Talkeetna, Alaska: Secret Foodie Paradise (Part 1)
I never expected to find wonderful food in the middle of rural Alaska, much less several restaurants that offer a wide selection of dishes that will reach even the most exotic of cravings. The Princess lodge I worked at this summer is only a few miles away from the small enclave of Talkeetna, a no-rules hippie town of about 800 year-round residents. The fictional town of Sicily, Alaska from the TV show Northern Exposure is based on this one-horse town. Although it’s only a few miles away, Talkeetna is an hour away by car or bus due to the lack of a comprehensive road system in Alaska (who knew). Many Princess employees make the pilgrimage to Talkeetna whenever they can in order to enjoy meals that are not overcooked, underseasoned or just plain gross as they often are in the employee dining room. I will warn that the service just plain sucks across the board in Talkeetna, but most of us don’t even care because we’re just enjoying the time off of “Princess Island”. Here are some reviews of the places I’ve eaten at, and later when I’ve tried the rest of them I will post reviews of those.
Talkeetna’s own microbrewery, DBC is where I have gotten the best service. Although I’m not a beer drinker, I hear that their beers are pretty darn amazing, and we even have some of them on tap in the restaurant I worked at the lodge. Sometimes they even create limited-editon special beers, such as a chai beer I heard they had a while back that people raved about. Some other beers they brew are the Twister Creek IPA, Mother Ale, and Single Engine Red. I wish I could give a better reviews of the beer, but I’m just not an enthusiast! It’s girly cocktails all the way for me. As for food, that I am definitely enthusiastic about. The provolone wedge starter is greasy but mouth-watering, and the sweet potato fry wedges are light and sweet. The regular burger is nice and juicy, but I wasn’t too crazy about the pulled pork sandwich. I just didn’t think it had enough of a kick to it. All in all though, I give this place the Awkward Tourist stamp of approval.
I get terrible service every time I go to this place, but what I’m about to reveal makes it worth the crappy servers: $25 king crab legs. You won’t get better king crab anywhere that’s better than what’s in Alaska, and that price beats any I saw anywhere else. Our own lodge was even twice the price for the same thing. I admit that they are hard work to eat, and I often flung bits of crabs on my friends by accident, but the result was totally worth the effort. The only other thing I had at West Rib was the caribou burger, which was messy and not as juicy as I thought it was going to be. I regret not ordering the crab every time I went there. The café is also famous for the Seward’s Folly, a 5-pound burger featured on an episode of the Travel Channel’s “Man vs. Food”. This monstrosity includes 2 pounds of caribou meat, 12 slices of bacon, sliced ham, 12 slices of cheese, lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, and the famous “Fat Ass Sauce” made only at the West Rib. I never tried to tackle that one, but I saw it once and I would sooner climb Mt. McKinley than try to stuff my face with that crazy thing. It’s just another example of the typical American portions the guests at the lodge constantly marveled over. I say go ahead and dig into the monstrous king crab dish. Your inner foodie will thank you.