7 Essential Breakfasts at Pike Place Market, Seattle

By gastrognome on July 22nd, 2015

Courtesy of Naomi Tomky

The first thing Pike Place visitors should learn is how to pronounce it correctly. Want to brand yourself a tourist? Call Seattle’s centenarian market Pike’s Place, Pike Street Market or the Pike Market. Want to blend in with the locals? Call it Pike Place or just the Market.

The longest continuously operated farmer’s market opened Aug. 17, 1907 / Courtesy of the City of Seattle

The public market overlooking the Elliott Bay waterfront is one of the oldest continuously operated public farmers' markets in the United States. The market opened in 1907 on a newly created wooden roadway that connected First Street to Western Avenue. From that humble beginning, it has transformed into a nine-acre Market Historic District bursting with fresh, locally sourced, artisanal and specialty foods, a dizzying array of restaurants and one of the largest craft markets in the country.

Go early for the best fresh fruits and vegetables at Pike Place Market / Courtesy of Wikipedia.com

The next best way to fit in with the locals is to shop when they do: first thing in the morning. The stalls that cater to Seattleites, those offering fish, vegetables and other raw ingredients, open first, some as early as 6 a.m. The rest of the market wakes up more slowly throughout the day. But the best views of the fishmongers and the most beautiful displays of vegetables are seen by the early bird.

That early bird also gets the worm — in this case an incredible breakfast. Breakfast is the best meal to eat at Pike Place Market, as it is at so many markets around the world. It’s the food eaten by the people who live here and work here, who spend their money here day in and day out, not the food that caters to the hordes of visitors looking for a one-time snack.

Smart visitors figure this out and head down to the market before 10 in the morning, watching for where the lines form and where the wafting scent of fresh baked goods comes from. If you’re looking to save some time sniffing the air for the smell of scrambled eggs, here’s a cheat sheet on where to pick up the best bites of breakfast at Seattle’s Pike Place Market.


1. Curry Beef Hum Bao - Mee Sum

Curry Beef Hum Bao at Mee Shum / Courtesy of Naomi Tomky

If you’ve ever had a cha siu bao (pork bun) at dim sum, you’ll be familiar with this type of sweet, yeasted bun. The filling, however, is entirely different: a Japanese style beef curry with just enough salt and subtle spice to contrast with the sweet bun.


2. Passion Fruit Yogurt - Ellenos

Passion Fruit Yogurt at Ellenos / Courtesy of Naomi Tomky

This yogurt, on the other hand, is probably unlike anything you’ve tried before. Each bite wows with clean, fresh dairy flavor: the coolness of sour cream, the richness of cream cheese and the sweetness more like cake frosting than traditional yogurts. The array of fruit and assorted other toppings are displayed as if they were in the window of an Italian gelato shop, each kind calling out with colors and patterns, the passion fruit’s yellow glow crying the loudest.


3. Green Salad - Le Pichet

Green salad at Le Pichet / Courtesy of Naomi Tomky

As hilarious travel writer The Everywhereist says, “I know that I’ll want sweets later in the day, so I might as well start out properly… ‘I had salad with breakfast,’ I explain, as I go back for thirds.” And the green salad at Le Pichet is the one to eat, with its crisp Bibb lettuce, crunchy hazelnuts and eye-opening orange juice and mustard vinaigrette.


4. The Walrus - The Crumpet Shop

The Walrus at The Crumpet Shop / Courtesy of Flickr.com

Hot tea and warm crumpets might seem more London than Seattle, but hey, we’re both fending off the same chilly fog. Here in Seattle, though, we’re not content with a little butter or marmalade. Instead, freshly-baked crumpets are heaped with toppings, transforming the disks of dough into knife-and-fork food. On the Walrus, cool ricotta holds up a float of chopped walnuts, brought together with a drizzle of honey.


5. Petit Panier - Le Panier

Assorted pastries and rolls at Le Panier. / Courtesy of Naomi Tomky

Le Panier does not necessarily make the best croissant in the city, but its pastry craft is excellent and far broader than a single item. The best way to sample the widest variety from this très français bakery is to order the petit panier — little basket — of assorted pastries and rolls. A nibble of this and a nosh of that will satisfy your nose’s curiosity about what exactly it is that smells so good here. (The answer? All of it.)


6. Croque-Madame - Café Campagne (weekends only)

Croque-Madam at Café Campagne. / Courtesy of flickr.com

There’s something so eminently civilized about eating a fried egg on a grilled ham and cheese when you take a tip from the French and call it a Croque-Madame. Similarly, there’s an element of elegance and dressing up to brunch at Café Campagne that is all too rare in Seattle.


7. Mini Doughnuts - Daily Dozen Doughnuts Co.

Dainty doughnuts at Daily Dozen Doughnuts Co. / Courtesy of Naomi Tomky

The faster a doughnut gets from fryer to mouth the better it tastes. At Daily Dozen, most of the mini-doughnuts barely pause (in the cinnamon and sugar) from when they come out of the machine before they’re bagged and handed to the next happy face in line.

Meet the author


Naomi Tomky is the unrelentingly enthusiastic eater, photographer and writer behind The GastroGnome, http://www.thegastrognome.com. Since 2006, she’s brought her (sometimes over) eager mouth to tables around the world in search of new things to shove in it. From Beijing to Texas, from uncleansed pig intestine (“it sounds worse than it is”) to huckleberry ice cream (“it was that good”), there’s an adventure on every plate she dives int…... More