With dartboards, skee-ball, five pool tables, arcade games, dancing, nearly 15 beers on tap, and NFL Ticket on the TVs throughout the bar, it would be easy to assume that Culpepper's is all about entertainment. But one look at the menu shows that they know food, too. A roster of hearty burgers?including the Cardiac Arrest, two half-pound patties sandwiched between bacon and two grilled-cheese sandwiches?may be the main attraction, but pub favorites such as popcorn shrimp, chili fries, and pulled pork sandwiches can cause the eye to wander. Breakfast, including biscuits and gravy and omelets, is also on the menu for early risers or those who chose to sleep off a night of revelry under the tables.
Great American Casino brings a little bit of Vegas to the Northwest, gathering hooting and hollering patrons around table games such as baccarat, Texas Hold 'Em, blackjack, and other styles of poker, such as Progressive Fortune Pai Gow. Most tables have a betting limit up to $300, and aside from the top-shelf thrill of walking away with the pot, regular players can earn rewards redeemable toward electronics, meals, hotel stays, and Great American merchandise.
Like the best Vegas casinos, Great American brings more to the table than just gambling. There's live entertainment most nights, including local bands and musicians from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. There are full-service dining rooms where the menus also bear an Asian influence, with dishes such as pad thai and Kalbi ribs. The menus are slightly different at each of the four locations, but generally encompass an international spread that might include pizza, pub-style fish 'n' chips, and creme brulee, much like the meatloaf served in the United Nation's cafe.
On the quiet, Monday-night streets of Puyallup, no one inside Ricky J’s Restaurant and Lounge seems to care that it’s a school night. The lights in the warm pub burn brightly, as local musicians jaunt onto the stage to enthusiastic applause. Servers raise their voices to be heard over the twang of guitar and the terrified screams of the drums, taking orders for pizzas and pitchers of beer. Between decimating plates of nachos or cheering at the end of the band’s set, guests engage in a little friendly competition at the pool tables. This is the scene of the pub’s open mic night—the first of many weekly events on a schedule flush with karaoke, bingo, and trivia.
As guests squabble over trivia answers or dance to DJ-spun tunes in the dining room, chefs are bustling through the kitchen. They top freshly made burgers with grill-blacked bacon and juicy pineapple slices, and dress pizzas with homemade sauce and creative toppings such as barbeque pulled pork and tortilla strips. The chefs are creative even with their side dishes, frying onion rings in homemade beer batter and painting portraits of tater tots dressed as Napoleon. In the mornings, the chefs turn their attention to breakfast items, including cheesy omelets, overstuffed burritos, and pancakes with banana, strawberry, and whipped cream.
Jazzercise is 60 minutes of cardio, strength training, and stretching that incorporates moves from hip-hop, yoga, Pilates, jazz dance, kickboxing, and resistance training with handheld weights. Dancing With the Stars multiple-champion Cheryl Burke is a big fan of Jazzercise's improvisational workouts, though luckily you won't need her dance moves to get the most out of your class. If you're prone to first-class jitters, though, you can review the basic moves online before you go. Expect to burn off up to 500 calories with each go-round.
Situated right in Tacoma’s downtown university-and-museum district, Harmon Brewery and Eatery buzzes with out-of-towners and locals alike, all in search of hearty food and frothy microbrews. With a 15-barrel brewery on site, Harmon maintains a steady flow of signature ales, including seasonal varieties, such as a black IPA brewed from five malted barleys and the One Hop Wonder IPA laced with melted Right Said Fred tapes. To complement the pints and the warm, cozy atmosphere—modeled after a ski lodge—the kitchen churns out belly-warming food, such as burgers topped with blue cheese and bacon, homemade stone-baked pizzas, and panko-crusted fish and chips.
At North Point Bar & Grill, shoots of smoke unfurl through the air, unfurling around the legs of a pool table and winding around cool glasses at the bar. The Tacoma Weekly explained that the bar is owned by a Puyallup Tribe member, making it one of a limited number of refuges for local smokers. The piece also lauded the eatery’s adventurous food items, including deep-fried Oreos. Aromas from the kitchen also hint at all-day breakfast entrees, steak dinners, and fiery hot wings. At the bustling bar, the clatter of pint glasses and silverware punctuates the noise from DJs, live bands, comedians, and mimes who skipped class too often.