Alaska’s Food Trucks – The New York Times

Last summer, on an overcast July day, the coastal town of Sitka, once the capital of Russian Alaska and long a popular stop on Inside Passage cruises in southeastern Alaska, was lifted from three cruise ships. It was crowded with passengers disembarking. The city closed down Main Street to vehicles to accommodate the crowds. Instead, food trucks, carts and stalls emerged, creating a festive atmosphere as traveling patrons spooned seafood chowder and devoured tacos.

“Street food seems to be best in a place like this in the summer,” says Gretchen, who was a professional cook in San Francisco before returning to her hometown of Sitka during the pandemic and starting a mobile food business. Stelsenmüller said. enoki restaurantoffers Japanese-inspired comfort food. “It’s wholesome and a unique representation of Alaskan ingredients, but you can still stop by for a snack and continue your tour.”

As cruising resumes in earnest in Alaska after the pandemic, ports from Ketchikan to Seward have seen a surge in food trucks and other vendors.

“Food trucks allow you to get into the restaurant business without paying the full cost of starting a brick-and-mortar store,” said state commissioner John Bittner. Alaska Small Business Development Center. “For a small community that operates cruise ships, this is very attractive.”

For passengers who are only in the port for a few hours and have a lot to see (including ferry passengers) Alaska Marine Highway — Food trucks deliver local produce at relatively reasonable prices and in less time than full-service restaurants.

“Food trucks are a natural extension of what draws people to the outdoors in Alaska,” said senior editor Aaron Saunders. cruise critic.

Given the high cost of living, expect a slightly higher rate compared to the Southern 48 States. Last summer I bought a chicken and rice dish from Seward’s stall for $16. This was a few dollars more, and a free Pepsi can was cheaper than comparable truck fares in New York City.

For the 2023 cruise season, which typically runs from April to October, Alaskan cruise authorities expect cruise passenger numbers to reach 1.65 million, surpassing the 2019 record of 1.3 million. Most of them will be sailing the Inside Passage, a 500-mile route that weaves its way through southeastern Alaska. Through the islands that protect them from the upheavals of the Pacific Ocean.

Ship visitors sometimes pass through Anchorage, but Anchorage has its own flourishes. food truck scene — The following popular cruise ports form a path for locally-sourced coastal cuisine.

It is often the first port of call in Alaska on a northbound Inside Passage cruise. Ketchikan The traditional Tlingit fishing camp now thrives on tourism, commercial fishing and forestry, but is booming with the arrival of cruise ships.Passengers disembark for a day trip to Tongass National Forest or to see the totem poles Saxman Native Village Several food stalls can be found inside the vendor booths at the cruise dock. D’s Fish and Chip Shack On the other hand, you’ll find better food trucks within walking distance.

“If you want to see someone flirting with a chicken sandwich, come visit our truck from time to time,” writes food truck owner Thane Peterson. ticket ticket bang bangChicken Sandwich ($12) Specialty Store, by email. He described customers as “closed eyes, moaning and muttering ‘Oh my god'”.

The truck, which went on sale last year, is often parked near cruise ship docks, and passengers account for two-thirds of its annual sales, Peterson said.

A few blocks from the cruise ship dock, Amber Adams aims to open the town’s first food truck parking lot. Dock Street Yardthere is room for three vendors to participate in August.

After moving to Ketchikan from New Orleans four years ago, Adams found himself cooking Creole dishes with Alaskan ingredients as a reminder of his hometown and a staple in a small town with few dining options. I was. Currently the only tenant on the property, her business, Food Her Truck, serves Shrimp and Grits ($15) and Ribeye Banh Mi Po Boy ($18).

“Starting a restaurant is scary,” Adams said during a break in truck preparation. “But things are different here, because over the course of six months there’s a massive influx of people, and the town’s population basically doubles him.”

Disembarkation passengers may match in high season SitkaThe population is about 8,500. This year, too, the city is restricting traffic on Lincoln Street, a major thoroughfare, on days when the port’s cruise ship capacity exceeds 5,000, inviting the establishment of mobile businesses.

“I think it’s a really great way to showcase all the talent in this town,” said Stelsemüller, who launched Enoki Eatery as a Lincoln Street pop-up shop last year, offering variations of Hawaiian Musubi. Wrap spam or fish in seaweed. “Street food should be a reason to come here.”

This year she bought a food truck and parked it downtown. Her car will allow her to expand her menu, which could include steamed buns stuffed with pork or salmon and cream cheese ($9) and smoked salmon rice balls ($8.50).

Just off Lincoln Street, behind Arnie’s Old Time Saloon, Barbara Palacios serves poke, chowder and ceviche from a cart. fresh fish.

“There is a food truck craze here in Sitka,” Palacios said. She upgraded her vehicle to a full-size food truck later this year, and she says she will continue to serve poke (tuna or salmon, $18) and halibut ceviche. Hers ($14) and Seafood Chowder ($9 per cup, $14 per bowl).

“It’s a job of passion and love,” said Palacios, who often works 12-hour days during the season.

A few blocks east, past the Russian Orthodox Church St. Michael’s Cathedralrun by Ashley McNamee Ashmoserves locally caught fish wrapped in mac and cheese ($9), black cod with coconut rice ($10) and lingcod sandwich ($12).

Like many food truck owners here, McNamee’s resume includes 14 years of cooking in a fishing shack in Alaska, so he chose food trucks over “restaurant jobs.” Still, “there’s been an influx of people from cruise ships, so this is pretty much all I can do to keep up,” she added.

Just over a mile from the town center Harbor Mountain Brewing Companywhere Cambria Goodwin and Luke Bruckert are based in brick and mortar stores campfire kitchen, A wood-fired pizza specialty store. This year, in an effort to weather the financial strain, they added a mobile kitchen to the property to cook fried chicken sandwiches ($15) and fried cheese curds ($9).

In a separate effort, Mr. Goodwin recently opened. Sitka Salmon WagonShe said she served salmon bisque ($10, $16 each) from a trailer parked downtown, “to feed the masses.”

In the temperate rainforests of Southeast Alaska, the weather can be harsh for al fresco dining. after a year of running Blumen Dogs In addition to hot dog carts, Sean Blumenshain has added food trucks, operating in multiple locations, featuring Nathan’s Famous Franks ($7) and banh mi dogs with carrots, cabbage, jalapenos, vinaigrette and sweet chili sauce. We plan to offer a creative version ($ 11) such as. To date, most of the patrons are locals. “I have a die-hard banh mi fan,” says Blumenshain.

The state capital, Juneau, is no stranger to food carts and trucks.Pioneers in the city include: Bernadette’sthe Filipino BBQ Cart, which began in 1996, draws lines of visiting cruise ship crews, many of whom are Filipinos. packer wilsonsopened nine years ago and serves a two-fisted burger ($16) that looks like a Husky Dawson topped with bacon, onion rings and cheese.

Visitors looking for Alaskan seafood on the go will find this store located a few blocks from the cruise pier. Deckhand Dave’s, a fish taco specialty store based in a food truck yard. The truck and yard are run by self-taught chef Dave McCasland. He worked as a cook on a commercial fishing vessel for two years to pay off his college loans, and in 2016 launched a truck loaded with things like blackened rockfish tacos ($13.50 for three). ).

In 2019, he developed a food truck site with space for his original business, spin-off oyster and champagne bars, and other mobile tenants. Alaskan Crepe Escape and a cotton candy maker.

“People travel for the taste of the land, but when they come to Alaska, they really want to eat seafood and local food,” said proprietor Miji Moore. Juneau Food Tourguides visitors to places like Deckhand Dave.

8 miles from downtown, mendenhall glacier, Alaskan Brewing Company The tasting room hosts food trucks. Forno Rosso, serves wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizza ($13 to $17 for a 10-inch pie). Before moving to Juneau, truck owners Alexander and Kim Kotlarov lived in Rome, where they developed a passion for pizza that led to a mobile business named after the red-tiled oven. rice field.

Kotlarov says visitors to remote Forno Rosso tend to be solo travelers or craft beer fans, who use specialty flour, California San Marzano tomatoes, and locally grown Genovese basil.

“I feel like I’m swimming upstream with the goal of emphasizing quality and remaining loyal to Italy,” says Kotlarov, who regularly offers Italian potato pizza as a special menu item. He said he continues to offer

A port on the Kenai Peninsula about 210 miles south of Anchorage. Seward Cruise ships tend to board at the beginning or end of an itinerary. The road network also attracts travelers by land.

“They disembark at Seward and board,” said owner Cameron Weathers. wild spoon Food truck and catering company. “We will not stand still.”

Still, ship crews and road-trippers patronize the special stand of reindeer and buffalo dogs ($10) and venison soup topped with beetroot kimchi and ginger aioli.

In the summer of 2020, Faith Alderman and Fiona Crosby launched a breakfast and lunch business despite the pandemic’s collapse in tourism. porthole, grab a breakfast burrito ($12) and an English muffin sandwich ($8) to capture the early morning crowds of Seward Harbor. Opening at 4:30 a.m., the shop attracts captains, deckhands, and tourists on nearby boat tours. Kenai Fjords National Park.

For Seward Travelers Alaska Sealife CenterThe Aquarium and Marine Research Center at Resurrection Bay is a must-see. Los Chanchitosa busy Mexican food truck moored at a nearby common. early bird Coffee truck and ax throwing business. Specialties include biria and beef brisket tacos ($17).

Peter Cavalletta, who spent more than a decade in the southern Baja peninsula, opened the truck last April after visiting his sister in Seward and said, “There’s a line out the door for overpriced, mid-range food. It is said that he saw that it was done. “I wanted to eat very good food at a reasonable price.”

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