Approximately 40 minutes south of Seattle, Tacoma offers similarly spectacular bay and mountain views. But at about half the size of Washington’s largest city, it’s less frenetic and more affordable than Seattle. And when it comes to the food scene, Tacoma still has plenty of fresh fish and seafood options — as you’d expect in the greater Seattle metro. These are some of my favorite Tacoma restaurants.
1. Corina Bakery
For a delicious, quick breakfast, start your morning in Tacoma at Corina Bakery, where you’ll find everything from buttery croissants to cream cheese cinnamon rolls to fluffy quiche. As a scratch kitchen, Corina Bakery offers a wide selection of gluten-free, vegan, and soy-free goodies for folks visiting Tacoma with a food allergy or dietary restriction, like me.
What To Order At Corina Bakery
Pack your morning with protein by ordering a breakfast sandwich with eggs and meat built on a flaky croissant or enjoy a thick slice of quiche.
2. Olive Branch Cafe & Tea Room
In a region obsessed with coffee, Olive Branch Cafe & Tea Room shines a spotlight on tea. Enjoy a cup of freshly brewed black, herbal, green, or rooibos loose-leaf tea with freshly-baked scones (served with clotted cream, strawberry jam, and lemon curd), a crispy salad, or a filling sandwich.
What To Order At Olive Branch Cafe & Tea Room
Visiting a tea room and not eating a scone is like going to Tacoma and not seeing a piece of Chihuly glass art. If you want something more, I recommend the finger-sized cucumber sandwiches served on sourdough bread, the mild curry tuna sandwich served on rye, or the almond curried chicken sandwich served on a croissant — all of which are served with a side green salad or potato salad.
3. Over The Moon Cafe
In a rustic, red brick building in the heart of historic downtown Tacoma, Over the Moon Cafe is an intimate, 36-seat bistro that’s perfect for a romantic dinner. Inspired by seasonal ingredients, the menu at this family-run eatery changes regularly, but you’ll still find Pacific Northwest staples like wild-caught salmon offered nearly year-round.
What To Order At Over The Moon Cafe
Start with a moon-inspired signature cocktail, like an Old Fashioned Cresent Moon with Four Roses bourbon, aromatic bitters, Gran Classico, and orange liqueur. Then, embrace your beautiful coastal location by digging into seafood and fish dishes. Try a cup or bowl of the crab bisque that includes tomato and tarragon. Enjoy a wild Pacific salmon filet served with red mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables. And be sure to save room for dessert, whether it’s a scoop of house-made bourbon vanilla ice cream or something more decadent, like a slice of turtle pie.
4. Copper & Salt Northwest Kitchen
An upscale Italian restaurant located in the scenic Pacific Northwest, Copper & Salt offers handcrafted cocktails and locally-sourced farm-to-table dishes with breathtaking views of Commencement Bay and the Olympic and Cascade Mountains. Located in the Silver Cloud Hotel Tacoma at Point Ruston Waterfront, Copper & Salt is a fine-dining experience and one of the best restaurants for brunch on the weekends.
What To Order At Copper & Salt
Let’s start with brunch: In addition to classic dishes like biscuits and gravy served with sunny-side-up eggs, and eggs Benedict smothered in rich Hollandaise sauce, you’ll find sweeter options like French toast made with brioche bread and blueberry ricotta pancakes topped with maple mascarpone. And if you’re a late riser who loves pancakes, you’ll be delighted to see this last option on the weekday lunch menu.
If visiting Copper & Salt for dinner, start with a handcrafted cocktail, like the Every Day I’m Hucklin’ with grappa moscato, St. George spiced pear liqueur, mint syrup, and huckleberry shrub. Then opt for a filling handmade pasta dish, like the pappardelle with short rib and king trumpet mushrooms, or an entrée, like the fried duck leg in an orange glaze with braised lentils. And, as expected from a restaurant with waterfront views, the fish dishes are absolutely amazing, from the lightly battered pan-fried oysters served with green goddess sauce to the catch of the day.
5. Duke’s Chowder House
Get your fill of sustainably-sourced, fresh-made fish with beautiful views of Puget sound at Duke’s Chowder House, one of my favorite waterfront restaurants in Tacoma. If you’re visiting Duke’s during one of their two daily happy hours (from 3–6 p.m. and again from 9 p.m. until close), look for some great deals on appeteasers, shared plates, tiny bites, and Duketails. They also offer half-priced bottles of wine every Monday.
What To Order At Duke’s Chowder House
Obviously, you’ll want to order some chowder. Duke’s award-winning version is a creamy, New England-style dish topped with bacon. But there are several other options, including a cioppino-style (tomato base) seafood chowder, a chicken corn chowder, and a lobster Pernod chowder that absolutely rocked my world. Can’t choose? (I know, it’s hard.) Try several with a chowder sampler!
When you’re ready to move on from chowder, you’ll be delighted to see a nice offering of fish and seafood-filled dishes that range from classic to truly unique. Try the Dungeness crab “un”cake, Dungeness crab deviled eggs, or Blue North Pacific cod fish and chips.
Personally, I’m all about salmon when I’m in the Pacific Northwest. I highly recommend:
- Salmon sliders: served on rosemary bread with pesto and sliced tomato
- Blackened salmon salad: served in a bed of organic field greens with Oregon blueberries, Point Reyes bleu cheese crumbles, and candied pecans
- Stuffed salmon: fresh Dungeness crab, wild Mexican prawns, and cheese in a wild salmon filet.
6. WildFin American Grill
Another one of Tacoma’s great seafood restaurants is WildFin American Grill. Located at Point Ruston on the Tacoma waterfront, they serve up fresh fish, delicious seafood, and regionally-sourced meats, with views of Point Defiance, Vashon Island, Commencement Bay, and Mount Rainier. WildFin also offers two daily happy hours with great deals on draft beers, wine, and starters. Try the battered fish and chips served with housemade tartar sauce and apple cabbage slaw, or the street tacos stuffed with everything from Cajun-seared fish to smoky chipotle wagyu beef.
What To Order At WildFin American Grill
Start with a refreshing gin cocktail, like the rosemary lime cooler with Uncle Val’s botanical gin, cranberry juice, simple syrup, and fresh lime. Then opt for a fresh fish or seafood dish. In addition to the fish and chips mentioned above, try the parmesan-crusted Dover sole served with organic farro risotto, fried capers, and butter sauce. Or go for the Northwest seafood fettuccine alfredo that tosses chunks of wild-caught salmon, Alaskan white fish, and prawns with fresh spinach, mushrooms, and roasted red peppers in a parmesan cream sauce.
7. Thai Pepper
If you want a break from seafood (or at least want your next bite of it to go beyond standard American cuisine), then I recommend Thai Pepper on Pacific Avenue. This family-owned and -operated eatery serves up some of the best Thai classics — from banh mi to pad thai — in Washington State.
What To Order At Thai Pepper
While everything I’ve tried is delicious, I especially recommend the chef’s special dishes. If you want a break from seafood, then try the lemongrass chicken in a spiced curry and creamy coconut milk sauce served on a bed of green cabbage. And if you haven’t had your fill of seafood, order the pad kra tiam, a stir-fried dish with prawns, scallops, and squid served over broccoli and carrots.
Pro Tip: For more delicious Asian-inspired dishes in Tacoma, try Pho King for Vietnamese food or the Indo Asian Street Eatery for an assortment of Southeast Asian dishes including an amazing Korean barbecue kimchi bowl.
8. Harbor Lights
Located on scenic Ruston Way overlooking Commencement Bay, Harbor Lights is another fantastic seafood restaurant in Tacoma with an amazing view. If you enjoy eating dinner early, don’t miss the sunset dinner special on weekdays from 3–5:30 p.m. Choose a starter, entrée, and dessert from a special three-course early bird special menu for just $30.
What To Order At Harbor Lights
Start with the crispy calamari served with lemon aioli, or a cup of clam chowder. For a pub-style entrée, try the fish and chips with a crispy panko exterior and a flaky white Alaskan cod interior. Or enjoy creamy macaroni and cheese with a twist that includes Dungeness crab and shrimp topped with golden panko crumbs.
9. Ice Cream Social
Ice cream is another delicious way to satisfy a sweet tooth. And with three locations in the Tacoma area, Ice Cream Social makes it easy to enjoy a scoop (or two) of locally-made ice cream. Following a vegan or dairy-free diet? The folks at Ice Cream Social have you covered with coconut milk and fruit sorbet options.
What To Order At Ice Cream Social
You’ll find classics — like vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry — available year-round along with specialty flavors like salted caramel, mint chocolate chip, and cookies and cream. Additionally, look for tasty seasonally-inspired flavors like passionfruit, cherry pistachio, pumpkin, sweet potato marshmallow, and peppermint hot cocoa.
From a locally-roasted cup of coffee in the morning to a fresh fish dinner and a sweet nightcap, these are my favorite restaurants in Tacoma, Washington.