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Best burger: Frisko Freeze

Winner in 2017's Best of Tacoma

Frisko Freeze’s double cheeseburger was voted the Best in Tacoma. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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In the parking lot outside of Frisko Freeze on a recent early Saturday afternoon, assistant manager Chris Matuska held in his right hand the very definition of delicious.

A double cheeseburger.

It oozed melting cheddar cheese, condiments and, oh yes, a secret sauce with pickles that screamed to be consumed.

For like the umpteenth time, Frisko Freeze has won the right to claim that it makes and serves Tacoma's Best Burger.

Being the best starts with the basics.

"We're old school here at Frisko Freeze," Matuska said. "Everything is fresh, and we make a good burger to sell at a fair price, and that makes people happy."

A lot of people were happy to be there -- the line outside the order window spilled out into the parking lot.

"I don't think there's a better place to come and get a burger and a drink," one person said as he waited in line. "Every other burger has to measure itself by what they make here."

A candy cane pole holds up a red and white neon sign with a lighted arrow pointing customers to the home of Tacoma's Best Burger. Perry Smith opened the iconic hamburger joint at the corner of Division Ave. and North L St. in Tacoma on the site of a Texaco gas station in 1950.

Smith allegedly told a reporter at the time that the name Frisko Freeze came from Leo Lassen, a Seattle Rainiers' broadcaster.

"He was calling a game between Seattle and ‘Frisco,' so I decided to call my place Frisco Freeze, but I changed the spelling," Smith said.

In August 2008, Frisko Freeze earned a place in the Tacoma register of Historic Places.

One of the first of its kind in the city, Frisko Freeze's inexpensive burgers, fries, onion rings and shakes soon drew customers in droves. The emphasis, then as now, was on fresh ingredients prepared daily.  It has also stood the passage of time.

"It's generational. There have been grandparents who have brought their children here who now bring their children here," continued Matuska. "Frisko Freeze is a tradition in Tacoma, and a large part of that is based on the food we serve.  It makes people happy."

For a taste of Tacoma's Best Burger, stop buy Frisko Freeze, a classic hamburger joint since 1950.

Frisko Freeze, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday-Thursday; 10 a.m. to 1 a.m., Friday and Saturday, 1201 Division Ave., Tacoma, 253.272.4800

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