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Urban Spelunker: Westgate Tacoma

Treasures worth exploring in this hustle-bustle district

WineS wants to be Your Local Neighborhood Wine and Gift Store without the snobby attitude and intimidation. Photo by Jackie Fender

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Sometimes while spelunking, I venture into idyllic pockets of community that are bursting with locally owned brick and mortar establishments that aim to fill your needs with unique flair and personality. Other times, I run across a business district whose facade of fast-food chains and large corporate-run joints may have me writing them off as far as a spelunking adventure goes. Sometimes, you have to look a little deeper, and lo and behold there they are, little nuggets to be explored. Westgate Tacoma is a district that fits in the latter of compartments. If you don't look closely, you'll miss a couple of treasures worth exploring, aside from some of your favorite grocery and grubbin go-tos that you'll find virtually everywhere.

Here are just a few:

[Sipping Shindig Supplies]

WineS, wine and gifts (and growlers too) boasts a boutique-like setting and is teeming with gift ideas for lovers of vino and craft brews.  This retail space is charming; walls are lined with a vast selection of varietals as well as a nifty little corner for wine tasting and a few taps for filling those growlers on the go. Aside from the libations, you will also find loads of wine gift baskets, bottled beer sets and accessories for you booze hounds like nifty wine screws and more. Open Monday to Saturday, noon to 8 p.m. 2631 N. Pearl St. Tacoma

[Yogurt Yahoos]

Seattle-based Yeti Yogurt is set to open sometime soon (summer of 2013 to be exact, which we are in the midst of now). And though renovations of what was once Cold Stone Creamery are still under wraps, Yeti Yogurt has some bemoaning the addition of yet another froyo destination, while others can't get enough and await the Yeti's arrival eagerly. I myself am in the eagerly awaiting grouping, if only to get my hands on some of its less traditional flavors, like Nutella, Taro Root and Baklava. 2601 N. Pearl St., Tacoma

[Exotic Eatin']

My Greek and Italian Restaurant is a dining destination for Greek and Italian food fare. You can snag a gyro and a pizza in one spot, and reasonably priced to boot. That makes it pretty perfect for those days when you're feeling indecisive. There is a cocktail lounge on site and perhaps some of the best baklava in T-town. Open Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday,11 a.m. to 11 p.m. 2303 N. Pearl St., Tacoma

[Build With Beads]

The Bead Factory once called Sixth Ave home and is now neatly placed among the strip mall atmosphere of Westgate. The Bead Factory is essentially a Disneyland for jewelry makers and bead lovers and has loads of glass, stones and more to choose from. An added bonus are numerous hands-on jewelry making classes, from stacked rings to beaded basics, which are held on site. You can also use their beading station if you don't feel like waiting until you get home to put your bits together. Open Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. 5705 N. 26th St., Tacoma

[Little Italy]

Joeseppi's Italian Ristorante & Catering is a family friendly, dining atmosphere that holds many titles. Lounge, yes. Deli, you bet. Catering and event services, that too. Joeseppi's is a splendid go-to on all fronts and provides fabulous service, whether you're looking for a quick lunch or a nice sit down with cocktails. You can even get pizza pies on the go. Open Monday to Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 8 p.m. 2207 N. Pearl St., Tacoma

Nail Divas: V Nails, Scar Nails

Home and Hardware: Ace Hardware

For Hungry Happenings: El Toro, Bonsai Teriyaki

Coffee Consumers: Forza

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