Finding a salmon dish while visiting Anchorage is a pretty easy bet – the state has the largest salmon fishery in the world.

But if you’re looking for a change – or just sick of salmon – and want to try things like halibut cheeks and gluten free crepes and specially made sodas – head to the Alaska Market & Festival. It’s the best way to taste an array of local dishes at the same time.

The market, which is Alaska’s largest open-air market, was founded in 1992 and started with just two-dozen vendors. Now, the market is home to 300. It’s located in downtown Anchorage, and is open on Saturdays and Sundays, May through September, from 10am to 6pm. Aside from those who cook up foodie delights, those vendors include local artists who sell everything from souvenir t-shirts to furs hand made jewelry. There’s live music, and a Kid’s Market, too, where those between the age of eight and 16 can bring their used toys, sports gear, locally grown fruits and vegetables, baked goods, hand crafted items and fundraiser items to sell, with all proceeds going to Alaska Kids. 

But about that food: Here are three of the best stalls to hit.

Two Fat Guys Catering

Where the slogan is “never trust a skinny cook.” The “Fat Guys” are Lee and Big Roy, who both started their culinary careers in the lower 48 before heading up to Alaska. They started out at the market selling just chocolate dipped cheesecake and strawberries, but now they dish up more local dishes than you could imagine – things like halibut cheeks, salmon wraps, crab bisque, and my personal favorite, the halibut taco. On Sunday mornings, they add breakfast items to the menu, too, like eggs benedict with home made English Muffins, and the Loco Moco: braised beef and eggs, served with steamed rice and gravy.

Recommendation: Halibut Taco, a spicy, local fish dish

Crepes de France

These aren’t just any crepe. The folks behind Crepes de France import their batter mix and cooking equipment from France. They offer both sweet and savory options. On the sweet side are options like coconut, bananas royale and almost bananas foster; on savory, salmon, chicken alfredo and the Eye Opener, which includes Virginia Ham or reindeer sausage with cheese, spinach, scrambled egg and salsa. Everything here is made to order. They’ll make gluten free crepes as well – just ask. Don’t be shy about chatting up the cooks, either, or asking them to make you something special that’s not on the menu. As long as they have the ingredients, they’re happy to oblidge.

Recommendation: Salmon Crepe, which comes stuffed with herb boursin cheese and wild caught Alaska salmon lox.


Alaska Soda Jerk

They may sell their wares at an open air market, but Alaska Soda Jerk makes the most of their space, setting up an old fashioned soda counter, stools included, though of course you can carry out your order of their real soda fountain drinks while you walk the market. The drinks are made per customer – not in advance. We like the catchy Alaska titles, too, like Glacier Water, which includes coconut and cherry flavor with sprite and a dash of lime; Polar Breezer, which has cranberry juice; and the Seward Shirley – a cherry creamsicle (you’ll see the Seward name all over Alaska – he helped the U.S. buy it from Russia). Just stick around to watch your soda being made. The old fashioned “at the hop” hats and uniforms are a kick.

Recommendation: Pineapple Express which has – you guessed it – pineapple but also vanilla and Doctor Pepper.