Bite Us: Blessing Burger, The Den Tea Bar

The good word in the South Sound

By Jennifer Johnson on May 5, 2010

A blessing

A&W Burger Drive-In on Pacific Avenue South became Blessing Burger in late 2009. I fondly remember A&W; there was one in Logan, Utah where I was born. It had a round, interior fireplace and it was here that I discovered dunking fries (and later my burger) directly into a strawberry milkshake. Sweet, cold ice creamy milkshake met hot, salty, crunching fries; I think my inner foodie was born at that exact moment of experiencing differing textures and tastes.

Blessing Burger lacks a fireplace, but does have a variety of unusual milkshake flavors: watermelon, cherry, pineapple in addition to the usual suspects chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. None of it is organic, but who expects milkshakes and fries to be healthy? Not me.

It's a planned splurge at Blessing Burger. Small, crispy hot wings with slight breading were served naked; tangy orange wing sauce came on the side.

Burgers are exactly what I'm looking for: greasy, messy, on the huge side, dripping sauce and oil and served on a toasted bun. Fried cheese curds are a fun change from cheese sticks. Order at the counter, take a load off and wait for your heart-stopping order to arrive.

[Blessing Burger, 8442 Pacific Ave., Tacoma]

The Den Tea Bar

Two Julies are better than one - just ask Julie Rex and Julie Bennett, who recently put their heads together to bring tea inside the existing all-ages music space, The Den, at the back of Bennett's buy-sell-trade shop, urbanXchange. At The Den Tea Bar the entire room is an eclectic visual mash-up, from the non-matched teacups to the shelves of bulk herbs and spices. Throw in a high ceiling, some massive round paper lanterns, Aaron Brown's vibrant, colorful art, a stage backdrop depicting a wooded nature scene (think: black and white paper mural) and a large white wall that could easily accommodate projected art or films - and you begin to get a handle on the possibilities and vibe this new tea drinking spot possesses.

Black, green, red, white, and herbal teas are from Eugene, Ore., New York, Market Spice in Seattle, and - of course - Tacoma's Mad Hat Tea. Rotating and affordable, the "tea on tap" is $1.75 for a refillable cup, while a pot of tea runs $3 to $4. In addition to packaged tea cakes and candies, The Den Tea Bar offers Mexican Coke, San Pellegrino, Bibi Caffee sparkling espresso ($2-$3), muffins, vegan pastries by Olympia's Blue Heron Bakery and peanut butter and chocolate chip spelt cookies.

The future holds rock shows at night, possible DJs and installation art, an entrance on Dolly Roberson Road and Quickie Too's delectable vegan sandwiches. As far as current entertainment goes, Alease Aubrey Frieson - the person in charge of that end of the operation - describes what she's gathering together as a "potluck of music."

What I heard at Sunday's grand opening - trumpet, spoken word, African singing and rock - was certainly an audible buffet.

[The Den Tea Bar inside urbanXchange, 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. Monday - Saturday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Sunday, 1932 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.572.2280]