10 places to check out in downtown Tacoma

Dorky’s Bar Arcade

This is easily my favorite place in Tacoma. They have a number of vintage arcades to play for only a quarter which are surprisingly outnumbered by the selection of beers available. They also have a great lunch menu featuring amazing pizza and a delicious variety of sandwiches made with fresh ingredients and artisan bread. At lunch I like to take a short walk from campus to go there and try to beat the daily high score on the table-top Donkey Kong machine. When the games get tiresome I read one of the local zines they have available and watch Star Trek: The Next Generation or another childhood favorite show they usually have blasting on their TVs. At night they’re also a venue and have showcased some pretty great local bands. Their monthly chiptune night run by local chiptune-ist Tony Pineapple Pineapple has lured artists from as far away as Vancouver, BC.

The New Frontier Lounge

Hands down one of the best bar-restaurants in Tacoma. I like to tell friends it’s the most “Seattle-like” place you’ll find here in town. Lots of interesting local antiques and neon lights on display throughout and the barstaff is quite friendly and features amazing moustaches. The food is quite good, and they feature a cheap eats night with $1 tacos on Wednesdays. The live music certainly has an interesting flavor that you aren’t likely to hear anywhere else. There’s always something going on here.

The Deltan Club

Here in our lovely city you can find the biggest drag venue in the Pacific Northwest with a mighty fine dance floor that has played host to some amazing and unforgettable parties. The Deltan has a great resume featuring over half a dozen contestants from RuPaul’s Drag Race and many other well-known performers from abroad and local. Tacoma’s own burlesque troupe, The Gritty City Sirens recently had quite a successful show there which should lead to future appearances as well.

The Webster

I wasn’t sure if I should mention The Mix, Puget Sound Pizza, or the amazing Amocat Cafe so I thought I’d just list them all at once in the same slot! All three are located in the same beautiful building (where yours truly also resides) and good times are easily had at each. The Amocat is a wonderful one-man operation sure to give you the freshest cup of coffee you can find in our fun little town. The Mix is a great LGBTQIA–or just queer–bar that also hosts monthly community art events. Puget Sound Pizza has some the best slices you can get around here and easily the best karaoke.

UW Tacoma

Another tough call is how to talk about Anthem Coffee and Tea, The Swiss, Tahoma Tea & Co, The Rock, Metro Coffee… and the scores of other interesting little places that have sprung up around our gorgeous campus. Anthem, located across the street from the UW bookstore next to the state history museum and bridge of glass, offers an amazing atmosphere and an equally impressive cuppa joe. The Swiss has great sandwiches and amazing art on the walls, and is a huge venue perfect for the college and local crowd. Tahoma Tea & Co is a hidden treasure with amazing furniture and atmosphere located at the back of thrift store Urban Xchange. Did I say Puget Sound Pizza is the best slice in town? Because The Rock’s punk rock pizza is arguably equal in that status. Metro Coffee is a perfect place to study and when I’m too strung out on caffeine, I like to order their unique all-natural Jamaican ginger beer or try some of their freshly brewed local iced teas.

Graffiti Garages

A feature of Tacoma that comes at no charge and shouldn’t be missed. They’re located right next to the Spanish Steps, central to everything. Evidence that art can be colorful and meaningful, but still quite messy. For more information check out this feature in Post Defiance.

B2 Fine Art Gallery and Studio

An amazing gallery that, even though I lived right across the street, for the longest time I would just walk right past it. Last week I noticed their doors were right open so I sauntered in and found myself in one of the most amazing exhibits I’ve had the privilege to witness. So many amazing works of paint/fabric celebrating the 99th anniversary of the death of Harriet Tubman. Originally planned to end in April, but finally being dismantled to make way for the next show. They also host community events for children and to encourage creativity in local artists. Don’t let this place pass you by!

Modern Cottage Company

This amazing furniture store just moved from it’s location next to the Webster to Broadway near Tully’s and offers hand-crafted items perfect for any Tacoma home. Originally on a city-funded Spaceworks grant, they moved to a cheaper location for the time being to continue serving the public, so don’t miss out on this place after they move to their new location and follow them on Facebook to find out their new name!

Tacoma’s Antique Row

If you haven’t lost at least three days exploring this place you haven’t seen it all… and it’s constantly changing! This veritable mall of antiques offers three huge floors of local artifacts. Within you’ll find several businesses including a cafe, an art studio, a tea room, a candy shop, a wine shop, vintage clothing stores and curiosities like a huge model battleship and an authentic Egyptian sarcophagus.

King’s Books

Last but not least, Tacoma’s impressive independently-owned bookstore was my first stop when I moved to the area. Not only do they sport an “almost a city block”-sized collection of new and used books, they are host to a variety of interesting community events including several book clubs which you can find listed on their website.

Hello Tacoma!

Thanks for checking out my blog. I hope I can enlighten you to the amazing arts and entertainment scene in the wonderful west coast city of Tacoma.

I moved here a little over a year ago from my much-loved birthplace of Detroit. I originally fell in love with the Pacific Northwest when I visited Portland while at a college journalism convention. I finally moved here with my boyfriend who was offered a job ordering fiction for the Pierce County library system.

He and I are both very interested in comic books and so we joined the pair of monthly graphic novel book clubs at King’s Books. Through that we’ve made a some great friends and learned a lot of interesting things about our new city.

When I’m not looking for cool stuff to do around town, I’m studying computer science at The University of Washington Tacoma. I just had a successful first quarter and was eager to be more involved on campus, namely at the student newspaper, The Ledger, which has hired me to be their new Arts & Entertainment Editor.

I had previously held the same position in Ann Arbor at The Voice (a.k.a. The Student Voice and The Washtenaw Voice), Washtenaw Community College’s student newspaper. There I earned quite a few honors, including first place for news story from the Michigan Press Association and a first place Best in Show award at an Associated Collegiate Press convention. More importantly, I gained a lot of great experience and a love for journalistic writing. I have also worked as an editorial intern at Wizard Magazine in New York and currently volunteer on Fridays as a marketing intern at Fantagraphics Books, Inc. in Seattle.

After my first quarter here at the UWT, I can tell this student body is made up mostly of commuters. While the campus is beyond gorgeous (if you haven’t seen it, it was built using the original brick buildings that made up Tacoma’s historic downtown), students I’ve met seem to just come here, park, go to class, then immediately go back home and watch Netflix. I hope to encourage students and anyone else who will listen to stick around and find cool things to do; whether it’s a great place to study or an experience to start their weekend off with.

While print seems to be surviving pretty well in this town, currently there isn’t really a paper dedicated to just downtown and I hope The Ledger can fill that niche. Quite a lofty goal but completely doable.

Stay tuned to this blog for some of my favorite places and things to do. Hope you enjoy reading!