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The Best New Year's Eve in Tacoma and Olympia

How your favorite South Sounders plan to greet 2014

MARROW KITCHEN AND BAR: Chef Kyle Wnuk and co-owner Jaime Kay Jones will be open and cookin' New Year's Eve. Photo credit: Pat Snapp

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Ugh, remember last December, when you and your besties suddenly realized you had no plans the night of the 31st, it was too late to book anything extraordinary and the one place you were able to get into was about as exciting as an Amish church picnic? Weak! Don't let it happen again this year, bubby! What you need are tips from the pros, by which we mean the South Sound's dedicated nightlife gurus. But prithee, where would you find such expert advice? Look no further, my sad, clueless friend. We asked several of our "Best of Olympia" and "Best of Tacoma" award winners for 2013 about their plans for New Year's Eve. All you have to do now is hop onto their coattails, pop a bottle of champagne, and find somebody to smooch as the calendar reboots.


First, you should fortify yourself with an excellent meal, because no one looks good after two hours spent drowning an empty stomach in liquid courage. Instead, book a table at. Tacoma's "Best Overall Restaurant," Marrow Kitchen and Bar. "We'll be open and ready to host people for a delicious dinner," promises co-owner Jaime Kay Jones. "We're taking reservations for all party sizes for New Year's Eve." So what's cookin'? "We'll be onto our winter menu ... and have extra special food and drink specials for the holiday." When pressed for insider hints as to what might be on said winter menu, Jones replied, "Look for a larger number of composed small plates. ... We're going to tip the scales a bit and expand the Marrow (meat) side of our menu." Carnivores, rejoice!

Oly's pick for "Best Overall Restaurant" was (for the second time in its short history!) Soo Kim's amazing Tofu Hut, which will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Kim's specials will include ginger garlic tofu and something called, appropriately enough, "drinking love noodles." Yum! Both Marrow and Tofu Hut have vegetarian options to help get your night of depravity started in a healthier way.

>>> Elizabeth Lord was the emcee at the Weekly Volcano's 2013 Best of Olympia party Feb. 20 at the Capitol Theater.


Olympians' pick for Best Actress, Elizabeth Lord, says she'll be slinging hooch "at The Brotherhood Tavern. They ask for a cover charge at the door, but half the proceeds benefit SafePlace, which is very cool. Plus they have a great DJ, party favors and cheap drinks. The Brotherhood attracts a good crowd." So it does! The Brotherhood, by the way, was Oly's pick for "Best All-Around Bar," while SafePlace was the "Best Thurston County Nonprofit Organization," so you've scored a hat trick!


Now it's time for some laughs. Doors open at 7 for an 8 p.m. show at. Tacoma Comedy Club, the Gritty City's pick for "Best Comedy Show." The featured act will be Alonzo Bodden, winner of Season Three of Last Comic Standing. "Since then," the club reports, "he's been a regular on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and a favorite guest on Adam Corolla's radio show and podcast. ... He's hosted 101 Cars You Must Drive on Speed Channel and ‘America's Worst Driver' on the ITV show Inside the Vault." You also have the option of a 10:30 p.m. set. Meanwhile, down the street at Grit City Comedy Club, Paul Ogata will hit the stage at 8 p.m.

Harlequin Productions concludes its run of The Stardust Christmas Blizzard that night, when the metaphorical curtain rises at 7 p.m. The troupe's co-owner, Scot Whitney, was Olympia's pick for "Best Director." His most recent effort was the entertaining Henry V, and his next will be Israel Horovitz's Fighting Over Beverley in May.

Or maybe you'd rather hit the dance floor. New Year's Eve, after all, is your night to shine! Greta Jane Pedersen, whose quartet was Oly's pick for "Best Jazz Band," will be at Swing! Wine Bar and Café, as will guitar and banjo picker Vince Brown. That event gets underway at 7 - and it's free!

>>> Audrey Henley has been bringing music to Olympia for more than 11 years. Photo credit: Winter Teems

Perhaps, like Audrey Henley, Olympia Film Society operations director and overall "Best Olympian," you're lucky enough to know someone who's throwing a private shindig. "OFS has nothing going on this New Year's Eve," Henley reports, "but I'm going to a friend's housewarming party!" We notice she didn't slip us the address.

So maybe we'll throw our own damn house party, like designer extraordinaire Jill Carter, aka Oly's "Most Creative Person." It's cheap, after all, and it lets everyone know who the center of attention is. "I," Carter explains, "will be continuing our long tradition of having friends over, making bagels from scratch and playing a Scrabble marathon." Might we recommend a drinking game tied to bingos and triple word scores? No? Too nerdy?

>>> John Munn is a superhero in the community. Photo credit: Patrick Snapp

If all else fails, a fine time can be had far from the madding crowd. We grilled John Munn, for example, Tacoma's pick for "Best Director" and the managing artistic director of Lakewood Playhouse. "We'll be gearing up for tech week of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? around then, so I'll have other things on my plate. Also, my dear friend Alex Smith will be back in town from New Orleans, so we're just gonna hang out. I hope to be the most boring person in town New Year's Eve." Except we happen to know Alex Smith, and nothing about that reunion sounds boring.

Speaking of Virginia Woolf: when asked how he'll be spending New Year's Eve, Steve Tarry, Tacoma's pick for "Best Actor," replied, "I suspect I'll be pounding lines." Whaaat?! Did Tarry just acknowledge a dependence on illegal narcotics? No, he's just playing George in Edward Albee's three-act monster of a play, which opens Jan. 10.

>>> Justin Stang and Jim Elenteny have melody and form down to a, well, science. Photo credit: Patrick Snapp

Finally, there's Justin Stang, guitarist and vocalist on Olympia's "Best New Record," the eponymous Science! "We're taking New Year's Eve off," he reports, "as a peaceful, reflective time to relax and unwind - and drink all the booze in the liquor cabinet. We're gonna head out to Union on Hood Canal." His band's first 2014 show, however, will be the night of Jan. 8, in Seattle's Nectar Lounge.

There, see? We just gave you a head start on 2014. Don't you feel cooler already?

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