Indulging in Tacoma’s Food Scene

Kris Hay, who has worked in Career and Employment Services for more than 20 years, has compiled a collection of recipes from chefs and restaurants in Tacoma—specifically, ones that thrive on local, sustainable ingredients. She wanted her cookbook, called Tacoma Aroma: Savor the Flavor, to benefit the region so 25.3% of proceeds (a wink to the 253 area code) will be donated to nonprofit organizations like Pierce County’s Emergency Food Network. Here, Hay recommends some of her favorite spots close to campus.

Kris Hay
Kris Hay


Chef Charlie McManus’ farm-to-table Primo Grill was one of the first Tacoma restaurants to source local farmers and fishermen, says Hay. Since opening in 1999, its Mediterranean by Northwest menu has captured the attention of many, including President Isiaah Crawford and his spouse, Kent Korneisel, who are both regulars. (Korneisel even reviewed Primo Grill in Hay’s cookbook.) See for yourself, literally, by sitting at the kitchen bar and watching the chefs prepare pizza and pasta from scratch. 

Primo Grill 



“You don’t have to trek to Seattle to enjoy a variety of cuisines,” says Hay. Over at The Table, a New American restaurant on Sixth Avenue, Hay says the multi-course and experimental pairing meals sell out quickly. 

The Table



For a taste of original drinks in Tacoma, Hay recommends the beet juice cocktail at Asado Cucina Argentina or the Komadre Kombucha taproom of Julie Davidson ’96. Bonus: Davidson’s fermented teas use local fruit. 

Asado Cucina Argentina

Komadre Kombucha



The Farmers’ Market in the Proctor District is open year-round; this fall, Hay suggests picking up ingredients like heirloom squash, Brussels sprouts, and Adam’s Mushrooms from the Key Peninsula for inspired at-home meals. 

Proctor Farmers Market 



“People are starting to be more intentional about how we eat and where our food comes from,” says Hay. That mission extends to food trucks like VeGo Eatz and its plant-based menu of beefless burgers and tacos. People are also taking notice of Jan Parker Cookery’s authentic Filipino food—fused with Pacific Northwest produce—popping up at markets and outdoors events. 

VeGo Eatz

Jan Parker Cookery



On campus, get lunch at the SUB’s servery—but order it to go. Because the Puget Sound scenery, whether in front of the Jones fountain or underneath the giant sequoia, can’t be duplicated inside any restaurant.   


Pre-order Tacoma Aroma at