The latest in Seattle's poke craze, Seattle Fish Guys is a gleaming, upscale fish market at 23rd and Jackson.

Share story

If you’d told me when I was going to Garfield High School that someday I’d eat an oyster shooter in an upscale fish market at 23rd and Jackson, I probably would’ve laughed. Now the new Verse Seattle stands there, with one bedrooms renting for $1,700 a month and Seattle Fish Guys on the ground floor.

Change in the Central District is a serious matter, too deep to get into here. But the couple who just opened Seattle Fish Guys have real neighborhood ties. Desiree Chinn’s dad graduated from Garfield back in 1949; Sal Panelo’s parents and grandparents own Linc’s Fishing Tackle over on Rainier, in business for decades.

In terms of seafood cred, Sal started working at Mutual Fish in high school. Pike Place Fish Market and Uwajimaya seafood manager are also on his résumé, and he and Desiree were, until recently, partners in City Fish in the Market, too.

Seattle Fish Guys

Fish market with poke and more

411 23rd Ave. S., Seattle (Central District); 206-485-7388;

“As much as we love the Pike Place Market,” Desiree says, “we decided to break away to start this on our own to bring fresh, quality seafood to our local community.” Sal has customers who’ve followed him from the beginning, she says, “many who have become lifelong friends.” Seattle Fish Guys sure sounds like a labor of love.

The menu: Along with gorgeous fish, mammoth lobster tails and more to cook at home, there’s a short menu of poke bowls (an addition to Seattle’s poke-mania, one of half a dozen new spots), seafood cocktails and chowder. (Coming soon, they hope: a deep-fryer for making po’boys and fish and chips.) Get it to go, or eat at counters along the front windows or at a table watched over by mounted trophy fish. The spacious shop’s got gleaming white subway tile and soothing sky-blue walls.

Don’t miss: The excellent oyster shooters were medium-to-large Pacifics, chilled, firm and fresh, with a slightly spicy, bright-tasting house-made cocktail sauce. Crab cocktail was overstuffed into its cup, with just the right amount of sauce. Poke bowls don’t have a lot of extras — just your choice of a few kinds of fish, plus rice and seaweed or gingery squid salad — but the marvelous sashimi-grade Canadian Atlantic salmon version was plush with fat, rich with sesame oil and possessed a little heat. Also don’t miss the opportunity to talk to the solicitous, extremely knowledgeable Guys (including Desiree).

A tip: The octopus poke was on the chewy side, though not rubbery; if you’re uncertain about it or any of the offerings, just ask and they’ll absolutely give you a sample.

Prices: Two poke bowls were $9.99 each, two oyster shooters $2.50 each and a crab cocktail $11.99, equaling $36.97 plus tax — a fine lunch or supper for two.