Mexican to Mandarin, pizza to pierogi, steak to seafood,
Alaskan-brewed beers to premium spirits, Juneau has it all. ====
After a day of hiking glacier-view trails or crisscrossing coastal waters in search of humpback whales, Juneau’s adventure guides, naturalists and boat captains are usually famished. Lucky for us, there are many great places to meet and eat in Juneau, many just a hop, skip and a jump from three of Juneau’s four cruise ship docks.
Of course, fresh-caught seafood is available at almost all fine-dining or pub-grub establishments throughout Juneau. Other options include sushi to subs, Mexican to Mandarin, pizza to pierogi, steak to shakes, Alaskan-brewed beers to premium spirits.
I have heard that if you want to experience the best of a destination, go where the locals go. That said, here are some of my fellow guides and captains’ favorite food stops. This is not a complete list of Juneau’s dining options. We are not endorsing one restaurant over another, just where we like to meet and eat. Perhaps you would like them also. To learn more about Juneau’s lunching and munching options, stop by the Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau, or during cruise ship season, the Juneau information kiosk next to the downtown library for maps, information and directions.
No. 1 on my list is the Timberline Bar and Grill on top of Mount Roberts, a three-minute ride up the tramway. The food is good, but the mountain scenery, crisp, clean air and guide-friendly pricing makes this my top choice for a late lunch or dinner. Always watching my dollars, but not necessarily my waistline, I often scarf down a half-order of crab nachos or a “mountain-top cheeseburger.” If it is a spectacularly sunny day, be sure to dine on the deck. Take note, there is a fee to ride the tram to the top.
On my way to work, I may stop by the Silverbow Bakery (downtown) for a fresh-baked bagel and coffee. After work, you might find me enjoying an Alaskan Summer brew with my peeps at The Hangar on the Wharf (downtown).
Speaking of beer, check out the Alaskan Brewery’s tasting bar. “Tastings” (which are about 6 ounces) are complimentary and you can try multiple flavors. The roundtrip summer fare from the brewery’s downtown gift shop to the brewery in the valley is $15.
“The offerings at McGiveny’s Sports Bar are reasonably priced with lots of variety. Very yummy. I really like the burgers which are giant, big enough to share for a skinny, but filling dinner. For lunch, I like the Udder Culture. Best sandwich joint in Juneau. You can save by ordering a half sandwich, which is plenty for me. Also, the best chewy, chocolate brownies in town, a delight for only $1.50.”
–– Leslie Lyman, Naturalist, Teacher
“I really like eating at the the The Rookery Cafe downtown. The cafe’s owners are former students of my wife, Leslie. All standout students, as is their restaurant . I relish the champagne three-cheese fondue, but the best offering is the 2 a.m. fat burger, a ‘twofer’ (two hands to hold).”
— Jon Lyman, Naturalist, Photo Safari & Science Adventure Guide
“I usually eat at home, but when I do go out, my all-time favorite place to eat is Chan’s Tai Kitchen across from Statter Harbor (in the Valley). There has never been a dish I did not enjoy at Chan’s; the food is authentic. The Twisted Fish (downtown) is also good, especially the puff pastry salmon croquettes with red pepper aioli.”
— Annette Smith, Boat Captain
“The Island Pub on Douglas Island has some yummy delights. Crisp summer salads with homemade dressings to hand tossed, wood-stone oven baked pizzas. I can’t decide which dip I like better, the hummus or smoked salmon, both served with fresh garlic oil and parmesan cheese wedges. Both are very tasty and enough to share or eat as a small lunch with a salad. A large variety of wines and beers proves to please any palate and the picturesque view of Mt. Roberts and the avalanche trails are stunning. The small but enjoyable space seems to fill up quickly on the weekends, but it’s well worth the wait, even in the rain.”
— Carol Lahnum, Naturalist and Photo Safari Guide
“I am bit of a self-proclaimed foodie. I’m not one who eats to live, I live to eat. That said, Juneau has not impressed me with its choices in fine eating establishments. The food is overpriced and the dishes are far from gourmet. All things considered, The Rookery (downtown) is pretty darn good. Once a month the restaurant offers food and wine pairings comprised of a five-course meal with delicately paired wines. The portions were smart for a five-course meal and the flavors were delightful. On a daily menu, they offer a nice variety of vegetarian as well as finer protein dishes. They have a nice array of comfort foods and smaller plates for those interested in a snack to add variety to an overstuffed cruise ship holiday.”
— Monica Edwards, Naturalist and Illustrator
“I have only two on my ‘best’ list: No. 1, the Sandbar: the best redneck restaurant in Juneau that serves *by far* the best halibut fish and chips in town along with incredible people watching. No. 2, Chan’s Thai Kitchen: the best fresh food in town. Glacially slow, services provides the freshest food in town. Prepare for a three-hour meal!” (both in the Valley).
— Scott Ranger, Naturalist & Science Adventure Guide
My favorite eatery is El Sombrero on Franklin Street (downtown). The family that runs it is wonderful and the food is good and consistent. They can have you in and out in a hurry or you can take all the time you want. My kids all grew up with their kids and going there has a true family feel. Top of my list.”
— Cam Byrnes, Naturalist & Photo Safari Guide
“The Island Pub is my favorite restaurant in the Juneau area. Located in Douglas, it is within walking distance from our home. The pizzas are original and great appetizers. They also have great mixed drinks – the Stoned Parrot being a personal favorite. I may be partial, however, as it was the location of the first date with my husband, Rick!”
— Kat Pratt, Naturalist
Text by Aleta Walther © 2014, Naturalist, Outdoor Excursion Guide, CIG, CTA, ATG
One thought on “Eat and Meet in Juneau: Where the Locals Go”
I second the recommendation for the Twisted Fish. I just had dinner there yesterday, and the fish and chips were terrific. The fish they offered was Cod, and was perfectly prepared, plump and juicy. The meal was served in a large deep fry basket, with the bottom covered with curly french fries. Definitely recommended.