By Margo Greenman
Long, warm summer days in the Pacific Northwest are the perfect recipe for dining outdoors. Whether packing a picnic and heading to your favorite park or firing up the grill for a backyard barbecue, there are many ways to enjoy meals amidst the fresh summer air this time of year.
When you don’t feel like cooking but still want to enjoy a summer breeze with your main course, ditch your kitchen and head to one of the South Sound’s many restaurants offering deck dining and outdoor seating well-suited for flexing your gastronomic muscle under the sun.
Expertly made sandwiches created using top-quality ingredients are the specialty at Tacoma’s beloved Rosewood Cafe. This quaint and charming cafe located between Proctor and Stadium District offers street-side seating outside so you can people watch while you dine. The menu features more than 10 signature sandwiches and a variety of salads, entrees, soups and starters. With so many tasty lunch and dinner options, choosing what to order is the hardest part. If you want something to wash your dinner down with, the Rosewood Cafe features a thoughtful wine list and a rotating selection of craft beers.
3323 N 26th St.
Tacoma, WA 98407
*Editor’s note: Masa is now closed.
For a more “elevated” dining experience, climb the stairs to Masa’s rooftop dining area where you can get a bird’s eye view of 6th Avenue while enjoying a margarita. The “fun and festive” setting this popular Tacoma hangout offers is made even better during the summer months when this restaurant’s rooftop comes to life. Patrons of this comida Mexicana restaurant can enjoy ordering off the regular menu or celebrate happy hour fiesta-style all day on Monday and Tuesday and from 2:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. the rest of the week. With a full selection of savory entrees, burgers, wraps and small bites, Masa dishes up a wide selection of tasty eats and refreshing drinks to keep you cool way up top.
2811 6th Ave.
Tacoma, WA 98406
With sweeping views of the Puget Sound and the Narrows Bridge, the view at Boathouse 19 is enough to whet your appetite. With ample outdoor seating on the restaurant’s deck, it’s fun to watch the boats come in as you sip from one of the restaurant’s signature cocktails or chow down on house specialties like the Pike Place fish fry or grilled fish tacos. If you’re not in the mood for seafood, Boathouse also offers a variety of burgers, sandwiches, salads and appetizing starters sure to satisfy your hunger.
9001 S 19th St.
Tacoma, WA 98466
The Social Bar and Grill
After a day exploring downtown Tacoma’s many museums and shopping destinations, cool off outdoors with dinner at the Social Bar and Grill. Start your meal with something small off the Social’s shareables menu, then fill up on something more “sustainable” like shrimp and grits, grilled rib eye, paella and more. For dessert, get sweet with toasted coconut ice cream, flourless chocolate cake and other sugary eats.
The Social Bar and Grill
1715 Dock Street
Tacoma, WA 98402
Ruston Way Restaurants
Ruston Way is an oasis for outdoor dining opportunities in Tacoma. With upscale dining, happy hour bargains and family-friendly lunch and dinner options available, Ruston Way’s more than six waterfront restaurants have something for everyone.
Harbor Lights is a favorite for romantic, moonlit dinners on the deck. Guests of this Anthony’s-owned eatery will enjoying peering out along scenic Commencement Bay while scarfing down steamed clams, Dungeness Crab Louie and other seafood favorites.
On the other end of Ruston, the Lobster Shop offers the perfect indoor- or outdoor-atmosphere for celebrating an anniversary, birthday or other milestone in style. For dinner, guests can enjoy items like clam linguini and lobster carbonara, and happy hour-goers can sink their teeth into street tacos, calamari and lobster dip on the cheap.
In the summer, the always-tasty C.I. Shenanigans transforms into an outdoor concert hall with live music on the deck every Wednesday through September 16. Guests of this waterfront restaurant will enjoy nibbling from a wide selection of surf n’ turf style eats while basking in the sounds of summer atop the restaurant’s outdoor deck.
For a more laid back dining experience on the water, Ruston Way boasts several restaurants perfect for business lunches, ladies’ happy hour and family-friendly dining. The Ram, Duke’s Chowder House and Katie Downs all feature outdoor dining and wide selection of culinary creations from pizza and chowder to burgers, craft brews and more.
Popular chain the Ram features a sweeping deck overlooking Commencement Bay and a variety of eats from gourmet burgers to beer battered fish and chips. On tap is a wide selection of house-made brews and guest taps that will quench your thirst on a hot summer day. The setting is perfect for a family dinner under the open sky.
With locations across Seattle, the popular Duke’s Chowder House features a Tacoma location on Ruston, Way boasting a menu consisting of mostly fresh and local seafood from the waters of the Pacific Northwest. If you plan on making Duke’s a regular lunch or dinner destination, sign-up for the VIP club and receive discounted entrees and other freebies that will make your stomach and pocketbook happy.
Next door to Duke’s is a popular pitstop for pizza and other bar and grill-inspired fare. Katie Downs, a 21 and over restaurant, is renowned for its award winning pizzas, gourmet burgers and fresh seafood offerings. Not to mention its killer view of Commencement Bay.