My idea to blog about Bend’s best bacon was not well-timed. A few weeks before bikini season (and all the lovely river floating I plan to do on the Deschutes) is not the best moment to embark on a quest to find the top swine-centric dishes in the city.
But I persevered, bringing you the top seven bacon dishes you simply must sample when you visit Bend. Try them in order as a sort of progressive day-of-bacon dining experience, or savor them one by one over multiple days.
The basic bacon: McKay Cottage
If you’re looking to start your day with a few slices of succulent, crisp, trip-over-your-tongue-drool-worthy bacon, you can’t go wrong at McKay Cottage. Their applewood smoked bacon is sourced from a ranch in Missoula, Montana, and according to staff at McKay Cottage, the secret to perfect bacon is in preparation. Instead of pan-frying it, they bake their bacon in an oven about 350-degrees, which produces the perfect crispy (but not too crispy) texture. The flavor is extra divine, too, and particularly good when served with one of their scrumptious hash dishes. Or just order a plate of bacon—3 slices for $3.50. What more could you need?
The bacon burger: Pono Farm
A little out-of-the-way for the average Bend tourist, Pono Farm & Fine Meats is well worth the trek to the northeast end of Bend. Located in the general area of Lowe’s and Les Schwab Tires, Pono Farm specializes in selling hormone-free, antibiotic-free, humanely raised meats grown locally on their Central Oregon family farm. They raise Wagyu (Kobe) and red angus beef, as well as heritage breed pork consisting mainly of Berkshire and Red Wattle genetics. These old breeds are known for superior meat quality, and the hogs at Pono Farms are raised long and slow for flavorful, succulent pork.
As you can probably guess, these guys are serious about their bacon, and they offer a variety of cuts and preparation methods. I opted for a simple Tillamook Cheddar Bacon burger for $12, which comes with one side. Since friends had raved about their amazing side dishes, I tacked on a few extras just to try them. The fries were tasty and crisp, the citrus-roasted asparagus was divine, and the roasted Brussels sprouts were served with a succulent mix of onions and—what else? Bacon! The Brussels sprouts were especially lick-your-plate delicious, and the burger was tender and tasty with the perfect complement of flavors between the beef, cheese, and gloriously flavorful bacon. The kitchen at Pono Farm is currently just open for lunch, but they have broader hours for the butcher shop if you want to pick up something to throw on the grill back at your Bend vacation rental. Check their website for hours, and be prepared to swoon.
The bacon beverage: Brother Jon’s
Prefer to consume your bacon in liquid form? The Bakon Bloody Mary at Brother Jon’s Public House has everything you need in a glass. This tasty beverage features Bakon brand bacon-flavored vodka, their special house-made Bloody Mary mix, a dash of Lea & Perrins, a dash of Tabasco, a bacon salt rim, lots of veggies, and of course—a couple slices of bacon! The bacon is sourced locally from Primal Cuts, and it’s the perfect complement to this bacony beverage from heaven. We won’t judge you for ordering two. Or three. Or four.
The bacon dessert: The Dough Nut
With breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon drink under your belt, it’s time for dessert. While you’re in the neighborhood near Brother Jon’s, head over to The Dough Nut to get your sugar buzz in true bacon fanatic fashion. All their donuts are made from scratch daily from 6:30 a.m. until they’re sold out. That’s been happening earlier these days as their amazing made-from-scratch donuts become more popular, including the divine bacon maple bar topped with homemade maple glaze and tasty chunks of fresh bacon. You can nab the bacon maple bar for just $2, along with oodles of other great donut creations. Your best bet is to arrive earlier in the day, since they’ve been known to sell out completely by 3.
The bacon salad: 10below
After a bacon-filled morning and afternoon, you’re craving something a bit lighter. A salad, perhaps? Nothing completes a salad quite like bacon, and 10below restaurant & lounge on the lower level of the Oxford Hotel has mastered this art like no one else. Their iceberg wedge salad features house-made Thousand Island dressing, fresh ground black pepper, and a generous helping of candied bacon. It’s a flavor explosion of crisp, tangy, salty, and sweet, and it’s only $4 during happy hour or $5 on the regular menu. Several times I’ve made the mistake of offering to split it with someone, and I always end up ordering a second one because it’s too delicious to share. Pair it with their tasty Mello Yellow cocktail (whipped cream flavored vodka, champagne syrup, lemon juice) and a plate of their tasty tempura-battered veggies, and you’ve gotten your veggie requirement for the day. Now for more bacon!
The bacon appetizer: Velvet
With the salad out of the way, it’s time to fulfill your fruit requirement. Head a few blocks west to Velvet, and order a couple of their tasty bacon-wrapped apricot skewers with sweet soy. They include five zingy apricots with the perfect amount of squish and sweetness, paired with salty-crisp bacon. The swirl of sauce on the plate is perfect for dipping, and the shreds of green onion add an extra zip of flavor. The skewers are $3 apiece, and three of them offer the perfect amount for sharing between a couple.
The bacon mac: Crux Fermentation Project
Knowing my fondness for both bacon and the use of beer in recipes, my gentleman friend tipped me off about this new addition to the menu at Crux Fermentation Project. Their new baked mac and cheese features a divine cheddar cheese sauce spiked with their Marzen beer—an Oktoberfest-style brew that’s the perfect complement to tangy cheddar. It’s $10 for the basic dish, but you absolutely must add a generous helping of diced bacon for just $2. The portion is generous, the beer cheese sauce is rich and flavorful, and the bacon adds the perfect hint of texture and salty goodness. It comes with a couple slices of spent-grain toast, and if you’re craving some greens to accompany it, grab the Spring Crux Salad with balsamic stout vinaigrette, fresh strawberries, avocado, gorgonzola, and sliced almonds on a bed of tossed greens. You can add bacon to that, too, if you like. And why wouldn’t you?