What’s the story AK Kid? You live in Alaska, home of sustainable seafood, the freshest there is, and I can’t even get you to try a halibut nugget? And don’t get me started on the whole aversion-to-Yukon-Gold-potatoes debacle.
Traveling with kids who shun new foods, foods with unusual textures, colors, or levels of palatability can be difficult, particularly in regions of the world where dining equates with culture. My husband and I went through various stages of our son’s list of “gross” ingredients, encouraging, wheedling, threatening, and outright bribing for the sake of experiencing something different at our destinations’ best restaurants.
But that was then, this is now, and AK Kid, 11, is old enough to eat what he wants within our scope of protein-vegetable-fruit-carb requirements. While the “no thank you” bite still reigns in some establishments, it is nice to drop the mic once in a while and say “Go for it.” After all, we need him fueled and ready for our Alaska adventures.
Sound familiar? If your own “Ick-Meister” needs nourishment in Alaska, try these thoughtful, friendly, and oh-so delicious restaurants. (pricing tool $-$$$)
Alaska Fish House, Ketchikan. Yes, the F-word is in the name, but move quickly beyond that and into this cozy Ketchikan restaurant located next to the famous Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the Fish House has cinnamon waffles, french fries, burgers, and traditional Alaska seafood (smoked salmon chowder, halibut, fish tacos, and crab legs). Looking for a unique snack? Add smoked salmon corn bread to your list; it surprised me that AK Kid would actually taste a corner. Maybe it was the “bread” thing. $$
The Island Pub, Juneau/Douglas. Actually located across Gastineau Channel in the small bedroom community of Douglas, The Island Pub sometimes gets forgotten in the bustle of downtown Juneau restaurants. But, parents, do not overlook the power of pizza. We like the view, we like the simple menu, including chicken skewers with ranch dip and, wait for it– gourmet pizza with a name like– CHEESE. You’re welcome. Fret not, moms and dads, there are plenty of gourmet options for you, too. $$
Bear Tooth Theatrepub, Anchorage. Sister restaurant to pizza-king Moose’s Tooth, Bear Tooth is a southwestern delight for kids, and heck, it’s a movie theatre, too, so why not? But the gem of Bear Tooth is their kids menu: Beef tacos on a hard shell; veggie plates that have recognizable carrots, cucumbers, and celery with normal ranch dip like mom serves at home; cheese quesadillas. Simple. Limited. Worth the money. Nothing weird-looking, friendly staff, and satisfied parents, because there’s beer, too. #win. $$-$$$
Snow City Cafe, downtown Anchorage. Yes, it wins “Breakfast of the century” all the time, and this place deserves it, too. Pancakes shaped like snowmen or polar bears, toast and butter, jam, smoothies, bacon, fresh fruit, and yes, wait staff who are cheerful even when your toddler oozes berry goo all over the table. No problem. Lunch is tasty, too, with grilled cheese topping our kid’s wish list. Plain PB& J and meat and bread are available, too. Trust me. $$-$$$
Talkeetna Roadhouse, Talkeetna. On the way to Denali National Park, swing in to the wee village of Talkeetna for a Rudy-In-a-Parka (hot dog roll up), or a hotcake the size of a dinner place. Maybe, even, some cinnamon rolls? Talkeetna Roadhouse, for all its simplicity, still reigns king with our picky son, and for one reason: Carbs, baby. Loads and loads of carbs. Pour some sugar on it and call it good. Owner Trisha Costello gets kids, and she knows some kids don’t like berries in their hotcakes, so she serves ’em plain. And wow, if kids need a little pick-me-up in the afternoon, she’ll warm up one of those Rudy-In-a-Parkas and hand it over with a hot cocoa and a plate of homemade mac n’cheese (not from the blue and yellow box, but we can get our son to eat it). Nice. $$
Silver Gulch Restaurant, Fairbanks/Fox. A stellar brewing company, Silver Gulch has charmed our AK Kid for years with a catchy kids menu featuring mini-corn dogs, fritters (sort of a biscuit thing that has, gasp, seafood in it, but don’t tell him), and chicken strips. Great lemonade and root beer, too, and if you can, ask for a brewery tour of this historic location just outside Fairbanks. $$-$$$
Bulgogi Grill, Fairbanks. The former Noodle House (a simple winner with us), the establishment is now called Bulgogi Grill, and this tiny restaurant offers our picky eater some good protein options. Marinated beef or chicken, rice, noodles, and even a little tease of kimchi (which didn’t go over well, but to please the owner, he tried it). This tiny little place is located near College Road and is our first stop on the way to Creamer’s Field for a hike or ski. $$
The Cookie Jar, Fairbanks. Besides the obvious treat aspect of a restaurant centered around cookies, the Cookie Jar offers a fairly diverse kids menu of favorites. Lasagna, chicken strips, “pasketti” with meat sauce, burgers, and a favorite grilled cheese. I appreciate the establishment’s attention to my son, who always feels respected for his menu choices. Pick up a dozen or so cookies if the kids clean their plates. Great rootbeer floats and pie, too. $$-$$$