Home > Tacoma, US, The Grog Spot > Beer in Tacoma?! Best Bets to Grab a Pint

Beer in Tacoma?! Best Bets to Grab a Pint

The famous beacon of Tacoma's Parkway Tavern

A few weeks ago, I had just got back from a healthy (beer health) trip to Portland and posted a brief article on two great beer spots in Olympia, Washington. You see, on our way back to Seattle we hit major traffic and decided to take a nice long detour through the lesser traveled Washington beer spots.

We stopped in Olympia so that we could check out Fish Brewing and Eastside Club Tavern. Both places were a thumb’s up, though neither provided the stunning shot to the arm we were hoping to find. You can read more about both places on the prior article, but I will applaud Eastside on their amazing tap list, which would compete with some of the better Seattle pubs.

After Eastside and 10 games of ping pong, we jumped in the car and headed North. After seeing that the horrendous traffic remained, we decided to stick with the country roads and wound up the nether-region between Tacoma and Olympia. This triggered my something in my brain which told me to pull out my trusty Beer NW, where a recent article had discussed a mythical place somewhere in outer-Tacoma region.

After a brief skim, I came across the quick read on Jack’s Bar & Bistro, in beach community Steilacoom, Washington. While reading through the book, I also caught a glimpse of Parkway Tavern, nestled deep in the historical (and very nice) Tacoma area. I had been meaning to hit Parkway for a number of years; Jake’s was simply news to my ears. We decided on these two and saddled up for the quick ride to Steilacoom.

 

Jake’s Bar & Bistro

Walking out to Jake's amazing patio

215 Wilkes Street
Steilacoom, WA 98388-2125
(253) 581-3300

 

Pulling into Steilacoom was like driving into a retirement community in Florida. On this beautiful July day, the sun was blazing and a car show in town gave it a nice “village” appeal. We were impressed with the town’s gorgeous streets and stunning views of the Puget Sound. Good start.

Jake‘s is one of only of only a few establishments in Steilacoom’s waterfront area. When we first pulled up, we were a bit turned off. The building that house’s the bistro looks like a 1990s built duplex. But once you get inside, go up the stairs and see the amazing back deck – all is forgiven.

Jake’s is situated up the hill, a short walk from the waterfront. But, its large (1200-1300 square feet?) deck allows seating for about 40 people, while providing unmatchable views over the Sound, towards Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

Walking in to the bar, a quick turn left puts you right in front of 42 taps! The tap list is exciting. A quick glance shows that the bar is pouring Russian River Supplication, Double Mountain Saison, Green Flash Le Freak, and Dogfish Head Sah’tea. The list also include many local and Oregonian beers from brewers like Lazy Boy, Deschutes, Hopworks, Northen Lights, Trade Route, Flyers and Walking Man.

We snagged a table outside and ordered a few beers. Some Double Mountain Saison and Russian River Supplication accommodated our view of blue skies over the Sound. With beer in hand, we hit our comfort zone.

Jake’s also has some pretty good food. We got a lot of looks at other plates being served around us, but with our stomachs full – we decided to grab an appetizer. The menu is jam packed with pub fare, bent on a seafood flare with several crab, clam, shrimp and fish dishes.

Everything, except the initial look at the outside, was pleasing. The beer was aplenty, the taps were cold and the food did the job. We highly recommend this beauty of beer bar down on the South Sound.

The back room at Parkway

 

Parkway Tavern

313 N I Street
Tacoma, WA 98403-3905
(253) 383-8748

 

Parkway is freaking cool. No lies, no exaggeration – this place just looks amazing. One of the things that has also bugged me about Washington beer bars is the lack of culture and history. Obviously, the craft beer industry is very young – and the institutions that flourish within that industry showcase that youth.

But every once in a while you find an older bar that simply grew in to the craft industry. One classic example is Portland’s Horse Brass. While I don’t believe the Brass is particularly aged, it holds a remarkable intrigue and coddles a wonderful culture of an “old timey” pub. Well, Tacoma’s Parkway Tavern is 75 years old this year! The combination of classic pub feel and wonderfully maintained history, make this place a winner.

Parkway is your classic pub. The famous sign hanging outside is the only beacon to locate this bar, hidden amongst a mainly residential neighborhood in the old area of Tacoma. Parkway has an excellent beer selection that is, unfortunately, not listed online. They also have a brief bar menu, focusing on sandwiches and small appetizers.

During our visit, Parkway had a few incredible beers on tap, and a lot of very pedestrian ones. Showcasing Russian River Consecration, Wittekerke Wheat, Boulevard Saison and Dogfish Head Sah’tea, we were extremely excited to grab a beer. Then there is the major dilemma – Parkway’s pricing is pretty gross. For each of the above beers, Parkway was charging between $7.00-$8.00 for a 10 oz pour. While we are accustomed to being charged heftily for beer – these prices were a little unreasonable.

So, instead we steamed a bit about the pricing and decided to order from the $4.00 pint list. We grabbed a Boundary Bay IPA and headed outside to enjoy the front patio in the hot sun.

Parkway has a few seating areas – we like them all. The outside patio is simply a paved area out front, along the road. But the area is planted full of large bushels of blossoming plants, filled with chirping birds and accessible to the sun’s rays. We also spent some time in the back of the bar, where the Tavern’s pool table, shuffleboard table and beer sign roof reside. A third area is the bar, where the majority of patrons hang out, enjoy their beer and watch local sports.

While we were in the back, the wonderfully kind waitress came back and visited. She brought us a few short pours (5 oz) of the more rare beers that Parkway had on tap, apparently agreeing with us that the price was a little absurd. Her kind gift was a welcome treat, as we enjoyed the sour currant goodness of Consecration and Dogfish Head’s Sah’tea.

All in all, Parkway is a must visit for Tacoma. The combination of history, community and intriguing beer list makes this a worthy venue. But, bring your wallet if you expect to drink well.

 

Any other places in Tacoma that you deem worthy?! Please let us know below in comments -

 

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  1. Jeremy
    August 4, 2010 at 9:15 am

    i really like the Red Hot as well, though i see you already did a post on it.

  2. August 4, 2010 at 9:45 am

    Yes, the Parkway is most excellent. Love that place. Such a great neighborhood vibe. Always a great beer selection. The Swiss and the Redhot are the obvious recommendations. Both are very worthy bars. The Engine House 9, an oft forgotten brewpub, is worth a stop. And then of course there is Harmon Brewing.

    Here’s one you might not otherwise hear about – The Spar. Located in Old Town just off Ruston Way, the Spar is “Tacoma’s oldest bar.” Old, historic and comfortable. A decent but not overly impressive selection of taps. The building was built in 1918 (I think) on the site of a former whorehouse and saloon which was torn down by the authorities because… well, because it was a whorehouse and saloon. A speakeasy during prohibition and a Rainier bar after prohibition. Oozing with nostalgia and haunted by friendly ghosts. The wife and I love the Spar!

    • August 4, 2010 at 11:39 am

      Thanks Kendall. Love the recommendations, and very detailed description. Not going to miss The Spar next time. great name.

  3. John O'Gara
    August 7, 2010 at 1:31 am

    I’m the manager at the Parkway and I’m glad you enjoyed your visit to our litttle slice of beer heaven. However, I’d like to correct a couple of points in your post. We list our line-up on Taplister and update daily, sometimes more often.
    It seems that there was some confusion about our pricing: While the Consecration was indeed $8 for a 10oz pour (it’s a stupidly expensive beer and we can blame the brewery for that) the other beers you mention were priced at $7-8 per 16oz.
    We try hard to keep all of our prices reasonable, we have to, it’s Tacoma. We wouldn’t want your readers to get the impression that we are heartless, money- grubbing beer mongers.
    We look forward to seeing you at the PW again and don’t miss the Red Hot next time you’re in T-town.

    We look forward to see

    • August 9, 2010 at 3:19 pm

      John:

      Thank you for your comment. I did not mean for the article to infer that all the expensive pours were only 10oz, so I appreciate your clarification.

      Thank you for the information about Taplister. Its a very good resource for drinkers.

      You guys have a great place. Sometimes the experience is worth the price.

      Best,

      BB.com

  4. Catherine Goeddey
    September 17, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    I want to know how ON EARTH you could have missed The Harmon??? I mean, its a classic Tacoma brew and they have something to suit everyone’s taste in beer if they are honest beer drinkers. The Harmon, The Hub and The Brewery Tap are all sister pubs and I am sorely disappointed that they were not included.

    • September 19, 2010 at 9:45 pm

      The Harmon, eh? Its on the list now!! We have only been able to access a few of their beers up here in Seattle.

      We always appreciate insight into what we should do when we go to a new place. We will check the place out and their beers next time we are in Tacoma.

  5. Chris Kelly
    September 17, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    When it comes to beer in Tacoma, the Harmon’s Puget Sound Porter is quite possibly the best beer on the planet. I have yet to recommend it to someone who didn’t love it.

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