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Urban Spelunker: East 72nd and Portland, Tacoma

There's more than convenience stores and smoke shops

Cappy's Produce. Photos by Jackie Fender

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In the heart of Tacoma's eastside, you'll find the intersection of East 72nd and Portland. With a concentration of apartments and housing developments paired with lots of big box retails (think Kmart) and fast food dining (think Wendy's), this area yields an immense level of car and pedestrian traffic. You'll find a wide variety of convenience stores, Hispanic grocers and smoke shops as well as a vast amount of teriyaki hot spots. But it isn't all zooming about and convenience. Here are a few go-tos for every urban spelunker.

[Fruit ‘n Veggie Amore]

As I zipped down 72nd, a bright green building with red trim caught my eye, because, let's be honest, it's not a pretty color combo. But I digress. Inside is Cappy's Produce, which was my favorite find in the region. This indoor market features a lovely selection of fresh produce, all reasonably priced and well kept. Among the vegetables and fruits, you'll also find a variety of snack foods, such as Mexican candies and cool ingredients like rubs, sauces and appetizer components. If you're in the area, this should be your first stop as you get lots of produce for the price. 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, 1232 72nd St. E., Tacoma, 253.503.1576.

[If You Like to Eat on a Bus, You’ll Love This]

The mobile food movement in the South Sound area mostly includes a collection of taco trucks and at least one taco BUS: El Super Taco Bas. That’s right, taco bus! You can enjoy a picnic in the parking lot or dine inside the bus, which is a great option when the weather calls for it. Serving up tacos, tortas and other Mexican cuisine on the fly, El Super Taco Bas is the spot to hit up for your food truck hankering minus the outdoor or in-car noshing. 904 72nd St. E., Tacoma, 253.830.5843

[Green Thumbs]

Portland Ave Nursery has stood the test of time, supplying Tacoma green thumbs with their fix since 1941. I have fond memories of visiting as a small child with my father, who had a knack for keeping leafy greens alive to the point that our home looked like a jungle. On site you'll find a knowledgeable staff to help you with your needs and an inventory that includes fruit trees, shrubs, perennials and seasonal annuals and garden decor from the practical to the whimsical. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 1409 E. 59th St., Tacoma, 253.473.0194

[Penny Pinchers]

There's a few thrift shop finds on the east side, but Goodwill is always a good place to start. It's clean, organized and well lit, making it easy for those in search of stellar finds and diamonds in the ruff. Even its book section is well organized. Plus, it's also a non-profit. 1415 72nd St. E., Tacoma, 253.471.0885

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