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Originally published Friday, July 5, 2013 at 5:30 AM

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Frisko Freeze: Since 1950, Tacoma’s classic burger joint

Still tasty after all these years, Tacoma’s Frisko Freeze keeps to its eat-in-your-car burger-joint roots.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Frisko Freeze

Burgers

1201 Division St., Tacoma, 253-272-6843

Hours: 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday and Sunday; and 10 a.m.-1 a.m. Friday and Saturday

Etc: All major credit cards accepted; wheelchair accessible; parking lot

Prices: $

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Frisko Freeze is not technically in the Hilltop neighborhood. It is in the Stadium... MORE
So not in Hilltop. It would be either the North Slope Historic District or Stadium. MORE

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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.

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 myuasa@seattletimes.com

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