Top 10 Picks for the Great Tacoma Burger Tour

tacoma burger
Shake Shake Shake Photo credit: Willow Eskridge


By Margo Greenman


tacoma burger
Shake Shake Shake
Photo credit: Willow Eskridge

Tacoma boasts a lot of good burgers, but sometimes finding the best one can be difficult. Get ready to explore the best Tacoma has to offer with my top ten picks for locally owned and operated burger destinations. From classic cheeseburgers to gourmet wonders, this comprehensive list features only the best of local burger elite. Use the map to plan your itinerary, and get ready to feast on some great local fare.

To see the map, click here.

A. Blast from the past

The vintage feel of Stadium district’s Shake Shake Shake is a draw in itself, but add tasty burgers, shoestring fries, and classic milkshakes to the mix and you’ve got yourself a no-brainer. The retro-centric feel of this 1940s inspired diner transports its customers back in time through a combination of decor and flavor. An instant favorite.

B. Legends never die

Once the iconic Little Holland drive-in, Mikie Burger has resurrected the flavors of the legendary drive-in to include such favorites as the infamous Mikie burger. A beef patty topped with Swiss cheese, Canadian bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles, this classic burger lives on at its new location. And, don’t forget to leave room for the custard – it’s sensational!

C. Hold the meat

No need for vegetarians and vegans to feel left out, Quickie Too, a Tacoma-local vegan cafe, offers a meatless burger to be reckoned with. Quickie’s Crazy Jamaican is a spicy “burger” loaded with jerk tofu, plantains, grilled sweet onions, house made potato salad, veganaise and tomatoes. For the burger lover looking for a meatless alternative, this quaint Hilltop cafe is a must.

D. Just like mom used to make

tacoma burger
Mary’s Burger Bistro

A charming restaurant in the heart of downtown Tacoma, Mary’s Burger Bistro is known for dishing up generous portions of home style goodness. Mary’s All American is a meaty burger loaded with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles, all held together with melted cheese and served on a grilled kaiser roll. Pair this burger with some of Mary’s fresh-cut fries and you’ve got a gourmet meal at a fraction of the price.

E. Oldschool

Like Shake Shake Shake, this retro drive-in will transport you back in time – but that’s because Frisko Freeze has been serving the people of Tacoma for more than sixty years! Golden fries and greasy cheeseburgers served in classic waxed paper bags make this walk-up and drive-thru burger stand a part of Tacoma’s history. Just look for the iconic sign illuminating the corner of N. L St. and Division, and find out why this drive-in has been a local favorite for more than six decades

F. Cut the calories

Every now and then I like to make a “healthier” choice and order a turkey burger. The only problem is that whenever I do, I always regret it. Except at The Spar. Located in Tacoma’s Old Town neighborhood, The Spar’s turkey burger is a juicy, flavorful and guilt-free option that pairs perfectly with their signature Spar chips – their take on handmade potato chips. Enjoying your burger is made even easier by The Spar’s charming ambiance.

G. Elevated dining

Because sometimes it’s nice to treat yourself, Marrow Kitchen and Bar offers seasonally inspired fare that begs to be devoured. If you’re looking for a gourmet burger, look no further than Marrow’s Wagyu burger. Loaded with Beecher’s cheese, bacon apple jam, beer batter onion rings, and basil aioli, this gourmet burger is served on a potato bun and comes with a generous portion of delicately seasoned fingerlings.

H. Have it your way

tacoma burger
Lefty’s Burger Shack
Photo credit: Margo Greenman

Keep it simple or load it up. Whether you like your burger stripped down or decked out, Flipping Out will customize your Angus beef burger with your choice of savory add-ons. And, as if great burgers weren’t enough, Flipping Out also delivers! Of course, if you happen to be in the area, you can also snag a seat inside or on their outdoor patio.

I. Gluten Free

Serving as the South Sound’s answer to gluten-free burgers, Tacoma’s Friesenburgers offers a full-menu of gluten-free options, including everything from classic hamburgers and cheeseburgers, to their famous Friesenburger: a half pound burger loaded with cheese, bacon and egg. Their thick-cut fries are gluten-free, too.

J. Surf’s up!

Consider this one a bonus – located in University Place, Lefty’s Burger Shack is my number one choice when it comes to South Sound burgers. Serving generous sized burgers that won’t break the bank, Lefty’s drive-in will leave your mouth watering for more. Can’t choose between the fries and the onion rings? Try the “frings” and enjoy the best of both worlds.

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