Fine Thyme Cafe--Soldotna:  Possibly the freshest, tastiest, and most palate-pleasing homemade fresh sandwiches, salads, pies (yummm!), baked goods, and espresso/teas to be found in our small town of Soldotna.  All they need are Nutella Crepes and Almond filled Croissants on the menu and I would never leave.  You'd never guess by the small size of this cafe that they would be able to produce such tasty results, but proprietress Monica is obviously culinary trained, experienced and most of all she clearly cares about what she serves!  The reuben is my new favorite sandwich, cheesy and gooey and perfectly balanced with all the right elements.  The salads are creative, the soups smack of homemade goodness, and my oh my the COCONUT CREAM pie (or any of their pies for that matter) is delish.  Call for orders to go 262-6620.  Located in the "River City Bookstore" mall at the "Y" in Soldotna, or for those new to town, the light where the Sterling Hwy and Kenai Spur Hwy intersect.  Follow the Kenai Spur directly into the parking lot, little red building (not the strip mall across the street).  Nice ambience, outdoor terrace dining in summer, and all the books you ever need to read right next door!  $$

Bucket's Sports Grill--Soldotna:  In Soldotna, just before the "Y" (Sterling Hwy & Kenai Spur Intersection).  This is almost a Soldotna landmark, around longer than many restaurants that have come & gone and probably because they consistently serve a good burger, not the frozen variety, and a wide variety of typical sport's bar appetizers from Nachos to Wings and everything in between.  Check them out for a game (the place is loaded with nice screens), for lunch, or rumor has it for breakfast now!  $$$

Sal's--Soldotna:  In Soldotna on the main drag across from Soldotna Trustworthy Hardware, gold rush era diner style restaurant with the classic Ginormous Cinnamon rolls for $5.00.  24 Hours in the summer.  All the classic favorites for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.  My personal favorite is the Chicken Fried Steak Skillet breakfast, but I can't have it more than a couple times a year.  Try one and you'll see why.  To go orders available.  Busy spot in summer.  $$

Caribou Family Restaurant--Soldotna: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner with an Alaskan theme.  We've only dined there one time, but so far so good.  The bear growls when you open the door, the kids favorite part.  Nice Alaskan motif, the most of any local restaurant.  Known for Prime Rib, Steaks, Salad Bar, etc.   $$$$

Suzy's--Sterling:  This is rumored to be one of the finest little cafes in the central Kenai Peninsula, but we have no recent recollections to draw on.  We better go check it out ourselves sometime soon to report the details.  We've just heard the burgers are great and big enough to split.  Oh, also, the Suzy of Suzy's is married to the other "jim nelson".  $$$

Funky Monkey--Kenai:  A lively, contemporary espresso eatery opened up a year or two ago in Kenai, just north of town on the Sterling Hwy (in the mall next to the Moose Center as you head north toward Nikiski).  I finally had a chance to have lunch there and it was exceptionally good!  the food was fresh, innovative, and beautiful.  It tasted great too!  The owner and staff were friendly, inviting and accommodating in every way!  The coffee drinks are way beyond Starbucks and the atmosphere is as relaxing as it gets, with beautiful furnishings, high ceilings, and modern accents once you step beyond the typical Alaskan exterior.  The Funky Monkey is worth the drive (just 15 minutes from Kenai Riverfront Resort) so be sure to plan an outing there during your stay!  $$$

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