Several months ago, in researching spots to check out for this blog, I stumbled upon the website of 1022 South, a craft cocktail lounge in the Hilltop area of Tacoma. I don’t often get down that way, so it wasn’t until last weekend that I visited–a result of a last-minute decision to get food and a drink before returning to Seattle from a day of snowshoeing near Rainier with Jud.
First off, now that I’ve been there I need to give props to whoever designed their website. It’s clean, attractive, easy to navigate even on a phone (hurray for no PDF menus!), tells you what you need to know and gives a nicely visual first taste of what you’ll experience if you go. If only all businesses had such good websites!
Secondly, I’ll note that 1022 South is primarily a bar (or lounge, if you prefer), and there’s an excellent write-up in Tacoma Weekly about the business and its unique cocktail menu by an author who might be quite familiar to South Sound vegans.
I like a good drink, but since I’m no expert on cocktails I’m going to focus here on the food and the experience of going there.
Cozy and elegant, there’s seating at the bar and at a few small tables.
With its small, narrow space, 1022 South is not the place to take a crowd–but it’s a great place to take a date or a good friend with whom to relax and catch up. We waited just a few minutes for a table for two to open on a Saturday night, though we could have sat at the bar without a wait.
Vintage-styled lights are kept at a sultry dimness, but candles throw plenty of light on the tables.
The cocktail menu is extensive, creative and uses lots of house-infused liquors for complex flavors. Jud had a Sazerac, and I had a “Red Over White,” (Aquavit, beet-infused dry vermouth, Benedictine, celery bitters, sage and salt, which came together into an interestingly astringent dryness and a glowing red color).
The food menu had been updated somewhat since this one from the website, but the online version gives a good idea of their offerings, which are remarkably vegan-friendly and also remarkably rich in fresh produce. That sounded like just the thing after a day out enjoying the snowy sunshine in the mountains. We decided to get a number of small plates, plus a sandwich to share.
Grilled green beans with balsamic vinegar, sea salt and lemon zest
The green beans were deliciously crisp and complemented in both taste and presentation by the vinegar and trace of salt. We didn’t taste the lemon zest, but the beans were quite good anyway.
White-bean-and-fennel spread with baguette and green apple
We both really enjoyed this light but flavorful spread, which got even better when paired with the apple.
Spiced Marcona almonds and pistachios (left, background) and pickled vegetables
The nuts were a satisfying addition to the rest of the food we had, though again, the promised spicing (with coriander) was not detectable: they just tasted like good, salty nuts.
The pickles more than made up for that, though. The mason jar held a mix of pickled beets, cucumber and fennel. All of them were perfectly fresh-tasting and crunchy, with an excellent balance of tart-salty-spicy flavor that didn’t overwhelm the taste of the underlying vegetable. The beets were gorgeously red in the candlelight, and the others looked pearly white. The mixture varies according to what they’ve got at the time, but I will absolutely be ordering this again next time I go.
The “Winter Flora” sandwich, with beets, apples and tomato jam. Unexpected and lovely.
This was the one vegan sandwich offering available, so we went right for it. Neither of us would have dreamed to put these things together, let alone in this way, but it was wonderful. The thinly sliced beets brought a firm, chewy bite to the sandwich, and the fresh apples offered juicy, tangy crunch. I’m not sure what, other than vegan mayo, was in the top layer, but it worked very well to bring the other flavors together. The crusty potato roll it was served on was substantial without being a chore to get your mouth around, and the green side salad added even more welcome fresh veggies to the meal. Seriously, since when do you get this many vegetables–good ones! seasonal ones!–in a bar?
Our server was friendly and efficient, and when Jud peppered her with questions to figure out which wine he wanted to try after his cocktail, she led him to exactly what he was looking for.
If you’re looking for a place to get gussied up a bit and enjoy some cocktails in beautiful surroundings that let you pretend you’re visiting another era, this is it. If you’re “gussied up” in REI’s finest with hat head and find yourself looking for good food and a drink or two to complement it, they’ll still be really nice to you.
Two cocktails, a glass of wine, one sandwich and four small plates came to an even $50 before tip, and it was a perfect amount of food for two.