Monday, January 16, 2017

Pike Place Market - Seattle

Pike Place Market is the most popular tourist destination in Seattle and the 33rd most visited tourist destination in the world with 10 million visitors annually. It opened in 1907 and is one of the longest continuing operated farmers' markets in the U.S. It overlooks the Elliott Bay waterfront and is named after Pike Place, the central street. However, it is quite large. It consists of much more than the Main Arcade, covering many blocks and 8 different buildings. It has all kinds of shops, but what drew me in is the fish mongers and fish restaurants. 
The Main Arcade on Pike Place.

The Pike Place Market District from Wikipedia.
We visited in 1995 when our children were young and I still remember them displaying a monk fish at what is now Pike Place Fish Co. They still have a monk fish on display, but with a twist. One of the men behind the counter had it attached to a line and when customers would get close he would yank the line and cause the monk fish to move, startling the customers.  
Pike Place Fish Co.
On our recent trip I visited three times, twice with Judy and once on my own as it was only about a five block walk down Pike Street from our hotel, the Sheraton Seattle on 6th Avenue. 
The Main Arcade is straight ahead, viewed from Pike Street and 1st Avenue. 
Looking back in the opposite direction, from Pike Place. 
I spent most of my time in the Main Arcade which had a number of fish mongers. 

Pure Food Fish (rated no. 27 out of 168 places to shop in Seattle on Trip Advisor) had an extensive selection of smoked salmon and they were great about giving free samples. I ended up buying a quarter pound of each of alderwood smoked salmon; garlic pepper smoked salmon; cold smoked salmon, which was kind of like lox, but much thicker; and smoked scallops which were a little sweet and smoky. and exceedingly good. I took it back to our hotel where we ate it while we watched t.v. that night and then had the rest for breakfast. It was delicious. 
Pure Food Fish 
King salmon on ice.
Various varieties of smoked salmon.

The cold smoked salmon was like very thick lox. It had the same texture and a similar taste. 
The garlic pepper smoked salmon was moist and had amazing flavor. 
Pike Place Chowder, on Post Ally, a block up from Pike Place, is rated as the no. 4 restaurant out of 3,047 in Seattle on Trip Advisor. I was really excited to visit and try their various chowders. It was raining hard and we were in a line that stretched around several shops. Fortunately the line went fast and we were able to get a seat at the counter inside the restaurant. I really wanted to try their oyster Po Boy and was disappointed to learn that they don't sell them at this location. They sell them at their Pine Street location about six blocks away. So I got a lobster roll which cost $23.00 and it was horrible, the worst I've ever eaten. The lobster in it was mushy, like it had previously been frozen, and it was quite cold. The bread was also cold and it did not have any condiments on it like mayonnaise. I had a lobster roll at the airport in Manchester, NH that tasted better than this thing and it was cheaper too. I also got a cup of smoked salmon chowder which was decent. Judy got a sampler with three kinds of soups: seafood bisque, New England clam chowder and the smoked salmon chowder. The New England clam chowder was by far the best. 
Pike Place Chowder - photo taken some time later when it was not raining. 

Tray of soups.
Lobster roll. It looks pretty good, but the taste was otherwise. 
Side view of the lobster roll.
When I was out on my own I visited the Pike Place Chowder on Pine Street, which is not in the Pike Place Market. This time I had a cup of New England clam chowder, an oyster slider (not available in the other store) and the oyster Po Boy (not available in the other store). The oysters were breaded and fried, still juicy inside, and miles ahead of the lobster roll from the other store. It did have some condiments on the bread, but could have used more. Not the best oyster Po Boy I've had, but good. Overall I liked this store much more. It was less crowded, had nicer seating and a more expanded menu. However, I'm still aghast that either one could be listed as the no. 4 restaurant in Seattle. 
Pike Place Chowder in the Pacific Place mall on Pine Street and 6th Avenue. 
Oyster shooter
Oyster Po Boy
Cross section of oyster Po Boy
Jack's Fish Spot is on Pikes Place across the street from the Main Arcade. It was doing a brisk business, lots of people ordering, so I figured it must be good and stopped. It is rated the no. 228 restaurant in Seattle on Trip Advisor. The seating is very limited and what seating there is is not very nice. It was raining outside and cold, and the place is open to the outside air. I was not able to find a seat, so I ate two raw oysters with cocktail sauce standing up and most of the salty oyster juice, my favorite part, sloshed out before I could eat them. I also got fried oysters with french fries. The oysters were moist inside, but had an off-putting taste, something you don't get with raw oysters. The fries were thin and got cold quickly. They came with a small tear-open catsup packet. I eventually found a seat and some nearby Tabasco sauce, but the cold french fries and lack of condiments doomed them and I dumped much of them in the trash. The conditions were just not conducive to a good meal. 
Jack's Fish Spot
Raw oysters
Fried oysters, cocktail sauce and french fries.
The inside of the fried oyster was kind of a weird combination of cooked and raw. It had an off-putting flavor and I generally love oysters. 
City Fish Co. is in the Main Arcade and I bought some smoked Alaskan scallops and smoked king salmon which came in the form of a popsicle. The sea scallops were a little smaller than the other scallops we had, but tasted about the same, and were great. The smoked king salmon on a stick also tasted nice. The portions here were not as flexible as at Pure Food Fish and they did not have as many varieties of smoked salmon or other fish. 
City Fish Co.

Smoked king salmon on a stick/
There were lots of other shops that I ignored for the most part. I did take a photo of one of the fruit and vegetable stands. 
No store could offer the variety of fresh fish available at Pike Place Market. It is certainly worth a stop when in Seattle. 


  1. The Soup Sampler at Pike Place Chowder was fantastic. I love the idea of being able to try several different kinds in one meal. They were all good.

  2. This is a really fun place to visit.