Gluten-Free at Pike Place Market
Growing up, I wanted to run away to Seattle. I wanted to be anywhere but where I was and move to the Emerald City. I had a plan to work at Starbucks, be in a grunge band and date a dude in flannel. One of my beloved pen pals that I still know today, Heather, was born and raised there so I had resources and maybe we could be room mates. Baby Mary had it all figured out. While I never did quite move there (or any different state), it’s long been on my bucket list to visit and see their famous sights like Pike Place Market.
Well folks, I can at last check Pike Place Market and Seattle off that list. I’ll be honest that I felt a little clueless and did not know what to expect. Fifteen million visitors head to Pike Place per year, and there’s over 500 shops, restaurants and vendors to explore. Top priority on the agenda? The gluten-free offerings, of course. I am pleased to say there were enough that I couldn’t sample them all during my Pike Place visit. What I did have time to try, were some goodies I had never had gluten-free.
Read on to discover some must-eat’s when you head to Pike Place Market!
Right at the entrance to the infamous market is Seattle favorite, El Borracho. This taqueria has a handful of locations in the area and at Pike Place, it’s an intimate setting with a bustling bar inside and patio dining out front. While I wasn’t thrilled to be looking across to a showgirls theatre from my table, I was reminded how important it is to not judge a book by its cover.
El Barracho has all of your American spins on Mexican plates plus some surprises. I decided to take a seat when I noticed several vegan tacos to choose from. Despite it was busy, I was welcomed quickly and got my margarita order going. Since they were so vegan friendly, I decided to ask what was gluten-free. My server turned out to be extremely knowledgeable and knew where to guide me, he also let me know their corn tortillas are made fresh in-house.
I was in luck as most of the tacos were A-ok for me. Good thing as they were mouth watering. The Taco de Hongos featured mushroom melange, cabbage pico de gallo and vegan sour creme. While the de Soyrizo con Papas had vegan chorizo, Yukon gold potatoes, cilantro and onion. Despite these just sound like your usual tacos, El Barracho has some magic to them you don’t find everyday. They rivaled the memorable Nick’s Tacos we had in San Francisco awhile back.
If you’re wondering how the vegan sour creme was, it was easy to spot it was dairy-free. Yet, very enjoyable and none of that dreaded pungency dairy alternatives often have. I was tempted to try their vegan nachos but was not sold on a soy based cheeze, and passed.
Oh, Cinnamon Works. You sinful little hole in the wall. As I approached Pike Place, I was that person and wanted to get a picture of the famous ‘Public Market’ sign over the market. Little did I know that right across from there is Cinnamon Works. Just one of the many bakeries you’ll find at Pike Place, Cinnamon Works is one of the few scratch bakeries left in the city and has been baking deliciousness since 1983.
Whether you’re gluten-free, vegan and/or sugar free, Cinnamon Works has a treat for you. And, much like the tacos at El Barracho, this is not just any gluten-free muffin. While most bakeries I have visited never have their signature item available gluten-free, Cinnamon Works does. Their Monster Cookie is, well, a monster. Known as their “cookie with everything in it”, this is easily the biggest cookie I have ever seen. Two bites in, and I felt full. Some bites were warm, melting chocolate, while the next had fresh peanut butter dancing on my taste buds. Let’s just pretend calories don’t count when you’re at Cinnamon Works.
Another must-try is their gluten-free bread pudding. I was struggling with what to order with such a variety before my eyes. I asked the associates and they both agreed that while they’re not gluten-free or even fans of bread pudding, that it was their favorite. While I have nothing to compare this decadent treat to, it was yet another winner. I am so happy to know that they even ship their baked goods. It’s well worth it. Next up? I must try their bread.
Battle of the Biscuits
I honestly don’t think I’d had a biscuit in 10 years or more when I arrived to Pike Place Market. If I had, it certainly wasn’t memorable. At Pike Place’s Honest Biscuits, they are very memorable. Then, I heard I had to try nearby Biscuit Bitch as hers are “legendary” compared to any other. While the latter only makes a limited amount of GF biscuits per day, I was in luck to find myself with an Honest biscuit in hand whilst at Biscuit Bitch to test them both out. The verdict?
Honest’s gluten-free Butterhole biscuit boasts tapioca, millet, teff, sorghum and amaranth flours. You can either have your choice of biscuit on one of Honest Biscuits’ menu flavors, on a sandwich or build your own with toppings like Tillamook cheese, caramelized onions and meats.
The biscuit took me back to my childhood. Warm, fluffy, that fresh-baked taste. I was extremely impressed and devoured each bite. Rather slowly to savor just how good and well, honest, it tasted.
If you’re a traditionalist, you can also get a good ol’ order of biscuits and gravy. I decided to try their Northwest gravy, which is gluten-free and vegan. Made out of lentils, the Northwest was a bit of a let down after the biscuit was so good. With a very thick consistency, I felt I was having re-fried beans more than gravy.
Over at Biscuit Bitch, lines wrap around the block and you can easily wait close to an hour for your order. Despite the popularity, my bitch’s biscuit just couldn’t make it to the top. It was much harder and generic-tasting compared to Honest.
The atmosphere and staff definitely make it worth a visit. Lines like, “Coming through bitches” and “What’s up, bitch?” are the normal salutations. (So, parents: be advised if you’re sensitive to language!).
Plan Your Gluten-Free Visit to Pike Place Market
Open 7 days a week, Pike Place is one of the most iconic places in Seattle for tourists and locals alike. The weekends get crowded, so arrive early. Weekdays will often be busy but usually not as hectic as Saturday. Expect a bit of a wait at popular hot spots like the first Starbucks and the Crumpet Shop (which does not have gluten-free items, but is known for exquisite tea).
Another bakery that is hailed for excellent gluten-free treats is Three Girls Bakery. Just down from Cinnamon Works, I did not get the chance to try them out, sadly. Please do for me and report back, would you?
Learn more about Pike Place Market HERE. xo
(*Disclosure: While I was given a guided media tour of Pike Place Market, this is not a sponsored post. I tried each of these delicious restaurants on my own.)