The Best Way To Explore Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market (aka “The Soul of Seattle”) is one of Seattle’s most popular tourist destinations and a beloved local gem. It’s “home to more than 200 year-round commercial businesses; 190 craftspeople and approximately 100 farmers who rent table space by the day; 240 street performers and musicians; and more than 300 apartment units…”

There’s so much to see, hear, do, and of course, EAT. (After all, it is a produce market.) So how does one do it all?

I’ve been in Seattle for 8 months now, and people love visiting me here… much more than when I was in Boston. And what I have found to be the most efficient way of getting them all up to speed is going on a food tour.

Why a food tour?

I want to believe that our stomachs are bottomless pits, but it’s just not true. And with so many amazing merchants and food stops in the market, portion control is key. If you are exploring the market alone, I highly recommend a food tour so you are not emptying your wallet on leftover food you cannot finish and also, so that you are not only visiting 3 places because you couldn’t pace yourself. See, this is a plan to avoid self-pity!

My first Pike Place food tour was with Savor Seattle Food Tours. They introduced me to the heavy hitters of the market:

  • Pike Place Fish (where they famously throw fish)
  • Frank’s Quality Produce
  • Pike Place Chowder (Best Chowder in the nation hands down)
  • Daily Dozen Doughnuts
  • Piroshky Piroshky
  • Beecher’s Cheese
  • Chukar Cherries
  • MarketSpice
  • Etta’s Seafood Restaurant

Santino, our guide, was entertaining and extremely knowledgeable. Pictured here, hogging our Beecher’s Mac N’ Cheese…

I thought I had got a good sense of the market already, but I was even more delightfully surprised when I went on my second food tour with Seattle Bites:

  • Los Agaves
  • Saffron Spice
  • Uli’s Famous Sausage
  • Seattle’s Best Coffee
  • Pike Place Chowder (happily again!)
  • Corner Produce
  • Pure Food Fish Market
  • Lost River Winery
  • Crepe de France

The great thing about food tours is finding what you like and don’t like. And since the market is open year-round, there is always an opportunity for you to return to your favorite places (or even right after the tour)!

The other benefit of going on different food tours means eventually, you’ll be the one leading your friends on a personal food tour. Although the history of the market is fascinating (one of my favorite parts of the tours, no doubt), most people are there to eat. And if you know which places are worth your friends trying, sharing an order between 2+ people is much more manageable than trying to conquer the market by one’s self. Leading the tour yourself means you won’t have to listen to the same fun facts again, and with enough practice, you will be an expert in no time!

If you’re still not convinced, I recommend you checking out the Trip Advisor reviews… these two food tours are ranked #1 and #2 in Seattle Activities. And of course, please check out their web sites for more information and tickets (Savor Seattle Food Tour & Seattle Bites).

I definitely feel like I know the market more completely now, maybe even more than the average Seattleite. I still go back every other weekend and find new things. There’s always something to explore and something for everyone. If you just moved to Seattle, don’t feel ashamed of being a tourist… this is the best way of immersing yourself.