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Stink and El Tufo

Two menus, one location

The fried cheese at El Tufo pairs well with the Spanish wines. Photo credit: Dutch Randall

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Stink Cheese and Meat, with its signature sandwiches, has been satisfying the lunch crowds in downtown Tacoma since it opened its doors in 2011.  Since that time, Stink has added an attached wine bar to ensure success with the after-work crowds as well.  El Tufo, Spanish for stink, is of course unlike any other wine bar in Tacoma, because, what else would it be - but unique?

Let's start with the sandwiches ... these are anything but simple sandwiches and side salads.  Though for just $7, you can get a meat and cheese sandwich - this is not what brings the crowds during lunch. Rather, it is the unbeatable vegetable sandwich, highlighted by the herbed goat cheese spread and The Stinker, which is a PB & J with bacon and bleu cheese. Maybe a lesser known sandwich, but my favorite, is a salami, mozzarella cheese, basil, and balsamic olive oil all on a toasted rustic roll.

The salads are just as creative, especially the chocolate balsamic - I'm not kidding, a chocolate balsamic salad with caramelized nuts, goat cheese and a chocolate balsamic dressing.

El Tufo is attached to Stink Cheese and Meat, but runs with a separate menu and staff.  The menu here is creative in the sense that most wine bars offer Italian sides and salads that pair well with your favorite wine, but El Tufo is completely Spanish-driven.  This menu offers a unique taste to what you may normally experience with wine, or wine tastings.  I was fortunate enough to happen upon a night of wine tasting, and though I'm by no means a wine connoisseur, the staff was patient with me and offered lots of great advice.  

Many items on the menu have a bit of a Spanish "kick" to them.  The meatballs are spicy throughout, as well as the chorizo stuffed calamari, but surprisingly, even the mahon fried cheese, which is absolutely outstanding by the way, is surrounded by a spicy, fresh tomato sauce.  Each of these items makes for interesting pairings that also helps to create a friendly and casual relationship between diners and the El Tufo staff.

With great food, a community atmosphere, and an even better location off the main drag downtown, there are many reasons to try Stink Cheese and Meat or El Tufo.

Stink Cheese and Meat, 628 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma, 253.426.1347

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