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Fresh catch seafood in the South Sound

Seafood we love to troll

Tugboat Annies’ salmon burger. Photo credit: Dutch Randall

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One of the many great things about living in the Pacific Northwest is the abundance of fresh seafood. And equally fortunate is that seafood isn't difficult to find across the South Sound.  Whether you like it deep fried, spicy, grilled, or even combined with other fresh Northwest ingredients, there are a variety of options available if you are willing to be selective and try something other than a simple fish and rice dish.

Fish and Chips

Northern Fish in Tacoma has the advantage of a great location being next to one of the piers found on Ruston Way.  They have capitalized on the foot traffic by serving up fresh fish daily which includes one of the best fish and chips around.  The beer-battered cod is served with your choice of two or three fillets.  The fish is beer-battered and offers a thick crunch followed by a flaky and moist center.  Partnered with skin-on fries, this is a hearty bite while sitting on the deck people-watching and listening to the waves crash on the shore.  If you prefer halibut, they offer that as a fish and chips option as well.

Northern Fish, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday-Saturday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, 2201 Ruston Way, Tacoma, 253.272.4104,

In addition to a diverse selection of craft beer, the Fish Tale Brew Pub in Olympia is one of the few places that offers fish and chips in a salmon version.  Where white fish has a reputation of being bland and lacking flavor, that isn't an issue with salmon.  It's a nice change from the norm, and it doesn't require a side of tarter.  It pairs well with the house slaw and crispy fries, add a pint of hefeweizen or summer ale, and you have yourself a meal.

Fish Tale Brew Pub’s salmon and chips. Photo credit: Dutch Randall

Fish Tale Brew Pub, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to midnight, Friday; 9 a.m. to midnight, Saturday; 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday, 515 Jefferson St. SE, Olympia, 360.943.3650,


A lot of places toss a few clams at an already established pasta dish and call it a seafood pasta; however, at WildFin in Ruston, the Northwest Seafood Fettuccine Alfredo is a dish worthy of the name.  Thick noodles swim in a rich house-made Alfredo sauce surrounded by fresh spinach, peppers, large pieces of white fish and smoked salmon, then topped off with steamed clams and fresh shaved Parmesan.  The decadent cream of the sauce and smokiness of the salmon make for an amazing flavor pairing, and the generous portion helps with its appeal.

WildFin, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to midnight, Friday; 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday; 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday, 5115 Grand Loop, Tacoma, 253.267.1772,

It's hard to improve on a classic, but Anthony's at Pt. Defiance has done just that with the Seafood Mac N Cheese.  A huge bowl of spiral pasta is mixed with a rich cheese sauce and has plenty of bay shrimp throughout.  It is then topped off with fresh Dungeness crab and a side of garlic bread.  Add one of their many signature cocktails, and sit back to enjoy the view of Commencement Bay and passing ferry.

Anthony’s mac and cheese. Photo credit: Dutch Randall

Anthony's at Pt. Defiance, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday; 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Sunday, 5910 N. Waterfront Dr., Tacoma, 253.752.9700

Hand-held Seafood

Salmon burgers are easy to find in the South Sound, but I've never understood why it needs to be a processed patty with so much fresh fish to be found around here.  Tugboat Annies understands my pain and serves up a grilled fillet of salmon complete with crispy grill marks.  It is cooked Northwest-style and served between two halves of a hearty bun with lettuce, tomato and tarter.  Available with cheese or blackened with Cajun seasoning, when you're looking for a little kick. This is your burger.  The accompanying fries are seasoned and crispy.

Tugboat Annies, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday; 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday; 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Sunday, 2100 W. Bay Dr. NW, Olympia, 360.943.1850,

My favorite way to eat fish with my hands is in a taco, and The Matador in Tacoma is just the ticket.  The chili-rubbed Mahi Mahi tacos are packed with spicy crumbled fillets of fish, and topped with a garlic cream sauce, green chili sauce, crispy shredded cabbage, and finally fresh tasting pico de gallo.  Served on your choice of corn or flour tortillas, the crunch, spice and flavor are all here for you.  It comes with beans and rice, but you'll need to add your own margarita for a full meal deal.

The Matador’s fish tacos. Photo credit: Dutch Randall

The Matador, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., daily, 721 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.627.7100,


The Tides Tavern in Gig Harbor serves up one of the best bowls of clam chowder in the South Sound.  It is offered New England-style with large pieces of clam, chunks of potato, and lots of bacon in a heavy cream and clam base.  At only $8 for a large bowl,  grab a "Pound O' Fries", and a pint of your favorite beer, and you've got a meal with a view of the harbor for about $20.

Tides Tavern, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday; 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday; 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday, 2925 Harborview Dr., Gig Harbor, 253.858.3982,

A retail market and seafood restaurant in one location?  That's exactly what the Fish Peddler on Foss Waterway has done.  Customers are assured of fresh fish for every menu item as the fishing boats are literally just steps away.  The Northwest Seafood stew is everything a Puget Sound native can ask for. Served as an entrée with bread for dipping, the stew is based in a hearty tomato broth and loaded with Dungeness crab, large pieces of salmon, shrimp, clams and mussels.  It is flavorful, filling, fresh, and worthy of the stew title.

Fish Peddler’s Northwest chowder. Photo credit: Dutch Randall

Fish Peddler, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., daily, 1199 Dock St., Tacoma, 253.627.2158,

Fine Dining

There are times when I want really great seafood and am willing to pay for it.  When that time hits, the Pacific Grill in Tacoma is a fine dining experience like no other.  The grilled King Salmon here has a bit of an Asian flare as it is served over rice with grilled bok choy, bean sprouts, shitake mushrooms, and red peppers with a bit of a ginger kick.  Always cooked to a moist finish, it is no wonder why so many restaurant awards hang on the walls.

Pacific Grill, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday, 1502 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.627.3535,

The Budd Bay Café in Olympia not only has a stellar view from nearly every table, the seafood is a worthy partner to that scene.  Specifically the seafood mixed grill provides an opportunity to taste some of their creative items in just one dish.  Fresh Northwest salmon is partnered with spicy blackened cod and grilled prawns.  Add a balance of fresh vegetables and rice pilaf, and you have a sample of the best the South Sound has to offer.

Budd Bay Café, 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday-Saturday; 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Sunday, 525 Columbia St., Olympia, 360.357.6963,

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