Destination Guides,  Food Stories

Where to Eat in Talkeetna: An Alaskan’s Guide to 9 Great Restaurants

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For a small Alaskan town, Talkeetna has a big personality. It is perhaps best known as the inspiration for the 90s dramedy Northern Exposure, and with few exceptions, has changed very little since the time when it served as the fictional setting for a backwoods doctor and his quirky friends.

Talkeetna isn’t frozen in time though: it has grown and is a vital part of the tourism economy in The Last Frontier. In particular, it’s located along the Alaska Railroad route between Anchorage and Denali, and is a common stop for cruisers on the land portion of their Alaska vacation. As a result, a number of delicious restaurants have popped up since the days when my family first moved to Alaska (1992!); now you can find all kinds of interesting places to eat in Talkeetna.

Where to Eat in Talkeetna Hero

In this post, I’m sharing some of my favorite restaurants in Talkeetna, called K’dalkitnu by the traditional peoples of this land, the Dena’ina Ełnena. This isn’t a comprehensive list – it doesn’t cover every restaurant or even every dish at the places I love. Instead, I’m sharing the spots I go when I’m visiting, including my most recent trip in August 2022. I also share the dishes I recommend, though you can of course choose your own meals and discover Alaskan foods and flavors you love too.

Ready to discover where to eat in Talkeetna, according to someone who grew up in Alaska and has visited many times since? Here are the spots to narrow down your restaurant research.

In this post, I promote travel to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Dena’ina Ełnena 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.

Homestead Kitchen – Best for a Quick Bite

Homestead Kitchen is a restaurant that was born during the pandemic – yes, there were some restaurants that started during that crazy period in human history. Like most things from that time, it’s a little bit different: while Homestead Kitchen looks like a sit-down restaurant, you actually order at the counter and your food is brought to you as it’s ready. This makes it great for a couple of reasons: it requires less staff (tough during the first few years post-pandemic) and it allows you to get in and out more quickly with less contact.

I opted to try a few different dishes during my visit, including the Miner’s Chili (with reindeer!) and the Tundra Burger (the veggie option, not my usual style, but sounded really tasty) – with an Alaskan Amber, of course. Everything came out quickly and the service was great despite being non-traditional.

Mountain High Pizza Pie – Best for Pizza

As you know if you’ve read any of my other Alaskan restaurant guides (Denali, Anchorage, Juneau, more coming soon!), pizza is one of the most popular foods you can find across the Last Frontier. Talkeetna has its own pizza options, but the best/my favorite is Mountain High Pizza Pie.

Literally located on Main Street (next to Denali Brewing and across from Homestead Kitchen – Talkeetna is small!), Mountain High Pizza Pie is known for their creative topping combos and funky outdoor seating space, but they also tend to draw a crowd for live music and the photo-worthy “pizza wings” out front.

During my visit, I went with the Main St. Gossip (and an Alaskan Amber, sensing a theme?) which has garlic oil, fresh garlic, spinach, chicken, bacon, and Cheddar Jack, plus is topped with house-made Ranch dressing. It was… kind of healthy? But also super tasty.

The Enchanted Bowl – Best in Show/Ethnic Flavors

  • Address: 13680 E Main St
  • Website: n/a
  • Must-Try: Spicy Poke Bowl

Talkeetna, like many Alaskan towns, has a surprising number of Asian cultural ethnic restaurants – especially Thai – due to immigrant groups coming to call the Last Frontier home too. I love having these options, as it means you aren’t just stuck with the burgers-and-pizza options that dominated my childhood. (Though, to be fair, as a kid I loved that those were all the options!)

The Enchanted Bowl is my favorite option in Talkeetna for more foreign flavors, though I’d argue that the dishes they offer are part of the brilliant American patchwork. In any case, their primary offering is poke bowls (and that’s Hawaiian, so definitely American!); they also offer a tasty-looking Bahn Mi sandwich (I saw one come out of the kitchen) and other daily special sandwiches too.

I’ve also marked The Enchanted Bowl as my “Best in Show” option in Talkeetna because it was some of the freshest and most flavorful food I’ve had during my visits.

Breakfast Candy – Best to Start the Day

  • Address: 13790 E 2nd St (Parking Lot)
  • Website: n/a
  • Must-Try: Breakfast Candy Sandwich

Okay, I’ll be honest: I have NOT eaten at Breakfast Candy. But I ran past on my morning run in Talkeetna, and there was a big family enjoying some delicious-looking breakfast sandos, and the reviews online rave about the options from this relatively new spot.

Their menu includes sandwiches like the namesake “Breakfast Candy” (bacon, egg, cheddar, jam, cream cheese), the “Country Boy” (ham, egg, cheddar, corn, Alabama white sauce), and a breakfast burrito. They also have more fun options, like a cheese-filled, fish-shaped Taiyaki and “candy cake” (check the menu for that surprise!).

All said, this is a great spot to grab a proper breakfast if you’re hungry before exploring the rest of what Talkeetna has to offer.

Flying Squirrel Cafe – Best for Brunch

  • Address: 26205 Talkeetna Spur, Mile 11
  • Website: flyingsquirrelcafe.com
  • Must-Try: Classic Sunday Breakfast Bagel

On my most recent visit, I swung by Flying Squirrel Cafe on my way out of town. Silly me, I forgot it was a Sunday late morning, so the brunch rush was in full effect – be warned/aware that this place is popular! They specialize in bread and bagels, so most of their breakfast and lunch options incorporate their own delicious creations.

I tried a few things, including the “Sunday Classic” breakfast bagel – though it was a bit more lunch than breakfast since it had smoked salmon on it. I also had their “Fancy Grilled Cheese” with smoked salmon; it too included a lot of gourmet ingredients and was very savory.

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    Foraker Restaurant – Best for Views/Special Occasions

    Here’s another spot I haven’t eaten, only because I end up eating more in town than up here at the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge (despite staying here both times I’ve visited recently!). In any case, Foraker Restaurant is the signature dinner spot at this impressive hotel that looks out over the town and the Alaskan Range beyond – everyone in my John Hall’s Alaska group who ate here said it was fantastic.

    Additionally, because of the Lodge’s location, this is the best dinner view for sure. When the mountain (Denali) is out, you can see it from the large windows in the dining room.

    They do take reservations (<2 weeks in advance), so be sure to grab one, especially if you’re planning to have a nice dinner here to celebrate a special occasion during your Alaska trip.

    The Salmon Spot – Best for Seafood

    Where to Eat in Talkeetna - Salmon Spot

    There are a couple of more casual spots in Talkeetna – and by “more casual,” I mean places that aren’t necessarily sit-down service. The one that caught my eye for fresh seafood (which I know is a must-try for many people visiting Alaska) is The Salmon Spot.

    As their name implies, salmon is their specialty! They offer salmon burgers, salmon cakes (like crab cakes), salmon chowder, and a few other more eclectic specials (like lumpia, wraps, and muffins). This is the place to get fresh fish in Talkeetna at a good price. (There’s a halibut fish and chips shop in town but their prices are exorbitant!)

    Also, I’m pretty sure you can grab food here and head into the Beer Garden run by the Fairview Inn next door to enjoy it with a local pint. A perfect pairing!

    Denali Brewing – Best for Craft Brews

    • Address: 13605 E Main St (Brewpub)
    • Website: denalibrewpub.com
    • Must-Try: Pulled Pork Sandwich

    Speaking of local pints, there’s one must-visit place for craft beer fans in Talkeetna: Denali Brewing Company (called Denali Brewpub at their “downtown” location).

    Their restaurant on Main Street is always hopping, and the menu features some less traditional American options, like pretzel bites, pulled pork and other sandwiches, and a la carte barbeque. Of course, the star of the show is their locally-brewed craft beer; they typically have over a dozen of their own beer on tap to try, and offer tasting flights of course.

    There’s also a location on the Talkeetna Spur Road outside town if you’re driving in/out around dinner time and want to avoid the tourist rush in town.

    Alaska Birch Syrup – Best for Sweets/Ice Cream

    • Address: 38139 Talkeetna Spur Rd
    • Website: alaskabirchsyrup.com
    • Must-Try: Fireweed Ice Cream, Birch Syrup Cream Caramels

    If you love sweets and were put off by the fact that Breakfast Candy (above) doesn’t actually have candy, I’m here to save the day.

    Alaska Birch Syrup is a truly Alaskan spot; they tap birch syrup from trees in Interior Alaska, and make all kinds of delicious goodies from them. From caramels to jams to syrups to Birch water, you can find anything to satiate your sweet tooth here. They also have ice cream (because Alaskans love ice cream!); the fireweed ice cream at Talkeetna Birch Syrup is my favorite in the state so far because it’s sweet and floral without too much sweetness.

    While this doesn’t cover every restaurant in Talkeetna, it is a great start to help you enjoy several meals during your visit. Have any questions about where to eat in Talkeetna, or other places you’ve heard about? Let me know in the comments!

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    I was born on the East Coast and currently live in the Midwest – but my heart will always be out West. I lived for 15 years in Alaska, as well as four years each in California and Washington. I share travel resources and stories based on my personal experience and knowledge.

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