Local hotels offer up some of city’s best dining venues
October is upon us, the cruise ships and the teeming throng of tourists have abated, and some of Anchorage’s less obvious restaurants and bars have more room for roaming locals. Yes, it’s time to take back the hotels! Not for overnight stays, but for yummy food and drinks at these unexpected venues.
Hotels offer refreshing anonymity and a transformative ambiance – especially in chain hotels, where you could be in Any City, USA. They offer a quiet corner and a discreet retreat from more frequented neighborhood joints where patrons are far less likely to run into coworkers or acquaintances.
One of Anchorage’s very best hotel hangouts is Fletcher’s, on the ground floor of the Hotel Captain Cook. With its glinting copper ceiling, dark cherry wood interior and slow-spinning ceiling fans, it has an effortless upscale pub vibe. A russet brick wall backs the semi-exposed kitchen, and the TVs above the bar are background accessories, not central features. The limited bar seating is often full, but there’s plenty of room at tables and booths. More than most hotel bars, the Fletcher’s crowd combines out-of-towners and loyal locals.
You’ll find a full bar and a nice beer and wine selection, too. Drinks cost slightly more than at other nearby establishments but the sting of that should be lessened by the food, which really shines. Thin-crust pizzas are a staple ($12-$14) and pasta dishes like fresh-made gnocchi and grilled prawn risotto highlight seasonal ingredients. Several entrees come in half-sized portions, too. I love the lasagna Bolognese with chorizo ($16). The nutty, bright green spinach pasta holds its own against the sausage, drizzled with rich alfredo and marinara. Creative salads ($9-$12), sandwiches and burgers ($13-$18) and other entrees ($16-$18) round out the menu.
Another option: Keep it simple and do an in-house pub-crawl. Enjoy a drink and an appetizer ($8-$16) at low-key Fletcher’s, then bounce upstairs to the Cook’s cuisine crown jewel, the Crow’s Nest. Sip a martini and enjoy complimentary bar snacks while admiring sweeping views of the city below. Added bonus: At this time of year, dramatic sunsets arrive earlier every day.
At press time, Captain Cook claimed the No. 5 rank for Anchorage hotels on Tripadvisor.com. Secure in the No. 1 spot? Embassy Suites in Midtown, on Benson Boulevard. The Embassy Suites is one of Anchorage’s newer hotels and has scored points for its indoor pool, amazing breakfasts (made-to-order omelets!) and convenient location. Don’t overlook its little bar, too.
Pi (yes, like the mathematical constant) is just left of the hotel’s main entrance and lobby. I visited on a weekday and, predictably, found it full of business traveler types enjoying after-work drinks. The bar itself is small (less than a dozen stools) but there is plenty of table seating in the vicinity.
The bartender was quick and friendly. Turns out, hotel guests get two complimentary adult beverages. My guest and I sipped drinks ($6 each) and shared steak bites ($15), savory chunks of tender beef in a rich gravy with juicy mushrooms and onions and buttered toast points.
The ambiance is classy, simple and nondescript — what you’d expect in any hotel catering to discerning travelers. After a long day at work, surrounded by strangers, with a glass of wine in hand, it was a quiet end to the day. For just one moment, it felt like I wasn’t even in Anchorage anymore. ◆