TNT Diner

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

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Tag: burgers are good for you


Hey, look. Lefty’s Burger Shack in University Place is open. The line is out the door.

On opening day of Lefty’s Burger Shack last Saturday, she ran out of food. She ran out of food Sunday, too. On Monday, she served 450 burgers. Four hundred fifty burgers. In tiny restaurant terms, that’s like an indie band selling out the Tacoma Dome – small fish, big numbers. The line? Out the door.

“It was just insane,” said Pam Hubert, who has opened Lefty’s Burger Shack in University Place in a funky building with a cool history of burger lore. It was once home to Dairy Queen and Dairy Dell. News Tribune archives hint that Arctic Circle once called that building home, a few readers here remember it, too. If you’ve been by the building, you’d remember it. It’s octagon-ish and looks like it was built to be a burger shack.

Lefty’s is the culmination of a few years of work by Hubert (read this blog post I wrote back in June for the rest of the story), who runs the restaurant with her mother and two sons. Read more »


Burger basics: After almost 50 years, Little Holland Mikie Burgers still are flipping

  • The cheeseburger still comes on a crunchy, toasted bun with a healthy smear of Mikie sauce.

    I remember a phone conversation with the new owner of Little Holland/Mikie Burgers, just over a year ago. “No, we won’t change a thing,” said Chi Baek. She said it multiple times during that phone interview. I asked why she was being so repetitive. Baek sighed and confessed. Simply put: Fans of the well-known burger drive-in restaurant were insistent that the new owner stay true to the 50-year-old burger drive-in’s honest approach to burgers, fries and shakes. Putting it more bluntly: Baek received backlash in verbal form and in not-so-nice comments posted on News Tribune online stories about the change in ownership. Her takeaway: Longtime regulars didn’t like the thought of change and they were suspicious of Baek. Baek remained adament that she was not going to add teriyaki to the menu (a suspicion/accusation more than one fan tossed at her). She said she wouldn’t raise prices much, if at all. She said she would mostly stick with the same vendors.

    And now? After more than a year operating in the new location, Baek asserts that she hasn’t changed much at all. Anyone who works in the restaurant industry knows that saying things won’t change “at all” is near impossible with rising food costs, demanding customers and market shifts, so I’ll cut Baek slack on the finite details of a price change (5 cent increases hardly can be criticized) and adding a few new burgers to the menu. And I’d agree from a few recent visits that very little seems different about the nuts and bolts of the restaurant: the burgers and fries still taste the same. The Mighty Mike, the Mikie Burger, the pork sandwich, the plain cheeseburgers, the Mikie D – they’re all still listed on the menu. Read more »

  • March

    Burgers and pie, oh my: Don’s Drive-In in Puyallup.

    Yum, pie. Sour cream lemon and chocolate pictured here.

    Burgers and fries and homemade pie. What’s not to love? When cars were lining up at the new Sonic on South Hill, I pointed my car down South Hill and into the valley to Don’s Drive-In, which has operated since the 1960s across the street from the Puyallup Fairgrounds.

    Don’s is home to the Smitty burger, an oblong burger on a French roll not to be confused with the onion variety served every year at the fair (Don’s, in fact, is closed during the Puyallup Fair). Read more »


    Bar Burger Noshdown: Hundreds of napkins, plenty of heartburn and 20 bar burgers you should eat before you die

    The bacon cheeseburger at the Beach Tavern in Tacoma.

    Bar noshing doesn’t get any better than a big, cheesy gut bomb of a burger. It’s the anytime accompaniment to a cold pint at your favorite watering hole.

    I’ve spent the past six months touring South Sound bars, taverns and pubs in search of perfect bar burgers. (Yeah, I know it’s a tough gig I’ve got here.) What follows today through Friday is my report of the top 20 bar burgers I wrapped my hands around.

    I compiled this report largely based on recommendations from TNT Diner blog readers. Other recommendations came from chefs and foodies about town.

    Here are the bars I’ll be writing about:
    Tuesday: Powerhouse Brewery, Cliff House, Matador, Blazing Onion and Beach Tavern.
    Wednesday: Engine House No. 9, El Gaucho, Katie Downs, The Parkway, Ram
    Thursday: Crown Bar, Harmon, Bite Restaurant, West End Pub, Cheers South Hill
    Friday: Asado, Maxwell’s, Pacific Grill, The Hub, The Right Spot

    I set up a burger mission statement from the beginning. Read more »


    Food fight: Healthy dining vs. deep-fried bombs at the Puyallup Fair

    Bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers are served at the Totally Fried booth at the Puyallup Fair.

    This story started as a debate in the newsroom. Greasy, fried fair food: yea or nay? Half the reporters in the conversation said, “Blech.” The other half solidly voiced support for Team Fried Food.

    So we hatched an idea to take on the Puyallup Fair with nutrition in mind. Could healthy eats even be found at the fair? Really? This is an event, after all, that used 1,232 35-pound containers of shortening during the 2008 Puyallup Fair (that was the most recent figure that concessions manager Dan Sharp could find).

    My mission: Find tasty gut bombs. (I got the easy assignment, clearly)
    Craig Sailor’s mission: Find food that is reasonably healthy.

    We spent a day at the fair over opening weekend, and here’s what we found. Read more »


    TNT Diner Bar Burger Noshdown: The nominees are in. Vote here.

    Research for the TNT Diner Bar Burger Noshdown – where I’ll name the best bar burgers found in the South Sound – has been ongoing since June, but here’s your chance to pick at least one of the restaurants where I’ll dig into a delicious bar burger.

    It’s a closed poll so we don’t tip off the restaurant of a visit, but we’ll alert readers which of the bars was the reader choice  when the TNT Diner Bar Burger Noshdown publishes this Fall.

    Click “more” to see the nominees, and to vote. Read more »


    My ode to bar burgers: Last chance to nominate bars for the TNT Bar Burger Noshdown

    The Bistro Burger at the Cliff House restaurant

    I’ve wrangled with two hands the towering, smoky El Gaucho burger, noshed the heck out of the chorizo-sirloin burger dip at Asado.

    I’ve tuned out yelling sports fans as burger juice from a delectable kobe beef burger rolled down my wrist at the West End Pub. I’ve bit into the gooey, cheesy, bacony center of an inside out burger at Cheers South Hill Bar. I’ve enjoyed the delicious sweet tomato relish of a Katie Downs cheeseburger. And I’ve pillaged the savory juiciness of a bacon cheeseburger at the Parkway Tavern.

    After being tipped off by a TNT Diner reader, I set my burger loving eyes this month on the meaty cheeseburger at the Cliff House.

    Click “more” to read about my burger experience there, and read about how you can nominate your favorite bar burger for the TNT Diner Bar Burger Noshdown in September. You have until tomorrow to nominate your favorite burger joint, then I’ll open nominees to a closed poll where readers can vote for where I should dine. Read more »


    Breaking burger news: The Burgerville Nomad makes another mobile appearance this weekend

    What’s this? A second trip in a single week by the Burgerville Nomad to South Sound?

    An email from company reps say the roving Burgerville truck will serve up burgers and fries and other Burgerville standards tomorrow, Aug. 28, during the Lakewood International Festival (a free event, click the link for details).

    Last Friday, I wrote about how the Burgerville Nomad made its inaugural appearance in Tacoma. Click “more” to see the menu and five more reasons why I like Burgerville. Read more »