Do you ever get the urge to roll up your sleeves and devour pub food until you’re coated elbow-deep in wing sauce and nacho cheese?
I know it’s not just me.
Luckily, Rivals Sports Bar, Grill, & Poker offers a great spot for doing just that while enjoying one of their daily poker tournaments, an evening of karaoke, or a chance to just chill and watch your favorite sporting event on one of their 15 big screens.
When the Visit Bend team stopped by Tuesday evening, we kicked things off with some drinks and appetizers. My bloody mary was the prefect blend of spicy and tangy, with an asparagus, olive, and cocktail onion garnish that gave me plenty to nibble while I waited for the first round of food.
Others at the table seemed particularly swoony over the Lunazul Margarita made with 100% agave tequila, triple sec, and sweet-n-sour. I also got to sample the Stiegel grapefruit beer on tap, which was a delightfully light & tangy brew more reminiscent of a cider than a beer.
When our food arrived, our staff lunged like a pack of starving dogs. The calamari appetizer was perfectly crisp on the outside and supremely tender inside, with a horseradish tomato sauce that tied the whole tasty dish together. We also enjoyed the fried potato skins topped with three cheeses, bacon, green onions, and sour cream.
But the true highlight of the appetizer menu was our double order of cream cheese jalapeño wrappers. These bad boys are hand-rolled by the culinary geniuses at Rivals, who stuff them with applewood smoked bacon, cream cheese, and jalapeño and serve them up with a divine thai chili sauce. I promised myself I’d only eat half of one, and then devoured three when I thought no one was looking.
Luckily, I still had room for my entrée. I chose the prime rib dip after the owner told me he has customers who drive over from Madras every week just to order this sandwich.
I can see why.
Made with thinly-sliced prime rib, the sandwich is topped with Swiss cheese and served on a fluffy French roll with a side of piping hot au jus. I opted for the side salad, though French fries are a tasty alternative.
Though I was delighted with my sandwich (and by “delighted” I mean “willing to stab anyone who tried to take it,”) I’ll admit I coveted my colleague’s Reuben sandwich. The loveliest slabs of marble rye were piled with thinly-sliced corned beef, sauerkraut, melted Swiss, and thousand island. We hardly had time to snag a picture before he inhaled the entire creation.
The vegetarian in our group was delighted with the chipotle veggie burger with Swiss, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, and red onion on a Kaiser bun, while our gluten-free diner enjoyed a tasty looking bunless burger and salad.
We capped the whole meal off with an order of deep fried Twinkies drizzled with Hershey’s chocolate. It was a decadent treat for just $4, and in light of all the Hostess drama in the news lately, it made me feel like I was eating an endangered species (in a perfectly ethical, non-creepy way.)
I’ll admit I’m not a sports fan, which is why my out-of-town houseguests always ask where they can go to watch “the big game” (whatever that may be). Rivals is an excellent spot, and I suspect I’ll end up back there for a serious game of Cornhole on the outdoor patio in the springtime, or perhaps for karaoke some future Friday or Saturday from 8:30-12:30 p.m.
For tasty pub food, excellent service, and a whole lot of action, Rivals is a fab option, especially if you’re staying at one of the Bend hotels on the north end of town.
Save some jalapeño wrappers for me, OK?