Five Favorite Places I've Eaten

April 14, 2022

As a fine art travel and landscape photographer, I'm on the road quite a bit. I often work long days, up before dawn, out photographing, scouting locations, hiking to locations, and back to my base after sunset, so rather than getting home late and cooking, I often try to find a place for a good meal after a day of photographing. I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite places that I've eaten along the way. This is by no means a ranking, and certainly not definitive, but these were fun places to eat and really hit the spot at the time!

Denali, formerly known as Mount McKinley, rises above the tundra in Denali National Park, Alaska.

Shrouded In The Clouds

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Denali rises into the clouds above the Alaska Range in Denali National Park on a summer afternoon.

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Glacier Brewhouse, Anchorage, Alaska

This one goes way back to 2010. It wasn't so much a good meal after a long day, but a good meal after several days of camping in Denali National Park. The day after returning to my brother's place in Eagle River, we spent the day wandering around Anchorage. My brother had been stationed at Fort Richardson, so he knew the best places to eat. He wasn't wrong on this place! Glacier Brewhouse was perfect. Good food and good beer, after several days in one of the most beautiful and rugged places in the world. My favorite beer there was the Bavarian Hefeweizen. The seafood is seasonal -and fresh!- but when I was there I ordered the Alaskan King Crab legs. So delicious.

Just thinking about it makes me want to visit Alaska again.

A canoe rests on the shore of Lake McDonald on a spring afternoon in Glacier National Park, Montana. Gunsight Mountain and Heaven's Peak stand in the distance.

Afternoon on Lake McDonald

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A canoe rests on the shore of Lake McDonald on a spring afternoon in Glacier National Park, Montana. Gunsight Mountain and Heaven's Peak stand in the distance.

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Rising Sun Pizza, St. Mary, Montana

In 2019, Kristen Wilkinson and I headed to the Palouse, but tacked on a brief side trip to get a taste of Glacier National Park in Montana. The Going to the Sun Road wasn't open yet due to late season snow, so we had to had to drive the long way around to Many Glacier to go to Swiftcurrent Lake. We wanted to capture sunset there, which was around 9:30pm, which meant a late dinner. We had tried to grab dinner before sunset, but couldn't find anyplace that was open. It was still offseason and not much was available. On the way back to our AirBnB, we were driving through St. Mary, right on the western border of the Blackfeet reservation, and we were driving past this place, Rising Sun Pizza. It still looked open despite the late hour. So we walked in a bit tentatively, ready to be told they were closing. Thankfully, the waitress told us to sit anywhere and she'd be right with us! The place was still pretty busy, with great atmosphere. The servers were friendly and chatty, and best of all, the pizza was OUTSTANDING. I've had pizza in a lot of places, and this is the best I've had outside of the Greater Pizza Belt of New York-New Jersey-Connecticut Tri-State Area.

Early morning light shines on colorful aspen trees as Mount Sneffels stands in the background.

Autumn in the San Juan Mountains

Golden aspens blanket a hillside near Mount Sneffels in Coloardo's San Juan Mountains on an autumn morning.

Red Mountain Brewing, Ouray, Colorado

In September 2020, Kristen and I headed to Colorado and the San Juan Mountains and photograph the aspens changing from green to vibrant gold. We based ourselves in Ouray, giving us close proximity to places like Silverton, Ridgway, Dallas Divide, Telluride, and more. One evening, after a day of exploring, we walked into town to find dinner, and Red Mountain Brewing was just the place. There was outdoor seating as well as indoor, the atmosphere was relaxed, and the food was everything from pub food to steak, ribs, and pasta. Perfect ending to a great day of photographing.

Pine trees on a mountainside as the Sawtooth Mountains stand in the background.

Sawtooth Dawn

The Sawtooth Mountains tower over a stand of pines on a summer morning in Idaho as the sky glows with the first light of the day.

Pioneer Saloon, Ketchum, Idaho

The Jim Spud at Pioneer Saloon in Ketchum, Idaho
The Jim Spud at Pioneer Saloon in Ketchum, Idaho

Last summer I brought my son and brother with me on a road trip to the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. My son had just graduated high school and would be heading to Boston University in the fall, and my brother had just retired after about 20 years in the army, so it was a celebratory trip while I got some work in as well.

I had selected a hike I wanted to do, to visit a few alpine lakes tucked high in the mountains. It was a ten mile round trip to Sawtooth Lake, with an elevation gain of around 1800 feet. I had already told them, we were going to earn a good meal that day! I had been to the Pioneer Saloon on a previous trip to Idaho so I knew where we were going.

It had been suggested on my first trip that I try "The Jim Spud", a baked potato the size of a small cantaloupe, with teriyaki beef, melted cheese, scallions, and other potato toppings. The potato was huge. The beef was mouthwateringly delicious. Worth a stop if you're in the area.

The sun rises behind sand dunes on Bodie Island, North Carolina in the Outer Banks.

OBX Sunrise

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The sun peeks between some clouds just after sunrise on Bodie Island in North Carolina's Outer Banks.
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Dirty Dick's Crab Shack, Nag's Head, North Carolina

This one is notable for the off-color name, but the food was excellent. I've always loved seafood, but I have a rule: I only eat seafood in states with an ocean bordering it! So I knew heading to the Outer Banks I'd be getting my hands on some seafood. I like to go simple, so I had the fried shrimp basket here, but it was delicious. The fried gator tail appetizer was good too, if a little different! We actually stopped here for lunch on our way into town, but it was a good meal and the name was fun to say!

One of the things I love about traveling and doing my job is trying to local flavor wherever I go. I'm excited to see what makes the list in the future! Do you have a place you think I should try? Leave a comment below!

Posted in travel, landscape, photography and tagged dining, food, review, .