Whether you’re an out-of-towner visiting Central Oregon or a local looking to shake things up, the following list is a guide to eating some of the best food in one of the best spots in Central Oregon: The Old Mill District. This family-friendly area isn’t just home to beautiful views of both the Cascade mountain range and the Deschutes River, but it is also the hub for some of Central Oregon’s most delicious restaurants. So what are we waiting for? Let’s get started.
Regardless of its location in the Old Mill District, this is one of Bend’s best spots for margaritas on the patio, and simply ideal for people-watching on a lively summer day. Besides that, Hola is family-friendly and conveniently located right next to the movie theater, making for a stress-free pre-movie snack or meal. Hola serves Mexican-Peruvian cuisine, which might sound intimidating, but it is just the opposite. This cuisine is absolutely delicious and has layers and depths of flavor that can’t quite be matched in most establishments. My personal favorites? You cannot go wrong with the Nachos Cubano: a heaping plate of tortilla chips topped with melted cheese, black beans, and Coca-Cola braised pork, topped with tomatoes, guacamole and sour cream. Additionally, the Ceviche Mexicano is an obsession-worthy plate of fresh shrimp marinated in lime juice with onion, cilantro, tomatoes and avocado. And for adult refreshments, you can’t miss one of the delightful margaritas. My go-to is the Red Cactus margarita, served with a uniquely spiced salt rim. One word: yum.
Another favorite of mine in this area is Flatbread. It’s located on the back end of the Old Mill and offers beautiful views of the Deschutes from the patio. But we’re not just interested in the views. Does the food match the great ambiance? Yes. Though if I’m being honest, it’s hard for me not to love every pizza restaurant. The menu includes a variety of creative pizza options and really scrumptious salads, soups and sandwiches, making it a great place to bring groups or a family with kids. One of the coolest features is that kids are allowed to make their own pizzas (aka spreading the sauce on the dough, sprinkling the cheese, and placing the pepperoni), which is a level of interaction that is seldom seen at most restaurants. So what are the can’t-miss dishes? While everything is quite yummy, my favorites include the Capricciosa pizza--packed with flavorful toppings like Creminelli prosciutto, fresh basil, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, Portobello mushrooms, San Marzano Pomodoro and Fior di Latte. Also, don’t miss the Chopped Kale salad, which harmoniously marries grilled stone fruit, golden beets, Chevre goat cheese, candied walnuts, blood orange vinaigrette and, of course, kale.
In case you’re in the mood for a taste of sushi, Mio Sushi has you covered. Very family-friendly and affordable, this is a spot that is easy for groups, or even a quick, yummy bite in the middle of shopping or before a movie at the theater. Some of the sushi offerings include scrumptious combos such as the Banzai, which is packed with shrimp tempura, avocado, cucumber, spicy tuna, tenkasu, and sweet sauce. Another great roll? Try the simple yet sublime Kanihama roll, incorporating fresh yellowtail, real crab, avocado and green onion. Hungry yet?
To round out our list, look no further than Pastini Pastaria--family-friendly, offering gluten free pasta, and with one of the best patio views in the Old Mill. The main fare is, as the name denotes, pasta, but also served is great antipasti, salads, soups and sandwiches. But if you’re heart is set on pasta, I recommend the Orecchiete with Italian sausage, featuring crumbled Italian sausage, cherry tomatoes, arugula, broccolini, garlic, olive oil and a touch of fresh parmesan. Another great pasta is none other than the Spaghetti con Gamberetti, which marries spicy shrimp with grilled tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, garlic, basil and pepper flakes. Pasta, an awesome view and great company. What could be better?
Craft Kitchen & Brewery
Although this pick is off the main Old Mill drag, it’s located just a short walk or drive away. A one-of-a-kind patio view of the Old Mill and the Deschutes add to great beer and food to boot. The menu includes an awesome variety of sandwiches, tapas and salads. Plus the extensive kids’ menu makes Craft Brewery and Kitchen a good pick for families who want the kids to enjoy something other than chicken nuggets. The top picks? Don’t miss the Muffaletta, a super flavorful sandwich packed with mortadella, fennel salami, tasso ham, tapenade, provolone, butterleaf and tomato. Other honorable mentions include the Burnt Ends Bowl, the Cubano and the Chicken and Waffles.