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The Red Elm Café

Roasted bean concoctions and community connection

Waffle+Dog=Damn Tasty. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

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ANNOUNCER: Directly in the heart of Tacoma's Hill Top neighborhood is the Red Elm Café. With limited kitchen space, they have utilized a panini press and a waffle iron to offer a simple, healthy yet creative menu with nothing over $6. This week, Dutch and Jackie head out to see what magic can be done with just two appliances.

DUTCH: With very little space taken up for the kitchen, there is plenty of space for the diners. The space is filled with both tables for dining and several comfy chairs perfect for drinking coffee and chatting. Additionally, at the very back of the long space is an area for kids. I really felt like I could channel my inner community hippie here.

JACKIE: As a self-professed community hippie myself, this space speaks to my heart of hearts. Upon every visit I see at least one familiar face. Not much pairs better with roasted bean concoctions than community, except for maybe pastries and waffles, which Red Elm has plenty of. The display case highlights fresh baked cookies, brownies and muffins that lure your sweet tooth to indulge. Or you can spy a selection of sandwiches to choose from on the menu board above.

DUTCH: Every sandwich is served as a grilled panini and I couldn't resist the Chicken + Avo sandwich. Avocado spread is swiped on sourdough bread, then topped with sliced chicken breast, pepper jack cheese and fresh spinach. This is simplicity at its best -- plenty of crunch, flavor, and texture with just a few basic ingredients. While other places are trying to re-invent what can be put between two slices of bread, The Red Elm Café has found a way to perfect this without having to overindulge.

JACKIE: Even the grilled cheese has that delightful toasted panini crunch that delights, with ooey-gooey cheddar cheese within. There's no need to reinvent the wheel; it's good eatin' with a reasonable price tag.

DUTCH: Ever had a waffled corndog? Well, now is your chance. For just $2.75, an all-beef hotdog is dipped in waffle batter and cooked on the waffle iron. Don't let the unique texture scare you off; instead, use the texture to hold one of the available dipping sides of ketchup, mustard or even maple syrup. Yes, maple syrup on a hot dog. Don't knock it till you try it!

JACKIE: Yes, and I can dig it. That matrimony of savory and sweet hits the spot. If you're not feeling adventurous, regular ole waffles are available, too, with accompaniments like jam, syrup, butter or whipped cream to adorn them. You can even get cheddar bacon waffles or opt for gluten-free if dietary restrictions are an issue. Grab a cup of joe and connect whether for business, play date or pleasure.

THE RED ELM CAFÉ, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Saturday; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, 1114 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma, 253.327.1791,

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