Admittedly, this seems a bit odd that I’m writing an “on the road” post about our own town, Tacoma, but with Courtney in town, it felt like we were equal parts guests as we are locals! It was beyond fun taking her to all of our favorite local joints for food, beer and so much more. We knew Tacoma was a pretty cool city, but being able to show it off to someone over the course of a few days made it all the sweeter. I’ll keep the chitchat to a minimum and encourage you to read/view on to learn a little more about our adventure around town, primarily through pictures, because let’s be real: we’re millennials and we like taking pix of our food, k??
(PS – We’re always welcome to host visitors whether it’s for an afternoon or several days! Just hit us up to get on our calendar! *cough cough* family and friends *cough cough* #westcoastbestcoast)
(Also, cute picture of Otis looking longingly at his ball in the park up the street, Wright Park, while we were on a walk with Courtney. Ball is life.)
Friday was our day in Seattle, but the fun didn’t stop when we got back home! We took Otis for a walk at Wright Park (shown above) before taking Courtney down to 6th Ave., the most hip and happenin’ place in Tacoma! 6th Ave. is a funky neighborhood area where the main drag (6th Ave.) is littered with cool restaurants, popular shops and lots of people at all hours of the day. Legendary Doughnuts is on 6th Ave., as is a whole slew of other places we like to go. We took Courtney to our favorite Friday-night hangoug, Red Hot, which is an over-21 hot dog joint. It may seem weird to you that a vegetarian loves hot dogs, but they offer multiple vegan dogs and they are damn good! For the first time ever, we had to wait in line outside of Red Hot, before being allowed in to fight for a table. We crowded around a table for two, ordered our beers/ciders and dogs, and chowed down. Courtney had the Cowboy, I had the MLK (meat-less kielbasa) and Will had Whole Lotta Rosie. I don’t remember what beers they had, but I had a blood orange cider and it was heaven. We inhaled our dinner before heading two doors down to Ice Cream Social.
Ice Cream Social is everything your local ice cream shop should be! It reminds me so much of Salt & Straw in Portland, but better because it’s less than 10 minutes away. The menu is always rotating and often features local vendors. While the line pouring out the door with people of all ages, we shuffled our way through and enjoyed lavender, fresh mint and cookie dough, respectively. The amount of screaming children aside, the ice cream is delish here. We licked as quickly as we could to escape the manic environment, but we enjoyed the ice cream itself, thoroughly.
Saturday – Mount Rainier, Vostok, Odd Otter and Tacoma Brewing
Saturday we took Courtney to the beautiful Mount Rainier National Park! She had never been snowshoeing before (only skiing), so we took her on the most beautiful day we could have possibly had to indoctrinate her into one of our favorite sports! It was perfectly clear on the mountain, showering us in sunshine and with fresh snow from an earlier winter storm and the peak was clear! After we got her strapped in, we took a short loop not far from the visitor center, which gave us pristine mountain views; we even saw an avalanche take place higher up on the mountain (equal parts cool and scary, since avalanches have been known to be deadly on Mount Rainier). After that loop, we de-snowshoed to eat our lunch, before heading back out on a different trail. We picked up the path in what we thought was the right place, later determining we were very much not on a real trail and were definitely on someones bushwhacked path. We climbed up an incredibly steep incline and Courtney even took her first official tumble on this path. We someone made it to the top to the REAL path we were looking for and continued our trek along a very steep slope where skiiers had been blazing trails.
After trekking for a bit, we got to a point where there was lots of loose tumbled snow and decided to turn around. On our way back we passed a sign warning of avalanche danger exactly where we had been trekking – the bushwhacking trail had brought us in just behind this sign! We followed the rest of the trail back down the way we had intended to go up and at the bottom chatted with a man who informed us where we had been trekking had seen an avalanche earlier in the morning. An adventure all around.
So after our somewhat strenuous snowshoe trek, we headed back to Tacoma, listening to a random station of Christmas music along the way. We pealed out of our snowshoe clothing and decided to take the lightrail down to the Russian dumpling place downtown, Vostok. There, we introduced Courtney to all the tasty things. We inhaled our tots and each engulfed our half orders of our dumplings. Even though there was a brewery next door, Courtney was inquiring about our favorite, so we decided to walk back up the street to Odd Otter Brewing.
Odd Otter Brewing is exactly as quirky as the name implies. We split a tasting flight that included their regular and a couple specialty beers. It’s a fun little place with a lot of personality that makes solid beers. We sat and hung out for a bit sipping before we decided that we obviously needed to check out another brewery on the way home, since they are all in located close to each other. We went up one more big hill to Tacoma Brewing, which is only open Thurs-Sat., for limited hours. It only made sense to stop in since we had a couple hours before they closed until the following week. We decided not to split a tasting there (so many IPAs) but still ended up getting several samples per the courtesy of the hostess. We ultimately settled on bringing home a bottle of their Black Sun Bourbon Stout. We took it home, poured it out, and enjoyed. It was a heavy and strong beer, but we consumed it all to great delight!
Sunday – Dirty Oscar’s, Tacoma Art Museum, Hello Cupcakes, Wingman, The Office, Pacific Brewing, homemade dinner
By Sunday we decided it was time to give Courtney the official taste of Tacoma by staying in town and exploring places we had (and had not yet) been. We went to Dirty Oscar’s Annex (also on 6th Ave.) for our Easter brunch, appropriately having coffee cocktails, bourbon bread pudding, chocolate coconut waffle and whatever burrito thing Will got. We figured it was Easter, which basically carries the requirement of brunch, so why not enjoy it as much as possible! We waddled home, took Otis for a quick walk, and then walked down to the Tacoma Art Museum. We enjoyed showing Courtney our small but well-done art museum, showcasing Northwest art and the current exhibit of favorite pieces the museum owns.
After we finished at the museum, the need to consume foods kicked back in and we started to head towards the lightrail. We got distracted by Hello Cupcake, which was serving up Easter-themed cupcakes. We each got a mini (lemon, Irish coffee and Easter) which we promptly inhaled, probably a clue to our forthcoming mild hanger in another hour or so. The lightrail showed up, so we hoped on and headed down to Wingman Brewers. Again choosing to skip a flight, Courtney and I each got a pint of their peanut butter porter, while Will went for their amber ale. Holy beer, that peanut butter cup is something fierce! It took me forever to finish it but Courtney and I both agreed it was definitely our favorite beer of the weekend so far, narrowly eeking out the Tacoma Brewing bourbon porter on her side of things. Tipsy at this point, we hopped back on lightrail in the direction of Pacific Brewing, making a pitstop at The Office to grab snacks before consuming more beer. We watched some March Madness before making our way to our final beer stop, Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. Historically, Pacific Brewing has Tacoma beer on lockdown having ties to the original brewery from 1897 until it was shut down in 1916 for Prohibition. Pacific opened its doors in 2014 and makes some solid beers. We split our final flight, played a funny card game and struggled our way through the beers, not for lack of liking them but for the amount of beer we already had in our stomachs. After enjoying them all, we headed home to make our Pike Place mac ‘n cheese and have some wine, all to be posted about as its own recipe.
Monday – Original House of Donuts, Antique Sandwich Co., Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
Congratulations if you’re still with us! On Monday, Will went into work briefly, so Courtney and I walked Otis down to Original House of Donuts, my personal favorite donut shop in Tacoma. Courtney went classic with a chocolate donut and I enjoyed my favorite red velvet (Emma helped, obvi). After that, I had to teach yoga at work, so I dragged Courtney along, before we fetched Will to head to the zoo!
On the way to the zoo, we stopped at a sandwich shop I’ve been meaning to try called Antique Sandwich Co. in Ruston. It was a classic sandwich shop, offering up exactly what mom would pack you and then some. We each got an order of a half sandwich with chips, plus a side of warmed gingerbread and a slice of peanut butter pie. Everything was delicious and 10/10 would go back in my book. I loved the vibe, the staff and definitely the food. Only place in the PNW I’ve seen pimento on the menu!
After popping into Antique Sandwich Co., we took Courtney to the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, where I volunteer for events! Because it was such a beautiful day, ALL of the animals were out! Will and I both swear we saw more animals on this trip than we have during our other trips, combined. All the big cats were basking in the sunlight, the polar bear was taking a swim, the foxes were frolicking in the sun and even the monkeys were out (amazing!). Everyone was feeling the spring weather in the air and we had a blast seeing all of the animals playing! We even had a chance meeting with Thurston the skunk, while he was on his afternoon walk that helps him manage his weight. Too cute! Sadly, our clouded leopard mama hadn’t given birth to her cubs yet (she did today!) so we only saw dad napping during our visit. But otherwise, we had a fabulous time at the zoo! We took Courtney down to Owen Beach to walk Otis and look for the mountain (hidden by clouds, of course) before finishing up 5-mile drive. We headed home, hung out with the animals (pictured below), nommed on some dinner and then finally had to take her to the airport and send her home on the red-eye. All in all, a tasty weekend in Tacoma!