It would be presumptuous to say that one espresso shop is Seattle’s best, but I easily can pick my favorite. Down the ramp at the main entrance to the Pike Place Market, tucked into a corner space the size of a walk-in closet, Ghost Alley Espresso serves drop-dead delicious brew: cocoa-dark, thick, and powerful but without a hint of bitterness. It is fine for lattes and such, magnificent all by itself.
While much business is take-out (by necessity, since indoor seating is all of three stools against a little shelf by the window), it is possible to drink espresso here, which is a joy. It comes in a little glass cup with a handle. The cup is set into a small serving board alongside a small glass shaped like a skull. The glass holds seltzer water – a welcome palate-cleanser between sips of espresso so intense that it resounds on the tongue long after it’s been swallowed.
Ghost Alley is such a charming place, now run by the daughter of the gent who started it and who also instituted the Market Ghost Tours (hence the shop’s name). I happened to stop by when Halloween was just a few weeks off and all of the market was loaded with images of goblins and ghosts. At Ghost Alley espresso, eerie spirits are a year-around presence.
Espresso, espresso drinks, coffee, and tea are the only things on the menu. Dine-in customers are welcome to bring pastries from elsewhere in the market.