Copacabana

1526 Pike Place

Copacabana (stop 14) can only be reached via stairs.

Copacabana (second floor), Pike Place Market, August 17, 2006, Photo by Federico Pizano (CC BY 3.0)
Stairway sign, Copacabana Cafe, Pike Place Market, August 21, 2019, HistoryLink photo by David Koch
Copacabana Cafe, Pike Place, Seattle, September 1981, Photo by Werner Lenggenhager, Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives (spl_wl_ppm_00015)

When Ramon Pelaez arrived in Seattle from Bolivia and stepped foot in the Pike Place Market, he knew he would go into some kind of business here. The bustle of the merchants, the flow of people coming and going, the array of produce, breads, meats and other items — it reminded him of the market experience back home. Pelaez chose to open a restaurant so he could cultivate a place that echoed the social character of South America, with people gathering to eat, play cards, drink tea, and linger to visit. The menu has remained traditional, and traditionally Bolivian, from the start, with spicy sopa de camarones (shrimp soup) and salteñas (vegetable and beef pie) among the selections.

Originally opened in 1964 in the Sanitary Market building, Copacabana moved to the 1910 Triangle Building in the late 1970s. Among previous tenants in the building were South Park Poultry, at street-level for many years, and an array of businesses on both floors, from fruit vendors to a tobacconist. The outdoor patio running the length of the restaurant, which puts diners just above the Market fray but still in its midst, was built just before Copacabana opened.

Ramon and Hortencia Pelaez’ son and daughter-in-law own the restaurant today, with generations three and four working there now. Tradition and family both run strong here.

At the tip of that Triangle Building, where Post Alley merges into Pike Place, look for the piles of seafood on ice to your left.

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