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I’ll be honest: one of my favorite culinary experiences in Whittier isn’t actually in Whittier; I enjoyed a delicious dram of peppermint schnapps over glacier ice on the Phillips 26 Glacier Cruise during my last visit, and it held a special place in my heart.
But you might find yourself on land in Whittier – perhaps before or after a glacier cruise or fishing charter or planning one of the other things to do in Whittier – and feeling hungry. While Whittier is by no means a big community, there’s definitely a variety of options, and it helps to know where to go.
Below you’ll find a breakdown of where to eat in Whittier – this is a comprehensive list that includes all of your options. At this point, I’ve put it in the order I recommend, though that isn’t to say you’ll have a terrible meal at the spots at the bottom of the list. There’s just a variety of different foods and experiences you can have, and I’ve tried to reflect that in my list.
Ready to dig in and get your meals – I mean adventure fuel – sorted for your time in Whittier? Let’s do it!
Swift Water Cafe
Given the limited options for where to eat in Whittier, there are still some great spots, especially if you’re looking for fresh seafood in a casual dining atmosphere. Topping the list of those options, Swift Water Cafe should be on your list whether you need lunch or dinner while visiting Whittier. It’s operated by the Inn at Whittier, which is another great Whittier restaurant (but more on that below).
Their menu features all the fresh catches you’d expect: calamari, shrimp, halibut, and crab, prepared in a variety of ways: fish and chips, crab cakes, sandwiches, and salads. If seafood isn’t your style, they also offer chicken as a substitute in most cases (such as chicken and fries or a Caesar salad with chicken instead of halibut).
The best part of Swift Water is the location though – if you arrive early enough, you can sit looking out over the Whittier boat harbor to watch the folks working hard to put the incredible ingredients you’ll find on your plate. On a sunny day, there’s basically no better view in town.
Whittier Oceanfront Cafe
For another option along the Whittier waterfront, Whittier Oceanfront Cafe is a decent alternative in the event that Swift Water Cafe is full up. Open seasonally, their menu features everything from morning coffee to midday meals and delicious dinner after Happy Hour. While they don’t have a ton of info online about their menu, some of the photos on the site feature fish tacos, halibut bites, and a veggie-laden hot dog.
The location is also prime, with a waterfront deck that’s fantastic on a nice day; they also have plenty of seating inside where it’s much cozier, on damper days. For the best of both worlds, grab a stool inside at the windows and you can look out over the harbor and boats passing without the risk of rain.
Lazy Otter Café
Menu and smoked salmon bagel photos courtesy of Doreen via Yelp
Inside the offices of Lazy Otter Charters (a popular cruise and fishing charter company in Whittier), you can find a tiny – and often crowded – café. It’s a great option even if you’re not heading out on the water with them, as it’s one of the few places in town that offers both breakfast and lunch as well as a full coffee bar (and warm caffeinated drinks are essential fuel for Alaskan adventures – just ask any Alaskan!).
Grab a coffee and cinnamon roll to start the day, or warm up over a bowl of chili or chowder after getting back off the water; they also offer box lunches if you’re headed out on a charter and didn’t plan ahead to bring food with you. They also – of course – have ice cream, which you’ll see people eating no matter the weather (Alaskans love ice cream too!). If you only want to try one thing, their smoked salmon spread is pretty famous and a great chance to try this favorite Alaskan salmon preparation.
There is super limited space and seating inside, but there is a little deck you can use on nice days.
Wild Catch Cafe
As you’ve probably guessed, fresh seafood is the order of the day – every day – when it comes to restaurants in Whittier. Wild Catch Cafe is another great option for seafood options, along with some other options you might not find elsewhere (specifically burgers and sandwiches).
I haven’t eaten here personally, but visitors in the summer 2023 season rave about the hospitality they received, as well as the delicious American-style dishes. They also offer box lunches (like Lazy Otter) if you need to grab something to go before heading out on the water for the day (be sure to pre-order!).
Wild Catch is open daily during the summer months and has a nice open-air front deck area for dining if you decide to stop here. (Yelp says they’re closed but I can’t find any evidence to back that up – other than their seasonal schedule!)
Whittier Ice Cream and Pizza
As I’ve already mentioned, Alaskans love three foods and drinks above all others: coffee, ice cream, and pizza. We are people of simple tastes – but it’s not an insult! All across the state, you can find really awesome examples of these foods: Kaladi Brothers and Heritage Roasting for coffee, Wild Scoops in Anchorage for Ice Cream, and Moose’s Tooth for pizza – among many, many other great spots.
It should come as no surprise then that Whittier has its own outpost for two of these things: Whittier Ice Cream and Pizza is a seasonal spot for funky flatbreads and sweet scoops. They seem to be run by the Inn at Whittier (more on that spot below), which means their Facebook Page is the place to go for any info about opening hours and dates each summer.
Anchor Inn Restaurant
Further from the waterfront, the Anchor Inn is one of the few places to stay in Whittier; it’s also home to a small, local restaurant that usually doesn’t see the same day-tripper and cruise crowds as the restaurants nearer the harbor.
It’s nothing fancy, but definitely covers the bases and is big enough to handle lunch crowds. Best of all, they offer menus all day (from 8am to 8pm), including breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus, as well as “The Night After” menu that is a subset of the others (I can’t tell exactly when that menu applies!)
Inn at Whittier (Temporarily Closed)
Last but not least, no list of places to eat in Whittier can be complete without mentioning the Inn at Whittier, but I can’t include them at the top of the list (as I’d prefer) since they are temporarily closed due to water damage to their property, with no re-opening yet announced. (There was a significant flood in the property in summer 2023, and while renovations are ongoing, nobody’s confident they will open in 2024 – though that seems to be the goal.)
As they aren’t currently open, I’ll be brief in saying that the Inn at Whittier restaurant is the nicest in town with sweeping views of Passage Canal and the harbor. In the past, their menu has featured lunch and dinner options (11am to 10pm) including smoked salmon and clam chowder, shrimp cocktail, and a salmon burger – as well as non-seafood options like burgers, nachos, and salads.
I’ll be sure to update this post and move the Inn at Whittier once they announce re-opening plans since this is definitely the place I most recommend – when they’re open, of course!
Have any questions about where to eat in Whittier or these restaurants I recommend? Let me know in the comments below!