The Athenian

1517 Pike Place

Athenian sign, Pike Place Market, August 21, 2019, HistoryLink photo by David Koch
Athenian exterior, Pike Place Market, August 21, 2019, HistoryLink photo by David Koch
Waitress outside Athenian Inn, Pike Place Market, Seattle, October 13, 1986, Photo by John Stamets, Courtesy UW Special Collections (MPH3605)
Diners, Athenian, Pike Place Market, Seattle, October 3, 1986, Photo by John Stamets, Courtesy UW Special Collections (MPH4178)
Woman diner in window, Athenian, Pike Place Market, Seattle, March 1967, Courtesy Seattle Public Library (spl_jl_cd_127_07)

Second only to the Virginia Inn in Market restaurant longevity, The Athenian has been in business here since 1909 — and the neon sign hanging over the front door has been there since Day One. Stepping in from the Main Arcade, you see counter seating to either side of the entrance giving way to two levels of table seating with sweeping views of Elliott Bay and beyond.

Opened by three Pappadakis brothers, the business started as a bakery, over the years offering luncheonette service and operating as a tavern, eventually becoming a full-service restaurant in the 1960s. Its longevity and lack of pretention led a 1983 guidebook to claim it to be “the only authentic place left in the Market.”

After Prohibition was repealed in 1933, this was among the first restaurants to receive a liquor license. Its frosted mugs of beer — including more than a dozen local brews on tap — are still a draw today, as are its all-day breakfast options and wide range of seafood. At a destination as popular as Pike Place Market, it’s little surprise there are doses of pop culture to be found. Among them are the locale for a scene from “Sleepless in Seattle.” Tom Hanks tucked into a bowl of steamed clams here while fretting about the dating scene with Rob Reiner — prompting a “Tom Hanks Sat Here” sign at one of the bar stools.

The next stop is next door.

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