It's almost impossible to imagine that Seattle's premier tourist attraction was very nearly demolished in the 1960s. Fortunately, voters approved turning the Pike Place Market into a 17-acre historic district in late 1971, and though parts of this assemblage of restaurants, produce stands and quirky shops are now insufferably touristy, I always make a point to spend a few hours there on every visit to Seattle. Here are my favorite places to graze.
MAXIMILIEN — If you go between 11 a.m. and noon, you should have no trouble securing a prime table on this French bistro’s exceedingly pleasant bayview terrace. Mrs. Harper and I shared a satisfying dish of well-prepared duck confit over savory lentils, accompanied by glasses of peppery Mount Baker Vineyards Petite Sirah.
THE PINK DOOR — Tucked away on Post Alley, this Italian restaurant has a more sheltered bayview terrace, a better choice than Maximilien’s on a cool or windy day. Under the dappled shade of a pergola, we drank glasses of dry and grapefruity “SBS” by Cadaretta (a Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc blend), and feasted on a refreshing antipasto plate of Tuscan beans, cured meats, mozzarella, olives and grilled vegetables.
BEECHER’S HANDMADE CHEESE — This dairy sells admirable cheeses made on the spot, but we always go for a snack of macaroni and cheese (actually penne with cheese). The facility is designed more for carryout — the only seats are some milk cans — but the rich macaroni and cheese tastes very creamy, slightly pungent, a bit spicy and altogether delicious.
CHUKAR CHERRIES — Several stands to the right of the famous fish-throwers, this vendor sells a variety of dried Washington cherries, both on their own and covered in chocolate. The latter make an excellent gift. Engaging salespeople offer as many samples as you like.
THE TASTING ROOM — This unassuming wine bar across Post Alley from The Pink Door presents one of the largest by-the-glass selections of Washington wines in the city. We sampled a number of unusual cuvées, including a citrusy Treveri Sparkling Rosé, an earthy Wilridge Winery estate Nebbiolo and a Sauternes-like late-harvest Chenin Blanc by Harlequin Wine Cellars.
MATT’S IN THE MARKET— This restaurant focuses on ingredients sourced from the market itself. Feeling adventurous, we ordered some bracingly briny geoduck (giant clam), and tender elk tongue topped with onion flowers and quail eggs. Tamer items such as pork loin, scallops and wild salmon are also available. Reservations required.