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The Best of the South Sound 2022

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Readers say Tacoma's best food truck eats are from Burger Seoul, where juicy burgers and more are served with a burst of Korea-inspired flavors.

Readers say Tacoma's best food truck eats are from Burger Seoul, where juicy burgers and more are served with a burst of Korea-inspired flavors. 

We don’t call this the "Best: issue for nothing. Readers voted for their favorite people, places, and things. Winners hail from Olympia, Spanaway, Tacoma, Gig Harbor, Puyallup, and beyond. We received thousands of votes; below, we highlight your top picks. Congratulations to all the winners, and a special thanks to everyone who took the time to vote.

Arts & Entertainment | Business & Services | Fashion & Retail | Food & Drink | Health & Wellness | Home & Garden | Kids | Travel & Recreation | Weddings & Events


Arts & Entertainment

Photo by Chris Daniels

Local Celebrity: Kwabi Amoah-Forson

Kwabi Amoah-Forson is an activist, humanitarian, and Tacoma resident who is a well-known resident in the community and beyond for his important work and his eye-catching Peace Bus — a 1988 Mitsubushi van. The van is painted baby blue, symbolizing peace, with large lettering on the side. In 2018, he began helping people by handing out goods such as socks, coats, and blankets throughout Tacoma. Since then, Amoah-Forson’s mission to make the world a better place has grown exponentially. He’s traveled the nation and beyond in an effort to “ignite solidarity throughout communities.” He even has a book list and is handing out children’s books to spread love, and also raise awareness of social issues such as poverty, homelessness, racism, and justice. Tacoma

Casino: ilani Casino ResortRidgefield

Art Gallery: Tacoma Art MuseumTacoma

Festival: Destiny City Film FestivalTacoma

Photo by Dennis K. Photography

Live Theater: Tacoma Little Theatre, Tacoma

Tacoma Little Theatre was founded in 1918 as the Tacoma Little Theatre and Drama League. Now in its 104th year, it’s one of the oldest active community theaters in the United States. The current season includes performances such as The Wizard of Oz, Terms of Endearment, The Luck of the Irish, Clue: On Stage, and more. Tacoma

Museum: International Mermaid MuseumAberdeen

Movie Theater: The Grand CinemaTacoma

Local Radio Personality: Jubal FreshSeattle

Local TV Personality: Joyce TaylorSeattle

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Businesses & Services

Courtesy of Foster's Creative

Office: Worksphere

WorkSphere is a modern co-working space in Tacoma and Bellevue. Co-working spaces are great when people want the flexibility of working in an office or need to use a conference room for important meetings and collaboration. WorkSphere offers 24/7 access to members, modern lounge areas as well as quiet meeting spaces, complimentary printing, free coffee and tea, and super-fast Wi-Fi. Members can rent event space for a discount. It’s a more affordable way to have access to professional office life. 

Small Business: West Coast Laser DesignRuston

Medium Business: Johnson, Stone & Pagano P.S.Fircrest

Large Business: Columbia BankTacoma

Bank: Columbia BankTacoma

Credit Union: BECUVarious locations

Auto Repair: Ball Auto RepairTacoma

Courtesy of Hansen

Attorney: Carly Hansen

Carly Hansen is an attorney at Tacoma’s Mark E. Bardwil P.S., where she is practicing real estate and business law. She also serves on the board of directors for MultiCare Health Foundation and is the secretary of the University Place Soccer Club. Fun fact: She previously was a Seattle Seahawks Sea Gal and cheered the team on at the 2006 Super Bowl.

Florist: Blitz & Co. FloristTacoma

Insurance: Paul Rohrbaugh, State Farm Insurance Agent, Tacoma

Veterinarian: Metropolitan Veterinary HospitalTacoma

Groomer: University Place Best Pet GroomingUniversity Place

Marina: Narrows Marina, Tacoma

Law Firm: Horwath LawTacoma

Mortgage Lender: Kyle Rohrbaugh, RPM MortgageGig Harbor

Courtesy of Biscuits Doggy Daycare

Doggy Daycare: Biscuits Doggy Daycare & Pet ResortTacoma

Biscuits Doggie Daycare began when owner Nichole Bennett took a part-time job at a nearby doggy daycare while attending Pacific Lutheran University. She soon realized that she wanted to be in the business of hosting furry canine friends, and Biscuits Doggie Daycare was born. Biscuits Doggie Daycare is a family-run business that is invested in the well-being of every dog in its care. Each team member is trained and current in pet CPR, canine behavior, and body language to assure all pups are in the best hands. It also offers daycare and playgroups, overnight care, and bathing services. Tacoma

Courtesy of Theory Real Estate

Real Estate Agent: Jamie McDonnell, Theory Real Estate

Jamie McDonnell grew up in Southern California before landing in Washington with her wife in 2015. Prior to her career in real estate, McDonnell spent 15 years in the criminal justice system, working as a police officer, detective, and criminal justice professor. However, she found her real passion lies in home hunting, remodeling, and decorating. McDonnell values that her profession allows her to be a part of a really important step in most people’s lives — buying a home. Tacoma

City: Tacoma

Nonprofit: Boys Next DoorPuyallup

Tattoo Artist: Travis Brown Fleshworks Tattoo StudioOlympia

Financial Advisor: Ali Criss, Financial Insights Wealth ManagementTacoma

Courtesy of Mary Mart

Cannabis Shop: Mary Mart

Mary Mart in Tacoma brings some of the best cannabis in the region to its shelves. Whether you are trying it for the first time or are a regular, Mary Mart aims to provide its clients with a friendly and informative visit. Tacoma

Auto Dealer: Titus-Will Automotive GroupVarious locations

Courtesy of the Weatherly Inn via Facebook

Retirement Community: Weatherly Inn

The Weatherly Inn is a small, locally- and family-operated senior living community providing refined and comfortable living communities for seniors living in the Puget Sound region. The Bunn family began its heritage in senior-living concepts in 1958 and has continually grown to have two communities in the South Sound area. Tacoma, Kent, and Renton

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Fashion & Retail

Courtesy of eTc Tacoma

Boutique: eTc TacomaTacoma

Men’s Fashion: eTc Tacoma, Tacoma

Jewelry: Tacoma Custom JewelersUniversity Place

Shoe Shop: NordstromVarious locations

Madeline Ervin and Shea Lovrovich. Courtesy of the salon.

Hair Salon: Union Salon

Union Salon’s mission is simply stated: to make others feel as good as they look. It was founded by Madeline Ervin and Shea Lovrovich in 2016. The salon has grown over the years; this award reflects the entire team's work. The salon offers an array of services, from a simple wash and blow dry, to a fun new color, skincare treatment, and more. Tacoma

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Food & Drink

Photo by Jeff Hobson

New Restaurant: Fat Zach's Pizza

Fat Zach’s Pizza debuted in 2018 as a small food cart stationed on the corner of Pioneer and Second Street in downtown Puyallup. Today, Fat Zach’s operates out of two locations, Puyallup and Sumner, with a third location on its way. Try one of Fat Zach’s classic pizzas, like the Poly Pig with Canadian bacon and pineapple, or something new, like the Cashew on the Flipside with pepperoni and cashews. Puyallup and Sumner

Restaurant: Viva TacomaTacoma

Romantic Dinner: Lobster ShopTacoma

Best Lunch: Sea Glass Grill at Westport Winery Garden ResortAberdeen

Food Truck: Burger SeoulTacoma

Young La opened Burger Seoul as a food truck in December 2015. La specializes in creating quality Korean-inspired American food that knocks his customers’ socks off . His famously large Seoul Burger boasts 100 percent Northwest ground beef, chuck, and short rib, and double sharp cheddar cheese on a bakery brioche bun with a dollop of Seoul Sauce. If you’re feeling like you might need a personal bottle of Seoul Sauce, you’re in luck — the house-made creation is sold starting at $7 for 14 ounces. Tacoma

Brunch: Art House CaféTacoma

Happy Hour:  MatadorVarious Locations

Courtesy of BBQ2U via Facebook


In 2018, Gary Parker was frustrated that he couldn’t find the same Central Texas-style barbecue he enjoyed in the Pacific Northwest. So he took matters into his own hands. His restaurant, BBQ2U, serves some of the best Texas-style barbecues around by using only wood-fi red pits and following the methods that have created some of the greatest barbecue for more than 100 years. Visit BBQ2U to load up your plate with all the fixings. Gig Harbor

Mexican: Moctezuma’s Mexican Restaurant & Tequila BarVarious locations

Courtesy of Viva Tacoma

Chef: Erlando Hernandez at Viva Tacoma

Viva Tacoma commits to using only fresh, whole, organic, gluten-free, nondairy products in its menu, including no animal products or processed food. Chef Erlindo Hernandez serves as head chef and helps curate Viva’s refreshing and healthful menu. Viva also has been voted Best Vegetarian Restaurant several times over the years. Tacoma

Sushi: The KoiTacoma

Burger: Spanky Burger & BrewTacoma 

Japanese: The KoiTacoma

Pizza: Fat Zach's Pizza, Puyallup and Sumner

Distillery: Heritage Distilling Co.Gig Harbor

Vegetarian: Viva TacomaTacoma

Hole-in-the-Wall: Peterson Bros. 1111Tacoma

Coffee Shop: Olympia Coffee Roasting Co.Various locations

Bakery: Corina BakeryTacoma

Winery: Westport Winery Garden ResortAberdeen

Brewery: 7 Seas BrewingGig Harbor and Tacoma

French: Le Sel BistroTacoma

Chinese: Tacoma SzechuanLakewood

Courtesy of the Cat & Rabbitt Cake Shop

Dessert: The Cat & Rabbitt Cake ShopTacoma

The Cat & Rabbitt Cake Shop opened in November 2020 and is run by local master pastry chefs and friends Julia Brown and Terryn Abbitt. The name of their shop is a fun play on their names: Julia Catherine is the Cat, and Abbitt is fittingly the Rabbitt. The duo specializes in all things cake — think buttercream, mascarpone, and ganache galore. On any given day, the shop offers eight to 10 cake flavors that can be purchased by the slice. Visit the walk-up window for a morning cinnamon roll on select days or an early slice of one of the many decadent flavors. Follow the shop’s social media to learn about the flavors offered, and when flavors sell out. Tacoma

Vietnamese: La Cà BarTacoma

Seafood: Lobster Shop, Tacoma

Thai: Thai PepperTacoma

Indian: Gateway to IndiaGig Harbor and Tacoma

Fine Dining: Lobster ShopTacoma

Outdoor Dining: Duke's SeafoodVarious locations

Cocktail: En RamaTacoma

Italian: Marzano Italian RestaurantTacoma

Grocery Store: Metropolitan MarketVarious locations

Date Night Spot: Wooden CityTacoma

Breakfast: Devoted Kiss CaféGig Harbor

Donuts: Pao’s DonutsTacoma

Photo by Jeff Hobson

Bartender: Chris Kiel at En Rama

En Rama is the latest project from master bartender Chris Kiel. His renowned cocktails, sherry on tap, and delicious plates, including house-made pasta and Spanish small plates, create en Rama. The food-and-drink spot hosts a cozy and moody atmosphere and serves as the perfect date-night scene or happy hour spot. Tacoma

Ice Cream or Gelato: Ice Cream SocialRuston and Tacoma

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Health & Wellness

Courtesy of Bradley

Nurse: Tiffine Bradley, Kaiser Permanente

Tiffine Bradley is an experienced registered nurse who has worked with Kaiser Permanente in Tacoma since 2019. Previous to her current workplace, Bradley was a registered nurse for Washington Gastroenterology, also located in Tacoma, for 11 years. Tacoma

Doctor: Dr. Ladie Araña-DomondonPuyallup

Massage: Meridian Medical MassageSouth Hill

Dermatologist: Cascade Eye & Skin CentersVarious locations

Lasik: Keith Dahlhauser, Cascade Eye & Skin Centers, Various locations

Courtesy of the dentistry

Courtesy of the dentistry

Dentist: Dr. Stephen R. Hansen, Hansen DentistryTacoma

Naturopath: Puget Sound Family HealthTacoma

Hospital: MultiCare Tacoma General HospitalTacoma

Yoga: Tuladhara YogaGig Harbor, Lakewood, and Tacoma

Physical Therapist: Physiostrength Physical TherapyTacoma

OrthodontistDr. Douglas Knight, Douglas Knight OrthodonticsTacoma

OB/GYN: Dr. Adam Nickel, Nickel Obstetrics and GynecologyTacoma

Pediatrician: Pediatrics NorthwestVarious locations

Courtesy of the gym

Shon Peterson.

Gym: Revolushon Fitness Group LLC

Shon Peterson started Revolushon Fitness Group in 2004 with the intention for the gym to be open for any individual with a desire to be better than they were yesterday. Its fitness community is supportive of its clients’ unique goals, whether they are elementary-aged athletes, fully formed fitness buffs, or elderly individuals looking for help with mobility. Revolushon Fitness offers clients not only personal training, but also energizing group classes, nutritional advice from accredited staff , and sports-specific training. Swing by Revolushon Fitness for a free comprehensive assessment to begin your customized program to meet your goals. Tacoma

Spa: Concordia Star Medical & AestheticsPuyallup

Mani/Pedi: Pensee Nails and SpaUniversity Place

Courtesy of South Sound Lashes

Lashes: South Sound Lashes

South Sound Lashes, previously named Lush Lashes, is run by yogi, mother, and esthetician, Kia Smith. After having her own lashes done for two years, she recognized the difference that a simple set of faux lashes can make and was inspired to specialize in lashes herself. Other services available are waxing, sugaring, threading, spray tan, and gel nails. Tacoma

Cosmetic Surgery: Dr. Tarak Patel, Cascade Eye & Skin CentersVarious locations

Personal Trainer: Shon Peterson, Revolushon Fitness Group LLCUniversity Place

Chiropractor: Tacoma Family Chiropractic, Tacoma

Assisted Living: EliseoTacoma

Courtesy of Kzenon via Adobe Stock

Acupuncturist: Christopher Woon

Christopher Woon, originally from England, is a Washington board-certified and -licensed acupuncturist who also holds his master’s degree in traditional Eastern Asian medicine. Woon has been practicing Chinese medicine since 1995 and has taught acupuncture at colleges in California and Washington. At Woon’s Healing Art Center, patients can receive relief from acupuncture and chiropractic treatments. Tacoma

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Home & Garden

Photo by Moch Photography

Interior Designer: Holly Bero

H. Bero Interiors is a full-service design studio specializing in timeless designs that reflect the Pacific Northwest and beyond for homes and commercial spaces. Holly Bero, owner and principal designer, started the design studio with the belief that everyone should have the space of their dreams. Bero and her team work with clients to pinpoint exactly what they envision for their space, whether it’s an office redesign or a whole home makeover. Auburn

Apartments: The Stadium ApartmentsTacoma

Condominium: Sunset Plaza Condominiums, Tacoma

Courtesy of Watson's

Garden Shop: Watson's Greenhouse & Nursery

Watson’s Greenhouse and Nursery originally began in 1974 as a U-pick vegetable operation run by family members. Eventually, a greenhouse was built to keep up with demand — and then another, and another. In 1984, the family expanded to retail. Today, Watson’s grows the majority of its annual plants and offers planters, hanging baskets, and seeds as well. Puyallup and Federal Way

Builder: Harrison Homes LLCGig Harbor

Architect: Dephiance Design BuildTacoma

Landscaper: Olympic LandscapePuyallup

Kitchen and Bath Designer: Kitchen & Bath Design StudioTacoma

Photo by Dane Gregory Meyer

Remodeler: Gordon T. Jacob

Place to Buy Appliances: Albert Lee AppliancesVarious locations

Place to Buy Furniture: Sage Interiors + DesignTacoma

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Courtesy of Chambers Primary School via Facebook

Public Elementary School: Chambers Primary School

Chambers Primary School is one of the oldest schools in the region and boasts quite the history. Beginning in 1916 and originally named University Place School, the school enrolled 39 students who were 5 to 21 years old. In the past school year, Chambers Primary School enrolled 487 students total, and more than half of its classroom teachers hold a master’s degree or higher, according to the OSPI. University Place

Public High School: Curtis High SchoolUniversity Place

Public Middle School: Hunt Middle SchoolTacoma

Private High School: Sound Christian AcademyTacoma

Private Middle School: Sound Christian AcademyTacoma

Courtesy of Defy

Kids Birthday Party Venue: Defy

Defy isn’t your ordinary trampoline park. Visitors can enjoy attractions such as the wall tramp, where you can literally bounce off the walls, or swing on the trapeze with the comfort of a foam pit below. Defy offers birthday party packages, day admissions, and a flight club membership for more serious enthusiasts. Various locations

Private Elementary School: Charles Wright AcademyTacoma

College: University of Puget SoundTacoma

Daycare: Life Christian AcademyTacoma

Courtesy of Sound Christian Academy

Teacher: Kelli Soyring 

Kelli Soyring wears multiple hats at Sound Christian Academy in Tacoma (formerly Tacoma Baptist School). She is both the middle school lead and the history teacher. Soyring’s colleagues say she understands middle-schoolers and what it takes to be successful teaching kids in that sometimes-awkward stage of life. She’s dedicated to learning what it takes for every student to succeed in her classroom while making history enjoyable to learn. Tacoma

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Travel & Recreation

Photo by Lily Walsh, courtesy of Seabrook

Family Vacation Spot: Seabrook

Seabrook is a beach town on the rugged coast of Washington less than 2 miles north of Pacific Beach. Situated just outside the beautiful Olympic National Forest, Seabrook is the spot for vacationers who are looking to unplug and relax during their time off. Pacific Beach

PNW Travel Destination: San Juan Islands 

Photo by Jeff Caven

Hotel: Silver Cloud Hotel Tacoma at Point Ruston

The new “it” hotel is the Silver Cloud Hotel Tacoma at Point Ruston. It has everything you want from a swanky luxury hotel, including a rooftop pool, delicious dining, and a spa to unwind in. The panoramic views of the Puget Sound and Mount Rainier make this a destination for weddings, too. The hotel is located right next to everything happening at Point Ruston, whether you want to take a long stroll along the waterfront, go kayaking, or just take in a movie and hit the ice cream shop. The Silver Cloud family has nine locations throughout the Northwest, including the Silver Cloud Inn on the other end of Tacoma’s Ruston Way. Tacoma

Golf Course: Chambers Bay Golf CourseUniversity Place

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Weddings & Events

Photo by Tasha Owen Photography

Wedding & Event Venue: Historic 1625 Place

Originally built in the late ’40s, Historic 1625 is the perfect South Sound venue for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, or any event you hope to make memorable. The space has more than 6,000 square feet of natural slate floors, brick walls, and tall exposed-beam ceilings. Every rental includes two appointed spacious changing suites, adjustable lighting, climate control for a comfortable environment, automated blinds, and free parking. Tacoma

Caterer: Jònz CateringTacoma

Courtesy of Aika Foz

Photographer: Aika FozSeattle

Event Planner:  Gian EventsSeattle

Bridal Shop: The Wedding BellTacoma

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