Bend’s food cart scene boomed before COVID made eating outside en vogue, and the snowball kept rolling with Bend food trucks and outdoor dining pods thriving in Central Oregon.
What’s not to love? Your meal gets served up with a side of fresh air, and a gathering of friends gets a slice of variety when everyone picks what they like.
Want some guidance on the food cart scene around Bend and Central Oregon? The Visit Bend team spent four months tackling the tasty treats in trailers around the region. Here’s what we have to share!
The Office (24 NW Greenwood Avenue in Bend)
Tucked behind Silver Moon Brewing, The Office is a cluster of food carts offering a little something for everyone. Current carts include Luckey’s Woodsman, The Bob, Chicken Strut, and Whappos, though like all food cart pods, that’s subject to change.
But let’s begin with a glorious roundup from Visit Bend’s VP of Marketing, Nate Wyeth.
Luckey’s Woodsman delivers on a promise of bridging the divide between outdoor recreation and quality food. Many dishes can be ordered to-go as camper kits, ready to be prepared over a campfire in the woods. Others, like their mouthwatering lineup of burgers, are best enjoyed fresh from the grill and cooked medium.
The Forager Burger includes locally-sourced beef complete with charred wild mushrooms, goat chevre, balsamic reduction, and a pesto aioli. Another great option is their Woodsman Burger, featuring bacon, white cheddar, chipotle bbq, and fried onions. Both burgers come with fries, but other sides include charred brussels, Woodsman beans, a tomato corned dill salad, or truffle fries. Because the food carts are part of Silver Moon Brewing, you can belly up to the bar at Silver Moon’s outdoor beer cart to order some of Bend’s finest IPAs to wash down the burgers.
Another awesome pick is Whappos. The cart describes itself as “Caribbean Viibe,” with a menu offering everything from burgers to street tacos. For a true treat, try tostones—four large tostones with mojo roast pork, pico, and guac. If you’re on a quest to find Bend’s best Cuban sandwich, consider the Whappos Cuban Sandwich—a simple but delicious recipe of smoked ham, roast pork, swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard—cooked and pressed on a grill.
You also can’t go wrong with the other carts, and rumor has it Chicken Strut offers some of the best fried chicken sandwiches in town. Grab a kebob or three and a hummus plate at The Bob, and you’ve got yourself a fully-rounded food cart experience at The Office. Pro tip: Don’t forget your Bend Ale Trail passport so you can snag a Silver Moon stamp. It’s basically a gimme at that point.
The Bite (19860 7th St. in Tumalo)
If you’re tackling the Far North Territory of the Bend Ale Trail, here’s a bonus treat: The Bite food cart sits a stone’s throw from two of the territory’s Drinkable Diversions stops, Tumalo Cider Co. and Bend Cider Co.
Even if you’re not imbibing, it’s worth a jaunt to the edge of Tumalo to try this cozy array of carts tucked just off the highway. Toasty fire pits, cheerful music, and a kid-friendly vibe make this a good stop for families or folks seeking a festive hangout. Their rotating tap list offers a wide variety of local brews, with some indoor space for sipping if the weather turns chilly.
Current carts include The Rogue Chef, Rico’s Tacos, Noi/Bai Tong, Pine Marten Pizza, and NorthFresh Sushi.
For pizza fans seeking food cart sustenance, Pine Marten Pizza boasts wood-fired delights with super thin, delicious crusts. They’re big enough to share, or have as a one-person meal.
NorthFresh Sushi is rumored to be the best sushi in town, and for good reason. While the menu’s a bit limited (it’s a food cart, after all!) what they do have is fresh and tasty. The poke in particular is lucious and tender. Rumor has it they’re opening another food cart in the Midtown Yacht Club pod, so catch them there (pun intended) starting this spring.
For those who prefer their fish cooked, Rogue Chef’s fish and chips is particularly outstanding. The batter is super crispy on the outside, but light and tender inside with fish so fresh it might still be swimming.
In a hurry? Rico’s Tacos offers basic burrito and taco fare, with everything prepped and packaged in a jiffy. Another good pick for quickie eats are the spring rolls at Noi. Perfect for a quick shared nibble before you hop back out on the Bend Ale Trail!
Podski Food Cart (536 NW Arizona Ave in Bend)
If your food cart quest calls for tons of variety, Podski is the place to be. From vegan choices to Thai curry to tacos, you’ll find a little bit of everything at this homey cart lot near the Box Factory. Bonus: A toasty fire pit to enjoy on cool days, and proximity to excellent shopping and noshing.
Their current roundup of food carts includes Earl-n-Mabel, Thailandia, Toasty, Board, Juno, Tacos la Catrina, The Tin Pig, and Big Ski’s Pierogis.
Visit Bend’s Special Projects Manager Jason Lusk started with Earl-n-Mabel because burritos. Enough said.
Their burritos are grilled and filled with your choice of protein, with the carne asada being particularly outstanding. The grilling element adds an extra-tasty flair that’s sure to tickle your taste buds.
From Thailandia, the green curry bowl with chicken did not disappoint. You can choose your spice level on a scale from 1-5, and those who don’t love super-duper spicy are advised to dial it down to 3 or lower. Spice or no spice, the savory flavors of zucchini, bamboo, carrots, and onion add a lot to this dish.
On the vegan front, you can’t go wrong with Toasty and their Faken Bacon avocado toast.
Once you’ve finished your meal, head over to the Box Factory for some shopping and a chance to regenerate your appetite. Podski has plenty more food carts waiting, so head back when you’re hungry again.
River’s Place (787 NE Purcell Blvd. in Bend)
Bend’s Eastside isn’t frequented by visitors quite like the busy Westside and its hotspots around Downtown Bend and the Old Mill District.
But River’s Place Food Truck Lot offers ample reason to make the journey across Highway 97 to this tucked-away food cart lot not far from Costco and the Forum Shopping Center.
Current carts include Bluma’s Chicken & Waffles, Bai Tong on Wheels, Nik’Snacks, Hogans Hoagies, and Sopa. The latter was just named the overall champion in The Source Weekly’s “Food Fight” challenge, lauded for its innovative and modern Mexican cuisine and their to-die-for birria, tacos, carnitas, and more.
Like several other food cart pods in this lineup, River’s Place has both outdoor and indoor eating areas to accommodate all kinds of weather. You’ll find ample seating and several fire pits outside, or head to the indoor area for beer taps and TV screens.
Nik’Snacks is just as it says – perfect bite-sized for kids or for grownups to share with a group. Their fries are amazing homemade deliciousness, so ditch your health-conscious skip-the-fries kick at this stop and treat yo’self!
Fans of chicken and waffles will get a kick out of Bluma’s twist on that dish, but don’t pass up the spicy fried chicken sandwich. Generous, flavorful, and crisp, it’s bursting with flavor. Oh, and don’t forget the authentic Southern banana pudding, which is big enough to share.
If you’re a fan of Noi Thai Food in Downtown Bend, you’ll enjoy Bai Tong, since it’s run by the same folks.
Get your sandwich fix at Hogan’s Hoagie stop, and grab extra napkins for The Jersey. It includes grilled roast beef, grilled onion, smoked gouda, horseradish crema, and tomato, topped with shredded lettuce and banana peppers tossed in Italian vinaigrette on a Big Ed’s po boy roll. Yum!
And save room for Sopa, since readers of The Source declared it Bend’s best food cart stop. If you can’t decide between the birria bowl, the birria tacos, the quesabirria, or the pizza birria, it’s best to order all four. You don’t want to miss out, right?
The Patio at 9th Street Village (911 SE Armour Rd. in Bend)
When travel writers ask me for don’t-miss stops on the Bend Ale Trail, Bevel Brewing and its accompanying collection of food carts at The Patio tops my list. It’s the perfect blend of great beer, amazing food, and a mellow, off-the-beaten-path vibe.
The 9th Street Village food cart lot behind Bevel Brewing makes a great place to park yourself for sampling Bevel’s outstanding beers and a side of Bend you won’t see if you stick to well-trafficked corridors.
Current food cart offerings include Industrial Joe’s drive-thru coffee shack, Nosh, Taqueria El Nava, Southern Accent, and Aina Kauai Style Grill. It’s a great mix without too much overlap between carts, so make it your mission to try a little of everything.
Nosh makes a great starting point if you’re after tasty sandwiches, snacks, and salads. They’ve got a mouthwatering array of housemade pickles and fermented goodies to accompany whatever you pick, and their rotating selections of poutine are the perfect dish to share with a group.
Speaking of shareables, don’t miss the nachos at Taqueria El Nava. Heaping mounds of chips and cheese and beans get topped off with your choice of protein and a customizable array of nacho fixin’s. Their taco offerings are pretty unbeatable, and food comes out nice and quick.
Whether you’re feeling healthy or just craving a taste of the islands, Aina offers amazing Hawaiian fare served up in many forms. My personal fave is the spicy poke bowl made with ahi, fresh and pickled veggies, edamame, avocado, and furikake, plus greens and aioli served on a bed of rice. Yum!
On Tap (1424 NE Cushing Dr. in Bend)
Like River’s Place, On Tap resides on the east side of Bend where visitors venture less often. A shame for the visitors, since the cozy vibe, creative food carts, and jaw-dropping tap list make this food cart pod a must-see.
As the name suggests, On Tap boasts more than 30 tap handles pouring a variety of craft beer, cider, wine, and kombucha. The tap handles occupy part of On Tap’s indoor space, while six food carts and a plethora of tables and fire pits sprawl across the open outdoor area.
Current food carts include Barrio, CurBBQ, Himalayan Bites, The Bleu Rooster, Phillystyle, and Rush’s Squares.
Regular live music and a dog-friendly atmosphere make this spot a fun one to hit with friends or kiddos. There’s even an enclosed patio with heating for those chilly winter evenings.
Meat lovers will particularly love the BBQ meat plate from CurBBQ. It comes with two meat choices and three sides, so there’s tons of food to share. Our VP of Operations recommends the brisket and the pulled pork, plus fries, potato salad, and coleslaw.
Another great stop is Himalayan Bites, offering a range of tasty dishes from dumplings to stir fries to curries and more. Try the Sha-Momo, which are handmade dumplings stuffed with ground beef, onion, scallion, and ginger, marinated in Himalayan spices. Delicious with dipping sauces, plus the accompanying side salad is generous and flavorful.
If Sicilian style pizza is your jam, don’t miss Rush’s Squares and their tasty 8×8” personal pizzas featuring a wide array of sauces, meats, cheeses, and non-meat toppings.
The Lot (745 NW Columbia St. in Bend)
Located on Bend’s popular Westside, The Lot takes food cart dining to a new level with heated open-air seating, built-in tables with bench warmers, and a communal vibe that’s always hoppin’.
Current carts include A’la Carte, Fricken Faco, Burgz N Dogz, and Maki Maki Sushi. They’ve also got 16 tap handles pouring beer, cider, wine, and kombucha.
Fricken Faco is best known for its fish tacos, or FACO. They use Northwest cod that’s hand breaded and fried to order. Each FACO has two strips of fried fish laid on a warm flour tortilla, plus housemade tomatillo-avocado salsa and cilantro-lime aioli and plenty of fresh cabbage, onion, cilantro, and feta. You can get that same fish in a sandwich or plain ol’ fish sticks if you prefer.A’La Carte is famous for its scrumptious fries, topped with anything from truffle salt to carne asada to gorgonzola and bacon. To balance it out, order the beet and goat cheese salad, which is huge and flavorful and one of the best food cart salads on the list.
Maki Maki Sushi is the brainchild of Adam Pan, a sushi chef with 20 years of experience, much of it in New York. Their tempura fried Volcano Roll comes with king salmon, fresh tuna, yellowtail, cream cheese, and avocado, topped with tobiko, spicy kani, green onions, and unagi sauce. We also loved the sushi burrito, which isn’t great for sharing, but does make for easy eating if you’re into picking up a sushi roll and chowing down like it’s a regular ol’ burrito. That’s filled with tempura shrimp, fresh tuna, king salmon, spicy kani, avocado, cucumber, daikon, carrot slaw, and cream cheese.
And if it’s an All-American kinda day, you’ll dig the tasty simplicity of Burgz N Dogz. Food is cooked fresh to order with options ranging from a simple hamburger to a Baller Burger with a double patty, double bacon, double cheese (cheddar and swiss!) and all your favorite toppings. Don’t miss the Crispy Wasabi Dog, which is a ¼ pound all beef grilled hot dog topped with wasabi cream cheese, jalapeno, and crispy bacon with kimchi on the side.
Midtown Yacht Club (1661 NE 4th St. in Bend)
Even if Midtown Yacht Club wasn’t amazing (it is!) it gets bonus points for the clever name in the center of a landlocked city.
Located at the corner of 4th and Quimby in Midtown Bend, Midtown Yacht Club has six food carts, 20 rotating taps, and a cool vibe spread between its open-air taproom and the courtyard filled with umbrella tables and fire pits.
Current carts include Barrio, Alley Dogz, TOTS!, Shimshon, NorthFresh, Lively Up Your Self, and P!zza.
A popular bend eatery with multiple carts and a restaurant in Bend, Barrio is best known for its tacos and tasty bowls. Try a taco trio with multiple fillings like chicken, beef, or veggie, all of which include onion, cilantro, cotija cheese, and salsa. The tortillas are grilled, not fried, which is a big plus. Barrio bowls are another great pick, especially the chicken tinga bowl filled with brown rice, black beans, guacamole, pico de gallo, cotija, poblano crema, curtido, and tortilla chips.
Another tasty option is Shimshon, an Isreaeli street food cart featuring some of the most creative chow you’ll find on four wheels. Try the Shimshon Bowl with chicken shawarma, served with hummus, pickled vegetables, greens, and Israeli tomato and cucumber salad. You also get your choice of two sauces. Tahina (sesame) and Amba (caramelized mango) are a great pick, served with either flatbread of Za’atar Fries. Can’t decide what to get? Try the Mezze Sampler, which includes baba ganoush with feta and almonds, olives with almonds and orange, Moroccan carrots with mint, fried cauliflower with tahini, and your choice of a kebab.
Food carts in Redmond
With the broadening of the Bend Ale Trail to include outlying areas, you’ve got more great reasons to visit neighboring Redmond. The town’s booming food cart scene gives you lots more.
The Vault Taphouse is the only spot in the universe offering the complete lineup of beers from Kobold Brewing. It’s also a great spot to grab a gourmet taco or twelve from Westside Taco Co. All tacos feature handmade tortillas and plenty of tasty fillings, including creative picks like root beer carnitas, blueberry brisket, poblano chicken, thai curry, buffalo chicken, and more. If tacos aren’t your jam, try a tray of corndog nuggets and a hot pretzel with queso dip.
Another top stop in the Far North territory of the Bend Ale Trail territory is Wild Ride Brewing and its adjacent food cart community. Current carts include Food Fellas, Wild Catch, Shred Town, and Red Road Pizza Co.
Wild Catch earns accolades for having some of the best fish and chips in Central Oregon. They were recently named one of the “most loved menu items” by readers of The Source Weekly, which ranked all food carts across the region. High praise indeed! If fish isn’t your thing, try their Stingin’ Honey Garlic Wings and wait to feel your tastebuds dance.
Shred Town offers a multi-ethnic approach to shredded chicken, pork, and veggies. Selections range from tacos to yakisoba bowls to Cuban or pulled pork sandwiches.
Food Fellas boasts a great variety of burgers and sandwiches, which are twice as tall as they are wide and sooooo tasty! I’ve been told that if you don’t try the pastrami, you really aren’t living.
At Red Road Pizza Co., you’ll find hand-tossed, meaty pizzas with traditional Italian, Hispanic, or southern barbecue-influenced flairs. Try the Chicken Choke with basil pesto artichoke hearts and pesto, or the Cindercone with Canadian bacon, pulled pork, pineapple, and jalapeño.
If Redmond-based Porter Brewing is on your Bend Ale Trail bucket list, you’ll find their traditional UK-style brews give you a hankering for hand pies. Enter Vi’s Pie’s, currently slinging these baked-from-scratch beauties at Porter’s Bend cellar, and bringing them soon to the Redmond location.
Vi’s Pie’s is a family-run scratch bakery offering a wide range of hand pies served with mushy peas and pickled onion. Try the traditional Scottish meat pie or get wild with a mac & cheese pie or their chicken curry pie. Whether you visit the Bend or the Redmond location of Porter Brewing, you’ll find their beers are served cellar temperature and hand pumped for natural carbonation. Your best time to visit the Redmond location is on Thursdays when they offer traditional Irish music.