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Downtown Tacoma - eight dinners with no car

AnneInMpls Jun 16, 2011 10:21 PM

We're coming to town for a train convention and won't have a car for a week. I'd love your recommendations and guidance for our eight dinners.

We're staying downtown at the Hotel Murano at 13th & Broadway, and I'm looking for good places for dinner that are close to the hotel (or are easy to get to by bus/light rail or a short taxi ride).

We like world cuisine and places with creative, fresh, local foods/flavors that are quiet enough to converse without yelling. We're not into swanky/expensive food (we're not bringing our dress-up clothes), so casual to upscale-casual works best for us. In fact, hole-in-the-wall mom & pop places would be great, but I'm guessing that downtown rents don't allow for many of these near our hotel. Any place with good wine, cocktails, and/or microbrew beer is a plus, but alcohol is not a requirement.

Normally, we would seek out neighborhood bistros and hidden mom & pop world-food spots, but we're on a tight schedule for this trip (except for maybe one night).

I've done some initial research by reading a few old threads and the Weekly Volcano's restaurant guide. Places that look appealing so far:

- Villa Caffe & Imbibery
- Two Koi
- Silk Thai
- Indochine
- Pacific Grill (menu looks great, but would we have to dress up?)
- Over The Moon Cafe (is the food good, or just the atmosphere?)
- the new Pho 701 Bistro & Bar (has anyone tried it yet?)

If we have time, several places on 6th Ave look good - like Asado, Gateway to India, and Primo Grill - and they seem to be on the #1 bus line. Vuelva a la Vida looks great, too, but I'm not sure we'll have time/energy for the trip.

Also, we need a downtown (or close) grocery store for breakfast food and healthy snacks. Is there anything close to the Murano?

Many thanks for advice and tips!


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  1. j
    jlhinwa RE: AnneInMpls Jun 16, 2011 11:37 PM

    Are your plans to be without a car set in stone? Tacoma is not a great city to be a tourist without a car for that long of a stay. For a weekend--even a long weekend--no problem.

    Regarding restaurants, I have been to Two Koi, Indochine, Over the Moon Cafe and Pacific Grill. I would recommend them all. Over the Moon Cafe is more "nice cafe" than "nice restaurant" in atmosphere and the food is known for being good. It has been a couple of years since I last visited, but I haven't heard/read anything to the contrary since. Pacific Grill is more upscale than the others, but this is the Pacific NW and people tend to be very casual. If I were going to dinner there, I would probably wear dress slacks rather than jeans, but that is just my preference.

    Closest grocery stores with decent selection of food items--there's Stadium Thriftway which is about a mile and a half away. There is also a Safeway about 1-1/4 miles though you will have a lot more interesting choices at the Thriftway and it is in a better neighborhood if you are walking. Tacoma also has a Farmer's Market on Thursday's just down a few blocks on Broadway.

    Pacific Grill
    1502 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98402

    Indochine Cafe
    2045 Mildred St W, Tacoma, WA 98466

    Over the Moon Cafe
    709 Court C, Tacoma, WA 98402

    1. l
      Leper RE: AnneInMpls Jun 17, 2011 08:48 AM

      Matador restaurant has some very good Tex-Mex and excellent drinks. Maxwell's Speakeasy is a Chow-worthy destination. Fujiya Japanese restaurant has a different style than Two Koi and is also recommended. The tuna dish at Indochine is exceptional. El Gaucho is a very expensive steak restaurant but offers a great happy hour burger that is excellent and affordable. The Melting Pot on Pacific offers high-end fondue options. Sixth Avenue also features the Southern Kitchen (great for breakfast as well.) Crown Bar on Sixth offers a great happy hour; Engine House Number 9, just off Sixth has Al Fresco dining that is wonderful this time of year. Nearby is the Red Hot which only serves hot dogs and beer. While it may not sound like much, the Red Hot has a magical environment that defies description. You just have to experience it. Vuelva a la Vida is worth the effort--especially if you like oysters. The Swiss Tavern offers good pub grub, but avoid the Harmon where everything comes straight off a Sysco truck.

      Fujiya Japanese Restaurant
      1125 Court C, Tacoma, WA 98402

      Southern Kitchen Restaurant
      1716 6th Ave, Tacoma, WA 98405

      1. l
        libstewart RE: AnneInMpls Jun 17, 2011 12:37 PM

        I would add to the list Rock Pasta and The Swiss on Jefferson. The Matador and Paddy Coynes are both on Pacific Ave.

        1. l
          luckywonton RE: AnneInMpls Jun 19, 2011 08:49 AM

          Two Koi and Fujiya are solid sushi restaurants and within a block or two of the Murano. Two Koi is more of a fusion place (e.g. they have a steak roll) whereas Fujiya is more traditionally Japanese. Re: Pacific Grill: it's tasty and has a well regarded chef, and there's really no restaurant in Tacoma where you can't show up in jeans. I second Leper's suggestion re: Maxwell's. Sit in the bar and try to hit it during happy hour (check website) to score a great deal. That goes for Pacific Grill, too. I'm not crazy about Matador--pedestrian Tex-Mex and I not a good value--and recommend Asado (5 min. cab ride) if you're leaning in that direction. Asado is Argentinian--not Tex-Mex--and is a popular place with good steaks and dreamy polenta. Vuelva a la Vida is delicious but quite a long cab ride, so be forewarned. STINK is a new place downtown (a block from Maxwell's) emphasizing wine, cheese and sandwiches. The owner has a great palate and this place looks promising. For hand crafted cocktails, head to 1022 South in the gentrifying Hilltop area. Amazing drinks and decent small plates. This place is generating a lot of buzz, especially since being written up last winter in the NYT. For Thai, I recommend Indochine over Silk Thai. Indochine is walkable and Silk Thai's not worth the cab fare. If you're in the mood for pizza, Puget Sound Pizza and the Hub are decent. Since it looks like you're from Memphis, I wouldn't recommend a trip to the Southern Kitchen. That's all I can think of at this point. Enjoy your stay!

          Pacific Grill
          1502 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98402

          Silk Thai Cafe
          3401 6th Ave Ste F, Tacoma, WA 98406

          Indochine Cafe
          2045 Mildred St W, Tacoma, WA 98466

          Puget Sound Pizza
          317 S 7th St, Tacoma, WA 98402

          Southern Kitchen Restaurant
          1716 6th Ave, Tacoma, WA 98405

          1. AnneInMpls RE: AnneInMpls Jun 20, 2011 11:41 PM

            Thanks for all the info! We arrived Sunday evening & taxied to a late dinner at Asado - LOVED it! Well worth the RT cost for the taxi. Today, we needed a quick lunch, so were happy to find Galangal only half a block from the hotel - the speedy & tasty food made us very happy. We're looking forward to discovering more chow treasures in Tacoma.


            P.S. Yup - no car, as we're doing convention excursions (train trips, mostly) most of the time. We don't have much time off. Oh, and though I adore Memphis, "Mpls" is an old-time abbreviation for Minneapolis. :-) Point taken about Southern food in Tacoma, though.

            3 Replies
            1. re: AnneInMpls
              jlhinwa RE: AnneInMpls Jun 21, 2011 09:47 PM

              I'm glad your visit is off to a great start and you are getting around the city just fine. I haven't been to Asado yet but keep hearing great things...need to get there soon!

              Just wanted to chime in about Two Koi and Fujiya--both are great places. You seem to have timed your visit well as far as the weather goes which is no small feat. If it continues, you might enjoy dinner at one of the waterfront restaurants on the deck. I don't know that you will eat your best meal at one of those places (Lobster Shop, Harbor Lights, Duke's the Ram, Katie Down's Pizza) but it is a very lovely setting for a relaxed meal on a warm day.

              Enjoy the rest of your stay!

              1. re: AnneInMpls
                thomco RE: AnneInMpls Jun 22, 2011 10:08 PM

                I would recommend Souther Kitchen, especially for breakfast.

                1. re: AnneInMpls
                  luckywonton RE: AnneInMpls Jun 23, 2011 09:50 PM

                  I realized my Memphis mistake after posting my reply and seeing the "mpls" in your handle. Oops!

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