Thanks everybody. Jaymes -- I'll only be there one night.
You can find fresh king crab, but only during crabbing season, which has been greatly cut back (sometimes to only a few days) and at any rate, is in the fall/winter, not when you're going to be there.
Only one night....sounds like a cruise.
I'd go along with Marx Bros Cafe for dinner, but you might want to go up to the top of Captain Cook Hotel for drinks beforehand. Or after. It will still be light after dinner, and the view from the top of the hotel is spectacular. Particularly in the lingering lavender twilight haze of an Alaskan summer night. Also, since I'm a kind of history junkie, I like imagining the old days when the Captain Cook was the grandest hotel in Alaska. Although I do not recommend the food in any
of its restaurants.
Since I suspect you'll be there on the land tour portion of a cruise, you'll probably be taking the train north to Denali. So I'd VERY strongly suggest you stop by the New Sagaya Market and pick up some things for lunch on the train. The food on the train is very expensive and not much good. Although sometimes the Reindeer Chili isn't bad, but pretty bland since they're catering to tourists from all over.
But the New Sagaya Market is great fun anyway. They have a lot of ready-to-eat items and some tables and chairs (like many of the grocery stores in the lower 48) so the place is always full of locals grabbing a quick meal. You'll see everybody from lawyers and business persons in suits, to folks obviously just coming in from the bush on their monthly supply run. It's a wonderful spot for people-watching and definitely off of the beaten tourist track. It's downtown, just a few blocks from the hotels, and an easy and interesting and scenic walk and the food is pretty darn tasty. Even if you don't need any snacks to go, I'd suggest you consider it for lunch.
Simon & Seafort is very good, as others have said, and it does have a nice view if you can get a table by the window, but the atmosphere there is more like chain restaurants in the lower 48. If you were going to be there several days, I'd recommend it for a meal but just one day, I'd say skip it.
You said you'd be in Anchorage one night in June. If it just happens to be June 21st, that's the longest day, and it's always celebrated with a midnight baseball game. The game will start at 10:30 and be played without lights. You might not want to stay for the whole thing, but would be fun to go there for an hour or two after dinner, just to say you've been. Anyone in town can tell you where it is.
Other info: If you are on a cruise, or if you're going to Fairbanks, definitely do one of the salmon bakes. The salmon is good, the halibut is fabulous. The sides are spectacularly uneventful, but you didn't go to Alaska to eat baked beans, did you?
In Anchorage, be sure you go to the Alaska Native Heritage Center.
If you are on a cruise, a visit there will either be included, or an option. Or you can just get in a cab and go there, but whatever, don't miss it. All of the tribes are represented, and they have build samples of their villages, with small huts, and each small "village" is staffed by a member of that particular tribe. They give you a little presentation about their lives and how the dwellings are built, and why. It's terrific, and any questions you've ever had about the Inupiat, Inuit, Athabascan, Eskimo, etc., you can ask these bright young people.
If you have an extra hour, go to the Alaska Museum of History and Art
in downtown Anchorage. Although it's all interesting, you don't have much time, so go straight to the Alaska Gallery. It's really wonderful, and includes life-size diaramas depicting how folks lived in the Great Land for centuries. One particularly interesting note is that the faces on all of the people in the diaramas are taken from real people. The last time I was there, there was a young Tlingit woman pointing at the figure of an old man sewing up sealskin. She said, "See, that's my granddad."
If you are an art collector and would like to buy something by distinctly Alaskan artists, look for works by Byron Birdsall
and Rie Munoz
. You will see their artwork everywhere, from originals costing many thousands of dollars, to more affordable prints, lithographs, notecards. Birdsall is particularly noted for his depiction of the sublime light and shadow of Alaska; Munoz for her capture of the spirit of its people.
But if you're in the mood for gag gifts for tacky friends, well, the Alaskan crafts folk are particularly inventive when it comes to the droppings of their favorite large animal -- the moose. They varnish the all-vegetarian moose turds and turn them into decoration for all manner of things. You'll find moose turd necklaces and matching earrings, moose turd swizzle sticks, and even ceramic mugs that have two moose turds permanently imbedded in the bottom. Of course, the legend on the side of these mugs says "Two Turds Full."
If you'll tell me a little bit more about your visit -- where you're going, etc. -- I've got more.
Oh, and PS. Everywhere you will see small items made of moose hide for sale -- beaded hair clips, coin purses, moccasins, key chains, eyeglass holders, etc. They have been smoked. When I think of the things I miss most about Alaska, the sights, the tastes, the smells, I think of the smoky aroma...natives smoking fish, meat, animal hide. So pick up one of those small, beaded moose-hide souvenirs and hold it to your nose and breath in deeply for me.
Edited by Jaymes, 10 April 2006 - 09:36 AM.