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Dining in Alaska: Tips About What to Eat and Where to Eat It

Published: September 6, 2022

When traveling across Alaska, one of the best ways to capture the genuine “flavors” of this unique state is to taste the state’s most interesting and iconic foods. From King crab to King salmon, local berries to veggies, delicate-but-delightful halibut and scallops, surprising sides like reindeer sausage and saltwater harvested kelp, you can discover so many Alaska-grown-and-crafted foods, creatively combined into magnificent Alaskan meals. In the hands and pans of talented chefs and kitchen crews, the freshest of Alaska ingredients (proteins, veggies, herbs and even local sea salt) start you down a path to the best of culinary adventures.

Enjoy mouthwatering delicacies amidst pristine backcountry surroundings at Kenai Backcountry Lodge.

So where in Alaska can visitors find the best dining opportunities? Well, just about everywhere across the state. Alaska-based restaurants even have their own takes and twists on classic cuisine: from the gourmet to pizza and burgers, Mexican and Thai, you name it. But nothing compares to a truly Alaska dish – done right.

Fine Dining in Alaska

Foodies who fantasize about fine dining will not be disappointed during an evening spent at one (or many) of the state’s top restaurants, large or small, that have restaurateurs and staff who pull out all the stops to elevate Alaska’s best to dreamy heights.

Gourmet Halibut dinner at Winter Lake Lodge

Imagine a perfect piece of just-caught flaky white halibut or beautiful oily red salmon balanced with a touch of blueberry glaze or cranberry chutney, and paired with Alaska potatoes, carrots or broccolini. Simple yet spectacular! Looking for even more luxury? World-famous King crab, Copper River salmon, and giant Alaska prawns, scallops and oysters don’t need much embellishment to set off taste bud fireworks. These Alaska restaurants create so many courses and menus built from Alaska inspiration: magnificent mains paired with salads of Alaska-grown vegetables topped with fresh-caught salmon, shrimp and halibut; soups and other sides made with local love; and meals completed with desserts crafted in-house or in partnership with nearby kitchen experts. Even plate presentation has Alaska flair – tiny wildflowers, fireweed and ferns brighten any bite and palate.

Denali Backcountry Lodge freshly prepared dinner.

Roadside Lodge Restaurants

When traveling Alaska, even pulling over at a roadside lodge while traveling one of Alaska’s infamous highways or ducking into a downtown dive bar during a walk through town offers dining surprises. Deep-fried delights like Alaska-caught halibut and crab cakes are mainstays. Alaska clams can be found in the shell basting in bowls of butter and broth or chopped and sprinkled into rich chowders. Even dining standards come with an Alaska twist: sizable salmon and halibut cuts on sandwiches, and Alaska-bred beef on burgers. Want to sample an awesome Alaska appetizer? Order some smoked salmon spread with some freshly baked sourdough bread and your travel party just might come to blows over the last bite! Don’t worry, there’s plenty for everyone. No matter what you order, your server or bartender will make sure your Alaska menu items are paired with one of the dozens of locally crafted beers that are brewed in every corner the state. They may even tell you about how your requested side of ranch dressing actually originated in Alaska. True story!

Tutka Bay Wilderness Lodge expertly prepared fresh local food.

Alaska “Street Food”

Even Alaska’s food trucks and carts set up at urban markets, in parking lots, and along sidewalks bring out big-time taste sensations like salmon quesadillas, halibut tacos, deep-fried Alaska-grown veggie baskets, and more. Want to really eat like an Alaskan? Stop at one of the dozens of farmers market across the state during a summer weekend or spend a fall day at one of Alaska’s state fairs – just be sure to arrive with an empty stomach!

If you’ve planned a day in downtown Anchorage shopping, cruising museums, and checking out local sites, you’ll surely work up an appetite. Simply stop at one of the many hot dog carts operating downtown at just about all hours and order a reindeer sausage. These aren’t your average hot dog: they are larger and pack a unique, slightly spicy zing. Ask for fried onions as a topping and you’ll be fueled up and smiling for the rest of your wanderings. If you love it on a bun, you’ll also find reindeer sausage on many breakfast menus as a super substitution over traditional bacon, ham or pork sausage.

And Alaska-harvested kelp might be an unexpected menu item, but it is a crazy nutritious and very versatile menu item whose popularity is growing at Alaska’s restaurants. Kelp can be found sliced, pickled and served much like pickles themselves, and also used in salads and soups, and chopped, whipped or creamed into sauces and salsas.

Top Off Your Alaska Cuisine with the Right Dessert

There’s always room for dessert, right? Travelers will be surprised that it’s difficult, if not practically impossible, to find a big Baked Alaska on Alaska menus … seriously, that’s not a thing here. But they will find an endless lineup of Alaska sweets, baked and otherwise. Alaska-ingredient infused baked goods like pastries and pies, cupcakes and cakes are fascinating and aplenty. There’s also a hot trend of infusing fresh ice cream with Alaska-local ingredients like berries, fireweed, honey, sea salt, and even Alaska-made chocolate. Add a scoop to an Alaska-brewed root beer and you just might find yourself floating to nirvana!

Dessert pastries with berries

Sweet treats (Wayde Carroll/Visit Anchorage)