While everyone else was thinking about the NCAA Basketball Tournament last week, at the Weekly Volcano, we were elbows deep in a culinary throwdown of epic proportions. It was all about Mac and Cheese Madness, and brackets were lined with the "who's who'"of Tacoma eateries, which were pitted against each other for the top spot and bragging rights.
After weeks of intense competition, locally-owned digs Over the Moon Café and Boathouse 19 vied for the top spot. Both of these tucked-away gems were represented at the Tournament of Mac and Cheese party, but only one could walk away the winner. In the end, it was Boathouse 19 that was crowned champion of the Tournament of Mac and Cheese 2015.
Since it opened in July of 2012, Boathouse 19 has made a name for itself with ease, which is no surprise since owner Denny Driscoll is also responsible for other successful waterfront locales like Ruston's Lobster Shop and Tanglewood Grill in Gig Harbor. Boathouse's majestic views of the Olympics and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge are divine, while the cocktail monikers hint at local lore with names like Day Island Iced Tea, Gertie's Lemonade and Narrow's Low Tide.
There are other hints of history among the walls, with dining room tables hand crafted from Nalley Valley pickling barrels, which were upcycled after nearly 100 years of business. The bar top is hewn from Day Island Bridge. Both facts are pretty neat, even if you don't consider yourself a history hound.
The menu at Boathouse 19 is classic American with a modern twist and includes delectable shrimp po'boys (featuring a remoulade that I have raved about in previous Eat This Now features), fish and chips, big juicy burgers and of course, Mac and Cheese ($13). Presented in a sizzling cast-iron skillet gooey with cheddar, American and pepper jack cheeses, caramelized onions and chunks of smoked ham all topped with herbed bread crumbs, this dish is a worthy cheesy champ. It's also available "cowboy style," which features four ounces of Carolina pulled pork and chipotle barbeque sauce on top for $5.
The secret to this mac and cheese success story probably has everything to do with the fact that it isn't too far from classic and its creamy, three-cheesy goodness, doctored up just a bit with a caramelized onion and smoked ham kick, is plain tasty. Special without being scary for those who don't like to get too adventurous when their taste buds are concerned.
If you like to get down with your cheesy self, get down to Boathouse 19. Drive west down South 19th until you hit the water, and there she stands. One could also opt to snag grub to go and try a brew at neighboring Narrows Brewing Company - another building teeming with local history.
Boathouse 19, Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to close, Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., 9001 S. 19th St., Tacoma, 253.565.1919