ICONICALLY GOOD >>>
The phrase "destination restaurant" often creates visions of white tablecloths and fine china.
Not for me.
Pilgrimage worthy food doesn't always come from a cosmopolitan - or corporate - kitchen. Astoundingly good vittles might be served out of a nondescript building in the most unlikely of places.
Like Burs Restaurant on Steilacoom Boulevard in Lakewood.
The place began as the Lakewood Coffee Shop in 1952 when Al and Jeanne McGinnis served homemade pies and pastries to go with that cup of morning eye-opener.
Then in the early 1970s, Will Burslem and his wife, Verna Burris, bought the business and renamed it Burs - a cute combination of their two last names.
Since then, the restaurant has been the unofficial meeting place for Lakewood.
Not only is the food good - you will make liberal use of your napkin - but the atmosphere of Burs reminded me of the feeling I get when I'm wearing a beat up pair of jeans, a loose fitting hoodie, oh-so-comfortable shoes and a well-worn baseball cap.
Add the fact that the waitresses seem to know everyone who walks in by their first name, and you're starting to get the idea.
Then again, there are the folks who have been coming into Burs since I was knee-high to a grasshopper.
Mike Gaines had just finished his breakfast of eggs, hash browns, toast and coffee when I slid into the booth seat opposite him.
He told me he first walked into Burs for lunch on February 11, 1975. It must have been one damn good lunch because like clockwork he's been coming back every day since then when the doors open in the morning.
"Not only is the food good and the waitresses friendly, but at certain times on certain days you would see certain people sat in their spots," Gaines said with certitude.
Another cool thing about Burs is the 11-seat counter that runs parallel to the kitchen area.
On the front page of a newspaper dated March 11, 1952, there is a picture of the counter. As if caught in time, it hasn't much changed since then.
I often occupy seat nine when I drop in to grab a couple of orders of Wrecked Eyes for my wife and me.
Across the counter is a pie case, filled with apple, lemon meringue, cherry and banana cream pies, a picture of heaven.
To the right is a coffee machine that is constantly filled and refilled as the time passes.
And brother has time passed.
Waitresses, some of whom have been around for over a quarter of a century, talk with customers, many of whom have been coming in for 30 or 40 years.
Through a window I watch the cooks working and putting various dishes up of gin-u-wine homecookin'. The smell of food overwhelms me like the leading edge of a Category 5 hurricane.
This is a place you're gonna want to return to.
You'll have to excuse me now - I'm hungry.
[Burs Restaurant, 6151 Steilacoom Blvd. SW, Lakewood, 253.588.4844]
LINK: South Sound coffee shops