Beer in Tacoma?! Best Bets to Grab a Pint
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
215 Wilkes Street
Steilacoom, WA 98388-2125
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.
313 N I Street
Tacoma, WA 98403-3905
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 -