Anchorage’s myriad restaurants might have dishes that call upon yak and crab and halibut as their “distinctly Alaskan” ingredients, but if you really want a taste of what Alaskans are chowing down on, look no further than the area’s food and farmers’ markets.
Every Saturday and Sunday throughout summer, hundreds of local creators take up a few city blocks in downtown Anchorage to showcase their talents. Artists sell everything from photography, paintings, and books to fur garments, jewelry and ulu knives; chefs prepare cuisine ranging from salmon quesadillas and reindeer chili to fireweed honey and macarons; and musicians busk for the crowds during this free, all-day block party.
Authentically Alaskan, the Spenard Farmers’ Market is what other neighborhood markets aspire to be. While many of the farmers and other cottage industries are mainstays here, their assortments of produce fluctuate with the season and different genres of groovy live tunes are performed each week, so the market has a different vibe every time you go.
Numerous successful small businesses in Anchorage got their start hawking foodstuffs at the South Anchorage Farmers’ Market. Started in 2006, this market runs Saturday mornings from May to October and claims the highest number of Alaska Certified Organic farmers among its ranks. Come for the multicolor cauliflower, myriad potato varietals, and other veggies that have grown monstrously large in the midnight sun. Beyond the dozen or so area farmers, local foodie favorites, including Rise & Shine Bakery, La Grassa Pasta, Sweet Caribou, and Wild Scoops also maintain stands here each weekend.
The youngest of the area’s markets – it just started operating in summer 2017 – this market in the parking lot of Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop already has devotees swinging by each week for fish, meats, jams, pickles, homemade pasta, ice cream, mushrooms, and more. It’s a nice choice for those who don’t have time to venture out to farmers’ markets on Saturdays (or who forget to pick something up during their weekend market trip). Be sure to head into the bakery afterwards for one of their savory scones.
It seems fitting that this eclectic assortment of the area’s food trucks would meet in the parking lot of Chilkoot Charlie’s, a bar that many would argue is the quirkiest drinking establishment in the state. From 11am-2pm on Thursdays in the summer, roughly a dozen food trucks, selling everything from hotdogs to cupcakes and Cajun to French, circle up and serve what would definitely not be considered a sad desk lunch to locals on their break.
While not as large as some of the other markets in town, The Center Market is noteworthy for being the only market open year round. Found in the Sears Mall, the market touts local vegetables, meats, eggs, baked goods, and oodles of artisan foods.
Small, but mighty, the biggest draw of this little market located on the Alaska Pacific University campus is the produce brought in each week by Spring Creek Farm. Spring Creek is both a production and educational farm, where students of the university work with farmers to learn about food production and food security. Beyond selling the veggies individually, the stand maintains a reasonably priced Community Supported Agriculture shares, as well. Make sure to get some of the freshly baked bread made in the campus kitchen and stay for the free yoga classes, too.