Seattle Waterfront is The Perfect Place to Spend Your Money on Overpriced Seafood

As I strolled along the Seattle waterfront on a sunny summer day, I couldn’t help but notice the crowds of wide-eyed visitors swarming around the seafood shops and restaurants. Glittering signs advertised the “freshest catches” and “best views in the city,” drawing people in like moths to an open flame.

A family from Ohio walked by, excitedly discussing which restaurant had the best clam chowder. “Ma, look at the size of those Dungeness crabs in the window!” said their young son, dragging her towards a shop displaying heaping piles of crustaceans on ice. Meanwhile, a group of chatty teenagers from Tucson snapped selfies in front of the Pike Place Fish Market, dreaming of impressively Insta-worthy meals.

It was easy to see the appeal – on the surface, at least. With the harbor sparkling in the distance and ferries sailing by, the scene oozed cool, coastal vibes. But mingled among the thrill-seekers were faces that told a different story: tourist couples comparing receipts with frowns, and lone diners picking at their plates of pasta or fish, likely regretting the huge chunks taken from their wallets.

As much as the waterfront tries to pass itself off as a fish-lovers paradise, savvy locals know it’s really just another pretty trap set for unsuspecting visitors. When it comes to truly fresh seafood with reasonable price tags, you’ve got to know where to dip your toe in the water instead of plunging right into the tempting tourist tide.

Overpriced Delicacies

Overpriced Delicacies In Seattle

The Seattle waterfront is gorgeous around dinnertime, as the sun goes down over the water. Families and couples are wandering around checking out all the seafood shops, getting excited, and looking at the fresh crab and salmon on display. But they better pay attention to the prices too.

I overheard some college kids debating where to eat. One was like “The halibut looks good but I don’t want to blow my whole budget in one night.” And man, you see the disappointed faces leaving some places too. This one couple was talking way too loud about how they just dropped $80 on fish and chips! No way would they come back.

If you’re new around here, it’s easy to get drawn in by all the beautiful sights and smells of the ocean. But the locals know that while the views are great, you’ll pay through the nose for any seafood by the water. Better to enjoy the scenery and then go fill up somewhere you won’t regret it.

Dining with Regret

Dining With Regret In Seattle

It was a perfect summer evening as I wandered along the pier, taking in the lively market scene. Families browsed the stalls while couples snapped pictures with the harbor behind them. One restaurant’s rooftop view looked too good to resist, so I decided to stop for dinner. That’s when I noticed just how high the prices soared. A simple platter of Dungeness crab would drain my wallet more than the flight that got me to Seattle! I couldn’t help but overhear another diner sigh “should’ve known it was too good to be true.”

The Price of a View

The Price of a Nice View In Seattle

All along the promenade, seafood shops waved their wares, trumpeting the “fresh catch” and “wild status” of their glimmering salmon and crabs on ice. But one menu caught my eye – splendidly plated salmon with all the right buzzwords, yet at outrageous cost. I had to laugh watching open-jawed tourists scanning the tall tab, realizing too late they’d taken the bait for an overpriced oceanic photo op. As the ferries sailed by with their cheaper snacks, I wondered how many more visitors would learn that here, beautiful bounty comes with an even pricier view.

Elliott’s Oyster House

Elliott's Oyster House

A Seat by the Harbor, But at What Cost?

On a sunny afternoon, the crowds were queued up outside Elliott’s, an iconic waterfront seafood shop. Inside, diners sucked piles of plump oysters while gazing out at ferries gliding by. The bivalves certainly looked tempting, but when I saw a dozen going for nearly fifty bucks, I started doing the math. By the time I polished off that many slippery slurpers, I’d have blown enough for two leisurely meals elsewhere! Clearly, these folks were after the quintessential Puget Sound experience more than a good deal. But was an Instagrammable afternoon really worth emptying my wallet?

The Crab Pot Experience

The Crab Pot Experience

An Overpriced Peeling Party

Down the boardwalk, laughter and cracking sounds emanated from The Crab Pot, where groups relished mountains of crustaceans crawling over layers of newspapers. It did look like a jovial time smashing shells and feasting on the sweet innards. But when I saw their final bill, my mouth gaped – that pile of crab that did all the work FOR them came at a shocking price surpassing a week’s groceries. As seagulls squawked outside, I began to see the real humor was in the restaurant – these diners were forking over a bundle just to do the dishes themselves!

Final Thoughts

The waterfront restaurants are clearly focused on giving people an Instagram-worthy experience more than providing good value. The food is overpriced for what you get. While the locations with their views of the harbor are nice, they’re not worth emptying your wallet for mediocre seafood.

There are definitely better options if you don’t mind walking a few blocks inland. You’ll find places that put more effort into the food itself at prices that won’t destroy your budget. If you want the full Seattle experience, then check out the waterfront for photos. But save your dining dollars for restaurants where quality, not ambiance, is the priority.

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