Favorite Restaurants & Dining

The foodie scene around Palmer and Wasilla has improved greatly over the past few years. Here are recommendations for our favorite spots to eat, both new and old.

–Few restaurants in our area are excellent. It’s in the higher price range, but the Grape Tap in Wasilla is top notch. They are a tapas style restaurant and wine bar where you can also order full-plate entrees, too. Here you’ll have find preparations are very finely detailed and perfectly presented, with very good flavor pairings and complements. My favorite go-to place for quality and warm service is Turkey Red in Palmer. For a moderate price, the meal you’ll get is interesting not only for the range of cultures they sample (from an Indian beef stew to a Moroccan cous cous salad to a Thai salmon) but also the nutrient value of using as much local vegetables, dairy and meats as possible from Valley farmers. They are also a bakery, so the variety of breads in your bread basket could be olive foccacia to onion sourdough to a dense, sweet date walnut.

Very good most of the time:
–Vagabond Blues in Palmer, for soups, salads, wraps, desserts and coffee drinks
–Evangelo’s in Wasilla is the easiest to get to from Alaska Garden Gate B&B and has the most consistent quality. The entree portions are huge, and for many people, they can split one entree between the two of them. The prices are commensurate–many entrees are $22-27 for what is not extraordinary dining, but is fairly good quality and lots of it.
–Many of the Talkeetna restaurants, including Mile High Pizza Pie, The Roadhouse, and the Talkeetna Alaska Lodge.
–Many of the Anchorage restaurants, particularly “fancy” ones like Orso, Simon & Siefert, and The Bridge serve fine meals in our estimation, but are over-priced compared to what you might pay for an outstanding meal in other metropolitan cities. Yes, it migh be a very good appetizer, drink, and entree for $48, but was it excellent? Maybe, maybe not. Glacier Brewhouse and Humpy’s are our favorites in Anchorage.

In the “Can’t Go Wrong” Category:
–Most of the Mexican restaurants in the Mat-Su Valley are good and will feed you a lot of food for prices that are as cheap as they come for restaurant-prices in Alaska. Entrees will average $12-16 or so for dinner.
–Fred Meyer and Carr’s grocery stores have good selections at their deli’s. This can be a cost-efficient way to have a hot meal for less than what you’d spend eating out.
–Fast food prices in Alaska are comparable to what many families are used to spending at sit-down restaurants in the Lower 48. You might choose to have dinner at Arby’s or Dairy Queen or Carl’s Junior to have a hearty dinner and save a few dollars

Take Your Chances:
–I love the Hatcher Pass Lodge. It’s a quaint, historic place in an unbeatable location. Menu items are interesting, but execution is great some days nad lousy other days. It’s also a toss-up whether they’ll be open. After sending many guests there for dinner, a scenic 20 minute drive away, and had almost all of them come back saying it was closed, now I call ahead to check. Even then, when the person on the phone has said they’ll be serving until 7, there have been times when guests come back and say they were turned away at 6:40 or 6:45, when the Lodge staff said they were closing. To their credit, they do overnight lodging there and are up very early for breakfast, so they’re pooped by the end of the day, and sometimes they’re short on help if a staff person from Palmer can’t get up to Hatcher Pass. Lunch is a safe bet most days, but call before you go for dinner.
–Thai restaurants in Wasilla: a good idea that is occasionally well done. Most days they are out of whatever I felt like ordering.
–Schwabenhof Bar and Restaurant in Wasilla: it’s got a neat German menu with sandwiches, sausages, and pickles that go great with their vast beer collection, and their deck can be very nice to sit out on, on a hot day. It’s almost always smoky, though, if you are sitting inside.
–Red Robin in Wasilla. No matter what the hour, most patrons have at least two and as many as six children in tow, so it’s a chaotic chorus of wailing and screeching while you eat a burger and a malt. It’s a good burger and malt (and mind you, endless steak fries) so maybe that’s why so many parents choose this venue for a bit of enjoyment.

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