On January 3rd, we’ll have only been a state for 60 short years. But in that brief span, Alaska has established some great restaurants that are standing the test of time. These hometown restaurants have endured long enough to become beloved classics; some of the buildings have even survived the earthquake of ’64!
Check out our favorite 10 hometown restaurants in Alaska that will fill you with nostalgia and take you back in time:
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. AJ's Oldtown Steakhouse & Tavern (Homer, AK)
Located in the heart of "Old Town" in the historic section of Homer, AJ's Oldtown Steakhouse & Tavern has been serving up amazing steaks and hospitality for over 70 years! Long before Alaska was an official state, you could go and refresh yourself at this delicious restaurant. Locals go to hear live music, eat great steak and hamburger, and hang out in the cozy atmosphere. You can visit too at 120 W Bunnell Ave., Homer, Alaska 99603.
2. Thorn's Showcase Lounge and Restaurant (Seward, AK)
Thorn's Showcase and Lounge has been a staple for over 50 years in the beautiful town of Seward, Alaska. Ask any local what they're known for, and they will mention their amazing "Bucket of 'Butt." The fresh halibut at this restaurant is some of the best you'll find in town. Just a block from the bay, this location survived the Good Friday Earthquake of 1964. Check them out at 208 4th Ave., Seward, AK 99664.
3. Coldfoot Trucker's Cafe (Coldfoot, AK)
The Coldfoot Trucker's Cafe is a staple on the Dalton Highway. Iditarod champion Dick Mackey started this cafe selling hamburgers out of a bus in 1981. The truckers, loving the perfect halfway stop between Fairbanks and Prudhoe Bay, began a community effort to help build a more permanent building to dine in. The Coldfoot Trucker's Cafe is steeped in the history of the area, which was founded in 1898. With their delicious food available on a generous timeline of 5:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m., in the summer you can enjoy their fantastic breakfast or dinner buffet, and winter guests are treated to a full menu of choices. Go visit them at Mile 175 Dalton Highway in
Coldfoot, AK 99709.
4. Kennicott Glacier Lodge (Kennicott, AK)
At the end of a very long, 60 mile dirt road you will find the town of McCarthy. Head through McCarthy and up to Kennecott Mine, and the lovely Kennicott Glacier Lodge sits looking out over the glacier and valley. The lodge was built in 1987 to mimic the surrounding historic mine buildings. Travel back in time and sit in their dining area surrounded by old mining artifacts and photos. The lodge offers three dining times for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Alaskan fare (often described as "wilderness gourmet) can be enjoyed in the dining room with panoramic windows, or out on their gorgeous porch overlooking the small town and huge glacier! Reservations are recommended, and you can find their lovely location at #15 Kennicott Millsite, Kennicott, Alaska 99588 Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.
5. Chatanika Lodge (Fairbanks, AK)
The Chatanika Lodge, established in 1974 by Ron and Shirley Franklin, is a fun year round lodge that is filled with Alaskan artifacts. The restaurant is known for its plentiful, delicious food, and guests rave about the owners' hospitality. Locals love visiting for the live music and fun atmosphere. Don't forget to check out the historic gold dredge across the street, or the northern lights on a cold winter night! This restaurant is a must if traveling into Fairbanks on the Steese Highway. Come visit 5760 Steese Hwy. (279.73 mi) Chatanika, Alaska 99712 for a touch of true Alaskana.
6. Gwennie's Old Alaska Restaurant (Anchorage, AK)
Gwennie's Old Alaska Restaurant is a fixture in the neighborhood of Spenard. Running for over 30 years, it's a cozy restaurant filled with taxidermy animals, Alaska Native carvings, and other interesting Alaskana. The menus are simple and well executed, filled with your favorite comfort foods like reindeer sausage and eggs, biscuits and gravy, or a patty melt. This is your neighborhood diner, Alaska style. Visit Gwennie's and see for yourself, at 4333 Spenard Rd., Anchorage, AK 99517.
7. Seaview Cafe (Hope, AK)
Hope, Alaska, is a tiny little town around 17 miles off the Seward Highway. Well worth the detour, the picturesque downtown boasts killer views, an oceanside campground, and the incomparable Seaview Cafe. Hopping all summer long and filled with tourists and Alaska locals alike, the Seaview Cafe and the Seaview Bar offer a great beer and wine selection, amazingly fresh Alaskan seafood, and tasty burgers. The food is hot, delicious, and generous. Check out their live music selections all summer long, and prepare to have a great time! Visit their little historic building at the end of Main Street in Hope, Alaska 99605.
8. West Rib Pub & Grill (Talkeetna, AK)
A trip to Talkeetna isn't complete without checking out the West Rib Pub & Grill. Located in downtown Talkeetna within a historic building, the West Rib received its name from one of the more difficult routes to the summit of Denali. Filled with locals and mountaineers alike coming to quench their thirst, the restaurant is all Alaskan — including their menu selections. Feast on fresh Alaskan seafood, or sip from their impressive draft beer selection of microbrews from all over the 49th state. You can find them tucked behind the Nagley's Store at 13650 E Main St., Talkeetna, AK 99676.
9. The Buffalo Center Drive In (Delta Junction, AK)
Pull into this blast from the past and have your waiter take your order from your car window! With all the classics like shakes, ice cream, and seasoned curly fries, you can truly feel like you've traveled back in time 50 years. Or you could branch out and try their amazing Alaska yak burgers, or juicy buffalo burgers. What locals will tell you is that it's hard to order anything that doesn't taste delicious. Make The Buffalo Center Drive In a must if you're headed north or south on the Richardson Highway! Stop in at Mile 265.5 Richardson Hwy. (235.46 mi), Delta Junction, AK 99731.
10. Gwin's Lodge and Roadhouse (Cooper Landing, AK)
Gwin's Lodge and Roadhouse is another one of these classic hometown restaurants that existed before Alaska was even a state! Opened in 1952, the original roadhouse was constructed of logs from the surrounding Chugach National Forest. It has the historical distinction of being the oldest surviving roadside lodge on the Kenai Peninsula! But that's not what keeps locals and tourists coming back. Between the dishes featuring the excellent and creative use of the famed Alaskan Salmon, to the comforting hot bison chili, or fresh Alaskan seafood baskets, Gwin's caters to all kinds of appetites in a cozy log hewn restaurant. In the summer you can come see your favorite band play after a long day of fishing on the Kenai River. Come and relax after a day of play at 14865 Sterling Hwy., Cooper Landing, AK 99572.