Looking for a place to wine or dine on finer fare while in town for the U.S. Open? Here’s a quick guide to the area’s better offerings. These are higher-end restaurants, and most take reservations. All are within 15-20 miles of the course. For dining close to the shuttle sites in Lakewood and Puyallup, read this story.
Even Tacoma’s finest restaurants don’t require a jacket and tie, but you won’t be out of place wearing either. Expect entress in the $15-$30 range at all these restaurants.
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Pacific Grill: This downtown Tacoma institution is co-owned by Gordon Naccarato, who also owns the Smoke + Cedar restaurant at the Allenmore Golf Course (open to the public). Pacific Grill holds court as the city’s ultimate swanky surf-and-turf restaurant, with the best all-day happy hour in the region.1502 Pacific Ave., Tacoma; 253-627-3535 or pacificgrilltacoma.com.
El Gaucho: This downtown Tacoma restaurant with a subterranean dining room is a haven for steak lovers with deep expense accounts, but it also hosts a solid happy hour. Exquisite service and high-end steaks are the specialty here. This restaurant also has a Seattle outpost. Find it at 2119 Pacific Ave., Tacoma; 253-272-1510 or elgaucho.com.
Indochine Asian Dining Lounge: This beautiful downtown destination is a 200-seat Southeast Asian restaurant with one of the most thoughtfully designed dining rooms in the area. Warm wood accents, stone and exposed brick original to the building form a striking visual palette. Find the downtown Tacoma eatery at 1924 Pacific Ave., Tacoma; 253-272-8200, indochinedowntown.com. (Note: This restaurant has a family-friendly, casual sister restaurant on Pearl Street.)
Galanga Thai: This downtown Tacoma restaurant is the region’s finest for Thai cuisine. Owners Ted and Yim Kenney offer the gamut of Thai cooking, including unusual finds, such as the miang kum appetizer. Be sure to check for a specials menu, and if the sticky rice mango dessert is on the menu, save room for that. Find Galanga Thai at 1129 Broadway, Tacoma; 253-272-3393 or galangathai.com.
Fujiya Japanese Restaurant: Since 1984, Masahiro Endo has been serving beautiful plates of exquisite fish in his simple, but beautiful restaurant. Every diner is rewarded with am amuse bouche from smiling sushi chefs, and be sure to ask those chefs what’s fresh (the restaurant is legendary for its off-menu specials). The L-shaped sushi bar seats 15 and the window booths yield a bustling view of Broadway below. Find the restaurant at 1125 Court C, Tacoma; 253-627-5319, fujiyatacoma.com.
TheKoi Japanese Cuisine: This modern Japanese sushi restaurant has the longest sake list in town and a sushi menu seesawing between traditional and fusion. The restaurant formerly was called TwoKoi, but reopened in June with a new name, a new solo owner, Jeannie Han, and a slightly made over menu. Find the restaurant at 1552 Commerce St., Tacoma; facebook.com/thekoi.
Bite Restaurant at Hotel Murano: This eatery affords peek-a-boo city views if you know where to ask for a table (in the far back of the restaurant, ask for the curved booth). Find a menu serving everything from sandwiches to surf-and-turf. Be sure to check out Executive Chef Matt Stickle’s weekly dinner specials built from ingredients sourced at the Tacoma Broadway farmers market. From the appetizer menu, the poutine should not be missed. Find it at 1320 Broadway, Tacoma; 253-591-4151 or hotelmuranotacoma.com.
SIXTH AVENUE/ST. HELENS NEIGHBORHOOD
Primo Grill: Sixth Avenue’s premiere destination for Mediterranean cuisine saw a recent move and a concept makeover by husband-and-wife owners Charlie McManus, the restaurant’s chef, and Jacqueline Plattner. Find a menu of handmade pasta, terrific pizza made from an Italian biga, and expertly prepared surf and turf in a stylish atmosphere adorned with reclaimed wood and roll-up windows that yield a slice of the Sixth Avenue nightlife. This restaurant only is open for dinner. Find Primo Grill at 2701 Sixth Ave., Tacoma; 253-383-7000, primogrilltacoma.com.
Marrow: Purchased in 2014 by Chris Keil and Matthew Schweitzer, owners of the area’s finest cocktail lounge, Hilltop Kitchen, Marrow is a menu with a dual purpose, for both vegetarians and meat eaters. Find sophisticated fare, flavor-drenched cocktails and an atmosphere that’s austere, yet attractive. The resturant recently started serving lunch, as well. Marrow is at 2717 Sixth Ave., Tacoma; 253-267-5299, marrowtacoma.com.
Asado: This Argentinian steakhouse is defined by smoke and sizzle. A display kitchen showcases the mesquite grill that produces flame-licked steaks. Low lighting is moody by night, but bright and lively during the daytime, thanks to expansive garage doors that roll up in the summertime, spilling diners onto Sixth Avenue. Find the steakhouse at 2810 Sixth Ave., Tacoma; 253-272-7770, asadotacoma.com.
Maxwell’s Speakeasy + Lounge: This St. Helens neighborhood eatery offers a menu of New American cuisine with a Northwest backbone. With the exception of a brief hiatus, Chef Hudson Slater has cooked at the restaurant since it opened in 2008. The restaurant is known for its artful plating, under the watchful eye of Slater. Find the dinner-only restaurant at 454 St. Helens Ave, Tacoma; 253-683-4115 or maxwells-tacoma.com.
AROUND THE COUNTY
Marzano Italian Restaurant: Marzano is a family-run endeavor with Elisa Marzano at the helm of the restaurant built into a refurbished home, steps away from Pacific Lutheran University. Find house-made pastas and an ever-changing list of Mediterranean grill specials. Find the restaurant at 516 Garfield St. S, Tacoma; 253-537-4191 or dinemarzano.com.
Adriatic Grill: It’s unusual to find a restaurant of this quality at a location near a mall, but Adriatic Grill is full of surprises. Chef-owner Bill Trudnowski has built a following for his legendary bolognese, and makes excellent use of the wood-fired oven that’s a showpiece of the Mediterranean restaurant with a full display kitchen. Find the restaurant at 4201 S. Steele St., Tacoma; 253-475-6000 or adriaticgrill.com.
Grassi’s Ristorante: This Italian restaurant is the project of Ken and Kim Grassi, with help from daughter Melanie. Find well-tended pasta and grill items, with a don’t-miss dessert list at this restaurant that is the closest higher end restaurant to the Chambers Bay course. Find lighter fare, including soups and sandwiches, at lunch. Find the restaurant at 2811 Bridgeport Way W., University Place; 253-565-0633 or grassis-ristorante.com.
Brix 25: You’ll have to cross Narrows Bridge to get to this wine-centric restaurant near Gig Harbor’s waterfront, but it’s worth the drive. Husband-wife duo Katie Doherty and Thad Lyman, the restaurant’s chef, have spun a Northwest menu with a wine list that’s among the best in the area. This restaurant was the winner of the Washington Wine Commission’s restaurant of the year award in 2009 and has won other awards from the commission and recognition from Wine Spectator magazine. Find Brix 25 at 7707 Pioneer Way, Gig Harbor; 253-858-6626 or harborbrix.com.
JW: This tiny restaurant is known for its American comfort food menu, with a dazzling wine list and it’s also in Gig Harbor, across the Narrows bridge. It’s right next to the Harbor History Museum, just off Gig Harbor’s waterfront. When I say tiny, I mean tiny. Be sure to make reservations and do note that this is a 21-and-older only restaurant. Find JW at 4107 Harborview Dr, Gig Harbor; 253-858-3529 or jwgigharbor.com.
Arista Pasta: This pasta destination is one of the newest restaurants in downtown Puyallup, with a menu of handmade ravioli in myriad flavors (mushroom medeira, chicken gorgonzola, lobster) and heartier entrees, such as roasted duroc pork shoulder and Copper River salmon. Find it at 109 W. Pioneer Ave.; 253-604-4288 or facebook.com/aristarestaurant.
Toscanos Italian Grill and Wine Bar: This restaurant is just off the Meridian corridor on Main Street in downtown Puyallup and serves a terrific pasta and surf-and-turf menu that’s best described as Northwest-drenched Mediterranean. A dependable wine and cocktail list invites lingering on one of Puyallup’s loveliest patios, with a view of Mount Rainier. Find it at 437 29th St. NE; 253-864-8600 or toscanospuyallup.com.
HG Bistro: This restaurant features Northwest cuisine in an attractive cafe setting in downtown Puyallup, with decent cocktails and a tremendous happy hour. Find it at1618 E. Main Ave.; 253-845-5747 or hgbistro.com.
Social Bar and Grill: Located on the Foss waterway, and with a view of Mt. Rainier, this waterside restaurant is a convenient stop before or after a visit to Tacoma’s Museum of Glass. It also has one of the best outdoor patios for dining (inside can be quite noisy). Find small plates and easy fare with cocktails to match. The pizza restaurant next door, Paesan, shares an owner. Find the restaurant at 1715 Dock St., Tacoma; 253-301-3835 or thesocialbarandgrill.com.
Other restaurants on the Foss waterway include Johnny’s Dock, a great place for an al fresco meal and a stellar martini on a waterside deck (1900 E. D St., Tacoma; 253-627-3186, johnnysdock.com) and The Fish Peddler, a casual seafood restaurant with another great outdoor patio and a seafood counter for taking home a taste of the Northwest (1199 Dock St., Tacoma; 253-627-2158).
Boathouse 19: Located on the Narrows Marina, adjacent to Narrows Brewing, this casual restaurant offers a broad menu of American classics, with extra touches that make it a better-than-average find for a casual eatery. Find it at 9001 S. 19th St., Tacoma; 253-565-1919 or boathouse19restaurant.com.
Ruston Way dining: Along Tacoma’s Ruston waterfront, find a collection of seafood and Northwest restaurants with this-is-why-we-live here views of the working waterfront. Here are five restaurants for finer dining.
The Lobster Shop is the best of the Ruston bunch with consistent execution, but a predictable Northwest seafood menu. However, if it’s the basics you want in a handsome dining room, this is the place to dine. Don’t miss weekend brunch (4015 Ruston Way; 253-759-2165 or wplobstershop.com).
C.I. Shenanigan’s has wonderful digs and an enviable view, but suffers from uneven execution at dinner. It’s a better happy hour or weekend brunch destination (3017 Ruston Way, Tacoma; 253-752-8811 or cishenanigans.com).
Duke’s Chowder House is the place you wind up when you want chowder, sustainably-sourced seafood and a great cocktail, and a place where it’s safe to show up wearing shorts and flipflops (3327 Ruston Way; 253-752-5444 or dukeschowderhouse.com).
Harbor Lights is a destination for the stiff-drink crowd, but beware of overcooked seafood (2761 Ruston Way, Tacoma; 253-752-8600 or anthonys.com). Anthony’s, the sister restaurant of Harbor Lights, is just down the street near Point Defiance Park (5910 N. Waterfront Dr., Tacoma; 253-752-9700 or anthonys.com).
All these are 21-and-older only:
Hilltop Kitchen: This lounge is more speakeasy than bar. It’s tough to find, without a sign or marker at the entrance. Look for the low-slung building across the street from the Johnson Candy Co. Co-owner Chris Keil is an alchemy magician, known for his hand-made bitters, tinctures and vinegar shrubs, as well as a penchant for fanciful cocktail combinations. The menu of sophisticated lounge nibbles changes frequently. 913 Martin Luther King Way, Tacoma; 253-327-1397 or hilltopkitchen.com.
Tacoma Cabana: Jason Alexander’s tiki cocktails aren’t those syrupy sweet things that taste straight from a bottle; his drinks are well-balanced and filled with scratch-made syrups and liqueurs. He also has the area’s deepest assortment of high-end rums. Business and life partner Robyn Murphy has created a menu of tropical eats she describes as “vacation fusion,” or food you’d find on a beach. Find this lounge downtown at 728 Pacific Ave., Tacoma; 253-222-4184, tacomacabana.com.
Matador: This trendy Tex-Mex bar has a sophisticated edge and a consistently long line on weekends. Find wrought iron accents, soaring ceilings and a cozy fireplace just off the bar. This is one of the region’s better tequila finds, with a long list of tequila and sotol. The menu is more Tex than Mex. Find it at 721 Pacific Ave, Tacoma; 253-627-7100 or matadorseattle.com.