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Dining news Pierce County Restaurant Rally Puyallup dining Tacoma dining

Restaurant Rally – take-out queso and the best barbecue for meat sweats

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Restaurant Rally is here with 30 percent discounts on dine-in and take out meals through Nov. 17 and take-out only meals Nov. 18-19. I am featuring my favorite take-out dishes this week. Read to the end of this article for more info on Restaurant Rally, or click here. To find a complete list of participating restaurants, visit the county’s official rally website.

Today I’m featuring tasty queso at Puerto Vallarta and barbecue that will give you the meat sweats at The Opal Lounge.

taquitos
Taquitos at Puerto Vallarta.

PUERTO VALLARTA

Everybody has that one friend obsessed with a single restaurant menu item. Enter my friend who loves queso. And that is how I wound up eating at least 10 bowls of queso at multiple Puerto Vallarta locations. I support my friends and their singular food obsessions, especially when they involve cheese. 

Queso at Puerto Vallarta is one of those dishes that starts as one thing and ends up another and that’s all about temperature. 

nachos
Cheesy draped nachos at Puerto Vallarta.

The cheese dip is the creamy, dreamy kind, flecked with bell peppers and jalapenos, with no fancy and unnecessary add-ins to spoil the pure cheese bliss of queso. 

At Puerto Vallarta, the queso arrives molten hot, and as difficult as this will be, I recommend waiting until it cools to eat it, which means it’s a perfect candidate for take-out during Restaurant Rally. 

queso
The queso at Puerto Vallarta is unpolluted with fancy ingredients. It’s creamy and teased with bell peppers and jalapenos.

Here’s why to wait: As the queso cools, the flavor profile deepens and that cheesy flavor intensifies. Instead of a thin river of cheese spilling off each tortilla chip, the queso clings as it cools, and that results in a cheesy drape blanketing each chip, providing even cheesy coating. That, my friends, is a stellar queso experience.

Puerto Vallarta’s menu encompasses the greatest hits of Mexican-American eating with tacos, burritos, enchiladas, fajitas and more. Much of the food is highly portable, especially the queso, enchiladas and soups.

PUERTO VALLARTA

Puerto Vallarta locations in Puyallup, Milton, Lake Tapps, Gig Harbor and Eatonville are participating in Restaurant Rally. Find restaurant locations and hours here. 

dining room
The dining room at The Opal Lounge in Tacoma.

THE OPAL LOUNGE 

Holy meat sweats. I didn’t know what I was getting into when I ordered the four-meat combo at The Opal Lounge. 

What landed on my table was a plate piled with a salty tangle of fresh-from-the-smoker pulled pork, two ribs with meat that properly clung to the bone, supple and smoky brisket and sliced hot link that squirted pork juice. The server set down a second plate loaded with creamy mac and cheese and smoky greens flanked by cornbread. Oy.

meat sweats
Four meat combo at The Opal Lounge.

Could I conquer it alone? 

That’s a big fat no. It took two eaters. At $28, that’s a screaming deal for a giant plate of meat, plus cornbread and two sides.

Barbecue’s survivability as take-out food is very, very high. After all, barbecue already is cooked slow-and-low for hours and hours. What’s an extra 20 minutes in a take-out container? 

barbecue
Smoky meats at The Opal Lounge.

If the four-meat combo isn’t enough of a seam buster, get the Meat Sweats, a platter of six types of meat and built for 3-4.

One of the things I love best about The Opal is the sauce and it’s available for purchase by-the-bottle. I prefer the spicy to the house sauce, but they’re all tasty.

cocktail
A whiskey cocktail at The Opal Lounge.

If you have not yet visited The Opal, it opened in 2019 on South Tacoma Way and is the sibling restaurant to Olympia’s South Bay Dickerson’s BBQ. Owner Eric Dickerson smokes his meat over cherry (sometimes alder) and his style of ‘cue is Texas meets Kansas City. The restaurant also is known for its extensive list of whiskeys. 

THE OPAL LOUNGE

5226 South Tacoma Way, Tacoma; 253-302-5650; https://www.facebook.com/opallounge253/

Full menu here: https://www.facebook.com/opallounge253/photos/635979397067238

PIERCE COUNTY RESTAURANT RALLY INFORMATION 

  1. Third-party ordering and delivery services, such as Uber Eats, Grub Hub and Door Dash, are excluded from the program because the program is intended to directly support local restaurants, not give money to technology companies. (Read more about why that is here).
  2. Tipping etiquette suggests diners should tip on the full amount of the bill, not the discounted amount. Treat servers well, they’re stressed enough as it is.
  3. State regulations require dining room capacity remain at 50 percent, and only dining parties of 6 and fewer will be seated
  4. Make a reservation if the restaurant accepts them. Cancel the reservation if you can’t keep your reservation. Empty tables = lost revenue.
  5. Booze is excluded from the promotion.
  6. Diners can get the 30 percent discount on dine-in service and take-out meals at participating restaurants. Confirm with the restaurant that they’re participating before you order.

Restaurant owners have advice for how you can navigate Restaurant Rally here in this story.

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