Every time we go to Whittier and the Swiftwater Seafood Cafe, we don’t plan it…somehow, we just end up there.
Over the 4th of July weekend, we were looking for a less crowded place to chill. Good luck with that in Alaska this time of year. There was Forest Fair in Girdwood, Mt. Marathon race in Seward, and fishing on the Kenai.
We started out towards Girdwood with the intention of picking more salmonberries. What a mess! Since the “age of aquarius” at the Forest Fair just wasn’t floating the boat, Jeff suggested we just keep driving to Whittier and get some of our favorite halibut fish and chips.
He didn’t have to twist my arm! Awesome idea; it was the perfect meal to enjoy the gateway to Prince William Sound and escape the crowds.
Fish and Chips Done Right
(Warning to my children: make weird faces, and you may pay the price with a picture in the post. Summer and Bridger were actually really excited.)
Fish and chips are in my ‘Top 10 favorite foods’ to eat. I love the halibut variety, but I’m also very picky. In a state where seafood is so prevalent you would think good deep fried fish is on every corner. That’s not the case.
Many of the battered versions are just soggy (Jeff’s recipe is hands down my favorite). And the breaded ones? The crust on some is so thick and hard it cuts the roof of your mouth! Then, they’re overcooked and turn out dry.
Thats where Swiftwater Seafood Cafe gets it soooo right! Fresh halibut, cod or shrimp is lightly coated in breading and perfectly fried. The result is a moist, flavorful, memorable piece of fish! When dipped in some of their homemade tarter sauce, with a touch of lemon juice; I’m pretty sure I hear angels sing!
Varly’s Swiftwater Seafood Cafe
Located along the dock in Whittier, this Mom and Pop run establishment exudes Alaska quirky. You have the choice to dine indoors, or on the patio overlooking the water. We sit outside of course, and enjoy the sites, sounds, and smells of the harbor.
The menu is basic: seafood, chowder, burger and chicken strips along with a few sides, appetizers and desserts. Besides the fish and chips, Jeff loves the rhubarb crisp, Bridger, the crab cakes; and I enjoy the clam chowder. Summer gets a burger and Saige eats chicken strips. Nothing fancy, just decent portions of solid, good food!
Be prepared to spend ~ $12-20 for a meal and additional for beverage, dessert and gratuity. Swiftwater Seafood Cafe is seasonal, open from mid-May to September.
Whittier is a nice day drive from Anchorage, the Valley, or Seward. The scenery as you pass through Portage Valley, around the lake and through the Anton Anderson Tunnel is worth the drive alone. Top it off with delicious fish and chips and it’s the perfect day trip.
The owner’s son told me that many of their patrons are regular commuters from the Kenai to Anchorage who detour off the Seward highway just for the fish, shrimp and chips. Also, if you’re hopping on or off a cruise there, I recommend a visit. Give it a whirl sometime and let me know what you think!
*As always, if I review a restaurant, it’s one I have been to multiple times and found consistently good. We have been to the Swiftwater Seafood Cafe many times and each time was delicious!