TNT Diner

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

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Tag: Tacoma diners


Never been: A dining series digging into American classics

Chicken fried steak is a diner classic served at Ma's Place in Puyallup. Staff photo/Lui Kit Wong
Chicken fried steak is a diner classic served at Ma’s Place in Puyallup. Staff photo/Lui Kit Wong

You know those quirky restaurants that have been there for an eternity, yet you never bothered to try? I have a whole list of those. I call them “never beens.”

This year, I’ll visit some of my “never beens” and report back, and I’d appreciate reader suggestions for this occasional series. (Find my contact info at the end of this story.) Parameters are easy: The restaurant should be at least 15 or 20 years old (the older, the better) and it should have an aura of grit (read: diners, dives and places known for serving a stiff drink). Better even are restaurants that serve good ol’ American classics. You know, like chicken and dumplings and chicken fried steak. Bonus points will be awarded for meatloaf on the menu.

Take a read now of two “never beens” I’ve finally conquered: Ben Dew’s Clubhouse Grill and Ma’s Place. Read more »


Second bite: Boxcar Grill on Sixth Avenue

The meatloaf sliders at Boxcar Grill come with shoestring fries.

Boxcar Grill is dishing up good eats at its new location on Sixth Avenue in Tacoma. It’s bigger, but just as approachable and casual as its original Freightouse Square location that it left earlier this summer.

Eaters will find the same menu of diner classics with a few additions – one that sounds like a food dare, a half-pound burger built on two grilled cheese sandwiches with bacon and jalapeno. Read more »


Boxcar Grill opens in new Sixth Avenue Tacoma location

Boxcar Grill – the little diner that could – reopened Friday in a new home on Sixth Avenue in Tacoma.

Daughter-mother team Liz and Velda Gilham opened their diner last July in an anchor position in the Freighthouse Square mall, a collection of restaurants and retail shops near the Tacoma Dome. From the beginning, facility problems and construction caused openings and closures that lasted for months. Frustrated, Liz and Velda went shopping for a new home and landed at the former space of Happy Dragon, a popular Chinese restaurant that closed earlier this year at Sixth and Orchard. The Gilhams closed Boxcar Grill July 16 to prepare for the move. Read more »


Boxcar Grill moves to Sixth Avenue in Tacoma

The patty melt at Boxcar Grill is my favorite melt in town. Staff file photo

The little diner that could is chugging along once again. The Boxcar Grill is moving to Sixth Avenue. They expect to reopen later this week or next.


The story of Boxcar Grill began last year at Freighthouse Square. Daughter-mother team Liz and Velda Gilham opened their diner last July and began a months-long struggle of closures and openings that lasted months. There were facility problems – the hot water went south, the walk-in cooler tanked and the heating system stumbled. The Gilhams reopened for what they hoped was the last time in mid-January, but it lasted just a handful of months. Construction blocked their entrance and they had to close again when a new sidewalk was poured. Read more »


Free breakfast today: Boxcar Grill at Freighthouse Square thanks customers for sticking around

Corned beef and hash at Boxcar Grill is one of my favorite breakfast dishes at the moment. The restaurant is at Freighthouse Square.

It’s been a long and bumpy ride for the owners of Boxcar Grill, one of my favorite new diners in Tacoma. Located inside Freighthouse Square, Boxcar Grill has had to overcome delay after delay in opening and then a construction project closed their front entrance in May. Well, they’re open again and they want to thank their loyal customers with a free breakfast all day today, June 9. The Hoodle Bug breakfast comes with toast, eggs and hashbrowns. Just order and pay for a beverage, and it’s yours for free today. They’re open until 7 p.m. today.

If you didn’t catch my review of Boxcar back in March, here are the highlights of all that this restaurant has had to overcome. Read more »


Readers Dish It Out: Your turn, your say

Here’s a thread where you- diners and readers- can sound off about restaurant and dining topics. Come out of lurk mode and add to the conversation.

The rules: No personal attacks, no all caps, no unsubstantiated information or wild accusations. Stay on topic. If it’s not about restaurants, dining or has some value in those arenas, the comment will be deleted.

Feel free to:
Promote your favorite restaurant, tell everyone about your chef son, and wax poetically about your daughter, the best server in town. Or, tell us where you’ve eaten lately that you liked, or

Read more »