If you like Thai food, you could eat in a different place every night for a week. Best known and always great is Thai House Restaurant (412 5th Ave., 907/452-6123, Mon.–Sat. 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m., entrées $13–15) with big portions spiced to your taste and a casual downtown setting. Try the chicken satay appetizer or the chef’s choice: pad-ped sam-sahai (sautéed prawns, squid, and fish with chili sauce, lemon grass, ginger, and crispy basil leaves). There are vegetarian specials too.
Located near Chena Pumphouse, Lemongrass Thai Cuisine (388 Old Chena Pump Rd., 907/456-2200, Mon.–Sat. 11 a.m.–10 p.m., closed Sun., dinner $13–18) is another family-run Thai restaurant with gracious service and wonderful food, especially the halibut red curry. The extensive menu features produce from Fairbanks whenever possible, and it’s perfect for kids.
Try Ichiban Noodle Restaurant (400 College Rd., 900/479-1251, www.ichibanalaska.com) for a fast lunch at a good value; combo plates and noodle dishes are $9–11. There is free Wi-Fi, and it’s open till midnight most days. For Chinese meals, head to Pagoda Restaurant in North Pole.
A number of Mexican-style places are found around Fairbanks, but more interesting is Azucar Fina (3677 College Rd., 907/456-2822, Sun. 5–9:30 p.m., Mon.–Thurs. 11:30 a.m.–10:30 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11:30 a.m.–11:30 p.m., $15–24), with Cuban-style meals in the Campus Corner Mall, plus live Latin tunes on Friday and Saturday nights. Try the mofongo, made from fresh shrimp and plantains.
Gambardella’s Pasta Bella has outstanding Italian meals, but an out-of-town spot, The Vallata (2190 Goldstream Rd., 907/455-6600, Tues.–Sun. 6–10 p.m., $20–30) has many local fans as well, with pasta, pizzas, veal, chicken, steaks, and lobster on the menu.
For a hint of what’s inside, check out the Greek columns guarding the entrance to Bobby’s Downtown (907/456-3222, Mon.–Fri. 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Sat. 5–10 p.m., dinner entrées $17–33). In addition to spanakopita, dolmades, moussaka, and other Greek fare, you’ll find rack of lamb and a good choice of pizzas. The setting is quiet and upscale; even the restrooms are worth a gander.
© Don Pitcher from Moon Alaska, 10th Edition