TNT Diner

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

Tag: Tacoma burgers

April
11th

The tale of the South Sound Smitty burger, part II

A Smitty burger at Goofy Goose, although it's not called that.
A Smitty burger at Goofy Goose, although today it’s called a Goofy Burger.

You always can tell a Smitty burger by its shape. Think of the Smitty, served in these parts for more than 50 years, as something of a burger hoagie – a hamburger patty formed into a stretched-out oval with a hoagie or French roll standing in for a bun.

The fillings can fluctuate, depending on who’s assembling it, but a Smitty typically comes dressed with the cool crunch of iceberg lettuce, sliced or diced onions, thick tomato slices, pickle chips and almost always some kind of special sauce. If you’re doing it right, you’ll order it with cheese.

The story and lore of the Smitty burger stretches more than half a century in the South Sound. There’s actually two Smitty burgers – one still served locally, the other a burger an artifact of the Puyallup Fair (more on that in a minute).

Last week, I reported about the new coffee house and cafe Amp replacing Jubilee, one of just a few burger joints in the South Sound that was still serving the oblong Smitty. As a burger community service project, I wanted to make sure readers knew that Don’s Drive-In in Puyallup and Marcia’s Silver Spoon on South Tacoma Way still serve their versions of the Smitty.

I asked and readers bit with their own recommendations of where to still find a Smitty, whether or not it’s still called that. What follows is a touch more to the history of the Smitty burger, as told by Tacoma native and second-generation restaurateur Larry Zarelli, as well as burger recommendations from readers. Read more »

Feb.
21st

Burger Smackdown: Three new South Sound burger restaurants

The Ranch Hand cheeseburger at Blazing Onion in Tacoma. Lui Kit Wong/Staff photographer
The Ranch Hand cheeseburger at Blazing Onion in Tacoma. Lui Kit Wong/Staff photographer

Since 2008, I’ve taken you on tours of burger stands, bar burgers, highfalutin burgers, fair burgers and the finest handcrafted veggie burgers in the South Sound.

With three gourmet burger joints that have just opened in the South Sound — one in October, two in January — I thought it time for another burger pilgrimage.

Today’s burger trail encompasses the land of “chain restaurants,” a term that usually strikes fear deep in the gut of a dining critic.

Don’t worry. These aren’t those mindlessly homogenous could-be-in-Toledo-or-Tacoma chains. These chains are small and Washington-born and bred: Blazing Onion, Lunchbox Laboratory, and Bob’s Burgers & Brew.

Whose burgers proved best? That designation goes to Blazing Onion for superior burger construction, skilled service and pricing that won’t bust your wallet.

I rated each restaurant for variety, construction and flavor. I ate similar burgers at each: a “classic” cheeseburger, a blue cheese burger, a burger with a smokey flavor profile, and a wild-card burger from the “other than beef” category. Each restaurant was visited twice. Read more »

Jan.
16th

Here’s the beef on Blazing Onion Burgers and Bob’s Burgers and Brew – both opening soon

The farmhouse patty at Blazing Onion is made with brown rice, cheese and roasted veggies. No, it's not a gigantic beefy burger, but it is tasty. It's one of 20-something burgers served at the chain opening in Tacoma this weekend.
The farmhouse patty at Blazing Onion is made with brown rice, cheese and roasted veggies. No, it’s not a gigantic beefy burger, but it is tasty. It’s one of 20-something burgers served at the chain opening in Tacoma this weekend.

Two Washington-based burger chains – Blazing Onion and Bob’s Burgers and Brew – will open new South Sound locations in the coming days. Here’s when. Read more »

June
10th

Gourmet Burger Shop opens in downtown Gig Harbor

Don't you want a bacon cheeseburger now?
Don’t you want a bacon cheeseburger now?

After a few months of delays, the Gourmet Burger Shop opened Friday in its new downtown Gig Harbor location.

Owner Travis Hightower has been working on the space all year (it was previously occupied by Le Bistro before a fire closed that restaurant in 2010).

In April, Hightower  closed his first hole-in-the-wall burger shop. That spot always felt a mismatch – a painfully tiny roadside spot serving upscale burgers, shoestring garlic-herb fries and beet chips that seemed as if they’d be more at home on Sixth Avenue than a remote location beyond the Purdy Spit. Despite the location, Hightower found success – and crowds. Read more »

May
30th

Blazing Onion announces Tacoma site for new burger restaurant

On Tuesday, I told you about Blazing Onion expanding its Northwest-based chain of gourmet burger restaurants to Tacoma. Company CEO David Jones announced last night where the new Blazing Onion would be built – a new building at the Tacoma Mall. Read more »

April
29th

Gourmet burgers coming to Gig Harbor


The bacon cheddar burger with shoetring fries from The Gourmet Burger Shop in Gig Harbor. 2011 file photo by Dean J. Koepfler/Staff photographer

The Gourmet Burger Shop is inching closer to its move near Gig Harbor’s waterfront. Expect a late May opening.

Gone will be the long drive past the Purdy Spit, the propane-heated grill and the painfully tiny dining room.

Sticking around will be chef’s burgers, shoestring fries and beet chips. Buns still will be made by Gig Harbor’s 3 Clouds Bakery.

The two-year-old Gourmet Burger Shop always felt a mismatch – a downscale joint serving upscale burgers. The style and quality of burgers there were something like what you’d find in the bar at Pacific Grill or Crown Bar, both in Tacoma and restaurants that made my top-20 burgers list a few years ago. 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 »

Jan.
28th

New burger restaurants on the way – DeLong’s Deluxe in Lakewood and Shake Shake Shake in Stadium

Pick-Quick reopens from its winter hiatus Feb. 1. Also in February, two burger restaurants are planning to open.
Pick-Quick reopens from its winter hiatus Feb. 1. Also in February, two burger restaurants are planning to open. File photo from February 2011

February is shaping up to be the month of the burger for South Sound diners. Two retro-style burger restaurants plan February openings – DeLong’s Deluxe in Lakewood and Shake Shake Shake in the Stadium neighborhood. Additionally, here’s good news for Pick-Quick fans: The Fife burger restaurant reopens Friday from its annual two-month winter hiatus. Also at the end of this blog post, I have an update about Jubilee – a Lincoln neighborhood burger restaurant that closed in November and has been rumored as reopening. I’ve also got an update for diners on the Gourmet Burger Shop – the restaurant’s move to downtown Gig Harbor has been delayed to March. Read on. Read more »