Top tips for the best Dry January in Bend
January 8, 20248 minute read
Ahhh…the humble hamburger. The quintessential American meal. It’s king of the backyard barbecue, your hard-earned prize at the end of a hike, and a perfect pairing with Bend beer.
The following is not an inclusive roundup of every single burger joint in Bend (though, for the record, hitting all these spots took nearly a year). Since most stops on the Bend Ale Trail boast excellent burgers, breweries are included only if they have something extra-super-duper-special.
And tastes can vary, so yours may not be mine. Some folks like no-frills burgers, while others want theirs piled high with gourmet condiments. There’s a bit of everything below, so get comfy, take your blood pressure meds, and settle in to find your very best Bend burger.
Note: If your mouth is already watering and you simply cannot wait another moment to try one of Bend’s best burgers, you can use the following links to skip down to Best Burgers on Bend’s Eastside and Best Burgers on Bend’s Westside.
Confession: When I wrote my first “Bend’s best burger” post back in 2015, I felt only “meh” about these guys. Man oh man––have things changed! I swore I wouldn’t name a top pick in this post, but if I did, Bend Burger Company would win it for me. Their massive burger menu offers something for everyone, including salads, chicken sandwiches, and grilled cheese. But let’s talk burgers, since that’s what they do best. The Broken Top burger comes with bleu cheese, smoky bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and their legendary Bend Burger Sauce. You can shake things up with the perfect blend of sweety, spicy, and salty in their Pole Pedal Paddle burger featuring mayo, charred jalapeños, mango ginger chutney, aged cheddar, and bacon. Their fries here are flavorful and scrumptious, with the garlic fries earning the praise “these are unreal” in my notes. Enough said.
If you like your burgers simple, no-nonsense, and seriously flavorful, Blue Eyes Burgers and Fries has what you’re craving. They use local Pitchfork T ground beef and treat their burgers to toppings like griddled shaved onion, organic iceberg lettuce, a Jackson’s Corner bakery griddled sweet bun, their specialty supreme sauce, and classic American cheese (though you can pick Swiss if you prefer). With an upscale-diner vibe, Blue Eyes prides itself on technique. Shaved onions get smashed directly into the patty before grilling, resulting in supremely flavorful meat. You won’t find tons of crazy toppings or wild side dishes here, but their specialty is elevating the basics. Add a classic root beer float and a pile of onion rings or hand cut fries served with their Supreme Sauce that’ll leave you licking the condiment cup. For a grownup treat, add a creative cocktail like the Notter Pop (Crater Lake vodka, Oregon Spirits gin, lime juice, cherry syrup).
I don’t know why I waited so long for my first visit to Bogey’s Burgers, but it’s definitely not the last. With locations in both east Bend and Redmond, you can hit ‘em on your way to the Oregon Badlands Wilderness or en route to the Redmond airport. Their ordering system makes it a cinch to pick exactly what you want on your burger, with your choice of four types of cheese, standard condiments like pickle, lettuce, tomato, and onion, plus fun add-ons like sauteed mushrooms or steak sauce. All burgers are well-done and juicy, and can I just give an extra shout-out for the sides? Pick from regular fries, waffle, or sweet potato fries, but please give the sweet potato ones some extra consideration. They’re some of the best I’ve ever tried. Oddly enough, it’s their wedge salad that truly blew me away, with candied pecans, bleu cheese, tomato, bacon, and slivers of Granny smith apple on an iceberg wedge. It’s an unexpected but welcome offering in a burger joint that’s otherwise unassuming. Bonus: They only use fresh––never frozen––100% ground chuck, which is flavorful and lovingly served on a flaky bun. You won’t find boozy beverages here, but for what it’s worth, Bogey’s is my 21yo’s top burger stop in town.
If juicy burgers are your jam, Boneyard has what you’re craving. Their Royale With Cheese boasts two angus ground beef patties topped with American cheese, pickles, lettuce, tomato, and their special Royale sauce on a Sparrow Bakery brioche bun. It’s truly a thing of beauty, especially if you add bacon (though the veggie-minded among you will be thrilled to know you can sub an Impossible Burger for the beef). Okay, but what if you want your burger even more tricked out? Enter the Gutterball Melt, which comes stacked with two quarter pound burger patties, honey cured bacon, Swiss cheese, pickled peppers, honey mustard, horseradish aioli on white bread, side of beer cheese (which, for the record, makes great dipping sauce for the kettle chips that come with your burger). Since Boneyard makes some of the best beers in all the land, get a taster tray to accompany this magnificent hunk of meat.
Feeling nostalgic for the old-school joy of servers on roller skates bringing your burger right to the car window? Dandy’s is your jam, and while they can’t quite match their own 1968 prices, they come closer than most spot in Bend. The burgers themselves are simple but tasty, with a housemade sauce that takes things up a notch. Each burger on the menu comes in four different size options to meet you in any state of hunger. I especially love the choice of tots, fries, or onion rings, and don’t get me started on the milkshakes. Holy cow, guys! Think of a flavor combo and they’ve probably got it, with peanut butter oreo holding a special spot in my heart. You can even get an old-fashioned cherry cola brought right to your car by a skating server. There’s no dine-in option and don’t expect a beer or tons of frou-frou frills. But do expect a darn fine burger and a one-of-a-kind experience at Dandy’s.
With a tagline like “free range fast food,” you know Life and Time delivers something different from your typical burger-n-fries. The ultimate in family-friendly, kid-pleasing, surprisingly healthy fast food, Life and Time offers little touches to tip the nutritional scales. Besides burgers and fries, you’ll find organic juices, sugar-free sodas, fruit bowls, and salads to help balance things out. All burgers come with your choice of cheddar cheese and organic lettuce with tomato, onion, and their Life & Time Super Sauce. They use Oregon Country Natural Beef and that bun is both organic and whole wheat. You can even swap in a Beyond Meatless Patty if that’s your preference. Despite all those health food concessions, the burgers here are mouthwateringly awesome. It’s partly how fresh the beef tastes, partly that fantastic sauce, and partly the range of extras you can add, including grilled onions, bacon, avocado, or a specialty bun like gluten-free or even a cabbage wrap. You order at the counter here and there’s no alcohol on the menu, so if you’re seeking a fast, healthy, family-friendly meal that won’t plague you with parental fast food guilt, Life & Time makes a great pick.
This humble food truck packs a huge punch on the burger front. Americana favors a thinner patty you can actually fit your mouth around, but don’t let that fool you into thinking there’s less to love. These guys specialize in an explosion of flavors and textures combining to form a swoon-worthy burger experience that’ll have you chewing each bite a few extra times just to savor it. You’ll find several kinds of burgers on the menu, but my true love goes to the BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger stacked with two beef patties, bacon, pickled jalapeños, cheddar cheese, American cheese, caramelized onions, BBQ sauce, secret sauce, and shredded lettuce served on a brioche bun. There’s a whole lot going on, and it’s exactly as scrumptious as it sounds. Whatever magical spell they weave to make the cheese actually crispy should probably earn an Olympic gold medal.
The vibe at Boxwood Kitchen somehow magically straddles the line between “funky diner” and “swanky eatery.” That’s a bit like their namesake Boxwood Burger, which looks fairly no-frills, but packs delightful surprises like bacon jam, chipotle aioli, and arugula (along with the ol’ standby American Cheese) on a brioche bun. The fries here are worth a shoutout, since they’re perfectly crisp and flavorful (also swappable for a salad if you prefer). Make sure to save room for their flourless chocolate cake, made with espresso-infused creme anglaise topped with toffee crumble and whipped creme fraiche.
Confession: Though I sometimes eat turkey burgers at home in the interest of health, I don’t love them. But I took a chance on the one at Brother Jon’s, and holy cow, guys—this thing is amazing! Juicy, tender, and flavorful, it’s amazing with dill havarti and french fries served with some of the best fry sauce I’ve ever had in my life. I’ll neither confirm nor deny requesting seconds, then smearing it on everything from fries to flatbread to my fingers. If a turkey burger isn’t your speed, their Western Burger comes with two quarter-pound beef patties, cheddar, barbecue sauce, bacon, grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. The barbecue sauce is noteworthy for having a deep, rich flavor and not the cloyingly sweet sort that can sometimes kill a good burger. Hit Brother Jon’s original Galveston Avenue spot for a more intimate experience, or try their downtown pub for more space to spread out.
If you like your burger with a next-level condiment game, Chow and their amazing aioli is calling you. Their Smash Burger comes with Cascade Farms ground beef, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and that mouthwatering housemade aioli on a brioche bun. You can add bacon or carnitas, and there’s an option for a gluten-free bun. But let’s talk sides, since that’s what really sets Chow apart. Your burger comes with a choice of regular taters, roasted sweet potatoes, bacon cheddar grits, or a cornmeal crusted tomato. Any of those are fantastic, or pay a bit extra for a green salad, fresh fruit, a fruit parfait, or even medallion flapjacks if you’re feeling brunchy. I’m personally obsessed with those roasted sweet potatoes, which are hand cut and tossed with fresh herbs and garlic. For a little extra, add blue cheese and prepare to swoon.
You know how some burger spots make lettuce and tomato feel like an afterthought? It’s the opposite at Hardy’s, where the produce is so fresh and generous, you might wonder if they’re growing it in the backyard. Known best for their hot wings, Hardy’s is no slouch in the burger department with an impressive menu of options. On the simple-but-scrumptious side, try the Underpass Burger with Swiss cheese, grilled onions, and avocado, plus the aforementioned lettuce and tomato. Feeling frisky? Try the Pop R’ Onion made with pepper-jack cheese, jalapeno poppers, and onion rings. The fries at Hardy’s are that thick, breaded style just begging for a slather of the honey cajun sauce from the wings side of the menu. Milkshake fanatics will love the selection, as will folks who prefer sides like tots, onion rings, or sweet potato puffs. Save room for a few hot wings, and don’t forget the napkins!
Almost anyone who comes to Bend plans to play outside, so Luckey’s Woodsman saw a need. Besides offering some of the tastiest burgers in town (more on that in a sec!) this gourmet food cart sells camper kits designed for the outdoors, either heated on a camp stove or over the fire. How cool is that? Almost as cool as their scrumptiously unique burger offerings! All their beef comes from Splitting Acres Ranch in nearby Prineville to give you local, pasture-raised, 100% grass fed beef finished with no hormones. Hooray! I truly can’t decide if I’m more smitten with the Backpackers Delight (Cascade mountain range foraged huckleberry/elderberry compote, gorgonzola, bacon, and pesto aioli) or the Forager (charred wild mushrooms, goat chevre, balsamic reduction, and pesto aoili). Call it a tossup and dine with a pal so you get to try both. The burgers are thick, fresh, and hearty, served with living butter leaf lettuce and tomato on a brioche bun. Check out their amazing sauce options and pick two or three for dipping your crispy, tasty fries (or if you’re feeling healthy, your side of charred brussels or zucchini fries).
Tucked in the bosom (okay, parking lot) of Boneyard Brewing’s original tasting room on NW Lake Place, Mid-City Smashburger is a no-frills food cart slinging damn fine burgers. Don’t expect a lot of fancy condiments, but you don’t really need ‘em with a burger this tasty. Their beef is flavorful with patties on the thinner side, and the sauce…oh my dog, the sauce. I would bathe in it if it were socially acceptable, but I’ll settle for dunking my fries and burger and pretty much everything else in this delicious condiment. They’ve got a few options for sauced-up fries, plus the added convenience of draft beer and CBD sodas served up in the Boneyard tasting room. If you prefer a burger where the beef takes center stage, this is the spot for you.
One of the few Bend Ale Trail stops to make the list, Monkless carries their Belgian-style brewpub theme to their outstanding Belgo Burger. Consider this a fork-and-knife burger, since it’s too thick to shove in your face hole. But it’s worth the extra effort for this magical mix of fresh local ground chuck, a kaiser bun, muenster cheese, caramelized onions, butter lettuce, dill pickles, and dijonnaise. It’s the perfect blend of a supremely juicy burger, a soft, fluffy bun, and the exact right ratio of sauce, cheese, and condiments. Pair it with your pick of frites or side salad, and wash it down with one of Monkless’s tasty Belgian beers. Bonus: Ask for a spot on the outdoor deck next to a heater and score Deschutes River views to go with your meal.
As the name suggests, these guys have a specialty, and man do they nail it. A relative newcomer to Bend’s dining scene, Mountain Burger boasts some of the tastiest burgers with a zillion options to pick from. Their build-your-own burger system lets you customize which type of patty you prefer, from beef to salmon/shrimp to lamb to vegan and vegetarian picks. Next, choose from eight kinds of cheese, including a vegan option, before adding from their wide selection of condiments like maple glazed bacon, green chiles, grilled pineapple, and even a fried egg. Get zany with sauces by adding harisa yogurt, sage mayo, cashew-onion spread, or just plain ol’ ketchup and mustard. While you’ve probably gathered that the burgers here are the stuff of legend, don’t overlook the side dishes. Choose from healthy salads, roasted cauliflower, and knock-your-socks-off brussels sprouts, or grab a pile of family-style fries. They’ve got too many options to list, but my personal prize goes to the Whoops Fries made with hand cut Kennebec potatoes, green chile queso fundido, tomato pico, and cilantro. Come here hungry and I promise you won’t leave that way.
For a sit-down restaurant in the heart of downtown with an impressive tap list to boot, you can’t beat The Point. This friendly neighborhood pub and grill boasts an impressive burger menu spanning the range from a regular ol’ burger to whoa-that’s-a-lot-of-stuff-to-stack-on-a-bun. The Western Burger falls into the latter camp and it’s well worth a try. It comes with seasond ground beef piled high with bacon, roasted ortega chilis, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, housemade barbecue sauce, and crowned with an onion ring. Add avocado to top it off right. The fries here have a tasty coating and a sprinkle of herbs for extra flavor. With a generous menu boasting salads, sides, sandwiches, and scrumptious mac and cheese, it’s a great spot to hit in a big group with lots of different dining preferences.
Yeah, it’s a chain restaurant. If that’s a sticking point for you, move along to the next suggestion and let the rest of us enjoy the ease, convenience, and deliciousness of Red Robin. Even if the burgers here weren’t fantastic (they are), if the freckled lemonade weren’t outstanding (it is), and the bottomless fries weren’t perfection (swoon) Bend’s Red Robin comes with the perk of riverfront dining. Smack dab in the middle of the Old Mill District, they’ve got Deschutes River views to go with that tasty shake and cheeseburger. I’m partial to the Bleu Ribbon Burger topped with tangy steak sauce, chipotle aioli, bleu cheese, tomatoes, onions, and crispy onion straws. When my kids were young, we celebrated many a birthday here with their cheery servers singing as they served up a candle-adorned dessert. Now that they’re older, we still hit Red Robin when we crave tasty abundance and a wide enough variety to please both our family vegetarian and the kid with a host of food allergies.
Can’t decide between a fine-dining experience and a good ol’ hamburger? Get both, plus a whole lot more when you hit 900 Wall. A colleague claims this is Bend’s very best burger and it’s easy to see why. The 900 Wall Burger features Vaquero Ranch beef, arugula, red onion jam, and aioli, with the option to add gorgonzola, smoked-chile cheddar, gruyere, or bacon. That combo of red onion jam and aioli makes the perfect sauce that’s both sweet and tangy, while the burger itself is not so massive you can’t get your mouth around it. The flavor and freshness of the beef makes it clear you’re getting top-notch stock. Besides the burgers, what I love about 900 Wall is the sense that you’re dining out at a nice place, but not so nice that you can’t arrive in jeans and a fleece. While I’m a big fan of their cocktails and wine list, it’s the veggie sides that make me swoon. We’re not talking bland side salads or steamed broccoli, no sir. I mean spiced carrots with creme fraiche, mint, and cilantro, or mouthwatering braised cabbage with bacon and cider caraway vinaigrette. Ask your server to suggest the perfect wine pairing for your burger and I promise he/she/they won’t steer you wrong.
If you’re a fan of burgers with pizazz, look no further than Worthy Brewing Beers & Burgers in downtown Bend. Not to be confused with Worthy’s big brewpub, this little downtown nook offers plenty of great Worthy brews, but with a much bigger burger selection. There’s a build-it-yourself component here that appeals to the control freak in all of us (raises hand) so start by choosing a single, double, or triple patty of Green Brother’s Ranch beef. Next, choose your cheese and all the usual condiments like lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle before moving on to the big guns. Fried egg? Caramelized onions? Sauteed mushrooms? Fried jalapeño coins? Beer cheese? Yes, please, to all of that. Pick from two varieties of fries or get the sweet potato tots, which, rumor has it, reheat beautifully in an air fryer late at night after one too many Worthy beers.