Destination: Anchorage

This compact urban oasis has seen a recent boom. Here’s your cheat sheet to taking it all in.


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The Citrus Seared Calamari Salad at Crush

This compact urban oasis nestled between the panoramic Chugach Mountains and Cook Inlet has seen a recent boom of boutiques, wine bars and gastropubs that are taking fresh-caught and raw bar fare to new heights. Hard to reach, sure, but A-Town is well worth the trek. Here’s your cheat sheet to taking it all in.

Wine & Food:

The center of Anchorage’s wine scene and one of Wine Enthusiast’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants of 2012, Crush Wine Bistro and Cellar offers both a bistro and a wine store. Expect top-notch food and globetrotting pairings like pork empanadas with Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

Simon & Seafort’s Saloon & Grill emphasizes fresh seafood along with vistas of the Alaska Range and Cook Inlet. Start with freshly made margaritas, then enjoy specialties like crab-stuffed halibut or rock salt-crusted prime rib.

Atop The Hotel Captain Cook, the Crow’s Nest flaunts dazzling views from every table. Pair selections from the 10,000-plus bottle wine cellar with king crab legs or lamb osso bucco. At lobby level, the Whale’s Tail Bistro and Wine Bar features a self-serve wine dispensing system, with 32 wines priced from $3 to $29 per pour.

Set in one of oldest homes in Anchorage, Marx Bros. Café practically invented Alaskan fine dining in 1979. The restaurant boasts a first-rate wine list and cuisine like grilled Kobe sirloin with Bourbon-honey glaze. Marx Bros. also runs the excellent restaurant Muse at the Anchorage Museum.

Glacier BrewHouse highlights offerings from its open-view brewery. Wood-fired ovens produce savory meats, fowl and pizzas (be sure to try the reindeer sausage). Ginger reflects Asian sophistication in dishes like five-spice duck breast.

While thin on its own grape crop, Alaska Denali Winery (denaliwinery.info) crafts more than 80 wines on its premises. If you like the stiffer stuff, head over to the Alaska Distillery. The distillery produces whiskey, gin and several flavored vodkas, including fireweed, blueberry and the surprisingly tasty smoked salmon.

Lodging:

Named for the British seafarer who explored Alaska in 1778, The Hotel Captain Cook attracts celebrity guests like Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski. Set in three towers, most of the 547 rooms and suites overlook the inlet or mountains. The Historic Anchorage Hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Said to be haunted, the hotel keeps a “ghost log” to record spectral sightings. The Copper Whale Inn offers contemporary charm downtown. Although the 14 rooms are smallish, several overlook the sea or gardens.

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