During my visit to Seattle, I had the better part of a day to see a city that I’d never visited before. While I knew about Seattle, I had no idea what there was to see there. Thanks to our readers, I was tipped of about the MoPOP (Museum of Pop Culture) and wasn’t missing out on a chance to visit. However, that’s not really something that screams SEATTLE!!! It does scream YOU’RE A HUGE NERD, which is something I’ll totally agree with and, frankly, am 100% OK with. But I wanted to do something that I associated with Seattle, besides Starbucks. The only other thing I knew, besides the Space Needle, was the market where they throw the fish.
Pike Place Market is a public market overlooking the Elliott Bay waterfront in Seattle, Washington, United States. The Market opened August 17, 1907, and is one of the oldest continuously operated public farmers’ markets in the United States. It is a place of business for many small farmers, craftspeople and merchants. Named after the central street, Pike Place runs northwest from Pike Street to Virginia Street. With more than 10 million visitors annually, Pike Place Market is Seattle’s most popular tourist destination and is the 33rd most visited tourist attraction in the world.
Once again, it was one of our readers who alerted me on Facebook about the guided tours of the market. While I didn’t think I’d have the time to take a tour, it turned out there were several short tours that would fit into my schedule. Instead of trying to read all about the market and what are the best places, I went ahead and booked a tour.
Savor Seattle Tours
Savor Seattle’s signature tour of Pike Place Market takes about two hours, during which time you get to visit seven different booths and taste over sixteen food samples. It was a perfect introduction to the market. Besides getting to eat some amazing food, we got a crash course on the history of the market over the decades, stories about each of the places we visited and, most importantly, got to skip the lines everywhere we went.
I received a call on my phone 15 minutes before the tour started from our guide, confirming that I was coming and also making sure I knew how to get to the meeting place. I appreciated that we were given thorough directions on how to get there but the phone call was a nice touch. Once there, we did a quick group introduction, the typical tour stuff. What’s your name, where are you from and what are you expecting questions. During my hellos, I mentioned it was my anniversary and my wife was 2,500 miles away so I might as well go on a food tour. Our guide, Katya, said she would make sure to let me know where I could get some presents for Sharon during the tour.
As all good tours at 10AM should, our first stop was for donuts.
These wonderful donuts from Daily Dozen Doughnuts were a perfect start to the tour. We learned the history of the the booth and how it was kept in the family despite several difficult situations. We also learned about the importance of keeping the integrity of the tour group circle. We needed to huddle close whenever we were eating. It’s amazing how when you’re passing around food, people think it’s free sample time like bourbon chicken at the mall food court.
From the doughnut shop, we headed out by the Pike Place Fish Market, the place they throw the fish. We learned how you can even get to catch your own fish (it’s not that big of a secret, at least not if you’re on the tour).
Right across the street is Ellenos Real Greek Yogurt. Now, I’ve had yogurt before and I’ve even tried many types of Greek yogurt but I’ve never tasted anything like this. They had one mixed with berries that was out of this world.
We then made our way down the street to Beecher’s Handmade Cheese. The cheese and freshly made crackers was delightful but then then they brought out the masterpiece. Mac and cheese. I might have tried two or three (some on our tour were lactose intolerant so it would have been wasteful otherwise). This wonderful treat was on Oprah’s Ultimate Favorite Things list in 2010. I can see why.
Loaded down with cheese, we then headed for lighter fare, cherries.
Chuckar Cherries provided samples of several of their products. They had several types of chocolate cherries but these aren’t your momma’s cherry cordials. No syrupy innards here, just cherry and chocolate. Amazing.
By now we were ready for something lighter, clam chowder.
The booth at Pike Place Chowder had quite a line, as it was approaching lunchtime and it was a cold and rainy day in Seattle (is there any other type of day in Seattle?). We got to sit down while our soup was brought to us. The regular guests had to stand in line and hope there was somewhere for them to sit once they had gotten their soup.
We got some exercise walking across the street to the wonderful smells wafting from inside of Piroshky Piroshky.
We were provided samples of both sweet and savory pastries. They were amazing and I can see why there’s also always a huge line snaking outside the front door.
Just as we were saying that we were full, we arrived at our last stop. Crabcakes at Etta’s
I’m not sure if was because I’ve got this thing for Pacific crab but this was fantastic. If I wasn’t so full, I could have sat down and eaten a whole plate of these.
Then we were finished. Katya did have a parting gift for us.
With the Savor Seattle VIP card, you can get 10-15% off at many vendors in the market as well as other places around Seattle. I wasn’t able to take advantage of it much because I only had one day but if you’re staying in town for several days, it would pay to do your tour first and then take advantage of the discounts for the rest of your trip.
Good to her promise, Katya pointed me to Fran’s Chocolates (one of the stops on Savor Seattle’s Chocolate tour) for some amazing treats that I could bring home to Sharon as an anniversary present. The chocolates were amazing (and I got 10% off with my VIP card).
Could you do this tour on your own? Sure. I mean, I’ve told you all the places. However, you can’t get sample sizes like we did and you’d have to stand in line everywhere. We managed to hit seven of the more popular spots, try something from each one and had an AMAZING guide. Really, she was absolutely wonderful. Another thing I liked was that Savor Seattle keeps the tour groups small. I think we had maybe 15 people on our tour and it was sold out. The people on my tour actually talked to each other. We joked, we shared stories and had a good time together.
Savor Seattle runs the Signature Pike Place Market Tour most days. The cost is $41.99 – $43.99 per person and tours start at 9:30 AM with the last tour starting at 3:30 PM. Availability can vary by season so check their website for current times.
Photos in the article are courtesy of Savor Seattle.
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