Eat This Now: Spicy Meatballs and Fried Cheese

By Jackie Fender on March 25, 2015

Stink Tank, the wine bar attached to STINK Cheese & Meat in Tacoma's Triangle District, has changed its moniker ... well sort of. The space is now called El Tufo, which means "stink" in Spanish. Though the establishment has already gained a reputation for its fabulous wines paired with exquisite eats, the menu will now focus on Spanish wines and domestic varietals paired with a diverse menu of tapas, aka small plates.

After tasting the Tufo treats, I can attest to the small plates big flavor. Among their list of eats you'll discover a Spanish tortilla, seasonal flatbread, mushroom empanada and chorizo stuffed calamari - all priced practically and perfectly sized for couples (or more) to share. My Eat This Now recommendation is the Spicy Meatballs ($5) AND the Fried Cheese ($5). Let's face it, I'm a fat kid at heart and a one two punch of meat and cheese is perfection in my book.

The meatballs are a beef and pork combo served with a generous amount of spicy tomato sauce - piping hot and juicy while the sauce lent the perfect warmth, heat wise, to each bite. It's the type of heat that's not hot for the sake of being hot but builds as you nibble.

The fried cheese was just plain pure decadence. Mahon cheese that is breaded and fried in Spanish oil then served on a bed of tomato sauce featured the perfect light crispy exterior to the gooey, cheese while the tomato sauce is superb. Crushed tomatoes, seasoned just right and far better than any marinara you get with other fried cheese options in town.

Benjamin Franklin said, "Wine is constant proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." Whatever your religious background this is something I can get behind. Go forth and be happy.

EL TUFO, 4-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 630 Saint Helens Avenue, Tacoma, 253.426.1347