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Eating close to Thea Foss Waterway

Social Bar & Grill in the thick of museums and waterfront

The Social Bar & Grill’s halibut and chips feature sweet potato fries. Photo credit: Jason de Paul

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Announcer: The greater South Sound area is not lacking in waterfront dining. From Browns Point, slicing through the downtown, around the bend at Point Defiance and on down to Olympia, diners can have views of ships, ferry boats, kayakers, seals and islands to their heart's content.  You can eat on, over and next to many stunning seascapes.  In the Thea Foss area, the Social Bar & Grill offers it's own views of the water - namely sailboats and industry with a few world-class museums in short walking distance.

Jason: The Social Bar & Grill has a sleek, metallic, industrial feel inside with great emphasis on it's large round bar and with plenty of windows looking out on the promenade along the Thea Foss Waterway and the inlet just beyond.  It's a chance to get close to the water without starying from downtown Tacoma's three major museums - the Tacoma Art Museum, The Washington State History Museum, and the Museum of Glass, all within easy walking distance by a glass bridge that connects the restaurant and the main city. There is a lot to like about the Social beyond it's convenient location - it also has a nice vibe, attentive staff and of course the views.

Jake:  They have the word "bar" in their name, so of course the drink menu was my first taste of what the Social Bar and Grill has to offer.  The Steve McQueen combines bourbon with grapefruit and honey tones - it is sweet with just the right kick.  I was also encouraged by my server to try out a new dessert drink. I gave the Rumchata White Russian a try and just as advertised, it was dessert in a glass.

Jason: The bar was packed with a Thursday lunch crowd on my visit - I could tell they worked nearby, and that this is probably popular with the downtown work set.

Jake:  Both the seating in the bar and on the deck are set up for the customers' comfort.  And when I'm comfortable, I'm going to stay awhile and enjoy the view with my friends ... with some shareables, of course. Items like the sautéed mushrooms, rich with garlic and brandy and then topped with fresh grated Parmesan cheese, blew me away.  The daily special was worth deviating from the regular menu, too. The Islander chicken wings featured rice topped with grilled pineapple and wings tossed in a mango-habanero sauce.  I will return just for the chance that these sweet and spicy delights will appear again.

Jason: I enjoyed the grilled romaine hearts - they were plentiful and so good for a colon cleanse.  The grilling was well-timed, not too charred but with just enough burnt edges to provide nice, woody flavor.  The lemony-garlic base with anchovy and Parmesan were also proportioned well.

Jake: Sitting on the deck with the noise and smells of the Thea Foss Waterway right there, for some reason I was hungry for some seafood.  The halibut and chips answered the call.  The halibut was tender and moist and covered in a crispy beer tempura batter with just a small bite of spice to it.  And the accompanying sweet potato fries may just be the best in Tacoma.

Jason: The chicken donburi bowl didn't, ahem, bowl me over.  While the slices of chicken breast may be the most succulent I have had in a long time, the dish needed more broth.  The moist meat didn't stretch far enough to keep the mound of cabbage and rice balls from drying out my mouth.  I could have filled a teaspoon, not tablespoon, with what liquid I found at the bottom of the bowl.

Jake:  Additionally, the dessert menu is well beyond what I would expect from a waterfront bar. My favorite on the menu is the black and tan with triple chocolate and peanut butter cookies topped with toasted marshmallows and vanilla ice cream.  Heaven!

THE SOCIAL BAR & GRILL, 1715 Dock St., Tacoma, 253.301.3835,

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