A couple of weeks ago my friends Dana, Norma and I made our bi-annual pilgrimage over to the Eastside (Redmond) for the inaugural Seattle Underground Market event.
Here’s how it works: food vendors (think more like home-cooks rather than established chefs or restaurants) gather at a secret location with a menu item of their choice and serve it to the masses. It’s a perfect showcase for people who are exploring the idea of starting their own business or restaurant to test some of their food creations with the general public. It’s a pretty great idea – one that makes me wish even more that my old roommate Heather was still around because we would own this thing as vendors.
The location of the Underground Market is revealed by email the day before the event. The event’s first location was in an empty warehouse that featured plenty of space for queues of long lines. Attendees paid $5 for access to the 20+ vendors – though there was a VIP option for $10 that got you early access. We happened to arrive at exactly the right time and didn’t have to wait much, but by the time we left the lines were about 30 people deep.
The event is cash-only and all items are priced between $2-$5. After a quick survey to see what was available, my strategy was to purchase items that offered some bang for my buck. I think was a reasonable approach but not one that I would necessarily employ in the future because I did make some choices that I regret – but ultimately, I spent about $20 and left feeling very full. Here are just a few of the photos that Dana and I took… my phone died (of course) and so I was barely able to capture anything!
The Market has already received plenty of press and attention, and there is a bit of controversy surrounding it, as well as some budding competition which boasts that it will be a fully licensed event. Basically, this event is not sanctioned by the Health Department and having recently hosted a food-themed event, I know what a pain it is to get through the hurdles and the paperwork. I’m not entirely clear on how they’ve gotten around this, and I feel like you’re eating at your own risk, which is fine with me. It’s an adventure from start to finish and I can’t wait for the next one!
The next Seattle Underground Food Market will be on October 20th. Location will be revealed by email the day before. Bring cash (there are no ATMs) and there is a theme: black! Follow on Facebook for updates!