Harold M. Tollefson (seated on left) was a two-term Tacoma mayor who is now at the center of a public square debate. He's pictured here eating at Honan's Restaurant in 1966. Photo: Tacoma Public Library.
"Harold M. Tollefson Square" doesn't roll off the tongue. But Pacific Grill's burger sliders slide nicely into the triangle-shaped public space that soon may bear a truly square moniker.
That's where the Pacific Grill guys will open Mariel, a wine bar and restaurant with plaza seating, this fall.
I got my first taste of downtown's al fresco future during Showcase Tacoma Cultural Arts Celebration, which runs through Sunday.
Pacific Plaza –- that's the name for now -- anchored one end of the corridor of art and food happenings that stretch from Pacific Avenue into the heart of the UW Tacoma campus.
In addition to Pacific Grill, seven other downtown restaurants are serving food and drinks in temporary vittle-cooking-and-vittle-vending tents: 21 Commerce, Indochine, Sea Grill, The Harmon, The Rock Wood-Fired Pizza and the Melting Pot. Blue Olive has a martini garden.
Here's what's cooking at Showcase Tacoma:
Pacific Grill's wine garden menu: Asian chicken salad ($9), colossal prawns and fries ($15), burger sliders ($8), grilled cheese panini ($8) and charcuiterie and cheese plate ($10).
21 Commerce: Beef satay over coconut rice cake ($7).
Sea Grill: Dungeness crab cocktail ($10).
The Harmon: Barbecued smoked turkey leg ($5) and corn on the cob ($4).
Indochine: Chicken satay, veggie stir fry, fried rice ($4).
The Rock Wood-Fired Pizza: Slices ($3).
The Melting Pot: Fondue samplers ($3).
The Harmon is also serving its Fuggles'-hopped Extra Special Bitter amber ale in Showcase Tacoma's beer garden.
After enjoying an awesomely pink and crispy barbecued smoked turkey leg from The Harmon (which you should look for on the brewpub's Friday happy hours), I got to chewing on something someone from Project for Public Spaces said about the city of Tacoma's anti-street-vending stance:
"Just try it for three months. If it looks like the hot dog vendor is going to put a whole row of restaurants out of business, or if the pretzel guy is going to close Pacific Grill, then you can revisit it."