The Hungry Chum: Savor Homer in the shoulder season
Fall in Alaska is on its way out. Kids are back in school and tourists have (mostly) gone home.
The short, fall shoulder season is the perfect time for Alaskans to explore the state, especially a place like Homer. In June, while the beaches and boardwalks were full of tourists wearing the classic sandals-and-tube-sock combo with a side of fanny pack, the rest of Homer was full of the rest of us — a little crunchier and wary of Outsiders. Unluckily, if we too want to take in the summer brilliance of Kachemak Bay and the bright, primary-colored restaurants, we have to struggle with someone’s Aunt Esther from Omaha.
In October, Alaskans who enjoy the remote and reclusive nature of the state can steer clear of the crowds. If you fall into the middle of a hermit and foodie Venn diagram as well, the next few weekends are the perfect time to get there before everything shutters up for winter.
There’s no rush to get down to Homer to visit Fat Olives, since the restaurant is open year-round, but if you’re there this place is definitely a must-stop. We stopped in after a long day out sightseeing and elbowing our way past other visitors in the shops on the Spit. Anxious and overwhelmed, we were immediately seated and treated with a smile along with a glass red wine from the eatery’s own label, Schooler Nolan. I recommend the Petite Verdot.
We ordered the chicken cannelloni ($17) and the 12-inch fab four pizza ($14.50). Kind of like a cannoli, cannelloni noodles are long and tube-shaped. Fat Olives filled them with ricotta, mozzarella, smoked provolone, chicken, spinach and bacon. Diners get to choose between Alfredo sauce or creamy basil pesto.
276 Ohlson Lane
Seldovia Boardwalk Hotel
This was one of my favorite places we dined at while taking in the wonder of Kachemak Bay. Located across the bay from Homer, Seldovia has the old world charm of a sleepy fishing hamlet that can be reached by plane or boat. Nestled into that picture is the Seldovia Boardwalk Hotel with a menu and decor that mixes the best of new and old.
My companion and I both had their seafood chowder to start ($2 more with sandwich). It was thick without the glue-like texture of some cream-based soups and the fish was incredibly fresh. Topped with smoked paprika and green onions, it was perfect to warm us up after spending time in the misty rain. Not to be outdone, our sandwiches — mine a smoked turkey panini with caramelized onion bacon jam, his a BLT ($14.50 each) — were served on warm toasted bread.
Owned and operated by a family of lifelong Alaskans, according to the website, the restaurant, bar and hotel are open daily.
239 Main Street
Duncan House Diner
This place is down home to a T. With lace curtains, antique lamps and heaping plates of artery-clogging breakfast items, you’re sure not to leave hungry.
We filled up on chicken fried steak and eggs ($13.50) along with the Bud’s breakfast burrito with green chilies and jalapenos ($11.50). Topped off with a couple mugs of diner coffee ($2), the meal was perfect to get us on the road.
While not all breakfast places are open daily in Homer, the Duncan House serves food all week long. The menu is available on their website, which states the diner is proudly open throughout the year.
125 E. Pioneer Avenue
Overall, what I found out will probably not shock any local. The host of our Airbnb lodgings said something similar: the Spit is a good place to go for a meal if you want to blow some money. The prices at the restaurants near the water were reflective of a tourist trap, and the food wasn’t always worth it. Heading away from the Spit, to more evergreen eateries, you’ll find some of the bay’s best kept treasures.
KTVA’s The Hungry Chum wants to hear from you — share your favorite spots to eat in the comments below and follow the Chum on Instagram.
Always in search of the next great meal, The Hungry Chum brings you regular restaurant reviews with honest opinions. The views expressed are the writer’s, not necessarily those of Denali Media or its employees.
Correction: This article has been revised from an earlier version, in which Kachemak Bay was identified as Katchemak Bay.
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