Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date: MASA

masa_garage_doors_3Welcome to the second installment of Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Date*. This is a weekly column where my girlfriend and I go somewhere in Tacoma and order the two cheapest entrees on the menu. Then we write about it. Last week we were in Hilltop checking out The Eleven Eleven. This week we’re on 6th Ave.

A couple of Sundays ago, 6th Avenue had their annual Art on the Ave festival, bringing in a couple of thousand people, a bunch of bands, vending booths of all shapes and sizes, and a lot of customers to the various local businesses on 6th Ave. Mimi happens to work at one such business.

Art On the Ave was practically a who’s who of previous 5 Question Friday participants. I saw Mark Lindquist, Sonics Guy, Tony Daniels from the Dignitaries, Jooley Heaps from Poison Apple, and others. It was nice to see such a cross section of Tacoma there.

As Art on the Ave wound down we decided to meet at the Red Hot, Tacoma’s famous hot dog and beer bar. They were offering a special menu thanks to Art on the Ave, but had run out of the least expensive thing on the menu (the Vegan Berliner). We ordered two of what was left. I drank my second beer and waited as I heard them announce last call. The Red Hot is usually quick with their orders so after a few minutes I asked what was going on. Unfortunately, my order had somehow gotten lost in the shuffle and their kitchen was closed. They apologized and refused to let me pay for my tab. Mimi and I left still hungry, but knowing we’d be back to the Red Hot soon.

We walked down the street to a place called Masa. I had actually never been to Masa. The extent of my knowledge of the place was that late one night while on a pub crawl, I saw a naked man try to fight three cops in front of it and lose.
As we walked in we noticed that there was no host to greet us but was soon told that we could simply find a table and they’d soon get our order. The place was busy but not crazy or anything. Our waiter put a couple of glasses of water on the table and got us some chips and salsa along with menus and then then scurried off to the next table.

I was still in the mood for a hotdog and luckily one of the cheapest things on the menu was a bacon wrapped hotdog for $7.99. Mimi chose the pulled pork sandwich for $8.99. Both came with fries. The waiter wrote down our order and then ran off again. The entire staff seemed to behave exactly like our waiter. They were all running around looking very busy and yet, there weren’t that many customers. To be fair, we were downstairs and there was an entire upstairs that may have been packed, but from our vantage point it seemed that they were all distracted. None of them were fully engaged with the customers as far as we could tell.

Our food arrived. The first thing I noticed was that my hotdog was significantly smaller than the bun. This isn’t something that really matters when it comes to taste but from a presentation standpoint, they should have gotten bigger dogs or smaller buns. The fries were seasoned, which is good because there was no salt or pepper on the table. The hotdog was alright though the bacon overpowered the flavor of the hotdog. Maybe it was the part where we had wanted to eat at the Red Hot, but I was a bit disappointed with the hotdog.

My solid two star bacon wrapped hotdog.

My solid two star bacon wrapped hotdog.

Mimi’s pulled pork sandwich was massive. Her pile of fries did not look as appetizing as mine. I asked her how her food was. “The fries are limp. The sandwich is dry and the bun is soggy which is too bad because it could be really good. It’s close to being good.”

She ate about half of her sandwich before she gave up. I tried a bite. It was indeed dry, but there was definitely some flavor to it. She was right. This sandwich was full of wasted potential.

“I’ve eaten here before.” Mimi said, “And I’d eat here again given the same circumstances.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean if for some reason I couldn’t eat at the Red Hot, was on foot, and was really hungry, I can see coming back here.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement. But then again, not every cheap date can be a good one.

– Jack Cameron

Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date By The Numbers:

Address: 2811 6th Ave., Tacoma, WA 98406 

Pulled Pork Sandwich: $7.99

Bacon Wrapped Hotdog: $8.99

Check: $16.98

*Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date does not include the price of drinks. This is mainly because I’m a bit of a craft beer freak and more often than not, I’m not willing to drink the cheapest beer on tap.

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