An August 2001 trip
to Tacoma by Re Carroll
Quote: Long known as a shipping port and often overshadowed by its flashier sister, Seattle, Tacoma is dressing itself up to welcome tourists with its scenic harborfront, great restaurants and historic Old Town area.
Tacoma is the 6th largest deep water port in North America which makes it an extremely popular shipping port, especially for Pacific Rim countries. As well as the commercial port, Tacoma has been revitalizing the waterfront area and it now has a number of very good restaurants, featuring fresh seafood and innovative NorthWest cuisine.
On a hill above the water, Stadium Historic District dates from 1869 and is made up of large, beautifully maintained homes and buildings, some of which have been converted to interesting shops and restaurants. We spent time driving through some of the residential side streets admiring the homes and colorful gardens.
The Tacoma Dome houses major sporting events but we preferred a major shopping event at nearby Freighthouse Square Public Market.
Hotel | "Comfort Inn"
Some rooms also have a microwave and small fridge. Ice and pop machines are located on each floor.
Breakfast was kind of fun and was included in the price of the room. As well as fruit, pastries, bagels, cereals and juice, you could make your own Belgian waffles. The overhead TV meant you could catch up on the news while eating.
The hotel has an indoor pool although we didn't use it. On weekdays, free copies of USA Today are available.
Just across the street is a small casino as well as a couple of restaurants within walking distance (Red Lobster, Applebees, Denny''s). The hotel is located at exit 128 off I5 and is only about 5 minutes from downtown Tacoma.
The price for four people, all taxes included was $101.13.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 31, 2001
Comfort Inn Tacoma
8620 S. Hosmer Street
Tacoma, Washington 98444
Restaurant | "C. I. Shenanigan's"
It was a glorious day so we opted to sit outside on the very large deck that is framed with flowers and hanging baskets. We had a great view of the sailboats in the Bay and really found the restaurant a relaxing spot to eat at.
The menu is extensive and we had a hard time making our selection. Some of the items we didn't choose included London broil with parmesan mashed potatoes, prawns of fire cocktail, coconut prawns and oysters rockefeller. What we did choose was delicous - french onion soup that was actually baked and served in a large hollowed out onion shell and presented on a bed of rock salt (not sure why). Chicken and slivered almond salad served with a tangy ginger dressing. A croissant filled with cubed chicken, brie, cucumber and dried papaya, accompanied by a cup of spicy Thai chicken soup. Our vote for the best meal went to my sister's choice of whiskey chicken. The boneless chicken breast was covered in a Jack Daniels and Madeira wine sauce, thickly sliced portobello mushrooms and shallots. It was served with garlic mashed potatoes and crisply steamed fresh green beans. At $13.00, it was one of the best dining values on our whole trip.
Accompaning our meals was a wrought iron basket filled with a selection of bread sticks, rolls and breads including sourdough, whole grain and heavy dark raisin bread.
We had no room for dessert but other diners ordered a fresh berry assortment (strawberries, blueberries and raspberries) topped with heavy cream and served in a martini glass and it looked very good.
As well as daily lunch and dinner, the restaurant is open on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. for breakfast and on Sunday for brunch.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 31, 2001
3017 Ruston Way
Tacoma, Washington 98402
(253) 752 8811
Restaurant | "Luciano's Waterfront Ristorante & Casino"
Many of the inside tables look onto Commencement Bay through large picture windows but the outdoor deck is even larger and more popular, especially because it was a hot and sunny day. Even during cold days the large gas heaters that are set between the tables would keep you warm.
As the name implies, the menu is (southern) Italian but also has lots of seafood entrees. Our meal started with warm slices of sourdough bread served with pots of garlic butter. Portions were all very large. The lasagne had a creamy smooth tomato sauce base and the rigatoni had chunks of chicken and a sun dried tomato and basil sauce that was very spicey. The chicken parmaggiano is definitely a meal for a large appetite. Two large pieces of chicken coverd with cheese and tomato sauce and served with grilled asparagus and a potato casserole was just too much for one person to finish. All the meals included soup or salad. I had minestrone and it was great - thick and spicey. The mixed lettuce salad was served with a balsamic vinegar dressing. We asked the server if many people were able to actually finish their meal and he said rarely.
Seafood entrees included sea bass topped with vegetables and mussels; fettucine with crab and artichokes in a white wine sauce and linguine pescatore in a white wine and tomato sauce full of mussels, clams, calamari and prawns. Prices for an entree were in the $15-$20 range.
We noticed some people ordering pizza. It was served on a large rectangular board that was brought to the table and propped atop large tin cans. The presentation may seem odd but the pizza looked very good - something we'd try on a return visit.
Dessert items included Italian specialities like tiramisu, creme caramel and the house special - zuccotto - Italian spongecake soaked in rum and served with chocolate mousse. Rich, but a great way to end the meal.
Luciano's Waterfront Ristorante & Casino
3327 Ruston Way
Tacoma, Washington 98406
My favourite store was Guinevere's, chock full of unique gifts, imported English foods, candles, serving dishes, collectibles and china. My sister was impressed with their large collection of Harmony Kingdom figures from England as well as the Mary Engelbreit display. I liked the fat three tiered candles, each tier having a separate scent that enhanced rather than overpowered the candle. The store is easy to spot because of the colorful umbrella display at the entrance.
Nearby, Grandma’s Fudge Shop is a small place with a large variety of fudge, including orange creamsicle, chocolate almond and penuche (brown sugar). Free samples make this a very popular place.
The Crystal Voyage is filled with "New Age" prodcts like books, tapes, crystals, etc. There is a large selection of quirky greeting cards as well as The Greenwich Workshop figures.
The Living Place impressed me with its community involvement. A sign inside says that 50% of the annual net profits are donated to local charities including cancer research, AIDS organizations and the homeless. We found a great Washington state souvenir here - a state ferry shaped box filled with delicious chocolate mint truffles. There are lots of greeting cards too but they are definitely adult-oriented.
The Freighthouse Art Gallery has an impressive display of batiks, pottery, decorative plates as well as prints and paintings by various Northwest artists.
Downstairs, Fabric Fun by Maria King has pre-made or made-to-order costumes and it was fun to try on costumes and be silly for awhile.
The food court is filled with locally owned operators – no Pizza Hut or Burger King here. Instead there is everything from a small Mexican cantina (eat in or take away) to Thai, Vietnamese, fish and chips,
German, Greek, etc. In the middle of the food court, colourful benches provide a place to sit
Freighthouse Square is easy to find since it is only a block from the Tacoma Dome and there is free parking at the site. Eventual plans call for the train from Seattle to stop nearby as well as a lightrail station to be built to bring people from downtown Tacoma. This will only increase the popularity of this interesting place.
The stores are open daily.
430 E 25th Street
Tacoma, Washington 98421
Abbotsford, British Columbia