The 14 Essential Restaurants in Juneau – Eater

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From fish tacos by the waterfront to a classic Filipino diner, these are the must-have bites in Juneau, Alaska
To enjoy Juneau, it’s best to bring a raincoat, some XtraTuf boots, and a sense of adventure. It’s a place with some serious weather, where the ocean and mountains loom large, air travel is often unreliable, and cruise ships can double the town’s population on any given day all summer long.
For the best experience, you’ll want to turn away from the wharf, which is located in a part of town that only lights up during tourist season, toward the businesses that are open year-round. With a car, you can drive to “the valley,” as it’s called in Juneau, where you’ll find a slower pace, lovely scenery, and places with mostly local clientele.
Juneau’s food scene may be small and casual but if you know where to look, you can find sophisticated cooking you won’t eat anywhere else. Look out for local beer and liquor, well-prepared fresh fish, and lots of Filipino and Pacific Islander influences.
Julia O’Malley, a third-generation Alaskan, is an editor and James Beard Award winning writer based in Anchorage.
Located inside Forbidden Peak Brewery, a car ride from downtown Juneau in Auke Bay, Red Spruce offers a variety of small bites including homemade Bavarian pretzels, smash burgers and pork carnitas. There’s generous outdoor seating, a kids menu, and a nice view. 
A post shared by Red Spruce (@redspruce_ak)
This is a cozy, affordable Filipino-influenced diner with lots of regulars in the Mendenhall Valley where it’s very hard to leave without being full. Many of the city’s culinary workers, including Rachel Carrillo Barril, chef at In Bocca al Lupo, got their start here. Among the menu favorites you’ll find: the loco moco, bacon fried rice and the “garbage plate” scramble, which has a robust fan club.
A post shared by Jenn Louis (@jennlouis)
This popular takeout only operation in the Mendenhall Valley serves an Asian/Pacific Islands menu, including barbecue, pork belly pho, banh mi, noodle bowls, curry bowls and Korean-style wings. The poke is a favorite. Zerelda’s is vegetarian friendly and serves ramen on Thursdays.
A post shared by Zerelda’s Bistro (@zereldasbistro)
Donna’s is that type of down-home diner where there’s breakfast all day, the steak comes chicken-fried, and the pie case is always full. Air travel in Southeast Alaska is always an adventure; its location near the airport makes it a great place to hang out if you happen to be waiting on a weathered-out flight. Donna’s Ice Cream is a worthy spot next door.
A simple lunch spot and ice cream shop a little outside the main cruise ship scene but an easy walk, Coppa offers homemade pastries, locally roasted coffee, and a rotating selection of ice creams. A simple lineup of homemade soups, salads, and sandwiches anchors the menu. (The brown rice salad is a local favorite.)
A post shared by Coppa (@coppa.alaska)
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The two locations of this local favorite share one mission: affordable, epic burgers and sandwiches. One location is downtown near the Juneau convention center, the other is a car ride away, in the Mendenhall Valley, at Juneau Mercantile and Armory. At both you’ll find good bets among a rotating cast of specials including the hot chicken sandwich and the brisket.
A post shared by Pucker Wilson’s (@pucker_wilsons)
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This Italian wood-fired pizza restaurant in downtown Juneau has a stack of James Beard nods. Try the not-to-miss specials by executive chef Beau Schooler and chef de cuisine Rachel Carrillo Barril, fresh seafood in the summer (particularly for wood-fired salmon off-cuts), and a crowd-pleasing pasta pomodoro made with miso. Look for innovative pastries that incorporate Filipino flavors like ube and coconut and creative mocktails. Wine and beer. Limited outside seating; reservations are recommended in summer.
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This is vegan- and vegetarian-friendly restaurant in the heart of downtown Juneau with Filipino menu influences and goth vibes. On the menu you’ll find beautiful vegetarian wraps, generous salads, noodles, biscuits with Spam, breakfast hash, fried rice, pork belly and brisket. There are lots of options for gluten-free and dairy-free diners. And, if you’re in the mood, you can let the witches and warlocks behind the counter choose your soup or sandwich.
A post shared by ⓀⓄⓋⒺⓃ (@blkmoonkvn)
A favorite of the legislative set, this restaurant in the heart of downtown Juneau has a warm atmosphere and is a very good place to have a martini – you may be able to sample local Almaga gin – and local oysters, or if it suits you, a sturdy ribeye. Locals appreciate the  full bar with a very serviceable cocktail menu and extensive wine list. Private group spaces. Reservations recommended in summer.
A post shared by SALT (@saltalaska)
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A favorite breakfast and lunch spot in downtown Juneau with excellent espresso, the Rookery Cafe offers breakfast bowls, fresh baked pastries, salads, sandwiches, and a very nice burger. Good bets on the menu: the adobo loco-moco and very outrageous toast specials, including ingredients like caramelized corn flakes and sweetened condensed milk. It’s a friendly place to bring kids and there’s some communal dining.
A post shared by The Rookery Café (@the_rookery_cafe)
This Russian dumpling shop in Historic Merchant’s Wharf caters to teenagers and the after-bar crowd downtown. Open late at night, it serves two flavors of hot dumplings – meat and potato-filled – with sriracha, spices, a dollop of sour cream and slice of bread. The record player is an added bonus.
A post shared by Eddie Allen (@edwardallen)
This restaurant serves authentic southern Indian family recipes, with specials made by owner Nimmy Philips, a former electrical engineer, known around town as “the spice lady.” It’s located in downtown Juneau, it’s also a summertime destination for Indian visitors. It serves beer and wine.
A post shared by Spice Juneau Indian Cuisine (@spice.indian.restaurant)
A summer-only operation run by a former commercial fisherman, this food truck a few blocks from the cruise docks has a simple menu – tacos – with a focus on fresh-off-the-boat fish, including rockfish, halibut and salmon.
A post shared by Deckhand Daves Fish Tacos (@deckhanddavesfishtacos)
There are a number of small food carts on the wharf catering to tourists, but this Filipino food cart is where you’ll see cruise ship workers lined up, and rightfully so. They’re after excellent barbecue, turon, or fried banana rolls, and dinuguan, or pork blood stew. Get a plate and grab a bench with a view of the channel. 
A post shared by Rachel Carrillo Barril (@rscbarril)
Located inside Forbidden Peak Brewery, a car ride from downtown Juneau in Auke Bay, Red Spruce offers a variety of small bites including homemade Bavarian pretzels, smash burgers and pork carnitas. There’s generous outdoor seating, a kids menu, and a nice view. 
A post shared by Red Spruce (@redspruce_ak)
This is a cozy, affordable Filipino-influenced diner with lots of regulars in the Mendenhall Valley where it’s very hard to leave without being full. Many of the city’s culinary workers, including Rachel Carrillo Barril, chef at In Bocca al Lupo, got their start here. Among the menu favorites you’ll find: the loco moco, bacon fried rice and the “garbage plate” scramble, which has a robust fan club.
A post shared by Jenn Louis (@jennlouis)
This popular takeout only operation in the Mendenhall Valley serves an Asian/Pacific Islands menu, including barbecue, pork belly pho, banh mi, noodle bowls, curry bowls and Korean-style wings. The poke is a favorite. Zerelda’s is vegetarian friendly and serves ramen on Thursdays.
A post shared by Zerelda’s Bistro (@zereldasbistro)
Donna’s is that type of down-home diner where there’s breakfast all day, the steak comes chicken-fried, and the pie case is always full. Air travel in Southeast Alaska is always an adventure; its location near the airport makes it a great place to hang out if you happen to be waiting on a weathered-out flight. Donna’s Ice Cream is a worthy spot next door.
A simple lunch spot and ice cream shop a little outside the main cruise ship scene but an easy walk, Coppa offers homemade pastries, locally roasted coffee, and a rotating selection of ice creams. A simple lineup of homemade soups, salads, and sandwiches anchors the menu. (The brown rice salad is a local favorite.)
A post shared by Coppa (@coppa.alaska)
The two locations of this local favorite share one mission: affordable, epic burgers and sandwiches. One location is downtown near the Juneau convention center, the other is a car ride away, in the Mendenhall Valley, at Juneau Mercantile and Armory. At both you’ll find good bets among a rotating cast of specials including the hot chicken sandwich and the brisket.
A post shared by Pucker Wilson’s (@pucker_wilsons)
This Italian wood-fired pizza restaurant in downtown Juneau has a stack of James Beard nods. Try the not-to-miss specials by executive chef Beau Schooler and chef de cuisine Rachel Carrillo Barril, fresh seafood in the summer (particularly for wood-fired salmon off-cuts), and a crowd-pleasing pasta pomodoro made with miso. Look for innovative pastries that incorporate Filipino flavors like ube and coconut and creative mocktails. Wine and beer. Limited outside seating; reservations are recommended in summer.
This is vegan- and vegetarian-friendly restaurant in the heart of downtown Juneau with Filipino menu influences and goth vibes. On the menu you’ll find beautiful vegetarian wraps, generous salads, noodles, biscuits with Spam, breakfast hash, fried rice, pork belly and brisket. There are lots of options for gluten-free and dairy-free diners. And, if you’re in the mood, you can let the witches and warlocks behind the counter choose your soup or sandwich.
A post shared by ⓀⓄⓋⒺⓃ (@blkmoonkvn)
A favorite of the legislative set, this restaurant in the heart of downtown Juneau has a warm atmosphere and is a very good place to have a martini – you may be able to sample local Almaga gin – and local oysters, or if it suits you, a sturdy ribeye. Locals appreciate the  full bar with a very serviceable cocktail menu and extensive wine list. Private group spaces. Reservations recommended in summer.
A post shared by SALT (@saltalaska)
A favorite breakfast and lunch spot in downtown Juneau with excellent espresso, the Rookery Cafe offers breakfast bowls, fresh baked pastries, salads, sandwiches, and a very nice burger. Good bets on the menu: the adobo loco-moco and very outrageous toast specials, including ingredients like caramelized corn flakes and sweetened condensed milk. It’s a friendly place to bring kids and there’s some communal dining.
A post shared by The Rookery Café (@the_rookery_cafe)
This Russian dumpling shop in Historic Merchant’s Wharf caters to teenagers and the after-bar crowd downtown. Open late at night, it serves two flavors of hot dumplings – meat and potato-filled – with sriracha, spices, a dollop of sour cream and slice of bread. The record player is an added bonus.
A post shared by Eddie Allen (@edwardallen)
This restaurant serves authentic southern Indian family recipes, with specials made by owner Nimmy Philips, a former electrical engineer, known around town as “the spice lady.” It’s located in downtown Juneau, it’s also a summertime destination for Indian visitors. It serves beer and wine.
A post shared by Spice Juneau Indian Cuisine (@spice.indian.restaurant)
A summer-only operation run by a former commercial fisherman, this food truck a few blocks from the cruise docks has a simple menu – tacos – with a focus on fresh-off-the-boat fish, including rockfish, halibut and salmon.
A post shared by Deckhand Daves Fish Tacos (@deckhanddavesfishtacos)
There are a number of small food carts on the wharf catering to tourists, but this Filipino food cart is where you’ll see cruise ship workers lined up, and rightfully so. They’re after excellent barbecue, turon, or fried banana rolls, and dinuguan, or pork blood stew. Get a plate and grab a bench with a view of the channel. 
A post shared by Rachel Carrillo Barril (@rscbarril)

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