With over 100 years of storied history, Pike Place Market is an integral part of Seattle. It’s a working market for locals as well as a central attraction for tourists and business travelers alike.
You might meet at the pig and watch the iconic fish-throwers, or check out the wide array of produce, seafood, meats, and more savories being sold at the stands. If you’re looking for sweets, there’s no shortage of shops to explore. It’s easy to follow your nose to the smell of cinnamon at the Daily Dozen Doughnut Company, or to get bewitched by the buttery perfume emanating from nearby shops Le Panier and Piroshky Piroshky.
You can go casual, snagging a treat at The Crumpet Shop, or enjoy a sit-down meal with a world-class view at Maximilien.
Walk a couple of blocks and you’ll encounter some splendid chocolate options. South on First Avenue, across from the Seattle Art Museum (SAM), you’ll find Fran’s Chocolates, and going the other direction on First, you’ll find Le Pichet and my favorite chocolate treat in the city.
Whether you’re in the mood for chocolate, ice cream, or some freshly fried bambaloni, read on to see 11 of my favorite desserts in and near Pike Place Market.
Many visitors to Pike Place Market meet at Rachel the Pig, the bronze statue representing the mascot of the market. You’ll find her near the fish-throwers, who always draw a crowd of their own. Stand at either place for any amount of time and you’ll surely smell dough frying along with sugar, which makes Daily Dozen Doughnut Company a good place to start your day for sweets. The small vendor inevitably has a line, as others are drawn to both the smells and the sight of the doughnut-making machine frying up batter right before your eyes.
A good first time order is a half dozen Assorted Doughnuts ($3.65) which enables you to sample several flavors (powdered, cinnamon, and chocolate frosting with sprinkles). Best eaten while still warm, they’re crusty on the outside and tender on the inside. If you’re just going to try one, cinnamon would be my pick.
Stay in the Economy Market Building and walk towards First Avenue and you’ll find DeLaurenti Specialty Food & Wine. This specialty foods store is well worth browsing, and you can make a perfectly good picnic from the meats, cheeses, breads, or ready-made pizzas. On the sweets front, it’s hard to resist the stacks of Cookies ($2 each). I highly recommend the Peanut Butter, which is almost like a subtly sweet Chinese almond cookie. I also like the classic Chocolate Chip, which is rich and chewy, oozing with chocolate.
Just across Pike Street on the same side of First Avenue is The Crumpet Shop, a delightful place for a spot of tea and a snack. You can get good information about the crumpets at the counter, as the workers are well-accustomed to answering customers’ questions. English muffin-like but more spongy, the crumpets are a great vehicle for a number of savory options like smoked salmon, Marmite, or ricotta and pesto with or without ham. On the sweet side, I’m always a sucker for the Crumpet with Organic Lemon Curd and Ricotta Cheese ($3.80). I love how the tang of ricotta plays off the sweetness of the citrusy curd. (Next time, I’m anxious to try the crumpet with orange marmalade, almond butter, and either ricotta or Stilton blue cheese.)
If you exit the back of The Crumpet Shop, you’ll find yourself in the midst of the Sanitary Market, and eventually on Pike Place. The first of four stops I recommend on Pike Place is The Confectional. Here you can indulge in sinful cheesecakes, taking solace knowing they come in mini-rounds (though you still might want to split one with someone else). There are a wide variety of flavors available, including the turtle (caramel with dark chocolate and pecans) and Seattle’s New York-style, with a hit of lemon zest. Chocolate lovers will like the Quadruple Chocolate Dark Cheesecake ($4.50), with chocolate in the batter, a thick chocolate crust, and “chunks of milk, white, and an extra-dark chocolate added to the center for an extra chocolaty surprise.” You can even have a cup of rich hot chocolate with it, but I’d wait for the other chocolate options to follow.
Just north on Pike Place is Le Panier, where buttery smells ooze out onto the sidewalk. It’s a bustling bakery, with numerous tables available to sit down. Bypass the croissants (there’s better in Seattle) in favor of the croissant-like dough found in the Petit Palmiers ($6.50 per bag). These pretty puff pastry cookies remain delightfully crisp for about a week. You might also consider Le Panier’s cakes and tarts for special occasions. (I recently enjoyed a tarte aux marions for my birthday.)
Next door to Le Panier is the oft-overlooked Michou deli. It’s worth stopping in for the reasonably priced sandwiches or, for something sweet, the Bambaloni ($1.50). These Tunisian doughnuts are large circles of dough topped with a sprinkling of sugar. Dense and chewy, they have a slightly sour finish after the initial sweetness.
A couple of doors down from Michou is Piroshky Piroshky. This bakery specializes in sweet and savory versions of piroshky, the filled, Russian handheld pies. I recommend giving the Marionberry Vatrushka ($4.50) a try. It’s a flat, buttery pastry topped with sweet cream cheese and marionberries. Want a full run-down of their offerings? Check out our guide to entire menu. Note that there a few stools for seating, but it’s mostly a grab-and-go operation.
Cupcake Royale is on Pine Street, across First Avenue. They sell a variety of sweets, including, obviously, cupcakes. What the name doesn’t indicate is the delicious ice cream that’s available. Owner Jody Hall consulted with Salt & Straw in Portland in developing the ice cream, and the quality shows. The menu contains a signature line of Cupcakes ‘n’ Cream ice cream (such as Dance Party with Holly Hobbie), plus a number of bakeshop-inspired flavors (like Whiskey Maple Bacon Crack). Pictured is a Double Scoop ($6.75 in a red velvet cone) that includes some Red Velvet ice cream (with whole cupcakes, frosting and all) on top and Bananza (with bursts of roasted banana flavor, caramel, rum, and chewy chunks of chocolate brownie) below.
In a corner of the market, back near the fish-throwers, you’ll find the French restaurant Maximilien. The restaurant might not look like much from the outside, but the cozy interior has windows that look out on the ferris wheel, Puget Sound, and the Olympic Mountains.
Desserts are naturally available during lunch and dinner, but I recommend going on a quiet Friday afternoon for a Café Gourmand ($9). This comes with a sample of four items on the dessert menu, and a shot of espresso to boot. Pictured from left to right: Crème brûlée au café, Profiterole au chocolat (a cream puff filled with Olympic Mountain vanilla ice cream and topped with chocolate sauce and toasted almonds), Bread Pudding (with brandy, raisins, chocolate, and vanilla ice cream) and Gâteaux au Chocolat (flourless chocolate cake with roasted hazelnuts and coconut sweetened crème fraiche). The delicious desserts are only matched by the picture-perfect views.
Since you’re on the south side of the market, you can now stroll south about a block on First Avenue to Fran’s Chocolates. Fran Bigelow is most known for her gray and smoked salted caramels—Barack Obama is a fan of the milk version while Michelle goes for the dark— but her Double Chocolate Figs ($6.50 each; more if boxed) will really make you swoon. A whole dried Calimyrna fig is filled with a ganache made from semisweet chocolate pieces and heavy whipping cream. The treat is covered in a couverture of dark chocolate.
Finally, head north along First Avenue to the northern edge of the market area, and you’ll find a French bistro with my favorite chocolate treat in the city. Le Pichet is a picturesque place for a meal (breakfast, lunch, or dinner), but you can also come at an off-hour and order the Chocolat Chaud ($7). More than mere hot chocolate, this Parisian-style, made to order chocolate comes in a mug accompanied by a bowl of freshly whipped cream. The chocolate is so rich that you’ll want to cut it with the slightly sweet, cool cream, though you’re free to play with both parts of the puzzle in any way you’d like.
(Originally published at Serious Eats on January 27.)