Duke’s Seafood & Chowder – Tacoma, WA

Without a doubt, my favorite part of food blogging is about the people I get to share a meal with. Don’t get me wrong, the food is awesome! My taste palate has become very broad and I have had some simply mind-blowing meals along the way. But at the heart of all this is connecting with people. And I can think of no better way to connect with people than through food. We all need food to live, but to live well, we need to be with other people.

Tonight, in Tacoma, Washington, I can think of no better example of connecting with people than my dinner at Duke’s. I’m out with two close friends, Kurt Hartwig of Eagle Fuel Cells and Ben Sclair of General Aviation News. Like me, Kurt and Ben enjoying talking about the issues of the day that confront our aviation world and even more globally, political and social issues that confront us all. What better way to solve the world’s problems than over a good meal. We decided on Duke’s Seafood & Chowder. Duke’s rests on the Commencement Bay in Tacoma, overlooking the inbound and outbound freight traffic that constantly moves through the area. Duke’s goal is to provide 100% sustainable dining. They focus on sustainable seafood, wild Alaska salmon, free-range chicken, and organic vegetables. Let me say that they meet their goal beautifully and tastefully.

Our server this evening is Tecolote. His name pays homage to his Aztec & Mexican roots. And yet he grew up in the panhandle of Florida. He goes by Tec for short. For being 25 years old, he has led quite an adventurous life so far from six-foot ski boarding down 300ft cliffs to fishing around Kodiak Island. We were treated to great stories all evening long. When we introduced Tec to the idea of Bring Me Dinner, he hesitated at first, but then jumped in with both feet and led us on a journey around Tacoma through food.

Duke’s is known for its award-winning Chowder. So much so that they even offer a Chowder Flight (like a beer flight). Naturally, Tec brought us out an order of their award-winning Clam Chowder. Creamy, herby, with chunks of clam and bacon, with just a kiss of pepper. Absolutely perfect.

For our appetizer (as if the Chowder wasn’t enough), Tec brought us the Prawns Del Cabo Wabo. Now that’s what I’m talking about. Wild Mexican Pacific Prawns marinated in an organic herb sauce and then grilled. They are served with a citrus vinaigrette and a cube of homemade Avocado salad.   Just scrumptious.

Our main courses were delivered by another server. She was a bit startled when we said that we did not know what we ordered. All was quickly understood as Tec jumped in and explained that he was serving us dinner. Tec very sensibly picked not only delicious main courses but didn’t overdo it with the size of the portions.

First up, the Sailor Boy Sea Cod Fish Tacos. These generous fish tacos would have been enough to the feed the three of us comfortably. Blackened cod is enhanced with a tequila lime aioli, avocado, cucumber pico de gallo and finished with a feta cheese. Wow! I love fish tacos – the avocado and aioli reminded me of the Pacific.

Next, we dove into the Silky Sensual Pan Seared Wild Salmon (you just gotta love the names they give their dishes!). The salmon is encrusted with ginger and basil, then seared with herbs and Grand Marnier. Again… Wow! Like the name suggests, this is a very rich dish with many layers of flavor.

Our last dish was a salad. Smart choice on Tec’s part. Smart. Duke’s Wild Child Mixed Greens is just as you would imagine. Mixed greens combined with orange and grapefruit, candied pecans, topped with a tarragon vinaigrette and all brought together with bleu cheese. Each element of this salad is bold on its own. Together, the combination is a fresh and bright combination of flavors. Even though salads are generally at the beginning of a meal, this was a perfect way to end the main course.

Finally, Tec tempted us with a dessert course. And who am I to resist temptation? Out came a Marian Berry Pie with three forks for dessert. Marian Berry pie is made with fresh blueberries and topped with homemade vanilla ice cream. With that, Tec pushed us right to the edge but not over.

Another great trip to the Pacific Northwest is over for me. I’m happy to have gotten to know Tacoma a little better through food. I cannot wait to go back and see what else I can find.

Happy Eating!

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