I was challenged again friends- write a story on a favorite restaurant- and here it is! Maybe this one will spark the interest of a publisher?
I live in interior Alaska. Interior Alaska is land all to its own- we do not have the beautiful mountains that waterfalls flow down like lace. We do not have oceans with Orca’s and Blue Whales dancing in the distance while singing a merry tune of Marry Poppins. You will rarely see a picture of interior Alaska on a tourist website- unless you are reading a hunting magazine. No, we are the land of teeny-tiny trees and very long winters. It is considered the most inaccessible place on earth because of the unforgiving terrain, yet almost 100,000 of us live within its massive area.
And we definitely do not have chain restaurants. Okay, I will not wholly lie to you- we have fast-food joints; just six months ago, a Sonic came to town, and the local newspaper just announced that we might be getting an Arby’s! We also have a Denny’s. It is an exciting mixture of 1970’s retro with a hint of Alaska. The walls display massive moose heads and stuffed King salmon, all staring at you while you eat your sourdough pancakes with a side of reindeer sausage. Our Denny’s even has a fully equipped bar! Does your Denny’s have a bar? I am sure that it doesn’t!
The word on the street is that we may even get an IHop, but there has been a massive protest about chain restaurants overtaking the simplicity of Alaska. And when I say protest- I mean protest! Right now, walking down the one major road through Fairbanks (rightly called Airport because, you guessed it, the Airport is on it) is at least 50 people with signs and blow horns denouncing the evils of modern society. All the church leaders have combined forces to pray over this small community that the devil has made its playground.
I only arrived in Alaska four years ago, so I cannot participate in any matters that affect our community. There is an unspoken rule that you have to survive five winters before the welcome committee shows up at your door. But…they let me pay taxes! Wonderful people! However, I am not sure if I would protest against an IHop; I miss the smoke sausage breakfast with extra butter for the pancakes. Don’t tell anyone that I said that- I might get voted off the island.
The funny thing about living in interior Alaska, you have to hear about the good restaurants by word of mouth. Not for the reasons you are thinking- it is because the owners don’t have internet access, so you can’t look them up on a Facebook search. Or they do have a website, but the last time the owners updated it was the first day it was posted- 5 years ago. So how the heck Guy Fieri from Diners, Drive In’s, and Dives heard about Big Daddy’s BBQ- I am still not sure. But Guy Fieri did, and he made the trek to Fairbanks, Alaska, to visit our ‘northernmost southern BBQ’ for his Christmas special. Brave man!
That is not the only reason why I first visited Big Daddy’s. The real reason was that my family and I were lost in the middle of downtown Fairbanks. All three blocks of it, and all three blocks a one-way street. We ended up in the parking lot for Big Daddy’s trying to read a map (because Google directions aren’t always accurate in Fairbanks) when my youngest smelled the delicious smells of southern cooking wafting into the car. It didn’t take a genius to know that we were parking and going inside. And that is when we found our restaurant!
Now, I am a creature of habit; once I have found something unique- I will stay with it until death. At Big Daddy’s, it is the Carolina Pork Plate! 1/2 pound of pulled pork slowed cooked over 10 hours served on top of a large corncake. This is what I was smelling from the parking lot across the street- the smoke from the industrial size BBQ’s sitting outside the building. Those BBQs keep chugging away even at -40 degrees! They are the defination of industrial BBQs! Those BBQs have become the lifeline of survival in the midst of harsh winters to many people. If the BBQs are still smoking- we can survive!
Back to the meal in question. A large amount of meat and corncakes comes with two sides; I get double potato salad- just because it is fantastic. I usually use the homemade sweet and spicy BBQ sauce- but never too much because the flavor of the meat is enough to cause your tastebuds to do a little jig. Here is the kicker- you can’t eat all of it. Yes, it is a hefty serving, and I haven’t seen anyone finish it off yet- but because you have to save room for dessert! The Bread Pudding is my favorite. I think that they have other desserts, but I haven’t tried them. It is all about that warm, soft bread baked with raisins and pears and topped with a bourbon sauce. It is heaven on a spoon. Order a cup of coffee with it, and you are in business!
Now, I would tell you where Big Daddy’s is located in Fairbanks, but I really think that to get the full measure of its perfection- you too have to get lost on the three one-way streets downtown. I will give you a hint. You can see the Chena River from the parking lot. Of course, the Chena River runs through the whole town, and you can see it from every business.. but you get the idea.
If you ever decide to make a trip to the interior of Alaska- be prepared. Pack for all four seasons, regardless of what time of year you come. Look both ways before crossing a street because the Moose has the right of way. Freshen up on your map reading skills. Do not pet the sled dogs unless someone says you can. Don’t forget to visit Big Daddy’s BBQ! And above all else- do not ask any Alaskan where a chain restaurant is located- we will walk away from that kind of talk.