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Best Anchorage Nightlife

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Nightclubs, pubs and taverns dominate the nightlife scene in Anchorage, with the twin Tooths and the Koot (see below) leading the way. Though cynics have long said there is nothing to do in Alaska in winter save sleep and drink, a more typical day includes outdoor activity, pizza and beer at a brewpub, followed by a music performance at one of the better pubs or nightclubs. Anchorage residents (and visitors) benefit immensely by the fact that Alaska is a popular place to visit, and performers head here for “vacation”—and take the stage at much smaller venues than they would in the Lower 48. The city’s main public performance venue, with visiting acts that range from Broadway shows to Bill Cosby and Snoop Dogg, is the downtown Alaska Center for the Performing Arts; www.myalaskacenter.com. Anchorage’s far northern latitude has one pronounced effect on the nightlife scene: Bars and taverns start filling up much earlier in winter, when dusk drops down before 5PM, than in summer when, well, it never actually gets dark.

Bear Tooth Theater Pub

Neighborhood: Spenard
Housed in a classic Art Deco building, and owned and operated by the Moose’s Tooth folks, this is Anchorage’s alternative movie palace. Cult, foreign and classic movies are shown for $3; craft beers and great tavern food round out the offerings, with an occasional live performance thrown in for good measure. The salmon burrito or the pesto ravioli are good bets, as is the beer. Bear Tooth is a local favorite, so it can get a bit crowded. There's often a line to get in.

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Blues Central

Neighborhood: Midtown
If you love live entertainment, this is the place in Anchorage to come. This quintessential small Anchorage tavern/pub/restaurant focuses, per its name, on blues and jazz—usually home-grown artists such as Gary “Alaska” Sloan. Live performers appear every night, the atmosphere is intimate, and the burgers are basic and good. Prices are reasonable. There's a small dance floor, but it's always packed.

Chilkoot Charlie's

Neighborhood: Spenard
A classic nightclub with a live-music stage, this venue also benefits from Alaska’s appeal—Everclear is on the summer 2010 schedule, for instance, and past superstar performers range from Crosby, Stills and Nash to Metallica. Comedy nights, DJs and local bands round out the performance schedule. There are 12 separate bars (yes, they take drinking seriously here), and, on summer Saturdays, a farmers market in the parking lot. How Alaskan is that? Cover charges range from $3-$5 on weekends.

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Moose's Tooth

Neighborhood: Midtown
Though better known as an eatery, the Moose also hosts occasional live acts such as Yonder Mountain String Band and Cake. The brewpub atmosphere is hearty and convivial from noon to midnight, and past midnight, whether it’s a live-music night or not. This is a good place to kick back with a beer with the locals.

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Tap Root Café

Neighborhood: Downtown
Folk, alternative, bluegrass, roots and world artists mark the weekend live music lineup at this eatery, whose evening menu focuses on beer (hand-crafted microbrews), burgers and salads. The beer selection is good, albeit not cheap. The food is average.

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