Il Bistro

93 Pike Street

Il Bistro signs, Pike Place Market, August 21, 2019, HistoryLink photo by David Koch
Il Bistro, Pike Place Market, August 21, 2019, HistoryLink photo by David Koch
Pike Place Soap Box Derby, Seattle, March 26, 1972, Seattle P-I photo by Tom Brownell, Courtesy MOHAI (2000.107.179.21.02)

This space along the odd little side-road at the end of Pike Street, which soon curves southward to become Post Alley, has been home to a range of businesses since the building went up in 1900. Among previous tenants here are Boulton’s Tavern in the 1960s/early 1970s (said to have been a favorite among longshoremen) and Victrola Tavern in the 1970s (called a “seamy subterranean dive” in The Seattle Times, and co-host of occasional beer-fueled go-cart races). Back in the 1950s it was Sadie’s Café, where future governor Gary Locke might be found helping his parents at their Chinese-American restaurant.

Today many hundreds of people stream past this spot every day en route to the oddly compelling Gum Wall — and miss the fact that Il Bistro is one of Seattle’s most intimate, cozy venues for a meal or an expertly crafted cocktail. Opened in 1975, it became one of the most celebrated restaurants in town. It may not hold the same high allure today, due as much to the restaurant landscape changing as anything. A big appeal of Il Bistro rests, for many, in how little it has changed in its four-plus decades.

Meandering back up that cobblestone road to the corner at First Avenue takes you back where you began.

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