Whether your coming off the cruise ship or staying in Juneau for a few days, you’re going to want to experience a true taste of Alaska with these 5 essential eats.
When you travel somewhere new, you presumably want to:
- Try something new
- Try something local
- Try something you can’t find anywhere else
Eat like a local
Alaska is not known for their agriculture or meat dishes. They are a seafood state with the majority of foods shipped or flown in from other states.
With the exception of #4, these are within walking distance of downtown and the pier where the cruise ships dock.
I tried quite a few dishes during my week long stay in Juneau, and these are the 5 things I would definitely go back for with a bonus souvenir you should definitely take home.
#1 Candied Salmon Ice Cream
You can eat ice cream anywhere, but Coppa Ice Cream adds local flare to theirs that make it truly worth trying.
The flavors rotate, but they source local ingredients to flavor their ice creams made from milk sourced from Oregon cows.
When I visited in June 2019, they had the following flavors:
- Candied salmon – which did not tasty fishy at all
- Rhubarb sorbet – sourced from locally picked rhubarb
- Beer Brownie – made from Alaskan Amber Ale
- Spruce Tip – made from the buds of nearby spruce trees
They have a shop that is a good walk from downtown. Or you can head to their convenient street cart at the food truck park on Franklin and Front St.
#2 Eat a King Crab Leg al fresco
Tracy’s Crab Shack is a well worn tourist destination, but there is something so apropo about chomping on a giant king crab leg in the state from whence they came.
The price fluctuates according to the market. At the time of this writing, it was $28 for a leg with some garlic butter and rolls.
The lines are long in the summer time, so you might be better off taking a walk down the pier to Tracy’s Crab Shack 2. There is more table side seating there too right next to the waterfront.
In addition to the crab leg, they are also known for their crab cakes and crab bisque.
To take a taste of your travels home, the sell a secret crab cake sauce in glass bottles for $8. It’s sort of a cross between a cocktail sauce and hot sauce.
It’s unique, Alaskan, and worth packing into your suitcase.
#3 Alaskan Brewed Gin
A place so beloved by locals, when Amalga Distillery releases a new gin flavor they line up around the block for hours to wait for it.
They released a blueberry flavor to the lucky ones who nabbed a bottle earlier this summer.
Their standard gin is brewed with local ingredients including:
- neutral grain spirit from Anchorage
- citrus zest
- spruce tips
- Labrador tea
- devils club bark
While you can buy a bottle for $32, you can also have a seat at their distillery to enjoy one of their many featured cocktails for the day.
They make their own tonic, ginger beers, and craft cocktails that are not too sweet.
#4 Fresh Caught Halibut Fish & Chips
Another place beloved by locals and recommended hands down for their fish and chips is the Sand Bar and Grill.
This is definitely a taxi ride away from downtown to a nondescript bar with not much else nearby, but you’ll be glad you went.
Their secret is fresh halibut, delivered fresh daily. Cut into large baby fist sized chunks with a crispy crust and creamy tartar sauce.
#5 Hog Wing from Heaven
McGivneys Sports Bar and Grill was so popular, they had to open a 2nd location in downtown, right inside the Sheraton Hotel.
Smoked, deep fried, and glazed with homemade BBQ sauce, this pork shank is affectionately named a hog wing.
And it does seem outer worldly. There is so much more meat on it than a St. Louis pork rib and feels almost like a eating a porky drumstick.
The pork is not from Alaska, but it is a unique preparation and take on bbq pork ribs.
Bonus: Smoked Salmon Bellies
I didn’t see a place that served this on the restaurant menu, but you can find a plethora of smoked salmon in the grocery stores.
Very near to the Sand Bar & Brill (#4 above) is Hooked Seafood market, where they sell fresh fish along with a variety of smoked salmon and even octopus.
You need to buy some smoked salmon bellies, which seems to be unique to Alaska and not something I’ve seen in the stores in Northern CA.
It’s just like a smoked salmon fillet, but 10 times better. It has so much more fat and moisture and will delight anyone who is lucky enough to nab a slice from you.
Asian Fusion is alive and well
For a sit down restaurant experience, the following restaurants feature Asian fusion cuisine and are highly recommended by the local community:
- Zerelda’s Bistro – Where people go for a nice evening out. It is a taxi ride away from downtown Juneau.
- V’s Cellar Door – Located in basement in downtown Juneau, they are known for their crazy good fusion tacos and Asian-Mexican cuisine.
Juneau Food Tours
If you’re short on time, and want to taste the best of Juneau in a short amount of time, check out Juneau Food Tours.
Local guides will lead you through an insider’s tour of downtown for some of the best bites Juneau has to offer.
- Downtown Juneau is compact and walkable. Everything is about 15 minutes within each other.
- The port where the cruise ship doc is in the heart of downtown.
- Many restaurants and bars close by 8pm, so plan to have dinner before then.
- Uber, Lyft, and taxi cabs are available. You may just have to wait 10-15 minutes for one.
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