Top tips for the best Dry January in Bend
January 8, 20248 minute read
What’s for dinner? It’s one of the most important questions of the day. And we’re here to help you answer it.
Food lovers—rejoice! Long gone are the days of needing to visit larger cities for an outstanding meal. The dinner scene in Bend continues to expand with more and more diverse eateries opening their doors.
And that’s perfect because we spend our days working up an appetite—skiing, snowboarding, hiking, biking, paddling, fishing, golfing, climbing, and exploring all of Bend’s delights. While there’s no way we could list every fantastic dinner restaurant in Bend, we’re highlighting several favorites from different cuisine styles to get you started.
The owners of Sen, the sister restaurant of local favorite Wild Rose, bring their family’s favorite Thai street carts to a contemporary noodle restaurant on Newport Avenue in downtown Bend. Travel to Thailand with each bite of their classic Thai street dishes. Try their Thai-style hot pot by selecting your own fresh ingredients to cook in their housemade broth. Think of Sen (which means noodle or thread in Thai) as your gateway into Thailand’s vibrant street food culture. But instead of the bustling streets of Bangkok or Chiang Mai, you’ll enjoy these traditional dishes on the edge of Mirror Pond with a craft cocktail or glass of wine.
Yoli serves the flavors of Korea with a contemporary twist. After 12 years at Bend’s Five Fusion Modern Japanese Bar & Restaurant, three James Beard Nominations for the Best Chef NW, and time in the kitchens of world-renowned restaurants such as The French Laundry, Manresa, Alinea, Next, Eleven Madison Park, and Masa, Chef Joe Kim decided to embrace his heritage as a Korean-American and launch Yoli (요리), meaning “cuisine” in Korean, with his wife, Laura. Yoli’s menu offers several fantastic options, including a tasting menu and mouthwatering specials. The Dolsot Bibimbap is comfort food to warm you on crisp evenings, while the Ssam is more of a choose-your-own-adventure dish that is great to share. We recommend going with friends so you can sample several dishes from their wide selection of starters, mains, and desserts.
“A place of exotic Indian cuisine”, Taj Palace serves authentic Indian food prepared by a master chef. Delicately blended spices create a complex flavor that is both traditional and delicious. The large menu features a variety of Indian dishes prepared daily using fresh ingredients. Choose from an assortment of Indian breads, surprisingly tender and juicy meats prepared in their Tandoor (Indian clay oven), and exceptional vegetarian dishes. Start your meal with appetizers like Potato Pakora or Vegetable Samosa. Beverages range from mango shakes to spicy chai tea. Save room for dessert with the Gulab Jamun (spongy milk balls in sugar syrup) or Mango Custard.
A newer addition to the Bend dining scene, Dear Mom Cafe celebrates the unique flavors of Thailand, where co-owner Jattalee (JJ) Chalernhinthong’s mom lives. Inspired by her mother’s traditional Thai recipes, teachings, and values, Dear Mom doesn’t let any detail go unnoticed. The restaurant off SW Century Drive serves up modern Thai food with a Central Oregon twist in a hip and vibrant space complete with mod furniture and lively accent wallpaper. Start with the Roti & Curry, a traditional Thai flatbread with a perfectly spiced curry sauce. Pad Thai lovers will find joy in Grandpa’s Pad Thai and unexpected and delicious flavors in the Sukhothai Noodle, one of Thailand’s most savory noodles.
Dining at McMenamins is an experience. The iconic Pacific Northwest hotel chain takes old, historic buildings and infuses them with a healthy dose of whimsical character. What was once Bend’s Catholic school, serving the community from 1936 until 2000, is now a hotel with pub fare, bars (including a cigar bar), outdoor patios with fire pits, a movie theater, and a Roman-style soaking pool. Decorated with tributes and curiosities from the former schoolhouse and bygone times of Bend—memorabilia, photos, and paintings hang on the walls. Enjoy McMenamins Northwest-style burgers, pizzas, soups, salads, and craft beer (they brew their own!). Then, wander the hallways of the newer Art House building to discover hidden rooms—and even a secret bar. We’re not giving you any hints.
Calling Pine Tavern a Bend institution doesn’t do it justice. It’s a must-eat-at restaurant in Bend for two reasons: its history and its food. Founded in 1936 by Maren Gribskov and Eleanor Bechen—two enterprising women—at a time when the country was still struggling to pull itself out of the Great Depression, Maren and Elenor built a thriving business serving a growing population of timber industry workers and their families. During World War II, Pine Tavern guests included soldiers stationed at Camp Abbot (now Sunriver) and the occasional tourist or skier who stumbled upon Bend.
As Bend grew and things changed, so did Pine Tavern. Some years, the restaurant favored casual family dining. Other years, meals were served on white linen tablecloths and fine china. A major renovation in the 1950s enclosed two gigantic ponderosa pines in the Garden Room with trunks still visible today (get the name?). In addition to its long history and tree trunks, Pine Tavern is known for its delectable scones and honey butter. Unlike traditional scones, Pine Tavern’s scones are deep-fried and sourdough-based. Other favorites include Bill’s New England Clam Chowder, the Lauderdale Burger with local, grass-fed beef, and the Apple Smoked Bacon Truffled Mac & Cheese. In the warmer months, you can enjoy your meal on the garden patio above Mirror Pond. As Bend’s oldest restaurant, with nearly 90 years of serving hungry patrons, Pine Tavern has its fair share of stories. Some of them are ghost stories. The restaurant is a stop on the popular Bend Ghost Tours.
Serving family-friendly pub fare since 2009, Brother Jon’s Public House on Galveston Avenue is often packed with folks watching their favorite sports team play on one of the TVs. A full bar keeps guests happy and so does the selection of Pacific Northwest beers. You’ll find local favorites from Bend breweries like Good Life, Boneyard, and Deschutes Brewery, outstanding ciders, and award-winning regional wines. Awarded “Best in Bend” several times in The Source Weekly’s annual poll, Brother Jon’s proudly prepares food the old-school way. Soups and salad dressings are made in-house. Their meats are smoked daily. It’s unlikely you’ll spot a can in the kitchen. Everything is prepared with fresh ingredients. With three separate dining rooms and a dog-friendly, open-air deck, their tagline “Food, Friends & Drinks” sums it up nicely.
You could drive by Bangers and Brews on SW Simpson Avenue for weeks without noticing it, but you’d be making a big mistake. You’d be missing out on an unassuming sausage and beer joint that ranked #24 on Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat in the country. You’d also miss out on the smoked kangaroo sausage. Curious? Good. Here’s the drill: pick your sausage, pick two toppings, and pick one sauce. You won’t find bangers like this anywhere else. From reindeer to rabbit to duck to traditional pork bratwurst (and even a couple of vegetarian links), your taste buds are in for a treat.
From the culinary minds of Bos Taurus, Miyagi Ramen, and Hablo Tacos, comes Nome Italiano—bringing traditional Italian dishes with a modern twist to Bend. Inspired by the classic red sauce joints that made us fall in love with Italian cuisine, Nome serves antipasti, salads, pizza, meat, and seafood dishes, alongside pasta, of course. Located on SW Knoll Avenue, one of our favorite menu items is the woodfired pizza. Choose from a handful of pies like classic Margherita made with Italy’s famous San Marzano tomatoes or Calabrese featuring a delicious, smoked mozzarella. All of Nome’s pizzas are made from 48-hour fermented dough which crisps up beautifully in their authentic woodfired pizza oven. Pair your meal with an Italian wine from their extensive list, or get some Grappa or Amaro with your dessert.
BOSA is an Italian and French restaurant located in the historic Bakery Building on Galveston Avenue. Among the nuances of old Bend building styles lies a casual and welcoming setting, filled with rich hardwoods, lush plants, and Italian tile accents that give a modern yet timeless feel. Inspired by the food and wine culture of the old world, BOSA’s menu offers seasonally-driven cuisine with the best local ingredients from the Pacific Northwest and European specialty purveyors. BOSA works directly with Central Oregon farms to obtain the highest quality produce and sources their meats and seafood through responsible ranches and sustainable fishing practices. Their housemade pasta is hand-crafted throughout the day in their pasta room (you read that right, an entire room dedicated to making fresh pasta). It’s no surprise then that you can’t go wrong with any of their pasta dishes, but also check out the “From the Sea” menu section for some of the best seafood in Bend.
Dinner at Trattoria Sbandati on Mt. Washington Drive in northwest Bend is an intimate and authentic Florentine-style Italian experience. Chef Juri Sbandati is the real deal. Born in Florence, Italy, Juri has been cooking for decades, learning the art of Italian cuisine from his grandmother, mother, and father. He furthered his craft working with professional chefs in the kitchens of Florence, and was even a personal chef for an elite international crowd there before moving to Bend in 2005. Trattoria Sbandati’s a la carte menu offers a rotating selection of seasonal dishes from starters to first and second courses to side dishes to desserts. All menu items are made from scratch with the finest ingredients imported from Italy and the best local produce and meats.
You had us at fresh, handmade pasta. Chef Amy and her team at Sunny’s Italian Joint pride themselves on making all of their own pasta, focaccia bread, sauces, meatballs, dressings, and pizzas in-house daily. Sunny’s Italian Joint grew from Amy’s lifelong passion for Italian food. Having traveled to Italy many times, working in Italian restaurants throughout the country, Amy took her 30 years of restaurant experience and started Sunny’s to celebrate and pay homage to the culture and food of Italy. Sunny’s sources local, Oregon, and Pacific Northwest ingredients. From classic Italian dishes like Arancini and Bolognese to twists like vegan cashew cream sauce, this fast service—but far from fast food—spot in The Grove is definitely worth ordering at.
Chic. That’s Downtown Bend’s Dear Irene in one word. Located on NW Brooks Street, this upscale restaurant provides a dining experience that delights and surprises from your first visit to your final bite. There’s an energy here that will draw you in and keep you coming back to explore creative and ever-changing innovative dishes and cocktails inspired by our Pacific Northwest bounty. At Dear Irene, you’ll find top-notch service in an intimate setting. The decor is as elegant as their plates. The vision of Chef Jonny Becklund and his wife, Irene (get it?), the menu may be small, but it’s quite mighty. What can you expect? Elevated dishes like Greek Prawn Saganaki and Taleggio Grilled Cheese with Duck Egg. You’ll need to leave the kids at home, Dear Irene is a 21 and over establishment.
*Looking for kid-friendly restaurants for your pickiest eaters? Check out these family-friendly options in Bend.
Fly away to a place full of vintage flair and modern twists. Where might that be? Lady Bird in the historic Old Mill. Start by ordering one of their prohibition-era style cocktails. They also have a tasty list of low and non-alcoholic creations. Each dish is made with care, from the Wood Roasted Hen of the Woods Mushrooms with spring herb pesto and yolk sauce to the Saffron Bucatini with Oregon Dungeness crab. And the wood-fired artisan pizzas are anything but simple, with toppings like black summer truffle, Iberico chorizo, and burrata. If your flock is larger or you’re looking for a more intimate dining experience, you can reserve the private chinoiserie parlor and Lady Bird’s kitchen will curate an exclusive menu for you.
As the name suggests, Rancher Butcher Chef (RBC) in Northwest Crossing is a rancher-inspired steakhouse and butcher counter concept. But this isn’t your average steakhouse. Owners Renee and John Gorham believe great food starts with great relationships—choosing to create deep partnerships with the ranching communities that produce their meat. RBC’s home ranch is 7-Mile Creek Ranch in Fort Klamath south of Crater Lake. As a member of the Country Natural Beef Cooperative of family ranches, a lot of care goes into raising cattle here. The co-op is part of a global community that prioritizes animal welfare, along with responsible and natural grazing practices. And these cows eat well. The nutrient-dense summer grazing ground in the Wood River Valley boasts some of the best cattle pasture in the West. Fresh off their 2023 “Best New Restaurant” win as voted by The Source Weekly readers, RBC’s family-style menu is designed to be shared. Their “Butcher” menu allows you to select a type of cut from nearly 20 options including New York, Porterhouse, Bavette, Txuleton, and Ribeye, select a sauce, and choose from several savory sides. RBC truly showcases the culinary versatility of the whole animal and seeks to reinvigorate how we shop for and prepare beef. But it’s not all about beef. The menu also includes several thoughtfully crafted small and large plates with shishito peppers, house-made brioche popups, cedar-planked salmon, and seared scallops taking centerstage.
Recently reopened with a new home on NE Third Street, Cuban Kitchen transports you to the sights, sounds, and flavors of Cuba. The space feels like a tropical paradise of palm trees, birds, fluorescent colors, and even a waterfall. And the food is authentic. From their freshly brewed Cuban coffee to their sweet plantains (perfectly caramelized on the outside and irresistibly sweet on the inside) to their slow-roasted pork marinated in a citrus, garlic mojo sauce and complete with sauteed onions. It melts in your mouth. Savor the taste of traditional Cuban food right here in the Cascades.
Given the ebb and flow of the economy and the ever-changing tastes of people (we’re fickle creatures, what can we say?), when a restaurant stays open for several decades, you know it’s got to be good. That’s the story with Los Jalapeños, which opened its doors in 1994 on Greenwood Avenue. They’ve been serving some of the most authentic Mexican food in Bend ever since. Owner and Chef Gonzalo Morales is at the heart of the restaurant, the keeper of the recipes that have kept patrons faithful for 30 years. Gonzalo is a native of Mexico. After cooking for several prominent local restaurants, he put out his own shingle. Los Jalapeños source their beef from Oregon’s Painted Hills Natural Beef. And to ensure all their patrons find something to enjoy, the menu features several gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options. Plain and simple: this is darn tasty Mexican food 960 miles north of the border.
With three locations in Bend, downtown on Bond Street, the eastside, and in the Old Mill District, Hola! has become a local favorite. Serving nouveau Mexican-Peruvian cuisine in a lively and brightly-colored setting, Hola! has notably been voted “Best Margarita in Bend” a number of times by The Source Weekly readers. They pride themselves on featuring excellent tequila in their margs, and a wide selection of tequilas to sip on outside of the blender. You’ve been warned. Hola!’s menu includes dishes like Ahi Chile Reneos, Chicken Mole, and Grilled Baby Back Ribs smothered in a sweet and sour ají-amarillo BBQ sauce. Some dishes are accompanied with causa (Peruvian-infused key lime cold potato cake) and fresh salsa criolla. You can also sample seco de pollo, a traditional Peruvian stew made with tender chicken, home-fried potatoes, red onion, sweet yams, peas, and ají-amarillo chile-cilantro sauce.
Reimagined from the owners of Barrio and Shimshon, comes Bar Rio, a cocktail and tapas bar on Wall Street in downtown Bend. Redesigned with an emphasis on small plates meant to be shared among friends and family, the menu is inspired by the beaches of Mexico and South America to the Mediterranean and beyond. Bright colors and bold patterns fill the space with good vibes. The cocktail list is divided by spirit with tequila, vodka, mezcal, whiskey, gin, cachaça, rum, and pisco all taking a turn. There’s also a small selection of mocktails for the sober curious.
Located on Bond Street in downtown Bend, Zydeco features Northwest cuisine with a Southern twist focusing on quality, organic ingredients. Gluten-free friends, they’ve got you covered with a full menu for guests with allergies to wheat. Consistently recognized as one of the best (and busiest) restaurants in Central Oregon, Zydeco is highly regarded in the Bend restaurant scene. With starters like Artichoke & Corn Fritters and Acadian Flatbread, entrees ranging from NW Reserve “PRIME” Ribeye to Grilled or Blackened Redfish, and desserts like Flourless Chocolate Cake and Almond Wet Cake, it’s easy to taste why. There’s even a special take-home treat to satisfy your four-legged friend.
After a full day of outdoor adventure, it’s time to get your grub on. There’s no shortage of quality restaurants in Bend (if this article tells you anything), but if you ask a local where to eat, they’ll likely mention Bend’s beloved Spork. Featuring street food from Latin America and Asia, try the Lomo Saltado, a Peruvian stir fry dish with steak, fried potato, grilled onion, peppers, aji amarillo, tomato, and a fried egg. It’s served with green onion, radish, and jasmine rice (and can be vegetarian or vegan upon request). Or go for the Peanut Tomato Curry with chickpeas, yams, cabbage, grilled onion, peppers, and cilantro served with jasmine rice. Pair your meal with one of Spork’s tasty cocktails like the Thai Collins with kefir lemongrass gin, mint, basil, lime, and soda, or the Hierve el Agua with mezcal, grapefruit, cinnamon, Morita chili, and lime. Don’t let the long line intimidate you. Once you order at the counter and take a seat, the food is quick to come out and even quicker to please.
Unlike big cities, many of Bend’s dinner restaurants close on the early side. Don’t get caught out late with no food options! Double-check the hours of your dinner spot before planning your evening. Bend dinner restaurants tend to fill up fast, especially on the weekends. If the restaurant takes reservations, make one! Your taste buds will thank you.