Tia’s Gourmet (Anchorage, AK)

When we first arrived in Anchorage, we walked around the downtown area checking out a few art galleries while waiting for lunch. It’s a bit of a touristy area, with more than a few places hawking tourist trinkets, fishing expeditions, and the like. And one thing you can’t miss while walking around the Town Square Park or Old City Hall Park is a rather large number of street carts serving up…. reindeer sausages. We originally opted not to indulge on our first visit since we had lunch plans, but as we wrapped up our short trip to Alaska, we drove back into downtown Anchorage to turn in our Turo rental car, pick up a few items from a nice little art gallery, and stop by and check out one of them: Tia’s Gourmet Hot Dogs and Alaska Reindeer Sausage.

While there are a number of carts to choose from, not all the carts around the park are equal: there’s some modest price variation, and a lot of variation in the workmanship: a few places were basically slapping pre-cooked sausages onto buns, others giving them a light grilling, but a handful of them, including Tia’s, were putting some care into their work: stoking up the charcoal and carefully grilling sausages to order, toasting the rolls, and serving them up.

Tia’s actually has a reasonable menu of items. The big draw here is the reindeer sausage, available in either hot or mild varieties, but they also have hot dogs, German bratwurst, all-beef Polish sausage, Italian, and Spicy Louisiana Sausage, all on toasted buns with your choice of condiments (including fried onions from a giant pile on the grill, or a house-made spicy mayo). They’ve also got gyros, in chicken, traditional, or “Alaskan” (More reindeer? Inquiring minds want to know). The draw for me was the spicy reindeer sausage, so I got to watch them extract sausages for me and Carol, slice them lengthwise, and grill them for the next two minutes, finishing off with the bun over the sausage to give it a bit of a toast.

How was was it? Quite tasty. The spicy reindeer sausage hit the spot. The sausage itself was quite spicy (spicier than most Hot Italian sausages), but that actually combined very nicely with the ground reindeer filling, which was just a bit gamier (and a bit less greasy) than beef or pork would have been. With a perfect sear to the sausage, some very nicely caramelized onions to sweeten it up, some bold, spicy mayo, a bit of stone-ground mustard, and a nicely crusty and lightly toasted roll? I only wish most sausages I got from a street cart were this good. This was a very enjoyable and affordable meal.

So yeah, it’s the touristy thing to do… but quite frankly, it was a tasty and enjoyable treat, and a worthy indulgence. I’d happily get another, or even try the Alaskan Gyros.

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