Anchorage is the next stop on this 2 week inside passage cruise. Since I had such great food experiences in Juneau, I am now quite eager to see what Alaska’s biggest city has to offer. Having over 40% of Alaska’s population, Anchorage is popular for fishing, hiking and I am certainly hoping, for eating.
I made a plan to meet Jack from Visit Anchorage who has made a few dining arrangements for me. We hop into his mini van and drive to the “south side” of town and stop at what looks like an out of business strip mall. There’s not another car in site and while I’m a bit confused about this location, Jack gets out and walks to one of the doors and assures me that the Southside Bistro is one of Anchorage’s neighborhood gems. A uniformed Chef greets us and brings us inside. What a surprise to find a beautifully decorated and inviting space with an open kitchen and 2 warm and comfortable dining areas. I’m told they have one of the best wine and beer lists in the city too. The restaurant is noted for its fresh and fun food and Chef Travis creates different specials on a daily basis. Today, he wants to make a salmon with cherries and lentil dish and has a gorgeous 20 pound king salmon already waiting to be prepared. He does all the hard work and then we sit down with a glass of pinot noir and this amazing dish. The wine and the salmon are just a perfect pairing and I’m feeling more excited with what’s yet to come.
We drive back into “town” and the main street of Anchorage where there are numerous vendors behind hot dog carts selling their popular reindeer hotdogs. Of course, I have to try one so Jack brings me to his favorite. It seems these are eaten all over town, even for breakfast, and I love mine loaded with spices and this vendor’s very own, special sauce called “the boss.” I loved it!
So now we go from street side hot dog stand to elegant, upscale dining just around the corner at Marx Brothers Café. This restaurant is an unquestionable treasure in the Anchorage dining scene located in a pretty little house with only 14 tables. They are known for some of the most innovative contemporary food in Alaska and I find this out for myself as Chef Jack promptly brings out 3 outrageously gorgeous looking dishes. There’s a king salmon with sorrel sauce and mashed purple potatoes, a macademia crusted halibut with coconut curry, mango chutney forbidden rice and grilled Japanese eggplant and neopolitan seafood mousse with smoked salmon, smoked halibut, and maine lobster with brioche toast points and caviar. Yes, all that for me! The Chef explains that he loves when opposing flavors can come together on a plate. He also said this is Alaska so you can’t get too crazy with ingredients and ideas. We finished with his special birch syrup butter pecan ice cream. This meal was as extraordinary as it sounds.
We have one more place to go in one of Anchorage’s oldest neighborhoods. This time it’s for scones at the Fire Island Rustic Bake Shop. I have to work for my scone as Rachel shows me the process in creating these multi berried beauties. Needless to say I was a bit too full to eat a whole one but thankfully, Rachel let me take some with me.
There’s still a little time left before I had to get back to the ship. I certainly couldn’t eat any more so Jack drives to one of his favorite spots, Chugach State Park. The views are simply breathtaking and while I didn’t see any moose or other wildlife so prevalent there, I was able to take in some of the natural beauty surrounding this part of Alaska and even managed to hike around a bit and work off some of that food.
Anchorage might be the biggest city in Alaska, but it definitely has small town charm and I’m happy to say, the nicest people and extraordinarily good eating.
Cheers and all the best,