A longtime Fairbanks  establishment, Pike’s Landing (out on Airport Rd., 907/479-6500, www.pikeslodge.com , entrées $20–28) is known for its huge wooden deck that accommodates hundreds of diners, and for the dock where boaters and Jet Skiers pull up for a meal. The seafood and burger menu isn’t especially notable, but Pike’s is all about location, location, location. Inside dining and a sports bar are also available if the engine noise gets too deafening.
For a more old-time atmosphere on the river, head out to the Pump House Restaurant & Saloon (Mile 1.3, Chena Pump Rd., 907/479-8452, www.pumphouse.com , daily 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m. summer, dinner only and closed Mon. winter). On the National Register of Historic Places, the Pump House was built in 1933 to pump water up Chena Ridge to provide pressure for the hydraulic “giants” used in gold dredging. The restaurant-bar has a fascinating interior of mining and pumping artifacts, along with antique Brunswick pool tables, one of which was in Dawson City  during the gold rush.
Waterside dining (or drinks) on the big riverside deck is a draw for locals. The food is quite good too, especially the big lunch buffet (summer only, $14). Dinner entrées cost $16–36 and include the usual Alaskan favorites: steak, chicken, burgers, salmon, pepper steak, and king crab. The Sunday brunch (10 a.m.–2 p.m., $21) is justifiably popular.