Chefs Dish on the Restaurants Inside the New Emerald Queen Casino

Chefs Dish on the Restaurants Inside the New Emerald Queen Casino

By Lisa Pemberton, Puyallup Tribal News editor

Food has always been a major part of the Emerald Queen Casino experience. And that tradition will continue in the nearly $400 million new casino that’s set to open this spring along I-5 in Tacoma.

Whether it’s a seafood dinner, after dinner drinks and appetizers, or espresso and a fresh baked pastry, the casino’s five restaurants will provide choices abound.

“We’ll have something for everybody,” said chef Pasqual Rodriguez.

Each restaurant will have its own character, décor and menu, according to restaurant manager Jimmy Chan. In addition, Puyallup Tribal member artwork is featured throughout each of the venues.

Here’s a taste of the offerings:

The Waterway Deli will offer quick service and grab-and-go items, including Vietnamese Pho, deli sandwiches and fresh made soups.

“These days a lot of restaurants and casinos buy the premade stuff — we cook all of our soups from scratch,” Chan said.

The deli will have a casual feeling, and seat up to 54 guests.

Watch for: Coast Salish design on the metal mesh rails by Puyallup Tribal descendent Bruce Berry and a mural by Puyallup Tribal Member Karen Reed.

The Summit Sports Bar will offer pub-style food and drinks. The menu items will include salads, appetizers and pub food such as hamburgers and hot wings. Large TV screens are visible are throughout the restaurant.

“This one will be fun during the Seahawks’ games,” said shift restaurant manager Joanie Nordlund.

The bar also features tabletop slot machines, which are a completely new gaming concept for EQC, Chan said.

The sports bar will have a casual and party feel, and seat about 250 guests.

Watch for: Coast Salish drink coasters designed by Puyallup Tribal member Chris Duenas.

The Riverbank Buffet will be a completely new experience for EQC guests. It’s circular in design, and will offer chef-action stations.

“We’ll cook in front of the guests,” said Rodriguez said. The buffet will offer premium meats, Alaskan seafood and lobster twice a week, in addition to side dishes, desserts and an array of beverages.

The eye-catching eatery is sure to become a destination for diners, and will seat up to 208 guests.

Watch for: A mural of salmon, created by Puyallup Tribal member Anthony Duenas.
The puyaləpabš café will offer a fine dining experience. It’s the place to order a prime steak or seafood dinners, fancy desserts and other full-service offerings.

Its name was designated by the Tribal Council, and is one of two traditional Lushootseed words used in reference to the Puyallup people.

The café has a classy, night-on-the-town feel, and will seat 144 people.

Watch for: Light fixtures inspired from traditional Coast Salish basketry, commissioned by Puyallup Tribal member Sharron Nelson and vectorized by Chris Duenas.
The Paddle Wheel Coffee & Bakery will offer locally roasted coffee, fresh made bakery items and gelato.

All of its gelato, cakes, pies and other pastries will be made in house. Its featured coffee will be Caffe D’arte, which is roasted in Federal Way.

The café and bakery has a casual vibe, and will likely become a popular place to grab coffee by tribal employees and others who work in the area.

Watch for: Frog murals created by Puyallup Tribal member Shaun Peterson.

Feeding EQC fans since the beginning

The new casino will be the fourth one opened by Chan his team. They opened the Emerald Queen Riverboat more than 20 years ago, along with the EQC locations in Fife and along I-5 in Tacoma, both of which were renovated buildings.

“This is different than all of the others,” Chan said.

It’s bigger, it will serve more customers and all of the new casino’s appliances, furniture, table settings and furnishings are brand new.

“The other two openings we did, we closed on Friday and reopened on Monday,” added Nordlund. “It was rush.”

Coming up: Fine dining with a city view

Chan said his team is also working on an upscale restaurant that will be on the 11th floor of the new casino’s adjacent hotel, which is set to open this summer. The hotel’s restaurant will have sweeping views of the city, a lounge and bar and balcony seating.

The new casino is projected to employ about 400 food service workers, and will have staff working on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Many of the employees will move over from the nearby I-5 Tacoma EQC, however since the new casino will offer more restaurants, it’s hiring more food service staff members. To learn about employment opportunities, go to