WHACK! For the nth time today, Sam Samson, a fishmonger at Pike Place Fish Market since 1986, caught a flying salmon amidst a sea of wide-eyed tourists. The iconic Pike Place Fish is the third stop of the morning and our tour guide keeps churning out the stories of this 103-year old Seattle market.
In the last decade, culinary walking tours have risen to the tourism forefront like bread yeast and the selection is outstanding: Forktown Portland, Wok Wiz San Francisco, the French Quarter Culinary Tasting, etc. Yet amongst this group, there’s a gem that can only be found in the Emerald City.
After spending three months browsing through Pike Place Market every weekend, I was sure I would be a fantastic tour guide when my mom came for a visit. I was armed with facts, tid-bits, and knowledge of all the best eats in the city. She, being a travel aficionado and Trip Advisor devotee, booked the Savor Seattle Pike Place Market tour instead. And can I say, “Thank God.”
Since beginning in 2007, Savor Seattle has quickly landed at #1 on just about every Seattle to-do list. They offer food enthusiasts five distinctly Seattle tours: Pike Place Market, Gourmet Seattle, Chocolate Indulgence, Craving Capitol Hill, and the San Juan Island Gourmet Kayak Expedition.
My first experience with the start-up company began on a September morning at the original Starbucks located across from Pike Place. An enthusiastic tour guide and hungry visitors from all over the U.S. arrived at our table shortly before 10. We quickly introduced ourselves and jumped into stories of how we discovered the tour, what we’ve been doing in Seattle, and of course, announced our favorite foods. One specialty latte and a few tales of the Starbucks siren logo, and my new friends and I were swept to the next place: Daily Dozen Doughnuts.
As the morning continued, I sampled spices at MarketSpice, salivated over smoked salmon at Pike Place Fish, and devoured the BEST mac at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese. We paused for fresh raspberries at Frank’s Quality Produce, and nibbled decadent crab cakes at Etta’s Seafood. I learned that the best clam chowder in the country resides outside of New England. I walked on the brick street I passed daily, hearing for the first time that the bricks were a gift from San Francisco for providing lumber after the Great Earthquake. I tasted more authentic cuisine and discovered more about my “home” in three hours than I had all summer.
Now I should note, I typically don’t like guided tours. I feel like I’m being herded with a group of fanny pack donning sheep and I quickly tire of the cheesy anecdotes delivered by failed stand-up comedians turned tour guides. However, Savor Seattle is, to put it simply, excellent. The tour guides are charming, knowledgeable, and witty. The food selection is so delicious that I was convinced not only to go on another tour (Gourmet Seattle) but also return to each business we visited and buy goodies to share with my family.
If you’re from Seattle or just visiting the area, stop by and say “hi” to Sam, and don’t be ashamed to be one of the wide-eyed tourists shoveling local treats in your mouth.