Goodbyes are always bittersweet- especially when the goodbye you’re saying is to Bend, OR. I was born and raised in this town. I’ve watched it grow from a small milling and farming community of 20,000 to a bustling, trendy mountain town with over 100,000 residents and a massive influx of seasonal tourists. Although I am very well-traveled, it is the only place I have genuinely called home. I’ll be moving across the world at the end of May to start a new adventure in Rota, Spain. So what will I miss the most in Bend? Read on to find out!
My Favorite Restaurant: Spork
Spork has long been on my favorites list. I remember trying their tacos back when they were still serving exclusively out of the old airstream. They were one of the first food carts in Bend, and when they opened their brick and mortar spot, I remember wondering if they were going to make it. They’re one of Bend’s most popular spots and have been featured in foodie publications across the country. My favorite thing about Spork is the variety and playfulness on its menu. They have rotating seasonal specials, many of which use locally sourced ingredients and a flavorful cocktail menu. I always order based on my mood, but you can never go wrong with their Lomo Saltado with an ice-cold local brew!
Honorable Mentions: La Rosa & Joolz
My Favorite Happy Hour: 900 Wall
900 Wall boasts my absolute favorite happy hour in town. The menu includes food, cocktails, beer, & wine, making it perfect for nearly any occasion. My musts? Their crispy fried green beans & beef carpaccio! They also have a phenomenal garden greens salad with a perfectly balanced citrus vinaigrette. Stop in when the weather is warm, sit outside, & enjoy watching the hustle & bustle of downtown Bend over an afternoon beverage!
Honorable Mentions: Barrio & Washington
My Favorite Brunch Spot: The Lemon Tree
The Lemon Tree is a bright, cheery space with a brilliant, lively menu to match! Everything I’ve tried on their menu has been full of dynamic, fresh flavors from worldwide. They also have a phenomenal cocktail menu! Have they ever heard of a Jealous Mary? Ask your server & trust me when I say it’s delightful. Rarely do I ever order french toast for breakfast, but the amaretto french toast on their menu is delicious, light, and the best I’ve ever had. Don't shy away from their tri-tip dishes if you’re in the mood for something more protein-based!
Honorable Mentions: McKay Cottage & Palmer’s Cafe
My Favorite Bar: San Simon
San Simon is located in an alley off the beaten path in downtown Bend. This fun, the funky bar has a delectable cocktail menu & a sushi-style charcuterie board menu making it perfect for a date night snack or beverages with your friends! They always have a bumping playlist going & the atmosphere of this place is unique, with art & funky furniture gracing every corner of the space. You can’t go wrong with any of their cocktails, & they also have a non-alcoholic cocktail menu that is perfect for the friends in your group who prefer to skip the booze but still want something fun to sip! Oh, & just a side note…if you have to use the facilities, I suggest the one on the right. Just make sure you look up!
Honorable Mentions: The Dogwood & Stihl Whiskey Bar
My Favorite Date Night Spot: Sen
Sen is owned by the same family that owns one of my other downtown Bend favorite spots: Wild Rose. I was a little apprehensive when they first opened, but one of my great girlfriends convinced me to try it with her, & now we go here for every single friend date we go on! I highly suggest making a reservation here to get a table by the windows that look out on a beautiful view of the Deschutes. Admittedly, I haven’t branched out much on their menu, but the Tuah Gratium (green beans) & Tom Yum Boran with Sen Yai noodles are just so good.
Honorable Mentions: Wild Rose & Five Fusion Sushi
My Favorite Food Cart: Manzanita Grill
Manzanita Grill is, in my opinion, the BEST kept secret in Bend. Located on 2nd Street in the parking lot of Humm Kombucha, Manzanita boasts a wide variety of delicious food on their menu as well as daily specials. Everything I’ve tried, from their sandwiches to their tacos to their salads to their nachos to their soups, has been some of the absolute best I’ve ever had. So swing by & give them a try!
Honorable Mentions: Toasty & Tin Pig
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, primarily focusing on local and sustainable options. Although she can eat and cook just about anything under the sun, she was raised a vegetarian and loved 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.