There are a few tourist attractions in Seattle that locals rarely visit, like the Space Needle. Pike Place Market is not one of those places. This legendary Seattle institution is 10 levels and houses more than 200 independently owned businesses, including more than 120 operated by artists and craftspeople. Shoppers can find irreverent, eclectic, unusual artwork and home goods of every design and style here: Hand-painted decorative rocks; jewelry boxes hand carved from wood; silver, copper, and brass bracelets hammered by hand; and soap made from goat’s milk are just the beginning of the products that are for sale in the market. You don’t have to be an out-of-towner to appreciate this embarrassment of riches.
There’s so much to see in the market even if you’re not shopping. First timers will probably want to drop a coin in the market’s mascot, Rachel the Pig, then head to Post Alley to take a selfie in front of the Gum Wall — a right of passage for all tourists. And while I want to assure you that it is totally fine to skip a visit to the world’s first Starbucks, which is always mobbed by crowds, it’s clearly a popular destination, too. There are lots of other attractions nestled deep within the market, too, like the Giant Shoe Museum and Rummage Around, an expensive market within the market that sells all sorts of vintage finds, from VHS tapes to action figures.
All this is to say that you’re probably going to need some help navigating the many vendors and restaurants you’ll encounter on your next trip. The market will likely take several trips to experience fully, and probably a few years to become an expert at navigating the market on your own. To get you started on your journey, there are several places that everyone stopping by the market for the first time needs to visit.
Where to eat in Pike Place Market
Mee Sum Pastry: This tiny, no frills store front has been operating out of Pike Place Market since 2007. People in the know line up outside Mee Sum Pastry’s small window for the shop’s barbecue pork hum bow, but you can also get crab rangoon and pot stickers here, along with a selection of Chinese pastries.
The Crumpet Shop: Located in the Pike Place Market since 1976, this is a market classic and an essential stop. You can buy scones and crumpets here (a delicate baked good close to a english muffin) with both sweet and savory toppings like eggs, tomato, jam, butter, ricotta, pesto, and honey, to name a few.
Turkish Delight: This shop near the end of market sells exactly what it says it does. Turkish delights, for those who don’t know, are rectangular powdered sugar dusted confections made from jelly and ingredients like pistachio and dates. Despite a loyal following, one Seattle resident told me that the shop has courted controversy because it inconsistently keeps the treats in stock.
Piroshky Piroshky: Prepare yourself for a long line if you plan to stop by Piroshky Piroshky, but rest assured that the wait is worth it. One of the most iconic shops in the market, this tiny store front entices visitors with warm dough filled with options like sausage, smoked salmon pate, and chocolate hazelnut cream.
Biscuit Bitch: This restaurant might be Southern-inspired, but it’s a Seattle institution. Known especially for its gravy, the Biscuit Bitch menu is focused on biscuit sandwiches with toppings like Spam, over easy eggs, or Louisiana hot links. The perfect spot for breakfast to fuel for your Pike Place Market excursion.
Lunch and dinner
Le Pichet: This eclectic French bistro has a stellar reputation among locals. Eater called it one of the city’s 38 essential restaurants, and Seattle Magazine named it one the 23 best dinners in Seattle. Decadent snacks like pork pâté, chicken liver, fried ham, and almonds sauteed in olive oil are served alongside French wines.
Pasta Casalinga: This small counter nestled inside Pike Place Market has a casual atmosphere but is nonetheless serious about rustic Italian cooking. Pasta Casalinga specializes in pasta of course, but probably not the varieties most people are used to (there are a whole lot of different Italian pasta shapes and varieties after all). Though the menu at Pasta Casalinga changes frequently, you’ll find pasta like casarecce and cresto di gallo here, paired with ingredients from local Washington state farms and sustainably harvested and caught seafood from Pacific Northwest waters.
Pike Place Chowder: Located in Post Alley, a charming cobblestone street hidden behind the main market, Pike Place Chowder serves what it calls “soul-satisfying” seafood soup. Creamy, packed with fresh vegetables, and made fresh daily, visitors flock to this shop to warm up with a cup of chowder on Seattle’s many (many) overcast days.
Il Bistro: Known for its romantic atmosphere, Il Bistro serves classic Italian dishes in a space that has been captivating Seattlites for almost 40 years. This is a great spot to stop by at night, especially if you’re looking to enjoy a sumptuous meal with someone you love.
Ghost Alley Espresso: Situated beneath the market’s main entrance, near the famous Gum Wall, Ghost Alley Espresso features a quick service walk up window where patrons can pick up a cup of coffee before traversing the rest of the market. Named in honor of many supposed ghosts that call this part of the market home, visitors should skip the country’s first Starbucks (also located in the market) and come here instead.
Rachel’s Ginger Beer: If you think ginger beer isn’t diverse enough to require an entire shop, you’re underestimating Rachel’s Ginger Beer. The menu of ginger beer flavors at this stylish shop include cucumber and tarragon, blood orange, and caramelized pineapple. The treats don’t end there: You can also pick up pineapple Dole whip or a cocktail to top off your visit.
JarrBar: This intimate cocktail bar serves rum punch and margaritas alongside tapas – Spanish small plates that feature peppers, marinated olives, and cured meats. Like many other Pike Place Market favorites, JarrBar is small but cozy, and stylish.
Radiator: The whiskey and bourbon list at this cocktail bar is impressively long – and slightly intimidating. But if you’re a spirits enthusiast who wants to peruse a long list of both niche and popular liquors, stop by Radiator for a cocktail and a chat with the knowledgeable staff.
Where to shop in Pike Place Market
DeLaurenti: The grocery at DeLaurenti is filled with all the gourmet and artisanal snacks and condiments your heart desires. There are pickles, peppers, honey, jam, olive oil, and every variety of pasta you can imagine. But the goodies don’t end there. Peruse the cheese case and the wine shop, and don’t forget to swing by the case for Italian sandwiches. Build a custom picnic here and enjoy it in Gasworks park.
Beecher’s Handmade Cheese: You’re likely to hear from locals that Beecher’s is an essential stop for gooey, creamy grilled cheese sandwiches and mac and cheese, but the real win here is the cheese shop. Stocked with carefully crafted cheese made with milk local to Washington state, Beecher’s sells cheese platters to take home.
Sosio’s Fruit and Produce: There is an abundance of fresh produce at Pike Place Market, and as such, it will likely be difficult to decide where to shop for items like berries, corn, tomatoes, and citrus fruit. But local consensus is that the best of the best is Sosio’s Fruit and Produce stand. Seasonal produce is usually locally sourced, but Sosio’s works with farmers all over the country to bring fruit and vegetables to Seattleite. The beefsteak tomatoes from San Diego are especially popular, but anything with an “OMG” sign next to a produce item is best.
Pure Food Fish Market: Most people will tell you the number one place everyone needs to visit at least once is Pike Place Fish Co., which is famous for the fishmongers who toss around salmon in full view of awe-struck tourists. However, Pure Food Fish Market offers salmon, crab, lobster, scallops, and a variety of shellfish that is just as good – though perhaps a little less well known. Jack’s Fish Spot, where you can order oyster fries drenched in clam chowder, fish tacos, fish and chips, and many other dishes at the seafood bar, is another great option.
MarketSpice: This is a legendary Pike Place Market shop. You’ll smell the smokey, rich aroma of an eclectic mix of herbs and spices before you see it. Any kind of spice you can possibly imagine can be found here. There are the classics like cardamom, but you can also find bebere and dill salt, as well as spice blends intended specifically for dishes like eggs and fajitas. There’s also a large selection of teas, in flavors like almond pear and acai blueberry.
Flower Market – This isn’t exactly one stall, but more a stretch of the market dedicated to vendors who sell a rainbow of fresh and dried bouquets, from bunches of multi-colored tulips to wispy sprigs of lavender. Even if you’re not in the market for fresh flowers, it’s worth meandering this stretch of market just to take in and enjoy the wondrous visual spectacle.