A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.
Anchorage: 53°/69°/Mostly cloudy
Fairbanks: 57°/88°/Partly sunny
Can you imagine visiting Italy and not eating the pasta? Or how about New Orleans and not having jambalaya? Or Kansas City and avoiding the barbecue restaurants?
In Alaska, the main ingredient is seafood. And you can get it just about anywhere in just about any sort of restaurant. Local restaurants serve up amazing fresh salmon, halibut, rockfish, shellfish and other delicacies in many delectable ways. And we sometimes give old standbys a new twist - salmon quesadillas or halibut burger, anyone?
Anchorage has a multicultural population, and menus around town reflect it. In addition to traditional dining places and a number of chain restaurants, the community has a large number of Thai, Korean, Mediterranean, sushi, Cajun and vegetarian-friendly dining establishments.
For visitors, Anchorage's dining scene can easily be divided into locations - "downtown" and "elsewhere." Here is a sampler platter of dining options around town. The list is not all-inclusive, but it's a good starting point.
- The Bridge, 221 W. Ship Creek, 677-6771, www.thebridgealaska.com . The restaurant is in an old bridge spanning Ship Creek, where you can watch anglers trying to hook salmon. The menu is fusion. $$$
- Cafe 817, 817 W. Sixth Ave., 279-6836. The muffins are top-rate, but there is more to the menu, including deli sandwiches, wraps, homemade soup or fresh salad. $$
- Club Paris, 417 W. Fifth Ave., 277-6332, www.clubparisrestaurant.com.If you like steak, this is probably the place to go - it features 4-inch-thick filet mignon. It also is known for excellent martinis. $$$$
- Corsair Restaurant, 944 W. Fifth Ave., 278-4502, www.corsairrestaurant. com . The restaurant specializes in continental and American cuisine. Expect halibut and steak. It has a 10,000-bottle wine cellar and has frequently been recognized by Wine Spectator magazine. $$$$
- Crow's Nest, in the Hotel Captain Cook, Fourth Avenue and K Street, 276-6000, www.captaincook.com . The view from atop the hotel is fabulous and the food matches. The restaurant has received AAA Four Diamond and Wine Spectator awards. The menu features innovative French and new American cuisine and tableside-prepared desserts. $$$$$
- Glacier BrewHouse, 737 W. Fifth Ave., 274-2739, www.glacierbrewhouse.com . Beer and wood-fired pizzas top the menu at the bustling restaurant. Unusual takes on Alaska seafood include pepper crusted salmon, and blackened red snapper. It's always busy; that should tell you something. $$$
- Humpy's Great Alaskan Alehouse, 610 W. Sixth Ave., 276-2337, www.humpys.com . About 50 beers are on tap in the busy bar. Some of the menu favorites include blackened halibut or fish and chips. $$
- Lucky Wishbone, 1033 E. Fifth Ave., 272-3454. It's an Anchorage institution. The signature pan-fried chicken and burgers are popular. Try the strawberry shortcake or a milkshake. $$
- The Marx Bros. Cafe, 627 W. Third Ave., 278-2133, www.marxcafe.com . The restaurant is in one of Anchorage's oldest homes and has just 14 tables, so make reservations. It offers an innovative cuisine, a famous Caesar salad and excellent wine. $$$$$
- Ristorante Orso, 737 W. Fifth Ave., 222-3232, www.orsoalaska.com . It's a touch of Italy mixed with Alaska. The menu reflects the seasons, and the atmosphere is hard to beat. $$$$
- Sacks Cafe and Restaurant, 328 G St., 274-4022, www.sackscafe.com . The warm and inviting restaurant features "new Alaska cuisine," which includes plenty of fresh seafood. The menu changes daily, but favorites include fresh salmon tempura roll and New Zealand rack of lamb. $$$$
- Simon and Seaforts, 420 L St., 274-3502, www.simonandseaforts.com. Simon's is where many locals go for their "special" meals, accompanied by a stunning view of Cook Inlet. The food, especially if you like steaks and shortribs, won't disappoint. $$$$$
- Snow Goose Restaurant and Brewery, 717 W. Third Ave., 277-7727, www.alaskabeers.com . The beer is excellent, but the Goose's draw in the summertime is its twin decks (which go nicely with a beer). Pizza, burgers, ribs and beer-battered halibut top the menu. $$
- Snow City Cafe, 1034 W. Fourth Ave., 272-2489, www.snowcitycafe.com. Early in the day, you'll probably have to wait for a table, but the breakfast is worth the wait. And breakfast is served all day, so if you get a late start, it's OK. The food is creative, with many vegetarian options and sandwiches. The restaurant closes at 3 p.m. weekdays and 4 p.m. weekends. $$
- Sweet Basil Cafe, 335 E St., 274-0070. The cafe always offers some creative daily soups and specials. Freshly made juices and smoothies are tops. $$
ELSEWHERE IN TOWN
Many Anchorage visitors never leave downtown. While there are plenty of activities and dining choices downtown, you'll miss some of Anchorage's best dining if you don't venture out a bit.
- Aladdin's, 4240 Old Seward Highway, 561-2373, www.aladdinsak.com . The restaurant offers a wide variety of foods from the Mediterranean region, including falafel and mousaka. There are many vegetarian entrees and appetizers. $$
- Arctic Roadrunner, 2477 Arctic Blvd., 279-7311; 5300 Old Seward Highway, 561-1245. Burgers, fries and shakes - done the right way. And it even has an Alaska twist with salmon and halibut burgers. Enjoy your juicy burgers alongside Campbell Creek at the Old Seward location. Don't miss the Roadrunner's shakes - thick and creamy with tons of real fruit. $
- Bear Tooth Theatrepub and Grill, 1230 W. 27th Ave., 276-4200, www.beartooththeatre.net . Watch second-run movies for $3 and dine on pizzas, Southwestern and Mexican fare along with fine beer at the theatrepub. At the grill, the menu is a little more advanced with excellent burritos and wraps, but there is no movie. $$
- City Diner, 3000 Minnesota Drive, 277-2489. It's one of the newest restaurants in town but combines the efforts of two longtime and well-respected local chefs. It features classic American comfort food. $$
- Double Musky, Crow Creek Road, Girdwood, 783-2822, www.doublemuskyinn.com . Reservations are not accepted, but the award-winning restaurant features some fine Cajun cuisine in the heart of Alaska. $$$$$
- Flying Machine Restaurant, Millennium Hotel, 4800 Spenard Road, 266-2249. Watch a sunset over Lake Spenard or watch floatplanes take off and land while dining on Alaska seafood. At the Fancy Moose Lounge, you can get an outside table. $$$
- Gwennie's Old Alaskan Restaurant, 4333 Spenard Road, 243-2090. Gwennie's says "Alaska dining" - the portions are big and the restaurant walls are covered with Alaska memorabilia. Sourdough pancakes and omelets are breakfast specialties. $$
- Jack Sprat Restaurant, Olympic Circle, Girdwood, 783-5225, www.jacksprat.net . The cozy restaurant near Alyeska Resort offers some tasty options for those who can "eat no fat" and those who can "eat no lean." There are lots of good salads, an excellent halibut burrito, big burgers and yam fries that you shouldn't pass up. $$$
- Jens' Restaurant, 701 W. 36th Ave., 561-5367, www.jensrestaurant.com . The Midtown restaurant's strip-mall location doesn't do justice to the excellent food from one of Anchorage's most popular chefs. The dinner menu changes regularly to take advantage of fresh produce and seafood. $$$$
- Kincaid Grill, 6700 Jewel Lake Road, 243-0507, www.kincaidgrill.com . It's one of Anchorage's hot spots. Fine seafood, creative specials and decadent desserts. $$$$
- Kinley's Restaurant, 3230 Old Seward Highway, 644-8953, www. kinleysrestaurant.com . Enjoy Alaska favorites with a twist - pecan-crusted salmon or almond-crusted halibut are on the menu. $$$
- Little New Orleans, 8201 Old Seward Highway, 646-2226, www.little neworleans.com . Feel like you're in a French Quarter cafe in Alaska. The executive chef was born and raised in Louisiana. $$
- The Middle Way Cafe, 1200 W. Northern Lights Blvd., 272-6433. The cafe offers creative food with a vegetarian touch, excellent soups, smoothies and espresso. The menu includes turkey cranberry sandwiches, falafel and vegan baked goods. $$
- Manrique's Brasserie, 701 W. 36th Ave., 561-3663, www.manriques brasserie.com. The restaurant bills itself as eclectic and bold. $$$
- Mixx Grill, 1200 L St., Inlet Tower Hotel, 222-8787, www.inlettower.com . This isn't your usual hotel restaurant. The menu is imaginative and the room inviting. $$$
- Moose's Tooth Pub and Pizzeria, 3300 Old Seward Highway, 258-2537, www.moosestooth.net. For many locals, this is the place for beer and pizza. Choose from a wide variety of locally brewed beers and dozens of innovative pizzas. $$
- Organic Oasis, 2610 Spenard Road, 277-7882, www.alaska.net/~organicoasis/ . The restaurant features soups, salads and sandwiches that are 100 percent organic. This is the place for wheat grass. $$
- Southside Bistro, 1320 Huffman Park Drive, 348-0088, www.southsidebistro.com . Nightly specials only add to the regular menu, which features beef, seafood, venison, pasta, duck and lamb. Don't miss dessert. $$$$
Special sections editor Steve Edwards can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his Alaska travel blog at www.alaska.com/alaskology
Offering restaurant recommendations is a tough job. Here are some of Anchorage's best, for various reasons.
- Snow City Cafe: Breakfast, breakfast, breakfast. You must stop here for breakfast.
- Snow Goose Restaurant: If you're looking for a meal with a view, check out the two rooftop decks. If the sun is shining, this is the place to be.
- Aladdin's: Want an exotic taste? Try some Mediterranean dining and be sure to order the house tea.
- Sacks Cafe: If we have a special meal, it's usually here.
- Moose's Tooth: I love this place - pizza and beer, so who wouldn't? It's busy, so expect to wait, but the wait is worth it.
- Glacier Brewhouse: Lots of Alaskans stop in here for lunch, dinner or a pizza and beer. It's boisterous.