the Hawks

Beast Mode oatmeal Skittles cookies from Only Oatmeal Bakery. Photo courtesy of Only Oatmeal
Beast Mode oatmeal Skittles cookies from Only Oatmeal Bakery. Photo courtesy of Only Oatmeal

Bakeries are jumping on the 12th Man bandwagon and making sugary treats for a Super Bowl XLVIII party or just to nibble on. Here’s what I spotted this week: Read more »

Dec.
6th

Sushi Update: Sushi Niwa opens, Miyabi Sushi on the way

Sushi is a family affair for Su-Wook Hong, left, mother Bok Hee Hong and father Jeoung Jim Hong at Siushi Niwa inside the food court at Paido World on South Tacoma Way. They're holding a ribeye roll, a firecracker roll and a Washington roll.
Sushi is a family affair for Su-Wook Hong, left, mother Bok Hee Hong and father Jeoung Jim Hong at Siushi Niwa inside the food court at Paido World on South Tacoma Way. They’re holding a ribeye roll, a firecracker roll and a Washington roll.

Cheap sushi, much like gas station sushi, should be approached with caution. I’ve been burned before, but I think I’ve found a a decent find – a tiny restaurant serving economical maki and nigiri.

Filling a long-vacant spot that once contained Chicky Pub, Sushi Niwa opened Oct. 18 in the Paldo World Food Court. It’s owned by Su-Wook Hong, whose parents are the smiling duo in the kitchen. Read more »

Oct.
31st

Mobile eats: A bagelry on wheels at the University of Washington Tacoma

The Budha Bagel truck on the University of Washington Tacoma campus.
The Budha Bagel truck on the University of Washington Tacoma campus.

Two things I’ve always thought the region could always use more of – bagels and food trucks. Find them together in the Budha Bear Bagel Truck, now serving Mondays-Thursdays on the campus of University of Washington Tacoma. Read more »

Oct.
28th

Mobile eats: Bella Amore sandwiches and Gibson’s frozen yogurt in downtown Tacoma

Serving at the Post Office building in Tacoma - Bella Amore and Gibson's.
Serving at the Post Office building in Tacoma – Bella Amore and Gibson’s.

Spotted in downtown Tacoma  – two food trucks at the old post office building.

Bella Amore, a new Tacoma truck featuring meatball and sausage sandwiches for $4.99, is serving alongside Gibson’s, the frozen yogurt truck that is the mobile offspring of the Gibson’s yogurt cafes in Westgate and Stadium. Read more »

Sep.
16th

Opening today: The Hub at Gig Harbor, replacing Reflections at the Narrows Airport

The air traffic control tower at the Tacoma Narrows Airport gives the  new Hub Gig Harbor restaurant the basis for the motto "Pie on the Fly." The Gig Harbor restaurant opens Sept. 16. Dean J. Koepfler / Staff Photographer
The air traffic control tower at the Tacoma Narrows Airport gives the new Hub Gig Harbor restaurant the basis for the motto “Pie on the Fly.” The Gig Harbor restaurant opens Sept. 16. Dean J. Koepfler / Staff Photographer

Today is opening day for The Hub at Gig Harbor, one of three notable restaurants opening in Gig Harbor between now and the end of the year.

Business partners Pat Nagle and Carole Holder have imported to Gig Harbor their Hub concept from Tacoma’s St. Helens neighborhood. That bike-themed restaurant offers pizza, sandwiches and burgers in a casual, sprawling space that sports a dining room friendly to group seating and an open-air bar with roll-up garage doors. Read more »

Aug.
9th

Tourist Tacoma: Impress your guests with fine Italian – Marzano, Adriatic Grill, Primo Grill and more

Brian Marzano is pictured here with one of the restaurant's nightly specials, striped sea bass, with house made spinach and ricotta ravioli, fresh corn zabaione and grilled asparagus.  Dean J. Koepfler / Staff Photographer
Brian Marzano is pictured here with one of the restaurant’s nightly specials, striped sea bass, with house made spinach and ricotta ravioli, fresh corn zabaione and grilled asparagus.
Dean J. Koepfler / Staff Photographer

If there’s any cuisine that appeals as easily to kindergarteners as epicureans, it’s Italian.

Your picky mother-in-law. Your aunt from Kansas. Your toddler nephew. They’ll all find something to love at a fine Italian eatery.

In today’s installment of Tourist Tacoma – offering tips on where to take out-of-town guests for dinner – I’m focusing on upscale Italian eateries of South Sound. (Read my last installment about restaurants with beautiful dining rooms – Asado and Indochine).

Lucky us, we have polished Italian restaurants aplenty. You’ll find short tours here of Italian eateries worth a detour for celebrations big or small. But first, let me delve into my most recent favorite: Marzano Italian Restaurant. The Parkland restaurant this year celebrates a quarter century of producing rustic Italian fare brushed with Northwest flavors. Elisa Marzano opened the restaurant in 1988 in a tiny space with a scattering of tables. Marzano’s cooking – influenced by her native Northern Italy – immediately attracted a following that would propel her to grow the restaurant in 1993 to a larger space up the block in a converted home that is steps from Pacific Lutheran University. Read more »