Seattle: Ivar’s Chowder in Sourdough Bread Bowl

Ivar’s appears to be steeped in history in Seattle. For one, we have heard that Ivar’s had been sponsoring the Seattle’s 4th of July fireworks display for over 40 years without fail. Since even before World War II, Ivar had been known for their award winning fish-and-chips in Seattle’s waterfront.

We had some time after the Aquarium before we get on the harbor cruise and decided that we go get a little something to eat. We did not want to take a full meal for sure because we had planned for a seafood lunch. So, we headed to the Ivar’s Fish Bar.


I find it unique that Ivar had food outlets to cater for all people. For instance, they have 25 seafood bars like these ones above which is largely a takeout place. They also have fast food like outlets peppered all over the city. Morever, they also have very established full service restaurants like Acres of Clams, the Salmon House and Mukilteo Landing.

On a previous visit to Seattle we had visited another Ivar’s Seafood Bar and blogged about it here.


We decided to get one of their award winning chowder. I remembered very clearly how much we enjoyed the Boudin’s chowder in Sourdough bowl and wanted to see how Ivar’s line up to it. Frankly, at the risk of offending Seattlelites (that’s what you call Seattle folks, right?) I must say that SF’s Boudin wins hands down — Ivar’s sourdough bread is so bad, we did not even finish it.


The Chowder in Sourdough Bread Bowl costs $6.29. The bread bowl is extremely dry and does taste stale. We were wondering if they had served us yesterday’s leftover bread. Moreover, the bowl was so badly formed that the chowders flowed over the top and made quite a mess. It actually looked quite gross … we were quite disappointed.

Maybe it’s the hour of the day. It was still early and maybe they did not have a fresh supply of bread. I can’t believe that for a place with the reputation like Ivar, we ended with food like this.

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  1. Erick

    It’s too bad you had a bad bread bowl. How was the chowder, though? We always buy the Ivar chowder from our Costco. It’s really nice tasting with chunks of clam. I still think the best clam chowder I had was from Legal Seafoods in Boston. I even brought back some with me for my wife (BIG Clam chowder fan) and she still raves about it!

  2. Ron C.

    I remember going to Ivar’s (on the Seattle waterfront) a number of years ago and being quite disappointed.

  3. Fish Lovr

    This doesn’t surprise me about Ivar’s. Not too very long ago, I told my spouse; “hey, while we’re waiting for our ferry to load, why don’t we walk over and nab some fish and chips..” (very sad words of the evening, I am afraid to say!)

    the Halibut tasted like deep fried RUBBER. I’ve never eaten deep fried RUBBER, but if I wanted to torture someone at GITMO and make them think I was feeding them DEEP FRIED RUBBER, I’d fly in some IVARS FISH N CHIPS to do that with!

    not much of what we got except the ‘chips’ were palatable, and even those were mildly soggy not crisp.

    huge THUMBS DOWN for Ivar’s.

  4. etranger

    We go to Ivar’s Salmon House all the time, and the food is fine. Maybe you caught a bad day. We usually get the tanker of chowder plus extra cups, so we all get a bowl. It is cheaper that way. I like the scallops and the clam strips.

    Inside the restaurant, they have some pretty good salmon and a lot of great Native Peoples artifacts, which you can go see whether or not you eat inside.

    We usually get food from the outdoor stand and eat on the barge on Lake Union. One of the best views in Seattle, and we have never had rubber fish. Better luck next time.

  5. Dennis

    You said Ivars food is bad, lol

  6. paul victor

    I do not understand why people slander good food when we often have
    totally different tastes anyway. I personally like fresh and natural flavors and no garlic or spices to hide the true tast of a meal. No a days every one seems to like lots of spice and garlic on everything they buy…(just check the labels in the store. Maybe we are all becoming Asian with all the imports and stuff from China. Give me clean and natural food (American Style) any time. For those that like bad food spiced up and poorly presented then I highly recommend going to any country in Asia and eat off the streets…Good luck with that.
    Never had a bad meal in Ivars….

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