Seattle >Food & Dining >
Bakeries >Grand Central Baking Company
214 First Avenue S., Seattle, WA | Directions 9810447.600330 -122.333882
Neighborhoods: Downtown, Pioneer Square
One of the first artisan bakeries in Seattle, this spot keeps chugging right along. The Pioneer Square cafe features daily specials along with a long lineup of sandwiches made on the rustic bread. Huge selection of pastries including cookies, muffins, scones and pretty darned good pies.
Just the worst all around – I waited, and waited, and waited to be helped. After finally getting my order taken, I waited, and I waited to get my order. I was running late, and didn't think to check my order. After all, after waiting for 40 minutes for a sandwich and a bag of chips, they must have had it all correct. I got back to the office to discover it was a ham sandwich, once hot but now a cool coagulated mess, on burnt bread. And I'm a vegetarian! When I called to complain, I was told that I should have said something earlier and it was too late to do anything now. I'll never return, not even if I could get a refund of the ten bucks I spent on this awful lunch.
Seattle legend is a lunch standby – When it opened over 20 years ago, Grand Central Bakery was pretty much the only lunch option in Pioneer Square. Some days the lines might make you think that's still the case, but when GCB is on it's well worth the wait for seasonal sandwiches like a BLT with local tomatoes or the classic turkey with havarti and chutney. The high ceilings of the atrium and exposed brick make for a picturesque setting, and on warm days you can take your meal out to the patio for phenomenal people-watching.
Not to be missed are the soups (announced daily through the bakery's Twitter account) and the ludicrously fudgy triple-chocolate cookies. The downside is erratic service - one visit they'll slip an extra cookie into your bag, gratis; another time you'll wait 20 minutes to find they've lost your order. For the most part, the good outweighs the frustrating, though, and GCB remains a reliable lunch spot for the Pioneer Square crowd.
rude customer service – I've been a customer since 1975, but after the bad experience I had there on December 14, I won't be returning. I was waiting in the very long (at least 10 minute wait) line to order a sandwich. A staff person came by to take orders. When she came to me, I was standing too far away from the menu board to read the menu. She handed me a paper menu and proceeded to take orders from the aproximately eight people behind me. After she finished taking their orders, I asked if she would please take my order, but she refused and walked away. When I arrived at the counter, I asked her again to please take my order, but she told me I would need to order at the cash register because she was done taking orders. Finally, I arrived at the cash register and gave my order to the guy at the cash register. He informed me that I would need to wait another 15 minutes. At this point, I had enough and said "no thanks." As I turned to walk away, the guy said "Thank YOU for your PATIENCE."
I wrote an e-mail to the Grand Central website describing my experience, but have not received any response.
Great soup and cinnamon rolls – This is one of my favorite places for lunch in the whole city... the soups are always tasty and a meal with a soup, side salad (get the viniagrette) and lots of bread is extremely reasonably-priced. If you're there on a day when there's mushroom soup to be had, you're a lucky individual because it's completely delicious. There's a whole case of baked goods, all tempting, but the cinnamon rolls are some of the best in the city, very bread-based, which I like, and don't have frosting to hide behind, just a tasty sugary glaze. The cookies are always highly touted but I've found them to be a bit dry--I'm the moist cookie type.
For Really Crunchy Bread Lovers – Their sandwiches are really yummy! ...only if you like hard, crusty bread like I do. The pastries are good too. They are fresh. Their mushroom soup is definitely one of the best. This place is a great quick stop for breakfast & lunch & brunch.
Seattle's vanguard artisanal bakery turns out some of the best soup and sandwiches in town. – The Scene
Marble-topped tables accommodate arcade seating beneath the building's atrium, framed by handsome exposed-brick walls and a soaring ceiling. The loyal Pioneer Square business crowd ensures long lines at the order counter at lunchtime. On rainy afternoons, curl up next to the large fireplace that pumps out quite a bit of warmth.
Cinnamon rolls and sticky buns come out of the oven frequently, to be eaten warm. At lunch, grab a meat and cheese or roasted veggie-filled grinder and explore Pioneer Square, or slide a tray down the cafe counter and choose from fresh salads and built-to-order sandwiches like meat loaf with spicy house-made ketchup and pepper jack cheese. Soups are a consistent delight, especially the cream of mushroom. There's always one daily special sandwich, such as egg salad on olive bread or rare roast beef with porcini-horseradish sauce, and a special entree salad.
Great for a quick bite or morning pastry – Even though we arrived around 10:30 am, the pastries were still great. They fresh bake them on site, so the earlier the better. I had a raspberry muffin that was great, but I imagine it was heavenly around 7:45am when the rasprberries were still warm :). The coffee is Cafe Vita which is definitely par for the course. Great little morning pitstop. I will return.
Yummy soup – The clam chowder is consistently rich and creamy, chalk full of clams and red potatoes. I also love the cream of mushroom with freash rosemary.
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