Unique Restaurants in Tacoma: 11 Unusual Eateries and Cafes in the City of Destiny

by Jen
Unique Restaurants in Tacoma
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Explore extraordinary dining spots with our guide to unique restaurants in Tacoma. From cozy tea rooms with Victorian charm to innovative coffee shops blending caffeine and adventure, we cover a diverse range of dining experiences. Uncover the hidden culinary gems that define Tacoma’s vibrant and eclectic taste!

Tacoma, a vibrant city nestled on the shores of Puget Sound, offers plenty of dining spots that go beyond the ordinary. This bustling urban center, known for its stunning waterfront views, is also a haven for food enthusiasts seeking something truly unique. Each restaurant in Tacoma tells its own story, with flavors and atmospheres as diverse as the city itself.

From the quirky and whimsical to the elegantly sophisticated, Tacoma’s dining scene is a mosaic of extraordinary places. Whether it’s a hidden cafe tucked away in a historic building, a lively gastropub brewing up local tales, or a themed eatery that transports you to another world, these establishments are more than just places to eat. They are destinations in their own right, offering memorable experiences that linger long after the last bite.

As we embark on this culinary journey, nestled in Washington State, prepare to be delighted by the unexpected. From the cozy corners of intimate bistros to the adventurous ambiance of themed bars, Tacoma’s unique restaurants are waiting to tell their stories. So, let your taste buds lead the way and dive into the heart of this city’s vibrant dining landscape!

The top restaurants to visit in Tacoma right now

Unique Restaurants in Tacoma: 11 Incredible Tacoma Eateries

Tacoma’s unique restaurants offer a world of flavors waiting to be explored. From Victorian tea rooms to adventurous coffee shops, each spot has its own story. Join us as we uncover the diverse and delicious dining experiences that Tacoma proudly presents.

1. Boom Boom Room

Step into the Boom Boom Room and be whisked away to the sultry extravagance of the 1960s. Located at 3016 6th Ave., this cocktail lounge is a dream come true for those seeking a unique dining experience. The interior, with its custom red and gold engraved walls and sleek wooden bar, sets the stage for an evening of nostalgia and elegance. The back bar, bathed in red light, showcases a high-end spirits collection, making it a standout among fun restaurants in Tacoma.

The Boom Boom Room’s beverage menu is a delightful mix of classic and original cocktails. From the light and refreshing ‘Smokin’ in Pink’ to the bold ‘Golden Manhattan’, each drink is a masterpiece. The ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ offers a unique tableside presentation, adding a touch of drama to your dining experience. The bar also features a selection of ‘high-roller’ cocktails, each crafted with rare and exquisite spirits, embodying the essence of luxury.

But it’s not just about the drinks. The food menu, inspired by 1960s-era tiki vibes, includes a variety of shared plates and tapas. From pork lumpia with chili-tamarind sauce to mini chicken and waffles, the dishes are as eclectic and appealing as the cocktails.

Boom Boom Room is one of the unique restaurants in Tacoma.
Discover the 1960s allure at Boom Boom Room, an elegant cocktail lounge. | Source: https://tacomasboomboomroom.com/

2. Little Jerry’s

Little Jerry’s stands out as one of the coolest restaurants in Tacoma, offering a unique blend of nostalgia and delicious dining. This Seinfeld-themed diner is a haven for fans of the 90s sitcom, bringing to life the iconic TV show’s spirit. From the decor to the menu, every detail at Little Jerry’s is a tribute to Seinfeld, making it a must-visit for both fans and newcomers alike.

The menu at Little Jerry’s is as quirky as the show it celebrates. It features a variety of comfort foods, each with a playful twist and a Seinfeld-inspired name. Whether you’re craving a big salad or a classic diner breakfast, the food here is both satisfying and fun. The atmosphere, filled with Seinfeld memorabilia and references, adds to the overall experience, making each meal memorable.

As one of the best restaurants in Tacoma for a unique dining experience, Little Jerry’s is a trip down memory lane. It’s a spot where laughter and good food come together. Whether you’re a die-hard Seinfeld fan or just in search of a fun, themed dining experience, Little Jerry’s is sure to delight.

Little Jerry's, a Seinfeld-themed diner, offers nostalgia and delicious dining.
Little Jerry’s, a Seinfeld-themed diner, offers nostalgia and delicious dining.

3. E9 Firehouse & Gastropub

E9 Firehouse & Gastropub, housed in a 1907 firehouse, is a testament to Tacoma’s rich history. Once a vital part of the city’s fire protection, it was the last station to switch from horse-drawn to mechanized equipment in 1919. After serving the community until 1965, it faced abandonment and survived three fires over seven years. Today, it stands proudly on the National Register of Historic Places, inviting guests to savor its past and present.

E9 Firehouse & Gastropub is renowned for its elevated pub food. Their hearty burgers, beer-battered cod and chips, and savory sandwiches have become local favorites. The pizzas here are a must-try, with options like The Haven, featuring house sausage and sweet peppers. As a brewery, E9 Firehouse offers an array of local brews, perfectly complementing any dish on the menu.

When you dine here, you’re not just enjoying a meal; you’re becoming a part of Tacoma’s living history. This is why E9 Firehouse & Gastropub stands out as one of the best restaurants in Tacoma.

E9 Firehouse & Gastropub is a historic 1907 firehouse that honors the city's rich history.
E9 Firehouse & Gastropub is a historic 1907 firehouse that honors the city’s rich history.

4. Over the Moon Cafe

Have you ever dined in a place where every corner whispers a story of love and friendship? Over the Moon Cafe, nestled just off Opera Alley and 7th Street, offers such an experience. This charming eatery, once part of an old opera house’s backstage, has transformed into a main attraction. Known for its Northwestern/Italian flair, the cafe has frequently been dubbed as Tacoma’s most romantic restaurant. It has been a beloved spot since its opening in June 2001.

The menu at Over the Moon Cafe is a delightful blend of flavors. From the best grilled cheese sandwich in Tacoma to other exquisite dishes, each bite is a celebration of taste. Adding to its charm, customers are invited to leave notes of affection in little jars on the tables. This creates a tapestry of heartfelt stories that resonate with every visitor.

Over the Moon Cafe stands out as one of the unusual restaurants in Tacoma, offering a place where the staff feels like family. Whether you’re planning to impress a loved one, celebrate a special occasion, or simply enjoy a meal in a setting filled with love, Over the Moon Cafe is the place to be.

Over the Moon Cafe is a former opera house spot renowned for its cuisine.
Over the Moon Cafe is a former opera house spot renowned for its cuisine.

5. The Rock Wood Fired Pizza

Where can you find a melody of flavors and a rock and roll spirit under one roof? The Rock Wood Fired Pizza is the answer. Since its opening in 1995, this Seattle-based pizza chain has been serving up pizza and a celebration of the rock era. The owners’ passion for rock music is evident in every aspect of the restaurant. You’ll hear and see it in the jamming tunes and the cool, rock-themed decor. This place is quickly becoming a neighborhood favorite, not just in Tacoma but also in Colorado, with locations in Lakewood, Highlands Ranch, and Parker.

With over 20 hand-tossed pizza selections, including favorites like “Bang A Gong” and “Stairway to Heaven,” there’s something for everyone. Gluten-free eaters and fans of both red and white sauces will find their cravings satisfied here. The Rock also boasts a wide selection of appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, pastas, chicken, and burgers. The kids’ menu is a hit, priced reasonably and featuring interactive elements like pizza dough to play with and crayons that won’t roll off the table.

As one of the unique restaurants in Tacoma for dinner, The Rock Wood Fired Pizza and Spirits goes beyond the ordinary. It’s a place where food and music come together to create an unforgettable dining experience.

The Rock Wood Fired Pizza blends flavors and a rock spirit in a pizza haven celebrated for its music-inspired vibe.
The Rock Wood Fired Pizza blends flavors and a rock spirit in a pizza haven celebrated for its music-inspired vibe.

6. Devil’s Reef

Imagine a place in Tacoma where every sip takes you on a nautical adventure. Devil’s Reef is this place, a Tiki bar that immerses you in a world of mystery and maritime lore. The bar’s design, inspired by H.P. Lovecraft-style horror, features a pier-like bar top and glass fishing floats, all under mood-setting, color-filtered lights. Exotica music plays in the background, completing the Tiki bar tradition.

At Devil’s Reef, the rum collection is a treasure trove. With hundreds of exotic varieties, it’s a rum enthusiast’s paradise. The Tiki mugs add to the bar’s charm, each telling a story of far-off lands. The cocktail menu, distinct from Tacoma Cabana’s offerings, is a testament to Jason Alexander’s creativity.

These unique concoctions, paired with a well-crafted food menu, position Devil’s Reef among the unique places to eat in Tacoma for an unforgettable dining experience. Jason and Robyn, the minds behind this venture, have created a space that’s both a tribute to Tiki traditions and a modern-day culinary destination.

Devil's Reef is one of the unique restaurants in Tacoma.
Devil’s Reef is a Tiki bar inspired by maritime lore and Lovecraftian design.

7. Katie Down’s

At Katie Down’s, dining starts with a view. This beloved eatery, with its red brick exterior and castle-like tower, is one of the most scenic places in Tacoma to eat. Diners are gifted with breathtaking sights of Commencement Bay’s shimmering waters. It’s a place where the beauty of Tacoma’s waterfront is as much a part of the experience as the food.

The restaurant, established in 1982, has grown from a local spot to a polished destination under the stewardship of owner Dan Hilger. The restaurant’s menu is a testament to its evolution, featuring fan favorites like the Sicilian pizza, with peppers, onions, black olives, and savory sausage, and the Great White pie, topped with chicken, black olives, and white sauce.

Beyond its culinary offerings, Katie Down’s is a reflection of Tacoma’s spirit. The restaurant has become a part of the city’s fabric, a place where locals and visitors alike can enjoy delicately made charbroiled salmon or portobello mushroom crust pizza while taking in the stunning views. It’s a testament to Hilger’s dedication and the community’s embrace, securing Katie Down’s position among Tacoma’s best restaurants.

Dine at Katie Down's, where waterfront beauty accompanies the meal.
Dine at Katie Down’s, where waterfront beauty accompanies the meal.

8. Lobster Shop

Imagine a dining spot where every seat offers a front-row view of Commencement Bay’s beauty. The Lobster Shop, a beloved destination since 1981, is exactly that. This waterfront gem is renowned for its stunning vistas of Mount Rainier and the Olympics, visible from every table. It’s a place where the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest enhances every meal, making it a top choice among the best places to eat in Tacoma.

At the Lobster Shop, the menu is a celebration of the region’s bounty. Fresh Pacific Northwest seafood, Prime dry-aged steaks, and iconic lobster dishes are the stars here. The restaurant’s commitment to quality is evident in every dish, from the expertly prepared seafood to the perfectly aged steaks. This focus on fresh, local ingredients ensures a dining experience that’s both authentic and memorable.

The restaurant’s dedication to sustainability is evident in its partnership with the ReCORK Recycling program. By recycling natural wine corks, the Lobster Shop contributes to a greener future, reflecting the community’s values.

The Lobster Shop is a waterfront gem, offering breathtaking views of Mount Rainier and the Olympics from every table.
The Lobster Shop is a waterfront gem, offering breathtaking views of Mount Rainier and the Olympics from every table.

9. Olive Branch Cafe and Tea Room

Tucked away in the Freighthouse Square building, the Olive Branch Cafe and Tea Room is a Victorian-era gem, complete with elegant furniture and a grand piano that fills the air with classical melodies. It’s a unique restaurant in Tacoma where the ambiance is a delightful journey to the past.

The Olive Branch’s tea experience is exceptional. Guests are welcomed to explore a wide range of loose teas, such as the enticing chocolate mint. The menu, adorned with tea-time favorites like mini sandwiches, scones, and egg salad, caters to diverse tastes, including vegetarian and vegan options. The grilled veggie pesto and cucumber sandwiches are particularly noteworthy for their fresh flavors.

The Olive Branch Cafe and Tea Room is not only a place to dine but a celebration of history, culture, and fine tea. It’s an essential stop for anyone seeking a unique and charming tea experience in the heart of Tacoma.

The Olive Branch Cafe blends history, culture, and fine tea.
The Olive Branch Cafe blends history, culture, and fine tea.

10. Campfire Coffee

Campfire Coffee, founded by Quincy and Whitni Henry, is more than a place for a caffeine fix. It’s a hub where the spirit of adventure and the aroma of coffee blend seamlessly. Known as a hidden gem restaurant in Tacoma, Campfire Coffee offers a unique experience that resonates deeply with its customers.

The Henrys’ passion for nature is evident in every aspect of Campfire Coffee. Their coffee beans are roasted over an open flame, a method that imparts a smooth, vibrant flavor with a subtle hint of smokiness. This unique roasting technique, reminiscent of campfire cooking, sets their coffee apart. The shop’s decor, featuring Pacific Northwest rainforest scenes and family adventure photos, further immerses customers in the outdoor experience.

But Campfire Coffee’s mission extends beyond serving great coffee. The Henrys are dedicated to making the great outdoors accessible to more people, particularly people of color. They’ve established a gear library, offering free equipment rentals like sleeping bags and trekking poles, and collaborate with outdoor groups for hikes and other adventures.

Campfire Coffee blends adventure and coffee seamlessly, resonating deeply as a hidden gem.
Campfire Coffee blends adventure and coffee seamlessly, resonating deeply as a hidden gem. | Source: https://traveltacoma.com/

11. The Melting Pot

Ever wondered what a culinary adventure looks like? The Melting Pot, famous for its fondue-centered meals, offers a four-course journey that tantalizes the taste buds. It’s a place where the best food in Tacoma is not just served; it’s an experience crafted with care and creativity.

The Melting Pot’s menu is a playground of flavors. Starting with a variety of cheese fondues, guests can dip an assortment of bread, fruits, and vegetables into their chosen cheese blend. Each cheese option, from classic to innovative, promises a unique taste sensation. The main course offers a selection of meats and seafood, cooked in flavorful broths, and served with an array of dipping sauces. This interactive dining style makes The Melting Pot stand out among extraordinary restaurants in Tacoma.

Dessert at The Melting Pot is a chocolate lover’s dream. With options like the classic chocolate fondue to more inventive choices like Bananas Foster and S’mores, the dessert course is the perfect end to a memorable meal.

The Melting Pot is one of the unique restaurants in Tacoma.
The Melting Pot crafts a tantalizing four-course fondue journey for an unforgettable culinary adventure. | Source: The Melting Point on Instagram

Frequently Asked Questions About the Unique Places to Eat in Tacoma

Looking for more information about Tacoma’s unique restaurants? Our Tacoma restaurant guide answers your questions about dining in this vibrant city.

What makes a restaurant in Tacoma unique?

Tacoma’s unique restaurants stand out for their blend of diverse culinary styles and local charm. These eateries often combine innovative menus with distinctive atmospheres, reflecting Tacoma’s rich cultural tapestry. From themed cafes to historic dining spots, each establishment offers a memorable experience, whether it’s through their unique decor, unusual menu items, or the story behind their inception.

Are there any historic restaurants in Tacoma?

Yes, Tacoma is home to several historic restaurants that offer a glimpse into the city’s past. These establishments often preserve their original architecture and decor, providing a dining experience steeped in history. Some have been serving locals for decades, becoming landmarks in their own right and offering traditional dishes that have stood the test of time.

Can I find vegetarian options at unique restaurants in Tacoma?

Absolutely! Many extraordinary restaurants in Tacoma cater to vegetarian and vegan diners. These eateries often use fresh, locally sourced ingredients to create inventive plant-based dishes. From upscale dining to casual cafes, vegetarian options are plentiful, ensuring that everyone can enjoy Tacoma’s diverse culinary scene.

What are some characteristics of Tacoma’s dining scene?

Tacoma’s dining scene is characterized by its diversity, creativity, and emphasis on local ingredients. Restaurants range from casual eateries to fine dining establishments, with menus featuring everything from fresh seafood to international cuisine. The city’s location on Puget Sound also influences many menus, with a focus on fresh, locally sourced seafood.

Indulge in a delectable dining experience at Texas de Brazil in Tacoma.
Indulge in a delectable dining experience at Texas de Brazil in Tacoma.

Where can I find cheap eats in Tacoma?

Tacoma offers a variety of options for budget-friendly dining. From food trucks serving up delicious bites to cozy cafes with affordable menus, there are plenty of places to enjoy a meal without breaking the bank. Many local eateries offer generous portions at reasonable prices, making it easy to find cheap eats in Tacoma.

Are there family-friendly restaurants in Tacoma?

Yes, Tacoma is full of family-friendly restaurants. These establishments often feature menus with a variety of options to please both kids and adults. Many also provide a welcoming atmosphere with comfortable seating and sometimes even play areas or activities for children, making them ideal for family outings.

What types of international cuisine can I find in Tacoma?

Tacoma’s culinary landscape includes a wide range of international cuisines. From authentic Mexican and Italian to Thai and Vietnamese, the city’s restaurants offer a taste of the world. This diversity reflects Tacoma’s multicultural community and provides an opportunity to explore different culinary traditions.

Is seafood a common feature in Tacoma’s restaurants?

Seafood is indeed a prominent feature in many of Tacoma’s restaurants, thanks to its location near Puget Sound. Local eateries often showcase fresh, locally-sourced seafood, including salmon, crab, and oysters. The city’s seafood restaurants range from casual fish-and-chips joints to upscale dining establishments, all celebrating the bounty of the sea.

Final Thoughts On Unique Tacoma Restaurants

Each unique restaurant in Tacoma, a West Coast gem, offers an experience that stays with you. Whether it’s the historic charm of a long-standing eatery, the creative flair of a themed cafe, or the fresh taste of local seafood, Tacoma’s restaurants are a reflection of the city’s diverse and vibrant culture. As you wander through Tacoma, let your taste buds lead the way. You’re sure to discover hidden gems and culinary delights that make every dining experience in this city truly unforgettable.

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