Frisko Freeze screams nostalgia like a scene straight out of “Happy Days.”
The bright red-and-white neon sign held up by a candy-cane pole has a giant lighted arrow pointing customers to this classic burger joint in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood.
The iconic fast-food spot opened in 1950, and has a memory book thicker than a frozen malt: a teenager’s first date, a post high-school- football-game meeting place, a late-night family gathering spot after a Tacoma Rainier’s game, and a favorite of recently deceased former Gov. Booth Gardner, who lived nearby. It also earned a place in the Tacoma Register of Historic Places on Aug. 19, 2008.
While Frisko’s history runs deep in T-Town, it’s the inexpensive burgers, fries and shakes that really lure people to this aging hangout.
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Many refer to it as the Dick’s Drive-In of Tacoma, but it definitely has its own unique flair for what a burger place should be.
Each burger ($2.45-$4.90) comes with or without cheese layered with diced onions, chopped lettuce, and a special mayonnaise and relish-laden sauce. The crispy French fries ($2.35) come in one size, and one order is plenty for two.
The menu: Choose from six burgers, and add bacon for 75 cents, or a fishwich ($3.85), shrimpwich ($3.95), hot dog ($2.25), corn dog ($2.25) and fish-and-chips ($7). There is a family deep-fried prawn basket and fries in 10, 15 or 20 pieces ($13.80-$23.20).
They have soft-serve ice-cream cones ($2-$2.15). Sundaes ($2.75-$3) come with blackberry, chocolate, strawberry, butterscotch, pineapple and hot-fudge toppings. The ice cream can also be ordered by the pint ($2.75) or quart ($4.30).
What to write home about: The burgers, including the double bacon cheeseburger ($4.40), held up fine in the bun despite the dripping condiments and gooey cheese. The crunchy onion rings ($2.55) got more raves than the fries. The fishwich, while topped with a frozen piece of cod, was good and had a nice texture.
The other go-getters are the various milkshakes ($3-$3.45) from strawberry, vanilla and chocolate to root beer, pineapple, banana, wild cherry and butterscotch. Our favorite was the blackberry. Malts ($3.20-$3.55) also come in the same flavors.
The setting: The tight parking area has 21 spaces and a drive-thru window right in the middle of the lot. Order at the walk-up window. No inside seating, and just two small bench seats on each side of the building. This is a classic eat-in-your-car burger joint.
Summing up: Four of us had a cheeseburger ($2.80), double cheeseburger ($3.65), double cheeseburger with bacon ($4.40), fishwich ($3.85), two orders of French fries ($4.70), onion rings ($2.55), three milkshakes ($3 each) and a large soda ($1.85) for $35.92 with tax.
Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or firstname.lastname@example.org