Food should be delicious, and The Northern Light went on a summer-long mission to find the best of the best in Anchorage. The second annual Anchorage Food Quest featured a different dish in every issue, from Chicken Pad Thai to peanut butter cookies and burritos to omelets, we compared different restaurants to find out who served each dish better than everyone else. Here is a recap of our number one finds this summer. For a complete list of the restaurants visited, visit thenorthernlight.org.
Best Pad Thai – Lahn-Pad-Thai: The winner of “Best Pad Thai” is Lahn-Pad-Thai . The presentation was beautiful, with the salt, crushed peanuts and chili powder off to the side in neat piles, adding both color and seasoning convenience to the dish. There was also a fair amount of green garnish, as well as some bright green onion chunks to help the neat and colorful presentation. The dish included both shrimp and egg in addition to the chicken, and all the different textures worked together to make the texture varied and enjoyable. The items in the dish itself were also flavorful and complementary to the whole, rather than relying on an overhead dumping of sauce to take care of the taste. The only turnoff to the dish is the quantity; at $11.95, the meal is artful but a little sparse in size, and it doesn’t come with a side or appetizer. The Pad Thai was so delicious and the service so speedy — five minutes, the quickest time. However, TNL is pleased to give Lahn-Pad-Thai’s dish the title of Best Pad Thai in town.
Best Chicken Burrito – Bear Tooth Theatre Pub: By far the best burrito in town is the Chicken Colorado Burrito located at Bear Tooth.The $8.95 burrito comes with tortilla chips and is stuffed with shredded chicken, rice and cheese, and is a monster in size. It is easily the fattest burrito of the bunch, and while there is definitely more rice than chicken, the rice has a nice southern flavor that blends well with the chicken, and adds a different enough texture to keep it interesting. The chicken itself is a bit spicy, but not overly so, and is shredded thickly enough to be enjoyable. The tortilla is dry but warm, and doesn’t stick to the roof of your mouth; if anything there’s a bit too much tortilla, as if a smaller one should have been used. While the chips are a bit boring as a side, this burrito is designed to be a hands-only food eaten in a movie theater, which makes it more acceptable.
Best Reindeer Dog – M.A.’s Gourmet Dogs: M.A.’s has been in Anchorage for 20 years now, and it shows with how good their food is. The $5.50 reindeer dog was neither too peppery or salty, and it had a nice, distinctive flavor that emphasized the reindeer meat itself, rather than pepper or other seasonings; it was moderately spicy, offering a little kick, but it wasn’t overkill. The onions, which M.A.’s cooks in Coke, were sweet, a little tangy and only a hair overcooked. The bun ended up a little soggy from the grease, but it wasn’t a turnoff. It was by far the best reindeer dog on 4th Avenue.
Best Salmon Salad – Snow City Cafe: Snow City had the most original and delicious salmon salad in town, hands down. The Blackened Salmon Salad, which cost $14.95, was full of rich dark colors, and substituted raspberry vinaigrette for the usual creamy dressings. It also included strawberry relish and sunflower seeds (which added the crunchy texture that would have been missing without the croutons). The vinaigrette was light and sweet, as was the relish, and was a complete turnaround from the other dishes. The salmon portion was relatively small, but the salad made up for it in flavor. It was seasoned with spices that gave it a fairly impressive bite, one quelled and complimented by the sweetness of the vinaigrette and relish. The flavors together were just as impressive as they were separate. The only downfall was that the portion size was just a hair too small to fill two hungry people. The salad was also only a special running for the month of July, which is a shame, because this dish was so delicious and delightfully unique that a restaurant would be nuts to discontinue it after a month. Snow City, do us all a favor and bring it back to the menu. TNL would order it all the time.
Best Denver Omelet – Kriner’s Diner: Kriner’s didn’t offer a Denver Omelet per say, so TNL created our own. For our Create Your Own Omelet (which includes up to four toppings for the base price of $11.99) we ordered an omelet with peppers, onions and ham (Denver style). The service was relatively fast, and the food was great. The omelet itself was a decent size, and while none of the flavors stood out as the most bold, the peppers worked with the cheese, onions and ham to create a more cohesive combined flavor. The veggies were al dente, and so added a nice crunch to the omelet’s texture. In addition the large, delicious omelet, there was also a side of toast that was grilled instead of toasted, and despite this, it wasn’t greasy like it could have been. Instead, it was mostly dry (the good sort) with just a hint of buttery flavor to it. The hash browns were well cooked as well, completing the meal. If you’re in the mood for a Denver-style omelet, this is the place to get it.
Best Peanut Butter Cookie – Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop: This $3.50 cookie sandwich is pure peanut butter. Two peanut butter oatmealcookies filled with peanut butter ganache (which might as well be straight peanut butter) characterize this treat, and it is nothing short of peanut butter heaven. The outside of the cookie has a bit of a crunch, but the inside is soft, and the contrasting textures are pleasing to the tongue. The ganache is smooth and ripe with flavor as well. It’s impossible to share this treat; you’d sooner buy another for someone else just to keep them away from yours. The most apt way to describe the experience of this treat is that it is like sex for your mouth.