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Sliders under glass

Tacoma restaurants go small to discover best of all

Museum of Glass hosts a small sandwich smackdown Saturday. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

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Cue the music:

Tiny burgers /

In my belly;

Make me happy (make me happy) /

Make me feel fine (make me feel fine).

Slider sammies are still trending, and that's A-OK with me. These versatile morsels pack big flavor between two wee buns. I mean, what's not to like? And Saturday, March 28, from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m., the Museum of Glass is hosting its 4th Annual Slider Cook-off, which means seven Pacific Northwest grub go-tos (mostly hailing from Tacoma) are bringing their culinary prowess into the ring in the hopes of coming out on top and being awarded with a sweet glass-blown burger slider trophy and bragging rights. This year, the majority of contenders are newbies to the slider cook-off, which should prove to be entertaining for returning nibblers' taste buds. We connected with participating restaurants to see what attendees could expect while noshing.

Get excited.

The Hub's head chef, Andre Reeves, is bringing some Asian flair with his play on a Vietnamese Banh Mi. This sandwich concoction typically includes a baguette-styled bun stuffed with pork accompanied by a cilantro, carrot, daikon embellishment with a little bite.

A non-restaurant has joined the competition this year: Foodie establishment and MOG sponsor Metropolitan Market will present one of its "signature items," so those who opt to their fill their fridges by wandering among the Metro's aisles may know exactly what to anticipate.

The sole, non-Tacoma contender, Pinky's Kitchen, known for its barbecue-style comfort food, is looking forward to joining in the fun. Executive Chef Andrew Bray tells me the featured recipe is being fine-tuned and presented by Pinky's head chef, Keeley Gislason. Though he didn't give specifics, I was informed that they've had some pork curing for a month (!) in preparation for the evening's festivities. I asked participating folks "why they thought their slider would come out on top," to which Bray responded, "We are complete newbies when it comes to this competition, and food competitions are subject to large amounts of subjectivity. I know we will have fantastic competitors in the ring, and I hope everyone's bites are worthy of the prize. I just hope ours is a little left of center and people gobble it up with glee."

Though X-Group has been in past slider cook-off lineups, this will be the first year that Engine House No. 9 will be onsite. Sous Chef Kyle Campisi is presenting a mini version of a sweet and savory burger found on E-9's permanent menu. When asked why they should go home burger champs, they replied: "This year, we think that we have done a good job of coming back to a great burger, which is what started the slider movement in the first place."

Executive Chef Jere Scott from Stanley and Seafort's was the most forthcoming with his flavor reveal and is presenting an applewood-smoked, slow-roasted, melt-in-your mouth, secretly seasoned pulled-pork slider with a Louisiana-style red sauce and housemade coleslaw. Stand by while I clean up the drool off my computer.

Two of the participating establishments failed to get back to me with details.

Tacoma sandwich (bearded) royalty Justin and Robbie Peterson (Eleven Eleven, The Valley) unleash their head chef, Mike Parker, on the competition.

And the sole returning competing joint is Dirty Oscar's Annex, which has brought the flavor train in a teeny package twice.

After all the delectable, teensy bun-based grub, you can look forward to Tacoma's Happy Belly finishing the night off on a sweet note with its Green Tea and White Chocolate homemade cookies, which happen to be vegan, but you'd never know.

You'll be washing all these scrumptious sliders down with brew provided by Pacific Brewing & Malting Company, located on Pacific Avenue in downtown Tacoma.

The best slider of this delectable cook-off will be decided by a panel of judges (yours truly among those with the divine pleasure), and those in attendance can vote on a People's Choice Award.

While nibbling on copious amounts of wee sandwiches, you can also enjoy live music by Daryl and the Diptones, live glass blowing in the hot shop, raffles for prizes and more.

Must be 21 and older to attend. Tickets are $40 in advance and $45 at the door. Visit for full details.

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