Welcome to Pike Place Market, Seattle’s farmer’s market since 1907. Encompassing 9 acres of winding alleys, cobbled streets, and the market’s historic arcade, Pike Place Market stimulates the senses with sights, sounds, and smells. To do the market justice, a full day is recommended. Here are a few suggestions to whet your appetite.
At 9am on Saturdays through the summer months, Friends of the Market offer 1-hour tours sharing history, providing tastings and advising on your subsequent self-guided tour.
Emmett Watson‘s Oyster Bar is officially Seattle’s first oyster bar. Opened in 1979 by Emmett Watson and his friend, Sam Bryant, it is now under the leadership of Sam’s son, Thurman. The daily selection of 6 locally farmed oyster varieties arrive without fanfare. A lemon wedge, a small pot of cocktail sauce, and pepper if you’re lucky. Simple is often best, and here the oysters prove it.
At Matt’s in the Market expect a nose to tail concept. All produce is fresh from the market and it is worth mentioning the daily charcuterie. House made sausage, liver mousse and terrines are gussied up with edible flowers, green strawberries, and roasted nuts. Owner, Dan Bugge, of Pike Place Fish Market “fish tossing” fame, has created a relaxed space to enjoy a casual fine dining experience in a warehouse environment. Happy Hour at the bar from 5 – 7pm might see devilled eggs, oysters or a bar plate of Chef Shane Ryan’s daily selections.
It’s worth making a reservation at The Pink Door before you hit Seattle. It’s incredibly popular through word of mouth; no advertising, no signage, just the pink door. 25 years on and The Pink Door is still serving recipes passed down from the owner’s Grandma. Simple Italian fare created from the freshest of produce from sustainable North Western farms. Book inside to catch the trapeze artist or outside on the terrace for spectacular views of Elliot Bay.
Place Pigalle is a hidden gem tucked down the alley between Pike Place Fish Market and the Butcher. Think fresh seafood in traditional sauces, rich with cream and wine, served with today’s vegetables. The views are splendid so hunt for Place Pigalle, it’s worth the effort.
Lowell’s is an institution. Join the queue on weekends for one of the best breakfasts in town. With 3 floors of water views and efficient staff, the wait won’t be long but it will be worth it. Hearty servings of hash accompany omelettes, benedicts, salmon scrambles and all things bacon. Bacon-infused vodka is the hero in the “Hangtown” Mary, one of 5 on the Bloody Mary menu. Mixed with Clamato Bloody Mary mix (that’s tomato with clam juice for the uninitiated), this baby is garnished with a huge Pacific oyster. Serrano chilli infused vodka adds a kick to the classic mary mix and there’s smoked salmon-infused vodka too. We all have to eat, but guaranteed, everyone is at Lowell’s for the Bloody Mary selection.
Rachel’s Ginger Beer is handcrafted in Seattle using organic ingredients. The original is ginger-packed with a dash of lemon and forms the base for the other flavours. Try blood orange, caramelised pineapple or cucumber and basil sold in singles, 4-packs or mix it up in a variety pack. If the queue is any indication, Seattleites love Rachel’s Ginger Beer! Take a seat, order-in and add a shot of your favourite spirit. Moscow Mules are a crowd favourite and they’re incredibly healthy at Rachel’s too!
The Tasting Room by Wines of Washington is a short walk from Rachel’s on Post Alley. Try before you buy is the idea but there’s no pressure. Simply work your way through the 60 plus Washington only produced wines by the glass.
Virginia Inn (V.I. to locals) is known for one of the best tap selections in Seattle so it’s worth making the steep climb from the market to the corner of Virginia and 1st Ave. Part French bistro, part English pub, the menu and brews are all sourced within Washington State and decidedly easy on the wallet.
Seattle Craft breweries abound and you don’t need to leave Pike Place Market to find a great one. At Old Stove Brewery & Taproom, the back wall mural and the old stove in the corner add history to this, the newest brewery on the block. When sitting down for a pint or a tulip from the current beer list, you’ll notice the Galaxy ‘SMaSH’ Pale Ale. Australian Galaxy Hops develop a tropical and citrus fruit essence recently experienced at Alaskan Brewing Company in their SMaSH Galaxy Double IPA. Two very different brews but both showcasing the flavour of the Aussie hops. The rotating guest cider could be cranberry when you’re there. Give it a try, forget sweet, it has true cranberry flavour with the slight tart finish cranberries are known for.
There’s one thing about Seattleites, they’re proud of their hospitality offer. At Matt’s in the Market, the wait staff suggest checking out Zig Zag Café for a cocktail. It’s located on the Pike Street Hill Climb, fortunately downhill from the market (but up from the Seattle Aquarium). Running into Will Holland on his night off from the Penny Royal is on the cards and it’s likely he’ll fix you up with a fantastic list of other cocktail venues to try.
OK, so you can’t just eat and drink your way through Pike Place Market, or can you? It’ll be tough to resist purchasing the amazing Peonies at Pike Place Flowers, much-loved gadgets at Kitchen Basics or all your cookware needs at Sur La Table. There’s vintage clothing at 2nd Hand Gala, designer umbrellas at Bella Umbrella and antique jewellery at Isadora’s. Take home souvenirs from Made in Washington, all things magic from Market Magic and Novelty Shop and keep up with the latest trends in pipes at Pipe Palace. There’s tattooists, palm readers, dentists, and naturopaths.
Let’s face it, a day is nowhere near enough time for all the things Pike Place Market has to offer, so book a night at Inn at the Market and start all over tomorrow. Seattle’s Pike Place Market: it’s a place we love….