You may know downtown Seattle’s Pike Place Market as an outdoor farmers market where flying fish soar through the air. But to a local Seattleite, the pockets of the Market exemplify much more than just a place to sit on a carved bronze pig for a candid snapshot. So then, what is “the Market” to a native Pac-N-Westerner?
Let’s dive in to the rich local culture nice and easy by first addressing the rain. It is true that the Pacific Northwest is usually wet due to the constant drizzle and grey from looming marine air. But that doesn’t inhibit Seattleites from living each day to the fullest. They strap on their galoshes and head out. Everything in Seattle – including the Pike Place Market – is a “rain or shine” event.
Navigate the Market like a Pro
Allow yourself a full-day to get lost among the passageways that weave through the old market. Around every turn you will find a favorite local spot and a delighted Seattleite to help you find your way.
The first stop? The first store—the flagship Starbucks store, that is, (otherwise known as coffee Mecca,) for some morning caffeine. Check out the first logo still dressed on familiar paper coffee cups while pumping some zoot into your step. To find the store: scan for a small alacritous crowd forming around Bo Willie and the Market Crew as they croon true American roots and blues on the café doorstep.
Pick up some flowers for your home space or your hotel room—a must for combating overcast skies. There is a batch of farmers from counties across the state bringing gorgeous, large arrangements to market stands for prices as low as $7.00.
The produce is so exceptionally plump and juicy you’ll swear it was enhanced by genetic modification… until the competing vendors sliver off a fresh bite for you to taste and you realize that only pure organic goodness can burst so brightly with such mouth-watering flavor.
Sit down for a Dungeness Crab Benedict at Etta’s. This delicious bistro brunch spot displays an authentic Northwest menu featuring [our favorite] seasonal ingredients.
Pop into Left Bank Books, a not-for-profit bookstore that is beloved by the locals who need something to read while stuck indoors half of the year. Maybe your great literary find will even inspire a great write.
Press your nose against the window and watch the expert “cheesemongers” at Beecher’s describe the store’s entire inventory of farm-fresh cheeses… from 4-Year Aged Flagship to the “World’s Best Mac n’ Cheese.”
Head to the Steelhead Diner for classic Canadian “drunk food” Poutine (fries with melted cheese and gravy,) then wash it down with a breakfast martini: blueberry vodka shaken cold and served straight up with a slice of crispy bacon. Yum!
Gaze out to the icy Puget Sound as you prepare your palate for cold-water Pacific seafood. Look down at the table: it has arrived. You are at Cutter’s, a Sound-side haunt for vodka, views of transport ferries and local oysters on the half-shell.
Wander down Post Alley to Sur la Table. The cheese graters at this gourmet kitchen store are a tad overpriced, but the in-store cooking classes are worth every penny.
Enjoy a stout and some classic corned beef at Kell’s Irish Pub in Post Alley. On St. Patrick’s Day there is a line extending several city blocks—the rest of the year, this community gathering spot serves live music and good times to adoring locals.
Wander into Market Spice behind the flying fish counter for some “Market Spice Tea,” always brewed and on hand. The deep musky flavors of rich holiday-y spices will warm up even the darkest days. It is enjoyed all year long.
Head to the World Spice Merchants behind the Market and first, just breathe deeply… the aroma will enfold and entrance you. This charming spice and tea boutique offers gourmet delights as obscure as Himalayan Salt Rock and as whimsical as Tasmanian Pepperberry Tea.
As the day turns to night, scoot to the Showbox for live music from the revered local scene and beyond. This inviting venue is swanky and sexy… and so are the acoustics.
Finish your day with a nightcap at the hippest of Seattle lounges—the ZigZag Café. Tucked between the Market and the viaduct, this chic lounge is dedicated to small plates, people watching, and cocktails masterfully mixed by Murray Stenson, named by Playboy Magazine as one of the ten best bartenders in the world. “The Zag,” as locals refer to it, frowns on pretentiousness and is arguably the best bar in Seattle.
You see, this year-round outdoor market is a favorite place for locals (and guests) to collect; to eat, learn, and browse local goods and artisan goodies. But perhaps the best part of the Market is the welcoming people of “the Emerald City”—bursting with civic pride and eager to guide you—making this tightly-knit community wide open to the public any time of the year.