Five outstandingly delicious places to eat in Alaska

In the spirit of journeying during periods less traveled, I’ve embarked to Alaska this winter. Follow the adventures here, and prepare to have your preconceived notions destroyed along the way.

alaska

Particularly in the winter, it’s pretty crucial that you stay warm and well fed while in Alaska. We can’t make any promises about the ease of the former, but we’ve got the latter completely under control. Believe it or not, The Last Frontier is a foodie’s paradise, with a vast number of outstanding local eateries to choose from. During my stay in Anchorage, I was told that there were some 16,000 restaurant permits floating around the greater ANC area, which likely means that you’ve more food options than lodging choices. I was also interested to find that a great many of Alaska’s best eateries are tucked into what we Lower 48ers would call “strip malls.” I’ll admit — prior to visiting AK, I’d visited all 49 of the other states, and strip mall food was rarely a hit. Not so in Alaska. Read on to find out five totally delectable places to eat in the Anchorage and Fairbanks areas; who knows, your favorite hole-in-the-wall might be in there!

%Gallery-118372%1) Silver Gulch

alaska

This place didn’t even serve food three years ago, but after being a dedicated brewery for a decade, the owners decided to try their hand at something new. Good thing they did. Located in the tiny town of Fox, Alaska (around 20 minutes outside of Fairbanks), this restaurant and brewery makes its own grub and beer, and it’s easily one of the best meals you’ll find in the greater FAI area. The design of the place is refreshing as well, and the public is welcome to take a tour of the connected brewery at no charge. Looking for a recommendation? The Pub Pommes to get things going, the Halibut Tacos to stuff you and a walk around the brewery to make you feel a little better for overeating.

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2) Seven Glaciers

Perched high atop Alyeska Hotel, this AAA Four Diamond restaurant is a serious treat — from both a visual and deliciousness standpoint. I’ve never been to a place with a more astonishing entrance. In order to get here, you’ll need to step foot into a scenic tram that lifts you up the mountainside in a matter of minutes. The views of the surrounding mountain ranges in Girdwood (~45 miles outside of Anchorage) are downright breathtaking, and the food inside may be even more so. Reserve a table with a windowside view, and feel free to opt for any of the (seriously amazing) fish dishes. You’re in Alaska, after all!

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3) Moose’s Tooth

If you’ve heard of one restaurant in Alaska through the so-called grapevine, chances are it’s Moose’s Tooth. Situated in Anchorage, this place is widely known for having the best pizza in the state, maybe even the country. That’s a pretty tall claim, and after trying it for myself, I’d say the place mostly lives up to the hype. The vibe is laid back, the staff is warm and welcoming, and the service is top-notch. The food is truly world class; the only pizzas that I’ve had to rival this one in taste come from (the now defunct) Giordano’s in Chicago and Mellow Mushroom in North Carolina. Make no mistake — the sheer quantity of wild topping options is worth making a trip for, and I can guarantee you won’t leave disappointed.

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4) Lemongrass

Thai food… in Fairbanks? It’s true! In fact, Fairbanks is fairly well known for having a staggering array of Thai food options, and Lemongrass is a particularly delectable choice. As I alluded to earlier, this one’s tucked slyly within a strip mall of sorts, so it’s fairly easy to overlook. You’d be smart to look it up, though, as everything at the table I sat at drew wide smiles from those eating. Naturally, the Pad Thai was remarkable, so even if you aren’t feeling too adventurous, you can still snag a great Thai meal in Alaska.

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5) Crow’s Nest at the Captain Cook Hotel

I’ll be honest with you; this one’s worth stopping at just for the view. The food is delicious, mind you, but it’s a bit pricey and not quite as on-point as the grub at Seven Glaciers. But if you’re looking for the most impressive view of Anchorage from an eatery in the city, this is it. It’s located on the 20th (i.e. top) floor of The Captain Cook Hotel, and the overlook of the city (shown above) is simply astonishing. Be prepared to pay said view, though, and make absolutely sure you and your partner save room for the Bananas Foster dessert. That alone is worth making a reservation for.

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Obviously, there are a lot more than five great places to eat in the state of Alaska. Southside Bistro, Bear Tooth Theater Pub and Middle Way Cafe all come highly recommended in the Anchorage area, while Big Daddy’s BBQ in Fairbanks calls itself the most northerly place to get southern barbecue. Got any other great recommendations for food in Alaska? Shout ’em out in the comments section below!

[Images provided by Dana Jo Photography]

My trip was sponsored by Alaska Travel Industry Association, but I was free to report as I saw fit. The opinions expressed in this article are 100% my own.

Winter in Alaska: snowmobiling with Glacier City, cheating death all the while (video)

In the spirit of journeying during periods less traveled, I’ve embarked to Alaska this winter. Follow the adventures here, and prepare to have your preconceived notions destroyed along the way.



A helmet cam view of snowmobiling in Girdwood, Alaska


When it comes to winter sports, you’ve got skiing, snowboarding, ice hockey — you know, the usual. And then, there’s snowmobiling. Or “snowmachining” as it’s known in The Last Frontier. Whatever you call it, there’s no question that it’s a rush of epic proportions, and while you can most certainly do it in the lower 48, doing in the one that borders Canada and and Russia* provides an entirely different perspective. I’ve snowmobiled through Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and in Olney, Montana, and while those were both unique and extraordinary experiences in and of themselves, ripping it up through the Chugach mountains is a can’t-miss episode for daredevils. Read on to find out how Glacier City Snowmobile Tours got my adrenaline pumping, or press play on the video above to catch a helmet-cam view of the entire thing!

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snowmobile in alaska

Girdwood feels a lot further than 45 miles from Alaska’s largest city (yeah, Anchorage), and it’s home to both Alyeska Ski Resort & Hotel as well as Glacier City Snowmobile Tours. These guys are tucked within the Great Alaskan Tourist Trap shop, connected with the Tesoro fuel station. Tough to find, but well worth discovering. You’ll have two main tour options — the 5.5 hour Real Deal Blue Ice Tour (where you’ll spot glaciers) — and the 3.5 hour Gold Mine Tour. Those run you $250 and $200 apiece, respectively, and include fuel, gear, a campfire lunch (complete with Reindeer hot dogs and Russian Hot Tea) and a guide. The “guide” part is what really makes it — we had Matthew Moscoso (shown above), an Alaskan of five years and consummate professional on the sled. He was both comical and informative, and frankly, it makes me wish my US history teacher of yesteryear had a shred of his genes. I also got to ride with Chanc Deschamps-Prescott, an award-winning skier (and Girdwood native) who is but 15 years of age, and has his sights firmly set on entering the next Winter Olympics. I can’t promise that you too will get the sled with a local hero, but hey, crazier things have happened in Alaska.

snowmobile in alaska

I embarked on the Gold Mine Tour, and couldn’t have possibly had more fun. The trails were definitely the most challenging I’d seen in my three major treks out, but that also adds to the thrill and excitement. We were able to stop for plenty of astounding photo opportunities of the surrounding mountains (as you can see in the gallery here), and the lunch really was something special. Delicious, and thought provoking. How often does that happen?

snowmobile in alaska

As with pretty much everything in Alaska, there’s something truly awe-inspiring about doing everyday activities here. Snowmobiling is no different. Glacier City is the only tour outfit that gets to cruise on the trails that we cruised on, so you’re literally surrounded with nothing but nature. It’s you, your group, your sled, and some of the most intense scenery your brain will ever have to digest. I could go on, but I’ll let a bit of helmet cam footage from my journey handle whatever convincing is still required.

[Images provided by Dana Jo Photography]

My trip was sponsored by Alaska Travel Industry Association, but I was free to report as I saw fit. The opinions expressed in this article are 100% my own.

Winter in Alaska: fine dining, finer skiing at the Alyeska Resort & Hotel

In the spirit of journeying during periods less traveled, I’ve embarked to Alaska this winter. Follow the adventures here, and prepare to have your preconceived notions destroyed along the way.

Alyeska

You know you’ve considered it: “What if I went skiing this year… in Alaska? But then, the inevitable list of excuses rolls in: the flight’s further, it’s more expensive, none of my friends would come, I can’t reasonably drive it should I want to, etc. Pish posh. Utah may lay claim to The Greatest Snow on Earth, but Utah hasn’t met Alaska. Girdwood, Alaska — just 45 minutes outside of Anchorage — is home to Alyeska Ski Resort & Hotel, an increasingly luxurious stop for those who’ve grown tired of the challenges found in America’s Mountain Time Zone. What’s most staggering about Mount Alyeska isn’t the near-4,000 foot top elevation, but the 250 foot base elevation. Going from 250 feet to nearly 4,000 is truly a sight to behold — it’s not everyday that you find a ski resort with its base at sea level, you know? Read on to find out a little more about winter gem, and why should most definitely bring an appetite while visiting.

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An overview and peek inside of Hotel Alyeska, plus a ride up the scenic tram


Frankly, Alyeska has a lot of things going for it. For one, it’s located in Girdwood. It’s just a 45 minute haul to ANC, but it feel miles apart. It’s definitely got that “ski town” vibe, much like Whitefish, Montana. Forget about dodging the haughty and uppity here — Alaska wouldn’t be caught dead trying to be Park City. Girdwood’s also served by a Glacier Valley Transit shuttle, which is free to use for Alyeska guests. It’ll take you to a number of locally owned (and infinitely cute) eateries, with The Bake Shop, Chair 5 and Double Musky earning high marks from the locals. You’ll also be able to scoot down to the Tesoro station, home to Coast Pizza, a killer ice cream stop and the Tourist Trap Gift Shop; contrary to its title, the latter is also home to Glacier City Snowmobile Tours, which is a discussion deserving its own attention.

Alyeska

Secondly, there’s Mount Alyeska, which is surrounded by its colleagues in the Chugach mountain range. What else can you say? The scene is just gorgeous. There’s just something about being at sea level and looking up at a peak that’s three-quarters of a mile high that takes your breath away. Those postcards and screensavers you’ve seen of Alaska? Yeah, a good portion of ’em are right here. The mountain is in impeccable shape, and while the majority of runs cater towards advanced and expert skiers, there’s a sliver of novice courses as well. ‘Course, those who are really looking to get crazy can select from a myriad heliskiing operations in the area. The weekends are bolstered by night skiing, and with one of the longest ski seasons in North America, you won’t have to squeeze your ski trip into the months of January and February (unless you’re keen on it).

Alyeska

Then, there’s the hotel. If you’re coming to Mount Alyeska, you might as well stay at a ski-in / ski-out property, right? Aside from having an GVT shuttle run by the hotel every so often, you’re also able to pick up the Alyeska Tram or just walk right out and catch a lower lift from the rear of the hotel. During my stay here, I couldn’t have been more pleased with the layout. The recent renovations (2007) are immediately noticeable — the lodge and common areas are simply gorgeous, and you’ll find more food options that you’ll know what to do with. I was also a bit taken aback by just how kind the staff was — they aren’t charging 5-star prices here, but you’ll have no issues getting waited on should you need anything. The pool and spa area was also a real boon for weakened, weary bones after a day out on the slopes, and the rooms themselves were both modern and well-equipped. Free bottles of Alaska’s own Glacierblend water at night? Check. A Serta pillowtop mattress (one to die for)? Yep. Free in-room Internet? It’s there, as is free Wi-Fi in the commons areas. It’s hard to put a price on being able to walk right out of the hotel and into the snow, but for those who’ve dealt with de-gearing and making an hour-long trek back to a resort after skiing, you’ll probably have an easier time assessing a value.

Finally, there’s Seven Glaciers. Oh, Seven Glaciers. The whole experience of this place is second to none. First off, you have to grab a ride in the Alyeksa Tram to get to it. It’s a AAA Four Diamond, mountain-top restaurant, which means that you’ll be eating while looking out at the Chugach mountain range. Quite honestly, this along would warrant a visit even if the food were horrific, but I’m happy to report that it’s the polar opposite. Not only is the food beyond outstanding, but Chef Jason Porter does an immaculate job with the presentation. Service is top-notch, the wine list requires a book of its own to peruse, and if you’re terrified of food being “faniced up” just for the sake of charging you an arm and a leg, you’ll be happy to know that your fears are no good here. This really is Alaskan dining at its finest, and even southern legends like Paula Deen have dropped by for a bite. If you’re desperate for a recommendation, I’d say make a reservation (that entitles you to a gratis (and redicuously beautiful) ride on the tram) and grab the scallops or Wagyu beef.

You’ve probably heard mainlanders gripe about how Alaska’s “dark all winter,” but that actually couldn’t be further from the truth. I saw daylight from ~8am to ~6:15pm during my stay in late February, and couldn’t have been more thrilled with the weather. If you’re not into skiing or snowboarding (or you’re traveling with someone who fits that description), you’ll find plenty to do nearby: gold panning at Crow Creek Mine, bore tide viewing, dog sledding, snowshowing and hiking / biking. My suggestion? Push aside any hesitations you may have had about trekking to The Last Frontier in the winter — you’ll dodge the crowds, savor the snow and have everyone back in Utah teeming with envy. We kid, we kid… sort of.

[Images provided by Dana Jo Photography]

My trip was sponsored by Alaska Travel Industry Association, but I was free to report as I saw fit. The opinions expressed in this article are 100% my own.