No shortage of options in Anchorage dining and bar scene
With so many recent changes to Anchorage’s restaurant and bar scene, it’s time to devote a column to summing up this flurry of industry activity.
First off, Sub Zero Micro Lounge abruptly closed in May, surprising many loyalists and, apparently, also some of its staff. The martini bar on F Street around the corner from Humpy’s had modest beginnings as a much-smaller, chic bar many years ago, and later expanded, and had maintained a moody, lush vibe, complimented by craft cocktails, elegant small plates and artistic décor.
Since then, the Humpy’s empire added Flattop Pizza + Pool, a loungey pub that’s clicked with the low-key, late-night crowd; and then Humpy’s helped launch nightlife wonderland Williwaw, which has flourished with its speakeasy, coffee shop and rooftop bar.
Seems in all the growing, expanding and evolving, it made less sense to maintain Sub Zero than it did to expand Flattop. It’s a sensible plan; Flattop has really taken off, with agreeable pizza, weekend DJs and urban, pool-hall vibe.
A statement from management said the expanded Flattop will incorporate some standouts from Sub Zero – including, thankfully, the Kobe beef sliders. Also, staffers from Sub Zero are expected to work at the other venues, so if you had a favorite, look for them now at Humpy’s, Flattop or Williwaw.
Downtown is also a’buzz about Tequila 61 on Fourth Avenue. Early reviews suggest the service is great, the food is divine. The interior is bright and warm, with cream-colored paint and honey-colored wood, and plenty of table and bar seating. Hit up Tequila 61’s “Taco Tuesdays,” when tacos are 50 percent off, all day. There is also a DJ every Friday and Saturday night.
Another Friday and Saturday feature: Tequila 61’s “weekend punch,” a concoction that’s never the same and can include ingredients like tropical rum and fresh fruit juices. The restaurant also has an outdoor patio, always a premium commodity in the long hours of Anchorage summers.
Just down the way, Sacks has also seen something of a resurgence under its new ownership. Longtime owner JoAnn Asher sold the place to buddy and sometimes-professional partner Laile Fairburn several months ago.
Now with its first liquor license in three-plus decades of business, Sacks has found a new groove this to some crafty mixologists behind its bar to complement its always-bright, creative cuisine. While a lovely spot for dinner or lunch, try Sacks for brunch. It’s a less obvious choice than the usual suspects and just as delicious. Also, Sacks still has its delicious array of wines to choose from.
For a special treat, visit on Wine Flight Wednesdays, where you can enjoy a flight – that’s three smaller pours of compatible wines – with two appetizers. One such flight-and-app offering on a June Wednesday cost just $20, making it a super-affordable way to sample various vinos and yummy treats.
Nearby, 49th State Brewing had cracked its doors for a handful of special events, it at press time had yet to open. Surely the crew there is scrambling to launch given the summer months are the best time to showcase the building’s best feature, its epic deck that looks out across Cook Inlet.
In Midtown, venerable Vietnamese noodle soup mecca Pho Lena ditched its shoddy Spenard shack for a large restaurant just a few blocks south, a building that once housed Thai Town and more recently, the short-lived Brickhouse. Many Pho-freaks swear by Pho Lena. Its upgrade could go either way. We’ve seen some much-loved establishments grow, only to go out of business (RIP Greek Corner). But frankly, Pho Lena’s old digs were pretty sketchy. Maybe the new, more spacious place will attract new clientele.
Finally, local cheese lovers’ mothership Fromagio’s Artisan Cheese has opened up in Midtown, at a strip mall at the corner of 36th Avenue and Arctic Boulevard, nearly returning full circle to its original Spenard roots. This cheese boutique features small-batch, sometimes hard-to-find cheeses from around the world. A minimalist menu of cold and hot lunch items are available. For a cheesy adventure, sign up for a Fromagio’s Cheese 101 tasting classes, a two-hour course ($40) where you can learn the basics and understand the ingredients, history and traditions behind different cheeses.