Thursday, June 22, 2017

1022 South J

If you're ever in Seattle, drive about half an hour south and you'll find yourself in the city of Tacoma, a port city situated on the Puget Sound.

People flock to Tacoma for all sorts of reasons: art (the Museum of Glass and the Tacoma Art Museum are known for their collections of both international and Pacific Northwest artists' works, including Dale Chihuly's), culture (the nearby Pantages and Rialto theaters host concerts and dance performances), delicious waterfront dining, antique shops, indie boutiques, and - of course - a Northwest favorite, coffee. And, if you want, you can take a ferry to the beautiful Vashon Island - a tranquil, atmospheric island lined with evergreens, light houses, strawberry farms, and fantastic views of Mount Rainier. It's one of my favorite places in Washington state.

A lot has changed in Tacoma since I left fifteen years ago: new restaurants have opened, yoga studios have taken up residence in former unused buildings, and more people than ever are moving into the charming Craftsman-style houses. If I had to move back? I'd head to Tacoma.

1022 South J is one of the places I'd hang out at a lot if I moved to Tacoma. Helmed by talented chef Riley Morgan, who brings his Southern roots to the menu (think big bowls of grits, mac 'n cheese, oyster-stuffed po'boy sandwiches, and fried chicken with slaw and aioli), this cocktail bar and restaurant had the same vibe as the pubs in our old neighborhood of Dalston (and, I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'd miss the pubs the most if I ever moved back to the States!).

We visited the bar on a Thursday, where the seats filled quickly - even at 6 pm. Those who couldn't get a table perched at the bar and it was clear that it's the place to go to for an after-work drink and catch-up with friends.

We began our dinner with aperitifs and a generously-portioned charcuterie board, followed by mains of grits and po'boys.

My blackened-shrimp po'boy was fantastic, with meaty shrimp spilling onto my plate and the crispy lettuce giving it a deliciously fresh crunch, but it was my brother's bowl of cheesey grits with prawns and vegetables that I kept reaching over to dip my fork into: it nearly tasted like a risotto! Rich, creamy, and hearty, its savoury flavors made my tastebuds sing.

I loved visiting this little bar and restaurant for an evening out with my family, and it was great to meet Riley too, who's been friends with my brother for years.

So, if you ever find yourself in Tacoma (or if you live in the area and haven't been in yet) stop by 1022 South J for some delicious comfort food with a cool, relaxed atmosphere.

Oh, and the name? It's a little more than a nod to the restaurant's location: 1022 South J Street, Tacoma, WA 98405. Clever, right?

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