Take a morning stroll through Pike Place Market in Seattle and you just may be serenaded by a few fishmongers. They are the sirens of the sea who’ll seduce you into buying the fresh catch of the day, and it’s bound to be among the best fish you’ve ever tasted. The only things more fresh and tempting than the seafood are the rainbows of fresh vegetables and fruits and colorful cut flowers. Where else can a generous bouquet be had for only $10-$15?
Seattle is one of the most sensory pleasing cities in the USA. There’s the Seattle sound in music and a distinctive hipster/lumberjack fashion look to ward off the chilly dampness in the air. Art and design flourish. Glass blown sculptures are a signature of the city, and a museum is dedicated to local legend, Dale Chihuly (check out the café inside).
Pacific Northwest food and drink are among the biggest attractions, and all trips start at Pike Place Market. The crowds grow throughout the day so go early for a stroll and breakfast when it is a tad quieter. If biscuits and eggs are your ideal morning meal, you are in luck with two options: Honest Biscuits in the market and nearby Biscuit Bitch (1909 1st Ave). Or try the flaky croissants at Le Panier, the French bakery in Pike Place. Seattle is also known for its many coffee bars and bean roasters. It’s the home of Starbucks, and you have to smirk at the long lines outside the original store in Pike Place Market when so many of its locations are elsewhere.
Seafood reigns supreme: fresh Pacific oysters and other mollusks, salmon of all kinds and the strangely phallic geoduck clam rest atop layers of crushed ice at the market. Oyster bars are abundant, and you could spend a lazy afternoon slurping down a few dozen on the half shell with a crisp Washington State Riesling or French Chablis. Here are a few to try:
• Elliott’s Oyster House where the oysters and view of the bay are not to be missed. (1201 Alaskan Way)
• Taylor Shellfish is one of the city’s top oyster purveyors and has oyster bars around the city.
• Emmett Watson’s Oyster Bar is a tiny, tucked away restaurant that received a James Beard Foundation “America’s Classic” award. (1916 Pike Place)
• Bar Melusine and The Walrus and The Carpenter are both owned by James Beard Award-winning Chef Renee Erickson. (1060 E Union St & 4743 Ballard Ave NW)
Land lovers need not worry. There is plenty to eat from the local farms and growers, and many restaurants are committed to supporting them.
• Chef Maria Hines is a pint size chef with a sizeable presence throughout Seattle and is recognized for her commitment to sustainability and organic cooking. Her flagship restaurant, Tilth, serves new American fare, while Agrodolce is her love letter to southern Italy and Sicily. (1411 N 45th St & 709 N 35th St)
• Chef Tamara Murphy calls her menu ”earth to plate” at Terra Plata with a focus on local farmers. Luckily she holds back seats for walk-in customers since this restaurant is drawing raves since opening. (1501 Melrose Ave)
• Angela and Ethan Stowell own several restaurants some with a Mediterranean flair including How To Cook a Wolf, an homage to the late food writer, MFK Fisher, and Staple and Fancy. (2208 Queen Anne Ave N & 4739 Ballard Ave NW)
• Husband and wife duo, Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi, own four restaurants with an Asian twist including Joule, a Korean steakhouse; Trove, specializing in Korean barbecue; and Revel, serving noodles, dumplings, savory pancakes and other Asian street fares. (3506 Stone Way N, 500 E Pike St, & 403 N 36th St)