A taste of Northwest Brewing Company's beers is akin to a trip around the world. The brewery, formerly Trade Route Brewing Company, finds inspiration in the trade routes of old, which is why its brewmasters incorporate exotic ingredients such as ginger and palm sugar when crafting each batch with time-honored brewing methods. These eclectic flavors beget distinctive beers, such as the Mango Weizen, which stirs taste buds with Saaz hops and mango puree, and the Midnight ale, which splashes chocolate, crystal, and pale malts with two types of hops to create a dark brew that pairs well with spicy food and glow-in-the-dark steaks. Not content to keep their flavors in liquid form, Northwest Brewing Company also slings a menu of gastropub cuisine—including gourmet pizzas and cheese-slathered pasta dishes— backed by live music every Saturday night.
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.
Metronome Coffee's founders built their business around the idea of fresh coffee, tasty foods, and good music to sooth both cravings and consciences. They acquire their coffee through direct trade with farmers, each cup benefiting the people who did the hard work of growing it. They stock their pastry case with treats from local Corina Bakery and serve up hot pancakes made from scratch. They even squeeze their orange juice fresh. And they pair their food and drink with the tunes of local artists, helping customers discover new music.
Some of comedy’s most seasoned veterans and next big things wring laughs from audiences during standup performances at Tacoma Comedy Club. Now in its third year of tickling ribs, the venue stuffs its calendar with a slew of popular faces from TV. On Wednesday, open-mic night brings emerging voices to the stage to test out fresh material so that audiences can get a sneak peek at the laugh-masters of tomorrow and the microphone models of today.
It's not hard to see the Northwestern roots in Bar Bistro's menu. An entree of seared coho salmon is laid upon tomato broth studded with Dungeness crab, and the classic cioppino blends red snapper, scallops, clams, and mussels in a fennel broth. The stronger influence, however, actually comes from lands closer to the opposite corner of the country. Chefs rely on tons of Caribbean flavors, such as in their jerk-rubbed baby back ribs and grilled pork chops, which they pair with dirty rice and plantain chips. They even draw from Mexican ingredients, which can be found in dishes such as chorizo mac 'n' cheese.
But of course, this is Bar Bistro, so there's just as much attention paid to the selection of spirits. The Northwestern influence is there again with the craft beers, including Fremont Interurban IPA, Deschutes Black Butte Porter, but there's also nationally popular crafts such as Victory Golden Monkey and Left Hand Milk Stout. The specialty cocktails quite literally take center stage on the drink list, and for good reason. Artisanal ingredients flavor many of the elixirs—orgeat syrup sweetens the Swizzle Tizzle's blend of dark and spicy rums, and fresh strawberries and blood-orange liqueur add fruity notes to the Bourbon Kiss.