If you spend a couple days in Homer, Alaska — known locally as the Cosmic Hamlet by the Sea — it’s easy to get the feeling that people there know some secret about life that the rest of the world doesn’t. It’s a laid-back town surrounded by jaw-dropping scenery: Kachemak Bay, the mountains and glaciers on the far side, dark evergreens, blue sky, and fields of purple fireweed. The fishing is first-rate, and on the right day you might even see a crowd of surfers out in the water waiting for the waves.
Three thousand years ago, the ancestors of the modern-day Sugpiaq people arrived here and set up communities centered around the marine resources. They built semi-subterranean sod houses and piled up middens with halibut and salmon bones, sea urchin spines, crab shells — all the bounty of the sea at their doorstep. The Russians followed in the late 1700s, and then the Americans after 1867. Homer proper got its start as a coal town in the first decade of the 20th century, but over the years it attracted an eclectic mélange of commercial fishermen, homesteaders, tradesmen, and government employees. It’s also a town of artists, hippies, and creative thinkers. The writer and radio personality Tom Bodett (best known for his “We’ll leave the light on for you.” Motel 6 ads) got his start here. So did the singer Jewel.
Heritage and artistry splash together in Homer’s restaurant scene. Overall, there’s a heartfelt commitment to doing things right — both the basics and the fancy stuff — and providing the diner with a quality experience, whether it’s oysters and champagne on a sunny deck, panang curry, or just a simple Reuben sandwich and fries. What follows is a list of the essential eating houses for the visiting diner.
Kris Farmen is a writer and editor based in Fairbanks, Alaska; his books include Blue Ticket, Edge of Somewhere, Turn Again, and The Devil’s Share.Read More