Fairbanks is a great place to visit for outdoor activities and delicious food. I found that the Thai food in Fairbanks was as good as Bangkok’s, and there were so many other great foods. Here are the top food spots in Fairbanks.

Fairbanks in Winter offers stunning views of the Aurora Borealis and periwinkle sky at sunset. There are also outdoor activities such as reindeer walking. Did you know that this town has Thai food that is as good as anything in Bangkok? Fairbanks’s excellent Thai food is one of the many reasons to visit this friendly Alaskan town.

Find Thai Food in Fairbanks

During my visit to Fairbanks, I saw snowflakes the size of potato chips falling from the sky when our server brought us two bowls steamed Tom Yum. After one bite of the hot and sour lemongrass soup, I was transported to Bangkok where I lived for three months in late 1990s. The Tom Yum I enjoyed at Thai House was just as good as the ones in Bangkok.

A Thai House waiter poses in Fairbanks before serving a bowl Tom Yum. Photo by Sherry Spitsnaugle

As the temperature outside hovered around a mere one degree, I was warmed by the fiery food.

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When I was in Fairbanks to attend a conference, my expectations were that there would be salmon, halibut and moose hamburgers. Imagine my surprise when I found just one restaurant in Fairbanks.

Thai House is not the only Thai restaurant. There’s also Lemongrass, Phad Thai and Simply Thai. The list is endless. Even a food truck that sells Thai take-out food is available.

Why are there so may Thai restaurants in Fairbanks. I asked my server and two taxi drivers as well as the staff at my hotel and some other residents. Answer: There is a large community of Southeast Asians who live in this area.

Fairbanks is a great place to visit for Aurora Borealis and the food.

I was able to discover other restaurants that serve authentic Moldovan food, such as Soba. I knew nothing about Moldova or its food. Quick research revealed that Ukraine and Romania are bordering the small landlocked Eastern European nation.

The day we visited, the restaurant was packed with locals and families. The pork mince dumplings were delicious and filling. Soba serves schnitzels, mashed potato, cabbage wraps and grilled lamb sausages.

The next afternoon, I was looking for a restaurant with an Alaskan atmosphere. I chose Pike’s Landing, which is located next to Pike’s Waterfront Lodge, my hotel.

Pike’s Landing in Fairbanks offers beer with names like Arctic Warrior, Double Shovel and Double Shovel. Photo by Sherry Spitnaugle

This place was Alaskan with its wooden beams, fireplace logs, antlers hanging on the walls, and people dressed in Sorels or cold-weather gear.

Pike’s Landing is located next to Pike’s Waterfront Lodge and serves some of Fairbanks’ best food. Photo by Sherry Spitnaugle

The choice was tough between halibut or broiled king Salmon, but I went with lobster bisque, and a local IPA. I was eating alone, so I sat by the bar. The bisque I ordered that night was so good, I came back the next evening to order it again.

Pike’s Landing is a popular bar and restaurant located near Pike’s Waterfront Lodge. Photo by Sherry Spitsnaugle

Fairbanks Winter Activities: More to Do

Alaska is a beautiful place in winter, with many outdoor activities to enjoy. Think dog sledding and walking with reindeer. I wanted to know more about Alaska’s history and culture so I visited Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center and nearby Antler Arch. Sandy Jamieson, a Fairbanks artist, created the Antler Arch.

The arch is made up of caribou and moose antlers. It’s the perfect place for a picture.

Sherry Spitsnaugle, author of the book Antlers Arch in Fairbanks, poses for a picture. Photo by Explore Fairbanks

Signage nearby says, in part: “This arch made of antlers could also be called a arch of stories. First, I think of hunting stories. Each antler was presented in order to link experiences from Alaska.

The memories of warm kitchens, campfires and meat-cutting table shared with friends and family are woven together. The memories are also of finding the remains of a dead animal or antler in a favorite berry bed–relics from wild animals who’s language and stories we only know fragments.

I also visited the shops in town, such as Blue Door Antiques. This two-story former house was filled with antiques.

Blue Door Antiques in Fairbanks sells antiques and collectibles. Photo by Sherry Spitnaugle

What is your favorite item? My favorite item?

Photo by Sherry Spitsnaugle. Sherry Spirtnaugle took the photo.

Blue Door’s facebook page describes it as “the biggest and farthest northern antique store in North America”.

Enjoy an appletini in the Aurora Ice Bar at Chena Hot Springs

Order an appletini at the Aurora Ice Bar in Chena Hot Springs. It’s a two-hour scenic drive from Fairbanks. This bar is made entirely of ice, so don’t expect a glass of wine or beer. Only the Aurora Ice Bar Appletini can be found on the menu.

Bartenders at the Aurora Ice Bar in Chena Hot Springs (about a 2-hour drive from Fairbanks) mix the Appletini. Sherry Spitsnaugle Photo

You can cool off after the appletini by taking a dip at Chena Hot Springs, or exploring the Ice Museum where the temperature is a cold 25 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fairbanks Bar where everyone knows your name

As part of a conference that I attended, I participated in a friendly competition with five other photographers. Each of us had 27 hours to take photos and submit 10 images, which were judged by local experts.

I was exploring downtown when I entered the Big I Pub & Lounge located on Turner Street, across from the Immaculate Conception Church. My eyes took some time to adjust as I entered the dark bar. Someone must have seen my hesitation and yelled, “Come in!”

The bartender was astonished when I told him about the contest and the picture I had in my mind. It showed two people drinking beer.

The bartender asked a woman and a man sitting at the bar, “Mom and Dad… What do you think?”

Fairbanks is known for its food and drinks. Photo by Sherry Spitsnaugle

“Mom’s” coffee glass was half full, while “Dad” had a beer in his two-thirds. I told them that if they were full, it would make a better photo.

She shouted “Hey Bill” across the room. You just bought a beer. Want to be in a photo?

Shooting the Breeze and Photoshoot

Bill’s hands looked like shovels, and he could have been an Ice Road Trucker. He gave a thumbs up and smiled. We all went out on the patio with the dad of the barkeep, and three more customers who were there to watch. Two guys lifted their glasses up to the sky as their friends teased them for being hand models.

Two Fairbanks residents enjoy a beer in their favorite bar. Photo by Sherry Spitsnaugle

Everyone had a suggestion for where I could get the best photo after I told them I needed more. One person proudly showed me pictures of sunsets taken on his phone.

He said that he and his entire family are Fairbanks fans. They would have talked for hours about Fairbanks if I had not interrupted them to tell them daylight was burning.

Looking back, I wished I had sat on a stool at the bar, ordered a drink, and listened as they talked about how much love this area has for them.

Alaska was a great place to boast about. It’s magical to be in a place that has a “blue-hour,” the twilight time when the sun is below the horizon and everything is a sapphire blue.

Winter was my favorite time to travel. From eating spicy food in Fairbanks in a cozy, cozy restaurant to watching the Aurora Borealis in the night sky of Alaska, I loved winter. The picture of two guys drinking beer did not win me a prize. The time I spent with the Fairbanks locals who love the city was enough reward for me.

What to do in Fairbanks: Accommodation, Aurora viewing, car rental, and food

Aurora-chasers and foodies will be delighted by the choices of foods in Fairbanks.

Pike’s Waterfront Lodge in Fairbanks is a great place to stay. The lodge is located five minutes from the Fairbanks airport and offers a 24/7 shuttle service. The hotel staff will call your room if they see the Aurora Borealis at any time of night. Staff will walk out and check the sky every 30 minutes. Best time to view the Aurora is between 10 pm and 3 am.

If you want to see the Aurora Borealis, you can request an Aurora View Room. This means that you will be in a room on the side where you may catch a glimpse of it if you open your curtains. It is best to stay away from lights if you want to see the Aurora Borealis.

You can also drive 15 minutes to Aurora Pointe to warm up, set up your tripod and camera, then wait outside for the sky to change.

Contact Alaska Auto Rental if you plan to rent a car. If you don’t want to drive when you arrive late at night, as many flights do, a staff member will deliver your rental car to your hotel.

If you are planning a trip to Alaska, or a destination for food let Travel With Wonder guide you.