The Gulch/Bridge District

Text and photos by Kristin Giordano

Arguably the quaintest commercial district in north Tacoma, this area is officially nameless. Residents call it “The Gulch,” in honor of the green gully that runs through the middle. Business owners on North 21st Street are on a mission to forge a unified identity, which will enable them to receive public money for street improvements, flower boxes and other essentials to make these blocks even more charming. “This area has it all: a grocery, shops, restaurants,” says Jay O’Neill as he enjoys some peanuts and a draft beer with friends at Magoo’s. “You never have to leave. And we don’t!”


1. 1312 North I Street Dave’s Meats and Produce (253.280.9999) Owners Derek Kipapa and Ray Severin take great pride in bringing high-quality meat, fish and produce to their neighborhood grocery store. Come in on Saturday (early!) for the famous Hawaiian Pork Roast, marinated for twenty-four hours, then wrapped in a banana leaf.


2. 2701 North 21st Street Sonja (253.272.1565) “Clothes to live in” is the motto in this boutique catering to women ages fourteen to eighty. The focus is on unique, fun pieces: cute tops to pair with jeans, cocktail dresses and “prom dresses that aren’t too prommy.” Also home of the “Gritty Tacoman” t-shirt.


3. 2710 North 21st Street Magoo’s Annex & Eatery (253.759.0467) Popular neighborhood hangout with full-service bar and seventeen beers (mainly Northwest microbrews) on tap. The Philly cheesesteak and French dip are menu favorites. Great jukebox and a centrally located pool table, too. Shell some peanuts at the bar, till 2 a.m. daily.


4. 2714 North 21st Street Upper Crust Bistro (253.752.0900) Since 2007, Leo Nichols and Loren Robinson have been offering homemade everything here. Pizza toppings include some unusual choices: black beans, roasted walnuts and mandarin oranges anyone? Try the European-style breakfast: some swear these are the best scones in town!


5. 2716 North 21st Street Dwell (253.761.1889) This store is like a Joseph Cornell box come to life. Everything here is handpicked to fit the eclectic, poetic tastes of co-owners Shelly Dally and April Donato. Gorgeous fabric, original artwork, lots of butterflies and birds. I like the cool, oversized matchboxes illustrated with sea urchins.


Also Noteworthy:

1312 North I Street Espressly Java Walk-up cup | On North 21st Street: 2420 Branch Colonial B&B Quaint lodgings | 2615 Louie S Barber Shop Flattop pros | 2619 North End Massage Hands-on healing | 2702 Willow Salon & Spa High-end hair | 2704 Wow’s Etc Hangover breakfast | 2712 Annette B Women’s fashions | 2712 Source Yoga Intro and advanced