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Best Anchorage Restaurants

AOL PICK from our Editors
Though outsiders might think “Alaska cuisine” is a fancied-up term for boiled crab and grilled salmon, that’s old news. A small group of chefs in the Anchorage area is leading the state toward more imaginative uses of its indigenous ingredients—and support for the producers of those foodstuffs. New growers are supplementing the traditional salmon, crab, shrimp, scallops, cabbage and potatoes with farm-raised elk, oysters, wild-gathered mushrooms and huckleberries, even birch syrup. Seafood connoisseurs should note that crab is almost always frozen. Please, don’t bring a tie to Anchorage—we've never heard of a restaurant in the state that requires a coat and tie.

Kincaid Grill

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Expensive
Ignore the strip mall, purple façade exterior (typical Anchorage)—this is one of the city’s white-tablecloth gourmet dining locales, a perfect place for dinner after visiting the zoo or before midnight golf at Anchorage Golf Club. Specializing in Alaska seafood, chef Al Levinsohn spiffs up the standard crab, salmon and halibut with imaginative touches such as a scallop nicoise salad, roast poblano-chili chutney with salmon, and crab with a saffron risotto.

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Kincaid Grill  

Marx Brothers

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Expensive
Atmosphere and excellence combine at this Anchorage institution. Still run by three of the original founders—executive chef Jack Amon, general manager Van Hale and partner Ken Brown, who introduced fine dining to their city in 1979—the café is housed in a small (barely a dozen tables) 1916 house perched on the bluff over Ship Creek. Though the menu ranges from albacore to venison, creative Alaska seafood is the centerpiece: halibut macadamia, crabcakes with wasabi, pan-seared scallops. It’s one of the few places left where they make Caesar salad by hand at tableside. The same management operates the excellent café, Muse, at the Anchorage Museum.

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Orso

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Expensive
This large, popular fine-dining mainstay in downtown Anchorage lends a Mediterranean flair to Alaska foods—mushroom ravioli with smoked sockeye salmon, for instance, or rigatoni with a sauce of balsamic butter and Alaska birch syrup. The deep earth-tone stucco interior lends an air of Italian warmth, and the wine list roams the world. Recommendations are recommended, but not necessary.

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Seven Glaciers (Alyeska Resort)

Neighborhood: Girdwood Price: Expensive
Not only does this top-of-the-tram restaurant at Alyeska Resort have one of the world’s greatest dining vistas, it’s a leading practitioner of Alaska regional cuisine. First you admire the view of the Girdwood Valley on the ride up; once seated you marvel at the jaw-dropping view of Cook Inlet, Alyeska’s ski slopes and the glacier-draped Seward Mountains. The menu’s reliance on Alaska ingredients is profound, ranging from seafood to farm-raised elk; preparations are expert and imaginative: halibut with green-chile polenta, alder-smoked elk, crabcakes with coconut curry. The tram ride is free with a dinner reservation.

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Glacier BrewHouse

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Moderate
Poised somewhere between pub food and fine dining, Glacier is crowded every night with both locals and visitors. The expansive menu ranges from calamari to crème brulee; standouts are the grilled halibut salad, macadamia salmon, flatiron steak and cooked-to-order bread pudding. Craft ales and beers are supplemented by made-on-site root beer.

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Gwennie's Old Alaskan Restaurant

Neighborhood: Spenard Price: Moderate
This bit of Alaskana is the sort of restaurant where, fans say, you’ll never go away hungry. Known mostly for huge platters of greasy-spoon breakfasts (ham and eggs and grits and toast, and so on) Gwennie’s makes up for in mass what it lacks in atmosphere—if that’s your style. It’s a local institution where those who fancy finer cuisine can consider a stop to be an economical anthropological excursion. As for all the stuffed animals on the walls and such—at least they’re not on the menu.

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Moose's Tooth

Neighborhood: Midtown Price: Moderate
It’s a brewpub, pizza parlor, tavern and entertainment venue all rolled into one—but what keeps the parking lot almost always full, almost all day every day, is Moose’s stunningly good pizza. Perfectly executed, with imaginative conformations (chipotle steak, blackened halibut), this may be the best pizza on the continent. The beer is great, service is snappy and friendly, and the buzz is jazzy but not overwhelming. If you asked Anchorage residents which restaurant they could least do without, most would say Moose’s or Snow City. 

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Middleway Cafe & Tea House

Neighborhood: Midtown Price: Budget
Crowds pack this sandwich-soup-salad outlet for the best bargain lunches in Midtown. Nothing fancy here—just great turkey, beef, tuna and vegetarian sandwiches (best is the Tuscan tuna), plus free Wi-Fi. Its location between REI and the city’s best bookstore, Title Wave, recommends it as a break amid gearing up and contemplating.

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New Sagaya's City Market

Neighborhood: Spenard Price: Budget
This is in essence Anchorage’s Whole Foods, a spiffy grocery devoted to natural foods, with a superb deli section that’s great for takeout. Specializing in Alaska seafood (which it ships nationwide), this is a great place for takeout lunch or dinner—pasta salads, hand-made salmon and turkey sandwiches, cooked meals such as meatloaf—with a healthful bent. In summer, a few tables outside the market offer a pleasant spot to enjoy your food.

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New Sagaya's City Market  

Snow City Cafe

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Budget
The signature dish at this downtown café is a divine snow crab omelette (“The Crabby Omelet”), but the Tundra Scramble (reindeer sausage, peppers, mushrooms) and the Kodiak Benedict, with king crab, are equally alluring. For lunch/early dinner, the grilled meatloaf with macaroni-and-cheese ably fends off subzero weather. The place closes mid-afternoon and lines start stretching out the door before 8AM, so plan on enjoying coffee while you wait. Styrofoam is banned here. Friendliness is endemic.

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Steamdot Coffee Espresso Lab

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Budget
In a city crazed about coffee (there’s a drive-through espresso stand at almost every major intersection) it was inevitable someone would invent a “coffee bar.” Customers here sit at the bar and indulge in tastings of a half-dozen different preparations of the coffee roasted on-site. Most intriguing is a Japanese-style, infrared steam/drip siphon brewer that minimizes the bitterness. Handmade pastries absorb excess caffeine consumption, should that occur.

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