It’s a total cliché, but when talking about Pike Place Market and the surrounding area, I’m not even sure where to begin. It’s a food lovers paradise, to be sure.
Honestly, the market itself was quite different than I was expecting. For some reason, I was picturing an open, airy, spacious setup, and I quickly discovered it was more like a long, narrow, claustrophobic, human traffic jam of a hallway. Not the best arrangement for somebody with a mild case of crowd-claustrophobia, but I still enjoyed myself.
I loved getting to see the famous seafood counters and produce stalls. Sadly, we didn’t get to see the quintessential Seattle sight – the fishmongers throwing the fish at the market! We walked by again and again on several different days, and it never happened. Oh well, I suspect it’s an underwhelming experience (and terrible for the quality of the fish) anyway. At least I got to marvel at the amazing seafood selection – spot prawns, king crab legs almost as tall as I am, bounties of clams and mussels, and the biggest shrimp I have ever seen.
The huge bouquets of flowers for $8 thrilled me to no end. Seriously, in Detroit, if you spend $8 on flowers, you get a sad, wilted grocery store bouquet. In Seattle, you get a gigantic bouquet bursting with beautiful stems and even cabbage roses, which I came to know and love in my time at the market.
Also inside the market itself was the charming Market Grill. This place was just simple lunch counter tucked between produce stalls with about ten stools, two guys, and a small grill. The clam chowder was just insane. I’m pretty sure all other clam chowder I’ve had in my life bows down and worships at the alter of the Market Grill.
Fun fact – we watched the guy who made our meal walk out into the market to the seafood counter across the hall to buy the fish for our blackened salmon sandwiches. Because, of course. This is one time in my life I can actually say, with confidence, that “it doesn’t get fresher than that.”
If you’ve ever been to Pike Place, you know that the market isn’t just the market. Some of my favorite places actually weren’t in the market itself, but in the blocks surrounding it. We stopped at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese for breakfast macaroni and cheese a few times.
Yes, when you’re on vacation, you’re allowed to eat macaroni and cheese for breakfast. Lots of places claim to have “The World’s Best Mac and Cheese,” and lots of places are lying. I can tell you that Beecher’s can definitely make a solid claim on that title. I even bought a DIY mac and cheese kit to bring home, it was that good!
Because Detroit (and everywhere?) has been hit hard by the Moscow Mule trend of recent years, Rachel’s Ginger Beer in Post Alley was a must-try for me. They offer mules and other cocktails made with their signature flavored ginger beers – blood orange, orange beet, white peach, etc. It was definitely the most intensely flavorful ginger beer I’ve ever tried, and I’m now I’m wishing I would have tried to bring some home with me.
We took a quick jaunt past the famed Post Alley gum wall. The less I say about this the better – that thing made me nauseous! Absolutley disgusting. On a happier note, we stopped in at Pike Brewing Company for a sampling of house-brewed beers.
I wish I would have gotten a picture of the inside of this place – every square millimeter of the wall was covered with some sort of beer paraphernalia. It was like your grandparent’s cluttered basement walls TIMES ONE MILLION.
Also right near the market are several restaurants, including Cutters and Seatown. Somebody told us that Cutters had the best happy hour drinks and snacks in town, so we stopped in to check it out. The selections ranged from mussels to fried cheese curds (from Beecher’s, obviously) to oysters to sushi rolls. It wasn’t a cheap happy hour experience, but the view of the bustling market area was fun, and the food was really tasty.
For our final meal of the trip, we headed to Seatown, the third of three Tom Douglas restaurants we dined at. Seatown is tiny and casual, and billed as a “snack bar.” Seattle Restaurant Week was going on during our visit, so several of us chose the Restaurant Week menu. After having seen bunches upon bunches of beets at the market, I was craving them, and I was in luck. From the Restaurant Week menu, I chose a beet salad to start and a steak for dinner. Believe it or not, after a week in the Pacific Northwest, and fish at every single meal, I was getting sort of tired of seafood. The steak really hit the right spot, and the caramelized onion jam-type stuff it came with was delectable. I would definitely recommend Seatown to anybody looking for a good dinner after a long day exploring the market area.
- Market Grill – New England Clam Chowder. Blackened Salmon Sandwich.
- Beecher’s Handmade Cheese – World’s Best Mac & Cheese
- Rachel’s Ginger Beer – Moscow Mule. Dark and Stormy.
- Pike Brewing Company – Sampling of Beers.
- Cutter’s Crabhouse – Beecher’s & Wisconsin Fried Cheddar Curds. Penn Cove Mussels. Fresh Pacific Oysters. Pacific Sashimi Grade Ahi Roll.
- Seatown – Smoked Salmon Dip. Chef’s Salad. Washington Beef Tri Tip. Alaskan Halibut. Seatown Cream Cake.
- Vancouver, Part 1: Sushi Bella. Winking Judge Pub. Gastown. Pourhouse. Nero Belgian Waffle Bar. Stanley Park.
- Vancouver, Part 2: Cactus Club Cafe. Japadog. G Sports Bar & Grill. Hubbub Sandwich Bliss. Capilano Suspension Bridge. Yaletown. Blue Water Cafe.
- Seattle, Part 1: Serious Pie. The Whisky Bar. Seattle Coffee Works. Moore Coffee Shop. Storyville Coffee Company. Caffe D’Arte. Original Starbucks. Chihuly Garden & Glass. Space Needle. Lola. Seattle Waterfront. Elliott’s Oyster House.
- Seattle, Part 2: Pike Place Market. Market Grill. Beecher’s Handmade Cheese. Rachel’s Ginger Beer. Post Alley. Gum Wall. Pike Brewing Company. Cutter’s Crabhouse. Seatown.