6 dining spots worth a drive from your Bend home base
The number of mouthwatering, award-winning dining options in Bend is mind-boggling, and my fellow foodies could pick a new eatery each day for months and not hit the same place twice.
But sometimes you crave a scenery change. Particularly if you’ve traveled a long way to see Central Oregon, it’s fun to venture beyond Bend’s borders to sample new sights and savory flavors.
If a culinary-inspired day trip is on your agenda during a Bend vacation, here are 6 spots worth a little drive time from your Bend hotel.
Black Butte Ranch
32 miles from Downtown Bend
The Lodge Restaurant at Black Butte Ranch holds a huge helping of sentimentality for me, and it’s where my husband I celebrate most anniversaries.
But sentiment aside, it’s just darn fine food.
Their commitment to seasonal, Oregon-sourced offerings is evident in their menu, and this time of year you’ll see things like Hermiston Watermelon Salad and Summer Vegetable Bucatini Perciatelli.
But the mainstays like Cocoa Rubbed Pork Tenderloin, Pan Seared Diver Scallops, and their legendary prime rib are worth grabbing any time of year. I’ve had swoon-worthy salmon there on my last couple visits, and found myself eating slowly just to savor every last bite.
Pair your meal with something from their epic wine selection or a seasonally-inspired cocktail, and you’ve got yourself a dinner to remember. They also offer brunch, if you’d rather make the drive earlier in the day to couple your road trip with hiking in the area.
When making a reservation, ask for a spot by the window so you can look out over the pond and mountains. Save room for dessert, preferably their Sourdough Chocolate Cake, which has been on the menu since they opened in 1970 (and according to at least one server, still uses the same sourdough starter from the beginning).
The Suttle Lodge
37 miles from Downtown Bend
The historic Lodge at Suttle Lake has plenty of tasty dining options on the regular menu, so hikers and day-trippers can rest easy knowing a scrumptious pizza or mouthwatering mac & cheese is there for you when you need it. Ditto that for a killer cocktail list.
But it’s their special event dinners that really make The Suttle Lodge worth the drive for mealtime.
From lakeside cookouts featuring award-winning barbecue masters and local beer pairings, to wine dinners with celebrity chefs from out of area, their event calendar is packed with special dining opportunities that are well worth a drive. If you sign up for their email list, you’ll be the first to hear about them (which is key, since most events sell out).
If you’re not up for a big fancy meal, plan a morning hike around the lake. It’s a flat, easy 3.6-mile loop hike, and you can finish it off with one of their scrumptious breakfast sandwiches or a bowl of their mouthwatering Parsnip, Cracked Wheat & Every Spring Vegetable You Can Find Chowder (yep, that’s really what it’s called!)
The Lodge is even dog-friendly, so bring Fido along for the visit.
20 miles from Downtown Bend
There’s some crossover between the two, but generally speaking, Ranch House is your go-to spot for a more budget-friendly experience, while Range is where you splurge on that special occasion.
Brasada is known for some of the most epic sunsets and mountain views in Central Oregon, and both restaurants deliver in spades. On a nice evening, you can sit outside and hear coyotes howl in the distance while bunnies nibble nearby shrubs. In the winter, snuggle up inside by the big stone fireplace, or brave the chill on the outdoor patio with resort blankies and a roaring fire.
Farm-to-table fare is the MO here, and you can never go wrong with their steaks and fresh seafood dishes. Ranch House even offers breakfast, including their epic Grilled Banana Bread.
While the views and the food are to-die-for, the biggest reason to visit Brasada is the s’mores. These are not the s’mores of your Boy Scout days. They’re crafted with local Goody’s chocolate and made-from-scratch marshmallows that Brasada’s chef whips up daily. He also makes the graham crackers, which have scrumptious hints of ginger, cinnamon, and honey. Best of all, you have the option to sit by the fire and roast them yourself.
It’s the perfect way to cap off a memorable meal.
Mt. Bachelor’s Sunset Dining
20 miles from Downtown Bend (plus 15-minute chairlift ride)
The sunset dinners at Mt. Bachelor are a novelty to be sure. You ride the chairlift to 7,800 feet, and dine with jaw-dropping views of surrounding mountains, lakes, and forests.
It would be a cool experience even if they served you a bowl of stale Cheerios doused in battery acid, but that’s hardly the case.
The culinary team at Mt. Bachelor revamped the sunset dinner menu this year to make it a fixed-price dining experience complete with family-style appetizers, a hearty list of individual entrée options, and dessert.
We’re talking gourmet grub, guys. The Passion Tea Rubbed Lamb Ribs with Napa Slaw are a perfect shareable starter, as are the plentiful salads, dips, and charcuterie. You pick three for the table to share, which is a tough choice given all the great selections.
Entrée options range from salmon to surf-n-turf to prime rib, all with complementary and tasty accompaniments. You will not go home hungry, I promise.
They also offer a hearty array of beers, wines, and cocktails to sip while as you step out onto the deck to have your mind blown by the panoramic vistas available only from high elevation.
Once your meal is over, snuggle up in the blankets they offer you at the top of the lift and enjoy a starlit ride down the mountain. Congratulations. You’ve just crossed off one heck of a bucket list item!
The Rooftop in Redmond
18.5 miles from Downtown Bend
A newcomer to the Central Oregon dining scene, The Rooftop sits atop the newly-renovated Hotel Redmond. The historic hotel just completed a $7 million renovation, and the crown jewel is a 1,500-square-foot rooftop social garden featuring a full bar and an eclectic collection of small-plate menu items.
From the fourth-floor vantagepoint, you get sweeping views of the Cascade Mountains to the west and Smith Rock to the north. Watch the sun sink behind the mountains as you sip handcrafted cocktails or a glass of vino from their impressive list.
The cocktails here are creative and inspired, with many of the herbs and spices pulled right from The Rooftop’s own gardens. Sample something like the Peach Orange Blossom Ketel One Botanical Peach & Orange Blossom vodka muddled with fresh local raspberries, mint, and a peach slice garnish.
If your drive back to your Bend vacation rental warrants a low-alcohol or no-alcohol libation, check out their list of Low Octane Refreshers like the Marionberry Fraise (fresh blackberry and strawberry puree with Vya sweet vermouth, thyme lemon juice, and Dry soda) or the non-alcoholic Passion Fruit mocktail made with fresh orange, lemon, and lime with peach and pineapple juice shaken with a cured egg white and finished with dry orange bitters.
While food options are limited to small-plate selections, you can fill your belly nicely with nibbles like bison burger sliders, smoked salmon crostini, and spinach & goat cheese salad.
Currently, the rooftop is only open from 4 p.m. to sunset Friday through Sunday. Make your reservation to coincide with prime sunset viewing and prepare to be dazzled.
Cowboy Dinner Tree
83 miles from Downtown Bend
The longest drive on the list is worth planning carefully, as there’s lots of wildlife on the long road back to Bend.
But Cowboy Dinner Tree is worth the extra effort for real, honest-to-goodness downhome fare prepared fresh daily. It’s rustic and charming and like nothing else you’ll experience anywhere in Bend.
A longtime Central Oregon staple, Cowboy Dinner Tree is quite literally in the middle of nowhere. More precisely, it’s in the Oregon Outback near Silver Lake, Oregon, so it’s a chance to see a different view of the remote, high desert landscape.
The menu is fresh, hearty, no-frills fare featuring salad, soup, old-fashioned sweet yeast rolls, a baked potato, dessert, and your choice of either a 26-30 oz. top sirloin steak or a whole-roasted chicken. Yes, you read that right. That’s a whole ‘lotta food, and there’s no splitting a dinner. In other words, come prepared with a cooler and your own reusable Tupperware if you’d prefer to forego their single-use carryout containers
Reservations are required and fill up fast. There’s no alcohol sold or provided, and they don’t take credit or debit cards. There’s also no ATM for miles, so come prepared with cash.
But if you’re looking for the real deal in cowboy ranch fare, and a chance to play buckaroo for the evening, this is a one-of-a-kind experience.
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