Neighborhood Notes: An Escape from the Campus Bubble on 6th Avenue


By Paige McDaniel

boggs logoWhen students first arrive on the University of Puget Sound campus you can almost see the invisible boundary close behind them as they enter into the infamous bubble. It’s easy to get locked in a constantly moving social atmosphere that keeps the rest of the North End of Tacoma at bay. But when the occasion calls for an escape from the beautiful campus, students often find themselves roaming between the shops and eateries of 6th Avenue.

tacoma restaurants
The sign at Wild Orchard hangs low to welcome visitors.

Labeled as “Tacoma’s go-to place for an entertaining evening or refreshing day time walk,” the 6th Ave District extends its charms to university students nearby.

“It’s a livelier place, I like walking through it even if I’m not going to go anywhere,” says sophomore Connie Trettin.

The 19-year old often finds herself indulging in meals at Wild Orchid, a quaint Thai restaurant that specializes in decorative cocktails and an excellent peanut sauce. Trettin usually shoots to go around lunch time when the meals are a little cheaper for her college student budget.  But more often than not, it’s worth the $15 dinner plate.

“My favorite thing is being able to escape campus food on the weekends and eat real food,” exclaims Trettin.

While 6th Ave does carry a reputation for being a little more expensive, it hasn’t seemed to stop UPS students from taking advantage of the convenience it offers.

“It’s very accessible and it’s got everything you need,” said college senior Luc Sokolsky, originally from San Mateo, California. ”You have the great coffee shop, grocery stores, restaurants and bars that cater to every type of person. I even get my hair cut on 6th Ave.”

tacoma coffee shops
Dan O’Connor, a teacher at Bellarmine Prep, does his work in the popular study hub, BlueBeard Coffee.

The esteemed coffee shop that Sokolsky references is BlueBeard Coffee off Prospect. The shop roasts its own coffee and, according to Sokolsky, it’s unbelievable. BlueBeard prides itself on an atmosphere that engages thinkers and socialites alike while still providing unique coffee from Latin America, Indonesia and East Africa. It also recently earned The Best Coffee in Tacoma award for the second straight year.

Despite that accomplishment, some freshmen, who have stuck pretty close to the UPS campus, would argue that Metronome is the best coffee shop around.

“I really like Metronome, I go there a lot,” says freshman Anna Rothstein. “I get something different every time so I can experiment. It’s really nice if you want to get off campus quickly.”

Metronome Coffee is famous for creating their own syrups with the likes of basil and spiced rum to name a few. Their motto, “It’s more than just coffee, it’s an experience,” stands true as one is surrounded by industrial lighting, comfy yellow couches and live music on open mic nights. Metronome also offers delicious bites such as flapjacks and cheesecake. If coffee isn’t your thing, be sure to try one of their many tea choices including Cremesicle, My Throat Hurts and Earl Grey Red Flower. Still not interested? Snag a tasty glass of wine or refreshing pint of beer for a well-deserved study break.

While there is plenty to do while the sun shines, 6th Avenue is notorious for its bustling nightlife. UPS senior Landon Gauthier is a Tacoma native and usually finds himself venturing a little further down 6th Ave to mingle at The West End Pub and Grill, a bar and grill that is “very sports bar and very Tacoma,” according to Gauthier.

tacoma coffee
Metronome Coffee sports a traditional metronome and yellow couches to present a city yet comforting atmosphere.

“The West End reminds me of home,” claims Gauthier. “It’s not part of the bubble.  It’s the rambunctious, let’s-go-get-a-drink-after-work-at-the-West-End sort of crowd.”

This pub and grill toots its Tacoma vibe with everything a classic dive bar could offer including pull tabs, karaoke on the weekends and UFC night specials. Their menu boasts delicious pub fare such as the Carved Turkey Bacon Melt sandwich and Rancher Cut Steak: a ¾ lb. sirloin cut topped with sautéed mushrooms & Jack Daniel’s glaze or cracked pepper and sautéed peppers. Pretty much delicious food abounds at The West End.

The biggest perk for UPS students that stems from 6th Ave really comes down to having an external outlet that offers eclectic choices for every palate and personality. It’s common for transportation and funds to be limited so having a whole world that caters to the college demographic right across the street adds charm to a transitional time in life.

If you’re ever feeling stuck, take a leaf from a student’s book and visit one of the many adventures waiting on 6th Avenue.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email