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 Storyville Coffee, Pike Place Nuts, Three Girls Bakery, Mariscos Mexico, Northwest Tastings, and Bavarian Meats.
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.
If you’ve ever been downtown looking for a place to get some work done, you’ll know that it’s a tough ask - unless you mooch off the wifi from an office building lobby and sit on the floor, which we don’t recommend. What we do recommend is popping inside Storyville Coffee. It’s removed from the whirlpool of other people breathing in your personal space, there’s a great view out the window, and pretty much everything in here, from the cashew milk to the mocha syrup, is made in house. Snag a table and get some work done with help from a macchiato and quite possibly the best-kept secret in the market: the Storyville cinnamon roll.
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.” Some of our favorites are The Canadian Bitch, with banana and maple-infused peanut butter, or the Bitchwich, with eggs, cheese, sausage, gravy, and hot sauce.
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.
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.
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. Ghost Alley doesn’t serve food, but you’re here for the coffee. You should probably try a straight espresso, but you can also order some high-achieving latte flavors like Nutella mocha or blueberry cheesecake.
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 mini totem pole replicas 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).
We’re always surprised that this little taco stand doesn’t have a line down the block. The seafood tacos are delicious, like the simply fried cod, the nut-crusted halibut, or our favorites, the Acapulco shrimp (which involve marinated shrimp topped with mango salsa and a creamy sauce). Just remember to bring cash with you - they haven’t been able to process credit cards for months.
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.
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 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.
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 the 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.
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 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 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 the filled-to-order cannolis. Or the incredible homemade chocolate chip cookie. Or the delicious Linzer tarts. Just get all of it.
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 drool 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 with the roasted chicken). End things with the banana cake or a cornflake Oreo bar.
If you’ve ever had brunch at Lola, you know that the bacon there is special. It’s thick, smoky, and almost steak-like. Now, imagine that bacon in a BLT, or on a stick. That’s what you’ll find at Bavarian Meats, a small German grocery store that also serves things like spaetzle and schnitzel. We recommend getting something with bacon, or the brat sandwich.
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 has the best Italian food in 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 bowls, seafood scallion pancakes, poke, and bigger entrees like Korean braised short rib. 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 dinner. Dishes like tikka masala, gobi aloo, and saag paneer are excellent, but you shouldn’t skip the Nepalese dishes - especially the chicken momo (Tibetan dumplings), which come with a delicious tomato chutney. For dessert, order some mango soft servce.
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 food like frisee salads, chowder, and fish and chips.
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 to eat 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.
Rachel's Ginger Beer
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. We prefer spiked with 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 jamon Iberico and crackers. If you’re looking for a real escape from the tourists, this is the place. Also, don’t miss the smoked salmon rilettes.
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 that’s good enough for us. 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.
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 manchego flatbreads, salads, and soft pretzels with Beecher’s 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 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).