Where to Dine on the Water in Tacoma

Tacoma is a city surrounded by water and spectacular views. It’s also a city filled with delicious places to eat. Why not combine these two fabulous facets of living in the South Sound and enjoy a meal at a waterfront restaurant?

Pierce College LogoDining on the water is especially delightful on sunny days when waterfront decks are open, but there’s something magnificent about a bowl of chowder next to a window view of a moody Puget Sound as well. No matter the weather, no matter the time of year, a date night or family meal out with a view of the water is just a good idea. Here are Tacoma’s most surefire places to enjoy a waterfront meal.

Duke’s Chowder House

Duke’s is a strong choice for seafood, dining on a sunny deck on nice days and chowder (perhaps obviously). The restaurant has water views inside from just about every seat and the deck is the perfect place to enjoy happy hour, where you’ll find an impressive cocktail lineup, a strong selection of appetizers and small plates. Tacoma’s waterfront restaurants feature wide-open Puget Sound views. On the far side of the water, you’ll see Brown’s Point or parts of Vashon Island, and you’ll likely see some shipping traffic or a sailboat passing by. For gluten free diners, Duke’s is also a good choice as their chowders are gluten free.

3327 Ruston Way, Tacoma, WA 98402

Duke's Tacoma
Duke’s Chowder House has great views indoors and out, but there’s nothing like a bowl of chowder right on the water. Photo courtesy: Duke’s Chowder House

Lobster Shop

The Lobster Shop is a special place to dine on the water as it’s also home to one of Tacoma’s top Sunday brunches, filled with seafood and breakfast dishes galore. The restaurant is likewise known for its twilight menu, where diners can enjoy a two- or three-course meal for a set price between 4:30 and 6:00 p.m. So whether you’re a morning or night person, the Lobster Shop will likely have some tasty cuisine waiting for you. Like the rest of the Ruston Way restaurants, in nicer weather, you can enjoy your water view from inside or from the deck.

4015 Ruston Way, Tacoma, WA 98402


The RAM is one of the most affordable waterfront restaurants in T-Town. Its expansive interior doesn’t offer amazing water views from every seat, so if you’re really in it to win it, make sure to request a window seat (and expect a little more of a wait) or a seat on the deck if it’s open. If you enjoy a cold beer, The RAM is also a brewery and offers a lineup of beers ranging from pale ale to porter – perfect for kicking back on the deck on a warm day and pairing with some fried pickles.

3001 Ruston Way, Tacoma, WA 98402

C.I. Shenanigan’s

C.I. Shenanigan’s has a focus on seafood and steaks with a view. Dine on the deck or request a window seat, or even rent one of the upstairs banquet rooms for a party and enjoy pretty expansive windows for your event. Sunday mornings and early afternoons also features a brunch buffet.

3017 Ruston Way, Suit 101, Tacoma, WA 98402

C.I. Shenanigan's
C.I. Shenanigan’s outdoor deck is a great place to be on a sunny day. Photo courtesy: C.I. Shenanigan’s

Harbor Lights

While it doesn’t say Anthony’s on the signage, Harbor Lights is part of the larger Anthony’s family and it’s a popular spot for a sunny afternoon on the water. The restaurant prides itself on large portions of seafood and strong drinks. The ambiance includes big windows looking out over the water. As Harbor Lights is closer to downtown and the Port than most other restaurants along Ruston Way, you’ll even be treated to some port and city lights twinkling in the distance after dark.

2761 North Ruston Way, Tacoma, WA 98402


Anthony’s at Point Defiance is tucked into a corner of Point Defiance close to the Vashon Island ferry dock. Sit in the right spot, and you can watch the ferry crawl its way back and forth a few times during the course of your meal. Dine outdoors on nice days, but inside, most tables have a good view of the windows. The menu has a focus on seafood, but has a few non-seafood items too. If you arrive via boat, there’s even moorage available at the Boathouse Marina next door, which is about as waterfront as it gets.

5910 N Waterfront Drive, Tacoma, WA 98407

Katie Downs

Katie Downs is a large and casual spot on the Ruston Way waterfront that specializes in all things deep-dish pizza. Order your meal at the counter and then take a seat either inside or out on the deck. While many diners order a pizza and have no regrets, the menu also has sandwiches and burgers and other dishes, as well as a respectable beer lineup.

3211 Ruston Way, Tacoma, WA 98402

The Social

Like Johnny’s Dock (and not far away), The Social offers views of the Thea Foss Waterway, its sailboats and even Mount Rainier in the distance from the deck on a clear day. Where many waterfront restaurants serve up seafood, The Social is a great spot to find something a bit different. From chicken donburi bowls to paella to burgers (and plenty of seafood too), The Social has a pleasantly varied menu to pair with your views.

1715 Dock Street, Tacoma, WA 98402

Johnny’s Dock

If you want a water view with a little more pizzazz, head to Johnny’s Dock where windows open up the marinas and sailboats backed by downtown Tacoma’s cityscape and the Museum of Glass, which is right across the waterway. Since 1953, Johnny’s Dock has been serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner with a focus on seafood and steak. Happy hour features different drink specials throughout the week, and there are few finer places to enjoy a beer, wine or cocktail than surrounded by maritime scenery. The name is more than merely a name too – sailors can dock right at the restaurant’s marina and there are slips available for boats from 20 to 55 feet in length.

1900 E D Street, Tacoma WA 98421

Johnny's Dock Tacoma
The view from Johnny’s Dock is a little bit of everything Tacoma. Photo courtesy: Johnny’s Dock

Rock the Dock

While many other waterfront dining spots go a bit more highbrow, sometimes all you want is yummy food without any pretense at all. Rock the Dock matches a low-key pub with water and a Mount Rainier view. Located along Thea Foss Waterway, you can kick back here on an expansive outdoor deck with some greasy pub food, a burger or wrap and a cold beer.

535 Dock Street, Tacoma, WA 98402


Another more casual waterfront option is Steamer’s, perched right on the edge of Titlow Beach at the bottom of 6th Avenue. Don’t expect ambiance or even that your food will be served to you. You’ll order at a counter and then take a seat, but views out the windows are pristine gorgeousness, and featuring the Narrows Bridge in the distance. Alternately, take your food out to the seating area (not formally the restaurant’s deck as the public can sit here as well) and dine on your fish and chips while you watch people play on and explore the beach below.

8802 6th Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98465

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