IT Editor Janelle Nanos is traveling from Seattle to San Francisco this week, and she's sending her dispatches from the road. Help her plan her trip by leaving comments below...
On my way out of Tacoma, my friends and I were hankering for ice cream when we stumbled upon the fabulous establishment that is Don's Ruston Market and Deli (5102 North Winnifred St., tel. +1 253 759 8151). Tucked in the tiny town of Ruston, which is completely surrounded by Tacoma (and the only such town to be so surrounded in the country, claims Don) the soda and sandwich shop is right above Commencement Bay, a harbor that eventually stretches out to the Puget Sound.
Don Torbet and his wife Beth have been in the soda-shop business for 25 years next month, and he says he took over the store, which was originally built in 1917, thanks in part to his love for the Green River ice cream soda. The lime green beverage was once among the most popular sodas in the country but fell out of favor, and eventually was only produced in Seattle. Don keeps a few bottles on ice for diehard fans, but has to drive up to the factory for the syrup to make ice cream sodas. Let me tell you, it's worth the gas money—the bright green, lime flavor mixed with vanilla ice cream was fantastic. As was Don, who is more than happy to regale you with local stories and discuss the idiosyncratic history of regional fountain drinks (he claims to have been introduced to the egg cream only when some East Coast visitors stumbled through). His menu features a wide variety of shakes, ice cream sodas, burgers and sandwiches, and continues to serve as the local grocery in the community, just as it had for the three generations of owners who ran the shop before Don.
After grabbing a Green River, head down to Point Defiance Park to get a great view of the Puget Sound and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The city park has a spectacular rose garden and living history museum at its fort, and Don and Beth operate a kayak rental shop out of Owen Beach. It's a lovely way to spend an afternoon, and the perfect way to work off your ice cream soda.
Photo: Don Torbet and his Green River soda, by Janelle Nanos