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Pike Place Market

A Quick Tour of the Famously Fabulous Market in Seattle

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A trip to Seattle just isn't complete, in my experience anyway, without a visit to Pike Place Market. I've picked up morel mushrooms to cook at a friend's house, bought salmon to take home in my suitcase, and had more tasty meals made from its bounty than I care to count. Check out a few highlights from the market below and then tell us what's your favorite thing about local eating in Seattle?

Neon Public Market Sign

Pike Place Market Sign
Photo © Molly Watson
This big red neon sign is an important landmark in Seattle. Pike Place Market started as a "public market" in 1907 with the express purpose of providing a venue for farmers to sell their goods to the public. The sprawling buildings that now make up the area of Pike Place house over 200 small businesses, from fish counters to craft sellers to restaurants - not counting the farmer-vendors who sell local, seasonal produce at temporary stands and tables. The market is open 362 days a year (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years) from 10 am to 6 pm.

Find other farmers markets in Seattle here.

Pike Place Fish Market

Pike Place Fish Market
Photo © Molly Watson
Pike Place Fish Market is home to the flying fish - a king salmon the people behind the counter throw around on customer request. Lest you worry than they're man-handling your purchase: they set aside a fish each day for tossing and treat the fish for sale with the utmost care. Special costumers are even allowed to throw a salmon themselves - I once saw a bride, in full white gown, toss one to her groom for a photo!

Learn more about varieties of Pacific salmon here.

More Fish

Seattle City Fish Company
Photo © Molly Watson
Pike Place Fish Market may be the most famous of Pike Place Market's fish counters, but it's far from the only one. Here the staff prepares to open City Fish Company, just down the hall. Note the shovel in hand - he's shoveling ice into the front bins used to display shellfish. Take the tip to heart and look for fishmongers that keep their wares on thick beds of ice, whether refrigerated or not, and do the same at home if you plan on keeping fresh seafood in the fridge overnight.

Oysters!

Oysters at Pike Place Market
Photo © Molly Watson
One of my favorite things about Pike Place Market - and Seattle in general - is the abundance of fabulous oysters. This stand is selling a few Pacific Northwest favorites, including kumamotos, Penn Coves, and Totten Inlets.

Learn more about types of oysters here.

Farmers Market

Asparagus Pike Place Farmers Market
Photo © Molly Watson
The vast majority of Pike Place Market is not a farmers market. It's permanent stalls that house everything from fish counters to restaurants to newsstands to craft stores. But the Market hosts a daily farmers market where farmers set up for the day at stands and tables and sell foods they've grown. It happens, conveniently enough, along the stretch of the arcade that lines Pike Place itself.

Produce Stands

Franks Produce Stand, Pike Place Market
Photo © Molly Watson
Along with a lively farmers market, Pike Place is home to plenty of produce stands that stock a huge range of fruits and vegetables, including the less-than-seasonal and the far-from-local.

Loback Meat Company

Loback Meats Sign at Pike Place Market
Photo © Molly Watson
Loback Meat Company was established in 1946 and was known for its homemade sausages and specialty meats like goose until it closed in 1989. Its impressive sign, however, remains over the main arcade of the market. Delicious Chukar cherries, with more versions of dried cherry treats you may have thought possible, and Woodbury Preserves, makers of such delights as tayberry and gooseberry jams, occupy the space now.

Rachel the Pig

Pike Place Pig
Photo © Molly Watson
Designed by local artist Georgia Gerber, this bronze piggy bank collects over $5,000 a year for the Pike Place Market Foundation, which funds social services for the Market's 500-plus residents (yep, those windows on the upper floors of the market buildings are apartments!), many of them low income. The pig inspired the "Pigs on Parade" fundraiser in 2001 (and again in 2007 to mark the Market's centennial), which was modeled on the CowsParade in Zurich. Artists created different pig sculptures what were placed around the city and auctioned off at the end of the event.

Planning to visit Seattle? I suggest you don't just go to Pike Place Market, but when you're there take a tour with Savor Seattle. Their market tours are fun and tasty and happen everyday.

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