Every town has ‘em. Those tucked away watering holes you might not find if you didn’t know where to look.
Bend is no exception, with a handful of bars and restaurants so well-hidden, you may not realize they exist. Here’s the scoop on 5 secret cocktail spots worth discovering in Bend.
The Broom Closet
You’ve probably visited the McMenamin’s Old St. Francis campus at least once in your tour of the Bend Ale Trail. They boast five different bars, plus a hotel, brewery, movie theater, and a bliss-inducing tiled soaking tub.
But one of their coolest bars is so well-hidden, you have to work to find it. The Broom Closet is a tiny, tucked-away bar on the third floor of the Art House building. Seating is SUPER limited, but the cocktail, beer, and wine menu is generous, and you can order light snacks like Thai peanuts and olives.
Take your time hunting around for the Broom Closet, since it’s fun to press the wall panels in each hallway and discover hidden corridors and closets. When you reach the north end of the third floor, you’ll see no-frills broom closet sign that looks like any other signage for a bathroom or janitor’s closet. Poke your head in and you’ll see an array of old-fashioned brooms in what looks pretty much like a closet. Don’t give up!
Find the spot on the paneling that’s actually a door, and find your way inside. Then order yourself a hard-earned beverage to start your evening off in cozy style.
Hidden away in the Tin Pan Alley next to the Tin Pan Theater, San Simón offers an impressive cocktail menu, plus wine and beer. They also serve small bites like Korean barbecue sliders, green salad in a mouthwatering herb vinaigrette, and an impressive build-your-own-charcuterie menu featuring a tasty array of meats, cheeses, crackers, pickled veggies, and more.
The décor and dark ambiance make this a great romantic spot to grab a cocktail before dinner, and you’ll want to spend extra time admiring their cool selection of art. The Spanish for Paper Plane cocktail with mezcal, lemon juice, aperol, and amaro is my personal fave, though Thomas Edison’s Last Dying Breath (Crater Lake gin, pineapple, lemon juice, and green chartreuse) is also pretty scrumptious.
Full disclosure: The Capitol has shifted a bit since I first discovered this subterranean bar on Oregon Avenue several years ago. In the beginning, it felt like more of a swanky, underground nightclub, which made it a fun last stop on an evening of pub crawling.
The vibe these days is a bit more tater-tots-and-pool for twenty-somethings, which I recognize might be exactly what some of you are looking for. Even if it’s not, it’s worth popping in for a cocktail just to scope out this super-cool underground space and have a cocktail and a round of ping-pong.
The Chasing Daisy is a nice pick for a cocktail, with raspberry and cucumber-infused vodka, elderflower liqueur, and a rosé prosecco float. There’s a lot of fried food like mozzarella cheese sticks and boneless chicken wings, or order the honey-sriracha cauliflower for a slightly healthier pick.
Snag a booth off to the side if you’re looking for something more cozy and intimate, or pony up a bit extra for a VIP table near the DJ. They also have regular live music and comedy, so check their website to find out what’s on the schedule.
If you’re not staying at The Oxford Hotel, you might not know there’s a hip, gourmet eatery on the lowest level. There may not be any windows at 10Below (it’s 10-feet underground, after all!) but it’s got oodles of great cocktails and a cool vibe that makes it a perfect stop for drinks or a full meal.
Happy hour here is one of my favorites in town, with two time slots to choose from (2-6 p.m. or their late-night deals from 9 p.m. to close). They change up their menu regularly, but the Honey Bee cocktail is a tasty bet with Kentucky bourbon, Fee Brothers 1865 bitters, honey syrup, and fresh lemon.
Get a side of their house smoked pacific salmon artichoke dip and a glass of wine to enjoy in the bar, or stick around for a full dinner and try their range of entrees from steak to seafood to smoked duck ravioli. They also do breakfast and lunch, so you can hide out underground almost any time of day.
Rockin’ Dave’s Backstage Lounge
Possibly my favorite spot on this list, Rockin’ Dave’s Backstage Lounge is a cozy cocktail lounge tucked behind the well-known Rockin’ Dave’s bagel spot on 3rd Street. If you’ve only stopped by for a breakfast sandwich or morning mimosa, you may not have noticed the unobtrusive little lounge just behind it.
The fact that it’s less obvious is part of what gives the Backstage Lounge a homier feel. The vibe here is different from almost anyplace else in town, with cozy booths and vintage light fixtures. It’s quiet and intimate, with the perfect date-night ambiance.
Since owner Dave Flier is a freakin’ magician in the kitchen, anything you order off the menu is guaranteed leave you swooning and periodically stabbing your dining companion with a fork for trying to sneak a bite. I’m a huge fan of their deviled egg trio and bacon wings to get things started. The cocktail menu features plenty of concoctions mixed with their own infusions, so try something like the Box of Rain (Dave’s kaffir lime-infused vodka, lemongrass, and a splash of cranberry) or the B-Side (Dave’s ginger bourbon, sweet vermouth, peach, bitters, and house-made cocktail cherry).
I adore their rice bowls mixed with brown rice, seasonal veggies, microgreens, salsa, chimichurri sauce, avocado, and fried egg. You can nix the egg and go vegan, or pick a protein combo like the turkey/bacon/spinach blend (swoon!) Their burgers here are outstanding as well, and the restaurant sources much of their meat and veggies locally.