Locals’ favorites for food, fun: Industry experts weigh in on the best eateries and bars in Anchorage

by • June 7, 2018 • Apres, HighlightsComments (0)1165

 

Summer in Alaska signals an influx of tourists, all clamoring for clarity on our eclectic cuisine scene: where to go to dine and drink in Anchorage? The answers depend on who you ask, and few are more informed – and opinionated – than those who work Downtown in the hospitality industry. So I surveyed a local chef, musician, valet, bartender and waitress on their go-tos for everything from fancy feasts to most winning wine selections to the best breakfasts.

For fine dining, nearly everyone agreed that Haute Quarter Grill on Fourth Avenue is a go-to.

High among industry experts’ favorite place to dine locally: Downtown’s Haute Quarter Grill, at 525 W. Fourth Ave. COURTESY HAUTE QUATER GRILL

 

“It’s quality food in an intimate environment, and owned and operated by Anchorage locals year round,” said our waitress, who has an impressive resume working at some of downtown’s better-known establishments.

Her latter point is well taken. It’s always a bonus to send visitors to locally owned establishments. The bartender also touted the local ownership and atmosphere, and added, “The service is always excellent.”

The chef, who has worked in Anchorage for years, agreed that Haute Quarter promises “a great overall experience” but added
two others to the list: the Asian-fusion hot spot Ginger, and world cuisine-themed Pangea: “Ginger for a feeling of being in a nice metropolitan area with great food,” the chef said, “and Pangea for a worldly experience in dining.”

The valet and musician had different takes, both suggesting Simon and Seaforts, with its stunning window views of Cook Inlet: “With Simon’s, the view is amazing and the halibut cheeks are incredible,” the musician said. “It is my son’s favorite place. Simon’s also has an awesome and uncrowded brunch on the weekends.”

What about those nights you don’t feel like getting dressed up or dealing with a wait and just want a chill-but-delicious dining experience?

The valet, who works at a prominent downtown hotel, frequently recommends 49th State Brewing, known for its comprehensive Alaskan menu, bustling vibe and breathtaking Cook Inlet views. The chef agreed, especially if it’s sunny and you don’t mind a wait.

Pangea, 508 W. Sixth Ave., is a locals’ favorite for fine and inventive Downtown dining. KATIE PESZNECKER

He added Fat Ptarmigan to the list, much loved for its creative wood-fired pizzas and other incredible Italian offerings. Staying in the pizza theme, the waitress suggested Moose’s Tooth, the Midtown pizzeria that is truly “an Anchorage landmark,” she said. Agreeably, the musician added, “It’s not just a pizza and a locals’ favorite for fine and beer place, it’s an experience. It’s like seeing the Northern Lights for the first time.”

Our bartender, who works at one of Downtown’s more popular pubs, suggested F Street Station. This was also the valet’s choice for best Alaskan food and best fish and chips. The cozy bar and restaurant tucked into its longtime spot on F Street is a locals’ favorite, for sure. Said the valet, guests rave when he points them toward F Street’s fresh salmon, oysters and scallops, all locally sourced.

The waitress and the bartender agreed F Street’s fish and chips are the best: “They always serve beer-battered halibut, not cod or otherwise, along with hand cut fries,” the waitress said. Also a winner on the menu, said the musician, is F Street’s halibut sandwich. His other personal Alaskan food favorites: the Haute Quarter seafood chowder, and the Glacier BrewHouse salmon dip and Alaska salmon BLT salad.

Our chef recommended not overlooking Humpy’s fish and chips nor its halibut tacos. Simon’s does good Alaskan food too, he said, though it can be overpriced.

Added our valet, “A tip I give people wanting king crab is it’s market value so it’s going to basically cost the same if you’re eating it in a skuzzy bar and grill or a nice restaurant. So I usually recommend a place with a nicer atmosphere like Simon’s.” Tip taken!

Hotel Captain Cook’s Whale’s Tail, 939 W. Fifth Ave., is a favorite wine bar. COURTESY CAPTAINCOOK.COM

When it comes to inventive cocktails, our experts were nearly aligned: Ginger overwhelming won the most votes. The waitress called their cocktails “modern and edgy” and the chef said it’s “the most innovative drink menu around.”

Nearly everyone also suggested Crush for wine. This elegant but approachable bistro is on G Street and offers wines by the glass, flight or bottle, and also has a full liquor bar. The bartender reminded me that Whale’s Tail at the Captain Cook is a great option, where you can select varying sizes of pours of different varieties of wine from multiple different dispensers, making for a bubbly evening.

When all the dining and drinking is over, and the morning comes, where do our experts suggest for breakfast?

The waitress suggests iconic Snow City: “It’s just as innovative and delicious as any large city breakfast joint, with a local feel.”

“As much as I like Snow City for breakfast, I tend to not recommend it in the summer due to long waits,” said the valet. “I’ve been recommending Slippery Salmon, by the Ramada hotel, and Biscuit Betties. Everyone I send to them comes back raving about their food and quick service.”

Our bartender said, “Ginger’s brunch menu is my favorite; the Hot Mess with extra gravy is my go-to.”

For breakfast, our musician calls it a four-way tie: “I love breakfast more then Friday night whiskey. At Snow City, it’s their ‘Heart Attack on a Plate dish’” (which is basically amazing potatoes smothered in goodness.) “At Anchorage Ale House, it’s the breakfast pizza. At Ginger, I love the Hot Mess. And at Pioneer Bar, the bloody Mary.”

There you have it, the experts’ official opinions. Good luck in exploring these and other amazing offerings about Anchorage this summer season.

 

 

EXPERTS’ FAVORITES

Fine dining top picks

Haute Quarter Grill: 525 W. Fourth Ave.

Ginger: 425 W. Fifth Ave.

Pangea: 508 W. Sixth Ave.

Simon & Seaforts: 420 L St.

Casual dining top picks

49th State Brewing: 717 W. Third Ave.

Fat Ptarmigan: 441 W. Fifth Ave.

Moose’s Tooth: 3300 Old Seward Highway

Best Alaskan seafood

F Street Station: 325 F St.

Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse: 610 W. Sixth Ave.

Glacier BrewHouse: 737 W. Fifth Ave.

Haute Quarter Grill: 525 W. Fourth Ave.

Simon & Seafort’s: 420 L St.

Best cocktails/wine:

Ginger: 425 W. Fifth Ave.

Crush Wine Bistro & Cellar: 328 G St.

Whale’s Tail/Hotel Captain Cook: 939 W. Fifth Ave.

Best breakfast/brunch:

Snow City Cafe: 1034 W. Fourth Ave.

Slippery Salmon Bar & Grill: 115 E. Third Ave.

Biscuit Betties: 333 W. Fourth Ave.

Ginger: 425 W. Fifth Ave.

Anchorage Alehouse: 2830 C St.

 

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