It isn’t just Tacoma’s real estate market that’s grown in the last few years— this urban port city has been changing for the better and is really on par with Seattle in so many ways! Not only does it warrant a visit, but the sense of community just feels so welcoming and special for such a big city that you may just decide to stay for longer once you’re here.
There were so many places and things we were excited to talk about that this is part one of a series we will be featuring on Tacoma, WA! For now, we’re going to take a stroll through Downtown and 6th Ave—because it’s alive with impressive art culture, hip restaurants, waterfront views, and shops!
Here’s our Tacoma Top 10!
Blue Beard Coffee Roasters
Third-wave coffee in a restored old building, with plenty of natural light and open space—perfect for that place you need sometimes between work and home. Since their coffee roasting takes place in the main area, you are met with the delicious aroma the second you walk in. They believe that their success is no great secret— just a simple combination of finding neat coffee, roasting it well, and extracting it precisely. The staff is always happy to answer questions and take pride in their craft. We highly recommend a cortado and a bit of people watching while you sip it.
This incredible Argentinian restaurant is right in the heart of the 6th avenue dining district. Garage doors roll up and open the restaurant to fresh air and happy hour seekers during the day and at night the dim lighting creates a very intimate, romantic and rustic feel. The smell of smoke wafting in the air as they slow grill meats over mesquite wood is part of the ambience. They offer lunch, a phenomenal happy hour (all their bar menu food items are 50% off), and of course, dinner. Although Argentinians are most well known for their grilled meat, they also make incredible pasta and have amazing seafood dishes like the Asado seared sea bass with piquillo beurre blanc. Don’t miss the ceviche, empanadas, or queso frito on the starters menu, either. This is a great place to come with a group and share the food family style so you can try a bit of everything!
Dirty Oscar’s Annex
This is what we love about the northwest: Bars aren’t just bars here! They are places you can go for excellent food that also happen to serve drinks. At Dirty Oscar’s, they are known their creative, handcrafted moonshine cocktails, New American, elevated comfort food, and relaxed vibe. So whether you want fried chicken & waffles for brunch, parmesan tots or elk sliders for happy hour, the chicken quinoa salad for a lighter, healthier lunch option, or shrimp and grits for dinner— they have a unique and exciting menu that has you covered any time of day. On Wednesdays, they offer any whiskey or scotch on their shelf for only $5 and 10/10 we would recommend the moonshine mule with homemade ginger beer.
We love the clean, modern, but inviting vibe of this local favorite spot. The open kitchen and shelving is not only aesthetically pleasing but makes it feel a little more familiar and approachable. We like that it has a grown-up feel but is still kid-friendly. Wooden city has happy hour every single day, even on the weekends. In addition to small plates and wood-fired pizza, the beet ravioli is a fan favorite and the peel & eat shrimp come highly recommended by locals. Personally, we think their smoked salmon toast is a thing of beauty and we are still talking about the pink rabbit cocktail— gin, Aperol, peach, lemon, and frothed egg white— which was unbelievably refreshing and delightfully floral.
Here’s a little gem of Tacoma that shouldn’t be overlooked. We love the small, intimate setting and vintage feel just as much as the French cuisine itself and the way it’s plated. They have a phenomenal brunch here: fantastic coffee served in a french press and might we suggest the brioche Pommes French toast? To top it off, the outdoor seating overlooks the bay. It doesn’t get much better than that if you ask us.
Ice Cream Social
This is the place in town if you want handcrafted ice cream with natural, locally sourced ingredients. Which is always, right?! They have every-day flavors you can always depend on being there like roasted banana, almond poppyseed, and salted caramel as well as rotating, seasonal flavors. Right now it’s blackberry ginger or black sesame we can’t get enough of. There are also always Dairy Free and Vegan options for those with dietary restrictions!
A little walking and shopping along 6th Ave is a great way to spend your time between meals, and we love Ruston Mercantile for unique home goods and truly special gifts. They even have some select pieces of great quality furniture. The owners themselves are present and so helpful. So swing in, smell the candles, and grab a gift— for yourself or a loved one!
There are many options to chose from in the Museum district of downtown, but you can’t miss this one. You can explore the museum yourself or chose a guided tour, but we highly recommend the Hot Shop where you can watch glass artists in action! They create blown glass artwork live while step by step their process is narrated to you. These daily demonstrations help to deepen your understanding and appreciation for how everything in the museum is made! Also, don’t miss the Chihuly bridge of glass! It's a 500-ft pedestrian overpass between the museum and downtown and is considered a Tacoma landmark. Oh, and on the third Thursday of every month, the museum stays open late and offers free admission from 5-8pm!
The Grand Cinema
This cinema may not be grand in size but it is certainly grand in personality and intentions. It is a nonprofit theater for indie & foreign films and is so community-oriented. On the third Sat of every month, they welcome all ages to a free family-friendly movie. Every Wednesday they offer modified baby & sensory-friendly screenings for parents with infants or autistic children, intending to give these families a break from being at home while still providing a safe space for those that wish to move around, dance, talk and express themselves throughout the movie. They also offer film education programs, like screenwriting workshops and a summer film camp. They even teamed up with local a restaurant (Red Star Taco Bar) to bring you dinner & a movie— a taco plate, margarita, & movie for two for only $25 a person.
And between us… they also have a new pizza & a movie deal with Sammy's Pizza here.
This relatively new, hip and beautiful space is more of a “tell me what you don’t do!” situation. It’s a coffee shop, restaurant, live music venue, art gallery, and courtyard night market all under one roof. Their goal is to “make space for artists” and support the Tacoma community through all the avenues we as humans seem to enjoy— food, performance, and social exchange. You can start any day off at Honey, their all-day brunch restaurant that serves espresso beverages and a wide range of breakfast options, including vegetarian, vegan, and allergy-friendly plates. With options like baked eggs in black lentils with goat cheese or the lemon ricotta stuffed ebelskivers, it's impossible to pick just one! In the evening on Thursdays through Saturdays, this same space is used for storytelling, open mic, book clubs, live bands, and comedy shows. Fawcett Hall is the main venue space, although they try to reserve space throughout their entire building for smaller events and shows. They also have a restaurant called Matriarch with an impressive dinner menu and handcrafted cocktails!