Like its surroundings, this second-story hideaway has evolved over the years but remains the market’s culinary epicenter—collegial by day, elegant by night, and fiercely beloved by locals. Owner Dan Bugge’s market tenure dates back to his days as a fishmonger/thrower downstairs, but new chef Matt Fortner stewards the Northwest menu (and restores a Matt to the premises for the first time since the days of founder Matt Janke).
Seattle’s equivalent of Paris cafe culture perches on Post Alley at Pine. Here chef Daisley Gordon does right by classic dishes—quiche, pan-roasted chicken, oeufs en meurette—and instills in his kitchen the sort of perfectionism that renders even the simplest asparagus salad or brunchtime brioche french toast memorable. The patio hits the sweet spot for another hallmark of Parisian cafe culture: watching all the people go by.
If Willy Wonka dealt in dairy his factory might look a bit like this cafe-workshop where passersby observe cheesemaking magic behind glass walls—the churning tubs of milk en route to curds, the slabs of fresh Flagship cheddar. Soups and grilled sandwiches are, of course, imbued with cheese but no other dish so epitomizes Beecher’s than a cup of its ooey and unabashedly gooey mac and cheese.
Past tables of trinkets and souvenir knickknacks awaits Filipino comfort food; pancit noodles and braised chicken or pork adobos steam and simmer at the counter, but it’s the tangy tamarind sinigang soup of salmon collar and fresh vegetables that cement the homey lunch-only eatery as quintessential market dining. And while the fare may be comforting, a collage of hand-scrawled signs nod to Oriental Mart’s cutting sense of humor—“If you are reading this…who are you blocking?”
Along the stretch of the market’s main arcade, past produce and flying fish, is a case of fresh sausage links, where a dozen or so creations come by the pound. But should you require a place to sit and consume those bangers, bratwursts, or kielbasas, Uli’s has carved out a nook in which diners slice at sausage arranged on wood platters alongside pickled purple cabbage and sauerkraut—not to mention prime people-watching.
What looks like a bastion of Brittania began as founder Gary Lasater’s desire to sell a food that depends on freshness; he learned the art of crumpets from a family who once made them for Victoria’s Empress Hotel and convinced his wife, Nancy, to run the register. Four decades later, Lasater’s son and daughter run the shop, and those crumpets still taste best when freshly griddled, their toasted, porous interior a sponge for butter. Increasingly hardy menu options like scrambled egg or pesto, tomato, and ricotta speak to customers’ desire to treat this subtle carb like a biscuit or English muffin, but a simple butter and honey combo plays up its subtle texture.
The stools, if you can get one at all, are cracked and worn. The last diner likely didn’t bother to clean his crumbs off the tiny metal counter. View this well-loved joint as a greasy spoon that serves pristine seafood—deeply golden fish-and-chips, fresh fish tacos, even a whole steamed crab with melted butter that comes precracked—and you’ll find its true charms.
Mee Sum brings dim sum to the streets. Staff sling potstickers and bean paste–filled buns. But they’ve drawn devotees mostly with one item: the bbq pork hombow—a scoop of minced pork slathered in a rosy sweet sauce and encased in pillowy bun. It’s a confection that blurs any useful distinctions between dinner and dessert.
Gyros fall under the same laws of reliable deliciousness as pizza and tacos. If “yeeros” at Mr. D’s charmingly worn street-eats shop stretch the word delicacies—meat a smidge too salty, tzatziki more like a yogurty ranch dressing—they’re still satisfying as hell.
This is the place to take your out-of-town relatives—a dining room well versed in crowds that makes Northwest flavors (and views) mega accessible for people who seek a sit-down market meal but aren’t into white linens or spot-prawn crudo. That king salmon might be $46 and a little on the salty side, but it comes perfectly cooked in a composed dish parents can understand and food snobs can respect.
What it can lack in consistency (a lukewarm panini, its cheese merely wilted) Michou Deli makes up in sheer, eclectic breadth. Paninis and sides as eclectic as braised red cabbage with apples, arancini, Asian noodle salad, baklava, and kale Caesar salad, all lie arrayed in a long refrigerator case. It’s not the best food in the market, but at $4 for a satisfying half sandwich, it’s some of most accessible.
Did you think Ivar's was the only big-name chowder in town? Clearly you’ve never waited in the Disneyland-level line for a bowl at the Post Alley counter that’s become a tourist phenom. It is superb, creamy, and a rare chowder with more clams than potatoes. If the queue and subsequent wait for seating override the charms of location, you can get that same chowder sans wait at the Pacific Place outpost six blocks away.
Heed not the barfly name. Alibi Room is less seedy haunt than dim brick-and-wood take on an anywhere-USA pizzeria. Here you’ll find the same flecks of oxidized lettuce in your chop salad, the same server toting a giant pepper grinder and empowering you to “say when,” the same snowlike parmesan and red pepper flakes in shakers, and the same black olives studding a perfectly decent, nostalgia-inducing pie.
Two doorways down from the Original Starbucks lies a line often longer and worthier. Piroshky Piroshky’s Russian pastries—a cinnamon cardamom braid with just enough acid and heady aromatics to balance the sweetness, or a savory Uli’s sausage and sauerkraut—are grandmotherly food elevated with gilded crusts and harmonious fillings. You’ll wait, but that only guarantees a fresh piroshky.