Local’s Guide to the Pike Place Market: Critic’s Market

Dining picks from Seattle Met’s restaurant reviewer.

By Kathryn Robinson May 20, 2011

Image: Young Lee

MY FIRST JOB, fact-checking restaurant reviews for a guidebook, was one block up from the Market. That summer I made it my project to sample every restaurant there. I drank my first cappuccino, slurped my first raw oyster (thanks, Emmett Watson!), and mastered chopsticks.

Café Campagne
A plate of oeufs en meurette, a bowl of caffe latte, a sunny table in a brick alleyway—there’s no finer way to wake up the weekend than with brunch at Café Campagne. (Its swankier, pricier elder sibling, Campagne, reopens this month after a long remodel.) 1600 Post Alley, Inn at the Market, 206-728-2233;

Chez Shea
Market renovations necessitated the removal of a wall at this Left Bank artist’s garret—and the result is an airier room that’s somehow more intimate, especially by twinkling candlelight. This French-by-Northwest classic is the Market’s Big Fancy Night Out—the kind where you dig into buttery beef tenderloin in demi glace, seared Fraser River sockeye, and leek-and-Camembert tart. 94 Pike St, Corner Market, 206-467-9990;

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Le Pichet
One of the great restaurant meals in Seattle is the roast chicken for two (takes an hour) at this most authentic Parisian bistro. Peppery, crackling skin gives way to fall-off-the-bone dark meat and drier white meat, served over root vegetables in a tarragon-tweaked jus. 1933 First Ave, First Avenue 206-256-1499;

Matt’s in the Market
If you have one meal to eat in the Market, Matt’s distilled shot of Seattle ought to be it…and not just because the view through arched windowpanes over rooftop and sea is iconic. Lunches like pan-fried prawn sandwiches and dinners like seared sea scallops with Walla Walla sweet puree showcase culinary chops, careful local sourcing, a youthful sensibility, and nearly religious adherence to the yum factor. 94 Pike St, Corner Market, 206-467-7909;

Steelhead Diner
The buzz is irresistible, particularly at lunch, when tourists and locals jostle for seats, and portions and prices on the same-as-dinner menu dip lower. It’s Northwest seafood with Southeast accents—lots of fried food, lots of gravy. Dungeness crab cakes and a fathomless andouille gumbo are the headliner draws. 95 Pine St, Post Alley Market, 206-625-0129;

The Virginia Inn
At last the bistro fare of the Market District’s old-time watering hole matches the storied ambience of its bar and windowy loveliness of its brick-lined digs. Chicken wrapped in prosciutto is flawlessly moist; a Painted Hills beef burger a simple triumph. The Virginia Inn is the Market at its locals-only best. 1937 First Avenue, 206-728-1937;

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