It can never be said that Juneau is easy to reach. The only US state capital with no road access, it can only be accessed by air and plane, according to Welcometoalaska.com. In this isolated seaside town, I never expected to come across–in my opinion–the best chowder, hands down. Like, seriously.
As quiet and unassuming as its hometown, Tracy’s King Crab Shack is found at the end of a pier off Juneau’s main drag. Literally a shack, it may look humble but its offerings are mighty. Walking up to its partitioned outdoor patio, you can’t help but see the huge crabs legs on offer. Choices are varied; since prices vary on the season’s availability, don’t expect consistency on both prices and menu items (though king and dungeness crab legs are always available).
During our visit, we were unsure as to what to order so we opted for the simple combo ($18): two crab cakes, one large order of crab bisque, garlic rolls and, of course, king crab leg. The crab leg was phenomenal: soft and naturally buttery, it melted away on the tongue. Similarly, the crab cakes were juicy, with just the right amount of spice and tang. Perfectly crisp, they satisfied every cliched craving for seafood in a seaside town.
The cream of the crop, though, was the bisque. Upon tasting, one is left speechless: it is silken, soul-warming, a religious experience. The chunks of crab were a welcome delight, as were the soft flavors of cream, butter and blend of spices. A light orange that was almost molten, it was all I could do to keep coming back for more. And I did: At $8 for 8 0z., this bisque was basically a steal. It was no surprise then to find out that Tracy’s King Crab Shack took home Third Place at theGreat American Chowder Cookoff in Newport, Rhode Island. Just a week earlier, no less!
I can’t speak for the first and second place chowders but frankly, Tracy’s is too good for the contest to not have been close. Though I won’t be to Juneau anytime soon, I’ll gladly take on the role of Bard of the King Crab and sing Tracy’s praises.
photo courtesy of btaroli, [Flickr]