Saturday, October 18, 2008

Good Eats in AK!

Everyone has something different that they like to do in places they live and visit. For us, the parks and hiking trails are one, and trying new restaurants is another. I thought I would share our favorite restaurants we have discovered in Alaska to date. If anyone has a good one to share, please let us know so we can try it out as we travel!

Cosmic Kitchen in Homer: You know a restaurant is good if it actually has 2 of them in a town the size of Homer! One is in the main part of town, while the other is out on the Spit. The smoothies are the best: they fill up a big cup with real fruit (not the imitation flavoring) and blend it up. Yum! The nachos are great, the burgers are delicious, and the only thing we have found that we don't like are some of their soups (they turn some things into soup that I wouldn't expect to be soup!). Overall, they are a good standby that we can always count on getting a good meal at.

Blackwater Bend between Homer and Anchor Point: I know, they're a coffee shop, not a restaurant, but I can't resist mentioning them. They're in the middle of nowhere (actually, across the road from Norman Lowell's studio & art gallery), but they nearly always have a line of cars at their drive-up window, which signals to me that they must be good! I tried a coffee smoothie there and it was divine! They have gigantic cinnamon rolls, and a nice selection of other on-the-go foods.

Hash Browns in Anchor Point: No restaurant is perfect, but I sure appreciate when they own up to their mistakes. When we went here a few weeks ago the waitress accidentally wrote down the wrong order for the kids. When I pointed it out to her, she didn't question it, she just took it right off the bill. It seems like most of the time if a restaurant makes a mistake you have to fight them to do anything about it, and it is more stress than it is worth. Hash Browns earned my loyalty by not making me fight. The pace of service is small town slow, so it is best to have plenty of time when you go.

The Crossings in Soldotna: This restaurant has the look of class, so I was not sure we would be welcomed when we wandered in one Saturday after a morning of berry picking, stains on our knees and twigs in our hair. When I asked the hostess about our attire, she just said meaningfully, "This is Alaska," so I guess dress is not an issue. This is a classy restaurant. It overlooks the Kenai River, has multiple levels, lots of windows, conservative and trained waitstaff, pleasant music, and good food. It was a gem to discover. We've spent $60 on plenty of meals in Alaska, but usually it was at a hole-in-the-wall with terrible service and bad food. We left The Crossings fully satisfied with our dining experience and happy to pay the restaurant for it. I am looking forward to an excuse to go there again when we're in town!

Alcapalco in Kenai: Again and again, the Alcapalco Mexican Restaurant is mentioned as a good place to eat at in Kenai when we ask people for a good restaurant. It has an extensive menu, and the two times I have been there the service was excellent--really outstanding. The food is good and the prices in line with what you are getting. It's nothing razzy dazzy, just a great place to go out for lunch with a group. Oh, and we really like their salsa. It will now be a regular stop for us when we are in Kenai to take some salsa to go.

There is an awesome Oriental buffet in Anchorage, and a great steakhouse/pub in Skagway, but I can't recall the names...I'll have to track them down.

The most fascinating thing about eating out in Alaska is the lack of chain restaurants. It is refreshing! Back in Gaylord, Michigan, I think the town was down to maybe 5 non-chain restaurants. It was hard to find a place to eat that actually had unique food. In Alaska the pendulum is far off in the other direction (at least in the non-metropolitan areas), with chain restaurants few and far between. I believe McDonald's is the only chain restaurant in Homer, out of something like 30 restaurants (in the summer). So we lose the consistency, but we gain when we find gems of culinary delight in out-of-the-way places. It takes much patience and trial and error to find good places to eat out. These are our favorites to date. Hope you enjoy them if you're in the area!

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