Sunday, November 30, 2008

In the Next Few Days...

Modern Dweller's Chocolate Lounge, Humpy's, Raven's Brew coffee, and localvore musings!

The White Spot

The White Spot Cafe comes highly recommended by many locals. Like so many other restaurants here, it is basically a mom-and-pop operation serving well-made basic food. They have a reputation for having colorful staff, who will throw you out if you misorder or in some other way act dumb. Nothing untoward happened while we were there, but it is not the tourist season, so who can say.
The decor is one of those interesting jumbles that make a place seem homey and eclectic, and give the solitary diner some things to look at, which is nice. We had fun pointing out different little things, like a patch from a police department near where my parents live (Pinellas Park) and a warning sign pointing out that the property is protected by 2 guys with knives. It may not sound funny, but it is when you are there.
The food is basic - sandwiches and burgers and that sort of thing. Their signature item is a halibut sandwich, which Mr EA had one of and enjoyed very much. I had a BLT, which was also delicious. They seem to use quality ingredients- we both had fresh tomato slices and crisp lettuce on our sandwiches, which is no mean feat for Alaska in November. The best thing of all though, was the fries. They were fresh and extremely crispy, and just delicious. Overall, this is another example of a modest eatery with very good, plain food. If you are downtown and want a sandwich without a lot of frills, this is the place for you.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Burrito Factory

This morning, acting on a hot tip from the Anchorage Daily News, we made a rare foray out for breakfast. I had read in Friday's paper that a local place called-yes-The Burrito Factory, made some pretty great breakfast burritos in addition to their great burritos for lunch and dinner. What made this an urgent mission was the information that they have Spam and egg burritos. Mr. EA loves Spam.
This is not an atmosphere eatery. Because it is in a Chevron gas station. However, they do have two booths, and if you are lucky and move fast enough, you might snag one. Otherwise, the burritos are wrapped to go, and you are not missing out on much ambiance if you eat in your car. The variety of fillings you can get in these burritos is absolutly stunning, especially when you consider that they are working in a smallish space, which again, is in a gas station. Nevertheless, in the 1/2 hour or so we were there, there was not a minute without at least a short line to order. They keep the orders moving pretty well, and their many happy customers seemed to be in and out in 5-10 minutes, depending on the complexity of their orders.
Mr EA's order was a forgone conclusion - he very much enjoyed his egg and Spam burrito. I had an egg and potato burrito. Both came with cheese and sour cream and salsa - you get to choose your heat level. My burrito was very tasty - egg and potato are kind of bland by themselves, and the condiments really perked them up. Everything was well cooked, the burrito was expertly constructed, and I very much enjoyed mine as well. Reading through the menu has us intrigued - we will be back!

Thai Kitchen

OK, it's not Thai food I don't like - it's food from Thai Village of earlier post fame. After my earlier attempts at appreciating this cuisine, I was a bit nervous to try it again. However, a couple of visits to Thai Kitchen have changed my mind completely. I have been there a few times for lunch over the past couple of weeks with people from work, and have enjoyed it immensely.
The best option for lunch is their buffet. For $8, you get three items and a serving of sticky rice. The counter person dishes it out for you, and the portions are generous. The available items seem to rotate somewhat, as some items seem to always be on the steam table while others have changed. There are vegetarian items available, with quite a few tofu options each time I was there. Also available are fresh rolls (3 rolls and a cup of sauce are $5), a variety of soft drinks, and tea. What really capped my feelings about Thai was when I had the same beef curry thing I had at Thai Village about a month ago. There it was watery and bland and more than a little gross. The same dish at Thai Kitchen was spicy and flavorful, with tender beef cubes and peanuts that had retained their structural integrity. I have had a bunch of different things there, which I unfortunately don't know the names of, and everything has been delicious. My coworkers have reported similar satisfaction levels, and none of them are shy about saying when they don't like things. So I think I can extrapolate from this that everything they have is good food!
Thai Kitchen, located in a strip mall on Tudor, has great food at great prices.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Max's Beefy Burgers

Max's Beefy Burgers is a strange little establishment with weird hours and uncertain signs of openness that we have been trying to vist for some time. It's strange appearance, added to the fact that we have been unable to find anyone we know who had eaten there, made us curious. So finally, this Saturday, we made it in. Inside it is even stranger - it has a Wendy's knockoff exterior and signage, but inside...

It appears to be owned and run by Asians. The menu adds to the cognitive-dissonance-causing nature of this establishment. In addition to quite a few varieties of burger, footlong hot dogs, and a variety of Mexican food, they have Hawaiian BBQed meats, a selection of Chinese specialities, seafood and sandwiches. This may well be the most multicultural establishment in all of Alaska. To give you an idea, available side orders are as follows: fried okra, cheese fries, chili cheese fries, nacho chips and cheese, regular fries, steak fries, onion rings, fried mushrooms with ranch dressing, mozarella cheese sticks, cheese cake, mashed potatoes, egg roll, pot stickers, hot wings of fire, BBQ wings.

Mr Eating Alaska had a crispy chicken burger, which had American cheese, mayo, lettuce and tomato, and a side of chili cheese fries. I had a Max's burger, with grilled onion, mushrooms, jalapenos, mayo, ham, pickle, lettuce, tomato, bacon, and American and Swiss cheese and a side of onion rings. My burger was well done with tasty toppings that were applied in tastable but not ridiculous quantities. The onion rings were perfect, crispy and light with real onion in them. Mr EA's chicken sandwich was a preprocessed chicken patty that disappointed him. However, the chili cheese fries were delicious, and he looks forward to trying a few of their other offerings. All in all, the place was reasonably clean, friendly, and weird enough to keep us guessing.


Part of Anchorage's culinary landscape is the many, many kiosks or roadside stands, which stay open through the year. They mostly deal in coffee, but a surprising number sell BBQ, hot dogs and their Alaska counterpart reindeer dogs, and similar treats. One venerable stand near where I work is Zorba's, which as you might imagine, mostly sells Greek food, though they also have a variety of dogs as well.

I have eaten there a couple of times, and though their menu is pretty basic, it is all good! They have a couple different gyro varieties available - lamb, beef, veggie, that sort of thing. The meat is always cooked to a crisp when you order, the veggies are fresh, and their cucumber yogurt is tangy and fresh. They also carry a variety of hot dogs, which you can get with standard condiments - ketchup, mustard, onion, relish. Chips and sodas are available, but nothing fancy like fries or anything. They are operating in a limited amount of space, and doing an impressive job of it. No matter what else you eat there, though, you have to finish off your lunch with their delicious baklava! Well, you don't have to, but you will be missing something good.

Located at the intersection of Lake Otis and Tudor, Zorba's doesn't look like much, but it is well worth a stop.