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Exactly what to eat and do at the iconic Pike Place Market, according to a Seattle native

Sep 8, 2019

When someone asks me what they should do on a trip to Seattle, I always tell them to go to Pike Place Market. Yes, Pike Place is very touristy. It has been very touristy for a very long time, but it’s been home to some of Seattle’s most interesting small shops and restaurants for even longer. As a kid, I often went to Pike Place with my family on weekends. I’d get three flavored honey sticks for a dollar and nibble down the sweet plastic tubes as I browsed stuffed marine animals and colorful hand-knitted shawls. Over the years, Pike Place has gotten more and more crowded. Shops and stands have come and gone, while some have remained the same. Some have gotten worse. A major expansion and renovation was completed in 2018, allowing the market to accommodate an ever-growing number of visitors. Through all these changes, my love for Pike Place has remained constant. Inside its winding, sloping maze of halls, there’s always an unusual book or a tasty morsel to discover. Plus, its diversity showcases the history of the immigrants – Russian, Chinese, Turkish, Iranian, among many – that made Seattle the vibrant city it is today. I’m going to take you on a whirlwind journey of the spots that make Pike Place Market one of my favorite places in the Emerald City. Enter the market at the Pike Street, but don’t go inside. source source Irene Jiang / Business Insider Head down the hallway to the right and you’ll happen upon Sosio’s Produce, which has a rich variety of local vegetables, fruit, and fungi. source Irene Jiang / Business Insider Admittedly, I only come to Sosio’s to see if morels are in season — then my family goes to the mountains and picks them ourselves. source Irene Jiang / Business Insider But if you’re not a seasoned morel hunter and you’d like a fresh taste of the Pacific Northwest, Sosio’s has you covered. source Irene Jiang / Business Insider Aside from flowers and the ever-evolving line-up of honey and soap vendors, there isn’t too much else of interest in the main hall. Instead, head down the ramp to the lower level. You’ll pass a tiny Cantonese restaurant. Skip it. source Irene Jiang / Business Insider Across the hallway from the restaurant is Lion Heart Bookstore — my favorite bookstore in all of Seattle. It was closed on the day I visited because the owner, David Ghoddousi, was attending a market council meeting. source Irene Jiang / Business Insider This bookstore has been in operation since 1961 and has passed on from caretaker to caretaker. David, who is of Iranian descent, is the fifth caretaker. He welcomes guests with joke and song and personally curates the store’s eclectic collection. source Irene Jiang / Business Insider I’ve bought a dual-language book of Arabic poetry here, as well as literary classics by James Joyce and Kurt Vonnegut, among others. David is also often happy to special-order books for customers. source Irene Jiang / Business Insider Remember that Cantonese restaurant you skipped earlier? You skipped it because across the street from the main market is Mee Sum Pastry, a Pike Place old-timer that sells some of the best Hong Kong pastries outside of the International District. source Irene Jiang / Business Insider Its selection of pastries is a vestige of the earliest iteration of Chinese cuisine in America. Now that Seattle has become popular with mainland Chinese visitors, students, and tech workers, options for authentic Chinese cuisine abound in the area. source Irene Jiang / Business Insider My two favorites at this place are the pineapple bun (sold as pineapple bread) and the char siu pork bun. The first is sweet and the second is savory, so they balance each other out perfectly. source source Irene Jiang / Business Insider I recommend getting half a sandwich and filling out your meal with a soup, deli salad, or dessert. source Irene Jiang / Business Insider Everything at Michou is delicious and affordable, so you can’t go wrong. There are also vegan and vegetarian options. source Irene Jiang / Business Insider Finally, end your food tour at Piroshky Piroshky, the famous purveyor of the Russian pastry called — you may have guessed — a piroshky. source Irene Jiang / Business Insider Be prepared to brave a long line out the door. But once you get into the tiny shop, you’ll be rewarded with the scent of fresh-baked pastries. source source Irene Jiang / Business Insider My personal favorite is the mushroom, onion, and celery piroshky, but the smoked salmon pate piroshky makes great use of a classic Pacific Northwest ingredient. Get out quickly, because the line is long and full of tourists. source Irene Jiang / Business Insider Finally, walk to the end of the market and take your haul across the street to Victor Steinbrueck Park, where you’ll be treated to an unparalleled view of the Puget Sound. source Irene Jiang / Business Insider Take a seat on the grassy lawn, dig in, and stretch your legs. You’ve earned it. source

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