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Kenai Peninsula, AK


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We're headed to Seward and Homer Alaska next week, so I'm looking for any recommendations. We'll need a place to dine along the way to Seward from Anchorage as well. We're open to any and all ideas you might have for good road food/fine dining/etc. Thanks!

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We're headed to Seward and Homer Alaska next week, so I'm looking for any recommendations. We'll need a place to dine along the way to Seward from Anchorage as well. We're open to any and all ideas you might have for good road food/fine dining/etc. Thanks!

somehow, i don't think alaska is prime restaurant territory, though you can always find decent places to eat.

i was in seward in late september after deciding to run away from home for a few days. i wish i could tell you the name of the place, but it is downtown on fourth, just about the first place to open for breakfast, beyond the coffee/bakery shop heading towards the bay. look for an upside down old iditerod sled hanging from the ceiling, and in front of the kitchen attached to the wall a collection of one dollar bills mutilated by the customers. (i'm sure the locals will know where i'm talking about.) i liked george washington with the fu manchu best. the food is definitely not memorable here -- i sure don't remember it -- but i had some halibut that was good, and the menu is fairly extensive, featuring real food. the hotel seward has a small dining room with decent food. see if you can get them to cook some alaska spotted prawns and scallops absent the salad. i stayed at the inexpensive van gilder hotel, because it was haunted, and i would recommended it even though i encountered no bumps in the night. actually, i went to seward for the harding icefield trail, and you don't have to go too far up the mountain to have an opportunity to feed the black bears. mine wasn't having me; it was sitting down and looked like it was eating flowers from its paw. at the head of the trail, the park service instructs you to fend off black bears if they charge, because it means they have identified you as prey. brown bears (grizzlies), however, should be welcomed by playing dead -- unless they start eating you. then you are told to fight back.

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I ate at a decent local pizza place in Anchorage called Moose Tooth Pub....IIRC they had a pretty good selection of their beers and it got REALLY crowded on a Thursday night, like Olive Garden crowded. :) Of course that might have been because of the company since it was my last night in town saying goodbye to a friend who just got stationed up there. Unfortunately we didn't go to a restaurant with good salmon or anything since my friend's roommate caught it and made it at home. And he's in Afghanistan so communication is sparse.

While you're up there, make sure to drink as many Alaskan Brewing Company beers as possible.

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I see you didn't get any answers, but I have the same question. Heading to Anchorage, Denali, Kenai, and possibly Juneau in June.

I winter here in the DC area but am from Alaska and am a commercial fisherman there. I am also a writer and recently completed a travel guidebook to the state for UK travel guide publisher, Bradt Travel Guides. Although things change relatively quickly and I cannot always recall everything on the spot, I am reasonably knowledgeable about much of Alaska. While the eating in most very small villages is pretty dismal, there are many parts of the state absolutely full of wonderful eateries on par with many cities in the lower 48. Some examples of towns with great food are Anchorage, Fairbanks, Homer, sitka, Skagway and Juneau. Towns like Ketchikan, Seward, Talkeetna and other others have some decent options with a few gems here and there. But of course, it all depends on what you like. If you are looking for deep fired halibut with a side of fires, then you will be happy almost anywhere in Alaska. But if you are thinking something more long the lines of lightly seared scallops, side stripe shrimp straight out of the water, poached black cod, grilled white king salmon or even a pear and gorgonzola wood fired pizza, then you will have to look around a little more. But they are there and not hard to find if you know where to look.

Foodies visiting Alaska would do well to plan their trip around those towns I have mentioned with great food. For the most part, these are also stunningly beautiful places as well. I rarely recommend a travel guidebook because I do not trust the authors. But, if you find an author you trust, a travel guide is invaluable.

In regard to the specific question, Anchorage is not the capitol but is home to just under half of the state's 698,000 people. Anchorage has LOTS of eateries from cheap hole in the wall places to high end seafood places to pizza pubs to ethnic food of every variety. The downtown area of Anchorage is lovely mid-summer with flowers and activities everywhere and a good selection of scenic trails. While there are some good eateries here, most are tourist oriented and so are spendy and no generally planning on repeat customers... if you know what I mean. But there are some gems. Although not quintessentially Alaskan in any way, Snow City Cafe right downtown is a hip and super popular breakfast and lunch spot. The best eateries in Anchorage are in the outerlying areas and for the most part, require a car to reach. Most of Anchorage outside the downtown area is not very attractive, but don't let this dissuade you. There are many fantastic places to eat in run down strip malls.

Kenai/Soldotna has a few decent choices but attracts sport fisherman and oil workers more than foodie tourists, if I can generalize a little. Homer is where I am from and is known for its wonderful art scene, food and outdoor opportunities. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of places not to write home about. But locals do take food seriously and places like Finn's Pizza, Wasabi's, Fat Olive's (sometimes not as good as it used to be), Cups Cafe, Mermaid Cafe, etc serve up some good meals.

In Seward, The Smoke Shack is an amazing smoked BBQ place in an old train car (located in the area known as the "Train Wreck.") The eccentric owners take their meat seriously and are fun to get to know. This place might be horrifying to vegetarians since I don't thingk there is anything green on the menu. The Exit Glacier Salmon Bake is outside down at the turnoff to Exit Glacier. This place is drenched in character and the food is not fancy but hardy and very good for what it is. Think big chunks of meat, fish and mugs of brew. Chinook's and Ray's epitomize tourist trap Alaska with great waterfront locations, high prices and mediocre food. Seward has lots of great cafes, some serving food and showing local art.

Juneau has wonderful food and cultural opportunities. The Juneau Jazz Festival features evening whale watching boat cruises with live music and wonderful food. Seriously, was a better idea ever had? I went on one a few summers ago ans found the trifecta of marine mammals, fantastic local food and live music absolutely intoxicating. Zephyr is a dress-up kind of place right downtown and very good. There are also many smaller places like Pel Meni's, a funky but incredibly cool (in that Eastern European kind of way) Russian place. Your choices are limited to meat or veg pel meni so no need to waste time with a menu. The LP collection is impressive and the food is, well, perfectly Russian and very filling. The eternally popular Hanger on the Wharf is nothing special as far as food is concerned. But if you want to see local singles dressed up in Extra Tuffs trying to hook up or sip a local beer and watch float planes and cruise ships go about their way, this is the place. Of course Juneau is also home to the Alaska Brewing Company and they offer tours and samples at their facility just outside town. There are many other eateries to mention but I am running short on time at the moment.

Skagway has the Stowaway Cafe which is on the water and very good. The Bistro at the Skagway Inn does cooking classes and grow much of their own food.

In Sitka, Ludwig's Bistro is a must!

This is just a sample but of course there are many more places worth mentioning. Although I would consider myself a bit of a food connoisseur, I also have come to appreciate the culture of food in every place, no matter how miserable it may seem at first. For instance, when visiting Sand Point, Alaska (population 950), one must order a pizza or burger at the bar and watch as the barkeep unabashedly removes a tiny frozen and boxed item from the freezer, removes the packaging and chucks it in the microwave. What's not burned is rubbery, and what's not rubbery is still frozen and the whole thing is extortionately priced. In Wrangell, try Diamond C Restaurant for terrible food served by surly staff at a glacial pace. But, traveling in remote Alaska and elsewhere off the beaten path around the world, I have come to see that these experiences are just as important, if not more so, than the best local seafood served in a plush atmosphere by dotting staff. Both are unique cultures of food and worth trying, if only once. But, of course, the best situation is when you run across wonderful local food served by friendly and knowledgeable people for a reasonably price. I mentioned some of these above. However, in Alaska the cost of eating out is generally very high. For this reason I recommend the following above all else:

My favorite meal is a fresh king salmon (or other fish) caught by me and grilled on the beach. Head to the farmers market for some locally grown greens and your all set for a truly Alaskan meal––caught, cooked and eaten by you fresh from the land. My second favorite option is to buy some local seafood fresh from the fishermen or a local fish market and cook it myself with local greens. Side stripe shrimp, king salmon, sockeye salmon, black cod (sablefish), rock fish, mussels and scallops are some of my favorites. Beach greens grow at the high tide line of most Alaskan beaches and the fresh bright green rosettes at the top of each stock make a wonderful salad. Toss some wonderful lovage (like strong parsley) on top and you have a free salad a la nature. This book is one of the best for wild edible plants in Alaska. The author is a wonderful woman from my home town, Homer, Alaska. This is the pocket version.

Many folks tend to drown Alaska's wonderful seafoods in butter or thick sauces or deep fry it. First try cooking it almost plain, then add flavors if it doesnt work for you. Another tendency is to seek out fish with little flavor, like halibut. Don't get me wrong, I like halibut, but there are few ways halibut can be prepared that match grilled rock fish with a light marinade, or side stripe shrimp all by themselves, or scallops cooked in a little white wine and a touch of lemon, or mussels or steamer clams cooked in wine with a touch of pesto and some nice French bread, or grilled salmon with a hint of soy sauce and sugar. Black cod (not actually a cod but a sablefish) is a little know fish with amazing texture and wonderful natural flavor.

I would be happy to chat further if anyone has any specific questions.

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I love this website. B)

I wish this site had existed when I took a (far too brief) business trip to Sitka some years back! I didn't know about Ludvig's, but did get a tour of the Theobroma Chocolate Co, and brought back some of their specially-wrapped Coast Guard Auxiliary bars for a friend who spent 15 years of his service posted to southeastern Alaska.

I couldn't agree more with ColdCountrySalmon's advice on what to eat. They promote halibut pretty heavily, but it's doesn't even begin to compare to a gorgeously fatty chunk of wild Alaskan King salmon fired on a cedar plank.

The pies from The Nugget Restaurant in the airport are legendary. People really do hop off the plane when it pauses in Sitka just to pick up a few pies and reboard. Try the banana cream.


For the record, I know perfectly well that Sitka is far from the Kenai Peninsula, but a number of Alaska Air flights simply hop from town-to-town along the route between Seattle and Anchorage.

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In downtown Anchorage I would recommend Orso and Ginger. Every time I am there, I go to Ginger for this ridiculously good scallop mac and cheese. Glacier Brewhouse and the irish pub are consistent. Snow Goose is passable but has a nice outdoor deck area overlooking the water/shipyard. People often recommend Simon & Seafort, but I did not like it at all. Reminded me of a worse version of the ChartHouse. There is also a pretty decent mexican place down near the Sheraton but i can't think of the name. In June everything decent downtown is very crowded so bring your patience pills.

Outside of downtown, I very much recommend Southside Bistro. It is hidden in a run of the mill strip mall, but is quite good.

Out on Kenai pickings are very slim. We ate at the Kenai Princess Lodge one night near Cooper Landing. It has amazing views but is chock full of cruise ship people from, yes you guessed it, Princess cruise line. The meal was not memorable. Soldotna and Seward have more options, but nothing that I can remember by name.

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On 4/27/2011 at 7:03 PM, Salmon & Sable said:

Juneau has wonderful food and cultural opportunities.

I don't see a better place to put this, so I'll add it here.  My husband just completed a bike trip in Alaska, starting and ending in Juneau.  He recommends very highly  Zerelda's Bistro, where he and his friends ate both lunch and dinner. He says it is hard to spot from the street and has only a small sign. Closed Sundays and Mondays. Reservations recommended.  Their small group was able to dine here on the early side for dinner without reservations, on the stipulation that they vacate by 8PM, which they had no problem doing. The restaurant does not seem to have a website. This is their Yelp page (sorry, Don ;)) and images of the menu on menupix.

He also singled out GonZo AK, a sweet and savory waffle place (breakfast/brunch/lunch; closed Tuesdays.)  Facebook page. Yelp (which describes the vibe as "hipster"). Menupix.  It's unclear how often they update their menu--or when this particular menu was uploaded to menupix--but the savory salmon waffle my husband had ("Spawn or Die") is not listed. That may be a seasonal special.  He says that the menu itself looks like a different layout or style than what they're using now, but many of the items appear to be the same.

Final note: Zerelda's is in the airport area and GonZo in the Auke Bay area..

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