What makes the very best restaurants in Alaska? Is it that original frontier feel, or perfect presentation and impeccable service, with a wine list to boot? Perhaps it's the off-the-wall wackiness that only remoteness can breed?
It's all of this, and more. Feasting in the last frontier includes everything from greasy hangover cures to impeccably-plated Four Diamond dinners in an unassuming white house, the cuisine in Alaska is not to be missed. These restaurants know how to serve it up for an Alaska-sized appetite.
Sit down to a modern gourmet pizza, seafood straight from the captain or a five-star fete with a bird's eye view! Great dining might not be the first thing you think of when you dream of traveling to Alaska (sea kayaking underneath a calving glacier? Yes, please!), but we have more than our fair share.
Here are 15 of the absolute best restaurants to enjoy in Alaska:
There's no mention of Anchorage food without Moose's Tooth pizza. The menu is incredibly diverse, with offerings ranging from the classic Margherita pizza to the legendary Avalanche (laid out with BBQ sauce and piled high with pepperoni, blackened chicken, bacon, red onions, parsley, cheddar, mozzarella and provolone cheese) or my personal favorite, the chipotle steak (grilled steak over chipotle sauce, with red onions, Roma tomatoes, cilantro, mozzarella and provolone, topped with zesty sour cream and served with a lime wedge). Friends don't let friends leave town without the best pizza around.
Turkish Delight opened early 2016 to little fanfare, but has quickly become the go-to spot for real Middle Eastern cuisine at an incredible price. Their döner kebab is to die for, especially with a strawberry mimosa, finished with fresh baklava and a cup of Turkish coffee to settle in. Serefe!
Tucked away from the highway, in a blink-and-it's-gone town, Vagabond Blues serves a local crowd some of the best panini and cold sandwiches to be found in the state. Take your quad Americano, Portobello sandwich & vegan treat, and take in the incredible view of nearby Pioneer Peak.
Possibly the best seafood around, Ray's opens only during the height of summer and the height of commercial fishing in the state, so you know what you get on you plate comes straight from the docks, which you can see right from your table. Incredible views of the dramatic Resurrection Bay finishes off an exceptional Alaskan experience.
Do you want bacon on that? How about some bacon jam? Spenard Roadhouse has been killing it with the delicious bacon jam burger (I know, I know - but seriously. Try it) and ridiculously good tots. Their walls, crowded with Alaskan artists, the likes of Duke Russell and more, just the right amount of kitsch, and the most talented bar staff this side of Campbell Creek, you'll feel like you've lived here your whole life.
Anchorage is famous for its thriving dive bar scene, and the Long Branch is no exception to the rule. And their burger - simple, seared to perfection and topped with a homemade bun - is the best in town. You know you've found the right place when you see doctors, lawyers, artists and construction workers all flannel-clad and bellied-up at the same bar.
Though you don't have much in the way of dining choices once you ditch the car, step off the footbridge and into the small mountain town of McCarthy, the Roadside Potatohead doesn't settle for being "the only place in town." With a gourmet experienced cooking staff, this historic food truck, turned bona fide sit-down restaurant, and offerings ranging from Banh Mi to breakfast sandwiches, the Potato delivers. And - did I mention - best coffee in town?
Catch a delicious micro-brewed beer with a view. On those long Alaskan days, catch plenty of sun on the wooden deck, or slide in at the massive hand-carved bar when the clouds roll in. You can taste one (or three) of more than 14 different beers available on tap, and brewed in-house. With a diverse menu, featuring such staples such as the Brewers Bahn Mi or fresh Kachemak Bay halibut, crusted with parmesan and asiago cheese, they really have it all.
To the old guard of Anchorage cool, Snow City is about as classic as a modern diner breakfast can be. That may sound like a contradiction, but you'll understand as soon as you bite into the mouth-watering Kodiak crab cake benedict, or for the conscientious objectors, a vegan tofu scramble seasoned perfectly and packed with veggies. Classic styling for the most modern breakfast palates.
The oldest of the old guard, Gwennie's has been the go-to for hangover cures and greasy brunches for over 30 years. The wood paneling will soothe your headache into a gentle nostalgic throb, and the smells of potatoes frying will send you right back to memories of mom's kitchen.
Ivan Gyaurski and Maria Terziyska have a traditional Alaskan story. They travelled and worked in the state on student visas, but fell in love with the state, and just had to come back. Permanently. The Crepery offers savory and sweet crepes, all made to order in front of an eager crowd. Try the smoked salmon crepe, and finish it off with a delicious cheesecake crepe or a Nutella and banana sweet crepe-but don't forget to bring a friend: a visit to The Crepery is no solo affair.
If fine dining is your modus, Anchorage has no shortage, starting with Jens' Restaurant (pronounced "yens"). As one of the best-kept haute-cuisine secrets of the city, Jens Hansen is able to keep a beautiful creativity with the state's fresh halibut, black cod and salmon, bringing a fusion of his Scandinavian/European heritage to match an incredible wine cellar. Not to be missed.
Laura Cole is one of the most decorated chefs in Alaska, and on the occasion that you can make it in during their split hours (reservations recommended), you'll be in for a true locally-raised treat. The menu changes daily depending on what's fresh from the garden or local farmers and ranchers, and the cuisine is the height of remote Alaskan creativity.
And while we're on the subject of high cuisine, the next not-to-be-missed restaurant on this list is the Crow's Nest residing high atop the Captain Cook hotel in downtown Anchorage. Nowhere else can you gain a view like this of Denali and the glaciated peaks surrounding the Cook Inlet along with a superb meal and a hand-picked wine from the extensive cellar.
Perhaps no one else in Anchorage has done as much for advancing the cause of haute cuisine in Anchorage than Jack Amon and Van Hale at the Marx Bros. Cafe. Before opening in 1979 in a small house just on the edge of downtown, the two friends had already made a name for themselves with the (admittedly long-winded) Wednesday Night Gourmet Wine Tasting Society and Volleyball Team Which Now Meets on Sunday. Whew. In any case, let Hale and Amon lead you on a culinary journey as only two chefs left to blossom in the creative frontier of Alaska could do.