T-Town is a hybrid of history and innovation. Perhaps because of the gleaming new condos sprouting up, there is a penchant among locals to embrace the past. What better way to fondly recall days of old than by visiting a vintage, retro, old-timey burger joint like those once ubiquitous in the United States during the ’50s and ’60s?
Fortunately for Tacoma and other Pierce County residents, there exists today several thriving keepsakes of America’s Golden Age. There’s only one question left to ask—do you want fries with that shake?
This cute candy-cane colored cabana on stilts could be seen as easily in Coney Island as in Parkland, its actual location. Of course, we’re more than happy that owner Mike Feagis chose Pierce County as the location for his retro eatery. Feagis says local residents flock to Lucky’s for shakes, burgers, dogs and fries. Favorites include the salted caramel shake and the Lucky burger, which includes two patties, cheese, lettuce, onions, pickles and “Lucky” sauce. Lucky’s has two other stars in its orbit—chili dog and chili fries—both topped with bean free chili made in house. One of Lucky’s unique attributes is its radio station, which broadcasts oldies as well as customers’ names when their orders are ready. Head over to Lucky’s to pick up some old school treats and listen to 89.1 FM.
13502 Pacific Avenue S, Parkland, WA 98444
First opened in 1959, Jubilee Burgers is currently owned by Mitch Shook, who retained the restaurant’s original look. Perhaps the only new-ish thing about Jubilee is the addition of espresso to its menu. Employee Jacob C., who’s been at Jubilee for six months, says that what people keep coming to Jubilee for are the food and the milkshakes. Oreo and strawberry are the two most popular milkshake flavors. The Double (double beef patties and double cheese) burger is also a favorite among customers. If you try the chili, be prepared—it has a bit of a kick to it. Maybe that’s why the milkshakes are so popular?
858 S 38th Street, Tacoma, WA 98418
Shake Shake Shake
In Tacoma’s Stadium District, there sits an orange, blue and chrome retro-looking burger joint that is as pleasing to the eyes as it is to the stomach. Shake Shake Shake is a local favorite filled to the brim with patrons day and night. Night shift lead, Stacey M. Night, says that there are several menu items that wow customers. One is the Tiger Shake, made with salted caramel and almond roca—our tummies are rumbling already. People tend to follow that up with Shake Shake Shake’s Famous Hickory burger, topped with lettuce, onions, mayonnaise, pickles and house-made hickory sauce. As tantalizing as the burgers and shakes sound, don’t count out the Coney Island chili cheese dog, with house-made chili, onions and shredded cheddar cheese, yet another menu item that keeps patrons coming back.
124 N Tacoma Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98403
Flipping Out Burgers and Fries
One of the retro burger joints with the most variety (and the most puns) on its menu is Flipping Out Burgers and Fries. If you’re a nostalgic vegetarian, you can order the grilled cheese sandwich or a veggie burger along with your blackberry shake. Flipping Out also offers chicken, shrimp and fish options. If you’re visiting this eatery, it’s most likely that you’re a bit of a carnivore though, and Flipping Out’s cleverly named burger and hot dog choices will win you over. There’s the Chuck Norris, topped with bacon, pepper jack cheese, jalapeños and hot sauce; and the Straight Jacket is a hot dog wrapped in a tortilla and deep fried. However, the favorite among flippers is the Tom Thumb burger, covered in bacon, American cheese, onion straws, barbecue sauce, mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato.
4008 S 12th Street, Tacoma, WA 98405
Now here we have a true legend. Frisko Freeze is such a landmark that it earned a place on the Tacoma Register of Historic Places. With its neon sign, drive-through window and late hours, hordes of teens and families still flock to “The Freeze” like Stadium High School students did in the ’60s. Its iconic burger (cheese optional), layered with onions, lettuce and a mayonnaise and relish sauce leads the way, followed by the Frisko Freeze Fishwich and Shrimpwich. Expect other classic American fare on your visit, such as onion rings, hot dogs and corn dogs. Bringing a pescatarian along? The Freeze also offers fish and chips and a deep-fried prawn basket with fries. Top it all off with a soft-serve ice cream that is so good, it’s also sold by the pint and quart.
1201 Division Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98403
Pick-Quick Drive In
Opened 1949 by Jay and Henrietta Adolph, today the Pick-Quick Drive In is owned by Joe and Betty Burgi, whose children help run the family business. Known as a Pierce County landmark, Pick-Quick was named the Best Burger Joint in Washington by USA Today and continues to attract both locals and tourists. Manager Becky Olson, who’s worked at Pick-Quick for 10 years, says the most ordered items include the bacon double cheeseburger, the chili fries and the milkshakes. “Vanilla, chocolate, blackberry, root beer, peanut butter, anything with marshmallow,” are the most ordered flavors, she adds. The original Pick-Quick was so popular, that the owners opened a second location in Auburn.
4306 Pacific Highway E, Fife, WA 98424
1132 Auburn Way N, Auburn, WA 98002