Chicken Café - Chicken, Alaska
September 9, 2006
The Chicken Café is not on your usual dining route; in fact it’s not on any route to say; unless you are deliberately setting out to go there, you won’t get there. It is off the Alaska Route 5, the Taylor Highway, where you begin an epic journey along the Top of the World Highway. You can also access it by small plane as there is a small local airstrip. Since the highway is not maintained from October – March the café is open for business mid March-early October.
The café is on the main road, alongside the general store, bar and mercantile; the entire town site. Void of any frills or modern conveniences, it reminds you of a late 40s early 50s small diner. This café has been featured on several television specials, the kind of programs that show seldom visited and hard to get to attractions. The Chicken Café proudly boasts that acclaim and being the best food around as well. Since it’s the only food purveyor around I guess they can safely maintain that boast.
Having spent the night at the Chicken R.V. campsite we were eager for a hot cup of coffee and one of their acclaimed plate-size cinnamon rolls. Linoleum covers the floors; several booths line the wall and the menu is a chalk board over the main counter. It’s late in the season and they were closing up soon so the day’s menu choices were limited. Otherwise, the hungry traveler had a wide choice of items to choose from and all are served trucker style, large portions.
The coffee was hot and the cinnamon rolls warm and they indeed fill the plates. They were oozing with that creamy white, sweet topping common to cinnamon rolls. The coffee was good, not great, but good and the rolls I found to be a bit much for a smaller appetite, but to a person with a large appetite they would certainly fill the bill. At another table, down the aisle from us, a couple was having ham and eggs and offered that they had been perfectly prepared.
The owner, a rather boastful lady, proudly proclaimed throughout our stay how impressive she and her establishment were. Her menu was modest but for the area quite adequate; Hamburgers with a choice of bacon, cheese or the 40 mile variety with a slab of ham; reindeer bratwurst, chili con carne, BLT, hot dogs to name a few. A small assortment of salads, including chicken and Greek, were offered. All the lunch plates were served with homemade potato salad or coleslaw and a pickle spear.
Prices were within a reasonable range with hamburgers from $8.95 to $14.95, adding a dollar for cheese. Hot dog plate for $5.95; without salad was $2.95. Salads were $9.95 and a soup and sandwich combo for $6.95. To top off your lunch she makes homemade pies from frozen ingredients. Since she is not on the main trucking road all items are local, cold-storage or frozen for long mileage transport from the nearby township. Nonetheless, from gossip supplied by locals, they are mighty tasty.
It’s an experience you need to try, at least once, if ever you find yourself in that area. The nearest “big” town would be Tok Alaska. The next closest would be Fairbanks, Alaska so plan accordingly. You owe it to yourself to visit Chicken just to say you’ve been there and learn about the name.
The Chicken Mercantile offers souvenirs and other memento of your trip to the far reaches of the Alaskan frontier. The area around Chicken also features gold mining exhibits such as this restored dredge, The Pedro Dredge, an interesting tour. There are no hotels but the area does have a privately operated RV and camping ground.