Casey-Shattuck Sherbet Company sells hand-packed rhubarb sherbet at Food Truck Friday's in Juneau.
"Grillmaster" Ibn Bailey tends an array of meat at Slick Rick's BBQ at Food Truck Friday's at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center.
The Flight Deck in Juneau offers a taste of seafood and a sun deck - when you're in luck with the weather.
Story last updated at 7/3/2013 - 2:53 pm
"Fresh sheet." "Local ingredients." "Head chef." These are terms we don't hear tossed about all that much here in Juneau. Or at least, we haven't until recently. Juneau is a town full of food lovers and great home cooks, but we often leave the state for culinary adventures. In the past several months, however, things seem to have shifted. New restaurants are appearing. Established restaurants are expanding their service and their menus. Now that summer is here, some of our favorite seasonal haunts have re-opened and the town is filling up with fresh ingredients and new options. In this three-part series, we'll examine Juneau's burgeoning foodie culture by exploring summer cuisine, new and undiscovered dining options in the valley, and what's on the menu downtown.
A little rain won't stop Juneau residents from venturing out for a hike or an adventure, but standing in the rain to eat a meal may give us pause. Nevertheless, there are outdoor eating options, that, like our local blueberries and rhubarb, only pop-up in the summer.
This summer at the JACC, executive director Nancy DeCherney decided she wanted to celebrate. Juneau's mobile food vendors, and so she invented Food Truck Fridays. Turning Friday evenings into their big event of the week, the JACC combined Concerts in the Park with their Farmer's/Mosquito market and they invited food vendors to join in the fun for a weekly summer fest. Last Friday, Slick Rick's BBQ was there with ribs, grilled veggies and potato salad, and the Casey-Shattuck Sherbet Company was offering handmade rhubarb sorbet and sherbet in cups and cones.
On a recent sunny day, I biked to town with some friends; we were determined to spend the entire day outside. We began hungry at the Alaskan Crepe Escape. It sits near the downtown library, in the alleyway lined with options for moose burgers, hot dogs, rice balls, and fish and chips. We ordered two savory crepes: The Gastineau, which has Alaskan smoked salmon, cream cheese, and spinach; and the Greek, which has feta cheese, hummus, artichokes, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and kalamata olives. I indulged my sweet tooth on a Monkey Business crepe filled with peanut butter, bananas and Nutella.
After more biking and some window shopping, we had worked up enough of an appetite for lunch, and we made our way to The Flight Deck. It's part food truck, part bar-the kitchen is outside-and it has both covered and uncovered outdoor seating. Perhaps the best food bargain in Juneau, the restaurant offers $2.50 cod tacos as their "Taco Tuesday" special. (They're still a deal on non-Tuesdays at $3.25 each). The taco comes in a crisp corn shell with a sweet and tangy vinegar slaw and a generous piece of deep-fried cod. It's topped with a creamy chipotle sauce and shredded cheddar cheese. We supplemented our tacos with one of their new menu items: Sweet Potato Tots. They're like tater tots for grown-ups, and they're served with a honey mustard sauce
The more sedentary food trucks-those that open during cruise ship season but stay parked in one place, often have limited hours. They're open for tourists and close up as the ships are getting ready to leave, while there's still lots of summer daylight left. If there's bad weather or a slow day, it's possible they'll shut down early, so it can be useful to call ahead.
After our fish taco lunch, we wondered if we ever would need to eat again, but by dinner time we somehow had the urge for a little savory snack, and we wanted to enjoy the sun that was beating down on the docks at the waterfront. We made our way back towards the cruise ships to Tracy's Crab Shack for a light snack. The king crab cakes hit the spot. They come in orders of 6 or 9; they're both crispy and moist and served with a spicy sauce and a wedge of lime.
Wandering about town, we noticed a couple of small food carts on Franklin Street and Marine Way, and a new Reindeer Sausage Food Truck over by Aurora Harbor. Urban living in bigger cities is often punctuated by what treats, snacks or meals are on the way from home to work, school or errands, or by what's fresh on a certain day at a favorite bakery or cafe. Opportunities for eating adventures are everywhere. Habit may cause us to eat the same things over and over, but by adopting the perspective of a tourist in our own town, we can discover something new and delicious.
If you go:
Food Truck Fridays
5:30- 7 p.m.
Fridays, June 7 - August 16
On the lawn at the JACC in good weather, Inside if it's raining
Alaskan Crepe Escape
356 S Franklin St
Tracy's Crab Shack
356 S. Franklin St
The Flight Deck
2 Marine Way