Our second installment of our Dinners With Sandy. This time we get swanky at Maxwell’s
Maxwell’s Speakeasy. Did you know we had one? Nothing seemed illicit, but maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough. Despite its central location Maxwell’s seems to be fairly isolated on its corner at 6th and St Helens, apparently enough to once host a very exclusive, although legal drinking club. Walk in any direction and you’ll hit a great food joint – Corina’s, Stink, Puget Sound Pizza, Doyles, The Tap Room, and The Hub are all within a block or two – but the only immediate neighbors of Maxwell’s are an inordinately elaborate intersection and The Fabulous Fifties Hall, which is quite a conversation piece. What’s the deal with that place anyway? Maxwell’s is a place Adam and I probably wouldn’t have made it to if not for our lovely host Sandy. Not for the overt swank, or the equally swankily priced menu, but for the simple “removed from everything else” feel the place has. Dunno, maybe it’s just me.
The restaurant is classy. It feels like the lobby of an upscale hotel circa 1920, complete with chandeliers and sepia-toned walls. The wood is dark and the lighting soft. They definitely nailed the rat pack vibe. Above the dining room the careful eye will notice a small set of windows which apparently once housed the now defunct drinking club. For a mere $1000/year you too could have been an exclusive drinker. I wonder what it’s like up there? I imagine a smokey room full of tuxedos and girls selling cigarettes on trays. I predict a sweet theme party!
We hit up the Red Hot, one of the top beer spots in the Northwest, and that’s not even taking into account their amazing wieners.
I remember when the Red Hot first pulled up the U-Haul and became everybody’s favorite neighbor on 6th Ave. It seemed a bit comical at the time – we were excited about the prospect of a hot dog bar, but had some serious concerns about the viability of such a place. Hot Dogs are a cheap consumable that all too often taste like crap. An entire business built around such a product struck me as risky at best. That must have been around five years now. At the time there was an ever-empty and appropriately sketchy teriyaki joint across the street, and O’Reilly Auto Parts still bore the name Schucks. The Red Hot, a watering hole relying heavily on processed meat tubes not only outlived both those incarnations, but flourished. If you walk into the Red Hot today you’ll doubtlessly find tables full of smiling patrons, good music on the stereo or funky movie on the big screen, and hot dogs all around. The secret here isn’t the quality of the dog – although these all-beef dogs are a far cry from the Oscar Meyer Soylent Beige things you find vacuum sealed in the deli isle – it’s the creative ways in which they are served.
And the place has a rotating selection of damn fine beer.
We get treated to dinner at Quickie Too, a vegan soul food restaurant on Hilltop
Gritty City Food is a labor of love. We love food and we love Tacoma. We’re not journalists and we don’t make a cent off the site (but we are certainly open to offers). When it comes down to it, this website is simply a vehicle for two guys with no culinary training at all to wax poetic about their favorite food and drink. We’ve met those who think any food critic should broadcast flaws with the same gusto they praise the food, perhaps wishing that we too turn our pinkies out and do our best impression of the waif-like journalist in Ratatouille. Good news. We’re not food critics. We’re just food nerds. Big dif.
We had the pleasure of meeting another food nerd in our travels, her name is Sandy. In fact Sandy shares our passion for the reveal, the sharing of excellence, so much that she graciously treated the GCF boys to dinner at Quickie Too, a vegan soul food joint on MLK. And I gotta say, I was ready to bust out my Ratatouille pessimist persona for this one, but I just couldn’t. The rat won me over. (There was no rat in this scenario. That was an allusion.)
We Attend 1022′s new menu party on 10/22
Hilltop. A place infamous to those in even the most remote places. Even Pullman, Washington. I’m not sure how a kid like me, growing up amid wheat fields and fraternities was allowed to develop any preconceptions about a geographical locale within a city on the other side of the state. The mention of Hilltop would elicit Compton-esque visions of drug trafficking and gang violence, all enshrouded within a stinky cloud of Tacoma Aroma so thick one could barely make out the unsavory spectacle before facing a mugging and/or an untimely death. Once I moved to Tacoma, and faced the reality that is Hilltop today, I felt a little…well…let down.
Hilltop. You used to be so…exciting. Whatever happened to that mystique? What will rural white boys fear beyond the comfortable confines of their idyllic little towns? Good luck attracting Anderson Cooper any time soon. Luckily for us there are a few places keeping Hilltop funky, keeping souls lubricated and expectations high. Places like 1022. The most literate bar in Tacoma is ready to teach you a few things.