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“Great Value”

Sam's Sourdough Cafe
Ranked #3 of 14 Coffee & Tea in Fairbanks
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Restaurant details
Good for: Child-friendly
Dining options: Breakfast, Lunch
Reviewed 8 November 2013

My husband & I both had the fried cod special. It came with a salad & sides. Lots of food at a very reasonable price. Our waitress was friendly and attentive. This was one of the better meals we had while vacationing in Alaska.

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Thank KRB21
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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141 - 145 of 220 reviews

Reviewed 14 October 2013

Sourdough Sam's is NOT fine dining, nor does it pretend to be. It is a typical diner: great breakfasts, standard sandwich fare at lunch, and no aspirations as a dinner destination. If you want a great breakfast with friendly, competent servers, it's your place as it ours.

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Thank Judyrae_13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 September 2013

This is my first-ever "1" rating review and I am sorry to give it. If you check my other reviews, you'll quickly see I mostly sing the praises of great places. However, having benefited from so many "warning... stay away" reviews on TA in the past, I'm ethically bound to do my share and warn others.

My wife and I had dinner at this restaurant and were not just disappointed, we were shocked and appalled. Having read so many positive reviews, we were completely unprepared for the poor quality of the food we were served. From my perspective, I can honestly say I've had better meals on airplanes (yes, in coach). My wife, who is a doctor, pronounced her meal as "worse than a hospital cafeteria at 3 AM."

To be fair, we arrived at 9 PM on a Saturday and were seated quickly. Our server was friendly and attentive. My wife ordered the special: beef tips on rice with vegetables, which came with a bowl of clam chowder. I ordered the fish and chips.

Things got off to a poor start, then deteriorated rapidly. The chowder's flavor wasn't great, but it wasn't too bad. Being from New England, we already know that chowder in other locales often doesn't measure up (with some notable exceptions!), so we tend to grade easy. However, this chowder appeared to be mostly cornstarch -- so thick and glutinous that a spoon actually stood upright when inserted into the goo. It did have real clams in it though; we know because we could feel the grit from under-washed clams crunching between our teeth.

In retrospect, the chowder was the highlight of the meal. The beef tips were unrecognizable. The dish bore the most similarity to the classic "cream chipped beef" dish dreaded by generations of college students and armed forces veterans. It consisted of a very thick white sauce (lots of cornstarch again, we surmised) over white rice, with minuscule dark flecks of material we judged to be the "beef." The accompanying vegetables looked like the kind you buy in the freezer section at the grocery store and nuke in your kitchen on those nights when you don't have time to make dinner. The ones we were served were somewhat overcooked and a bit spongy, but they were both recognizable and edible.

I had the fish and chips. This is a dish I order often -- certainly hundreds of times in many countries and in establishments ranging from big name restaurants to humble roadside dives. I also know from subsequent meal on our vacation, that Alaska has -- and can prepare -- delicious fish.

Not tonight. Not here. I was served what appeared to be fish lollipops, with the pieces of fish stuck on skewers. It had all the earmarks of another pre-packaged product. The texture was distinctively rubbery, the batter very oily, and the flavor all but non-existent. The fries were much like the vegetables in my wife's dish -- unimpressive, but at least edible.

After this disaster, I went back and re-read many of the glowing reviews on TA and realized my mistake. Nearly all of those reviews raved about breakfast. Based on those, I'd go back and try this place for breakfast, but never, ever again for dinner.

If you are nearby and need a "simple, hearty, everyday food" type dinner, go to the Family Restaurant on Airport Way. It is the opposite of the Sourdough Cafe: so-so reviews, but my wife and I had a good breakfast and a decent dinner (downside is that coffee is an extra chage)... and it's open 24 hours a day.

Now I'm going to write a glowing review about Alaska Spruce Cabins in Healy, AK and get the bad taste of this negative review out of my mouth. I take no pleasure in reporting this but it had to be done.

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Thank Evoyageur
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 September 2013 via mobile

Just fine for lunch - no beer if that's a criteria. Hamburg buns could have been sourdough but were normal boring buns.

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Thank Z3959HIjohnl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 September 2013

I had driven by the place a couple of times and decided it was a place I had to try. We did and it was great. We had a late breakfast and were seated immediately. By the time we left, it was approaching lunch and the lunch crowd was piling in. Prompt and friendly service, reasonable prices and great food. First sourdough pancakes I've had and they were so good I did not put syrup on them, just a pat of butter. If Sam ever decides to put a cafe in the south, you can kiss Waffle House good bye! Didn't care to much for the reindeer sausage though. Have gotten ruined by Bradley's Tallahassee, Florida sausage. And it's not just Sam's reindeer sausage, it pretty much tasted the same every where I tried it.....sorta like a hotdog with sausage seasoning.

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Thank Spencer_8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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