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Urban Elk at full swing

Restaurant replaced Smoke+Cedar

The elk burger at Urban Elk is an excellent signature item in this Tacoma eatery. Photo credit: Jake de Paul

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ANNOUNCER: Smoke+Cedar was a great place. It was sad the day they closed - the food and ambiance were outstanding - finely crafted by the geniuses behind Pacific Grill.  They left big shoes to fill - not enviable to the new owners who re-opened the space, changed the name to Urban Elk and switched from fine food to good old fashioned bar and grill fare. 

JASON: I'd say the conversion has worked - I appreciate that Urban Elk didn't try to keep the same style as Smoke+Cedar, but instead brought solid bar and grill fare and lower pricing to the place.  They have a large menu with lots of selection, and the same views over the Allenmore Golf Course.

JAKE: The Elktinis on the bar menu offer several fresh and bright drink options for summer. The Urban Doe features vodka with raspberry, orange and lemon, which is very refreshing. The Buck Wild has Hendrix, cucumber and mint whereas the Frisky Stag provides a little kick with jalapeño pineapple shrub and soda.  At just $5.50 during happy hour, you can give them all a try.

JASON: The wings on the appetizer list have a hot buffalo sauce that stings but in a good way. I also loved the street tacos, especially the pulled pork - heavy in flavor but fresh in execution.

JAKE: I thought the appetizers need some re-focusing.  The cheese sticks were blah and did not seem to be house-made like most everything else on the menu.  Additionally, the selections lack the focus and cohesiveness of the rest of the menu.

JASON: I'd agree in part, but did think putting Manila Clams and blackened ahi on the apps list was bold.

JAKE: With a half dozen salad choices, the wedge salad has subtle differences from others I've eaten in the past.  A nice size chunk of crisp iceberg lettuce is topped with candied walnuts, bacon, fresh tomatoes, red onions, and house-made blue cheese.  The sweetness from the walnuts, smoky from the bacon, bitter from the onions, and the tanginess from the blue cheese makes for a tasty combination.

JASON: How often do you see Chicken Parm outside an Italian joint?  I took the plunge liking the rich sauce and well-seasoned breading, plus liked the side pasta in marinara and the grilled focaccia.  A good portion, hot and hearty.

JAKE: The menu clearly caters to the golfers with the burgers and sandwiches as the focus.  I ordered The Elk One because, well, I was at the Urban Elk.  This is a huge 1/2 lb. hand-pressed elk patty sandwiched between a warm bun with a roasted red pepper, garlic aioli, Swiss cheese, arugula and sweet onions.  The gaminess of the elk was subtle and added to the flavor combinations, and makes for a good signature sandwich.

JASON: I hope Urban Elk can succeed.  It's nice to have a mid-priced restaurant offering exceptional food.  With their long bar, classy décor and location, this is a great night out that doesn't break the bank.

Urban Elk, 2013 S. Cedar St., Tacoma, 253.343.6090

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