Small Town Restaurants, Big City Vibe
You came to Central Oregon to get away from bright lights and bustling city streets, right? Great! But that doesn’t mean you have to survive on pub food (although, we do have some great options!). Here’s a quick round-up of what I consider to be our Top City-Worthy restaurants on the High Desert.
I know what you’re thinking…Sushi…on the High Desert? Yes! 5 Fusion and Sushi Bar in downtown Bend is one of the fanciest restaurants in town and it has a big name running the kitchen to boot. Executive Chef, Joe Kim, was recently nominated and named as a semi-finalist for a James Beard Foundation award for the Best Chef in the Northwest. With his talent, he could be working anywhere in the world, but memories from growing up just outside of Bend brought him back to Central Oregon to be closer to family. If you go, try one of the specials, Chef Kim says that’s where he and his staff can get really creative or if you’re a beer lover, you can’t pass up an “IPA roll.”
Tucked away in a quaint bungalow on the Westside of Bend, Ariana is a restaurant full of heart. Ariana is affectionately named after Chef Andres Fernandez’s wife, but don’t think for a second her only input into the restaurant is her name. Ariana and Andres work side by side creating a menu that’s ever-evolving based on what’s in season and available from local farms. Ariana is a true family run restaurant, her mother Susan is the general manager and will often be there to greet you as soon as you walk in the door and her father Glenn maintains their extensive wine selection. The entire Ariana team was flown to Manhattan in April to chef for a dinner at the James Beard House. They were asked to create a meal reminiscent of the restaurant and even shipped all of their ingredients from Central Oregon to give the 80 guests a real taste of the area. If you plan to go call ahead, Ariana is closed on Sundays and Mondays and often books reservations weeks out.
On just about any given night, Zydeco is the spot in downtown Bend. Its full bar is the perfect place to unwind with unique appetizers and awesome cocktails that frankly should probably cost a lot more than they do. Zydeco serves Cajun and creole inspired food with a Northwest twist, and the restaurant has several gluten-free options. There’s lots of great things to say about Zydeco — but one of the best is that the service is always on-point. The servers and bartenders make you feel like you’re their most important diner whether you’re there for a full dinner or just stopping by for a quick drink. Plus with a semi-open kitchen design you can watch some of the action while Zydeco’s crew crafts you a delicious meal.
When you have to take an elevator to get to a restaurant — you just know it’s going to be good. While this scenario usually applies to restaurants at the top of skyscrapers with amazing views, the Oxford Hotel does the opposite with 10Below. An elevator takes you down just one flight from the lobby, but it transports you into a glammed-out lounge that you just won’t believe is in downtown Bend. This is one of my favorite girl’s night out spots but also tops my list for date night dinners when you just really need a reason to get dressed up. If you came to Central Oregon to celebrate a birthday, anniversary or anything else – this is the place to do it. 10Below is the best of both worlds because its breakfast, lunch and dinner menus are all phenomenal and the ingredients are locally sourced. If you need any more convincing, the Oxford Hotel does complimentary valet for diners and even the bathrooms are fancy. I know that sounds ridiculous but trust me, you’ll walk in and think — this is the nicest bathroom ever! 10Below is also one of the few places in Bend besides the bars that stays open past 10 p.m
It’s day three of your week-long stay in Sunriver and you can’t eat another bagel or have cereal one more time. You’re on vacation and that means a city-worthy breakfast and brunch should be on your agenda! Check out Cafe Sintra in the Village at Sunriver for breakfast and beyond. The website says the restaurant offers casual dining, but the flavor is anything but; many of the menu items have a Portuguese twist. If you love the food, come back for lunch or dinner! (Other great spots in The Village are The Village Bar and Grill and Sunriver Brewing Company.) There’s no shame in finding your own favorite spot in a new town, just be sure to pass along the information when you get home. Everyone deserves to know that Central Oregon is a great place to take a food-cation!