The best sources for Anchortown action are the Friday Anchorage Daily News (www.adn.com/play) and the Anchorage Press (www.anchoragepress.com), a free weekly newspaper available in racks all over town. Anchorage has joined many other American cities by banning smoking in bars and virtually all other indoor places.
Bars and Clubs
Anchorage is a Cheers-type town, with lots of corner bars and local pubs tucked away. Downtown, a popular place is F Street Station (4th Ave. and F St.), which also serves good-value lunches and dinners.
Darwin’s Theory (426 G St., 907/277-5322) attracts a fun after-work crowd. There is free hot pepper schnapps—if you can stomach it—when the bartender rings the bell (quite often some evenings).
Popular Anchorage sports bars include Peanut Farm (5227 Old Seward Hwy., 907/563-3283, www.wemustbenuts.com), Crossroads Lounge (1402 Gambell St., 907/276-9014), and Eddie’s Sports Bar (6300 Old Seward Hwy., 907/563-3970).
Anchorage’s favorite downtown bar is Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse (610 W. 6th Ave., 907/276-2337, www.humpys.com). Drop by on any night of the week to rub shoulders (and arms, legs, and other body parts—it gets mighty crowded) with a hip, raucous, and youthful crowd. The bar has dozens of microbrews on tap, the kitchen cranks out pub fare, bands play nightly, and there’s never a cover. Humpy’s is a must-see place if you’re staying downtown, especially if you’re single (or pretending to be).
Chilkoot Charlie’s (2435 Spenard Rd. at Fireweed Lane, 907/279-1692, www.koots.com) is a ramshackle building where you can do some serious jumping up and down to real rock and roll and generally have a night of good raunchy fun—so long as you don’t ask the wrong guy’s girl (or the wrong girl’s guy) to dance. There are three separate dance floors and 10 (!) bars inside. It’s big enough to get lost in. The main stage has loud and very live rock, while the other dance floors are filled with folks dancing to DJ Top 40 or whatever else is hot.
’Koots is a love-it-or-hate-it sort of place; if you aren’t into the bar cruisin’ and pickup scene, try elsewhere. The motto should give you fair warning: “We cheat the other guy and pass the savings on to you!” But you should at least go here to say you didn’t miss the most famous place in town. ’Koots gets extremely crowded on weekend nights (cover charge), so you may have to wait quite a while to get in if you come after 10 p.m. You can’t miss Chilkoot’s: just look for the tall lighted windmill.
Chef’s Inn (825 W. Northern Lights Blvd., 907/272-1341) is Anchorage’s “Blues Central,” with live bluesy bands nightly. The bar attracts leather-clad bikers and others. There is good food (especially the French dip) and great blues tunes.
Downtown’s Rumrunners (415 E St., 907/278-4493, www.rumrunnersak.com) is a spacious no-cover DJ and live music club. A few blocks away is McGinley’s Irish Pub (645 G St., 907/279-1782, www.mcginleyspub.com), with Guinness on tap, weekend bands, and no cover.
Several Anchorage bars offer a quiet and romantic atmosphere. If you luck into a clear evening, have packed something a little dressy, and don’t mind blowing two days’ budget on a beer, head up to the Crow’s Nest (4th Ave. and K St., 907/276-6000) atop the Captain Cook Hotel—the view is worth the effort. The Millennium Hotel (4800 Spenard Rd., 907/243-2300 or 800/544-0553) has an upscale bar with outdoor seating overlooking Lake Hood.
Gay and Lesbian
If your boyfriend or girlfriend happens to be of the same sex as you, pop into Mad Myrna’s (530 E. 5th Ave., 907/276-9762, www.alaska.net/~madmyrna) or The Raven (708 E. 4th Ave., 907/276-9672). Myrna’s has drag shows on Fridays, karaoke Thursdays, and DJ tunes on Fridays and Saturdays; Raven is a pool-shootin’ joint.
PrideFest (www.anchoragepride.com) in mid-June is Alaska’s big coming-out party, so to speak. There’s also a Gay and Lesbian Community Center (336 E. 5th Ave., 907/929-4528, www.idntityinc.org) just up from Mad Myrna’s.
© Don Pitcher from Moon Alaska, 10th Edition