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Gourmands going to Tacoma

Two chowhound types from Seattle are going to Tacoma to visit the glass museum, the Tacoma Art Museum the UW branch campus. We want to eat at at a really good restaurant in the vicinity, i.e., no brew pubs, pizza, "kid-friendly" places, faux Chinese, etc., which seem to dominate the recommendations already on this board. Any advice?? Thanks, Jack

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  1. Vien Dong on 38th and Yakima. You'll have to head south on Pacific, take a right on 38th and it's about 8 blocks up on the left hand side. It is a vietnamese place that serves great fresh spring rolls, pho, a bunch of different types of soups, rice noodle salads, and various other dishes. Whatever you do ask for a side order of their house made bbq pork (not chinese style; it is garlicly, tender, moist, heavenly). My personal favorites are the spicy beef, curry chicken (both come with a lot of fresh vegies), and the #14 (that bbq pork in a rice noodle salad bowl). Don't forget to add their house made "dong sauce" (as it is known in my family) that is kind of a spicy black bean based sauce. This place easily gives tamarind tree and green leaf a run for their money.

    1. Tacoma can be a little more difficult than Seattle in terms of tracking down good places to eat! One spot I really like is on Pacific (basically across from the history museum and therefore from the Museum of Glass as well) , called Indochine. Might want a reservation there. If you want to drive a little further away, there's a newer restaurant called Masa up on 6th Avenue. While the atmosphere and the music can be a little hit-or-miss, depending, the food is probably the best I've eaten in town (if you like a kind of modern Mexican/Central American fusion). They have super prices ($3) for a la carte burritos, enchiladas, etc., at lunch, so you could eat there first and then head down to the museums and UW Tacoma.

      2 Replies
      1. re: hannahp79

        Indochine's food is good, but not great, and severely overpriced, IMO. also, they have the most uncomfortable seating I've ever experienced in a restaurant (wooden backless benches...)

        1. re: hannahp79

          I personally wouldnt go to Masa, Asado Maybe...Masa has horrible food, bad/lazy service. They seem to have more focus on "Club Masa" than they do on service/food development.

        2. You might try the Pacific Grill. It's not the cheapest place in town but if you are interested in good food, it's worth a visit. Check out their website at www.pacificgrilltacoma.com.

          1. Well folks, thanks for the advice. We went to Indochine. Wouldn't recommend it. But I DO recommend having lunch in the cafe at the Tacoma Museum of Art. For the money it's the best food in a museum restaurant outside of Paris.

            Highlights of the excursion: the Chuck Close show, and the hot shop at the Museum of Glass.

            1. Within the Downtown area...

              1. Stadium Bistro
              2. Pacific Grill
              3. Sea Grill
              4. Indochine
              5. El Goucho
              6. Matador
              7. Galanga
              8. If Open (Merende) Should be open within the next couple of weeks. This would be my first choice. Opened by Jeff Bishop, who ran the kitchens of Brix 45 and il Fiasco when then first opened. Amazing Chef. If not open Id go to Stadium Bistro.

              If you want to go a little further (few miles), go to sixth avenue district

              1. Primo Grill
              2. Asado

              1. Jack - What about Stanley and Seaforts? Mr. Vanilla and I usually go there when we hike over to Tacoma and always enjoy a nice meal and good service. Enjoy the Glass Museum and a nice jaunt in the Southerly direction.

                1. You guys are all crazy... Masa? booo, Indochine? double boo, why spend 20+ on crappy small food. Tacoma needs to recognize our roots, we aren't posh foodie heaven, embrace the cheap wonderful food. You can get killer meals in Tacoma for less than 10 bucks, you may not have the most comfortable seat but the food is damn tasty... My fav 5's:
                  1) V & V Pho
                  2) The Fish House
                  3) Legendz Burgers
                  4) Mexican Market on South T
                  5) JT's

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: EatontheCheap

                    I'm with you Sal! The corporate crap fresh off the Sysco truck that passes for food served by the snottiest wait staff in most of those places is ridiculous.
                    We are the underdog city. Embrace our off-beat weirdness and eat at the little, independent hole-in-the-wall places where real Tacomans eat!

                    I totally second the Fish House Cafe recommendation. Here is a link to their menu and I recommend the fish sandwich with crinkle fries. Yum.

                    I also recommend Le-Le. It serves really fresh and delicious Vietnemese food. If you've never had it, try it! We always take out-of-town guests there and nobody every goes hungry or can't find something delicious (and usually healthy) to try. We love the spring rolls, the bun and the pho so much that we have a hard time trying new stuff. When we do we love it. The Tom Yum soup ranks in the top 10 foods we've tried.
                    Here is the link to their great restaurant:

                    Another fantastic ethnic restaurant is Fujiya. It has delicious, authentic Japanese food right downtown with no attitude and real, live Japanese owners who work there every day and live on the proceeds. Love supporting the small business!
                    Here is a link to their glossy new website:

                    Another off-beat treasure is Tatanka Take-Out in Ruston. It's right on the way to Point Defiance Park and Zoo and a great place to get yummy food for an impromptu picnic!
                    The menu is based around bison and if you've never had it you'll be amazed by its savory flavor. They call it "America's Original Health Food" and it's high in protein and low in fat and full of flavor. You can have it in huge burritos, crispy tacos, juicy burgers and savory BBQ roast. There are vegetarian and vegan options too but try the bison!
                    You can check out their menu:

                    Also in the north end close to the park (Just a few blocks down from Tatanka)is an incredible anachronism known as the Antique Sandwich Company. Just go there. You won't believe it. Transplants from Boulder, CO will feel like they've come home. Oh yeah, the sandwiches are great. And the tea. And the salads. And the Tuesday night open-mic...Well, it's funny anyway.

                    For another break from corporate bullsh*t try Black Water Coffee. The coffee is great and you'll feel like a cool insider. The magenta and orange tile floors shouldn't work...but they do, they really do.