We've been here in central Oregon for six months now, and while the best eats, by far, continue to flow copiously from Laura's kitchen, we also enjoy, on occasion, as befits the thrifty retirees we are, dining out. So I thought I'd present the following arbitrary, opinionated, incomplete, and entirely capricious guide to restaurants in the area around Bend, which comprises Bend itself, Sisters, Tumulo, and Redmond. Please note that there are restaurants not mentioned that we have not tried. There are others not mentioned that we have tried and did not much care for. Ya pays yer money and ya takes yer chance.
Let us start with Redmond, upon the outskirts of which we live. Really good Mexican food is at the top of our must-have list, so we'll also start with that. A primary objective after moving here was to find Mexican food at least equal to that served by Mijares, our favorite hangout in Pasadena, near our previous home. Best in the area, by far (or at least our favorite, coming quite close to Mijares' fare), is Diego's Spirited Kitchen. But they don't take reservations and often are very busy, so going early is good. Diego's sister restaurant, with a broader menu that includes American items, is Madeline's, which is pretty good and much easier to get into.
Another very good restaurant here, offering smallish plates of continental cuisine, is the Red Martini, a couple of doors down from Diego's. Right close to those two in downtown Redmond is Oishi, a really good Japanese restaurant.
Two great places for breakfast in Redmond include One Street Down, a tiny but very popular place for breakfast and lunch, and also Christie's Kitchen, which also serves just breakfast and lunch. Both are homey and terrific, both are housed in vintage, decidedly un-restaurant buildings, and both are filled with locals. Of the two, Christie's is easier to get into.
As for Sisters, a wonderful little town up the road from us a bit, we don't have a lot to report. We've explored it a little and have not yet found really good dining. That doesn't mean there isn't any. It just means we've not yet discovered it. We will continue the search because, hey, somebody's got to do this important work. That said, we do really like a little place there called the Cottonwood Cafe for breakfast and lunch. Like almost every other town here, Sisters does have several brew pubs, if that's your preference.
In Bend, the best restaurant we have found is, by far, the Jackalope Grill. Zydeco, in oldtown Bend, also is a very good dinner spot but thanks to lots of hard surfaces, I think, can be very noisy.
The Pine Tavern, also in oldtown, is really good, owned by a co-founder of McCormick & Schmick, so they know what they're doing. Happy hour here is the hot tip, with inexpensive drinks and a good bar menu. During summer, eating in the shaded back garden with the Deschutes flowing past you is close to paradisiacal. For Indian food, Taj Palace in oldtown is really good. Simple decor, but great food and a lot of it. For Thai, there are several around. We've been to Noi Thai, in oldtown, and liked it a lot. Quite polished and upscale.
For breakfast and lunch, it's tough to beat La Magie, on Bond Street in oldtown. Is very popular and often has a long waiting list. Greg's Grill, at the Old Mill district, is great for lunch with good food and a wonderful view of the Deschutes River. It's fun to just sit, quaffing one of Bend's many local beers, enjoying the river-and-mountain view from the building's capacious windows. Also good for lunch is the Deschutes Brewery brewpub in oldtown. Good food, good beer. What's not to like? Well, no view, that's what's not to like; but the food and beer are fine.
A quick note, here – this is serious beer country, with more than 30 craft breweries in Bend, alone. So there are many brewpubs, some really good, some not so hot. I mean, the beers tend to be excellent, but the food tends to be all over the map. There is no way at all I will be able to experience all of them. But I shall attempt this massive challenge!
Finally, for something entirely differently – a unique lunch experience, for instance – I recommend the food-truck pop-up in Tumulo called The Bite. It always, in all weathers, is busy. I mean, it can be pelting down the kind of snow that calls for sled dogs and cries of "Mush," and this place is still jumping. It comprises four food trucks and a small enclosed space in which to eat during crappy weather and buy drinks, including local beers. The Bite also features a bonfire, which is quite nice.
We have not yet discovered really good Chinese food anywhere. If you do, please advise.