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Restaurants & Bars

Fairbanks, AK, update

sparky_fuego | May 13, 2008 01:43 PM

Just back from a week in FBX, and happy to report that Thai House (Fifth and Noble, Downtown) and the Pagoda (Rich Highway & St. Nicholas, North Pole) -- mentioned in previous posts -- are both still packing them in AND serving fantastic, authentic Asian chow. At Thai House, the mild chicken yellow curry is among the best I've tasted. The spicy dishes are excellent, but very spicy, so order medium if you're not sure you can stand the heat. We got the House Broccoli at Pagoda and it was fantastic, as was the Steak and Vegetables. My recommendation for both is to plan on sharing as portions are huge. Or take it home with you to enjoy later.

Another two thumbs up for Alaska Coffee Roasters (Greist, west of University), where the coffee is great and the food is really high-quality. I enjoyed the Black Forest Ham-Grueyere flatbread, and the chicken veg salad is also really good. It can get crowded at lunch, so be prepared to wait in line.

Speaking of coffee, Mocha Dan's is pretty good (I only went to the Downtown location on Second, east of Cushman), but there are several "huts" around town). McCafferty's (Fourth & Cushman) was good, too, but the soups were better than the joe. I had a Southwest White Bean that was quite tasty, and a garden veg that also met expectations. Also worth noting, McC's is the only Downtown place open for lunch on Sunday. We heard that The Diner (Illinois and Phillips Field) was open on Sunday, but nobody we talked to had ever been there, so we passed.

We stumbled onto Sam's Sourdough Cafe (University and Cameron, north of Greist/Johansen), a divey diner with just the right amount of grease and coffee to be authentic. My chili and onion rings were on the money -- rock solid, no frills diner food. And my husband's sourdough pancakes were interesting, in a good way.

Lavelle's was good, but it for all the hype, it didn't live up to expectations for me, and most of the wine selections were over-priced, even by Alaska standards. Honestly, neither one of us can remember what it was we had, so it clearly wasn't memorable Still, the food was reliable and well-prepared. Ditto Gambardella's Pasta Bella (Second & Barnette), which was just fine, but not a wow experience as some had led us to believe. The spaghetti and meatball (you pay by the ball) was covered in a delicious marinara, but there was too much of it. The Seafood Fra Diavolo was more diavolo than seafood, which was very disappointing.

We also had decent sushi at the Wasabi Bay (14th and Cushman, south of Airport). The service was spotty, but the sushi was fresh. We'd recommend the Spicy BBQ chicken and Fresh Bento Box.

Hot Licks Ice Cream (College, east of University) was a highlight. I had Earl Gray on the first visit and it was the second best dish of frozen goodness I've ever had (second only to Creole Creamery's Lavender-Honey). The next time we went, I had Ginger Snap, which wasn't quite what I'd hoped. I wanted ginger ice cream along with the cookies, but the high-quality vanilla was yummy and there was plenty of cookie. The chocolate ganache fudge brownie that my husband had was also fantastic to me, though he, being a chocoholic, wished the ice cream were a more intense chocolate flavor.

All in all, better prospects than we'd been led to believe, so we were pretty happy. Bon Appetit!

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