Notes from the Hinterland: Behold the Boar Tide
By Lauren di Scipio Kinsner
Glacier City Gazette
Sometimes the student becomes the master. Such it is with Jack Goodsell, owner of the Turnagain Arm Pit BBQ in Indian Valley, home of the best barbeque around.
Since the dawn of humans, low, slow heat has been applied to raw meat to create a tender, delicious meal. Ancient sites such as Stonehenge reveal evidence of regular, organized feasts, featuring barbeque-style roasts prepared for a well-fed population. Smoked meats not only taste better, but last longer, enabling humans to preserve food–clearly an advantage in the primitive world. Barbecue is part of all cultures and all cultures have their favorite methods. It is more than just seasoning and cooking, and chances are the kind of barbecue you like and the methods used to cook that food offer clues about where you are from. If you love barbeque don’t miss the Turnagain Arm Pit BBQ.
What began in a trailer containing a commercial kitchen with smokers in the back evolved into a popular drive-through-window eatery with outside seating affectionately called “the shack.” Whenever the Alaska Railroad train rolled by, the conductor would blow the whistle to the folks eating on the deck, and they would enthusiastically wave back at him and those on the train. In 2013, a second location that is open year-round was started in Anchorage on Old Seward Highway.
This spring, Jack and his wife, Carla, purchased the historic Turnagain House and are recreating a new–and improved–Turnagain Arm Pit BBQ in Indian Valley. They are in the final stage of a complete renovation, inside and outside, including a new deck where the lucky customers can enjoy one of the most spectacular views to be found along the Arm.
After a 30-year career as a Neonatal Respiratory Therapist dedicated to caring for premature babies, Jack focused on a lifelong passion for cooking authentic southern BBQ. His family and friends knew then what we now know: that he could smoke a darn good brisket.
Jack honed his craft apprenticing with the legendary Mike Mills of 17th St. BBQ. And after a trip north on the Alaska Highway, he and his wife Carla opened the Turnagain Arm Pit in 2010, and established the best place to satisfy the cravings of hungry customers for authentic Southern BBQ. Each year, he and a member of his loyal staff return to learn from Mike and other Pit Masters.
The new location is an ideal setting for what has become one of Alaska’s favorite places to eat. One account has the building originally located in Portage, moved by the State of Alaska after surviving the 1964 earthquake to its present location in Indian Valley. In the mid 1960’s, what is now the saloon was a post office and gas station.
The atmosphere and charm within do not disappoint, with the saloon, three wood-trimmed dining rooms, a beautiful stone hearth fireplace, a woodstove, bits of local history adorning the walls and million-dollar views of Turnagain Arm and the Chugach National Forest. After a day of cycling, fishing, hiking or a scenic drive, it is a great place to land for a meal.
“We have had lots of neighbors stop by to wish us well, “ said Jack Goodsell, amid the bustle of renovation work. “They are excited about the new location. It will be a bit different atmosphere, with an enhanced menu, but with the same food that people already know and love. Along with the new deck to enjoy the views and sunshine, this location also offers the neighborhood a place to come in out of the rain and enjoy a good meal with friends in a comfortable setting”.
Goodsell said that the place will be biker and bicycle friendly and that he, Carla and the staff are proud to provide the perfect place for people to eat, drink and socialize, rain or shine.
Turnagain Arm Pit BBQ features original recipe sauces and rubs. In addition to the traditional BBQ fare, the new menu will include fresh fish and oysters, fish and chips and other items prepared with the same quality ingredients and served with the excellent care that fans have come to expect from Jack and his crew. Try the Boar Tide signature sandwich of 1/3 of a pound of pulled pork with a bacon plank and the secret recipe smoked beans with a cold beer or glass of wine.
Open May through September/October, the restaurant is planning to offer holiday smoked hams, sausage and turkeys. The location is available for private parties and catering during the off-season.
Eating meat slowly cooked with fire is a primal connection to our ancestors and more than one vegetarian has been seduced by a succulent smoked brisket. Barbeque may be the one thing we can all come together on or disagree upon. But wherever your favorite barbeque may be, in our neck of the woods, the Turnagain Arm Pit BBQ is king.
The Turnagain Arm Pit BBQ is located at Mile 103, Seward Highway, Indian, and in Anchorage at 3637 Old Seward Highway, which is open year-round. Hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (907) 202-8010