Since coming under new ownership in early 2011, Vinum Coffee & Wine Lounge has injected its menu of sandwiches, burgers, and pub fare with shots sparkling wines, smooth espresso drinks, and craft beers. In the kitchen, chefs shuffle together hot and cold sandwiches, keeping things simple with french bread pizza or tomato and brie or recreating Old World flavors with the monte cristo or chicken carbonara from ingredients that include chicken, roasted tomatoes, and a plethora of cheeses. Burgers and hot dogs—having evolved from the same common ancestors as sandwiches—also populate the menu, arriving topped with chili, avocado, grilled mushrooms, and bacon.
To wash down bites, Vinum's bartenders pour craft brews that fall on all points of the taste spectrum, from the light wheat notes of the Haywire Hefeweizen to the moody malts of the Storm King stout. The full bar serves up a wide selection of liquors, a well as wines, such as Massimo Argentina malbec and Maryhill Washington riesling that tint balloon glasses with red and gold hues. Bubbly beverages include sparkling mimosas to soothe nerves after a long week of ogling car washes.
Every time he begins a new handcrafted batch, winemaker Philip Coates strives to bring out the elemental flavors of his Washington-grown grapes. A limited production schedule lets Philip and his team spend more time on each varietal, de-stemming grapes by hand before fermenting batches with native yeasts and aging them in french oak barrels. Next, they fill, cork, and wax each bottle by hand before applying labels designed by local artists.
Though his repertoire has grown since 21 Cellars’ inception in 2003, Philip’s specialty remains bordeaux varietals, including a 2009 malbec and the 2006 Pont 21 cabernet sauvignon, which _Seattle _ magazine deemed Washington’s top new wine of 2011. Alongside wine by the bottle, staffers pour samples of current wines at weekly tastings at Anthem Coffee and the 21 Cellars’ own tasting room—a cozy grotto lined with oak barrels.
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.
The third location for Harmon Brewing Company, Harmon Tap Room serves beers freshly made in the site's 15 barrels, contenting barley-hungry palates with year-round ales and seasonal brews. Both beer enthusiasts and infrequent drinkers will approve of Harmon's frosty selection of pints ($4.50), featuring the Great American Beer Festival–winning Brown's Point ESB. Hops habitués with something to prove can dive into the Point Defiance IPA, while those who drink beers as light as a cloud of Peeps can stick to the easy-drinking Mt. Takhoma Blonde Ale. Stay to sample hearty pub grub from the Tap House's menu. Pizza cravers may find satisfaction in the veggie-friendly Locally Green pizza ($14), topped with an ambrosial amalgamation of basil pesto, herb potato, caramelized onion, and feta cheese.
Heralded in Washington Magazine, Trillium Creek Winery coaxes decadent Dionysian drinks out of homegrown and East Washington grapes. Low-sulfite bottles of syrah ($20) and merlot ($20) begin life as fresh purple bunches, smash their awkward teen years in the wine press, and then mature in the 1,500-square-foot cellar on site. Guests can take complimentary sniffs, sips, and swishes of these two reds and others while stationed near the stone counter of the charming Alsatian tasting room. In what started as a hobby, friendly husband-wife owners Claude and Claudia Gahard have fused their disparate palates to furnish glasses and tongues with many flavors and blends.
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.