49th State Brewing a breath of fresh air in Downtown dining
Ah, November, such a lovely time of year. The elections are finally over. The NBA season has started. And in Alaska, the tourists are finally gone.
Take advantage of the latter: There are plenty of places that are simply so overrun with visitors during summer months that locals just don’t want to deal. With the herd thinned, it’s the perfect time to check out some of these spots.
Topping the list is 49th State Brewing Company on Fourth Avenue in the old Snow Goose building.
It wouldn’t take much to be a better establishment than Snow Goose. Harsh, yes. But that downtown standard was known for having lackluster, overpriced food and a generally uninspired brand. As a restaurant and bar, it didn’t have to try hard; the stellar views from the decks would always bring in crowds. One friend in the downtown hotel industry confessed that they recommended rude guests dine at Snow Goose, a subtle and undermining retaliation.
New kid on the block 49th State is such a welcome change. The brewery, bar and restaurant has a classed-up and overhauled interior, a creative and expansive menu, a huge and full bar with lovingly crafted flagship beers, and the same spectacular views as always from the rooftop patio. The property also has two theater spaces and has already proved it’s not afraid to use them, rolling out various shows, comedy nights, special events – even square dancing!
Since opening earlier this year, 49th has shot up the popularity charts. When it first opened, diners faced waits up to three hours long for a patio table. Things have calmed down now, making it a perfect time to check it out.
I hit up 49th State on a recent Saturday night. It was later in the evening – after 9 p.m. – and I was with four friends. We were still seated immediately, despite the busy vibe and nearly full capacity.
We settled into a booth on the second floor that looked out over a vibrant dining room dripping with pendulum lighting. The exposed ducts and beams and metal of the ceiling give the brewery an industrial feel.
Our waiter was efficiently friendly and saw that we had drinks within minutes, appetizers arriving soon after. The guys wanted wings, which were plump and Buffalo-style, with a creamy blue cheese and several crunchy stalks of celery. This snack helped pass time while we browsed the massive menu.
Look for everything from pub standards like cheesesteaks, stone-fired pizzas, nachos and burgers, to Alaska-influenced flare like king salmon Caesar salad and a king crab grilled cheese.
What’s fun about new restaurants is they bring interesting and unusual food to the community table. In this case, look to the menu for unusual proteins like yak, elk and buffalo. There are also some fun 49th State staples, like the handmade Bavarian pretzel served with 49th State cheese sauce, and crispy chili and lime chicharones served with tomatilla salsa.
One friend opted for the Brewers Bahn Mi, a 49th State twist on the classic Asian sandwich. The bun came loaded with marinated grilled short rib meat, sesame mayo, lettuce, daikon slaw, jalapeños and cilantro. The sandwich was well-composed with balanced flavors, but a few bites of gristly, unchewable meat damped the experience.
Another friend went the pizza route, trying the Homestead, with tangy barbecue sauce, chunks of grilled chicken and bacon, melted cheeses and a dusting of cilantro. The restaurant makes their pizza dough and lets it age up to three days so flavors develop. It paid off: His pie was delicious and between the five of us, we ate it all.
I ordered the parmesan and asiago crusted halibut, served with a creamy, citrusy lemon butter sauce, garlic smashed potatoes and roasted vegetables. The veggies were slightly overdone and on the mushy side, but the fish was perfectly cooked. Between the flaky halibut meat, crunchy coating and creamy sauce, the textures were on point.
Beyond the variety of food, 49th State is just really fun. The website sings of things to come – from rooftop parties to fireworks shows to concerts galore. It’s exciting to see such enthusiasm, variety and excitement in the heart of downtown Anchorage.
As a side note, this place is dreamland for beer lovers. Craft brewing is the keystone of 49th State’s identity, and the brewers lean on glacial aquifers, fine malts and hops, yeast, and proper glassware to ensure the sudsy experience here is top shelf. The latest menu of beer is always viewable on the restaurant’s website.
For more information on 49th State Brewing Company, or to make a reservation or order food to pick up, go to www.49statebrewing.com.
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