Alaska's 10 Best Restaurants, Dining In the Wilderness
The state of Alaska is enormous: it encompasses 586,000 square miles of rugged wilderness. For many, Alaska stands as a picturesque example of rural beauty and untamed nature. But from the last frontier also comes innovative food that utilizes the bounty of quality ingredients available from the sea and the mountains. Because most of Alaska has a very short growing season, fresh produce from local sources is celebrated and prepared with care. We take a look at 10 of the best restaurants in what must be one of the most stunningly beautiful, place on earth.
The restaurant and gardens at Gustavus Inn | Courtesy Gustavus Inn
The Crow’s Nest sits high above Anchorage atop the Hotel Captain Cook, allowing for unparalleled views of downtown Anchorage, and the natural beauties beyond. The Crows Nest is dedicated to providing a fine dining experience, with classically trained chefs and a decidedly French flair. Its menu offers prime cuts of dry-aged beef, local scallops, and skillfully prepared game meats. The elk loin is a house favorite, served with turnips and a parsnip puree. Crow’s Nest is open only for dinner, and reservations are recommended.
When a restaurant offers a bush plane as a way to travel to its location, you know there is something special about it. Gustavus Inn is located within a national park, only 40 miles from the capital of Juneau and is both an inn and a restaurant. Guests stay on-site in a historic home, and enjoy meals in the dining room. Hungry diners can expect salmon and crab from the nearby strait, and produce harvested that day from the on-site garden. don’t expect basic fare here just because of its rural setting, Gustavus has been recognized by the James Beard Foundation for its excellence.
The Homestead Restaurant is gem hidden deep within the Alaskan frontier. The small town of Homer has been enjoying this restaurant for over 50 years, and they love to welcome visitors. The homestead pulls fresh fish and sea fare from the nearby bay daily, and prepares them with honest simplicity. Oysters on the half shell, seafood cakes, and cioppino stew are all available on the regular menu. For those who would prefer to skip the seafood, The Homestead offers a generous menu of vegetarian options that would leave anyone satisfied. Only upon during the summer months.
Foraker restaurant is located in the Talkeetna Lodge, the base camp for climbers seeking to summit Mt McKinley, North America’s highest peak. From Foraker restaurant, guests can enjoy vistas of the majestic peak from a fine dining atmosphere, far away from the dangers of mountain climbing. The menu boasts the fresh seafood expected while in Alaska, with dishes like grilled halibut filet, and steamed Alaskan king crab legs. Customers also love the locally-sourced duck with raspberry rhubarb sauce.
The stunning view from Seven Glaciers | Courtesy of Alyeska Resort
The Knik River Lodge is a perfect place for adventure-seekers. The lodge offers exciting activities like glacier dog sledding, and helicopter tours. After guests have worked up an appetite, the lodge’s restaurant is the perfect place to go for relaxation and a well-prepared meal. The restaurant is uniquely housed in a yurt, a circle-shaped canvas tent structure that is juxtaposed with elegant furnishings and romantic lighting. The menu changes to reflect what is fresh and in season, but consistent favorites are the cedar-planked salmon, and prime rib selections. There is certainly no dress code at Knik River Lodge, unless you count the snow boots and parka that you will need should you visit them during the winter.
The stunning view from Seven Glaciers Courtesy of Alyeska Resort
Restaurant, Seafood, American, $$$
Seven Glaciers’ location at the top of Alyeska Resort offers patrons a unique experience even before setting foot in the restaurant. Both guest and staff can only access this restaurant via a scenic gondola ride up the face of the mountain. Once there, the dining room of Seven Glaciers delights with 360 degree views of the rugged, majestic Alaskan wilderness. But the fine-dining experience doesn’t stop there. The restaurant’s service is impeccable and its food is elegant and worthy of a special occasion. Seafood is prepared at the peak of freshness, and the produce is locally-sourced. Seven Glaciers definitely takes advantage of all that this state has to offer.
The Anchorage restaurant scene is thriving, with many good options for the enthusiastic foodie. Ginger stands out for with its strong Asian influences. The decor is modern and clean, feeling chic but comfortable. Ginger’s menu offers classics like lettuce wraps and sushi rolls, alongside more innovative dishes like banana and lemongrass soup, and a baked sea scallop macaroni and cheese. Along with a good selection of wines and sakes, the bar serves local micro-brewed beers. The restaurant is also open for breakfast and lunch, serving playful twists on American classics.
229 Parks is cozy, and reminiscent of a log cabin. The restaurant can be found within Denali National Park. Inside the dining room, the walls are adorned with the work of local artists, much of which is for sale. 229’s menu is carefully designed to highlight the bounty of quality ingredients available locally. Some favorites include braised rainbow chard and feta in phyllo; shaved endive and apple with roasted hazelnuts; and wood fire roasted carrots. Add an order of King crab cakes or their rack of lamb, and you will understand why this restaurant is one of the best in the state.
Jack Spratis a quaint place with big ideas. The restaurant was founded on a philosophy of providing for varied appetites and preferences, with global inspirations. Here, vegetarian dishes are not an afterthought, but a celebrated part of the menu. Jack Sprat’s carnivorous dishes are proudly served using sustainable, local fish, and humanely-raised meat. The restaurant is also a local favorite for brunch in the small ski town. With a staff that is well traveled and appreciates diversity, this restaurant is a welcoming haven for the out-of-town guest, and the familiar local face.
Dedicated to great wine and impeccable food, Crush offers Anchorage diners a world-class wine list in an relaxed atmosphere. In recent years, the restaurant’s passion for wine expanded to include a retail wine shop above the dining room. Fans rave about the surprising simplicity of dishes like the elk and pork meatloaf, arugula salad with melon and red wine feta, and truffled white beans. The restaurant’s menu is deliberately small, focusing on quality dishes, and providing fare than can be expertly paired with a number of exceptional wines.