So, when we weren’t hiking and cliff diving at Crater Lake, what is there to do in Bend, Oregon?! LOTS!!! I know some of you may be thinking, “I’m not very outdoorsy,” but that will not stop you from having a good time.
Since my time there kind of blurs into one big ball of awesome, I am not even going to try to sift through it all and write chronologically. Instead, I guess I will go by categories of deliciousness and fun! This first part will address food and non-alcoholic beverages!
The food in Bend is not messing around. Two of my favorite things about places to eat in Bend are that many places have outdoor seating and that most are not national chains, which makes Bend that much more unique. To start your day, you could go to the Starbucks (one of few chains that you aren’t escaping from) or you could go to Bella Tazza, a local cafe with only 2 other locations in Oregon. The outdoor seating area is fantastic for relaxing, catching up with friends and people watching. I have never deviated from getting the white chocolate mocha, which is delicious. Ryan always gets one of their teas and literally goes there every morning whenever he is home. He recommends trying the blueberry hibiscus.
The cafe also has quite the array of patrons. I have seen students, businesspeople, lots of dogs, a man with a parrot (he and his parrot were on a roadtrip from Arizona), people either embarking on or just finishing some sort of athletic/outdoorsy/adventure activity, and even Alec Baldwin! Yep, Alec Baldwin. One morning, Ryan, his friend Aaron and I were outside sipping our yummy hot beverages when Ryan’s “I see something interesting/weird/annoying/awesome” look came over his face. He excitedly said, “There’s Jack Donaghy!” in a hushed tone. Sure enough, Alec Baldwin walked by pushing a stroller and he and a friend went into Bella Tazza and got some drinks. But if you are in a hurry or if the endorsement of Ryan, myself and Mr. Baldwin are not enough for you, then you could also try one of the many coffee huts – literally there is a plethora of these things. Don’t know where any of you are from, but in my time living in Minnesota, Syracuse, Philadelphia and Washington DC I have never seen a coffee hut. They are usually stationed in parking lots, like at a gas station for example, and you can drive up and get your coffee.
Breakfast – Oh breakfast. The jump-start your day meal. Most important meal of the day. You would be hard pressed to find better options than two places across the street from one another – Big O Bagel and Westside Bakery and Cafe. Now, I already discussed the bagels in the Crater Lake post so I will gloss over that (refresher: think salmon, or just go back and read my other post! haha). How to describe the interior of Westside….maybe Ryan said it best when he said that it’s what places such as TGI Fridays and Applebee’s try to achieve, except that it’s real. Covering all of the wall space and shelving are random pieces of Americana. You can find old-school lunchboxes, cartoon action figures, mounted animals, a life-sized statue of Elvis, a running train set….you get the idea. Is it nauseating? Somehow it isn’t. Maybe because it isn’t contrived and force-feeding you the idea that it’s a hometown restaurant, but instead effortlessly creates this vibe in a natural and interesting way. And the food is awesome and filling. If you are like me and can’t make up your mind, convince someone to order pancakes while you order a scrambler and then share! You will not regret this. Last time I was there, I ordered the salmon eggs benedict – yummy!
Mexican and Pizza – Two of my favorite types of food! Pizza Mondo, Cibelli’s and Pisano’s are all good and you can buy pizza by the slice. Mondo is a Bend one-and-only, while Cibelli’s has a few Oregon locations and one in Florida (weird, I know). Not sure about Pisano’s… My favorite was Mondo. Get the after mountain special – for under $7 you get two slices and a beer of your choice. I will also mention that Ryan had a pizza at Pisano’s after I left that he loved – the extreme hawaiian. For Mexican, it has to be El Jimador! Good food and really tasty Mango Margaritas! Plus, they have a little outdoor seating area which is always enjoyable.
Afternoon treat – On one of the afternoons in Bend, Jess and I played frisbee by the Les Schwab Amphitheater and then walked downtown. By the time we got there, we were both thirsty and wanted a fruit smoothie! Luckily, as we rounded the corner we saw an easel with FRESH FRUIT SMOOTHIES printed in chalk. We stopped in at the Looney Bean and got very good fresh fruit smoothies. I really liked the vibe there and they have an awesome outdoor area that juts up to the river. You can sit at tables, in the grass, under a gazebo or in some Adirondack chairs facing the water. Great place to relax!
Anthony’s – One “morning” we went here for brunch and sat out on their spectacular patio. The view is of Mt. Bachelor and the Deschutes River, or if you are like Steve and you get the bad spot at the table, then your view is of some disgusting woman who thinks that picking at her toes is proper brunch etiquette. Despite this (which really only affected Steve…haha), Anthony’s was great! First off, the waiter told us from the start that if we wanted something that was not on the drink menu that it was not a problem. Great! I ordered a bubbly mojito (a mojito with champagne) and Dre ordered a bellini. Everyone else ordered from the menu and we were all happy with our drinks!
The food was also very yummy and even though we were annoying with our banter about sides of fruit while trying to choose a side, our waiter was fantastic and even chimed in on the discussion. I know you are all dying to know what it was about – the make up of a fruit side. Dre wanted fruit instead of a salad. I initally thought, what a delicious idea! But then I was nervous, would it be delicious or would it be an uninteresting, unappealing cup of watermelon, honeydew and canteloupe? I hate watermelon, dislike honeydew and am indifferent toward canteloupe. Eventually, I decided I was being too ridiculous and bothersome and just said I would stick with my salad. Poor choice in the end because this was the best side of fruit I have ever seen! Pineapple, grapefruit, raspberries, etc. Ya win some, ya lose some I suppose.
Rigoberto’s – After one absurd evening (which will be described in brief in Part 2), my fellow drink swillers and I got a cab to head back to the house. First, let me say that it was a minivan cab which was awesome because there was a lot of us. So, we pile in and ask the driver, “Are you the trivia cab?!” “No.” The driver responded. (As an aside, we weren’t just being incredibly dumb and annoying….Bend does have a trivia cab. If you make it to your destination with a strike remaining then your cab is free. If not, you pay your fare). After only about a second’s worth of disappointment, one of us chimes in with, “Caaan you be the trivia cab?!” “No.” Hmmmm….Not to be deterred from our quest for knowledge, one final plea was made. “Do you want us to ask youuu triviaaa?!” “No.” Okay sir, got it, obviously not an Alex Trebek fan. In that case, “Can you take us through the drive thru at Rigoberto’s?!” Finally a yes!
Despite being busted for selling meth out of one of the locations, Rigoberto’s has delicious burritos. Or at least, I perceived them to be. I have never actually had one while close to sober so I guess I can’t fully put a stamp on this, but if you go, I always had the Oregon Burrito and was never unhappy with my decision. It’s a monster burrito stuffed with carne asada steak and steak fries. So, we pull up to the window and I make the executive decision to swing open the minivan door so that we can see the menu better and so that I can shout our orders out. Pretty sure that cab driver hated us…I apologize sir. Nevertheless, yummy burritos were had by all! Well, and a quesadilla for Jess.
Stay tuned for Out and About in Bend, Oregon: Part 2 – Land of Exceptional Beverages!