Pike Place Restaurants
Le Panier – Pike Place opposite the Main Arcade
This is a great light breakfast spot. It calls itself a “very French Bakery”, and it is. This is a place to get a double cappuccino or cafe au lait in a real cup, sit at the counter, facing the window and enjoy it with a delicate pastry. The chocolate croissants and the pinwheels are wonderful, but just the smell of the place is intoxicating. It will take the counter staff a while to make your coffee, but don’t let it worry you – it’s a great spot for people watching.
Daily Dozen Doughnuts – Economy Market Building
The Donut Company – get your fresh donuts, made right here, while you watch, and take them to the Waterfront Public Viewing Area or to Victor Steinbrueck Park – at the end of the main market arcade, and across Western Ave. toward the water. You can take in the view of Elliot Bay and the mountains while you watch other people caught in traffic on the viaduct below. The park is popular with the homeless too but there is usually room for everyone.
If you are willing to climb back up the hill to First Ave, some other breakfast choices include Pike Place Bagel, which makes bagels even a New Yorker could like, and the Crumpet Shop. Reliable full service options, both in the Main Arcade building include Lowell’s and The Soundview Cafe. The best advice for eating in the market though is to go light, and save room for noshing your way through the morning.
Some Market Highlights
After breakfast, just explore, check out whatever catches your eye. Just remember a lot of the non food vendors have to make their living off the summer trade – the market can be a ghost town in the winter. Don’t expect bargains, but do look around. There are some beautiful things, ranging from leather goods to photographs. There are also plenty of people selling aprons and T-Shirts that say “Sleepless in Seattle.” Locals focus on food in the Market.
Starbucks – Pike Place
On Pike Place, a few blocks north of Le Panier is the original Starbucks. Go in only if you must; the lines tend to be long, and it really isn’t any different from any other Starbucks in the county. The only thing of note is that the original un-sanitized Starbucks Siren still decorates the front window. But you can see her from the street. During the summer, the sidewalk outside the Starbucks is very popular with street musicians and you can often hear some great music here.
Beecher’s Handmade Cheese – Pike Place
A newcomer to the Market is Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, on the corner of Pike Place and Pine St. You can watch them make cheese, butter or ice cream. Sample flavored cheese curd, and buy sandwiches and other deli items. This macaroni and cheese is about as far from the stuff in the blue box as you can get.
Sur La Table – Pine St
Just up the hill from Beecher’s is Sur La Table. They sell cookware of all kinds, cookbooks, and pretty much anything you might ever need in the kitchen. It is a small crowded space, but if you are looking for something in particular the staff is knowledgeable and helpful.
DeLaurenti Specialty Food & Wine - Economy Market Building
Locals were very worried when the management changed and the space was remodeled, but we needn’t have been. DeLaurenti remains the same – with a cafe, and a larger wind shop. Check out the cheese counter, and try some samples. If you were thinking of buying aged Balsamic Vinegar in Seattle, this is a great place to do it.
Pike Place Fish – Main Arcade
In the summer, you can’t really get close enough to the counter to buy fish here, but the spectacle can be fun to watch. The fish sellers at this counter stand outside the booth, and as the help the customers, they shout out the type of fish, and how much, and then throw the fish to the guys behind the counter. It draws a big crowd that can be hard to maneuver through. It’s easier, and sometimes cheaper to buy any fish you had in mind else where, but the place is probably the most well known in the market.
Pure Food Fish – Main Arcade
These guys don’t toss the fish, but they have great prices and great selection, and some of the best smoked salmon in the market. Do not buy smoked salmon already vacuum packed from a souvenir shop, or a grocery store. Buy it fresh here, either as a gift for your hosts, or take it back to your hotel room, with some bagels and cream cheese from Pike Place Bagel for breakfast on another day. They usually have at least 3 varieties of smoked salmon and will be happy to let you taste. Like every other fish seller in the Market, Pure Food will ship your fish home for you, or be happy to pack it for travel.
Produce Vendors – Main Arcade
This is where the market shines. There are too many to mention, and too many delights to try. Ask the vendors about anything that looks unfamiliar, but don’t pick up the fruits and vegetables yourself. The stands are run along the lines of markets in Europe – you tell the vendor what you want, and they will get it for you. Some of the great things you will find, dependent on the season include; Rainer cherries, fresh figs, strawberries, raspberries, mangos and so much more. In the summer the Market features organic Wednesdays and Sundays, where organic produce is sold in special booths out side the Main Arcade on Pike Place.
Flower Vendors – Main Arcade
Again, too many to have a favorite. Where else can you get literally armload of flowers for around 10 bucks? The flowers are packaged in water, to keep them alive as you get through your day, but don’t leave them in a hot car, or carry them around too long as they can be heavy. If you want some for a hostess, or just to brighten your hotel room, make these vendors your last stop in the Market.
Dilettante Chocolates – First Ave.
Often overlooked, this small store front on First Ave holds wonderful truffles and chocolate sauces. The main Dilettante is on Capitol Hill, and features great desserts and coffee drinks. But you will almost never find a line here, and you will find the same great chocolate. Dilettante has been a Seattle treasure since the first shop opened in 1977.
If you need a break from food, the Pike Place Market Heritage Center at 1531 Western Avenue offers one hour long guided tours through the Market twice a day, Wednesday though Sunday. This is a great way to learn about the market, and discover even more of it secrets. These tours last an hour are a well spent $7.
In one morning you can’t really begin to take in all the options in the market. But you can sample some of the best. If you have time, come back again. Have lunch and try some of the take out counters or full service restaurants. The possibilities are endless; Ethiopian, Malaysian, Turkish or fish sandwiches, to name just a few. The market is a daily stop for a lot of us lucky enough to live or work in the area. We haven’t gotten tired of it, and neither will you.
Pike Place Market Restaurants:
Here are some of our favorite spots to eat in the market. This list is by no means a complete listing of market eateries, but these are some of the standouts, in addition to those already mentioned in the Morning in the Market section of the website. Food in the market runs the gamut ethnically, though on the formal side, restaurants specializing in seafood and French cuisine predominate. Most of the places without table service close well before the dinner hour.
Casual Dinning/Lighter Meals:
Pan Africa – 1521 First Ave. – Order at the counter, and the food will come to your table.
Half of the menu is Ethiopian at Pan Africa, with the rest of the selections from around other parts of the continent. All of it is wonderful. With a few tables outside on First Ave and a few inside, this is a great place to linger and enjoy the exotic smells coming from the kitchen. Service can be a little on the slow side, so come to Pan Africa and savor, when you have some time.
Virginia Inn – 1937 First Ave. – Table Service
The Virginia Inn is a great place to stop for a beer and an excellent sandwich. They have a few tables outside on First Ave., in addition to the bar and booths inside. The Virginia Inn is very popular on summer evenings with the after work crowd, but the beer and the atmosphere make the wait worthwhile.
Malaysian Station – 1514 Pike Place – Order at the counter
Hidden off Post Alley, across the way from the Pike Place Creamery. Try a noodle dish here, (the specials are always great, and they will be happy to hold the rice and give you extra noodles) or a spring roll. Be warned the portions are huge – you may want to split a single order. Malaysian Station has a couple tables, but on a sunny day, dish yourself up some hot sauce from the counter, and take your food outside.
Le Pichet – 1933 First Ave. – Table Service
Le Pichet, near the corner of First Ave. and Virginia has become the darling of foodies in Seattle over the past few years, because it is so essentially French. This is a place to linger over a carafe of red wine, or a cafe au lait and enjoy elegant presentations of pure flavors, in European size portions. All this and the prices are reasonable too. Get an outside table on a sunny afternoon, and you will be the envy of those in the know.
Turkish Delight – 1930 Pike Place – Order at the counter
Turkish delight specializes in döner kebab sandwiches. Absolutely outstanding, these hard to handle wraps of chicken or beef are as good as they smell. The baklava and the savory pastries are well worth trying too. Though crowded at lunch time in the summer, tables are often available, and if not, carry your lunch across the street to Steinbrueck Park.
Bottega Italiana – 1425 First Ave. – Order at the counter
A relative new comer to the market, and a wonderful addition. The espresso is very good, buy the highlight here is the selection more than fifteen kinds of gelato. A small cup gets you two scoops, so mix and match your flavors and enjoy.
Three Girls Bakery – 1514 Pike Place – Order at the counter
The bread here is great, as are the cookies, scones and bars. If you are early for lunch, or have a fair amount of patience the sandwiches are often outstanding. There are a few stools at the sandwich counter, but most of us end up carrying our lunch away.
Mee Sum Pastries – 1526 Pike Place – Order at the counter
Mee Sum has been making humbows in the market for so long it seems like it has always been there. Folks who work in the market know that this is a great place to come for a filing, tasty and very cheap lunch. Humbows are the main attraction here – Chinese buns that come with a pork, chicken or vegetable filling. Unless you are a purist, have the baked ones rather than steamed, and stick to the meat filled buns. The sweets here are also well worth trying.
Piroshky Piroshky – 1908 Pike Place – Order at the counter
In addition to the outstanding piroshky, (the smoked salmon is not to be missed!) try the coffee rolls, and possibly a marzipan roll. The line for this tiny shop frequently extends outside on the sidewalk in the summer, but it is well worth it.
Kells Restaurant and Irish Pub – 1916 Post Alley – Table Service
Kells, with it’s twin in Portland is not all that different from all the other “Irish bars” that have popped up all over the country in recent years. However, the Guinness is very good, and the food perfectly acceptable pub grub. The service can be a little slow, especially at the outside tables.
Full Service/More Formal:
Etta’s Seafood - 2020 Western Ave.
Tom Douglas is probably Seattle’s best know celebrity chef. He oversees a mini empire of four restaurants in downtown Seattle, and most Seattleites know his name. Etta’s highlights his pan Asian style, and is a reliable choice, although locals feel menu might be in need of updating. The signature crab cakes and the tuna sashimi salad are always good choices.
Cutter’s Bay House – 2001 Western Ave.
Right across Western Ave. from Etta’s. Cutters has been through a few incarnations and never received the acclaim given to its neighbor to the east, even though it has the better setting, with a water view. The most recent incarnation is a standout however; a huge menu, great service, and fun drinks from the bar. If you are looking for a great place, with no pretensions, and wonderful seafood, Cutters is a great choice.
Place Pigalle – 81 Pike St.
Place Pigalle is hidden behind Don and Joe’s Meats and Pike Place Fish. Follow the narrow alley between the two towards the water and you will find it. Specializing in Northwest cuisine, with a French accent, Place Pigalle is a great date or special occasion restaurant. The appetizer specials, and French onion soup are highly recommended. This is also one the few place in Seattle with outdoor seating where taking the indoor option, both for the better view, and the atmosphere is highly recommended.
Typhoon! – 1400 Western Ave.
Typhoon is found below the main level of the market and a few blocks to the south. In a city saturated with Thai food, Typhoon! is worth notice. Imported from Portland, Typhoon!’s menu is a bit more pan-Asian that strictly Thai, but everything here is wonderful, and the atmosphere and service are terrific.
Maximilien in the Market – 81 A Pike St.
Maximilien is not quite as traditionally French as your first glance at the menu makes it appear, but the food is very good, and the view is as good as it gets. Not exactly romantic, but very Northwest, this is a place you can bring your older kids for an upscale lunch or brunch. At dinner the table linens appear, and there is a more grown up atmosphere.
Cafe Campagné – 1600 Post Alley / Campagné – 86 Pine St. Dinner only at Campagné
The food at both Campagné outposts is outstanding, and very French. Thought the cafe is more casual you can still expect white table cloths and impeccable service. The formal restaurant upstairs is a culinary destination, and always rates among the top five in polls of Seattle’s restaurants.
Contributing Editor: Lynn Marshall