We’ve been taking a week-long break at our cabin in McCarthy, and this morning I rose before daylight at 7:30 AM here in the Wrangell Mountains. We have been doing some fat biking around the roads and trails that connect key places in the Kennicott Valley. On our ride from our cabin south of McCarthy to the town of Kennicott, the glaciers and mountains were spectacular, Mt. Blackburn looming in the evaporating clouds, and the Root and Gates glaciers glistening in the distance like diamond encrusted jewels. Our route took us past the new and ever popular The Potato Restaurant in McCarthy. It is slumbering like all the bears out here with a “Closed for the Season” sign and all the picnic tables put away for the winter. Meanwhile in the big city of (Los) Anchorage, a new hipster hangout has popped up like a mushroom in the sun after a fall rain shower. La Bodega teamed up with McCarthy’s Potato crew to make a pop-up restaurant called La Potato, located in Mr. Whitekey’s old haunt, the Fly By Night Club. If you are newer to town you might know this place as the Taproot, or the most recent, and briefest occupant, Route 33.
Pamela Hatzis, the proprietor of La Bodega, the cool liquor store where you can get boutique wines and by-the-bottle beers, wanted to have a place of her own where she could host tasting events. She has been doing a righteous job running the ever popular liquor store with two new locations springing up in the last four years, one in Girdwood and a second Anchorage location at the Northern Lights Center Mall. Rebecca Bard, one of the owners of the McCarthy and Valdez Potato restaurants has been wintering in Anchorage and working for Pamela at La Bodega for a while. She has endeavored to school the Bodega team on how to run a successful restaurant. The end result is a spectacular success with the pop up restaurant everyone is raging about, La Potato. Raging is the word. Maria and I attempted to go there on Saturday late afternoon, on the second day in business, and the parking lot was overflowing like Moose’s Tooth during a First Tap event. We came back when we thought it would be less busy Thursday last week. We easily found parking and came in to find a lovely draft menu, as well as great canned and bottled beer offerings. I am sure there was some good wine and saké offerings as well, I just neglected to search them out. I ordered some rosemary garlic fries and the duck egg kimchi plate, and I recommend both. Watch out though, the garlic fries are a litmus test for how much your date really likes you… Better if you both consume that much garlic in one sitting. I ordered My 85th Rodeo IPA from Woodland Empire Ale Craft in Idaho (pictured in this painting in front of the iconic Spenard sign that hangs next to the stage) and a Solid Gold from Founder’s Brewing Co. I exited right before a secret show began featuring The Lucky Chops, because I didn’t bring hearing protection, and I’m just too old to handle loud music at this point. The place went from being modestly busy to teeming with people for the music. It’s like Anchorage has been starved for a hangout that isn’t a bar and people are finally finding their fix. We have Koot’s and Van’s Dive Bar, and even the newly revamped Carousel Lounge, but La Potato is different because it is a restaurant first.
As I pack up my bags tonight and make the grueling drive back to the big city tomorrow, I am not sorry to leave, because the fun is in Spenard where the spirit of McCarthy is alive and well. I will pass the slumbering Roadside Potato as I drive out and will look forward to its glory in the summer months, but this winter is all about Ancho“RAGE,”!
Cheers to Pamela and Rebecca’s brainchild that is rocking the socks off the block in Spenard!