We’ve reached the time of year in Bend when our high desert weather can get hotter than two squirrels smooching in a wool sock.
Not that I’m complaining.
I’ve blogged before about chilling out in Bend’s best swimming pools and other great ways to cool off in Bend, but what if you don’t want the hassle of donning a bikini or driving to the lake? Here are seven things you can eat or drink in Bend that I guarantee will ice you down from the inside out.
Chill out with Bontá Gelato
I’ve been a fan of Bontá Gelato since the company’s inception, but for years I could only find their scrumptious creations at street fairs and the Bend Farmer’s Market. Fellow foodies, rejoice! They’ve opened a dedicated shop on Minnesota Avenue in Downtown Bend, so folks can get their gelato fix any ol’ time they like.
The unique flavors here are what really roll my socks up. Tumalo lavender and honey, coconut lime, salted caramel, maple bacon, and even a vanilla porter crafted with Deschutes Brewery beer. I like to stroll in with my whole family and have each of us order a cup with three different flavors. Then we walk a few blocks to Drake Park sampling from each other’s cups and deciding who’s got the best flavor combo.
Grab an old-fashioned soda at Goody’s
Goody’s has been a family-owned and operated staple in Central Oregon since 1984, with several locations in Bend. While you can stock up on delicious sundaes, shakes, candy, sno-cones, hand-dipped chocolates, and more, it’s their old-fashioned soda fountain that really hits the spot for me on hot summer days.
When I want something tart, I opt for a green river lemon-lime soda with a healthy sprinkle of phosphate for more pucker power. If I’m craving something richer, I go for an egg cream. It actually has no egg at all, but is a delicious mash-up of chocolate syrup, cream, and soda water.
Need something to nibble while your soda cools you down? Pick up a hand-dipped truffle or a baggie of licorice or gummy candy.
Gulp a malt at Pilot Butte Drive-In
Like Goody’s, Pilot Butte Drive-In is a longtime Central Oregon stable with more than one location in Bend. Also like Goody’s, they specialize in nostalgic classics like milkshakes and malts.
Since a malt isn’t something I get to indulge in every day, that’s my usual pick when I find myself here on a hot summer day. The classic chocolate is nice, though I’m partial to unique flavors like pineapple, Oreo, or butterscotch. They’re served the old-fashioned way in the big can, and they’re generous enough to share. If you’re here for lunch or dinner, pair your malt with the Ortega burger for a super filling meal that’ll make you feel like you’re at a backyard barbecue.
Sip a summery cocktail on the riverfront patio at Anthony’s
One of my favorite summertime hangouts is the patio at Anthony’s in the Old Mill District. It’s a great spot to sip a cool drink and watch the floaters and paddlers cruise past on the Deschutes River. Bonus for dog-lovers: your pup is allowed to join you on the patio, and your server will likely bring Rover his own happy hour beverage in a doggie dish.
One thing I love about the cocktail menu at Anthony’s is that they always change it up seasonally. My current favorite summer pick is the Cucumber Cooler made with muddled mint and cucumber with gin, St. Germain liquer, and a bit of Rose’s lime juice shaken over ice, strained, and served with a bit of soda water. It’s the epitome of summertime cool, and it’s served in a tall, icy glass you’ll want to wrap your hands around for an extra chilly effect.
Since strawberry season is in full swing right now, they’ve also got a tasty array of strawberry-themed cocktails. Choose from fresh strawberry mojitos or cosmos, or opt for a non-alcoholic option with their strawberry lemonade. Then sit back, nibble some tasty calamari, and gaze out over the Deschutes River.
Feast on cool gazpacho at Barrio
The first time I had chef Steven Draheim’s amazing watermelon gazpacho was four years ago when he was serving it up at a little street cart in Downtown Bend. Fast forward to present day, and you’ll discover both the location and this scrumptious chilled soup have improved even more.
If you’re lucky enough to hit Barrio when watermelon gazpacho is on the menu, do not leave without ordering it. Chunks of fresh watermelon and cucumber swirl in a tomatoey sea dotted with corn, black beans, onion, cabbage, and radish. A simple cup of this nectar-of-the-gods will set you back a whopping $3, which is insane considering how much food they manage to pack into the dish.
A pal I dined with felt satisfied making a cup of gazpacho her whole lunch, but I couldn’t resist the siren call of their amazing Sally’s Super Salad, which paired beautifully with it and gave me some leftovers for the following day. If you don’t have to get back to work, order a chilled glass of white wine for the ultimate summer cool-down.
Snag sushi from Kanpai or Shinsei
What is it about hot weather that makes me crave sushi? Luckily, Bend is teeming with tons of great sushi spots (which is weird, considering our lack of proximity to the beach, but I’m not complaining).
If I’m in the mood to dine in, I head to Kanpai and order either the sushi combo (a great way to sample lots of different rolls) or a variety of their specialty rolls (the Orgasm Roll and the High Roller are my personal faves). They’ve got a nice wine list here as well, or opt for a chilled sake to wash down your freshly-prepared delicacies.
If I’m in the mood to take my tasty sushi home or to a park, I’ve found Mio Sushi in the Old Mill District to be both convenient and tasty for takeout. The Bubble Bubble roll is my personal fave, made with avocado, tobiko, salmon, lemon, and ikura. The paper-thin slice of lemon atop the roll gives it an extra summery flavor, making it the perfect cool-down meal for a hot evening.
Gobble up an Ahi Poke salad at 5 Fusion
There’s something about a perfect summer salad that cools me down on a hot afternoon, and there’s something about the Ahi Poke salad at 5 Fusion that makes my taste-buds swoon. Put the two together and you’ve got a set of uber-chilled, super-giddy taste-buds, and isn’t that a great way to spend a summer day?
The Ahi Poke salad consists of marinated tuna atop a bed of seaweed, mixed greens, and avocado, sprinkled with crispy wanton bits and tossed with sesame dressing. It’s huge, flavorful, and unique, and the mix of textures and flavors will leave your palate feeling happy and refreshed.