SPONSORED: Anchorage has seen a huge restaurant and retail boom in recent years, with national chains and innovative local businesses popping up all over the place.

But what about the low-key spots that don’t grab headlines, splash all over social media, or snag national TV exposure? The spots that Anchorageites have treasured for years, or even generations?

Whether you’re new to town or just haven’t spent much time downtown, you need to know about these gems of dining, retail and entertainment in the heart of Alaska’s largest city. Don’t worry about parking, either -- we’ve even mapped out nearby parking options where you can pay right from your mobile phone using the PayByPhone app.

Yamaya Seafood, 825 W. 6th Ave.

If you’re serious about Japanese food, you owe it to yourself to check out Yamaya. Want a whole broiled squid? How about herring roe on kelp? Salmon sake? If it’s in season, look for it in this unassuming little spot (it’s the gray house with the crab on the sign). Be prepared for a wait -- good food takes time -- and make a reservation if you want to bring a group. Regulars love the chirashi, the ramen, and the slow-paced, family-run atmosphere.

Where to park:

• EasyPark Location: 747 W 5th Ave.

• EasyPark Location: 921 W 7th Ave.

• Diamond Parking Location: I St & W 6th Ave.


Kobuk Coffee Co., 504 W. 5th Ave.

Technically, there’s nothing “hidden” about The Kobuk, as it’s known -- it sits in plain view on the edge of Town Square Park. But if you haven’t ever stopped to explore this treasure trove of gifts and sweet treats, you’re missing out. Built in 1915, the building originally housed Kimball’s Dry Goods and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Stop in for a free cup of samovar tea while you browse for unique gifts, teas and old fashioned candies, or slip into the cozy café for a cup of coffee and a housemade donut.

Where to park:

• Diamond Parking Location: 601 W 5th Ave.

• Diamond Parking Location: 495 W 6th Ave.


Souper Bowl, 320 W. 5th Ave. (in the Fifth Avenue Mall)

A hidden treasure in a mall food court? You betcha. Anchorage diners love Souper Bowl’s made-to-order sushi, Asian noodle and dumpling soups, and fragrant curry. Vegetarians and meat-eaters alike have plenty of options to choose from and personalize to their liking. Insider’s tip: If you’re not planning to carry out, skip the takeout waste and ask for your soup in a reusable bowl!

Where to park:

• Diamond Parking Location: 636 C St.

• Diamond Parking Location: 305 W 5th Ave.


Alaska Veterans Museum, 333 W. 4th Ave. #227

Tucked away in the 4th Avenue Marketplace, the Alaska Veterans Museum offers a stroll through the Last Frontier’s military past -- a trip that goes further back in time than you might think. Docents offer guided tours of artifacts, displays and models that document Alaska military history all the way back to the Civil War. Operated entirely by dedicated volunteers, the museum costs just $3 to visit and has top ratings from reviewers on Yelp and TripAdvisor.

Where to park:

• EasyPark Location: 344 3rd Ave.


The White Spot Cafe, 109 W. 4th Ave.

When it comes to a classic, no-frills diner experience, there aren’t many places in Alaska that have been doing it quite as long -- or as well -- as The White Spot. A downtown staple for more than 60 years, The White Spot is a little slice of vintage Anchorage, served with a side of crispy hand-cut fries (or breakfast potatoes, depending on when you visit). Be sure to respect the house rules (don’t ask too many questions and definitely don’t argue with the chef), and if you’re not sure what to order, you can’t go wrong with their famous halibut sandwich.

Where to park:

• EasyPark Location: 220 W 3rd Ave.


One of Anchorage’s favorite spots for an intimate, upscale dinner, The Marx Bros. Cafe will celebrate its 40th birthday this year. But what really makes this downtown gem unique are its classes -- particularly the famous Caesar salad class, in which participants learn to make four different variations of the salad that co-founder Van Hale has been preparing tableside for generations of Anchorage diners. Get ready to crush garlic, learn more than you thought there was to know about olive oil, and kiss grocery store salad dressing goodbye for good!

Where to park:

• Diamond Parking Location: 4th & I St.


You can get coffee just about anywhere in Anchorage, often without getting out of your car. If you want to slow down and unplug in a cozy spot with ambience for days, you want to park yourself at Side Street Espresso. A downtown hangout for going on three decades, Side Street doesn’t take cash and it doesn’t have WiFi, so help yourself to whatever’s on the bookshelves in the back of the cafe while you enjoy housemade soups and baked goods. Be sure to check out co-owner George Gee’s daily drawing on the specials board.

Where to park:

• EasyPark Location: 716 W 4th Ave.

• EasyPark Location: 444 H St.


Headed Downtown? Use PayByPhone to Park in Seconds with Your Phone!

Download the PayByPhone app here and pay for your on-street and off-street parking with your smartphone across downtown Anchorage - no coins required! The app also has several handy features, including text message reminders that are sent before your parking time expires and the ability to extend your parking time right from your phone. This means you can spend more time enjoying the city, and less time worrying about parking.

Just look for the PayByPhone location number on the meter or payment machine next time you park.

This story was produced by the creative services department of the Anchorage Daily News in collaboration with PayByPhone. The ADN newsroom was not involved in its production.