A decade or two ago, the area leading to the entrance to Denali wasn’t much more than the open road. It’s since earned the moniker Glitter Gulch, and it’s here most park patrons now head for a meal. You’ll be spoiled for choice, but we list a few standouts below. You’ll also find options within the park, and about 10 miles south of the entrance as well. Just note that some of these restaurants may be open seasonally, so if you come to Denali outside the May-September summer season, check websites or call ahead to make sure they are open.
The Black Bear — Before a day in the park, fuel up with a local espresso and a breakfast panini at this tiny log cabin turned coffeehouse near the park entrance. If the vegan cookies are stellar, you know the croissants will blow your mind. Or go all-in on the superfood-rich chai chia chocolate blueberry muffin; if that won’t prepare you for a day in the park, we’re not sure what will.
Prospectors Pizzeria & Alehouse — Right in Glitter Gulch north of the Denali entrance, Prospectors is located inside the former, and huge, Old Northern Lights Theatre Building. Inside, it combines rustic (and pelted and stuffed) decor with new-school, wood-fired pizzas, including several vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. There are 50-some beers on tap to wash down the pizza and plenty of options for every palate.
Denali Park Salmon Bake — Known as The Bake, this place near the park entrance is a Denali classic. Order the cedar-plank salmon, crab legs, or halibut tacos. The kitchen closes at 11:00 PM, but then the taco cart comes rolling out afterward, and the bar is open until 2:00 AM.
Morino Grill — Within the park, it’s either foraging in the cooler or Morino Grill, a casual spot right next to the Denali Visitor Center. It’s cafeteria-style, with classic options like fish and chips, paninis, and burgers for lunch and dinner. Coffee flows all day, and full kitchen service stops at 6:00 PM.
Prey Pub & Eatery — Whether or not you’re staying in the Denali Cabins, of which Prey is a part, this restaurant is a good choice with a hearty northern take on pub comfort food. There’s mac and cheese, chili, bison burgers, and the extra rich Philly cheesesteak egg rolls. Vegan offerings include a chickpea burger and kung pao brussels sprouts, as well as Alaskan ales and a pilsner on tap.
229 Parks Restaurant & Tavern — If you want to satisfy the foodie in your party — or you want to break out the bowtie — head to 229. Chef Laura Cole has two James Beard nominations, and everything on the seasonal, constantly changing menu is fresh, local, and sustainable. Think Kodiak scallops with red chimichurri or reindeer ragu with house goat ricotta. It’s located a 15-minute drive south of the Denali Visitor Center on the Parks Highway, just outside the park.