Experience Pike Place Market One Taste at a Time


by Debbie Stone


BIG BLEND RADIO: Travel writer Debbie Stone shares her experience on Show Me Seattle’s Taste Pike Place Market Food Tour. Listen here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on PodBean or SoundCloud.

When it comes to food, I’m a grazer. You know, the kind of person who likes to eat little bites throughout the day, as opposed to an actual meal. I enjoy munching every few hours as it keeps me on a steady fueling cycle. It’s a habit that makes me very attracted to food tours because typically these experiences involve sampling different foods in small quantities over the course of a few hours. 

On a trip to Seattle in June, I opted to take Show Me Seattle’s Taste Pike Place Market Food Tour. Though I had once lived in the Seattle area and had visited Pike Place countless times, the tour offered me a new and different way to view the market.

Pike Place Market has the distinction of being the longest, continuously operating farmer’s market in the U.S. It is a nine-acre historic site that is its own special community right in the city’s hub. Most visitors, and even some locals, don’t realize that this place is more than a public market. It’s an actual neighborhood comprised of hundreds of farmers, craftspeople, small businesses, and residents. 

The market, via its foundation, not only preserves and protects the historic buildings on site but also helps to support the various groups of individuals who live in the community. It provides affordable and low-income housing, as well as a range of services for low-income seniors, the disabled, and homeless populations via its own organizations and social service agencies. These include a senior center, food bank, childcare center, and preschool, and medical clinic.

Created more than a century ago, Pike Place Market sprung from a desire to connect residents with farmers and has become a place where people can talk to the region’s producers and purveyors of fresh, locally sourced, artisanal, and specialty foods. There are more than 85 local farmers contracted with the market, who sell everything from fruits and veggies to nuts, herbs, honey, and flowers. And then there are specialty food vendors, where you’ll find the catch-of-the-day, meats and cheeses, spices, and teas from exotic locales. 

Show Me Seattle’s tour is a guided, curated experience that includes tastes from a number of stalls and restaurants within the market. The area teems with dozens of cafes, bistros, and takeout stands, where you can eat on-the-go, have a casual bite, or enjoy a leisurely, memorable meal with a picturesque view of Puget Sound. Cuisine options abound from French and Italian to Asian-fusion, quintessential Pacific Northwest, and more. 

On my tour, we enjoyed samples from ten vendors and small businesses. The lineup of locales can change depending on the time and day of the tour but rest assured, no matter what you have, you’ll be tasting some of the best the market has to offer. 

Our guide Will started our group off with slices of apple strudel from Three Girls Bakery. Founded in 1912, this bakery is the oldest continuously operating business in the market and was the first business licensed to women in the city of Seattle. Getting back to the strudel…the crust was buttery and flaky and the filling was bursting with juicy, spiced apple. A great beginning!

We washed down our baked treat at the next stop – Rojo – with fresh, cold-pressed, pineapple juice. Then on to Pure Food Fish Market for some delicious Alderwood smoked salmon. Anyone who’s visited Seattle knows that seafood reigns supreme. And Pure Food Fish Market is nirvana for pescatarians. You’ll find fresh and smoked salmon, wild halibut, shrimp, crab, scallops, and other delights of the sea at this four-generation, family-run business.

At Truffle Queen, we got a chance to learn about the “savory side of chocolate.” I’m talking about the truffles that grow underground and are a natural occurrence of Mother Nature. The shop imports its specialty items from Italy, which is regarded as having the highest quality (and highest-priced) truffles in the world. These babies can cost as high as a whopping $380 an ounce! 

We sampled Black Truffle Italian Sea Salt, Truffled Red Pesto, and Pesto Genovese with Black Truffle. The pesto would be delicious on pasta or in a grilled cheese sandwich, or simply on crackers for a snack.

Truffle Queen also sells other products, including wine, oils, balsamic vinegars, and honey. Our tastings also included a sample of some lemon curd, which was a winner in my book. I could picture, or rather taste this on fresh berries or layered in a cake.  

Mexican street food is the focus at Los Agaves. Owner Jaime Mendez, originally from Mexico City, opened his spot in the market a few years ago. He combines old family recipes and Pacific Northwest ingredients with flavorful results. We had the tacos al pastor, made with pork and adorned with pineapple. 

Pike Place Chowder, we were told, always has a line coming out of its doors as it gets close to lunchtime. The award-winning New England Clam Chowder is creamy, not pasty or overly thick, with loads of meaty clams. Definitely measures up to all the accolades. And that’s not the only chowder available. You can get Manhattan style, crab and oyster, smoked salmon, seared scallop, and for vegans, there’s a lime and coconut concoction.

Next stop was Chukar Cherries, where, you guessed it, cherries in all forms are celebrated. The fruit is grown on a farm in Washington State, then dried for a healthy snack, or coated in chocolate, dusted with powdered sugar, or melded with various essences. We sampled several types, including my favorite, called Cherry Blossoms, which feature tart cherries covered in both dark and white chocolate.

At Piroshky Piroshky, the throngs amass early and continue throughout the day. Everyone’s there for one of the shop’s famed, handheld, made-from-scratch pies with sweet or savory fillings. They’re a little slice of Russia in the Pacific Northwest. Our group got the Smoked Salmon Pate piroshky, a yummy blend of smoked salmon, cream cheese, dill, and onion. If I had any more room in my stomach after the tour, I would have returned to try the Chicken, Curry and Rice, or the Berry Bedazzle. Alas, another time.

I started to salivate when I smelled the freshly baked cookies as we walked into Indi Chocolate. This café and factory makes small-batch, artisan, hand-crafted, bean-to-bar chocolate, along with a range of cacao-based products, from teas and spice rubs to soaps and lotions. The company sources its cacao beans from farmers and cooperatives across the globe. Out of the oven came a sheet of Indi Chip cookies. The buttery, dark chocolate decadence, topped with cacao nibs and sea salt, melted in my mouth and was gone all too soon.

Our last place on the tour was Seatown Market and Fish Fry, one of noted chef, restauranteur, and James Beard award-winner Tom Douglas’s establishments. Seafood, of course, is the obvious emphasis here, especially the cooked-to-order fry baskets. We sampled the cod, which was nice and flaky on the inside and perfectly crispy on the outside. 

During the tour, Will told us about the market’s storied past and regaled us with entertaining stories about its legendary characters. He also provided information about the one-of-a-kind vendors and businesses we visited. 

I was particularly surprised to learn that Pike Place Market is the only historically protected district in the country that was voted on by a public referendum. Years ago, it had been slated to be condemned and razed to build condos. But thankfully, the people protested and the referendum passed. I shudder to think of Seattle without this iconic landmark, beloved by locals and visitors alike. It is undoubtedly the heart and soul of the city. 

After the food tour, you’ll probably want to wander around the market on your own. With its various levels and web of alleys and side streets, the area is a rabbit warren, chockful of small shops specializing in books, art, clothing, toys, pop culture collectibles, and even magic trick supplies. Plenty of hidden treasures to discover! 

Make sure you also spend some time in the crafts market. It’s one of the largest of its kind in the country with unique, handmade ceramics, jewelry, woodwork, metal sculpture, leather goods, wearables, and more. Being able to chat with the artisans only adds to the experience.  


Debbie Stone is an established travel writer and columnist, and regular contributor for Big Blend Radio and Big Blend Magazines, who crosses the globe in search of unique destinations and experiences to share with her readers and listeners. She’s an avid explorer who welcomes new opportunities to increase awareness and enthusiasm for places, culture, food, history, nature, outdoor adventure, wellness and more. Her travels have taken her to nearly 100 countries and to all seven continents.

Gardens, Farms & Local Flavors






About the Author:

Debbie Stone is an established travel writer and columnist, and regular contributor for Big Blend Radio and Big Blend Magazines, who crosses the globe in search of unique destinations and experiences to share with her readers and listeners.

Watch Our Video Visit Link Here
Category , , , ,
No Feedback Received