It is a goal of this blog to document the unique and unknown in Tacoma. It is however inevitable that we will showcase the diners, dives, delis, and taco trucks that make this gritty city great. MSM Grocery & Deli on 6th and South Trafton is certainly one of those places.
MSM Deli (or Magical Sandwich Makers to those not so keen on brevity, or Magical Sandwich Makers Grocery II & Deli to any Ents in our reading audience) is as unassuming as they come: a rectangular white box of a building stacked with refrigerator banks and minimart-esque wire racks filled with assorted snacks and grocery items; however, a jampacked parking lot and steady stream of hungry sandwich enthusiasts betray the sleepy exterior. A well known Tacoma fact is this place makes a mean sandwich. So mean, you’ll likely find yourself standing in line for some time while some creepy lady with a Disneyland sweater makes gooey eyes at you. MSM is so accessible, and so reasonably priced (sandwiches start under $5), it isn’t uncommon to see a suit diving mouth-first into a club sandwich seated next to a crack head (partially based on assumption….ok, largely based on assumption). This last bit of info surely won’t scare the typical Gritty Tacoman, but this does help to repel the Bluetooths and Beamers. Douchebag repellant.
To the jump!
The sandwich selection is impressive, but not overwhelming. 11 different sandwiches including a build-your-own option, East Coast style subs, pita wraps and soups make up the menu. Of course it is a grocery too, so pick up some Jalepeno chips, Funyons, a loaf of bread, or whatever the hell you want. And in addition to serving totally solid sandwiches, MSM easily has one of the best craft beer selections in town. Bizarre right?
This most recent jaunt to MSM has definitely reaffirmed my love with the reuben. It’s so good, dressed up nice just for you. How could you deny that crispy sauerkraut, the decadent corned beef with 1000 Island dressing just oozing from the warmed dark rye? That’s right. You can’t. The only competition in T Town comes from The Swiss, and that’s a battle for another day.
The Mike’s Deluxe was another big hit at our table. Piled high with deli meats and veggies, it’s definitely standard deli fare done right. The sandwich roll today was on the dry side, but this has proven to be a bit of a gamble here at MSM – sometimes the rolls are fresh and crisp, sometimes not. Perhaps their trips to their distributor are a touch too far between.
The Italian Sub again leaned toward this side of typical deli fare, but was definitely a tasty little guy. I’m a sucker for Pepperoncinis though. Throw a few on a toilet brush and I’d strongly consider eating it. The meats were fresh, and definitely a far cry from any chain sub shop. The bread here too was a touch on the dry side. This place needs a bakery to move in next door bad. Does anyone actually go to that little lawnmower repair shop anyway? I see a business opportunity! I only ask a mere 10% of your yearly profits as a consulting fee.
One evident lack here at MSM is vegetarian fare. My wife Elizabeth enjoyed her DIY veggie, but felt a bit hemmed in choice-wise. I must admit I empathized with her that her silly meat-free morals yet again got in the way of deliciousness. Sorry PETA. No hard feelings.
All things said, the food was good to really good. The front of the store is a lunchtime feeding frenzy (they may as well install a long trough filled with sandwiches) and it is really important to call your order in ahead of time. Then you can walk over to the right side of the counter, bob and weave the evil stares from those in line, and pick up your order. If you want to improve your grit and eat in, I suggest the back room, although it is more reminiscent of a bingo hall than a restaurant – the few artful bicycle pictures aren’t fooling anyone. Think of it as a foil for the food, something plain to dress up what’s
on your plate in your basket. Just watch out for that creepy lady in the Disneyland sweater, she’ll get ya.
Mention us and get….nothing! But please do enjoy your magical regularly priced sandwich.