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REVIEW: The Loose Wheel Bar & Grill in Puyallup

The Puyallup Fair of sports bars

CHICKEN AND JOJOS: Moist inside, crispy outside. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

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THE LOOSE WHEEL BAR & GRILL

Where: 715 River Road, Puyallup, 253.848.4444

Hours: Open daily 8 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Scene: Huge, classic sports bar scene with televisions from every angle - including directly beside your table - pull-tabs, video games and pool. Bonus: kids are allowed at this location until 9 p.m.

Drinks: Full bar, 23 beers on tap and the usual sodas and juices.

Prices: $6-$18

I could feign interest in NASCAR, football, baseball - sports in general to hang with friends at a sports bar. Sometimes, a sports bar works even without the sports. The Loose Wheel Bar & Grill - the big sister to Sixth Avenue's Loose Wheel - is such a joint. During my visits, the clientele wasn't overwhelmingly motorheads or football buffs. I found an eclectic group.

That said, you could certainly see the games - from every angle including tableside.

In the space not covered by a television you will find videogames, Golden Tee, Pop-A-Shot-ish, something that involves shooting a pistol, pull-tabs and pool tables. You'll also see a child or two. Kids are allowed.

Puyallup's Loose Wheel is the epitome of what one could want in a sports bar - give or take a kid.

The menu screams sports bar too; it covers all the bases - pizza, burgers, sandwiches, fried chicken and steak.

I felt obligated to start with its buffalo wings; the appetizer is a true testament to bar fare grub potential. With baskets piled 6-24 pieces high, and eight wing flavors, one could forecast a victory. The classic hot wings squeaked out a win. Meaty with a tasty peppery sauce, which the ranch dressing balanced; a few wings were undercooked.

While I enjoyed the jalapeno cheddar stuffed burger ($10.95), the beef could have been spicier, and doused with half the secret sauce. I probably murdered a tree while tackling it. Ladylike, I was not.

A team of side choices is yours for the choosing: chips, fries, tater tots, sweet potato fries, onion rings and jojos. The tots, always my MVP, were traditional tot shaped crispy tater niblets.

The real highlight was the fried chicken and jojos ($11.95). I could have wheel barrowed it home. The moist and tender chicken was perfectly peppered and crisped, thanks to Loose Wheel's hand dipped and pressure fried preparation. The jojos lacked zest and had a slight undertone of batter.

Maybe inspired by The Fair, Loose Wheel's desserts include deep fried candies, cookies and cakes. Snickers, Twinkies, Oreos, even the huckleberry cheesecake hit the deep fryer.

Team Fender will return. I only made a dent in the large menu.

Service was efficient and bubbly. One server even knew how to handle my googly-eyed toddler.

If you're looking to dive into "Man vs. Food"-style portions or catch the game while wetting your whistle, The Loose Wheel in Puyallup warrants more than a quick Bar & Grill.

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