Food in the Last Frontier: What to Eat in Alaska

Head to the Last Frontier for salmon, halibut, crab and other locally sourced classics.

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All You Can Eat in Alaska

Alaska is rife with exceptional food. Whether meals include fresh-caught king crab or locally grown vegetables, restaurants proudly serve the best of the Last Frontier’s treats. Though most restaurants don’t serve iconic Alaska dishes like akutaq (Eskimo ice cream) or game meat (think moose, caribou and deer), locals still prepare plenty of it. For those just visiting, here are iconic tastes from the northern latitudes.

 

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Grilled Salmon

For almost 40 years, the Alaska Salmon Bake at the historic Pioneer Park in Fairbanks has lured visitors from throughout the area for its unique outdoor setting and authentic food. The nightly all-you-can-eat menu showcases local Alaskan salmon in its cleanest presentation — fresh off the grill — as well as other seafood and prime rib. Don’t miss the dessert and coffee cabin!

Fish and Chips

Hearty enough to warm fishermen on winter waters or fuel evenings out on the town, fish and chips is especially popular in seafood-centric Alaska. Swiftwater Seafood Café in Whittier uses only fresh fish harvested locally, meaning the rockfish or halibut in your fish and chips are as newly fished from Prince William Sound as possible. The café has perfected its secret recipe for the batter, leading to perfectly golden fillets.

Smoked Salmon Chowder

Manhattan and New England can keep their clam-based chowders. In Alaska, chowder is studded with smoked salmon. After a hard day of fishing or hiking on the Kenai Peninsula, Gwin’s Lodge in Cooper Landing offers just the bowl. A full bar, plus hearty fare like burgers, sandwiches, chili, and pies, will have you back out playing in no time. But those in the know order the smoked salmon chowder; the rich, creamy bowl satisfies a hungry belly with utterly Alaskan flavor.

King Crab

Bisques, cakes, rolls, legs, buckets, clusters and combos: Alaskans love their crab. At Tracy'€™s King Crab Shack in Juneau, Bering Sea king crab is the star. Tracy'€™s crab cakes come with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce; a bucket holds half of a king crab plus a killer claw. They also boast the "best legs in town."

Wild Berry Cobbler

Maine may get attention for its blueberries, but Alaska'€™s wild version is just as memorable. Right smack in the middle of some of Alaska's most beautiful country is Sheep Mountain Lodge, a must-stop along the Glenn Highway. Fresh-baked goods include cinnamon rolls and rhubarb pie, but if you visit during the fall, you might be lucky enough to taste berry cobbler made with wild Alaska blueberries, hand-picked that morning.

Crab-Stuffed Halibut

Halibut may be the unsung star of Alaskan seafood, behind salmon and crab. But the flexible whitefish is ideal for piling on — or stuffing in — loads of additional flavor. At Simon & Seafort's in Anchorage, the fish is stuffed with king crab, herbs and Swiss and parmesan cheeses, then popped into the oven and ladled with beurre blanc. Ask for a table by the window to watch the sun set over Cook Inlet, home to diverse fish and beluga whales.

Spot Prawns

Alaskans keen to throw a party know that freshly caught Alaska shrimp is a good way to guarantee a packed house. Side stripe and spot shrimp (or prawns) are the local favorites, available throughout the state and online, at various retailers. Super sweet, they’re great simply poached, but popular flash-fried and dipped into salty garlic butter.

Oysters

Try Alaska oysters every which way: mornay, rockefeller, bienville, bruschetta, thomas, kilpatrick, casino, oscar, mexicana, cortez, pan fried, and saint jacques. Wash them all down with a wide variety of champagnes at Anchorage’s Bubbly Mermaid Oyster Bar, an intimate locale where the counter is made from the bow of a boat.

Reindeer Sausage

Worth the risk of offending Christmas enthusiasts, reindeer sausage is a versatile dish that goes with everything — eggs, pancakes, French toast, in a Philly sandwich or just plain. Fork the spicy little discs one at a time or enjoy them heartily along with bites of breakfast. At Gwennie’s Old Alaska Restaurant in Anchorage, the focus is on animals from the great outdoors, so much so, that taxidermy versions and hunting trophies are positioned to look like they’re watching diners eat.

Yak Burger

Raised organically on a rural ranch in the Copper River valley, yaks are now on the menu around the state. Lean and flavorful, they’re a great alternative to beef, particularly in burgers. In Anchorage and Healy, 49th State Brewery’s Mt. Saint Elias yak burger features caramelized onions, bacon and smoked gouda cheese.

Ice Cream

Using a wealth of local ingredients, including milk from Havemeister Dairy, Wild Scoops Handcrafted Alaskan Ice Cream in Anchorage showcases the bounty of the state, in scoopable form. For a slight diversion from the norm, try Cracked Black Pepper Vanilla. Feeling experimental? Order a Basil Honey Walnut or AK Carrot with Candied Pecans.

Local Vegetables

It’s not just a tundra in Alaska. The vegetables are excellent. Sample the bounty at Bistro Red Beet in Wasilla, where options go beyond straight broccoli and cauliflower. Sample from dishes like the Minted Radish Crunch Salad, a fresh flower sandwich with red pepper jelly, and local organic greens with wild bluebells. The menu changes each week depending on which fresh, local ingredients are available.

Beer

From whites to stouts and ambers in between, Alaskan Brewing Co. in Juneau gets creative with brews like Hopothermia and Icy Bay IPA. This award-winning craft brewery prides itself on being a good environmental steward as well as offering high quality beers. Visit the tasting room and gift shop, or find Alaskan Brewing Co.’s beers in bars, restaurants, and liquor stores around the state.