After one year of living in Bend, my tastebuds have never been more satisfied. The food culture in this bustling ski and paddle boarding town continues to amaze me as the options are endless. For being a town of just over 80,000 and growing, I have been impressed with the wide array of flavors, talent in the kitchen and extremely congenial staff.
While my list is by no means complete, I wanted to share what I have discovered so far, and pinpoint my favorites. The criteria I considered when making my decision was the restaurants ability to offer dinner and lunch, a brick and mortar building (no food carts – that is an entirely new venture of discovery), and the helpfulness, promptness and friendliness of the staff even when busy, which all four of these places are during peak hours.
Spork began as a food cart (before I arrived), opened its doors in the building you see below and then just this past November, expanded into the establishment next door to provide much more (needed) seating as it is always bustling and busy (for good reason).
If you’re looking for global cuisine, this is a must-stop. Sourcing local ingredients, humanely raised livestock and a curiosity for flavors from Asia, Latin America and Africa, you may not know exactly what you’re ordering, but you will be quite satisfied when you dive in. I have stopped by three different times this spring and summer, tried a different item each time and was blown away by the immense flavor. When you call in to place your order, they are friendly and extremely polite, and the best part is, you can skip the line when you walk in the door (it usually is quite long during peak hours) and go straight to the counter on the left to pick up your order.
Below you will see their Lomo Saltado, a Peruvian stir-fry with wok seared Bavette steak. I have also tried their Shakshuka, a North African pepper and sweet pepper ragout, and their Carnitas Sando, a toasted sandwich with slow-roasted pork, salsa, chili mayo and fried egg. Find Spork at 937 NW Newport Avenue and call your order in at 541-390-0946. Take a look at the menu here.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that I finally stopped at yet again, another always bustling restaurant. This particularly restaurant had been recommended to me by my students throughout the entire year. In fact, some of them would come to class (the period after lunch) with these scrumptious looking tacos, teasing all of us in the room. Needless to say, I now know why they frequent this small house on the corner that produces amazing burritos and tacos.
Parrilla is known for their fish tacos (see below Hefe’s Fish Tacos – you receive three with your purchase) and uses fresh, local ingredients. While the ordering is casual if you stop in, you can call in your order, although they ask that you not call during peak hours. In my experience, just call, and if they say no, give them thirty minutes. The service is swift and the assembly line of workers apply their magic brilliantly. They do ask that you keep your cell phones in your pocket while you stand in line. Needless to say, their choices are creative, delicious and I cannot wait to go back and try something new. Although it is going to be very hard not to order the fish tacos (they are scrumptious). Check out their menu here, you can find Parrilla on the corner of NW Galveston and 14th and you can call in your order at 541-617-9600.
During the two quarters that I took my evening French class at the local college, there were some nights I was exhausted and didn’t have the energy to make dinner. However, the take-out options on the route from the college to my house were vast, and it was Kebaba that caught my attention. Serving middle eastern cuisine, Kebaba sits across the street from Spork on Newport Avenue. The restaurant is always full during dinner, regardless of the day of the week, but they are never too busy to make up your take-out order. You can usually have it ready to pick up within 15 minutes at the most. With hummous, falafels, babaganoush, gyros, schwarmasfalafels, gyros, and of course kebabs, the meat and all other ingredients are superb.
My go-to choice is what you will see below: the lamb gyro with feta and a side Israeli couscous side salad. Find the restaurant at 1004 NW Newport Avenue, and call in your order at 541-318-6224. Check out their menu here.
Last, but not least is a restaurant I also enjoy dining at as well, and have done so a couple of times. Barrio also began as a food cart, then moved to a small building space on Minnesota Ave., and just this past winter, relocated to a larger and very inviting space (indoor and outdoor seating) on NW Wall St. And yes, they have take-out. Their burger, which you see below, is paired with their delicious side of green beens and fries. I am still trying to figure out how they make them as the topping always pleases my tastebuds. A Latin-inspired restaurant, the food truck is still busy for catering and special events, try their paella (absolutely delicious), and their sonoran hot dog for lunch. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. The flavors are tremendous, and your taste buds will thank you. Check out their menu here, find Barrio at 915 NW Wall St., and call in your order at 541.389.2025.
Stay tuned, as my foodie tour of Bend continues, as there are so many other destinations I am curious about.
~View other City Guide Recommendations for Bend and other cities and destinations visited by TSLL here.
All images sourced by TSLL