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Grocery shopping in Juneau, AK

I'm moving to Juneau in January. Here in the SF Bay area, it's easy to keep myself in kaffir lime leaves, salted black beans, champagne vinegar, dry-aged beef and masa harina. Hell, I can get most of that stuff from the Save Less corner store near my house. But what can I expect in Juneau?

I lived in the Mat-Su Valley until 2.5 years ago. I'm familiar with living off the road system. But I don't know Juneau at all. AK foodies, please discuss.

I had a sudden fear that I'd have to go grocery shopping in Seattle on my way up. Please, people who live there, what is the shopping situation up there? Is there anything I should get down here?

Of course, I'm looking forward to the fish. Half the reason I'm going there.

thanks!

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  1. I haven't lived in Juneau since 1993, but when I read the list of things you like to keep on hand, I laughed dryly. :) I'm sure things have improved, though, in the last 14 years. Back then I couldn't find bittersweet chocolate for a recipe, a sorts of things. You might find kaffir and champagne, but I'd be pleasantly surprised if you could find salted black beans, lime leaves, masa harina, or dry-aged beef. Masa harina seems at least somewhat possible, though we had an impossible time finding Mexican ingredients even down here in Vermont after we moved... I guess I'm too out of touch with the current Juneau to be much help. :)

    1. First - welcome to Juneau! Second - go shopping! Seriously tho - there are things you can and can't get here. Juneau is not anything like the MatSu - everything is airfrieght or barge.

      There is a bit of an oriental influence as well as some hispanic - there are more oriental and mexican restaurants in town than anything else. But you'll find that we are sadly lacking in some of those specialty items tho I will say it gets better every day.The biggest problem is that they are here one week and gone the next. Truly this is a place to cook based on what's at the store. Of your list - kaffir lime leaves are available most of the time, haven't seen salted black beans, champagne vinegar most of the time, dry aged beef I haven't seen, and masa harina is always around.

      Here's how the stores round out - A&P or Foodland as us oldtime locals call it - a small downtown grocery with great oriental and some mexican selections. Safeway - great produce, some specialty items you won't find other places. Fred Meyer - you just never know what you'll find. Super Bear - best fish selection unless you're buying it on the docks. Speaking of fish, you do know you'll pay more for local halibut than for jet fresh tuna?? Sad but true. Either fish or make friends with a fisherman. But we do have our very own beer!

      When you get to town, come to Douglas and have a cold one!

      8 Replies
      1. re: AlaskaChick

        *swoon* Foodland is an A&P now? But I loved that name! That's where I found Mexican chocolate once, I was burbly with excitement over having it! :)

        1. re: Morganna

          Foodland is an A&P but you know how hard it is to make some changes and this one wasn't happening so they will still accept checks to Foodland - kinda like our bar - still Louies Douglas Inn tho Louie sold it to Pat 10+ years ago. But the good news about Foodland is that its still pretty much the same old store - where you can find things you wouldn't find elsewhere. The worst part is they took out the meat counter - there's one for fish but it isn't the same. However, grab a butcher and he'll still custom cut for you.

          1. re: AlaskaChick

            Some day I really want to come back there. I miss the deep fried halibut I could get there. Uhm num num. :) What was that place? Lord it was a dive... on Franklin? Or maybe... lemme look at a map... Ok, so I'm looking at google earth. Someone has kindly pinpointed a lot of places there. :) Bullwinkle's is downtown now?? It used to be out at the Nugget Mall across from Penguin Classics (where I worked for a couple of years). Oh I think it was called The Viking. A real diner/dive sort of the place, but they had the best fried halibut... I wanna come visit!!!!

            1. re: Morganna

              Wow - its been a while since you've been here! Let see - the Viking is now just a bar or really a few bars rolled into one. The best halibut is at a place in the Valley called the Sandbar - there's a little greasy spoon attached to it that makes great fish. Bullwinkles is both downtown- the original one, and at the Mendenhall Mall. The Nugget Mall used to have a pizza place - Pizzazz but that's long gone and is now a burger/steak diner type kinda place.

              Now having said all that - you really must get here - its obviously a lot different than you remember.

              1. re: AlaskaChick

                Heh, right, Mendenhall Mall!!! :) I worked there and totally forgot the name :) Haven't been there since 1993 when we moved to Vermont. :) I'd set up a vacation but Europe, she calls to me. :)

                1. re: Morganna

                  Alaska vs Europe? I'd take Europe but keep Alaska on the list. Now Vermont? That's on my list - have tiptoed around it but never quite got there. Maybe this year.

                  1. re: AlaskaChick

                    If you do come to Vermont, I'd be more than happy to work with you on travel arrangements, and restaurant recommendations (Though really, the new england board here is fantastic, I get the best reports from here!).

                    I used to eat at the diner in the Airport in Juneau, they had surprisingly good liver and onions (and they'd put bacon on it for me without a quibble). Is that still there? Still any good?

                    1. re: Morganna

                      I might have to take you up on that Vermont recs sometime soon - our newest tradition is spending St Pats Day in Boston with one of our friends, then picking a road to drive out of the city and see where it takes us. I've driven the coast from DC to CA border and driven around upstate NH and Maine. Vermont is next.

                      The airport restaurant is gone ;-( I used to love it there but they just slowly killed it - quit validating parking, cut the menu, food got worse and worse until they remodeled it into a deli kinda line - some hot and lots of prepackaged food you can eat there or take on the plane.

      2. I don't live in Juneau, have visited there several times but never had to food shop. If I did, I'd probably do some on-line ordering.

        1. i live in texas but have been to juneau and its a great city.even in the winter it doesnt get that cold.i like the fact that its not over populated like many cities in the lower 48 and it has greta scenery and good bars.im going back to alaska in summer 08.i also loved sitka and drive from anchorage to fiarbanks but could never live in fairbanks as its way too cold for me.i love fish so i could be very happy in alaska if i moved there.