Where to Eat in Fairbanks: A Local Guide to 14 Must-Try Spots
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Every city in Alaska is truly unique. Perhaps it’s due to the long distances between them, but the attractions, experiences, and even flavors you find in one area are wonderfully varied as you travel to other parts of the state. So it goes too for Fairbanks, Alaska’s Golden Heart, which sits at the northernmost point that most visitors reach on the main highway system during their Alaskan adventures.
I’ve visited Fairbanks a few times during the past few years; my longest and most memorable trip was in late February 2020 – right before I stopped traveling for a while… In any case, it was a great grand finale before my extended time at home, full of dog-sledding, running with reindeer, aurora-viewing, and other winter activities, then warming up over drinks and hot plates of food. And trust me, we had a lot of warming up to do!
Through those many meals, I had a chance to try some of the best places to eat in Fairbanks and began putting together a mental list of the places I recommend whenever people ask. In this post, you’ll find those places plus a few others I’ve seen recommended time and again in my Alaska Travel Tips Facebook community (but haven’t had a chance to visit myself yet).
So as you finalize your Fairbanks travel plans and try to decide which spots are worth visiting, consult this list below. It covers where to eat in Fairbanks, from crowd-pleasers to personal favorites of mine.
In this post, I promote travel to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Tanana peoples. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
The Cookie Jar – Best Breakfast
- Address: 1006 Cadillac Court
- Website: cookiejarfairbanks.com
- Must-Try: Thick-cut bacon, fresh coffee, and a cinnamon roll
No matter the season you visit Fairbanks, it’s important to start each day of adventure with a good meal – you’ll need it for anything from hiking to hot springs to dog sledding.
The Cookie Jar is the place to make that happen; it’s a favorite for locals and visitors alike. I visited during my second recent trip to Fairbanks, and all of the American-style classics are hearty and filling. If you’re looking for a good take-away option, grab one of their giant cinnamon rolls to-go; I took mine all the way to Denali National Park for a few days.
Lulu’s Bakery & Bagels – Best Baked Goods
- Address: 364 Old Chena Pump Road
- Website: lulusbagels.com
- Must-Try: Sausage cheese breakfast bagel sandwich
If baked goods are your thing for breakfast, consider Lulu’s Bread and Bagels instead. They’re known for their bread and bagels, and make an awesome bagel sandwich that’s good to sit down and eat (if a table’s available) or to-go if you’ve got a morning adventure planned. As you might have guessed, this spot is popular, and they can sell out especially on weekends, so it’s worth arriving early if you’re planning a morning meal here.
In addition to breakfast, they also offer lunch, with sandwiches (made with their own bread) and a daily soup special to go with it.
The Crepery – Best Quick Lunch
Photos courtesy of The Crepery
- Address: 523 2nd Avenue
- Website: thecrepery.net
- Must-Try: The Prosciutto Blue Fig for savory fans; classic Nutella and banana for those with a sweet tooth.
Some acitvities in Fairbanks offer the option to include lunch, but if you don’t have one of those planned during your itinerary, you’ll need somewhere to go. Almost everyone I’ve asked – locals and visitors alike – recommends The Crepery for a meal (at least one; some say it’s their favorite restaurant in Fairbanks!).
As their name suggests, The Crepery specializes in French-style crepes with a variety of toppings; their menu has both sweet and savory options. Wherever possible, they have fresh and local ingredients – even in the dead of Alaskan winter – so you can enjoy flavors like smoked salmon, avocados, and fresh strawberries no matter what time of year you visit.
East Ramp Pizza – Best Pizza
Photos courtesy of East Ramp Pizza
- Address: 3788 S. University Avenue
- Website: eastramppizza.com
- Must-Try: The Aviator’s Special (changes daily)
Alaskans are known for their intense love of pizza, so it’s no surprise that Fairbanks is home to some great spots for a slice. The most-recommended pizza place I’ve heard of is East Ramp Pizza, and it’s a great option if you’re looking for a more casual meal and comparison to some of the other pizza restaurants I’ve recommended (Moose’s Tooth in Anchorage and Lynx Creek in Denali).
You can build your own 12-inch pie, or opt for one of their “special flights” like the Jalapeño Piper (putanesca, shredded mozzarella, Italian sausage, and jalapeños) or Porco Rosso (roasted garlic spread, shredded mozz, parmesan, bacon, carmelized onions, and roasted peppers).
Turtle Club – Best Prime Rib
- Address: 2098 Old Steese Highway North
- Website: turtleclubfairbanks.com
- Must-Try: The Prime Rib
Here’s another crowd favorite I had to include – though I haven’t been yet myself, so it’s still on my list. When it comes to a nice dinner, especially for you carnivores out there, it’s well worth the drive to The Turtle Club, north of Fairbanks.
Named after – and embracing – the practices of The Ancient and Honorable Order of Turtles, a historic social club, Fairbanks’ Turtle Club outpost is best known for its great prime rib. This is a popular spot for special occasions without the fuss; you’ll find people inside enjoying fantastic meal and celebrating important milestones in their Carhartts and XtraTufs.
Salmon Bake – Best Experiential Dining
- Address: 2300 Airport Way
- Website: akvisit.com
- Must-Try: The Macaroni & Cheese as a side
I’ll be honest: the Alaska Salmon Bake in Fairbanks doesn’t have the best food on this list… or even among restaurants that didn’t make my list. It is, however, one of those unique Alaskan dining experiences you should still try to seek out during your visit – especially as many places like this have shut down over the past decade+ (in particular the last two years).
In any case, the Alaska Salmon Bake is best known for their prime rib and salmon (they also have halibut fish and chips); when you purchase dinner tickets, you choose which one you’d like, plus drinks and sides like mac and cheese and baked beans. You can eat indoors our out under the trees, depending on the weather, and explore the gift shop, wood carvings, and other relics from Fairbanks history around the grounds.
Thai House – Best Thai
- Address: 412 5th Avenue
- Website: thaihousealaska.com
- Must-Try: Pad Thai with Tofu, if you want something traditional but comfortably familiar
I’ll be honest, I was completely surprised to discover that Fairbanks has a number of great Asian restaurants – especially Thai restaurants. This is primarily due to the relatively larger number of Thai immigrants who’ve decided to settle in this unique part of Alaska, and brought their deeply warming recipes to help chase away the winter chill.
During my February 2020 visit to Fairbanks, I was taken by a local guide to Thai House, and was definitely happy for the bowl of piping hot chicken soup. You can’t go wrong with the Pad Thai, my usual go-to, or get a more creative like the Gai Yang (marinated sweet-and-sour chicken) or Goong Yai (sauteed jumbo prawns with yellow curry).
Soba – Best Foreign Flavors
Photos courtesy of Soba Restaurant
- Address: 535 2nd Avenue #106
- Website: sobarestaurant.com
- Must-Try: The Plăcintă (traditional Moldovan pastry filled with cheese, fresh dill, and green onion) and Moldovan wine along with dinner.
Much like Moose-AKa’s in Denali, Fairbanks is home to a few restaurants that will surprise you with how far-flung their flavors find a source. Such is the case for Soba, a classic Maldovan restaurant. For those not familiar, Moldovia is an ethnic and historic region in eastern Europe that is now part of Romania, Ukraine, and the modern Republic of Moldova nation.
Soba Restaurant brings the flavors of this region to Interior Alaska; on the menu, you’ll find perhaps-familiar dishes like Borș and Pelmeni as well as adventurous options like Pește Prăjit (pan-fried Alaska Salmon breaded in corn flour, served with a side of polenta (Mămăligă)) and Zrazy (potato cutlets stuffed with ground chicken and served with a side salad). The menu is seriously mouthwatering if you love traveling the world through food.
Pump House – Best Alaskan Flavors
- Address: 796 Chena Pump Road
- Website: n/a
- Must-Try: Grilled Alaskan Salmon with Alaskan Birch/Blackberry Syrup
I’ve already mentioned Turtle Club as a great option for special occasions, but here’s another one – one that’s a bit more high-brow, but doesn’t necessitate packing a blazer for men or nice shoes for women (unless that’s what you want to wear). The Pump House is a Fairbanks institution and is located in the old Chena Pump House which was built in 1933 to help with gold mining.
Today, the restaurant embraces its heritage, with Gold Rush-era memorabilia inside and a classic white tablecloth menu – with an Alaskan twist. On it, you’ll find fresh Alaskan seafood, shellfish, and reindeer, as well as Alaska-grown produce and other ingredients, and daily specials are sometimes more adventurous (I had bacon-wrapped moose tenderloin during my visit!).
Pagoda Restaurant – Best in North Pole
- Address: 431 N Santa Claus Lane (North Pole)
- Website: pagodanorthpole.com
- Must-Try: $18.99 lunch specials are a great price-to-portion ratio
When visiting Fairbanks, many travelers want to plan a detour to North Pole, Alaska – not to be confused with the north pole, though you’d be forgiven for any confusion given the gigantic Santa’s Workshop complex and candy cane-striped lightpoles throughout this community.
Those same people are often surprised when the top recommendation for having lunch or dinner after a visit to Santa’s Workshop is at an otherwise inconspicuous Chinese restaurant in a mall parking lot.
Don’t let its exterior appearance fool you: Pagoda Restaurant is a great option, with a huge menu of Chinese dishes ranging from Americanized dishes to more traditional preparations and ingredients. Whether you opt for the roast duck, the Szechuan beef, or the sweet and sour chicken, you really can’t go wrong – and the portion sizes are incredibly generous.
Latitude 65 – Best Out of Town
Photos courtesy of Latitude 65
- Address: 2640 Himalaya Road
- Website: borealisbasecamp.net/latitude-65
- Must-Try: Whatever’s fresh and delicious
For an absolute splurge – and a meal you’ll feel underdressed for even though it’s not a requirement – make the drive out of Fairbanks to Borealis Basecamp. This is an awesome place to stay – one of the best in Fairbanks – but also home to an incredible restaurant that’s worth getting a reservation for during your visit.
Latitude 65 (named for the geographic location) is a fine-dining establishment with none of the other frills; it’s located in the community yurt at the basecamp and has incredible views of the White Mountains and Wickersham Dome. The menu changes seasonally based on available ingredients.
Note: I haven’t stayed at Borealis Basecamp or eaten at Latitude 65, so I’m unable to verify if you must be a guest to eat at the restaurant. You can call and inquire if you definitely want to eat here but aren’t staying.
HooDoo Brewing – Best for Craft Brews
- Address: 1951 Fox Ave
- Website: hoodoobrew.com
- Must-Try: Beer tasting flight of your choice!
Alaska’s craft beer economy has been booming for a decade now; gone are the days when Alaskan Amber was the only “local” beer you could find on tap. (I put local in quotes as it’s 733 miles from Fairbanks to Juneau, where Alaskan Brewing Company is located – making it a stretch of the term local!)
Today, you can find a number of truly local craft breweries in almost every major Alaskan community of a given size, and my favorite is HooDoo Brewing Company, out west of downtown Fairbanks. Their beer flights are perfect if you want to try a few, though be prepared that it gets hopping during the happy hours especially on Friday.
Also, they often have food trucks outside, so you can grab a bite in between pints if you get hungry.
Hot Licks – Best Ice Cream
- Address: 3453 College Road
- Website: hotlicks.net
- Must-Try: Alaskan Blueberry or Cranberry – or the Aurora Borealis flavor with both!
Along with pizza and coffee, Alaskans consume a surprising amount of ice cream each year. It’s therefore no surprise that Fairbanks has a number of great ice cream shops, and they do a roaring trade both for summer visitors and in the colder months with locals.
Hot Licks is the must-go spot if you want great ice cream with local ingredients; while they can’t source enough dairy in Alaska to handle the volume of their production, they make up for it with a variety of other local ingredients in both traditional flavors (Alaskan blueberry and Alaskan cranberry) as well as the occasional small-batch.
(I’ve been trying to determine who made the incredible Birch Brittle ice cream I had in Fairbanks and think it was probably Hot Licks though haven’t confirmed.)
Chena Aurora Ice Bar – Best Appletini
- Address: 17600 Chena Hot Springs Road
- Website: chenahotsprings.com/activities
- Must-Try: The Appletini, of course!
As I was writing this list, I realized there was one culinary experience that was so unique that I couldn’t leave it off.
Many visitors to Fairbanks spend time at Chena Hot Springs, soaking in the outdoor pool or admiring the northern lights. Visiting the Ice Museum is also a must – it’s an inside structure made of ice and filled with incredible carvings. That includes the Aurora Ice Bar, where you can enjoy one of the most unique cocktails you’ll ever sip.
The drink itself isn’t particularly fancy – Appletinis (something I got sick on in college!) – but the carved ice martini glasses and ice bar and ice seating areas all make it a special experience you shouldn’t skip while visiting the resort.
Note: You have to book a tour of the Ice Museum with the drink add-on to have this experience.
And there you have it: the places I most recommend for where to eat in Fairbanks – and drink, too! Have any questions about these top restaurants in Fairbanks? Let me know in the comments below.
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