Pike Place Tasting Tour
One of the things I anticipated most on my Seattle trip was going to Pike Place Market, a large open market area that is a big tourist attraction, with a farmer's market open every day, lots of small shops, and delicious eats. I had planned most of one day to explore Pike Place and had come up with quite a long list of places I wanted to sample food at.
The list was getting daunting as I did my research, and I wondered how much room I would have for all the food I wanted to try. Then I read about the Savor Seattle Food Tours, which offers various different kinds of food walking tours in Seattle. They are offered several times a day and it's pretty easy to join a tour within a day or two's notice. They offer a chocolate tour, a gourmet food tour, and a tour of the Pike Place Market. Priced at $39 per person for the Pike Place Market tour, it was the cheapest of the three and seemed both reasonable in price and perfect for what I was looking for.
The tour is a walking tour with a guide who provides a lot of information about the Pike Place Market, its history, and tidbits about the various shops in the market. It also stops at about 9 places to try samples of their foods. I looked, and many of the places I had wanted to try were on the list. At the end of the tour, you are also given a discount card which is good for 10% off all of the partners of Savor Seattle. This includes all the places that you stopped at on your tour, as well as places on the other tours.
I thought it was a great deal, and if you are planning on doing it, you should do so early in your trip so that you can use the discount card during the rest of your trip. The Savor Seattle tour got rave rating from yelpers as well. So I signed up for the tour, which lasts about 2 hours.
This allowed me the opportunity to sample many of the food places I had been wanting to visit without having to get full sized servings of the foods, and also get to learn about the places and the market, which would be a lot harder to do on my own.
I thoroughly enjoyed my experience on the tour, and especially the tour guide, who was amazingly attentive and busy. I don't envy his job. He made sure to remember everyone's name at the start of the tour, and was constantly making sure everyone was altogether, that everyone had gotten their samples, and was always telling us interesting information. If you dropped a fork, he was quick to get you a new one, or refill your water, or get you some napkins. He was like everyone's personal waiter.
The tour started with meeting up at one of the many Starbucks in Seattle. Out of all the ones I visited though, this one was my favorite. It was huge. Lots of tables, couches, seats and outlets. A perfect place for a meetup and a place we used later on for resting, recharging and for some more caffeine.
I had read about this particular Starbucks on Serious Eats because in addition to being spacious and technology friendly, it also has two clover machines, which brew small batches of good quality coffee. We got to this spot early so that we could get some drinks before our tour, and we were able to get 10% off simply by telling the cashier that we were part of the tour group.
The clover crafted coffee was brewed to order. I had to patiently wait while the machine did its work and then generated a single cup of fresh brewed coffee. Just for me. It was pretty cool.
After we met the tour guide and the rest of our group, we were given headsets so that we could hear everything the guide was saying without strain. We were also given our first sample of the day: I think i was a raspberry green tea frappuccino, but I no longer remember for sure.
Next stop was Thao's, a Thai restaurant, where we sampled their vegetarian spring rolls.
We then entered the heart of the market place, where one of the cool things that the tour guide pointed out was that the floor was full of names. There had been a big event for people to donate money, and the floor is covered with the names of the donators, including Tom Seleck.
We then stopped at the Daily Donut company, which makes mini donuts. After Top Pot Doughnuts (see my previous post), this was the second highest reviewed donut shop in Seattle on yelp. The donuts here are quite popular as they are super fresh and piping hot. Ours were almost too hot to eat at first, and we had to wait for them to cool. The ones we were given were covered in sugar and cinnamon. Everyone had one donut and there was enough for some people to have an extra. This ended being the case for most of our food spots, so people were able to take turns getting extra samples.
We then headed to Pike Place fish, which is famous for their fresh fish as well as the fish tossing that happens periodically when customers order the fish. You'll see a giant fish being tossed between employees.
Here, we got to sample some smoked salmon. We sampled two kinds of smoked salmon and one salmon jerky.
Another interesting, sad tidbit:
We then walked by the large farmer's market that is opened daily. A huge number of vendors are here, exhibiting fresh fruit and vegetables and other goods. We stopped by one stand, where we were given samples of plums and peaches.
One thing that caught my attention were these hanging pepper ornaments. They make a great decoration and you can use all the peppers. According to the guy selling them, you have two years to use the peppers before they all dry out. I was tempted to buy one, but didn't have room in my carry-on luggage.
We then headed to Pike Place Chowder, the spot I had been anticipating most on the tour. After reading glowing reviews of the chowder from gastronomer, this one on my must list. Here, we sampled two of the award winning chowders: a clam chowder and a seafood bisque.
I had been sure my preference would be the clam chowder, but I actually fell in love with the seafood bisque. It was so flavorful, full of various seafood items and vegetables and it was not too salty or sweet. It was so good I had to come back for some more later.
The chowders here are so popular that they ship them and can also package them for you to take back on the plane. I was really tempted to bring home some of the seafood bisque.
We then headed to Cafe Yamarka, where we sampled some piroshky, which are a type of dumpling.
This was my first experience with these dumplings. I liked the thick skin.
We then headed to Cinnamon Works for some sweets. They offer a variety of vegan and gluten free products. Here, we sampled two kinds of cookies. This was probably my least favorite place on the tour as the cookies were a bit too healthy for me.
Beecher's cheese boasts to having the "World's best Mac n Cheese." This spot had been on my list to try as well.
Here, we sampled their cheese, as well as their famous mac n' cheese. I
didn't love their mac n' cheese. I felt the cheese taste was
overwhelming. So I'm glad I got to try this on the tour rather than
order a full sized order.
Our last stop of the day was Etta's, one of the many restaurants owned by Tom Douglas. Here, we sampled his famous crab cakes. I found them quite tasty. They are available at most of his restaurants and I would gladly order them again.
This was a fun experience. Not too much food, but it was nice to sample so many things and get an idea of what places I would want to go back to for more.