It’s no secret that Juneau’s food scene punches above its weight for a city of this size. 2019 marked an uptick in visits by celebrity chefs, the return of some old favorite restaurants, and the birth of some new ones.
Between the local gourmet and a wave of innovation in the kitchens of the bars and grilles of Juneau, we couldn’t help but wonder how some of the delicacies tucked away from easy view were faring as well. That prompted us at the Empire to want to go beyond the ale, and provide the public with a rolling evaluation of Juneau’s bar food.
For our first bar food review, we decided to first try Devil’s Hideaway, the in-house kitchen located inside Squirez. A favorite of many since opening seven years ago, Devil’s Hideaway serves wings, burgers, sandwiches and other bar staples. Located above the Don D. Statter Harbor in Auke Bay, Squirez’ views during the daytime and presence as the only full bar at that end of town make it a good choice.
Our staff picked a range of food and evaluated it independently. All of these evaluations reflect the experience of the individual journalist, and shouldn’t be construed as a recommendation for or against any given restaurant.
Evaluations will be made on the quality of the food and the service, focusing primarily on staple foods or restaurant specialties. The intention is to evaluate all bars with a kitchen, though the scope of the series may expand to breweries and distilleries with their own kitchens.
Nolin Ainsworth — Purgatory Burger
“It’s not spicy enough but it does try,” my co-worker said as I took my first couple bites from the delicious treat. I disagreed. Heck, you could smell the sriracha when the open-faced burger arrived at the table. The sriracha-glazed onions and pepperjack cheese paired well together, but the real all-star of the meal might be the thick cuts of bacon, which were about twice the length of the burger.
The cheeseburger is best with lettuce, tomatoes and pickles, which help buffer the spiciness of the onions and fried jalapenos. The latter topping blends in with tater tots (burgers comewith the option of fries or tater tots), and I unearthed more than a few of them in between my tots. Yum!
Ben Hohenstatt — Loaded Fries
The loaded fries come with two forks, and while the portions merit it, for me that is just a suggestion. The loaded fries, in my opinion, are the platonic ideal of food that significantly shortens lives. They come out piping hot and correctly crisp. This allows the fries to absorb the copious quantities of sour cream, cheese, pico-like diced tomatoes and other condiments that smother the fries. The bland coolness of the sour cream helps offset any spicy flavors that come through, and crispy, salty taste of bacon complements everything else.
These absolutely should be ordered as a meal replacement or an app shared at least three ways because they’re probably too hearty to serve as an appetizer for most stomachs. They’re not the fanciest dish, and you’ll want a stack of napkins, but these come highly recommended.
Michael S. Lockett — Steak Tacos
Squirez was louder than I expected on a Tuesday. Also, way more ‘90s music — when was the last time you heard Hootie and the Blowfish?
I took advantage of Taco Tuesdays at Devil’s Hideaway to order the steak tacos. They took about 10 minutes to get served, which is a pretty quick turnaround. I know it can take a little longer if they get busy.
The tacos were solid. They were nothing groundbreaking, but they don’t need to be, they’re tacos: tacos are good. Generous portion sizes inside the three tacos was certainly a plus; an underpacked taco can be a dealbreaker. The guacamole was a bit flavorless and salty, but Juneau produce is a tricky game and I’m not a huge guac connoisseur anyway. Good soft flour tortillas, obviously superior to corn tortillas in every possible way. They came served with tater tots, which are both an ideal accompaniment to the tacos and arguably the finest side for a main meal. Fries ain’t got nothing on tots, I will die on this hill.
I’ve eaten many tacos in my life and I feel qualified to say that these were good tacos. I would eat these tacos again.
Peter Segall — Fish and Chips
It looked like fish and chips should: a mass of beige with a nice lemon on the side. The fries were nice with the right amount of crunch, but while the batter was nice and crispy, there was something very disappointing about the fish. I was immediately reminded of frozen fish sticks, which isn’t something I want to pay $13 for. The fish was cod, which isn’t in season right now so maybe they’ll be better at another time of year. But in mid-November … it wasn’t great.
Food good! Kitchen good! View usually good! 8/10.
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or email@example.com.