Located right on the water, Harbor Lights (2761 Ruston Way, 253/752-8600, 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Mon.–Sat., noon–9 p.m. Sun.) is a Tacoma  tradition, with giant steaks, four-pound buckets of clams, tasty fish and chips, and moderate prices. It’s also good for drinks.
Johnny’s Ocean Fish Co. (2201 Ruston Way, 253/383-4571) in Old Town right alongside the fishing pier is a friendly market with fresh and smoked seafood of all kinds. It’s a good place to pick up fish recipes, too—this is the home of the Johnny’s Seasoning line of spices, which you can find at just about any grocery store around the nation.
If you want a sweeping Sound view, try the old-time Cliff House (6300 Marine View Dr. at Browns Point, 253/927-0400 or 800/961-0401, www.cliffhouserestaurant.com , upstairs 5–9:30 p.m. weekends, downstairs 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m. daily). The steak and seafood are very good, and the downstairs lounge offers the same view and a sandwich menu.
View the glittering lights of downtown Tacoma  and the port from above I-5 at Stanley and Seafort’s Steak, Chop, and Fish House (115 E. 34th, 253/473-730, www.r-u-i.com/sta , 4–9:30 p.m. Mon.–Thurs., 4–10:30 p.m. Fri.–Sat., 3:30–9 p.m. Sun.). This is Tacoma’s culinary institution, a no-brainer stop for locals on anniversaries, birthdays, and proms. It is one of those dependably good places with fine meats, seafood, and desserts.
C. I. Shenanigan’s (3017 Ruston Way, 253/752-8811, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Thurs., 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Fri.–Sat., 9:30 a.m.–10 p.m. Sun.) is a spiffy waterside restaurant with outdoor seating, a seafood menu, and long waits on weekends. Reservations are advised.
The Lobster Shop Dash Point (6912 Soundview Dr. NE, 253/927-1513, www.lobstershop.com , 4:30–9 p.m. Sun.–Thurs., 4:30–10 p.m. Fri.–Sat.), sister to the Lobster Shop South across the bay (4015 Ruston Way. 206/759-2165, 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 4:30–9:30 p.m. Mon.–Thurs., 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 4:30–10:30 p.m. Fri., 4:30–10:30 p.m. Sat., 9:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. and 4:30–9:30 p.m. Sun.) is the original, more rustic version, where the steaks, seafood, and wine list are reliably good. There are great waterside views, and reservations are advised. Lobster Shop South is open for lunch and dinner, and it serves a substantial Sunday brunch.