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UPuget Sound/Tacoma? Help

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My son's going to be attending UPugetSound, so we'll be visiting off and on for a few years. A board search doesn't reveal much about the current scene in Tacoma. I don't really need to stick to close to campus, but won't want to drive for more than 20 minutes or a half hour either.

Any good/great places? Open to all, especially ethnic (for example, I'm led to believe there's some good Mexican). Price isn't much of a concern, but solid execution most certainly is, whether breakfast or a burger or a Szechuan feast or whatever.


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  1. Welcome to T-town.
    Try Asado, Il Fiasco, Masa, Primo, on 6th ave
    Gateway to India for homestyle N. Indian (6th ave)
    EastWest, Silk Thai, Fujiya, are good asian
    Brix in Gig Harbor,
    Pacific Grill, Sea Grill, el gaucho downtown.
    if you must eat on the water front, buy a good sandwhich from metro mkt and have a picnic, much better food that way.
    check the TNT for more

    And tell your son not to keep me up to late with the wild parties!

    1 Reply
    1. re: mrhappy

      Could I trouble you to elucidate on these? If not, I'm buying him a really loud sound system. Just kidding, of course.

    2. Stay away from asado and masa, bland and generic.
      Two koi downtown has excellent sushi, the herban cafe on 6th is decent, and bite in the hotel murano is fantastic

      3 Replies
      1. re: Dj Jazzy Jessica

        I'm sorry, but the Bite at Hotel Murano is a Sysco outlet--not a Chowhound destination. I second Asado, Fujiwara and Herban Cafe`. #1 recommendation would be Bistro Sofia in University Place. For breakfast, The Southern Kitchen, near UPS and a gem.

        1. re: Dj Jazzy Jessica

          Yay! Another Logger! I graduated from UPS when there weren't as many good options, but there were a few - namely, It's Greek to Me, which is still one of my favorite places in Tacoma, probably in part due to nostalgia and Southern Kitchen (directly across the street from It's Greek to Me), both of which are walkable from UPS (long-ish walk). The food in the SUB at UPS isn't horrible, at least not compared to some of the food I've had at other schools. I ate a lot of taco salads! Metro Market has a pretty good prepared foods section, which made for a nice change of pace from the SUB from time to time.

          I disagree with DJ JJ about Asado. Haven't been to Masa, but I think Asado is a valuable addition to Tacoma's food scene. The food we've had there has been consistently good. Website (warning, very corporate): www.asadotacoma.com.

          1. re: kkbriggs

            I second It's Greek to Me. It is a bit of a hole in the wall (the last time I was there when I graduated a few years ago), but mother who lives locally still raves.

            The pizza in the SUB wasn't horrible either and there is a decent coffee shop that did very good muffins.

            There's a nice Italian deli in Fircrest called Viafores. At lunch time they do sandwiches and their pasta salad is very nice.

        2. Welcome to the neighborhood. I found Tacoma via UPS and never left.

          Here's a short list of a few favorites:

          Pacific Grill (http://pacificgrilltacoma.com/) - a staple of the downtown dining scene. Great happy hour menu.

          Maxwell's (http://www.maxwells-tacoma.com/) - it's only been open for a few weeks, but we've had some very good meals here. Same restaurateur that opened Masa and Asado. I like Asado. I definitely like Maxwell's.

          Primo Grill (http://primogrilltacoma.com/) - this was one of the first restaurants to make it on Sixth Avenue and the chef sources a large percentage of his food from local growers and producers. I haven't been in a long time, but it used to be a very regular hang out for us. Primo is quite close to UPS.

          Silk Thai (3401 6th Ave) - Thai places have opened up all over Tacoma in the last few years. This is still our favorite. Plus, it's very close to UPS.

          Tacoma Szechaun (9601 South Tacoma Way) - consistently called one of the best (and most authentic) Chinese places in the region. It'd be about a 20 minute drive from the University.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ydereky

            Thanks for all the tips. Keep 'em coming!
            In time, I hope to be able to post some trip reports.

            1. re: Spot

              Frisko Freeze on 6th is a classic old time burger place I've been loving on since High School. My favorite tavern down there is still The Spar. Gastropub it's not, but it's just one of those classic places. Ditto for Knapp's on 26th and Proctor, a classic bluehair greasy spoon doing American breakfasts.

              I know my tips are on the pedestrian side, but I don't live down there any more, and my dad is the world's least adventurous eater, at least though his places have charm.

          2. I can give you names and descriptions, any phone book or anywho.com will give you the address.

            Southern Kitchen (about 5 min away from UPS) - Southern Fried Chicken, Catfish, Fried Green Tomatoes, Strawberry Lemonade served in pint jars. Oprah Ate here. (second or third vote)

            Rosewood Cafe - Walking distance from UPS. Not ethnic just good food. Opposite direction from Southern Kitchen and not as far.

            LeLe's - Vietnamese - Asian. REALLY far walk.

            Gateway to India - Great sit down evening dinner. Noonish buffet. Great Indian food.
            (Second vote...)

            Mexican - ? - My wife and I are from southern Colorado and there is no place like home for Mexican unless it is Mexico! There are a number that might be that close to UPS but right now I am drawing a blank.

            It's Greek to Me. This has got to be a must visit. Seating is VERY sparse but if you are walking, you are either already wet or soon will be.

            There is a fabulous Louisiana BBQ called JT's on 6th a few miles from UPS.

            Gig Harbor may be a bit more than 20 minutes away, depending on where you eat. There are several places which are great.

            1 Reply
            1. re: RobertDS

              Oh, yeah! LeLe's. Can't believe I forgot about it. It's good, but I wouldn't walk there - it would be a REALLY long walk. There was another place I loved even more that was on Proctor up by Starbucks, but I think it's gone now. For real Mexican, Vuelve la Vida is good, as is El Compadre.

              If you're looking to venture further afield from Tacoma, two places I think are worth the drive are Xinh's in Shelton and La Tarasca in Centralia. Both have been mentioned on this board numerous times.

              Robert, I'd be interested to hear what you like in Gig Harbor.

            2. You really don't need to drive beyond Tacoma to get good food. The restaurant scene has actually become quite sophisticated in recent years ... even my parents who live in the Bay Area are always impressed. We are also UPS grads who found Tacoma through the university and 13 years later still don't plan to leave. I hope your son really enjoys it here.

              Here are some of our favorite eating spots:

              Asado -- Argentian with great meats and a fun spot for happy hour (not sure what Jazzy Jessica ate there, but it's not bland)

              Masa -- what I would call "new age Mexican" (happy hour all day Sunday and Monday will make this a fun place for your son to eat for not too much cash, but only after he's 21 since happy hour is in the bar)

              Gateway to India -- fabulous Indian food on 6th Ave. and if you have the pleasure of meeting the owner, CJ, he'll probably remember you on all of your visits in years to come, too

              MSM -- not much to look at but good deli sandwiches. Try the Mike's Deluxe. It's also on 6th Ave.

              Wild Orchid -- I'm suprised no one has mentioned this so far. Fantastic pan-Asian food on 6th Ave. with a nice interior. I think the food here is better than Silk Thai (just a couple blocks up the road)

              Indochine -- the best Asian food in town, but potentially the worst service. Still, it's worth a visit and the interior is gorgeous. It's on Pacific Ave. around the museums.

              Fujiya -- great sushi in downtown Tacoma. The interior is less flashy than most but the food and service make up for it. Two Koi, on the other hand, has some of the worst service I've seen and my family agreed the sushi was good but not that impressive.

              Tacos Guyamos (sp?) -- not a fancy spot by any means (your order at a counter than sit down for the food to be brought to you) but great for authentic Mexican food at a good price. It's on the corner of S. 38th and Pine, out towards the mall

              Other places close to UPS that your son will probably eventually become familiar with: E-9, a small brew pub with good fish and chips (and much more); Farellis, a pizza place on the corner of 6th Ave and Union (my favorite is the Jack and John); and Metropolitan Market (high-end grocery store on Proctor St. that has great sandwiches and a large selection of other hot/cold items from their deli.

              Oh, and Pacific Grill is also a good spot. There are many more, but those are the ones that come to mind right off the bat. Enjoy!

              1. A lot of idealistic UPS students are looking for a substitute for corporate fast-food and here it is! Just a short bike ride through really pretty neighborhoods(if your son doesn't have a bike he should get one)Tatanka Take-out has healthy food that is also delicious and a funky vibe that is popular with the 'kids'.
                Some things you might like to know: Bison is very low in fat, high in protein and has rich, savory flavor. Your son doesn't have to worry about where this meat comes from or how the animals have been treated.
                Bison are grass-fed in real fields in beautiful places like Priest River, Idaho. The bison at Tatanka is organic and minus any upsetting chemicals or cruelty.
                There are lots of ways to enjoy bison including juicy burgers, huge burritos, crispy tacos, spicy chile and tender BBQ roast. There are also lots of vegie items on the menu and some free-range chicken stuff but your son should try the bison. He won't regret it!
                Stop by on week days and let Tatanka Bob make you and your son something really delicious. Your son might even make a new friend-lots of UPS students are fans and friends of Bob and his food.
                4915 North Pearl, Ruston, WA. 253-752-8778
                You can take a look at the menu at http://www.naturalchoice.net/review/t...

                1. I live close to UPS, here are some of my favorites:
                  Metropolitan Market-okay, it's a grocery store, but it has the BEST tomato soup I've ever tasted.
                  Asado- great cocktails and an excellent burger. I like to sit in the bar area and eat from the small plate menu. Ceviche, yuca fries, empanadas, everything's really well done.
                  Le Le's- Pho!
                  Two Koi- downtown sushi place, lovely setting across from the art museum, their chirashi rocks. And the yellowtail, ay dios mio.
                  Vuelve A La Vida- mini cervezas in a ice bucket, good authentic mexican, love the pozole.
                  Tacos Guaymas- fresh, cheap, delicious. It's in strip mall hell, but sometimes you gotta go to the mall.
                  East West in Proctor is decent thai, good beef panang curry.
                  India Mahal and Gateway to India, both tasty, great biryanis!
                  Trahn Bros- far away on south tacoma way, but amazing pho, and it's served with mini creampuffs for some reason. I like it!
                  That's all I can think of right now. Happy eating :)