The Oasis: Best Bar Food in Fairbanks, Alaska
Good bar food is hard to find, and great bar food can make it a joy to go visit a place. In my childhood, a bar called "The Silver Dollar" had the best cheeseburgers and bar food within 100 miles of Iowa. If you think ½ pound burgers on a grill with real meat and cheese-that was the way to spend a weekend! There are several great bars in and around Fairbanks, and though Ivory Jack's gives a strong run, the crown of best kitchen has to go to The Oasis in Fairbanks, Alaska. If you're looking for a great burger, chicken fingers, or the famous/infamous "combo platter" then the Oasis is your place.
The Oasis is located on 734 University Ave, Fairbanks, AK, right behind the Wells Fargo, and not far away from the McDonald's. This is a bar and kitchen, with a restaurant section in back separated by a thin wall, but you can get drinks or food on either side. Only the bar itself doesn't allow food, but you need a table. There are many great choices from the kitchen of the Oasis.
For one, the chicken fingers here are the best you will find anywhere in town. And if you are a fan of hot wings, this kitchen can serve up some zingers. Even my friends from Cajun country were impressed with the zip on some of those wings. Good thing they had good Alaska beer to wash it down with. There are dinner specials, as well as breakfast specials. Want a sea food omelet with fresh king crab from Alaska's own waters? How about a steak with green beans and potatoes from a local organic farm?
But for the bar food: cheese nuggets, mozzarella sticks, and the fried mushrooms all pass mustard. The fried mushrooms are some of the biggest you'll find anywhere. These are all great, and come with marinara, blue cheese, and ranch, with more always available upon request for free.
This also leads to the famous "combo platter." Chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, fried mushrooms, fried cheese nuggets mentioned before, along with hot wings, then add some of the best and creamiest jalapeno poppers you will ever taste, along with deep fat fried zucchini-which still tastes great even microwaved, and deep fat fried pickles. The plate is stacked high enough to even feed four male college students. It's incredible. Potentially heart stopping, but if I'm going out, that's a nice way to go.
Another bonus of the Oasis is the great beer selection you have. Not only common favorites like Alaska Amber, but there is even higher end beer like Samuel Adams is on tap. There are many great local breweries in Alaska, and the Oasis often has one, if not two, of these specialty beers. I strongly recommend the Alaska Oatmeal Stout, and the White Glacier Oatmeal Stout. These are incredibly flavored beers that have a strong taste and creaminess to go with the strength of the stout. They were fantastic.
The menus offer full choices, and there are several TVs, which can be set to another station. You can watch the NFL while someone else watches the NBA. In addition, if you're a Philly Cheese Steak fan who likes and extra kick-their "green peppers" are jalapenos. It's fantastic. If you're looking for a bar for great food to go with great beer, the Oasis will make you feel right at home. Then there's my other favorite Fairbanks Alaska bar.
The Marlin: A True Alaskan Bar
If you're the kind of traveler who loves to get a taste of the local flavor when you travel, and not just the normal tourist stops, then Fairbanks, Alaska, has a bonanza of hole in the wall places that have tremendous character and can add that little bit of adventure and local flavor to your vacation. And if you're traveling to Alaska-for many a once in a life time event, then finding the local flavor of such a fascinating place with such unique people should be at the top of your list!
I had the pleasure of living in Alaska for three years, so I know my way around Fairbanks. One of my favorite hole in the walls there is a bar called The Marlin. The Marlin is located on 3412 College Road, and is literally only one block away from the main campus of the University of Alaska in town. It's across the street from Gulliver's Books, near a liquor store called the Oaken Keg.
The Marlin qualifies as a true character bar. The entrance is at ground level, but then you'll go down a flight of stairs into the main bar. It's a very small, cozy area, one that might remind you of the "alley way" Irish bars in some cities. Up front is just enough space to cram in a band (though you would never guess this was possible during non show nights) and some of the best local bands in the area play there, such as Sweating Honey, The Gangly Moose, and Louisiaska. Every Saturday night has a show, and the bar usually has some excellent local specialty beer. I recommend "Up Kilt Beer." It's as fun as it sounds.
In the back of the Marlin is a large room with foosball, an upper deck with tables and chairs, as well as a sofa. There's a door to an outside grilling area, surrounded by a large fence of wooden boards and chicken wire. Sometimes in summer Sunday mornings will be grilling day-when people can bring whatever they want to barbeque and everyone shares food. Bear, moose, caribou, steak, reindeer, salmon, chicken-it's usually all there.
The place is a favorite of locals and college kids alike, but remains very distinctly Alaskan. This bar has great music, good beer, and an inside that is what you would imagine from a great story about an Alaska bar. For those of you who are young and adventure travelers the Marlin offers further great news. The basement might be the bar, but the upstairs is a Youth Hostel, so you can store your stuff and go downstairs for a beer and a good show! What more could you ask for?