by Brett Robertson, SVP, Sales and Marketing
Anyone who’s travelled, even domestically, has most likely been the victim of a dreaded tourist trap. You know what I’m talking about. They’re the kind of place that’ll sell you an Eiffel Tower keychain for €15. Found surrounding a major attraction, you’ll get inflated prices, stodgy food and service, menus plastered with pictures of the food (which actually doesn’t look anything like it when it’s served), and often—in the worst kind of tourist traps—the maitre d’s are standing outside yelling at potential prey to lure them into their lair of terrible experiences. No thank you! They’re absolutely horrible. And in the world wide web of definitions, one sums it up best: “A place specifically designed to attract stupid tourists and take their money.”
Seattle, on the other hand – and specifically our city’s centerpiece, Pike Place Market – couldn’t be further from this characterization. While you’ll still be inundated with tourists taking happy snaps of its iconic sign and crowding around the infamous fish throwers, you’ll also find genuine, authentic farmers stalls, artisanal purveyors, and small businesses where you get to speak with the real owner and, frankly, some of the best restaurants and drinking establishments in town.
The Pike Place Market Association has done a tremendous job of keeping it real. I just celebrated the 11th anniversary of my moving to the U.S. (to Seattle specifically) and it’s still a regular haunt for my wife and me. We love it! Here are some of the gems in the market that we adore.
The Pink Door
Independently owned and operated, and producing fresh and local Italian food for 37 years, you’ll find The Pink Door in Post Alley across from Kells Irish Bar. The spot is named after—funny enough—their pink front door. Genius, I know!
The food is amazing and inspired by the owner’s Italian-American roots. The deck on a sunny Seattle Sunday is something else, and Saturday nights feature the Pacific Northwest’s longest running cabaret and burlesque show. A better way to spend a Saturday night, I know not.
Whitehorse Trading Co.
Another Post Alley gem, this English-inspired pub come hidey-hole serves only a few well-selected beers, wines and cocktails. With seating for 10 people max, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a Harry Potter novel from a bygone era.
Keep your knuts, sickles, and galleons to yourself, though, as they only accept cash. A little annoying in today’s swipe/square world but to keep the magical theme going – your change will consist of $2 bills and $1 coins. Rad! A great place for a night cap, look out for a wooden sign with a small white horse on it.
Matt’s in the Market
Nestled above the market and with spectacular views of the Puget Sound, Matt’s is our go-to for Pacific Northwest cuisine. While in the middle of the bustling epicenter, it’s position right above the market, tasteful lighting, and just 23 seats makes for an intimate experience.
The seafood is out of this world and their cocktails aren’t too far behind. Try and get a seat next to their beautiful arched windows overlooking the Pike Place Sign. You can’t get more Seattle!
The Can Can Cabaret
Can you see the trend here? Coming up on its lucky 13th birthday, the Can Can is Seattle’s very own take on the turn-of-the-century French cabaret. Nestled under the market, the shows are provocative, cheeky (pun intended), and a hell of a lot of fun! The subterranean hideaway provides a perfect backdrop for a cocktail, great meal and highly entertaining dancing, aerialists, comedians and singers. Pencil in entire evening for this locale–UK comedian and actor Stephen Fry rated it one of the best burlesque shows in the world!
A classic Pike Place hole-in-the-wall, JarrBarr is the invention of Bryan Jarr, who set out to create an experience inspired by his travels to the Iberian Peninsula—and boy did he do it.
Simplistic in its design (in both décor and menu), you can really get lost in thinking you’re across the pond in a quaint Madrid eatery. Their menu is small—but tasty. The Jamón Imerico is to die for, and do yourself a favor and get one of their various, underrated sherries. It’s not the drink that your grandma used to knock back in the 80s!
Lastly – while we’re unbelievably fortunate to have a vibrant farmers market selling fresh and local produce, sometimes you just need that specialty item from a different continent. A couple of doors down from JarrBar you’ll find Paris-Madrid Grocery. With a HUGE variety of French and Spanish delicacies, this is your go-to location for imported cheeses, oils, jamóns, wines and wide range of European groceries.