SPOTLIGHT: Pike Place Market

It's the tourist spot every town has, the streets are crowded throughout the weekend and it seems that you're getting ripped off at every shop at which you stop.

But there is more to Pike Place Market than immediately meets the eye. Despite the fact it's aimed at tourists, there are treasures to be found for Seattleites.

Street acts are scattered out, performers playing their various instruments with surprising finesse. Various specialty shops offer exotic ingredients and foods that may be a bit costly, but are well worth the price.

Pike Place isn't just an easy spot to drag out-of-town relatives; it's also a nice, relaxing and extremely delicious environment to spend an otherwise useless afternoon with a few friends.

While the weekday is probably your best bet to avoid crowds and find decent parking, a good time to go is Saturday, sometime before 11 a.m., when crowds are present but manageable and the atmosphere is fresh.

— Guy Keltner

Sisters European Snacks

1530 Post Alley

(206) 623-6723

At Sisters European Snacks in Post Alley, an open patio with colorful, painted tables allows for some serious people watching.

Run by German sisters Aruna, Mariam and Nirala Jacobi, the store was founded in 1991 and has remained in the same location since. The atmosphere is very much that of an authentic European eatery — Italian music softly plays, customers sit lazily on the patio to read a newspaper and slowly enjoy their food — just like in Europe.

A wide range of demographics frequent Sisters — from young mothers with children in tow to the elderly — all clamoring for the restaurant's delicious European-style sandwiches, grilled on fresh-made ciabatta bread. There is also a wide selection of freshly-made soups and salads, all made from scratch.

With an extensive sandwich menu, there is something for everyone. Try the Croque Monsieur, an authentic French grilled sandwich consisting of gruyere cheese and honey-roasted ham. If you're looking for something a little more Mediterranean, the Sicilienne will hit the spot — fresh mozzarella, basil and roma tomatoes.

–— Katie Stapleton-Paff

Mee Sum Pastry

1526 Pike Pl

(206) 682-6780

Located on the main strip of Pike Place Market, Mee Sum Pastry is a good starting point for anyone happens to show up to the market on an empty stomach.

Offering a variety of Chinese pastries and tasty dishes, the best bet is the barbeque pork humbow. This dish is basically baked or steamed bread filled with bits of bright red, tender barbeque pork. This isn't the dim sum style, bite-sized humbow, either. Each pastry is about the size of your average double cheeseburger, costs a mere $2.25 and has more flavor and less health risk than any burger you can find in the area.

— Guy Keltner

Books, Ale & Wine is exactly what the name implies. Check it out for the pure excitement value of a book/alcoholic beverage shop. While there is little surprise about what lies inside of the shop, it is in a cool part of Pike's, right in the middle of "Post Alley" which has a cool brick walkway and old fashioned architecture. The store matches its quaint environment quite well and has a relaxing atmosphere. Have a drink and curl up next to your favorite Steinbeck novel.

— Guy Keltner

Quality Cheese Inc.

1508 Pike Pl

(206) 624-4029

Quality Cheese Inc. is amazing. The prices are reasonable, the selection is great, and it feels much better to offer business to an outdoor vendor than to the high-end, pricey DeLaurenti Specialty Food & Wine, known for its amazing cheese.

Quality Cheese may not have the striking and large variety that DeLaurenti offers, but the cheese is good, and the price is right for any college-aged cheese lover.

A pound of excellent feta can be bought for less than $5, and artisan cheeses such as Beerkaust and Muenster go for less than $10 per pound.

The service is quick and efficient, and they are great at recommending particular cheeses and explaining some of the details of each cheese.

— Guy Keltner

Rose's Chocolate Treasures

1906 Post Alley

(206) 441-2936


Rose's Chocolate Treasures in Post Alley has somewhat of a 19th century romantic feel; — adorned with roses, sparkling Christmas lights, Chandeliers and old French posters, it is a true chocolate lover's paradise.

Founded by an elderly lady named Rose, a self-proclaimed chocoholic, the store has been open for three years, and business is thriving.

Simply being inside the shop will evoke one's inner childhood glee — there is a multitude of choice: fresh artisan truffles, imported cru de cacao bars, organic cocoa beans and nibs — even chocolate-scented candles.

In addition to more traditional flavors such as hazelnut, caramel and champagne truffles, there are also a variety of wine and liqueur flavored chocolates, such as Irish whiskey, Irish cream, bourbon and scotch. For a truly unusual tastebud experience, try the savory truffles, such Tomato and Balsamic (dark chocolate filled with chocolate ganash mixed with tomato puree and balsamic vinegar) and Wasabi No (white chocolate shell filled with dark chocolate ganash flavored with wasabi).

Rose's also offers a wide range of chocolate beverages, including European-style hot chocolate (made from melted chocolate and steamed cream) as well as American and Mexican style. There is even chocolate-flavored tea.

— Katie Stapleton-Paff

Golden Age Collectables

1501 Pike Pl # 401

(206) 622-9799


This place is a typical Star Wars geek haven and full of tourists on a regular basis. It is a well-stocked comic book store and contains a large variety of pop-culture treasures.

There is an in-depth selection of comic books chronicling every popular series of the past 20 or 30 years, all organized by hero and series title. A variety of stylish comic-book and vintage posters are for sale throughout the store, and there is an awesome amount of nostalgic and gag toys.

Rare Star Wars toys, some in their original packaging from the '70s, can be found in a well-protected glass case. While the Fett-man is nowhere to be found, a vintage Luke Skywalker in his stolen stormtrooper outfit goes for about $250.

— Guy Keltner

Perennial Tea Room

1910 Post Alley

(206) 448-4054


As a city renowned for its coffee — the home of Starbucks and Tully's, as well as a multitude of independent coffee shops — tea rarely has a large spotlight in Seattle.

Perennial Tearoom in Post Alley, however, deserves a mention, for its wide selection of more than 100 different teas (ranging in price from $9-50 per quarter pound), china, teapots and delicious British imports, such as Cadbury's chocolate, McVities Digestives and Rich Tea biscuits.

Perennial was created in 1990, founded by Sue Zuege and her friend Julee, both tea enthusiasts who had enjoyed their experiences in England.

Much of the store's stock is organic and fair trade, said Zuege, who strives to order exclusively from trusted companies with whom the store managers have a personal relationship.

All teapots are authentic and from around the world — ranging from cast-iron teapots from Japan to Brown Betty pots from Britain.

While the store doesn't operate like a sit-down restaurant, a few tables are available to savor Perennial's freshly brewed beverages, which can be enjoyed inside the store or ordered to go.

Customers from all walks of life frequent Perennial, from British ex-patriots to local college students.

"We see all different kinds of folks around here," Zuege said. "It's never a dull day; our customers are all so unique."

— Katie Stapleton-Paff

Bottega Italiana

1425 1st Ave

(206) 343-0200


Bottega Italiana serves up high quality gelato and has a great atmosphere. While not officially within the Public Market, Bottega Italiana is connected to the same city block and is located a bit south of the market's entrance.

It's a bit of squeeze to get into this small busy shop, but the selection is fairly large for a gelato joint, and all of the flavors are high-quality and often include real pieces of fruit or chunks of chocolate.

The standard chocolate and vanilla flavors are better than average, but the best to experiment with are the berry, strawberry and mocha flavors. The gelato is modestly priced and each order comes in a cool, flowery plastic container which could easily be reused at home.

— Guy Keltner

Old Seattle Paperworks

1501 Pike Pl # 424

(206) 623-2870

For the history buff, or anyone with an interest in antiques, Old Seattle Paperworks is the perfect place to spend hours.

Located downstairs below the main market, this is the place to find old magazines, cheesy posters of 1950s advertisements and reprinted propaganda posters from past wars.

Paperworks was founded 31 years ago by John Hanawalt, a self-dubbed "pack rat" and long-time collector. The store's merchandise dates all the way back to newspapers from 1861 upvto magazines of the 1990s and everything in between.

An extensive selection of LIFE magazines sell on average for about $35, depending on the date. Issues of People, TIME, Playboy, Woman's Way and Seventeen are also in stock.

Artsy antique posters adorn the shelves, ranging from retro pinups such as Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's to World War II propaganda paintings.

Customers are diverse in age and demographic, ranging from college students wishing to inexpensively decorate their dorms or apartments to elderly couples searching for magazines from certain times in their youth.

While the store is small and can get crowded easily, it is definitely worth a stop while down at Pike Place — it's like walking right into a history book.

— Katie Stapleton-Paff

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