The “I can’t quit you” culinary tour of Bend: Locals share go-to dishes at area restaurants
Bend locals are spoiled by many things: gorgeous scenery, amazing hiking trails just out the front door, terrific microbrews along the Bend Ale Trail, and a plethora of amazing restaurants.
There’s a funny phenomenon with the restaurants. Though their menus boast a huge array of selections, locals become fiercely loyal to one dish. We may sample the variety, but we always circle back to our favorite.
Knowing this information might be handy for visitors, I polled my Visit Bend colleagues for their top “I can’t quit you” dishes at local restaurants. Here’s what they had to say:
Kevney Dugan, Director of Sales & Sports Development
I’m a big fan of the Jambalaya at Zydeco Kitchen and Cocktails in downtown Bend. This is a hearty, real meal best saved for when you’re very hungry. The jambalaya includes shrimp, andouille sausage, and crawfish served with rice and homemade cornbread. Some places have jambalaya that’s more on the soupy side, but this isn’t one of those. It’s extremely hearty with plenty of rice and a good kick of spice without being overpowering. It goes great with a local IPA!
Valerie Warren, Operations Manager
I’ve recently switched to a gluten-free diet, which means my dining options can be a bit limited. Longboard Louie’s offers a gluten-free, paleo-friendly meal with their Low-Carb Bowl. Here’s how it works: you pick as many fillings as you like from a list that includes lettuce, cabbage, green pepper, spinach, tomatoes, cheese, onions, pickled jalapeño, cilantro, and salsa. Next, you choose a protein from a list that includes a good variety of meat, fish, chicken, and vegetarian options. Last, you pick as many toppings as you like – guac, sour cream, enchilada sauce, or chipotle dressing. Voila! Instant meal, either in a small bowl or a large one. My favorite low-carb bowl includes buffalo, spinach, lettuce, cilantro, pico de gallo, peppers, and mushrooms. Then I hit the salsa bar for their pineapple and mango blend or the fire roasted tomato salsa. You can order this at either their Westside location or on the east side of Bend, so it’s handy no matter where you’re staying.
Lisa Sidor, Visitor Information Specialist
The Caribbean Benedict at the Victorian Café is my go-to choice. It’s all I’ve ever ordered. It’s large enough that I can take half home, and have my mouth-watering favorite another day. It features Cuban seasoned ham, mango, black beans and cilantro with two poached eggs on a grilled English muffin with house-made hollandaise sauce. It’s served with homestyle potatoes or applesauce. I usually get the applesauce, which is homemade and has big chunks of apple and plenty of cinnamon, but the potatoes are terrific, too!
Tawna Fenske, Communications Manager (and blog queen!)
Toomies in downtown Bend is one of my favorite lunch spots, especially when I’m craving warm and spicy Thai cuisine. I’ve tried at least half the items on their extensive menu, but I always seem to circle back to their Green Curry Chicken. It’s the perfect blend of green pepper, eggplant, chicken, bean sprouts, and a scrumptious, spicy coconut broth. The lunch special comes with rice, salad, and a noodle side dish, and it’s large enough that I always end up with leftovers.
One of my most beloved breakfast spots is Alpenglow Café, and though I’m always tempted by the other scrumptious options on their menu, I can’t seem to shake my love for Zeus’s Favorite Frittata. It’s made with fresh oregano, kalamata olives, caramelized onions, fresh tomatoes, feta, cream cheese and scallions and served with a side of Alpenglow’s amazing home fries. You also get your choice of fruit, toast, or their unbelievable coffee cake. It’s the perfect winter breakfast. Or spring breakfast. Or summer. Or…