Alaska has a reputation for doing things its own way. But one thing it does have in common with the other 49 states is awesome barbecue. As you may’ve guessed, though, Alaskans add their own flair to classic ‘que—and it’s often delicious. Here are some of our favorite, sticky-fingered, messy-faced joints for barbecue in the Land of the Midnight Sun.
Black Jaxx is a seasonal barbecue establishment that started its smokers in Soldotna and recently added a truck in Homer. The proprietors are from Oklahoma—and spend winter there—so peninsula residents await with watering mouths that April day when the “Open” sign illuminates and the windows swing open. Then they line up: For brisket, pulled pork, and the signature smoked bologna. It’s no wonder that Black Jaxx was named the best barbecue in Alaska.
Turnagain Arm Pit BBQ fired up their first pit in Indian, on the Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet. Word got out, and folks started making the trek down the Seward Highway to get their mitts messy on the Pit’s ‘que. Demand for their Texas-inspired but Alaskan-born smoked delicacies led to phenomenal growth. The Pit grew and expanded in Indian, and then they opened a second location in Anchorage. The brisket is a must-have.
From April to October, Fatmo’s BBQ serves up some of the most succulent barbecue in the capital city. The smoked chicken thigh is awesome with a side of cowboy beans. If you’re looking for a treat on a Saturday afternoon, stop by for a homemade corn dog—served only once a week—you’ll be glad you did! Although this popular food truck is seasonal, they do offer some dates when you can pre-order barbecue during the off-season.
Smokehouse BBQ started as a humble shack and catering company that had folks in Anchorage lining up for their pulled pork. In order to keep up with the appetites of the local carnivores, they opened a restaurant and a second shack. Definitely get the pulled pork, and you’ve got to try the brisket chili. Feeling more sausagey? Sink your teeth into a smoky-good reindeer dog.
Big Daddy’s proclaims that they serve the “northernmost Southern bar-b-q.” While it’s possible that there may be places farther north, there’s no denying the restaurant’s Southern influence. The rib tips and the Arkansas baby backs are definite go-tos. But if your server tells you that they’ve pulled a brined turkey out of the roaster, drop all your plans and order the bird.
Another entrant from the Kenai Peninsula, where they clearly love their ‘que, Firehouse BBQ has made an impression on local palates, having won the “Taste of the Kenai” competition three years in a row. The brisket-stuffed, loaded baked potato is rib-sticking delicious.
Yes, the name of the establishment is Randy’s Rib Shack. And the ribs are good, but Randy’s really excels in chicken, too. Try the smoked chicken or the pulled chicken sandwich. Don’t forget to add some of Randy’s popular barbecue sauce before digging in: It brings the meal together.
Today marks a week in Alaska. If you're like @bamiller5894 and wondering what the best culinary find is so far, I'd say it's Randy's Rip Shack. Located across the street from the newsroom, Randy's is a coffee shop as well as a barbecue place. The most intriguing part is the coffee barbecue sauce. It's the usual large batch of barbecue sauce they make there, but with 40 shots of espresso added. It's smoky and delicious. I call it pork with a punch (still working on it. Other suggestions welcome).
Rick, the restaurant’s founder and namesake, has been in barbecue fordecades, starting in his own father’s California restaurant. Folks love the burgers at Rick’s BBQ & Grill, but don’t get distracted: You’re here for the barbecue. The brisket is beloved but the smoky, flavorful pulled pork is the most popular plate at Rick’s.
One of the few places in Alaska where you can get delicious, authentic-tasting soul food—think gumbo with fresh Alaskan seafood—Roscoe’s also does ribs just right. The baby backs are tender as they can be, but if your not a pork person fear not: The beef ribs are full of flavor, too. And be sure to eat your greens—you’ll love ‘em.
There must be something about the water of the Cook Inlet that inspires awesome barbecue, because a lot of the best in the state was spawned within spitting distance of it. Davis & Sons Pit BBQ is no exception. Why not get an across the board sample of their fresh-from-the-pit offerings and order a combo dinner, which lets you taste two meats and two sides.