Restaurant Review

Some restaurants don’t wow you with innovative cuisine or stellar performers, but are somehow just exactly what they are supposed to be.  The Spar (2121 N Stevens, Tacoma, WA) definitely fits in that category.  Nestled in Old Town a few blocks from the birthplace of Tacoma (well, the white man birthplace of Tacoma at least), this anchor (if spars can be anchors) of the Tacoma bar scene has seen quite a few seasons (it is the oldest saloon in Tacoma).  The bar has changed a bit over time – no longer 21 and over everywhere - families can use the coffee house area or the front bit for family dining.  I has some regulars, some pool, a bit of a view, and a lovely old bar.  This being less than a dozen blocks to my house (sadly all uphill on the way home), I’m a frequent diner.  If you want my recommendations, I say go for the beer and some deep fried goodness.  They are famous for their Spar chips – house made potato chips than are divine when done well – potato, oil and salt – you can’t go wrong there.  Food quality varies between good and no-regrets-totally-worth-the-calories.  Sit next to a regular, pretend you know them, and the quality of food goes way up; you can get one of Tacoma’s best burgers here if all the stars align.  They do have some green things, but that’s simply not that point of a place like the spar.  If you want green, go for the deep fried zucchini – none of this salad stuff.  A good friend used to tend bar here, and she loved it, till she got knocked up by a customer.  They married, and she’s been a stay at home mom since – some 16 years now.  The father is one of those folks that would probably not have ever bothered to become a family man, unless a certain lack of follow-through in the prophylactic arena (as he described it) gave him a very clear path to walk down.  This story is a core case study in my sex-ed. talks with my teenagers – namely, don’t sleep with someone you’re unwilling to raise kids with.  Anyway, the spar is a go-to destination for my Boy Scout adult leader meetings, dinner when I’m feeling lazy, or just meeting a buddy for a pint.  It simply fits the bill.  The vibe is always right.  They occasionally assault you with live music (I guess some people like that), but generally, it is a laid-back saloon with no pretention or wasabi anything on the menu.  And Old town is a pretty good start or end point for a stroll down Ruston way.  My family has a 3 mile “loop” we walk: down Puget Park ravine, along the waterfront, get ice cream (real chocolate or vanilla) and/or coffee at the spar, and then up the hill to home again.  I like that it is there, that it has pretty much always been there, and that it will pretty much  always be there.  I know I’ll keep coming back.     

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