Where Burgers Meet Dinosaurs

Olympia kind of makes a big deal about it’s Eastside Neighborhood. East of downtown Olympia, Eastside has an active neighborhood association and more than a few businesses along Eastside Street and 4th Avenue boast the “Eastside” title. But no one has a bigger, brighter Eastside presence than Eastside Big Tom.

Hailed as the first drive-thru in Washington state (back when it was known as Eagan’s), the Fritsch family took over the burger joint in 1969 and turned it into one of the funnest and funniest family-friendly restaurants in town. The drive-thru is handy for when you need a quick burger fix, but first-timers, folks with kids, and those who are forever young at heart will want to place their order at the walk-up, then find a table nestled in a jungle filled with hungry, but gentle, dinosaurs. Fun toys are scattered about to keep the young ones entertained, and you can even be Big Tom for a day and have your picture taken at the Big Tom photo stand-in.

Eastside Big Tom Cut Out

Owner Michael Fritsch likes to think of himself as a crotchety old man (please follow @eastsidebigtom on Instagram for his hilarious and sometimes irreverent postings), but it’s just a cover for an incredibly generous man who loves life, loves his restaurant, and loves sharing it love with others. Occasionally that love spills over into random acts of generosity involving free hot chocolate … I mentioned you should follow them socially, right?

Most people go big and order the Big or Little Tom burgers which come with double meat and cheese, and of course, the iconic “goop” sauce. It doesn’t matter what’s in goop. It only matters that you need goop in your life. Goop is an institution, and that’s all you need to know. If you’re not a fan of beef there are chicken and fish options, and the hot dog with goop, pickles, onions, and ketchup is a solid choice as well. Crinkle fries, tater tots, onion rings - all three are ready to round out your meal. 

Eastside Big Tom's Burger

We could stop now and it would be enough. The dinosaurs, the ambiance that takes you back to the best parts of your childhood, the smashed-burger dripping with sauce that runs down your chin and you don’t even care who sees it. But there are delights like the Bellicose Badger shake (featuring deep-fried bacon and maple) and the Birthday Cake soft-serve ice cream cone waiting in the wings. Customers wait with baited breath for Michael to share the monthly special shake, named after an animal (not the ingredients) in alphabetical order. Prior to the Bellicose Badger he featured the Aggravated Aardvark (peanut butter and pickle juice). These shakes may sound a bit odd, but for the life of us we can’t understand why everyone isn’t putting deep fried bacon in their shakes. It’s amazing.

Whatever Michael’s doing at Eastside Big Tom, it’s working. We are a fan for life.

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