Tacoma’s soul food restaurants to try now Uncle Thurms has closed
What separates soul food from Southern food or comfort food depends on who you ask, or maybe where you are.
Uncle Thurms, a Tacoma restaurant that operated in the Lincoln neighborhood for 16 years, closed on September 15, although it may return to a new location. The full name varied from source to source: on Facebook it was Uncle Thurms Finger Lickin Ribs & Chicken; on Google, it was Uncle Thurms Soul Food. But Linda Brokenbrough, who ran the business with her husband Thurmond Brokenbrough, described the menu as well-balanced comfort food.
“Which is unique,” she said this week, “we served on every level – comfort food, meatloaf and stuff like that. People love baby back ribs, they don’t necessarily want to eat them every day.
Another important factor, she added, is cooking from scratch. Whether you call it southern or soul or just comfort, the kitchen is inextricably linked with African American history and rooted in the need – to keep your own garden, to preserve, to make the most of what you have on hand.
So where can you find this comfort and soul in and around Tacoma now that the owners of Uncle Thurms have, at least for now, retired? Here are eight of those restaurants, including one that’s proudly vegan and a couple with live music. Soon we’ll have another when Martin Dowd opens his first Dowd’s brick and mortar barbecue in Fern Hill.
Bleu Note restaurant and lounge
6008 Mt. Tacoma Dr. SW, Lakewood, 253-433-3974, bleunoterestaurantandlounge.com
This Lakewood lounge features regular live music, but it’s also the home of chef-owner Quinton Gethers’ family recipes, starting with sweet tea. In addition to fried catfish and cabbage, the menu emphasizes seafood: Gulf Coast crab cakes, shrimp and grits, a seafood platter and full-fledged boils with crab, shrimp and hotlinks. Finish with a peach cobbler or decadent fried pound cake and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Green cabbage and other things
308 E. 26th St., Tacoma, 253-625-5373, facebook.com/Collardgreensandotherthings
Close to Freighthouse Square in the Dome district, Chef Pajama Mama has been cooking classics like pork chops and whole butterfly catfish since 2018. and cheese, seasoned fries and a pineapple and coconut cornbread. Try the unique Soul Rolls, a southern spin on an Egg Roll, and one of the house sweets such as the 7-Up Cake.
Essence restaurant and lounge
3829 6th avenue, Tacoma, 253-503-0276, essenceloungetacoma.com
South meets Latin America at Essence, opened in 2020 by friends Christina Hernandez, celebrating her Puerto Rican heritage, and Natural Allah, who cooked Soul Restaurant at Proctor on fire. Start with fried okra and hush puppies served with remoulade, then try the giant southern fried chicken wings, jambalaya and okra, or the carnitas fritas and their version of mofongo, the quintessential plantain dish from Porto Rico. The sides include tostones and candied yams.
HamHock Jones Soul Shack
6101, boulevard Steilacoom SO, Lakewood, 253-888-7600, facebook.com/hamhockjonesbbq
Bobby Shorts puts the soul in both food and music in his Lakewood food truck, parked at a Shell gas station. From a $ 3 burger to the $ 7 Queen Labeefah, packed with three cheeses, grilled onions, bacon, and an egg, you’re sure to leave full for a very reasonable price. Ribs, catfish, wings and more are also on the menu. Visit Friday and Saturday, weather permitting, to see HamHock Jones – Shorts’ alter ego – perform live music with his band, The Neckbones.
JJ’s Fish and Chicken
9815 Gravelly Lake Drive SW, Lakewood, 253-584-1455, jjfishandchickenwa.com
More than its name and facade suggests, this Lakewood spot opened in 2018 with everything from fried perch, shrimp, catfish, tilapia and cod to chicken wings, thighs, thighs and gizzards. The sides include fried mushrooms, jalapenos, and pickles; bites of mac and cheese, vegetables and rice. There is also gumbo and combos if you can’t make up your mind. Online ordering available, as well as drive-thru service.
3832 S. Pine Street, Tacoma, 253-474-9898, pacsouthtacoma.com
Did someone say breakfast all day? Perhaps best known for its chicken and waffles with four pieces of meat and essential honey butter, this Central Tacoma restaurant has made a name for itself since opening in 2015. Favorite comfort foods include French toast à la cinnamon, cookies and gravy and a steak breakfast for $ 24.99. Lunch and dinner bring in fried po’boys and gizzards, spicy fish nuggets and pulled pork. Applications are reduced from Monday to Thursday from 5 p.m.
1324 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma, 253-572-4549, quickietoo.com
The Howell family has been satisfying comfort food cravings in an entirely vegan way since 1991. They have all the attributes of their carnivorous counterparts, but with seitan, tempeh and tofu proteins, yeast-based cheese and milk-free milkshakes. dairy products. Try the jerk tofu on the Crazy Jamaican Burger, the fried tempeh on the fish burger with a sweet and spicy coleslaw, or the smoked tofu on a “burger” with a homemade barbecue sauce. Take-out only for now, with outdoor seating available during opening hours.
Serious soul @ Cubby’s
805 Auburn Way S., Auburn, 253-833-9692, facebook.com
This Auburn restaurant resurfaced in 2014 under a new owner, after closing for a while. Rod and Diona Brady have built a menu of half pound burgers, piece chicken, sandwiches and catfish or tilapia sides – two way potatoes, red beans and rice, fried okra – available in small or large portions. You can also order fish by the pound and family size fried chicken platters.
1716 6th avenue, Tacoma, 253-627-4282, cuisine-sud-tacoma.com
Anchored on Sixth Avenue since 1981, this small restaurant has gained national attention for its home cooking and genuine Southern hospitality. The portions are generous and start with a chewy corn pancake. Dip into chef-owner Gloria Martin’s famous fried chicken or catfish, cornbread stuffing and of course an order of bread pudding to sweeten the experience. Take out is always an option, but friendly service is half the reason for your visit.
This story was originally published September 21, 2021 2:18 pm.