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Seattle Food Tours

Food experiences on foot

Cities all have their own distinct food culture and Seattle has an outstanding food scene. But with all Seattle has to offer, how do you or someone visiting the city figure out where to start? Seattle Food Tours makes it easy with guided tours that include food, beverage, and history/current information about the tour areas. They're different from other tours and worth checking out.

Michael Rogers started Taste Pike Place in 2007, after taking a food tour through Greenwich Village with his wife in 2006. "We had cannoli, falafel, pizza, cheese-I still remember it," he laughs. "Back in Seattle, I didn't see anyone doing food tours through Pike Market, so we started them. In 2008, we bought Seattle Food Tours from a competitor. We inherited her tour that went from Belltown to Pike Place Market. I was interested in Belltown as I'd worked there before, so we kept our Market tour and started our Belltown Restaurant Tour in 2008 or 2009. In August of 2013, we launched our Capitol Hill Social. I didn't think we could be a proper food tour company without being part of Capitol Hill."

Several things set these tours apart. Groups are kept fairly small for a more intimate experience; you get to know your tour mates. The Market tour goes to five culinary spots that are not on any other Market tour. Belltown and Capitol Hill are roaming dinner parties. You move from one location to another, enjoying appetizers to dessert, including craft cocktails. The restaurants expect you; you slide right in, enjoy your food and beverage, then head to the next spot. On your way, you stop and hear things about the area you're in. Locations are close to each other, giving almost everyone the chance to join in-it's not a marathon walk. Another nice option is the "add on." If you're at a stop providing food but no beverage, you can buy a cocktail or glass of wine. If someone doesn't want to drink, no problem. But if the restaurant has an intriguing list, it's hard to resist. Le Zinc on the Capitol Hill Social offers absinthe and absinthe cocktails (photo)-the history is fascinating and drinks delicious. At Shiro's in Belltown, you go in before they open, cruising past everyone waiting in line.

"The roaming dinner party was unique at the time we started-no one was doing progressive dinners in that late afternoon time slot. The idea is really an extension of what people are doing on their own. A lot of people hit several spots in a night," explains Michael.

On your own though, you might have to wait to get into a busy place, cutting into your party time. Michael's tours are expected, the food is made when you arrive, and you get information about the restaurant from those who work there and know it best. They're early enough that you can go out afterward for more fun, or head home. For visitors to Seattle, it's a great way to learn about the neighborhoods and figure out where you want to come back and eat while in the city. For locals, you can experience several places in one night. "Interestingly, 60% or our guests are locals. Sometimes it's girls' night out, or date night, or people who just want to learn about an area's restaurants."

It's great for the restaurants, too. When tours come in, people really want to learn about them. Restaurant owners and staff can take the time to talk about and show what sets them apart.

Looking at Michael's background, it was a straight march to Seattle Food Tours. He moved here in 1992 from Louisiana. His first restaurant job was bussing tables at The Pink Door in Pike Place Market. He moved to Miami for the winter, then returned to Seattle. He apprenticed in the kitchen at Lampreia for a year. "That didn't work out quite as I hoped. My neighbor in Fremont owned Show Me Seattle tours and recruited me in 1997 to drive a bus and give a city tour. I found out I was pretty good at it." Cruise ships started arriving in Seattle and business was good.

During the winter of 1997, Michael bought his own bus to transport skiers and snowboarders to the mountains, calling it Beeline Tours. "I would do that in the winter and the city tours in the summer. I did that for three summers before deciding to go fulltime with Beeline Tours." He still has Beeline; it has evolved into general charter transportation for groups with a fleet of six buses, and multi-day vacation packages he sells to tour operators. He never lost his passion for cooking and food, and that's what led him to that fateful food tour in New York.

For 2014, look for his Market to Table with Chef Traci Post which will include shopping and interacting with producers and farmers, a kitchen demo at the Market's Atrium Kitchen, and a shared lunch made from the ingredients chosen on the tour. Traci is a local personal chef, a graduate of the Culinary Business Academy and has her own line of specialty foods.

There are more ideas coming, so keep an eye on this innovative tour company.

Food Tour of Pike Place Market

DeLaurenti-local salumi and artisan cheese

Bottega Italiana-gelato

Crumpet Shop-organic honey & butter crumpet

Pike Place Chowder-clam chowder

Pure Food Fish Market-alderwood smoked wild king salmon

La Buona Tavola-truffle oil & salt, potato leak soup, 10-year balsamic vinegar

Tom Douglas, The Rub Shack-chef's selection

Tours offered Wednesday through Sunday.

Noon-2:30 p.m.

Belltown Restaurant Tour

Local 360-salad & oysters

Rob Roy-craft cocktail

Shiro's-duo of seasonal sushi

Branzino-entrée and wine pairing

Black Bottle-dessert

Tours offered Thursday through Saturday.

4-6:45 p.m.

21 and over only

Capitol Hill Social

Bar Cotto-salumi & wine

Le Zinc-chef's choice *

Momiji-sushi roll

Tin Table-chef's choice main entrée & cocktail


Tours offered Thursday through Saturday.

4:30-7 p.m.

21 and over

Market to Table with Chef Traci Post

Chef-led Market tour

Shop for ingredients

Kitchen demo in Market's Atrium

Share lunch made with Market ingredients

Tours offered Saturdays from June through October.

10 a.m.-1 p.m.


*Le Zinc has closed.

Connie Adams/June 2014

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Revolve True Food & Wine Bar


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