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The Opal Lounge

Serious BBQ on South Tacoma Way

The more than satisfying Opal Burger. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

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ANNOUNCER: South Tacoma Way in Central Tacoma isn't exactly a destination spot for diners, as the mall up the street tends to reap the shopping traffic. The newly revamped Opal Lounge, however, may just pull some crowds south this holiday season. Adding to what was already a well known bar, there is now a smoker on-site ready to serve up quality BBQ for all ages. Dutch and Jackie make their way to that part of town this week.

JACKIE: I'm really digging the vibe here. It's a hip neighborhood bar feel with neon signs, exposed brick, cozy booths, vintage flare and a plant or two for good measure. It's like drinking in your favorite aunt's basement. There's a decent whiskey and tequila selection which is perfect since the menu highlights house-smoked meats and barbecue-y goodness.

DUTCH: I love the fact that they honored the previous owners by keeping the name and simply adding a neon pig to the existing sign. The dining area is updated from what was there previously, and now patrons of all ages are welcome. I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical that this would be a serious BBQ joint, and not just a new take on an old establishment. I was quickly put at ease when I overheard the staff talking about the smoker and the amount of time the meats were prepared. This is a serious BBQ stop!

JACKIE: I had to kick things off with the wings, which did not disappoint. You get the wing in entirety, so drop any bright ideas about eating them delicately -- you have to tear and gnaw your way through them. Grab all the napkins. The dry rub equates to an excellent crisp skin with loads of flavor -- a touch of smoke, sweet, salt. You get a generous side of bleu cheese dressing for dipping and a side of regular or spicy BBQ sauce. The spicy was dreamy with a molasses-like quality -- thick and dark -- and a nice heat that doesn't overwhelm.

DUTCH: I went for the snake bites. House-made jalapeno poppers are wrapped in bacon and cooked until the outside is crispy with a soft and gooey center with a heck of a kick. I can't ever pass up an option that includes bacon, and the smoky addition makes this an appetizer worth the trip alone.

JACKIE: I was tempted by so many of the other options but ultimately opted for The Opal Burger. A beef patty cooked to order is piled high with pulled pork, smoked Gouda, house pickles, fresh tomato, sautéed onion and Opal sauce. Oh. Em. Gee. The smoked Gouda, sweet pulled pork, dill pickle bite -- I devoured my feast greedily and again used half a dozen napkins to feign an interest in appearing civilized.

DUTCH: Apparently, neither of us went with traditional BBQ fare! After hearing that the corned beef is prepared in-house with a multi-day brining process and then a two-hour smoke, I couldn't resist ordering the Smoked Reuben. Served on a fresh hoagie, it is piled with the salty, smoky goodness of the aforementioned corned beef, topped with melted Swiss cheese and plenty of house-made Kraut, and finished off with enough Thousand Island dressing to ensure your need for plenty of napkins. I selected the mac ‘n cheese as a side dish, and this added a bit of a kick to the already well-balanced flavors offered in the sandwich.

THE OPAL LOUNGE, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Wednesday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., Friday-Saturday; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m, Sunday; closed Monday-Tuesday, 5226 South Tacoma Way, Tacoma

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