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“Average food, above average experience” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Soapy Smith's Pioneer Restaurant

Soapy Smith's Pioneer Restaurant
543 2nd Ave, Fairbanks, AK 99701-4728
907-451-8383
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Ranked #53 of 200 Restaurants in Fairbanks
Cuisines: American
Dining options: Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Top Contributor
59 reviews 59 reviews
20 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 27 cities Reviews in 27 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
“Average food, above average experience”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 23, 2013

I had lunch here twice, as it was on the agenda during our Road Scholar program. The food is mediocre but it is worth a visit just for the Alaska decor & memorabilia on the walls. The owner greeted us & proceeded to give us his family history (grandfather came during Gold Rush, father was an Alaskan governor). He loves to sit back & talk while the lone waiter Bill does the bulk of the serving. It is worth going there just to meet Bill who makes dining there a unique experience.

  • Visited November 2013
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
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100 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Ashford, United Kingdom
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“The Lone Waiter”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 21, 2013

A creature of habit I am not, especially when it comes to food. I usually prefer to sample a variety of local cuisines in different restaurants when I am travelling and, as such, rarely eat at the same place more than once. In Fairbanks, Alaska, however, I made an exception to this rule with Soapy Smith's Pioneer Restaurant, based purely on the fact that working there is one of the best waiters I have ever had the pleasure to be served by. That may sound like a sweeping overstatement but I ate at this quirky little 49th State gem three times during my stay in Fairbanks for this very reason.

From the minute we walked in the door our waiter, whose name I believe is Bill - he was uncharacteristically coy about this - welcomed us with an energetic enthusiasm that made all of us sure we were in for a good night, no matter what the food was like, before our bums even hit the seats!

He was one of those warm and engaging people you immediately take a liking to and feel like you have known for years, a rare trait in life and an even rarer one in the service industry. He seemed to be single handedly running the whole place - you wouldn't know anyone else worked there aside from the sound of the ringing bell from the kitchen indicating service - and he was doing it effortlessly and seamlessly, giving each table the same impeccable service and tongue in cheek banter that made me want to go back for more.

His stories and one liners were hilarious but he was also very good at his job. I was more than impressed by the fact that, on my second visit, he remembered not only what I had been drinking with my meal the last time I was in but also the fact that I liked my food spicy, brining over a bottle of tabasco with my soup and saying with a wink "I remembered you like it hot".

I often begrudge the tipping culture in the States, paying a minimum of 20% whether or not the service (or indeed food) was any good, but in this case I think we all tipped over the 20% threshold.

If you want to eat somewhere where the waiting staff just quietly serve you your food and then leave you alone then this is not the place for you, but if you want to regale in some playfully flamboyant banter and walk out with a full bully and a big smile on your face (and a hug if you are lucky!) then definitely visit Soapy's.

  • Visited September 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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Largo, Florida
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
10 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“Interesting introduction to Alaska”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed September 13, 2013 via mobile

Great fresh salmon sandwich. Fries not so spectacular as indicated. Don't order king crab sandwich as it is deep fried and has no crab taste. Great friendly staff. Loads of memorabilia makes for a most interesting visit.

  • Visited September 2013
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
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Gig Harbor, Washington
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
12 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Dreadful Food”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed September 11, 2013

Interesting pioneer decor and friendly waiter, but the food was terrible. Turkey sandwich (the Kodiak) tasted like old dried up turkey and plastic tomato. Crab sandwich obviously a preformed frozen patty that was cooked hard as a hockey puck on the edges and squishy inside. Frozen French fries. Should have sent it all back. Don't eat there!

  • Visited September 2013
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 1 of 5 stars Food
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Leadville, Colorado
Senior Contributor
45 reviews 45 reviews
23 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“Stopped for a snack... Don't miss the cake... Yum”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 5, 2013 via mobile

The lady on the bus tour did not recommend this place so we went to the one she did... Boy did we miss out decided to stop for a snack and had the cake.... Yum what a treat and a very friendly server. What this place lacks in style it makes up for in flavor....

Visited September 2013
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