Eating King Crab in Juneau, Alaska

Juneau.  A place built on gold, now Alaska’s capital city.  Situated on the Gastineau Channel in the southeastern area of the state, nestled at the base of Mt. Juneau, Juneau, the home of Alaska’s government and a major fishing town and cruise ship port, is a bustling little gateway to prime Alaska playground.  After a day in the playground, you’ve got to feed the engine.  Hungry travelers looking for a tasty bite in Juneau will find it in Historic Downtown.  Despite the number of places to eat in Historic Downtown, the bustle of tourists coming off the cruise ships can make it daunting for a traveler searching for a genuine, down to earth experience.  Every traveler I met in Juneau talked about this crab food truck down by the cruise ship docks.  Initially, I was hesitant because the words cruise ship docks sounded off alarm bells in my mind.  I grabbed quick bites at Pel’meni or a drink and some seafood at the harbor-front Flight Deck.

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Pel’Meni, a little dive in the Hangar Building (formally known as the Merchant Wharf building). The place serves Siberian dumplings covered in butter, curry powder, and cilantro, served with a side of sour cream and toast. You have 2 choices, beef or potato. If you’re lucky, you might be able to score a mixed plate. $6 per serving. $1 for a water or soda. Nothing fancy, but simple and tasty.

Honestly, in Historic Downtown, everything feels touched by tourists.  So, because I kept hearing about this crab shack, I decided to try it out.  If you can’t fight it, join it…right?  Nice and hungry after a hike at the top of the Mt Roberts Tramway, I decided to make my way back through the food carts towards the crowd gathered in front of the one and only Tracy’s King Crab Shack.  Luckily, the line was not too out of control, and I was able to place my order and get my hands on this tasty crab fairly quickly.  Tracy’s was inspired by the owner’s hobby of crabbing and sharing that experience with others.  It’s been open since 2006, and it is still going strong.  They serve all Alaskan crab and are a supporter of the Alaskan sustainable fisheries and of the local processors and crab fishermen.  The menu is a bit daunting (not length but quality of choices), but the food is fantastic.  The crab bisque is to die for, and the Alaskan crab roll is out of this world.  Um…once you sink your teeth into this hoagie roll stuffed with king and snow crab, drizzled with butter, and covered with slaw…your taste buds will not be disappointed.  I can’t say I tried anything else.  My budget prevented me from overindulging.  I can say that I went back…and back…and back.  It became a bit of a lunchtime ritual.  I would walk up to the counter hoping that they would not have run out of the crab roll, balancing my talking up of the item to other customers in line with my desire that they would not run out by the time I placed my order (which they never did).  I’d wait for my order to come up, then find a seat under the tent at any table appearing inviting enough to let me join them.  I’d take this sandwich on with 2 hands, and I savored every bite.

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Sitting at a table with 3 airline attendants that fly here frequently. We were all eating the crab roll. And, there was little talking going on!  Excuse the photo quality – it was taken with a wet foggy iPhone!

I’m a big fan of street food, and I have to say that there isn’t a whole lot that beats this version, fresh Alaskan crab right there on the coast of Alaska.  I think if I was there longer, I might have downscaled and ordered their single king crab leg, 10-12 oz of Bering Sea Red King Crab, with a side of butter, and nothing else.  But, knowing that I was only going to be in Juneau for a few days, I could not convince myself to deprive myself of the Alaskan crab roll experience for even a single day!  Does this place serve boat loads (no pun intended) of tourists and travelers on a daily basis?  Yes.  But, they do it well. And, there is nothing cheesy about it.  It is down to earth, genuine, and delicious.  I encourage anyone who visits Juneau to give it a shot…and, no, they aren’t paying me.  I just really liked the crab.

Looking for somewhere else to eat in Juneau?  This post by You Know Juneau may help.

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3 responses to “Eating King Crab in Juneau, Alaska

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