Just beneath the Pike Place Market skybridge lies Ludovic Guillaume and Elizabeth Bastoni’s Choukette, in which the humble bakery focuses on the pâte à choux dough-based eclair. After 18 years of living in France, the husband-and-wife duo brought a piece of Paris to Seattle: Inside a glossy pastry case, you’ll find 10 or so flavors such as hazelnut praline, classic chocolate, huckleberry marscarpone, and one with lychee, raspberry, and rose water. Some of the Northwest-meets-French combinations come and go with the seasons, but each eclair’s artful construction is steadfast.
There are no tables in this Pike-Place Market marvel, but still it’s one of the must-stop joints in the Market for its glassed-in views of cheesemakers at work. That’ll put you in the mood for a dish of Beecher’s mac ‘n’ cheese, right up there with salmon and cherries as one of Seattle’s culinary signatures. You can eat it while walking around; everyone else is.
This tidy counter in Pike Place Market offers the labor-intensive flatbreads known as guo kui, each one rolled by hand, griddled, then plunge it into the bowl-shaped oven, rather like a tandoor, beneath. Each one emerges crisp on one side, soft within, and is still hot when split and filled with pork, beef, or chicken in chili and sesame sauces with cilantro and pickled cucumbers. There are also a few hand-shaved noodle dishes, a longtime speciality of chef/owner Chengbiao Yang. Lines can be long.
Add pimento cheese to a classic grilled cheese sandwich and you get something perfectly piquant, exceptionally gooey, and a gloriously unnatural tangerine hue. This magic happens at Pike Place Market’s breakfast and lunch counter, which also offers grits bowls, solid home fries, and vintage country on the sound system.
The Pike Place Market biscuit shop couples its airy, square-shaped creations with a few ingredients from its neighbors: Beecher’s Flagship cheese, Bavarian Meats bacon, and mustard crafted with Pike Brewing stout ale. Their gluten-free biscuit recipe is legit and soon, Honest will move to airy quarters in the brand new MarketFront wing.
It seems too shiny and tourist-laden to offer much in the way of authenticity or excellence…but Pike Place Chowder’s New England clam chowder offers exquisite proof to the contrary. It consistently brings home bling from Newport, Rhode Island’s Great Chowder Cook-Off—often first-place bling—thanks to its nuanced ratios of cream to brine to smoke, best enjoyed in a bread bowl. Seafood bisque is also delish.
This old school ice cream parlor on the First Avenue edge of Pike Place Market is charming as all get out, from the vintage soda fountain serving floats and egg creams (even ice cream-based cocktails) to the airy robin’s egg color scheme. Lopez Island Creamery supplies the 15-ish flavors; they’re lovely on their own, but even better in Shug’s menu of elaborate sundaes: The brown derby sundae stacks your preferred scoop atop a doughnut; the bruleed banana split requries an actual tiny butane torch.
Editor's Note: Updated September 25, 2018 at 11:30am to reflect that Choukette and Cycene have closed.