Local Reviews (Fairbanks, AK)
(Last Updated 2022-12-04.)
Places to Eat
Bobby's Greek Restaurant
(Updated March 13 2023.)
The food here is great! The lamb is delicious. Also, they have a large, tasty selection of fancy pizzas to choose from. The service is classy and friendly.
The food is kind of expensive, but worth it. The decor and atmosphere was pleasant, though not quite as cozy and romantic as an Italian restaurant. There is a lot of Greek-themed decor in the form of columns, vases, stone statues, and paintings.
My main complaint is the dessert menu is small and unimpressive. Best to eat at Bobby's and then head somewhere else for dessert.
The restaurant is located on 2nd Avenue downtown, accessible from Illinois street.
C & J's Drive-In
This is a retro 1950's diner on South Cushman street, with decor and music to match. The burgers, malts, and other food are good, at a decent price (for Fairbanks). It is a nice place to take your family, with a kids menu. The staff has always been friendly to us. They are closed on Sundays.
Recently (2021) they have been doing a lot to renovate, such as replacing the booths with new ones, and repainting the building, and that has been a big improvement. The parking lot is in pretty bad shape, but I'm hoping that is on the list for next summer.
The Cookie Jar
The Cookie Jar is a nice restaurant on Danby street. My wife and I have been there a few times recently for breakfast. I've enjoyed their rib eye steak and eggs breakfast more than once. My wife liked her omlette, and another time she had french toast, which she said was good though not as good as my home-made french toast. We had dinner there a year or so ago and enjoyed it, but I can't remember what I ordered. Service has always been friendly and professional. The decor and atmosphere is pleasant.
They also have a bunch of tasty homemade cookies and other candies and desserts available for purchase, and I've sometimes gone there just to put together a gift bag for a birthday or Christmas present.
As far as cons: the bathrooms are very small. Also, they have been short staffed for quite a while, and had to cut back to shorter hours that end rather early in the evening. Menu prices are somewhere in between economical and expensive. The cookies and such for sale are tasty but expensive.
Geraldo's Italian Restaurant
This Italian restaurant is located on College road near where it intersects with the Johansen expressway. It has a cozy, romantic atmosphere, and makes a nice choice for a dinner date. The staff has always been friendly and the service is good.
As far as the food goes: they have an expensive but fancy pizza menu, where you can build your own pizza out of quality ingredients. I have also had a good experience with the clam pasta alfredo, though they go maybe a little too heavy on the cheese (i.e., cheese to pasta ratio) for my liking. My wife enjoyed the calzone she ordered. They also have a good salad bar that comes included with most of the meals.
Geraldo's does not seem quite as amazing as the Olive Garden down in Anchorage, which is my favorite place to go for pasta, but the food is tasty, the atmosphere is nice, and I think the prices are a little better than the Olive Garden.
This restaurant is located a little north of Fairbanks, on the Old Steese off of Goldstream and the Steese Highway. It has a popular reputation as a place for fine dining and sumptious food. My wife loved it, but my feelings were more cool.
Despite the logo (a turtle dressed in a tuxedo) the restaurant does not seem that fancy to look at. The crew walks around in t-shirts or business casual, and the walls are wood boards with Alaskana paintings here and there (e.g., paintings of snow-covered cabins). The benches are in good condition and comfortable, which is nice.
For meals, there are basically only two choices: prime rib, or seafood. The only seafood I was interested in was the King Crab. That sounded really good, but at $120/plate ("market price") I couldn't quite justify the extravagance. So, prime rib it was.
The prime rib was pretty good, large and tender. Personally though, I prefer filet mignon, which unfortunately is not a menu option. The prime rib didn't seem to be seasoned at all either, though a small cup of horseradish is included.
They have a few appetizers as well. I like clams, so we tried the fried clams, but it was disappointing, mainly due to the poor quality of the breading.
They have a dessert tray, though not much on it appealed to me. I had a blueberry cheesecake, which was okay.
They do provide free refills on the Coca-cola, free tasty bread, and a nice salad bar.
Take Out Pizza
- Pizza Hut. We used to have many Pizza Hut restaurants in town, but they all got consolidated into one Pizza Hut on College Road. So expect to spend a long time on hold trying to place your order (if you call in) and the delivery area is mainly on the east side of town. I really like their pizza, but they are rather expensive.
- Papa Murphys. Take and bake. Their pizza is very tasty, and if you live in town you likely will have received a lot of good coupons from them in the mail. Their five-cheese "cheesy bread" is really good as well. You have to pick up and bake the pizza yourself after they make it.
- Great Alaska Pizza Company. I believe this is the most economical choice for pizza in town, with one location each on the west and east sides of town. Personally, I think their pizza tastes rather cheap, with a boring crust and a light topping spread. But, it is decent enough for the price, if you are on a tight budget.
- We've got some Papa Johns and Dominos restaurants as well, but I haven't eaten their pizza recently.
Chena Hot Springs Resort
Chena Hot Springs Resort is about 55 miles or so east of Fairbanks, at the end of Chena Hot Springs Road. My wife and I like to go there for anniversary celebrations and such like, when we can. The features we enjoy:
- A nice swimming facility with a pool, Jacuzzis, and in particular an outdoor hot springs rock pool with a boardwalk. It is warm enough that during the winter you can hang out in the rock pool until midnight.
- Walking trails with nice scenery.
- The restaurant is expensive, but the food tastes great and the meals are filling. I always get the filet mignon with blue cheese, but the king crab meal is popular with those who can afford it.
- For spending the night, they have some less fancy rooms available at an affordable price, which are comfortable, though you don't get a refrigerator in those rooms. Fancier rooms are available but we've never been able to afford one.
Chena Lakes Recreation Area, Lake Park
During the summer, our family likes to go to Chena Lakes and spend time at the beach and swimming area. It is located out a little ways past the city of North Pole as you are driving out on the Richardson Highway SE from Fairbanks. We usually set up a small tent on the beach (for shade) and let the kids play in the water next to the shore. There is also a designated shallow swimming area, and next to that are some playground sets on a green lawn. Some people like to rent small boats from the park. There are some charcoal grills and picnic tables available on a trail that goes along the lake.
There are some basic bathroom facilities close by — not the cleanest and most beautiful ever, but they are usable. Bring water bottles — the vending machine is not always stocked. Bring properly-fitting life-jackets for the little kids — there is no lifeguard, and the kids could drown in certain areas if your attention slips for a few moments. Dogs are not allowed on the beach but some people get away with breaking the rules. We recommend coming early in the day before the younger party crowds show up and start playing loud, dirty music. There are a lot of people today who won't think twice about exposing your kids to the most vile garbage. In any case, the park is locked up at 10pm.
Fairbanks Children's Museum
Fairbanks Children's Museum
If you need a place to take the younger kids while the parks aren't open, the Fairbanks Children's Museum is a good option. I don't personally go there much, but my wife takes the kids often. They have a bunch of nice playsets, most of which have some kind of educational theme. Single visit admission is not too expensive, but if you plan on going there all winter, you might want to buy a membership. It is located downtown on Cushman street.
A nice, large, family friendly park at the corner of Peger and Airport roads, open mainly during the summer. You can take younger kids there and they can play in playsets or run around in the grass on the large lawns. There are a number of shops selling food and various tourist items, as well as a train museum and a pioneer museum, and some old historic cabins.
For whatever reason, I've never observed any trouble there with drunks, vagrants, or criminal activity, unlike in downtown Fairbanks or at other city parks.
Blue Door Antiques
If you are looking for classy gifts or collectors items, Blue Door is the place to go. It's a three story house filled with a wide variety of antique items such as old records, metal signs, ancient tools, Alaska books, old post-cards, knives, and vintage clothing and kitchenware. For my part, I never go there to find stuff for myself, but often have gone there to find good gifts for others.
The building is on Illinois street, on the right side as you are heading north towards College road.
(Updated March 13 2023).
This is the go-to stop in town for second-hand goods. My wife shops there mainly for clothing and for various household and kitchen items. I like to look through the electronics and office supply sections. For example, I've picked up a number of vintage reprogrammable pocket calculators, a classic electronics kit, a nice speaker set for my computer, a good book on electronic mathematics, some good 1970s phonographs, and an nice antique Soroban. However, sometimes I'll visit 5 or 6 times in a row without finding anything that was worth the trip.