Bubblegum Wall Art at Pike Place Market
When people think of Seattle, they usually think of Pike Place Market. We’ve taken a few trips through the market, making our way though the flying fish, fresh flowers, and the many people both locals and tourists alike. No doubt, all the action and people make the Pike a little overwhelming the first few times. We keep talking about our good intentions of using Pike’s like any other local farmer’s market. The produce looks beautiful. The fish is always fresh. There’s even a butcher right inside the market – although he doesn’t seem to get as much traffic as the people throwing fish. Maybe he needs to start throwing some meat out into the crowd!
We had signed up for a restaurant tour of Belltown through one of our Meetup.com groups. The tour sounded great. We would visit 4-5 restaurants, a brew pub, and a wine bar, learning about the different establishments and of course tasting the best they had to offer. About a week before the tour, we got a note saying that the tour had been changed. Rather than a tour of Belltown restaurants, the group event had been changed to a walking tour of Pike Place. I was a little disappointed at first – we had already been to Pike’s a few times and was looking forward to exploring a new neighborhood. But, we decided to stay with the group and go on the Pike tour rather than back-out and wait for the original Belltown tour.
It was a rainy and very windy afternoon. We headed out to meet our group, battling the elements and looking for the meeting place. We had a little difficulty finding it. We actually recognized one of the Meetup people and joined him in our search for the start of the tour. People started to gather. Of course there was one person that couldn’t find the location which caused a little drama at the beginning. But after about 10-15 minutes, a rather boisterous little lady walked in and said ‘Helloooo Meetup Group!’. That was our guide. . .and we were off!
Now, when we heard this was a tour of Pike Place, we just assumed we would be making our way through the market, looking at raw fish and vegetables. Interestingly, we never actually walked through the market! We learned that the market is considered the whole area around the famous building.
Our guide started us off right away with a tasty little donut she had picked up at a stand in the market called the Daily Dozen Doughnut Company
on her way to meet our group. Still warm, it was a great and delicious start to the tour. We later passed that donut stand and the line was enormous!
One of the most interesting parts of the tour to me was the history of the Market that she told us while we made our way down the street to the famous red neon sign we all know. My favorite history lesson was that in the late 60’s they paved over the original brick streets and in the 70’s began lobbying to tear down the market and build a convention center. What were they thinking!? As if avocado appliances and plaid clothing weren’t enough of a scar to leave for the next generation! Oh, one more interesting fact; a franchised business cannot move into Pike Place. Now, some might immediately say, ‘well, the original Starbucks is at Pikes’. That is true. But, the key word there is that it is the original. A business can start at the market and become a franchise, but not the other way around. Making the market a true original!
The DeLaurenti Meat Counter
DeLaurenti Cheese Counter
After our history lesson, we began to make our way into the Economy Building, which stands just to the left of the famous market sign, to our first food destination, the DeLaurenti Specialty Food & Wine shop. This is a great little wine and cheese shop along with a selection of cured meats. We received a little tour and sampled some of their goods. The stand out here was a cured rosemary salami made by the father of Mario Batali, of Food Network fame. We also learned that they do a free wine tasting with cheese every Saturday from 2:00 -4:00. Definitely on the list for a future Saturday afternoon.
Our next stop was a ‘bubblegum wall’. Now, coming from San Luis Obispo, home of the infamous Bubblegum Alley, we felt that Seattle stole our idea! Basically, this is a wall in the market that has thousands of pieces of gum on it – and I’m sure hundreds more get added every week. Luckily we didn’t sample anything here. Just a few snap shots and we were on our way.
Next stop was a little gelato store, Bottega Italiana
. Not something I expected on a tour of the market, but it was some of the best gelato I’ve ever had. I am sure we will be making many trips there during the warmer summer months! We then headed back into the heart of the action. On our walk to the next destination our guide provided a little nugget from another market favorite. I don’t recall the name, but it was a light flakey crust with a potato and onion filling. We ate those as we walked, stopping by a fruit stand for a sample on our way to one of the more unique shops I’ve ever been to. The name of the shop was La Buona Tavola Truffle Cafe and Specialty Foods
. It was a tiny little shop, the group barely fit around their sample table. They provided some of the most interesting and decadent samples of the day. My favorite was a little sprinkle of truffle salt. I had never heard of this, but it was delicious. Also sampled was a potato soup. First tasted plain, then with a little drizzle of truffle oil. We must go back. . .but for now, we were back on the move to a place I had discovered on a previous trip to Seattle back in November while Eric was at his interview – Pike Place Chowder
Members of our tour, just after eating some Pike Place Chowder
Some of the best chowder we have ever had – and they have the awards to prove it. Rumor has it they are no longer allowed to enter their clam chowder into the Great Chowder Cook-off in Newport, Rhode Island. They wanted to allow someone else a chance at winning! A cup of chowder on the chilly Saturday afternoon was a great stop on this tour.
Our last stop with our tour guide was a restaurant called The Pink Door. No mysteries here, it has a pink door. No sign, just the door. We had heard about this restaurant from a few people but had never been in. We were sat at a large table with water, wine and several anti-pasta platters. This was where our tour concluded. It was a perfect end as we got to sit and chat with our new friends and hear a few more interesting tales about the market and its history, as well as some insight into other interesting stories of Seattle’s past. . .but that is for another day, and probably another tour.
The guide left us, but our group wasn’t ready to end the great afternoon we were having. We walked across the alley to a wine bar called The Tasting Room which specializes in boutique Washington wineries. We grabbed a table and did their ‘flight of the day’. One of the winemakers was there and he poured for us while describing the wines. It was a great end to the afternoon, chatting it up with some new friends whom we will see again shortly at another Meetup event!
Now, on to the Belltown Restaurant tour!
Interested in taking this tour? http://www.seattlefoodtours.com/
To see more photos from our tour – click here>>