Yes, Pike Place Market is teeming with tourists this time of year, crowds of visitors clogging the streets and walkways, snapping shots of flying fish.
It’s mighty tempting to avoid the Market during the summer, but that would be a big mistake. As local farmers set up on the cobblestones and new places open and old favorites do a fantastic job of showcasing the best ingredients of the season, there’s really no better time to come on down.
Here are a few reasons why:
Rachel’s Ginger Beer is red hot. Since it opened a couple of weeks ago, this nouveau soda shop in the old Seattle’s Best Coffee space has been cram-packed. Digging the seasonal specials like beet and orange. Adding to the draw of this spicy, citrus-y, hand-crafted bev is a list of ginger beer-spiked cocktails. I’ll drink to that.
This little hood has got to be home to the highest density of al fresco dining in the city, including my all-time fave outdoor tables: Le Pichet, Seatown, Pink Door, Marche, Crumpet Shop and Steelhead Diner. Also really appreciate the shaded picnic tables behind Copacabana for those grab-and-go meals like a ravioli sandwich from the Pasta Bar. (Yes, a ravioli sandwich! It’s not on the menu, but they’ll make it if you ask nicely.)
And don’t give me the standard beef about paying for parking. Go spend $35 at Spanish Table and they’ll validate your ticket in the Market garage. Beyond making that generous gesture, that shop is spectacular. I love its ability to deliciously stock my pantry and wine cellar.
While we’re on the subject of free stuff, Diane LaVonne from Diane’s Market Kitchen gives free cooking classes from noon to 1 p.m. on Fridays throughout August. And the Market will give you a free shopping bag if you purchase Market Bucks to fork over to the vendors. Look for their booth on the cobblestones.
Oh, and free shots of pickle juice. A slug of probiotics-rich brine at Britt’s Pickles is a sure fire way to perk up your palate. This sweet little spot around the corner from the wonderful Three Girls Bakery offers free tastes of all its naturally fermented products including the super duper kimchi.