BBQueer: An Unconventional Foodie – Bend, OR

Food brings people together and is one of the main pillars in culture, health, and relationships. I believe that the majority of people are severely undereducated when it comes to food, whether it’s how to cook it, where to eat it, and where to source it. My goal as a “foodie” (BBQueer)and food educator is to link all of these different things together in a digestible manner that makes it easy for folks to make sustainable and healthy decisions without thinking too much about it.

To be honest, I don’t exactly know where my fascination with food began. I was vegetarian until I was about nine years old, and my parents introduced me to a pretty wide variety of food as a kiddo, but it wasn’t until the late teens that I had my first real bout with cooking. I’d been extremely sick my senior year in high school, and I started exploring different ways that food could heal my body.

Working at the spice shop

Fast forward a couple of years, and I started a gig working at our local Savory Spice Shop. The owner, Matt, always encouraged us to take spices home to try cooking with them. We were all constantly swapping recipes and ideas. During that time, I branched out a lot into world cuisine. During this time, the foodie culture in Bend also started to expand and change. New restaurants and food trucks offering a wider variety of world and fusion cuisine started popping up all over town.

Working at the spice shop, we served a lot of those local restaurants and were often encouraged to come in and try the dishes made with our spices. It encouraged me to push myself even more in my own kitchen, and I began to feel more confident experimenting with my own ideas.

Fast forward a couple more years, and I started working at Traeger Grills as a sales rep. Getting my own grill really sealed the deal on my own cooking journey because I witnessed firsthand how inundated with unhealthy food our culture and, more specifically, the barbeque culture is. Since then, I’ve become tenacious in my pursuit of healthier, more sustainable options that are still flavourful and fun.

My goal as a foodie is to support local, small businesses in the food industry that are focused on healthy and sustainable options, whether it’s a vegan food cart, a hydroponic local farm, or a ranch that collaborates with a local restaurant on a farm-to-table dinner. Read on for three of my favorite restaurants in Bend that I think does a phenomenal job of embracing


Greens & a Marg | Spork

If you say “Spork” out loud to any Bend local, you’re sure to hear a raving review. Started in 2009 in an airstream, Spork has become one of Bend’s most beloved brick-and-mortar restaurants. Boasting fresh and an ever-changing global fusion menu with seasonal specials and a phenomenal cocktail menu, Spork is one of my absolute favorite staple restaurants in town that will always deliver. My favorites? The tofu rice bowl with half kimchi and half cucumber salad, the staple Green Curry, their blackened shishitos (when you’re lucky enough to catch them on special, that is!), and their Maui Z cocktail. They also collaborate with local farms to bring in fresh, seasonal ingredients!

Jackson’s Corner

Fresh Za! | Jackson's Corner

I used to get 99 cent fudgesicles at the old Delaware Market after school when I was a kid. When Jackson’s Corner opened in its place in 2008, I was disappointed…until I had their pizza, that is. Another phenomenal restaurant that boasts a rotating menu based on the different growing seasons in Bend, Jackson’s Corner offers a variety of far from basic comfort foods. Their website lists the different local businesses that they work for, and they also sell amazing fresh bread. My favorites? Any and all of their salads. I’ve NEVER had a salad here I didn’t absolutely love! They also have a breakfast skillet that rotates with seasonal meat and veggies throughout the year. This is also one of the few restaurants that I’ll eat pasta at because it’s never too heavy.

Deschutes Brewery-Bend Pub

Elk burger with sweet potato fries - Picture of Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House - Tripadvisor

Elk Burger | Deschutes Brewery

Deschutes Brewery was actually the first place I ever tried jackfruit as a meat substitute! How many brewpubs boast vegan specials on a regular basis? Well, this one does. Deschutes Brewery is one of Bend’s OG breweries with a phenomenal variety of food and brews. They’re also home to the famous elk burger-making them a necessary stop for dinner when I have friends or family visiting in town. Deschutes is another awesome supporter of local farmers and ranchers. My favorites? The elk burger (obviously), their veggie burger, their truffle fries, and, for dessert, their peanut butter pie.

Written by Ariel Rose

Ariel Rose, a.k.a. The BBQueer, was born and raised in Bend, OR. She has always had a passion for food, mostly focusing on local and sustainable options. Although she can eat and cook just about anything under the sun, she was raised a vegetarian and loves to explore her plant-based roots, especially on the grill. Ariel can be found experimenting on her Traeger, hanging out at local food trucks, sipping local brews, traveling, hiking, writing poetry, paddleboarding, bouldering, and…well you get the idea.

IG: @the_BBQueer