12 Best Waterfront Restaurants in Tacoma – Must-Visit Hidden Gems

Over the course of years, I’ve spent countless hours tasting my way through diverse cuisines, exploring various eateries, and basking in the delights of culinary creativity. Amidst this gastronomic journey, the waterfront restaurants of Tacoma, Washington, stand out as gems that meld sublime food, incredible vistas, and a unique atmosphere that breathes life into every bite.

In this article, we’ll embark on a flavorful adventure, exploring the twelve best waterfront restaurants in Tacoma. Each one has been handpicked not just for their delectable dishes but also for their captivating ambiance, superior service, and their ability to create unforgettable dining experiences.

So, prepare your taste buds and join me on this culinary exploration that marries the Pacific Northwest’s spectacular landscape with its bountiful gastronomy.

1. Duke’s Seafood

Duke's Seafood

Duke’s Seafood has established itself as a hallmark of Tacoma’s waterfront dining. This restaurant stands out not only for its delicious menu but also for its commitment to sustainability.

They source locally, ensuring they adhere to Washington State’s strict fishing regulations while simultaneously delivering the freshest seafood to their guests.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Duke’s Seafood (@dukesseafood)

Beyond the legalities of their supply chain, Duke also excels in maintaining a safe, inclusive environment for its staff and patrons.

This is reflected in their strict adherence to labor laws and equal opportunity regulations, promoting a workplace that respects diversity and fosters a sense of community.

2. The Fish Peddler on Foss Waterway

The Fish Peddler

Next on our list is The Fish Peddler on Foss Waterway, an eatery and market combo offering fresh seafood. This establishment maintains a pristine health and safety record by dutifully complying with all food handling and storage regulations. It’s an excellent example of how compliance with public health laws can enhance customer experience.

Additionally, The Fish Peddler remains vigilant about environmental laws. Their commitment to reducing waste, recycling, and complying with environmental standards resonate in their day-to-day operations. A meal here is a testament to a symbiotic relationship with the environment.

3. Boathouse 19

Duke's Seafood (1)

Boathouse 19 is renowned for its exceptional views and diverse menu. This restaurant’s focus on safety regulations, both for its on-water location and the food served, sets an example for other establishments. Regular inspections ensure they adhere to local building codes and the highest food safety standards.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Boathouse 19 (@boathouse19)

Moreover, Boathouse 19 excels in liquor law compliance. From their rigorous ID checks to maintaining a well-trained staff capable of handling alcohol-related situations, they demonstrate the importance of responsible alcohol service in the restaurant industry.

4. The Lobster Shop

The Lobster Shop

The Lobster Shop, a longtime local favorite, showcases its legal prowess by staying updated with the most recent health, safety, and employment laws. This diligence is evident in the outstanding cleanliness of their premises and the positive feedback from their employees.

Besides the legal technicalities, the Lobster Shop is a paragon of excellent customer service. They adhere to consumer protection laws, ensuring that their patrons have an accurate depiction of their products and services and thereby fostering trust and loyalty among their customers.

5. WildFin American Grill

WildFin American Grill

WildFin American Grill blends sustainability and exquisite cuisine into an unforgettable dining experience. They dutifully comply with all state and federal fishing laws, procuring only legally harvested seafood and ensuring their dishes are sustainably sourced and as fresh as possible.

They also take great pride in their transparency, providing clear, accurate information about their food’s sourcing. This approach not only respects consumer protection laws but also keeps patrons informed and aware of what they are consuming, a testament to their integrity.

6. The Social Bar and Grill

The Social Bar and Grill, with its vibrant ambiance and stunning water views, adheres strictly to noise and disturbance regulations, creating an enjoyable and peaceful dining experience for everyone. The restaurant respects its location and understands its responsibilities towards its patrons and the surrounding community.

Furthermore, The Social Bar and Grill respects all employment laws and equal opportunity regulations. It is recognized for fostering a diverse, inclusive work environment, ensuring everyone, from kitchen staff to servers, has equal opportunities for growth and development.

7. C.I. Shenanigans

C.I. Shenanigans

C.I. Shenanigans, an upscale seafood, and steakhouse, emphasizes its commitment to quality through strict adherence to food safety regulations. Their ongoing dedication to maintaining a clean, safe environment ensures the well-being of their patrons and staff.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by TNT Diner (@tnt_diner)

Moreover, C.I. Shenanigans has a reputation for strictly adhering to all laws regarding alcoholic beverages. Their staff is trained to check IDs diligently and handle any situations that may arise from alcohol service responsibly, contributing to a safe and pleasant dining environment.

8. Johnny’s Dock Restaurant & Marina

Johnny's Dock Restaurant & Marina

Johnny’s Dock Restaurant & Marina provides breathtaking views alongside a diverse menu. This establishment expertly navigates the complexity of marina-related regulations, ensuring safety and compliance while maintaining a relaxing, comfortable environment for diners.

In addition, Johnny’s Dock prioritizes the well-being of its employees. By strictly adhering to labor laws and maintaining a fair and respectful workplace, they promote a positive work culture that ultimately reflects in their excellent customer service.

9. Katie Downs Waterfront Tavern

Katie Downs Waterfront Tavern

Katie Downs Waterfront Tavern, an award-winning eatery, exemplifies compliance with health, safety, and building regulations. Their success and longevity in the business can be attributed to their strict adherence to these regulations and their commitment to continuous improvement.

In terms of liquor laws, Katie Downs has a stellar record. With well-trained staff knowledgeable about local alcohol regulations and a commitment to responsible service, they demonstrate how legal compliance is integral to a successful, long-standing establishment.

10. Harbor Lights

Harbor Lights

Finally, Harbor Lights, an iconic Tacoma institution, has demonstrated its legal astuteness over decades of operation. Their understanding of maritime laws, given their proximity to the water, has allowed them to provide a unique, unforgettable experience while ensuring the safety and satisfaction of their patrons.

Harbor Lights has also excelled in food safety compliance. Their adherence to food safety laws and regulations has earned them the trust and loyalty of their customers, proving that excellent food and safety can indeed go hand-in-hand.

11. Top of Tacoma Bar & Cafe

Top of Tacoma Bar & Cafe

Top of Tacoma Bar & Cafe, while not directly on the waterfront, offers an elevated view of the bay, providing a unique dining perspective. In terms of legal compliance, this restaurant excels in maintaining the required permits for their location, demonstrating their commitment to operating within legal boundaries.

Additionally, Top of Tacoma is known for its extensive drink menu. In this regard, they consistently uphold a high standard of responsibility. They adhere to state and local laws about alcoholic beverage service, ensuring their patrons enjoy a safe, comfortable environment.

12. Anthony’s at Point Defiance

Anthony's at Point Defiance

Anthony’s at Point Defiance delivers an upscale dining experience, complimented by a stunning view of Vashon Island. From a legal perspective, this restaurant pays great attention to maintaining an accessible environment. They strictly adhere to the American Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines, ensuring their restaurant is fully accessible to everyone.

Beyond accessibility, Anthony’s also exhibits a profound understanding of labor laws. They strive to provide a safe, fair, and respectful work environment for their employees. This positive culture not only ensures legal compliance but also promotes staff retention and excellent customer service.

Final Words

The top waterfront restaurants in Tacoma are shining examples of how legal compliance, great food, and excellent customer service come together to create memorable dining experiences. The adherence to laws and regulations isn’t merely a requirement but an integral part of their operations that showcases their commitment to excellence, safety, and quality.