Have the "Best" day

By Volcano Staff on February 28, 2013


Hey South Sound! Want to have the Best day ever? The 2013 Best of Olympia issue is now online. The Weekly Volcano has hand-crafted your day with picks and suggestions from the issue. Enjoy.


Masaala Chai Café

Masaala Chai Cafe opened its doors Jan. 7 offering flavorful concoctions such as Indian espresso and coconut lattes. That's right, Indian espresso. And Wowie! The Indian espresso is a steaming concoction of espresso, sugar and milk. The milk was delightfully whipped into a velvety foam and sprinkled with dark chocolate powder. The coffee itself was a vivid balance of nicely roasted beans and sugar. Not syrupy sweet. It reminded me of warm comforters and watching television with my Granny.  9323 Martin Way E., Lacey - Jackie Fender


Eastside Big Tom

From its advertising gimmicks to its over-the-top Halloween and Christmas decorating, Eastside Big Tom has what it takes to make your drive-thru experience a blast - in person and online. Known for giving away swag such as iron-on patches and key chains, the employees also solicit creative milkshake concoctions from the community (avocado anyone?) and incorporated a rock band into its menu (Dirty Birds chicken sandwich). Eastside Big Tom also has creative quips on its Facebook page and posts pictures of staff dressed up in mad scientist lab coats, perhaps preparing its famous - and secret - Goop recipe. 2023 Fourth Ave. E. - Nikki McCoy


State Surplus

The state surplus store in Tumwater holds a variety of left-over government goodies from blackberry phones, liquor company swag, pocket knives, historical photos, computers, restaurant equipment, and as mentioned, prison instruments. This warehouse is a picker's dream. The hours - 12:30-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday - aren't always convenient, but its online auctions are. 7511 New Market St. - NM


Classic Winemakers Micro Winery

OK, this beautifully appointed storefront is actually a micro-winery offering small batch wines, wine tastings, and - what pops their cork the most - teaching the art of winemaking. After sampling some of its 50 wines, the staff will don lab coats and match your preferred tasks to produce your ultimate wine. After 4-6 weeks, you have your own wine. That's all fine, but what the Weekly Volcano enjoys most at Classic Winemakers is its comfy, leather sofa facing Fourth and Adams Street. Grab a glass of Cabernet and watch life collide at the intersection. Hello guy wearing macramé hat riding ridiculous tiny bicycle. Hello Bike Stand employee wearing shorts during winter. Hello tall guy staggering out of China Clipper's Pagoda Room at 5 p.m. Hello lady picking her nose at the stoplight. 325 Fourth Ave. E. - Ron Swarner


Swing Bar Happy Hour

"We just try to stay out of the debates!" says Swing Bar owner Nicole Butigan, with a laugh, after being named Best Spot To Find A Politician Drinking. Butigan says they see a lot of government faces during session -  from senators to interns - and occasional private meetings are held downstairs. The daily Lush Rush happy hour is 4-6 p.m. - except Monday, when, thank God, happy hour lasts all night. 825 Columbia St. SW - NM


Ricardo's Restaurant

For lover's of dry-aged, marbled, gristly, lean, thick, rubbed, marinated, tender, juicy, robust, blue, well-done, or anything in between steak, Ricardo's is most certainly the place for this glorious, diverse piece of meat. Ricardo's steaks are from heaven. 5211 Lacey Blvd. SE, Lacey - NM



Remember that sudden swing dancing craze about 10 years ago? I was living in Hollywood at the time, and my roommates were regulars at the Brown Derby, so I enjoyed a crash course in the lush life. That craze left town before I did, but its timeless, elegant beauty lives on at OlySwing. You could visit the Beginning Swing lessons every Tuesday, or you could learn swing's Africanist cousin, blues dancing on Thursdays at the Olympia Eagles Ballroom. Blues dancing derives from the so-called "Black vernacular" of Southern dance styles and includes such moves as the Lindy and the irresistibly named "Funky Butt." Worst case scenario: you have two left feet but get to listen to Nina Simone. - Christian Carvajal


Bartender Dawn at King Solomon's Reef

Dawn Gillnett, voted Olympia's Best Bartender, is a bit nervous having her first newspaper interview, but when asked to talk about her work mixing drinks and befriending customer's at King Solomon's Reef, she opens up.

"I LOVE it," she says. "I love the schedule. I love being around the people. You get to feel like you're part of the scene. You feel like you're going out and being social without going out and being social."

And Gillnett's customers love her, too.

"She's been doing this for over a decade," says Jason McIntyre, who owns the Reef. "She's absolutely professional. She's a super-cute lady, super-friendly, makes really good drinks, makes everyone feel welcome." 212 Fourth Ave. E. Read Nikki McCoy's full feature on Dawn Gillnett.

LINK: 2013 Best of Olympia issue