Pike Place Market Wanderings and Beyond

Markets are a must in any destination. No matter where I go, I'm always drawn to the smell of freshly baked pastries, aisles packed with vibrant produce, stalls of freshly caught seafood, and intriguing shops bursting with cool nick knacks. Buzzing with activity, markets are the perfect place to immerse yourself in the local culture.

One of my favourite markets is actually not far from home. Nestled in the heart of Seattle, Pike Place Market is a beloved landmark attracting everyone from locals to tourists, butchers to winemakers, and artists to farmers. 


We started our day early and got to the market as it was yawning to life. Grocers arranged their fruits and vegetables, florists started assembling bouquets, and craftspeople began laying out their handiworks. Our stomachs began to growl so we set off down the cobblestone street in search of breakfast.



The scent of freshly baked bread wafted through the street as we passed by Le Panier. How could we resist? We popped in the classic French bakery and emerged with flaky, buttery croissants. They were devoured in seconds. 

Coffee was next on the breakfast hunt. We came to a narrow storefront and realized it was a Starbucks.






But this wasn't an ordinary Starbucks. Opened way back in 1971, this was the very first Starbucks location ever. Walking into the tiny cafe, I was glad to see it still had its original look and design. The aroma of freshly pulled espresso shots and the sounds of frothing milk bombarded my senses. These are scents and sounds the former barista in me will never get sick of.


The market was in full swing when we emerged from Starbucks. Caffeinated and filled with pastry, we were ready to explore every nook and cranny Pike Place had to offer.


For over a century, Pike Place Market has been the bustling centre for everything fresh, local, and artisanal. Dazzling floral arrangements lined the halls. Fishermen caught the attention of patrons by tossing their catches across the aisle. Grocers gave you a taste of their juiciest fruits.  














Who knew purple carrots existed? I sure didn't!



No trip to Seattle is complete without slurping down some chowder! That's why we popped into Lowell's the moment we spotted it. This beloved Pike Place establishment has been serving up bowls of creamy chowder since 1957.




Rich, thick, and packed with meaty clams, the chowder took me to Cloud 9 and left me all warm inside. The bowl emptied fast but I was far from satisfied. The chowder fiend in me was unleashed. I knew I had to have more! So we said our goodbyes to Pike Place Market and headed down to the waterfront for Ivar's.


Ivar's always brings back fond memories. My parents used to take my brother and I to this seaside fish shack. We'd sit outside by the water's edge and feast on fish and chips, gulp down chowder, and feed way too many French fries to ravenous seagulls.

We trudged through the rain and arrived shortly at Pier 54. The Ivar's Fish Bar looked exactly the same as I remembered it. The only difference was the massive, brand new Ivar's restaurant beside it called Acres of Clams. Wanting to get out of the downpour, we got ourselves a table inside.



We got down to business immediately and ordered pints of local brews, chowders, and fish and chips to share.



At first, I was a bit skeptical because I didn't think the food could rival the Fish Bar's. I was left pleasantly surprised as everything tasted just as great as I remembered.



Stuffed to the brim after our meals, we needed to walk off our bulging food babies ASAP. So we set off and explored a few iconic Seattle sights and attractions. But more on those adventures later, I promise!

The late afternoon rolled around and we were absolutely pooped from all the walking. In desperate need of a pick-me-up, we knew it was time to get re-caffeinated and visit the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room.



Just nine blocks away from Pike Place Market lies a coffee lover's dream.

Every year, Starbucks scours the globe for rare, one-of-a-kind coffee beans. These special beans are brought back to this location, roasted to perfection, and enjoyed in the tasting room by coffee enthusiasts and connoisseurs.






The scent of freshly roasted coffee beans permeated the air. The entire place smelled absolutely divine. Roasters were hard at work whisking beans in various containers, while the tasting room was a hive of activity as patrons sipped their beverages and chit chatted away.

We slipped into the last few seats by the bar and browsed the menu. We had no idea what to try! Everything sounded amazing. Luckily our server came to the rescue and gave us his recommendations: the Brazil Sertaozinho and Paradeisi blend. We got French presses of both.






Now that was some good java! It perked us right up, but unfortunately the buzz disappeared quickly. All the chowder and walking got the best of us and we ended up passing out super early. We awoke with full batteries and appetites and returned to Pike Place Market in search of more tasty treats. The first stop was Piroshky, Piroshky.



No matter what time of day, Piroshky, Piroshky always has a queue out the door. Locals and tourists just can't get enough of these delicious Russian baked goods. For those who don't know, piroshkis are hand-held pies stuffed with sweet or savoury fillings.





Piroshky, Piroshky is famous for combining traditional Eastern European recipes with local flavours and ingredients. For example, the bestselling smoked salmon pate piroshky comes with a Seattle spin and features a smoked salmon, cream cheese, dill, and onion filling. Yum!




We settled for the smoked salmon pate (obviously) and the beef and onion. Personally, I liked the beef and onion piroshky better. The smoked salmon was good too but it tasted a bit too fishy for me.

As we wiped the piroshky crumbs off our faces, we noticed another line had formed right behind us. This time, it was for Pike Place Chowder.


More chowder? YES PLEASE. Normally, I despise waiting in lines but FOMO overpowered my impatience. A line like this must mean phenomenal chowder, right? So we joined the end of the queue, snagged a menu, and began drooling at all the yummy options.



As we inched closer to the front, we noticed the walls were adorned with awards. Pike Place Chowder won "Nation's Best Chowder" for 3 years in a row at the Great Chowder Cook-Off in Newport, Rhode Island; an impressive feat considering no restaurant outside of New England ever won the prize.


Thank goodness for the sampler option because there was no way I could choose just one chowder.



We opted for the New England clam chowder, market chowder, seafood bisque, and Manhattan style chowder with a half order of the dungeness crab roll.



The moment of truth...


This look right here says "holy crap, that's good!" Loaded with the freshest veggies and herbs, and crammed with all sorts of tender seafood, these hearty chowders definitely lived up to the hype.

With an abundance of world-class restaurants, bakeries, and cafes, Seattle is a great place to visit if you love eating as much as I do. I know I've only skimmed the surface of Seattle's food scene so that's why I'm planning to return as soon as I can.

Got a favourite dining spot in Seattle? Tell me all about it and I'll add it to my bucket list! 

Melissa Li

I’m a Canadian girl on a quest to step foot in every continent before I’m 30. You’ll most likely find me chowing down on Japanese ramen, partying at a music festival, hiking to the top of a scenic lookout, cuddling with cats, or chilling out at the beach. I’ve visited over 60 countries so far and hope to inspire you to do the same.

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