People love French bakeries. No matter where you go, there's probably a super popular French bakery nearby that specializes in croissants or macarons and has a line out the door. Le Panier is that place in Seattle. And while I don't consider myself an expert when it comes to French pastries, I left Le Panier completely unimpressed. When I asked the worker for a recommendation, she said their chocolate croissants were probably the best thing they had, followed by their macarons. One guess as to what two things I ordered. That's right, a baguette and a muffin.
I hadn't really planned on coming to Rachel's Ginger Beer, but it was right next door to Pike's Place Chowder and I love ginger beer. I don't know who Rachel is, but she's got some serious balls devoting an entire shop to just ginger beer. I tried the original and while it was a bit too tart for my tastes, it was still refreshing enough that I came back a couple more times on my trip to try the other flavors. Do yourself a favor and get the blood orange since it was the best one I tried and hence the best one they have. On the scale of ginger beers I'd place this in probably the top 25th percentile. Near the very top would be the amazing house-brewed ginger beer from Son of a Gun, and near the bottom would be the cup of Sprite I had sitting around that I decided to dump chunks of sushi ginger into.
There are a handful of places that people say you absolutely have to try when visiting Seattle. Paseo is one of those places. You know a place is legit when there's a line out the door and no sign on the building. You also know a place is legit if they have four and a half stars and over 2200 reviews on Yelp. They specialize in Cuban-themed sandwiches, and oh what sandwiches they are. The man behind the register pointed me towards the Caribbean Roast since that's what they're known for. It's piles of pulled pork topped with piles of grilled onions topped with jalapeños and smothered in their Paseo sauce. If that description alone doesn't sound delicious, it's obvious we can't be friends. And also you might be dead on the inside.
Piroshky Piroshky is a super popular Russian bakery located in Pike Place Market and they specialize in, well, piroshki. Don't know what a pirozhok is? Then you're an ignoramus, just like me. Apparently they're stuffed Russian buns. No, not like that, you pervert. Get your mind out of the gutter. The one I had happened to be filled with meat and cheese. You can get yours with something else if you're into that kind of thing. And I know you are. Stuffed Russian buns. Pfft. You might as well skip the pirozhok and head to the strip club around the corner. Wait, there's a strip club around the corner? I, uh, have to go. A completely unrelated and non-perverted emergency has come up.
There are a handful of popular doughnut places around Seattle, and while some would argue Mighty-O Donuts in Wallingford is the best, Top Pot Doughnuts was closer to my hotel and so it's the one I went to. Turns out it was also named in U.S. News & World Report's list of "America's Best Doughnuts." The space itself has two floors, and seems like it'd be a great place to study or do some work. I'm lazy and do neither of those things, so I just showed up to pig out.
After stuffing my face with assorted foods and snacks around Pike Place Market in Seattle, I was in desperate need of some coffee and found myself at Seattle Coffee Works. The place was crazy popular on Yelp so I decided to give it a try. While the coffee itself was okay (I ordered a mocha), the latte art was incredible. I mean, look at it. Have you ever seen better latte art? If you answered "yes" you're a liar. Or you're a thousand years old and your barista was Michelangelo. When I picked up my coffee, I looked down and was so blown away I let out an audible gasp. I don't want to get anybody's expectations up though, since I'm not sure if this is a standard thing here or if the barista simply liked the cut of my jib. It's hard not to, with a jib like mine.
I'm going to make this simple: Pike Place Chowder has the best clam chowder I've ever had. I've had clam chowder from all over New England, from Boston's super popular Legal Sea Foods, from places that may or may not even exist, and I can say very confidently that this is the best clam chowder I've ever had. You think you know what clam chowder tastes like and then you have it from Pike Place Chowder and everything changes. To give you an idea of how much I like this place, I had their clam chowder every single day I was in Seattle. Me. A guy who loves variety so much I eat three different lunches a day. Their wall holds awards from a bunch of clam chowder competitions (I didn't even know that was a thing) and they deserve every one of them. The seafood bisque will knock you on your ass, but the New England Clam Chowder will change your life. Plus free Andes Chocolate Mints? Is it socially acceptable to be adopted by a restaurant? Because let's make that happen.
Thai Tom is a little Thai restaurant located in the University District of Seattle. It's quick, it's dirty, and it's what many would argue is the best Thai food in Seattle. The restaurant has a counter facing the kitchen and then a few tables that seat two. And only two. As in if you have more than two people in your party you'll be sitting at the counter. Did I mention the cooks also happen to plate food directly at the counter, waving scalding hot pans inches from your face? Reach for your water at the wrong moment and you'll get burned. God forbid you bring a child in here, because I'm sure one or more has been horribly disfigured while playing a rousing game of Let's Reach For The Thing Being Waved In Front Of My Face. Overall I'd say Thai Tom isn't even close to the best Thai food I've ever had, but that's still not to say it's not the best Thai food in Seattle.