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New eats in Tacoma you may not have tried

Five joints that offer uniqueness and quality

Peaks and Pints’ Smoked Salmon Caesar is a fresh and light accompaniment to the vast selection of beer. Photo credit: Dutch Randall

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Tacoma has quickly become a hot spot for new hip restaurants with good food and drink. Some are brand new concepts, while others are satellite sites from successes elsewhere. Either way, there are some great places worth repeat visits in Tacoma now with a favorite cuisine for nearly everyone.

Seattle's popular El Borracho tequila and taco bar finally opened this past summer on 6th Ave. after several delays. The delays were well worth it, though! With over 20 varieties of tacos and margaritas as cheap as $4 for the El Cheapo, this hot spot has been packed ever since. Hit them up at happy hour from 4-7 p.m. for tacos as cheap as $1.10. Do not, however, be fooled by the affordable prices here -- the food is top notch in creativity and quality. There are several top shelf choices of tequila to accompany your meal as well. And sorry kids ... but this is an adults-only establishment -- you'll need to wait a few years.

El Borracho, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., daily, 2717 6th Ave., Tacoma, 253.314.5286,

Open nearly a year now, Peaks and Pints in the Proctor neighborhood has become a popular hangout for the true beer lovers. There are refrigerated cases lining two large walls brimming with bottles and cans of assorted beer and cider. The ample seating and lodge atmosphere creates a destination, and once you add hearty sandwiches like the Italian grinder or BBQ turkey blue, it's a hard place to resist. My favorite, however, is the smoked salmon Caesar, which for under $12 is the most expensive item on the menu. Great beer and affordable food!

Peaks and Pints, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight, Friday-Saturday, 3816 N. 26th St., Tacoma, 253.328.5621,

Hawaiian food has officially arrived in downtown Tacoma. Sam Choy's Poke to the Max has poke rice plates and other traditional island dishes. Poke is cubed, raw fish, usually salmon or tuna, that is marinated in classic island seasoning, but if raw fish may not be your thing, ask them to lightly sear it for you so that you can also enjoy the unique flavor that only poke can provide. Another Hawaiian staple is the Loco Moco, which is a simple burger patty served with rice, smothered in brown gravy and then topped with a fried egg. Head in on a rainy day this fall and escape to the islands ... at least food wise.

Sam Choy's Poke to the Max, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday-Saturday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday, 1716 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.627.4099,

Also closing in on their first full year in Tacoma is Brewer's Row, the self-service companion spot of Cook's Tavern. Despite the casual atmosphere, with a focus on portable Mexican classics like burritos and tacos, they raise the bar with fresh ingredients, strong flavors, and of course over two dozen beers on tap. In addition, the chicken tortilla soup for only $5 might just be one of the best dishes in town, especially when accompanied by the house-made tortillas. Don't let the focus on beer stop you from bringing the kids, they are welcome as well. Treat them to breakfast and a Mexican Hot Chocolate one night -- they'll thank you.

Brewer's Row, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday-Thursday; 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 3205 N. 26th St., Tacoma, 253.327.1757,

Open just a few months now, Song Song in Lakewood is already drawing a crowd. Located in the heart of the Korean dining district, locals can now enjoy authentic Korean soups such as fish cake, dumpling, or ramen. Furthermore, you can enjoy made-to-order Korean sushi (Kimbap). Like many of the restaurants on South Tacoma Way, Song Song features recipes from the homeland, rather than watered down Americanized Asian fusion. With nine selections of soup and six flavors of kimbap, there is plenty to choose from here.

Song Song, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday-Saturday, 9205 South Tacoma Way, Lakewood, 253.503.1855

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