TNT Diner

Tacoma’s newest restaurant serves craft brew, tall burgers

NYP Bar and Grill serves hand-pressed burgers that its menu identifies as beef from Columbia Valley. Pictured here is a bacon cheesebuger.
NYP Bar and Grill serves hand-pressed burgers that its menu identifies as beef from Columbia Valley. Pictured here is a bacon cheesebuger. skidd@thenewstribune.com

Northwest-based NYP Bar and Grill opened its sixth location last week in Tacoma. The restaurant comes with a menu of big burgers, artisan-style pizza, sandwiches and pasta.

It’s the kind of restaurant that’s not breaking any new culinary ground. Its strength is its something-for-everyone appeal.

The sprawling restaurant occupies the former Chevy’s Fresh Mex, which closed in 2012, just off 38th Street near Tacoma Mall. The restaurant company founded in 2009 by Mike Novak has a legacy of making over spaces formerly occupied by national chains. The restaurant’s Everett location once was an Olive Garden.

Since opening his first restaurant in Lynden, Novak has duplicated the concept in Bellingham, Seattle, Everett and Burlington. A Renton restaurant will open next.

The business began as New York Pizza Bar and Grill, but along the way, it ditched the New York pizza moniker and changed its name, as well as its pizza recipe.

Here’s a first-bite report based on a single visit during opening week. Analysis of the restaurant’s concept is included here, but it’s this paper’s policy to withhold criticism of food and service during a restaurant’s first month.

Atmosphere: Earth tones, hanging Edison-style bulbs with artwork heavy on text graphics in a restaurant with tall ceilings and a view of a parking lot and nearby busy 38th Street. The front entry bends to a dining room to the right. The bar, just beyond the entry, was outfitted with a few communal tables, seating large parties of about 10 each. Be warned that tall ceilings, loud music and crowds create a noisy environment.

Pizza: The restaurant calls its pizza “craft,” but think of it as the ubiquitous “artisanal” style served far and wide across the Northwest. The pies were built with a thinner crust with a yeasty waft from the addition to the dough of Scotch ale from Bellingham’s Boundary Bay Brewery.

Three sauce choices include a standard house red, a marinara and white alfredo. Toppings included chicken from Mount Vernon’s Draper Valley, bacon from Hempler’s, a Bellingham business, and pepperoni made by Seattle’s Cascioppo Meats. The menu lists products from several Northwest food businesses and farms.

Thirteen pizzas listed, $12.75- $14.75 small and $20.25-$25.50 large, plus calzone and stromboli ($14.25, choice of two fillings).

Burgers: The bacon cheddar ($12.95) came built on a glossy brioche-style bun that was evenly toasted. The patty looked hand pressed. Green leaf lettuce, sliced tomatoes and red onion made up the top layer, with the patty, thick-cut bacon and melted aged cheddar taking up the middle and pickle slices anchoring the bottom. Both buns were coated in a tangy burger sauce. Eleven burgers listed ($11.35-$14.95), including drunken mushroom ($14.25), southwest ($13.75) and veggie burger with a black bean chipotle patty ($13.75).

Spice alert: The chipotle aioli atop the fish tacos ($14.85) carried a lip stinging punch. The battered-and-fried cod tacos were dressed with cabbage slaw and pico.

Appetizers: Flatbreads ($8.50), calamari ($10.45), pulled pork quesadilla ($10.45), pulled pork nachos ($12.75), boneless or regular wings ($11.25), pulled pork sliders ($10.95), bacon barbecue sliders ($11.75), spinach dip ($9.75).

Sandwiches: Pulled pork po’ boy ($12.95), crispy Alaskan cod ($13.75), turkey-bacon-avocado ($13.35), pepperoni-salami-gouda baguette ($13.35).

Pastas/entrees: Carnitas tacos ($12.85), chicken carbonara ($15.55), chicken and bacon mac and cheese ($15.55), fish and chips ($13.95 two pieces/$16.95 three pieces), flat iron steak and fries ($16.55) and flat iron steak with alfredo ($17.55).

Weekend breakfast: Three Benedicts ($11.75), potato hashes ($11.75), biscuits with chorizo gravy ($11.75), carnitas breakfast tacos ($11.25), bottomless mimosas ($15).

Beer: 24 taps with heavy emphasis on West Coast brews. Three South Sound breweries: Tacoma’s Wingman Brewers, 7 Seas and Silver City. Spendy craft brews were in the $5.75-$7.25 per glass range. Also, cider and a spirits/cocktail list.

Fries: Served bottomless in one of those tall metal cups. It’s supposed to look fancy but acts as an annoying barrier to my fingers fishing out the last of the fries.

Bargains: All-day happy hour Sundays and $10 lunch deals daily.

Beware the upcharge: After food delivery, a server asked, “Can I bring you anything else? Would you like pico or avocado salsa?” What wasn’t mentioned was the $1.25 and $3 charge for those. Those two aren’t included in the “always included” signature sauce list.

Gluten free: Mentions sprinkled throughout the menu; gluten-free menu available by request.

Vegetarian: Listed with a “v” throughout the menu.

NYP Bar and Grill

Where: 3702 S. Fife St., Tacoma; 253-328-5517, nypbarandgrill.com.

Hours: Serving lunch and dinner daily, weekend brunch. Happy hour is 2-6 p.m. and 9 p.m.-close daily and all day Sunday.

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