Originally Posted by Reindeerflame
The Salmon Bake at the park.
Surprisingly, I'll second this. Usually, these touristy places are at best mediocre (although I've never been to Phyllis' Cafe and Salmon Bake here in Anchorage, I've heard it's not the best place to get good Alaskan seafood and it's very touristy--I trust Orso/Simon and Seafort's/etc. more...), but I had some darn good pieces of fish at the Pioneer Park salmon bake.
I also had one of the best dinners in Alaska at the Two Rivers Lodge out on Chena Hot Springs Road--I couldn't decide between the halibut in an avocado sauce (sounds weird, I know, but it was to die for) and the beef medallions in a demi glace, so the chef graciously gave me a half order of both. Both were insanely delicious. Unfortunately, a Fairbanksan recently told me that the chef left for a position in Washington and the food is no longer nearly as good. Although it may be outdated and no longer accurate, you can read my more in-depth review
I had a great Cuban dish of Ropa Vieja and some stuffed tomatoes out at the Old F.E. Gold Camp in Chatanika (out the Steese Highway) courtesy of Chef Alejandro. He does these monthly culinary tours of the world that I would have loved to have gone to, but I never was able to make it out for one. (See http://www.fegoldcamp.com/
and look for "Dessert First" for the culinary tours.) Food was absolutely great out there.
I had several items from Big Daddy's (right downtown) barbecue. Although I'm not well versed in real Southern/Midwestern barbecue, last winter I did get to try Arthur Bryant's in Kansas City and Corky's in Memphis (two of the most famous barbecue joints in the country) and found Big Daddy's meats to be tastier and juicier than both.
I lived up in Fairbanks for about five months last summer and came across several other places that are worth mentioning but may not be as outstanding as the above:
-Gambardella's Pasta Bella: interestingly, reviews seem to say it's bland and not worth a stop, but it's good, solid Italian food (I especially liked their fettuccine alfredo with spicy Italian sausage).
-Taco King on Old Steese: same owner as Gallo's but better and cheaper (maybe it's just because you're deprived up there in Fairbanks, but Gallo's really isn't that great). Get the chicken torta from Taco King--it's an awesome grilled chicken sandwich with avocado, a great sauce, and some special kind of cheese (almost like a feta but not quite) that really tastes awesome. Put some of their pico de gallo on it, too. (Both Taco King and Gallo's started in Anchorage but apparently are expanding.)
-Cookie Jar: Great old-fashioned Americana restaurant with great sandwiches along with fresh-baked pies, cookies, the whole works
-Geraldo's: more upper-class than Gambardella's but correspondingly more expensive
-Wood Center student union at UAF has decent cheap pizza by the slice. Went there more than once.
-College Town Pizzeria: Only went there once; enjoyed it but wasn't overly thrilled; however, it consistently gets reviews as Fairbanks' best pizza
-Hot Licks Ice Cream on College Road: great-tasting fresh, homemade ice cream. The dozen and a half or so flavors change daily. They have a very, very rich chocolate flavor called Prudhoe that has a cult following. See http://www.hotlicks.net/
-Food Factory: Not really all that special, but a real greasy spoon with all the classic American items (hot dogs, hamburgers, fries, malts, etc.). Chain feel to it (a la Red Robin or something) with retro decorations on the walls and corny logos to spare, but as far as I can tell, it is homegrown. Maybe it's a wannabe chain...?
-Los Amigos (down at Cushman and the Mitchell Expressway, aka the Parks Highway): Decent Mexican food, but I really dug their halibut fajitas. Only in Alaska can you get a fresh halibut fajita. Mmm!
-L'aissette de Pomegranate cafe (414 Second): great sandwiches and pasta/potato salads and other lighter fare. Can get busy with tour buses in the summer.
-Brewster's (multiple locations): Standard burger bar and grill with decent hamburgers. Surprised by the surf 'n' turf with halibut and steak: the halibut was quite good, which can be hard to find!
-Pizza 4 Less (on Geist, but there's another one in town somewhere): Owned and operated by Indians, you may have to convince them to bring out the Indian menu (they're kind of reluctant, maybe because Indian food takes more effort to prepare than pizzas), but I fell in love with their saffron chicken rice. A large to-go Styrofoam container filled with rice was ridiculously cheap and lasted me for four days.
After rereading the previous posts, I see I forgot a couple, so I'll post my responses to those suggestions:
-I did get a steak out at Ivory Jack's and was pleased, but it wasn't extraordinary or anything. Very kitschy frontier/pioneer Alaska feel to the bar, though...
-I did eat at Sam's Sourdough once--standard but very well done American breakfasts and lunches (burgers, etc.). Didn't get a chance to go back, but it was spoken of very highly by many coworkers.
-Didn't get a chance to do Turtle Club prime rib or the Blue Loon's fried sweet potato fries, but I heard from several coworkers that both are outstanding.
-I did try Lavelle's once. Don't remember what I had, but I remember it was very good, if a bit pricey. amgray's right when he says they have an extensive wine list. I don't think I've ever seen such a wine list before--it surely competes with wine lists at some of the best restaurants in major Lower 48 cities (I think one newspaper reviewer said their wine list was comparable to that of some of the top restaurants in New York City).
-I also did try Lemon Grass Thai. Good, although I confess I'm not terribly discriminating about my Thai food.
-Pazzo G's is owned by the same folks who own Gambardella's. Newspaper reviews say it's similarly bland. I ate there twice while waiting for my clothes to dry in the laundromat next door and enjoyed both the pizza and the calzone, although I wouldn't say it was phenomenal.
A couple of others I forgot to mention above:
-Pike's Landing: ate there twice, once with friends at Sunday brunch. Good but not great both times. Can be somewhat touristy, but deck dining by the river is very nice in the summer.
-Chena Pump House: Don't remember the specifics, but I'm pretty sure it was quite tasty. Maybe it wasn't terribly memorable, though, if I can't remember much about it...
Not strictly Fairbanks, but worth mentioning because they are on the road there:
-Monderosa Grill, just north of Nenana and about 45 minutes south of Fairbanks. Best burgers in Alaska--it's on their sign and I will vouch for it!
-Judy's Cafe in Healy, probably about two hours south of Fairbanks (get when passing through Denali on your way to or from Fairbanks, although consider the Monderosa above, too): Great burgers and American food; you can be famous if you finish their giant 2.5-lb burger (or however big it is).
I think this is pretty much every non-fast-food restaurant I ate at while I was up there. The selection's not huge (compared to major cities in the Lower 48), but there's not a lack of good food there (the number of good restaurants is comparable to Anchorage, which is, oh, maybe five or six times larger).