Lunch with the Marine View Diner: Tides at Saltwater State Park

by Greg Wright

Are you a fish taco aficionado?

I am not. In fact, until yesterday I had never eaten a fish taco. In my mind “fish” and “taco” have historically gone together like “steak” and “tartare.”

fish tacos

Tides’ fish tacos

Well, that changed last night when my wife, the “Petite Eater,” saw the signs for fish tacos as we approached Tides restaurant at Saltwater State Park. She said she’d like a bite. I said, “I don’t eat fish tacos. I don’t even know if I’d like them.” But I said I’d ask the proprietor for a sample.

Owner and chef Keith Lionetti opened Tides in October under a contract with Washington State Parks, replacing the old “Saltwater Cafe.” Lionetti is no stranger to our local parks, having operated Chainbangers Disc Golf at White Center’s Lakewood King County Park for years. So he’s a professional concessionaire.

And he’s an experienced chef as well, having worked in the food service industry on and off since he was twelve years old.

He opened Tides at Saltwater as a means toward better utilizing the open spaces there. With the encouragement of park Ranger Johnny Johnson, Lionetti also hopes to eventually establish a disc golf course at Saltwater as well.

The "best pork sandwich around" features roasted pork tenderloin,tomato,onion,pepper jack & avocado with a savory mesquite bbq sauce on a northwest roll

The “best pork sandwich around” features roasted pork tenderloin, tomato, onion, pepper jack and avocado with a savory mesquite barbecue sauce on a northwest roll

In the mean time, Tides is open three days a week–Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with seasonal hours (now noon to 7 PM)–serving a wide range of desserts, espresso drinks, chili, clam chowder, shaved ice, “the best pork sandwiches around,” and Lionetti’s signature fish tacos.

But don’t expect a sample! When I inquired about getting a newbie’s taste, Lionetti apologetically explained that the fish tacos are made to order from fresh ingredients–so it’s an all-or-nothing proposition.

I chose to go with “all,” and opted for the blackened cod.

Lionetti was right. A few minutes after I ordered, his cook served up the blackened cod on a crisp flour tortilla with shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, and other fresh ingredients. The cod was firm and substantial without being too dry. The Petite Eater had her three bites and loved them. I wouldn’t call myself an “afishionado” just yet, but I can’t imagine a better introduction to fish tacos. I’ll be back to Tides, and I’ll be ordering the tacos again.

The next time I visit, though, I’ll probably order the pork tenderloin sandwich, which looks awfully good.

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte

The Petite Eater and I also shared a few desserts (with a couple taken home!), including the Chocolate Hazelnut Torte, which was pretty much to die for.

Prices are on a par with other local eateries. For a meal and a dessert, you can expect to spend about $12 to $15 per person.

You’ll also, of course, have to deal with the Discover Pass issue, as you’ve got to park in the Park to dine at Tides–or walk in, quite a challenge except for the very-most-local folk. Personally, though, I expect to visit Tides pretty frequently, amortizing the $30 fee for the annual Discover Pass over the course of the year.

And you know what? If the Discover Pass helps make Tides a well-kept secret, well, I’ll just have to keep Lionetti in business all by myself.

The dessert case at Tides

The dessert case at Tides

The interior of Tides -- clean and cozy

The interior of Tides — clean and cozy

Tides' exterior at Saltwater State Park

Tides’ exterior at Saltwater State Park


11 Responses to “Lunch with the Marine View Diner: Tides at Saltwater State Park”
  1. Luv2birdie says:

    Hmmm, I’ve never heard of this place…as I read your review I was all set to make this a “go to” restaurant until you mentioned that I’d have to have to buy an annual parking pass to visit. What is up with that?

    • Greg Wright says:

      State parks require either a single-access Discover Pass for $10.00 — or you can buy the $30 annual pass, good year-round. It’s a sad limiting factor for EVERYTHING Saltwater Park offers… but on the other hand, it does make Tides kind of a nice “country club-ish” place to visit!

  2. Marlene says:

    We had the clam chowder bowl. It’s not your usual heavy cream thick clam chowder that is sold in this town. We liked it a lot better, plus it soaks into the bread bowl. I had a whoopee pie, omg. My partner had a kahlua something that was excellent. I don’t mind paying the $30.00 fee because, you’re right, it almost makes the park seem like a ‘club’.

  3. Rick says:

    I went down to the park yesterday, it was a free day. Was not impressed with the conditions of the park. Lawns needed mowing, the park looked dirty. Only a 3rd of the park is opened to visitors. There shouldn’t be any charge with all the construction going on. I wouldn’t spend a $10 surcharge to have a taco…Rr

  4. andy says:

    Walk down and save your cash.

  5. Rick says:

    Is it free to walk in? You mean they just charge for the vehicle?

  6. Terry Constable says:

    We just discovered Saltwater State Park today. We’d bought a pass when paying the car registration recently. Didn’t know about this restaurant and we’d brought a picnic lunch with us. Definitely going back next weekend to try the food. Looks delicious and its hard to find New England/Manhattan clam chowder anywhere!

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