One of the wonderful things about Tacoma is that it’s surrounded by water. North Tacoma comes to a head at Point Defiance, creating a coast to the east and the west. With spectacular panoramas of Puget Sound in every direction, there’s no shortage of waterfront restaurants with a view.
Ruston Way spans the eastern shore spans from Old Town Tacoma to the Dune Peninsula, flaunting approximately six miles of shorefront property lined with rocky beaches and restaurants. Several eateries are also nestled in Foss Waterway, while restaurants on the western shore offer spectacular views of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
With such proximity to the water, it only makes sense that many of these restaurants offer some of the best seafood in the Pacific Northwest. Some will require you to leave the kids at home, while others welcome the whole family and the dog. No matter what the occasion, there’s a Tacoma waterfront restaurant with a view to fit your needs.
10. Duke’s Seafood
3327 Ruston Way, Tacoma, WA 98402
Duke’s Seafood is an iconic name in Washington state, and the Ruston Way location doesn’t disappoint. The chain began back in 1976 when founder Duke Moscrip left his previous restaurant partnership to open Duke’s Bar & Grill on 1st Ave. near the Seattle Center. His original vision was to create an informal hangout that served distinctive food, and that vision lives on in each of the seven locations throughout western Washington.
Each dish served at Duke’s Seafood is made with 100% sustainable seafood, organic chicken and eggs, and local, grass-fed beef. The restaurant chain follows strict standards when sourcing their ingredients, and they use local and organic produce whenever possible.
Dishes include chowders, seafood salads, fish tacos, burgers, sandwiches, and seafood-based specials. They even offer three-course dinner options, complete with a bowl of chowder, a starter salad, and your choice of entrée from a select menu.
They also have a selection of classic cocktails and a variety of wines, many of which are also sourced from throughout the state. As you dine, enjoy breathtaking views of Commencement Bay and Mount Rainier, and don’t miss the daily happy hour menu offering a selection of discounted drinks, appetizers, and entrees.
9. Rock the Dock Pub
535 Dock St, Tacoma, WA 98402
Rock the Dock is a laid-back restaurant and bar serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with live music on Saturdays. This is a 21-and-over joint, but the homestyle menu options make this a noteworthy destination for any time of day.
Not only was Rock the Dock voted #1 Best Neighborhood Bar in Western Washington in 2014, but it’s also a woman-owned and family-run small business. Since 2009, they’ve been serving house-made soups and specialty cocktails, with full breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus, and Happy Hour every Monday through Friday from 3-7 PM. Dogs are also welcome on the deck, where they can enjoy a treat off the pup cup menu.
Stop in for lunch or dinner to enjoy entrees like the Seafood Louie Salad, Foss French Dip, and Dock Street Fish N Chips. Brunch is also served on weekends with tasty treats like the Tipsy Toast, made with Brown Sugar Bourbon, and the Chef’s Omelette, made with ham, bacon, and cheddar jack cheese. You can choose to pair your meal with a Mimosa or Bloody Mary to start your day off with a bang, or stop by on a Saturday night to enjoy the weekly live music.
8. Anthony’s at Point Defiance
5910 N Waterfront Dr, Tacoma, WA 98407
Anthony’s is a family-owned company that’s been operating throughout Washington since 1973. What once began as a steak and lobster restaurant in Bellevue has transformed into a booming business with over 30 locations. These include Anthony’s restaurants and others that have joined the Anthony’s family, all featuring a signature waterfront location.
Not only did Anthony’s want to stand out with their location, but with the quality of food as well. That’s why, in 1984, former Anthony’s chef and avid fisherman Tim Feleman took lead of Anthony’s own seafood company to source seafood from local fisheries throughout the PNW, Alaska, and Hawaii. The company uses seasonal produce to support local farmers, they purchase their beef from the local Double R Ranch, and their selection of wines comes from local wineries.
Entrées include dishes like the Crab & Shrimp Fettuccine, Pan Fried Fresh Idaho Trout, and Alaska Weathervane Scallops. Special Sunset Dinners are available Monday through Fri, and seasonal seafood options are subject to availability. Reservations aren’t available, but there’s no bad time to enjoy a meal with the whole family while enjoying the views of Vashon Island, Mount Rainier, and the Puget Sound through the 20-foot high dormer windows.
7. Cliff House Restaurant
6300 Marine View Dr, Tacoma, WA 98422
Across the bay from Ruston Way sits the Cliff House. True to its name, this restaurant is situated on a bluff in Northeast Tacoma, overlooking Commencement Bay back towards Ruston Way and the rest of the city. This Tacoma landmark has been in business since 1925 and continues to be a choice destination for fine dining and events.
The Cliff House opens for dinner daily at 3 PM. On the menu, you’ll find pasta, seafood, soups, salads, and other proteins. The Martini Lounge offers a separate menu with Bar Bites, Flat Breads, Sliders, and Oyster Shooters, as well as wines, house cocktails, and a daily happy hour. The semi-private and private rooms for up to 100 guests are also available for events, for which they have various customizable menu packages to choose from.
6. Harbor Lights
2761 Ruston Way, Tacoma, WA 98402
As a Tacoma icon for over half a century, Harbor Lights has created a reputation for quality seafood, generous portions, and strong drinks. The restaurant isn’t much to look at from outside, but don’t let that fool you. Inside is a comfortable dining space with large windows in every direction, and the outdoor seating on the deck directly above the water is phenomenal.
Lunch specials include dishes like Dungeness Crab Toast, Pan Fried Oysters, and Oregon Coast Shrimp Macaroni & Cheese. Dinner offers various entrée specials, as well as chowders, fish & chips, and steaks.
Like Anthony’s, they offer an early bird three-course dinner every Monday through Friday, including a starter, choice of entrée, and dessert. Early bird cocktails and wines are also available, and the daily happy hour from 3-6 PM includes fun foods and select libations.
5. Katie Downs Waterfront Tavern
3211 Ruston Way, Tacoma, WA 98402
As a neighborhood establishment since 1982, Katie Downs Waterfront Tavern had to make this list. Although this 21+ sports bar isn’t suitable for the kids, it serves a full menu of comfort foods for dine-in and take-out customers.
One of the first thing you’ll notice about Katie Downs is the unique architecture. When the restaurant was first started by Mike Ebert and Dr. John Hilger, they hired the Pacific Northwest architect Dusty Trail to design the building. The restaurant drew inspiration from Ebert’s grandmother who had spent much of her life in Ireland, so Trail designed the space based on the watchtowers along the Irish coast. The shingled exterior and simple rustic interior feel like a cozy cabin, complete with ample seating, big screen TVs, and large windows.
The business was passed to Hilger’s son Dan in 1989, who now runs the restaurant with his son, Luke. In 2018, it went from an order-at-the-bar format to a full-service restaurant. They serve burgers, seafood, soups, salads, and sandwiches, but what they’re known for are their deep-dish pizzas. While you wait for your food, you can sip on one of their specialty cocktails, spiked hot drinks, or local beer or wine.
4. Copper and Salt Northwest Kitchen
5125 Grand Loop, Ruston, WA 98407
Seafood is the staple of most Tacoma waterfront restaurants, but Copper and Salt Northwest Kitchen offers something different. This swanky eatery serves Italian-influenced dishes with a uniquely PNW flare. They offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and are open to the whole family.
As you enter, you’ll notice a contemporary interior with sleek lines, functional décor, and a superb view of Commencement Bay as well as the Olympic and Cascade Mountain ranges through large glass windows.
Come for breakfast to enjoy dishes like the Brioche French Toast, while lunch includes entrees like the Pappardelle, made with handmade pasta, short rib, roasted king trumpet mushrooms, horseradish and chives. Dinner options include Fried Duck Leg with braised lentils, orange glaze, frisee, herbs, and a lemon vinaigrette, and dessert can be a choice of Ganache tart, Sticky Toffee Pudding, or Zeppole, made with berries ricotta and candied almonds. Cocktails, beers, and wines are also available, and the daily Happy Hour and late-night menus feature a Chef’s selection of discounted food and drinks.
3. Boathouse 19
9001 S 19th St, Tacoma, WA 98466
The Boathouse 19 is one of the newest additions to the Anthony’s restaurant family, though it commemorates a much older history of the area. Built in honor of the lumber industry that once ran the area in 1912, the bar top and dining tables are made from repurposed scraps of a past life. The wooden interior near the bar further creates the feel of being in a boat hull, while a large wall of windows provides a stunning view of the harbor.
Ample outdoor deck seating is perfect for warm, sunny days, providing a clear view of the Tacoma Narrows bridge while you dine. While you take in the views, you’ll also be treated to delicious American classics like Louisiana Style Jambalaya and the Wild Salmon Plate. Big Salads, American Backyard Burgers, Sandwiches, and Tacos are also available, as well as desserts like Old Fashioned Shakes, to which you can add Kahlua, Bailey’s Amaretto, Rum, or brandy.
2. WildFin American Grill
5115 Grand Loop, Tacoma, WA 98407
Located in the Grand Plaza, WildFin is the ideal stop after walking along the Dunne Peninsula or before a movie date. With views of the Olympics, Commencement Bay, and Mt. Rainier from every table and ample indoor and outdoor seating, this Tacoma waterfront restaurant is a lively destination to enjoy seafood and a cocktail.
This WildFin American Grill is one of a handful of locations throughout the state, though it’s arguably the most beautiful. Although not directly on the water, the open design makes it easy to enjoy the proximity to the sound throughout the restaurant. The spacious interior is sleek, yet comfortable, and the family-style atmosphere is perfect for all ages.
The WildFin menu includes a host of seafood options from the PNW and Alaska, including dishes like Alaskan Crab Stuffed Rockfish and Prosciutto Wrapped Black Cod. House specialties include dishes like the Peppercorn Crusted Steak, while their delectable dessert options include a Coconut Cream Pie and Butterscotch Pudding Brulée. There’s also a daily Happy Hour discounting a selection of refreshing house cocktails, draught beer, and wines.
1. The Fish Peddler
1199 Dock St, Tacoma, WA 98402
Tucked away near Foss Waterway is The Fish Peddler, an all-ages seafood restaurant with an abundant menu, full bar, and outdoor seating. Catch a glimpse of Mount Rainier behind the harbor as you enjoy seasonal cocktails and starters, or come to celebrate a special occasion with your favorite Pacific Northwest delicacies.
The menu includes mouthwatering entrees like a Northwest Seafood Stew that’s loaded with Dungeness crab, salmon, clams, bay shrimp, and prawns in a tomato broth. You’ll also find scrumptious appetizers like the Dungeness Crab Cakes and raw oyster shooters, as well as beers and seasonal cocktails.
The exterior of the restaurant has a nautical theme, with blue and white seating and porthole windows on the doors. On a nice day, it provides the perfect space to enjoy a meal and a drink as you watch the action happening just feet away in the harbor. The inner seating area retains a maritime theme with painted murals of crabs and sea ships, as well as a display case highlighting the day’s fresh catch.
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