Hidden gems of the South Sound

The South Sound has many places to see, but some of its most unique hotspots are hidden within the depths of Tacoma. These gems offer an experience that extends beyond the museums and restaurants of downtown Tacoma. Make sure to check out these 9 hidden treasures of the 253.

METRO COFFEE

Tucked in the heart of UW Tacoma, this coffee shop is well-known among college students, professors and those who work in the downtown area. Metro offers a simple menu of espresso drinks, tea and pastries. The coffee is always made with great care and the teas come in a generous selection. The atmosphere of Metro is warm and welcoming, making it a cozy joint to study or catch up with old friends. Aliyah Jones, UWT student, believes that “Metro feels really homey” and that they “have friendly workers.”

With big arched windows, brick walls, antique furniture and old bikes hanging off the ceiling, Metro is filled with unique, vintage treasures that will make you feel right at home. Wesley Sperry, UWT student, says “the employees are so nice” and that he “prefers Metro over any other coffee shops in Tacoma.”

SHAKABRAH JAVA

Located on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Oakes Street, this gem was voted best breakfast in the South Sound. If you love breakfast and brunch, then this is the spot for you. They serve affordable and tasty food along with a variety of books and board games to entertain yourself with while you wait. The pancakes are bigger than your face, and the Shaka potatoes are a popular item among the locals. Joshua Hannah, UWT student and frequent customer, explained that “the pancakes will for sure fill you up.”

LEGENDARY DOUGHNUTS

Also known as the “Voodoo Doughnut of Washington,” Legendary Doughnuts is popular for their wide selection of unique doughnuts, including everything from maple bacon bars to 11 pound doughnuts cakes. Most of the doughnuts are big enough to split between two or three people, but that’s only if you’re willing to share. Their doughnuts are handmade fresh daily and the retro/grunge style of the shop makes it Instagram worthy.

MEMO’S MEXICAN FOOD

Located between Sixth Avenue and Division Street, this affordable and authentic Mexican food joint is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Sperry says that he “loves getting the carne asada fries” claiming this is “the best item on their menu.” They even have vegan options including vegan burritos and tacos. The only flaw to Memo’s is the long lines.

BROWN & HALEY’S OUTLET STORE

Did you know that almond roca was invented in Tacoma, Washington during the 1920s by Harry Brown and J.C. Haley? The almond roca candies are made in the one and only Roca factory located in downtown Tacoma. The shop itself is small, but the bargains are big with a large selection. Pieces that did not make the cut due to imperfections in shape are packaged and sold for 99 cents a pound. Although they no longer do factory tours, the employees are more than happy to answer any questions regarding the candy and company.

BOB’S JAVA JIVE

Built in 1927, this old teapot-shaped building is still standing and now operates as a dive bar located on South Tacoma Way. With lots of character — inside and out — locals come here for cheap booze and karaoke. Any time after 5 p.m. on Friday nights is a good time to go to get the full experience. This old school dive bar is covered with random writing and art from wall to ceiling. Whether your choice of drink is beer or wine, pair it with a greasy burger and their fresh hand cut fries. Just avoid sitting near the men’s bathroom.

SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE

Located in Stadium District, this burger joint resembles a ’60s retro diner. They have a wide selection of milkshakes, which they are most known for, including salted caramel and miso butterscotch. Locals also rave about their shoestring fries. The diner itself is worth checking out, the retro aesthetic makes it Instagram worthy.

TACOMA BOOK CENTER

Located in the Dome District, Tacoma Book Center is Washington’s largest used bookstore. With 16,000 square feet devoted to all genres and types of books, the endless aisles are pure heaven for bookworms. Although the labelling and organization is haphazard, you’ll find yourself pleasantly lost in this maze of books. The prices are dirt cheap, you can even find books for as low as 25 cents.

 CAFE LA VIE

This gem is located in Lincoln District on 38th Street and Yakima; it’s literally hidden in a neighborhood and can be mistaken as one of the houses. If you need a fixing for Vietnamese coffee (cafe sua da) or sandwiches (banh mi), then this is the spot for you. Nothing but authentic Vietnamese food at this joint — and at a fairly low price. They bake their own baguettes daily, which is why they always taste fresh and crunchy. Besides the coffee and sandwiches, the rice porridge with crispy Chinese donuts also seem to be a well-loved item among the regulars.

PHOTO BY MEILING SPROGER
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