Alaska for Foodies
October 6, 2019
In major Alaskan towns, food is similar to what is available elsewhere in the U.S. Anchorage offers the greatest diversity, particularly when it comes to international restaurants: You'll find Greek, Mexican, South Korean, Filipino, Thai, East Indian and many other specialties. Coffee aficionados will discover espresso shops in all the larger towns and most of the small ones, too—Anchorage has dozens of them.
In the restaurant scene, however, the general rule of thumb is that the farther away from Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks you go, the less fussy the restaurant decor will be. There are plenty of dining treasures to be found wherever you travel, so don't be fooled by the lack of pretension or a bland exterior. For example, a tiny shack in Barrow happens to house a charming Japanese restaurant with numerous delicious sushi options.
Alaska's justly famous seafood includes crab, shrimp, scallops, salmon, cod, steamer clams, oysters and halibut. Few people who live in the Lower 48 have ever tasted truly fresh Alaskan king crab—it's a delicacy not to be missed. The same is true for fresh or smoked Alaskan salmon and halibut. Alaskan salmon—unlike salmon from Norway, Chile and many other areas—are almost entirely wild fish, not farmed in pens. The flavor of the fish is noticeably better and the flesh is firmer. Often your server will be able to tell you where the fish were caught and the name of the fishing vessel, too, if you ask.
Traditional Inuit foods such as muktuk, which is whale blubber and skin, are rarely found outside small Alaska Native villages, and then only when they have had a recent and successful whale hunt. Travelers often have an opportunity to taste reindeer sausage, caribou, smoked salmon jerky and lox, which are available commercially throughout the state.
If you are a microbrewery fan, Alaska is the place to go. Anchorage is home to half a dozen award-winning breweries and brewpubs. Several of them also happen to be best-loved restaurants of Alaskans. You can also find internationally known microbreweries in Skagway, Juneau, Haines, Homer, Kenai, Ketchikan and Fairbanks.