The Pike Place Market Guide
Pike Place is a vortex of food stands, restaurants, and bars. Here are the best places the market has to offer.
Everyone knows that the most popular attraction in Seattle is Pike Place Market. And even though people call it various incorrect names like “Pike’s Market,” “The Pike’s Place,” and “Hell,” it’s inevitable that you’re going to end up eating and drinking here someday. And, when there are guys flinging 60-pound fish to each other while someone’s playing Lady Gaga songs on the classical fiddle, things get overwhelming fast. But if you use this guide, you’ll see that it doesn’t have to be a spinning vortex of smelly clams, homemade candles, and claustrophobia. We’ve organized this by meal, so you can plan out your entire day (and night) at the market.
In our most recent update, we added Pike Place Nuts, Three Girls Bakery, Mariscos Mexico, and Northwest Tastings.
Ellenos Real Greek Yogurt
There’s a reason you can find Ellenos in every supermarket in the city, and it’s because it’s f*cking amazing. The Greek yogurt at this little stand is displayed in a case as if it were gelato, with flavors ranging from lemon curd and tiramisu to marionberry pie. Just be warned—this stuff is thick and really filling.
You’re here for one reason and one reason only: quiche. The delicious quiches here come filled with Dungeness crab, comte cheese, and caramelized onion, and there’s always a daily-rotating vegetable one, too. You might want to forgo the side salad and do a pile of fries. And a glass of champagne. And a crock of french onion soup.
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If you’re looking to eat a hearty breakfast that kind of looks like a giant hockey puck with a lot of stuff in the middle, go to Biscuit Bitch. It’s fun here—and not just because every item on the menu has the word “bitch” in the name, but also because their self-anointed theme is “trailer park to table.” Don't miss the Bitchwich with eggs, cheese, sausage, gravy, and hot sauce.
The Crumpet Shop
A crumpet is kind of like an english muffin with a bunch of holes in it. If you’ve never had one, let your first be from The Crumpet Shop. You can choose from sweet toppings like butter and fruit preserves, or savories like pesto and ricotta. There’s no wrong choice, unless you have trypophobia.
The biscuits here are not particularly groundbreaking. But one of them in particular is great enough to make this guide, and that’s The MacGregor. It contains bacon from Bavarian Meats, flagship cheddar from Beecher’s, and caramelized onion. You want this thing.
Ghost Alley Espresso
You’re going to need some caffeine to deal with the crowds posing for photos in front of strangers’ used chewing gum, so get your macchiatos here instead of from the nearby “first” Starbucks—which isn’t even the first one. Here, you’ll find classic coffee drinks and more thrilling ones, like the “salty nut” latte with caramel, hazelnut, and applewood-smoked salt.
Located in a quiet corner of the market, this Filipino counter serves the best lunch Downtown, let alone some of the best Filipino food in the city. Everything here is prepared by a woman who is quite kind despite some brash signage (such as, “IF U DON’T KNOW HOW TO EAT OUR SALMON SINIGANG DON’T ORDER IT”) and the food is so good that we’d gladly brave the yogurt-gulping Ellenos fanatics around the bend. Oriental Mart serves excellent tart pork adobo over rice seeped in braising liquid, lumpia wands whose crunch reminds us of a Butterfinger bar, and shiny red longanisa sausage that deserves its own long-form documentary. There’s a reason why this place has been going strong since 1987, and it’s in part thanks to that link of meat.
Maíz is a tortilleria that serves homemade nixtamal tortillas so good that we plan to consume them regularly until we're old enough to always have pocket breadcrumbs just in case a duck comes along. This colorful counter serves a bunch of stupendous Mexican dishes with their freshly-ground corn masa at the forefront, from cheesy tamales and quesadillas to phenomenal sopes topped with things like stewed chicken, pickled onion, cotija, and crema. They even make delicious tortilla chips, and they’re so crunchy that you could probably use them to communicate with The International Space Station. If you’ve been coerced into a trip down here to “be a tourist in your own city” by out-of-town guests, and you don’t want your lunch to have come from the ocean, Maíz makes for a perfect stop.
Pike Place Nuts
Maybe you’re not at the market to eat a full meal. Maybe you’re just there to stare at the waterfront and shop around. (Those ceramic mugs aren’t going to buy themselves.) If that’s the case, you’ll need a protein boost. Stop by Pike Place Nuts for a little paper bag full of tasty vanilla bean pistachios and cinnamon almonds. Keep them in your pocket and snack while you decide which Space Needle baby onesie you hate the least to gift to your nephew who will outgrow it in a month.
Maybe you got elbowed by someone trying to snap a picture of those guys from the Pike Place Fish Market throwing a halibut like a football for the 18th time today. Pull up a seat at the counter at Market Grill for some solace in the middle of all the chaos. Someone behind the grill will fire up your blackened salmon sandwich with rosemary mayo and ladle you some herby clam chowder (which is what to order).
Pasta Casalinga serves bowls of pasta for under $10 handmade by people who are speaking Italian. The menu rotates based on which fresh ingredients they have from the “ocean,” “garden,” and “farm,” with things like rigatoni with lamb and juniper berry ragu or spaghettoni with kale pesto. You could also just stop in for a slice of the ricotta chocolate crostata.
Piroshkis are kind of like hot pockets, except they’re usually Russian, and are hopefully homemade and haven’t just come out of a microwave. Know that this Russian stand is not a secret—a massive line starts to form just before lunchtime, so prepare to wait. Food-wise, there have savory pastries with fillings like smoked salmon pate or beef and cheese. But don’t overlook the sweet ones filled with chocolate and hazelnuts.
Pike Place Chowder
Is this a tourist trap? Yes, it most certainly is. But they make good clam chowder, and we’re not going to look a sourdough bread bowl in the face and say no thank you. So wait in line, get your creamy soup, sprinkle some oyster crackers inside, and welcome to Seattle. Beware—the Pepto Bismol-looking smoked salmon chowder is heavy on the cream cheese and doesn’t really taste great, so stick to the clam.
Beecher's Handmade Cheese
Beecher’s is a factory operation that serves incredible mac and cheese as well as grilled cheese sandwiches that are so good you couldn’t possibly make them at home. Sneaking in and grabbing a free cube of their flagship cheddar is a Seattle rite of passage, but buying a bowl of cheesy penne is the law. Don’t break the law.
Matt's In The Market
If you can only do one sit-down lunch at the market, Matt’s should be the one. It’s on the second floor of a building overlooking the iconic “Public Market” sign, and it works just as well for a solo meal at the bar as it does for a big group lunch. Food-wise, you won’t regret their iconic fried catfish sandwich and an order of homemade potato chips with hot bacon dip.
We could count on one hand all of the big m&m cookies we’ve come across in Seattle. But, our absolute favorite is at Three Girls Bakery, which is really just a big glass pastry case and a cash register. All of the baked goods are excellent, from the peanut butter cookie stuffed with an entire Reese’s cup to the raspberry shortbread crumble bar. Grab some dessert to-go, and then head to their sit-down counter next door for a salmon salad sandwich.
Mee Sum Pastry
Show up to this dim sum spot at around 11 when the rest of the market is still waking up, and you’ll catch the staff at Mee Sum pinching shumai dumplings, skewering meat, and folding potsticker dough. Order a medley, and enjoy them as you walk around the rest of the market. Everything is delicious here, but we highly recommend the steamed BBQ pork hum bao.
DeLaurenti Food & Wine
DeLaurenti is an Italian specialty market that carries a ton of local and imported products like crackers, jams, olive oils, nuts, chocolate, spices, and even potato chips (get a big bag of the Torres black truffle ones). Not to mention the upstairs section with hard-to-find wine and beer, and a great selection of charcuterie and cheese. We suggest making your own spread of these things as a DIY lunch, or grabbing a cold cut sandwich from their front case. For dessert, don’t forget filled-to-order cannolis. Or the incredible homemade chocolate chip cookie. Or the delicious Linzer tarts. Just get all of it.
Jack's Fish Spot
There are a lot of sit-down spots in this area that serve fish and chips. But sometimes you just feel like standing while eating fried stuff, and we don’t blame you (we blame state fairs). At Jack’s, you won’t wait a long time for breaded fish or grilled salmon with hand-cut fries and dill tartar. Everything smells amazing, too, so you’ll probably make strangers jealous as you walk by with your paper tray.
Michou Deli has a display case of pre-made deli sandwiches waiting to be pressed into paninis, as well as ready-made salads and baked goods. All of it is excellent—they serve some of the best fast-casual lunches in the city. The paninis here are all delicious (get anything involving the roasted chicken). End things with the banana cake or a cornflake Oreo bar.
If you’re looking for good sushi, Kashiba might be the best you’ll find in the city. The upscale space is good for a big reunion, birthday, celebration of getting a new job when you hate your current one, or basically anything celebratory that should entail a pricey omakase dinner. The owner Shiro was trained by Jiro (who you know from Netflix), so yes, this place means business.
The Pink Door
The Pink Door has the best Italian food at Pike Place. It’s an upscale space that doubles as a venue for live music and burlesque (think trapeze artists dangling above you and your pappardelle bolognese), and the lasagna here is outstanding. When it’s nice out, take advantage of the patio, which has floral tablecloths and views of the water.
Chan is a cool Korean gastropub where you’ll eat a lot of little things that end up being a very big dinner. There’s an open kitchen, and the menu has fried rice cakes, bibimbap, seafood scallion pancakes, poke, and bigger entrees like Korean braised short ribs. But you’re really here for the spicy pork or bulgogi sliders. It’s pretty small inside, so we don’t suggest coming with a group.
Kastoori Grill serves great Indian and Nepalese food. And while the lunch buffet is popular, we like to come here for a quiet dinner. Dishes like tikka masala, gobi aloo, and saag paneer are excellent, but you shouldn’t skip the Nepalese dishes—especially the Tibetan chicken momo, which come with a delicious tomato chutney. For dessert, order some mango soft serve.
Tankard & Tun
Tankard & Tun is a small space that serves beer from Pike Brewing Company. It’s a solid option when you’re looking for something a bit nicer, but still want to experience the chaos of the market. Expect upscale pub stuff like frisee salads, chowder, and fish and chips.
Zig Zag Cafe
Zig Zag is primarily a cocktail bar. But you’d be missing out if you didn’t order some of their excellent Greek food. You’re in good hands with the marinated chicken kebabs with tzatziki, spiced lamb pastitsio, and a sesame-heavy hummus you’ll want by the quart. We suggest taking a date here when you’re trying to heat things up, because you’ll probably be forced to sit on the same side of a booth.
We like Rachel’s not just because the ginger beer here is really refreshing, but also because it’s both touristy and “cool” at the same time. The flavors range from classic and caramelized pineapple vanilla to pink guava. Also, you can get your drink plain, as a float with soft serve ice cream, or as a mule spiked with vodka. Sorry for making you choose between ice cream and vodka.
Jarrbar reminds us of a galley-style kitchen on a houseboat, but in a charming way. We can’t think of any other cocktail bar we’d rather drink a gin fizz alongside some jamón Iberico, crackers, tinned fish, and Tim’s potato chips (a.k.a. the bread and butter of the Cascades). If you’re looking for a real escape from the tourists, this is the place. Also, don’t miss the smoked salmon rillettes.
The day is done, and now all you want is a drink and a little something to soak it up. Head to Radiator Whiskey. It’s a small, dark cocktail spot that specializes in whiskey (we hope that’s clear) and interesting bar snacks like cornflake-crusted chicken livers, fried beef lip terrine, and lamb neck sloppy joe sandwiches. If you plan ahead and order in advance, you can even get an entire smoked pig’s head. Drink-wise, we suggest The Piledriver (bourbon, Aperol, lemon, mint, and rhubarb bitters).
If the market crowds are too much for you to handle, escape the hot mess at Northwest Tastings. It’s the official tasting room for White Heron Cellars, a winery in Quincy. The wine itself isn’t amazing, but it’s wine, and sometimes that’s good enough. Use the peaceful space to look out at the water from the window with cheese, charcuterie and wine by your side.
We like The Alibi Room for serious late-night cocktails. To get to it you have to venture inside Post Alley, where hundreds of people stick their regurgitated chewing gum on a brick wall for no reason—but the drinks here (and the spicy mac and cheese) are worth it. You can pretty much order any well drink you want, but we suggest going for something signature, like their rosemary brown sugar sazerac.
Old Stove Brewing Company
If you’re looking for beer, go to Old Stove. It’s a massive waterfront operation with mash tuns on display, plenty of communal picnic tables, and a menu of food pairings that are both tasty and not so heavy, like flatbreads, salads, and soft pretzel bites with beer cheese dip.
You’re going to be tempted by the wine-tasting stands at the market, but do you really want to sample Columbia Valley reds while crowds looking for Chukar Cherries bump into you with their oversized backpacks? Le Pichet is the sister spot to Cafe Presse, one of our favorite places for French food. Get a bottle of champagne and some charcuterie, and if you’re still hungry, order the roasted chicken that takes an hour to prepare. Better order more wine while you wait.
Shug's Soda Fountain and Ice Cream
Shug’s Soda Fountain should be your go-to for dessert at the Market. They serve classics like New York-style egg creams and banana splits, but also more modern creations like prosecco sorbet floats and a s’mores hot fudge sundae made with homemade marshmallows (they roast these in front of you with a blowtorch).