absolute must-visit restaurants in Anchorage and Seward, Alaska
I have one day in Seward and 3 or 4 in Anchorage and am looking for the restaurants that one should not miss if this is one's likely single visit ever to the state.
Note: I am not necessarily interested in a great restaurant that might be great anywhere else (I live in NY and so have access to great restaurants) but simply the ones that shouldn't be missed for whatever reason -- food certainly but also ambiance, uniqueness of decor or tone, something indigenous to the state that should be eaten there, part of the ritual experience of being in the state, whatever.
For example, is Ray's in Seward one of those you-should-not-go-to-Alaska-without-going-here? Are there others like that?
Seward is a favorite vacation spot for me and my wife. Nevertheless, it is a small town and most people visit for the scenery and activities rather than the food. You can certainly have a good meal there, but probably not one that you will remember for the rest of your life. Some favorite we have tried:
Ray's Waterfront -- Probably the best known restaurant in Seward. Good local seafood entrees.
Apollo -- Greek and Italian specialties, pizza, etc.
Sue's Teriyaki -- Casual Asian cafe. I seem to remember some Korean dishes in addition to Chinese.
On the road between Seward and Anchorage, there is some good eating to be done in Girdwood. The bakeshop offers a casual place for breakfast and lunch:
Seven Glaciers is good for an upscale dinner with a view:
Of all of the above, I would say that Seven Glaciers is probably the closest to a once-in-a-lifetime experience, although my memories are as much of the view as of the food (although the food was certainly good).
Ray's is good but not great. Seward's a favorite town of mine as well. They use good fresh ingridents (usually) at Ray's and the prep is pretty basic and not that inventive.
Seven Glaciers is upscale solid food with -- on a clear night -- the best natural view you'll ever have from a fine-dining place. The Crow's Nest at the Hotel Capt. Cook is a similar, somewhat lesser place -- on top of a hotel tower instead of a mountain.
But for an excellent AK experience, it's the Double Musky:
The blackened sockeye salmon is amazing (although it's apparently not on the website menu any more, but i bet they'll still make it.) Crowded, noisy and often there's a line ... but know that going in.
Even a quick stop for the halibut and coconut salmon apps in the bar is worth it ... the drive there is one of the best ever.
The recipe for the blackened sockeye salmon is in their cookbook. They don't advise doing it inside as the volume of pungent smoke will drive you and your guests outside. They say even though the restaurants hood exhaust is 40 x's that of your home exhaust "everybody in the kitchen know when we are cooking the sockeye salmon". Recipe sounds rather interesting, might give it a try (outside).
For a “real Alaskan experience” take about a twenty minute detour on your way to or from Seward and have lunch at Gwin’s. It’s one of those dinky little restaurants that have been around as long as anyone can remember. I never go fishing without stopping there if I can. Their smoked salmon chowder is great. The burgers and the battered halibut are both very tasty. www.gwinslodge.com/RESTAURANT.html
Also while you’re in Anchorage if you want to try one of the most popular restaurants in town, go for pizza at the Moose’s Tooth. Their pizzas are great with a fantastic crust. The beers are the best locally brewed in Alaska, and their root beer is my favorite. Expect to wait for a table. www.moosestooth.net
And ditto about Double Musky. I recommend the pepper steak or the crab stuffed halibut and for dessert try the Cajun Delight or the Double Musky Pie. Try to get there early because they don’t take reservations.
Yup, definitely an outside operation. You need to get a cast-iron skillet as hot as you possibly can and just really sear it. Doing it with reds that were swimming just hours earlier is one of the best meals ever ...
When I head back to Anchorage, I always try to make it to:
Thai Kitchen - midtown, strip mall, do _not_ do their new takeout thing, try the garlic chicken, and don't expect fast service
Moose's Tooth - the beer samplers cost the same per ounce as the pint, so try all of them, our favorite pizza is the Brewhouse Special with chorizo
Southside Bistro (if you're downtown, try Orso or Saks) - nice dinner out, good seafood
I would also strongly recommend the seafood special at F Street, breakfast at Snow City, all the Kaladi Brothers coffee you can drink, and the ice cream at Hot Licks.
Ray's in Seward is overrated, but where else are going to go? (Actually, there's a little burrito place further down the main street that was surprisingly yummy.) The Double Musky is not overrated. Go there.