All the Secret Good Stuff at Pike Place Market

How to Dodge the Tourists, Not Get Ripped Off, and Score a Delicious Meal


Is this the Stranger or a Chamber of Commerce brochure?
Remember when visiting Pike Place Market was fun and like going to a fresh food flea market and you didn't have to know how to Dodge the Tourists, Not Get Ripped Off, or need to know how to Score a Delicious Meal because that was never an issue. No? Too bad. Those were good times!
How do you get all the groceries and perishables (i.e. meats, fish) home if you don't drive?
If you didn't already know this then you're just a tourist.

@1, The Stranger is nothing now but advertisements spun as "news"
@2, I never go down to the market starting in mid-April to October to avoid the bulk of the tourists. I just hope the next renovation of it doesn't turn it into Bell Square or Southcenter.....
While I agree that all the places listed are awesome, most of these hardly qualify as "secret." What about all the nooks and crannies of the underground market? Or the little shops buried in the sanitary market? What I've noticed with The Stranger recently isn't just the barely disguised advertising but that a lot of their writing seems aimed at people who've moved to town in the last year. A shameless ploy to attract a new audience from the newcomers or a reflection of the fact that half their writing staff consists of those newcomers? ...both?
@5 Let's nip this one in the bud, bud: I'm a native. I didn't delve into the underground stuff because this article is about food. I love the weird downstairs shops—hell, my passport photo is from the booth in the magic shop—but there isn't food down there. You're perfectly right to say that none of this stuff is secret. The point was to remind you that it exists, it's really fucking easy to get to, and it's shamefully underutilized. The newcomers aren't who I'm concerned about. It's the self-righteous fucks sitting behind their keyboards complaining about this city instead of enjoying it that worry me.

@4 I'm opening all the fat bribes from those small, independent food vendors right now! I'm rubbing them all over myself. It feels amazing. Then I'm going to get in my XJ12 and laugh as I speed to the biggest corporate bank I can find and cash them and buy myself an enormous steak at the Metropolitan Grill, where I will wash it down with several Grey Goose martini's and chuckle smugly at the death of journalistic integrity.

@3 You put it in a backpack, bike panniers, tote bag with cute birds stamped on it, or whatever wrangles your rutabaga and you get on a bus, the light rail, or your bike and go home. This isn't a trip to Costco, if you're leaving with more shit than you can carry, you're doing it wrong.
@6 Chill out man! I saw that you said you've worked in the market so I wasn't calling you names (so maybe return the favor?). I was commenting as much on the general trend of The Stranger as on your article and I suppose that you probably didn't write the headline so that's not your fault. Not trying to be a jerk, but as someone who's neither a newcomer nor a self-righteous fuck complaining about Seattle I appreciate articles that go a little farther than "Intro to Seattle" level. Not to mention that there are some decent food places in the underground. I'm just going off the top of my head here but the candy store (with the candy apples!) and the chinese place with the waterfront view are both pretty great. And lots of great food inside the sanitary market, everytime I go through there I see someplace new.
@6, what the fuck does you comment even have to do with mine? Jesus, no wonder most of the commentators on Slog from even a few months ago are long gone
Close, but not quite. Athenian is rad, Jack's is rad, Frank's is, the Mexican Grocery is for sure. It's all good until...The Daily Dozen Doughnut's? Seriously? If cold doughnuts are your jam, I guess. If not, save yourself a trip, go to Safeway, shell out $1 for a couple of maple bars, throw'em in the science-oven for like 20 seconds and you'll have a vastly superior pastry. Or go to the baller-ass gelato shop just a couple doors down from DeLaurenti's(sp?). That stuff is good.
Wow...are we even going to the same Market??

"just after the lunch rush but before 5 pm" is easily the worst time for crowds in the summer, any day of the week. You've got to get in and out before 11 am to avoid the great mass of the shuffling, dawdling, picture-taking hordes. I advise visitors to get there by 7 am, have breakfast at Lowell's or the Athenian (decent food, not the very best in town, but the views make up for it), walk around and watch the Market wake up, do their shopping when most of the stalls open after 9 am, and get the hell out.

World Spice on Western, right behind the Market, beats the hell out of Market Spice for quality and selection. Take a look at their collection of business cards from hot local chefs, popular restaurants, and artisinal food producers, if you want to see who else thinks so.

Sosio's Fruit and Produce has all kinds of common and exotic fruits and veggies, great quality, and nice people who know their shit and have never steered me wrong. I always head there first for produce.

I like a few things at Bavarian Meats (love their landjäger, but no need to go to the Market for it, they sell it all over town), but when I want sausage, I head for Uli's. Good stuff.

And the best lunch at the Market, and one of the best in town: a blackened halibut sandwich with house-made rosemary mayo on a crunchy baguette, with some house-made coleslaw, at the Market Grill. Everything is super-fresh and done just right. The prices are reasonable and the ringside seat to the madness is free, as the whole world parades by down the Main Arcade. It's the only good reason to stay past 11 am.

Thanks for a good article on the market and making a connection with locals. I don't think that they realize how much we depend on locals, thinking of us as only a tourist destination. Locals really see us through. We need business all year round and we are there for them. What we are on the DayStall craft line are independent micro businesses making our living through our art and craft. Please check out Pike Place Producers on Instagram for the "Secret Good Stuff" of the North Arcade. We truly are more than just $300 Cutting Boards, I promise : ) We would love to have you stop by for a visit "Behind the Table".
You have to be kidding, daily donut, when fresh, are the city's best donut. You must be buying the frosted sprinkle ones, they are intended for sugar sucking infants. Second on Soccio's, they are truely in it for quality- it is an amazing place, been going weekly for over 40 years
Those "shuffling, dawdling, picture-taking hordes" are travelers from all over the planet, who spend their money supporting Pike Place's independent business owners who then pay taxes and bills and most of that money then stays in the state. Many successful businesses grow from there, started by extremely hard working sole proprietors who then create jobs for others. Pike Place Market keeps the unique, original character of our city intact, because hard-won legal protections from big developers are secured by law, and affect the surrounding development as well. If you don't like crowds, please go to the market January through April, Monday- Thursday. That's when your support is needed the most, as a Washington resident. It is one of the only markets of it's kind in the world, where for example a fine artist can sell directly to a customer, year round, seven days a week, for very reasonable rates. The wonderful strong community among those who work there is a beautiful and increasingly rare thing. Pike Place Market greatly contributes to that which makes Seattle one of the worlds finest, most interesting cities.
Excellent reporting on this little known shopping resource.
This story in three words.

Consume, consume, CONSUME!!!

It is getting bad when the April Fool's stories are so identical in quality to one's "real" ones it is impossible to tell the difference. Take this one for example. Sure, it is posted on April 1st. But Slog has become a champion of conspicuous consumption, with The Stranger walking more and more in lockstep with the DSA. So is this a joke post, or a serious post and a joke on the readers?

The world may never know.
Here's the deal, Tobias. I'm a long time reader of The Stranger, and while that's not really a credential I can put on a resume, it does give me the ability to tell you that this writing is not at the level I've come to love over the years I've been reading this newspaper.

First of all, if your title says that this is the secret good stuff in the Market, I will be disappointed when I have been to all of them. If the point of your article is to highlight some of the underutilized spots in the Market, say so in your title. For a long time, I've used The Stranger as my guide to the new restaurants in the city. Its helped me add to the checklist in my head of new places to try, and I'm worried that I won't have that resource anymore. This city is wonderful because of its constantly growing restaurant scene, and I hope that I will be able to continue to trust The Stranger for recommendations of new places to try.

I'm not sure I understand where you're coming from with your comment about rubbing money all over your body, but when you use an article to point out the largest, most easily noticed vendors in Pike Place as "secrets", there's not a whole lot people can assume about it other than it being some sort of advertisement. Especially after seeing the other sponsored posts that have come up lately. This assumption is likely incorrect, but it's there.

Lastly, insulting the people that are reading your articles is simply the best way to get them to stop reading them. If you hold that much contempt for your audience, then it's no wonder you aren't interested in hearing our point of view. I don't know how else to show my disdain for the recent crop of articles other than to comment on them. When I open The Stranger, I expect to learn about the wonderful city I live in, not be insulted by the reporter that chose to write about everything I already knew. If you want to continue to keep the current readership you have, try to learn what we want from the comments we post. Ask questions, read old articles, introduce yourself to us. If you want a new readership, keep doing what you're doing.
Another article that reads like a press release. The Stranger is really getting stranger. :(
I've eaten at every single spot in Pike Place that offers lunch. Here is what I tell people as the real "secrets" -- I almost hesitate to put this here but I'm leaving town soon so screw it:
The Mexican place next the Starbucks (Mexican Grocer, I think?) is THE BEST PLACE to get lunch if you happen to have totally screwed up and you are eating there in August at noon. Every other place is overly crowded and over expensive. It looks like a place that just sells Goya products and spices, but they serve hot food, too (burritos, tamales, tacos, etc). The door is ALWAYS blocked by the stupid long line for Starbucks, so hardly anyone is ever in there. The food is priced decently, is copious in portions, and the women that work there are incredibly sweet. There are no tables, but if you are there on a beautiful day just eat in the park.

The Persian place (Farvahar) that is next to (behind) chowder / Three Sisters is fantastically good. Get the "burger." It is amazing. No tourist EVER eats here. Sucks for them.

These are what I consider the secrets of the market, personally.
No mention of that crumpet shop? I thought it was pretty good when I tried it.
The crumpet place is good, though they frequently close early in the summer because it's "too toasty to toast!," so plan accordingly (ie, breakfast).
@18, that's what I'm looking for! Thanks for the recommendations, can't wait to try them!
@21 My pleasure. I jammed up the names of "Three Girls Bakery" and "Sisters Cafe" -- I always do that. I meant Sisters Cafe, the place between RGB and Pike Place Chowder.

The other place to go for super sweet service is actually one that Tobias recommended -- Bavarian Meats. Sometimes I'll go there just for the nice employees. ;-)

What do you want Fish to be when you buy it?

That's right. Fresh.

Now, how fresh will it be if you put it in a bag, and have to walk 20 minutes into a tunnel, wait 15 minutes on a bus, and then 40 minutes to ride the bus and then 15 minutes to walk home?

Not too good there.

When people spend good money to buy fresh food they want to put it in their car, maybe in a portable cooler run off the cigarette lighter, or, like me, they turn up the A/C and put the bag under the dash (I do this when I get my seafood at B&E Meats in Des Moines, or beef and chicken at Green Valley Meats in Auburn).

This is the other half of the equation. Getting the stuff home...freshly.
Another vote for Farvahar, but for me it's all about the very simple and exceedingly delicious kookoo sabzi.
@23 Seriously?

Your fish will still be fresh unless you are carrying it unwrapped in your pocket or something. Even in your unrealistic / worst case scenario example you are talking about 90 minutes. A piece of fish wrapped in paper and tucked in your bag will be just fine. We don't even have to deal with warm weather here.

Think about steak; many chefs actually recommend letting your steak sit out on the counter to warm up to room temperature before cooking. This usually takes a minimum of 30 minutes to an hour while sitting unwrapped on the counter. Meat is mostly water and makes for a great insulator, it will hold the cold for your commute.

Finally, I doubt your concerns are really anything more than an opportunity to disparage public transit but just in case let me offer this suggestion: I am absolutely sure that any one of the vendors would be more than happy to give you a little plastic bag of ice to pack next to your meat for the journey home. They aim to please.
More of my less well-known (maybe?) favorites: the Turkish place on the north side that makes turkish delight and some amazing lentil soup. Actually it's called Turkish Delight! There's a mediterranean place that's hidden in the back of the building on the north side below Post Alley called Sabra's that I really enjoy. There's Pike Place Chinese which has the great waterfront view. And then there's places like Piroshky Piroshky, Three Girls Bakery, Taxi Dogs, Rachel's Ginger Beer, etc. And that's just (mostly) restaurants!
I enjoyed reading this. Fun, and thorough.
More please.
#13--Oh, please, get off your high horse. I don't hate tourists--not all of them, anyway. I actually hang out on a couple of online forums where people planning visits to Seattle post their questions, and try to help them out. I enjoy sharing Seattle with them, and not just because they're bring many dollars to our wonderful city. Many of these folks, I'm sure, are lovely and considerate people who will make fine guests. But when I'm at the Market on a mission, and I know exactly where I'm trying to go, and the ones who are neither lovely nor considerate are blocking the passageway in front of me, texting, or chatting with their friends, or taking MANY photos, or just stopped, gaping, open-mouthed, oblivious to the fact that they could simply move a few feet to the side to do that, and not have quite so many people hating every wretched cell in their oxygen-wasting bodies..."shuffling, dawdling, picture-taking hordes" is one of the nicer things I'm calling them in my mind.

(And I do shop at the Market on weekdays, when I'm not working--but of course, when I'm not working, I have a whole lot less money to spend. When I have a job, I have more money but less freedom to shop at those off hours. If you know of a way to fix that, do let me know.)
The best thing in the Market is sitting on the second floor of Lowell's on the market side, and watching the tourists. Ten times more interesting than the water view, which palls after a few minutes. The tourists never get boring. And they never look up, so they can't even see you looking at them.
I'd go to the market more if their website, or the websites of any of the vendors, had real directions and maps. Where is X building, and where in that building are you? At this point I basically only go to the places along Pike Pl because at least I won't spend 20 minutes wandering around randomly trying to find them.

Also, public transit haters, I don't drive and have always done all my grocery shopping on foot/transit. You adapt: I don't buy soda or beer because they're too heavy. Bulk goods are your friend because you can get them in smaller quantities and don't have the weight of containers. Oh, and ice cream in the summer is a no-go. Spend that $5 on a sundae at a fancy ice cream place instead and you'll be eating less ice cream, which is better anyway. Your meat and fish will be just fine in your bag for less than an hour.