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

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Tag: Federal Way dining


Restaurant oddity: Cajun-Vietnamese restaurant sloshes together NOLA eats with Northwest pho

The tasty collision of Vietnamese and Cajun cuisine resulted in the creation of a spicy Cajun pho complete with crawfish, gulf shrimp and andouille sausage at the Crazy Pho Cajun in Federal Way. Alligator not included. Dean J. Koepfler / Staff Photo
The tasty collision of Vietnamese and Cajun cuisine resulted in the creation of a spicy Cajun pho complete with crawfish, gulf shrimp and andouille sausage at the Crazy Pho Cajun in Federal Way. Alligator not included. Dean J. Koepfler / Staff Photo

Sometimes a restaurant sounds so freakishly odd, a chowhound has no choice but to drive 15 miles out of the way to check out a reader tip. Crazy Pho Cajun, a Cajun-Vietnamese restaurant in Federal Way, was my most recent fun find.

Cajun-Vietnamese sounds a little like a food dare, but root around in the bayou long enough and the culinary marriage of Cajun-Vietnamese makes at least a little sense. Read more »


Kid coaxing: How to bribe the kids with a little sweet treat around Tacoma

Part ice cream shop, part sciece experiment, Subzero Ice Cream & Yogurt in Federal Way is a great bribe of an outing during the final stretch of winter break.

A warning to any parents who forbid sweets and treats: This story is not for you. Stop reading now. I mean it.

For the rest of us: Any parent who has spent winter break for two whole weeks cooped up with a gaggle of kids knows that it sometimes takes bribery to get the wee ones to cooperate. Sometimes a sweet incentive dangled before a cute little face might actually get junior to Stop. Hitting. His. Sister.

Need your little one to finish that worksheet or tackle that reading assignment? Promise a sweet escape to a locally owned (or operated) candy, ice cream or cookie store that offers interesting and unusual treats. I call it “Project Parent Bribe.” You might be inclined to call it Operation Keep My Sanity.

Here are five bribes, err places, to visit with the kids this week during the final week of winter break. Read on. Read more »


European eats and treats, foraging around the South Sound to find reader favorites

The South Sound restaurant scene has the market cornered on teriyaki and Thai and it seems you can’t turn in a circle without finding a new Vietnamese restaurant. But when it comes to Polish or Russian food, it might be easier to have someone’s grandma do the cooking because those restaurants are in short supply. Read more »


Salvadoran flavor: Local restaurants create devilishly good stuffed corn discs

Pupusas are hand made at Mi Chalateca, an El Salvadorian restaurant in Federal Way. The griddled corn based dough is stuffed with beans, cheese or pork and typically eaten with hot sauce and pickled cabbage, top left. Photo by Janet Jensen/Staff photographer

Pupusas are neither tacos, gorditas nor quesadillas, but think of them as the Salvadoran cousin to all three.

Pupusas are thick, fragrant corn discs that can be stuffed with cheese, slow-simmered pork, a smear of beans, shredded zucchini or even spinach. They’re griddle-warmed and served piping hot with a side of curtido, a Salvadoran pickled cabbage-carrot salad goosed with fresh oregano.

Dig your fork into the middle of a queso pupusa and a gooey ooze of cheese spills out of the center. As one of my dining partners noted during a visit to a pupuseria, “What’s not to love about hot wads of dough stuffed with melted cheese?” I concur. They’re devilishly good.

At less than $2 per pupusa, they make for a filling and inexpensive meal. At pupuserias, the restaurants that specialize in the stuffed corn discs, pupusas are meant as an appetizer for brimming bowls of soup, grilled meats, fried yuca and stews – all specialties of Salvadoran cuisine.

These Salvadoran dishes can be found at pupuserias El Pulgarcito in Lakewood and Mi Chalateca in Federal Way – small restaurants big on Salvadoran flavor.

Here’s what they have to offer: Read more »


No-frills sammies: Hole-in-the-wall sandwich shops in Tacoma, Federal Way and Lacey deliver the real deal

A BLT with pesto, ribs with home fries and a berry shake are available in the homey settings of Shorty’s Grub House in Federal Way. Photo by Lui Kit Wong/Staff photographer.

Everyone has a favorite hole in the wall.

Fans of nondescript places that are low on atmosphere and big on honest-to-goodness real-deal eats know what I’m talking about.
Many sub-genres exist within the hole-in-the-wall category – burger stands, barbecue joints and my current personal favorite – sandwich emporiums.

I’ve found three of those sandwich shops lately that qualify as legitimate holes in the wall. Little or no frills around the edges, simply furnished, clean and efficient, a friendly face to take your order at a counter. No Chihuly hangs in the lobby, no bubbly people wearing name tags and flair. Click “more” to read about them.

YOUR TURN: Tell us where to go to get the best sandwiches. Just click and comment below. Read more »


Hawaiian punch: Sunny eats, grilled meats make for delicious island noshing

Loco Moco, hamburger with eggs over easy on top, with a side of rice and mac salad at Pac Island Grill in Federal Way. Photo by Peter Haley/Staff photographer

The scent of slow-cooked pork mingled with the heady aroma of grilled meat signals you’ve arrived at a Hawaiian restaurant. The heart of Hawaiian fare is in the meat. Huli huli chicken, barbecued beef and short ribs among the grilled selections; kalua and lau lau pork are slow-cooked offerings.

Huli huli chicken nearly always is made from dark thigh meat, pounded thin and tenderized with marinades or flavored with rubs, then grilled and slathered with a soy-based sauce sweetened with brown sugar and flavored with ginger and garlic. Barbecued beef is usually sinewy pieces of chuck roll, or a similar cut, marinated in soy and tenderized, then sliced thin and grilled until crispy around the edges. Ribbons of fattiness tug at the corners. Short ribs are cooked the same way, and have that same chewiness as the barbecued beef.

Those fatty meats might bother some American palates. “Hawaiian people don’t eat healthy,” joked Leianna Landon, who owns Pac Island Grill in Federal Way with her sister Raeleen Smith. Read more »