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.
Some Like it Red Hot
There are a lot of happy beer swilling Tacomans out there, but it’s hard not to notice the general elevated mood within the Red Hot. The place is vibrant – every conceivable surface is adorned with colorful beer posters and taps, the bartenders are conversational and there is always good music on the stereo or a movie going on the screen. I miss the pinball machines of years past, but the extra seating is nice. It’s not uncommon to come here only to end up sharing a table with others. Luckliy they will probably make good table companions.
The beer selection at the Red Hot is second only to the Parkway Tavern. Taps rotate regularly, and it’s not uncommon to find a relatively rare brew on the board. A majority of the taps are occupied by west coast breweries, but you’ll always find a carefully chosen selection of styles reflecting a wide range of ales and lagers. The focus here isn’t usually on imports, but a modest list of bottles is enough to satisfy your party’s Belgian snob.
There is always a fun cheap-o here as well – the Red Hot isn’t above serving Rainier tall boys, and the DD in your group can enjoy a fresh Mexican Coke with their moon pie. The wine selection has grown from years past as well when it was basically red or white. Now there is a whole board of regional wines and on Wine Wednesday you can find certain glasses for a greatly reduced price.
The Red Hot regularly hosts great beer related functions like brewer nights, just check their excellent website for a calendar as well as a regularly updated tap list. Here you can also find the weekly specials including $10 growler fills on Monday and – my personal favorite – Thursday movie night.
To no surprise the menu is primarily comprised of hot dogs. A cornucopia of hot dogs. Everything from the basic Chicago dog to the Tideflats, two hot dogs buried under just about everything behind the counter. In addition to the all beef creations you can find three kinds of sausage, including my favorite the Murray Morgan Brat, and even veggie alternatives with “not dogs.” The Red Hot dogs have drawn some national attention with a recent airing of “Chefs vs. City,” and were also given kudos by locals through King 5′s “Best of NW” award.
Our plates were filled with a nice sampling of the menu. We tried the Chicago, BLT, Coney, Tideflats, Murray Morgan, and Nisqually Not Brat, among others. The poppy seed buns are light and fresh, the ingredients too. The dogs have a crisp natural casing, and the sausages are plump and juicy. Each dog costs $3-4 except the Tideflats at $5.25, and all act as perfect accompaniment to the great beer selection. The place isn’t going to win any awards for nutrition any time soon, but who would go to that bar?
If dogs aren’t your thing there are a couple alternatives including an Italian beef sandwich (with several possible variations), nachos, and a Frito pie; the latter two come drenched in an absurd amount of cheeze, not unlike the Tideflats above. All in all, a menu crafted to satisfy your beer-induced hunger. The Red Hot isn’t trying to be a dinner destination, just a damn fine bar.
The Red Hot is already a Tacoma classic. It’s cheap, good, and just a fun place to be. There isn’t much more required of a place. Go get your dog on!
Mention us and get…nothing! Drenched in cheeze!
The Red Hot
2914 6th Avenue Tacoma, WA 98406