As Bend grows, so do the tasty options for a great lunch at a great price. With so many restaurants new and established to choose from, the only question is where to begin. Lucky for you, we’ve made finding the best lunch in Bend a breeze.
Mexicali Flare at El Taquero
Opening in 2020 on Greenwood Avenue, El Taquero was baptized in fire, starting up a food truck in one of the most difficult years for small business owners, ever. Despite the challenges, the small truck has persevered, a testament to the bold flavors the regulars keep coming back for. El Taquero serves traditional Mexican tacos—handmade soft corn tortillas, onion, cilantro and salsa—with a variety of meats, marinated and cooked fresh for your meal. The clear favorite is the housemade birria, melt in your mouth, slow-cooked beef, made with a family-recipe straight from Mexico and served with a savory broth called consomé (similar to a French dip sandwich with au jus). If you’ve ever scrolled through Instagram and seen cheesy, fried tacos being dipped into a meaty broth, this is that dish.
Aside from the tacos, El Taquero serves burritos, mulitas and quesadillas, along with some Mexican-fusion dishes like the birria pizzadilla and the birria ramen. The food truck also announces new daily flavors of their aguas frescas, tall and refreshing drinks with flavors like watermelon, lime and tamarind.
Globally-Inspired Eats at Spork
Spork, on Bend’s west side, has become a well known quick-bite destination. The cuisine is described as “global fusion,” and features dishes such as Thai-inspired peanut tomato curry and spicy pork noodles, along with Mexican-inspired chilaquiles, tinga sando and several taco options. All entrees at Spork come with a side dish, but don’t expect the usual side of fries or a salad; the sides available at Spork are a cucumber salad that has both sweet and tangy notes, and kimchi, a mildly-spicy Korean dish of fermented cabbage.
Despite their global faire, Spork still puts in the effort to support local businesses and serves both Sparrow Bakery carrot cake and Bontà gelato for dessert. On the drink menu, guests can find a full bar available with plenty of unique takes on classic cocktails to try, like the Oaxacan old fashioned, made with mezcal, anejo, agave, Ancho Reyes liqueur and bitters. Looking to try a new drink without any alcohol? Experiment with Spork’s selection of kombuchas and drinking vinegars.
Fresh Ingredients at Bend Pizza Kitchen
Bend Pizza Kitchen is, as one might expect, a pizza restaurant serving whole pies and pizza by the slice. BPK prides themselves on using quality, local ingredients whenever possible and boasts that over 70% of their ingredients are organic and/or locally sourced. Pizzas are made to order and cooked the old fashioned way in either a thin crust, New York style, or a deep dish Chicago style. Alternatively, cauliflower crusts are available for gluten free folk or anyone looking to switch things up a bit.
Other than pizza, BPK makes mouth watering calzones and hot sandwiches, made with the same quality ingredients as the pizza. The sandwiches are served on Sparrow Bakery rolls, and if you haven’t tried Sparrow bread before, have you really been to Bend? On the dessert menu is house-made cannoli, Bontà Gelato and vegan New York cheesecake. BPK can be found in Bend’s NorthWest Crossing neighborhood.
Healthy Mexican at Longboard Louie’s
Longboard Louie’s offers healthy Mexican food in a fast, casual environment on the east side of Bend. The restaurant emphasizes fresh, healthy foods and large portions at affordable prices, prepared in a clean, lively environment. All meals are available for dining in or takeout, with plenty of vegan and vegetarian options.
Enjoy tacos, burritos, salads, combo plates and a la carte items such as enchiladas and tortilla soup. Top your meal with a variety of house-made salsas including fresh pico de gallo, red and green salsas and fish sauce. For drinks, grab a soda or horchata, or opt for a “make your own mimosa.”
Unique Wraps and Mountain Culture at Parilla Grill
Parilla Grill established themselves as a part of Bend’s west side back in 2000. Since then, the restaurant has pursued a mission to refuel all the skiers, bikers, surfers and more who come through Bend. Similar to the surfer culture of Southern California, Bend has a mountain culture; people are laid-back, enjoy adventure and try not to take things too seriously. At Parilla, you can expect to feel this culture with friendly employees, fusion-style wraps and more haphazardly placed stickers than the average Bendite’s Hydro Flask. With wraps flavored with Thai peanut sauce, spicy chili, jambalaya, wasabi and Nashville hot sauce, the tastes here can be described as global fusion.
On the side, try out Hefe’s fish tacos, clam chowder, homemade guac and loaded, Mexican-inspired tater tots. Seasonal agua frescas and horchata are served alongside local craft brews, margaritas and wine. As an added bonus for any avid adventurer on the go, all food is ordered counter-style, meaning the wait to eat is never too long.
Bold Portuguese Cuisine at Café Sintra
Portuguese food is definitely not as commonly-found as other European cuisines, but it’s flavors are just as delicious. At Café Sintra, guests get the chance to sample unique flavors in a casual and trendy setting in their downtown Bend location on Bond Street or at a second location in Sunriver. The breakfast menu is lined with items such as the monte cristo sandwich, the Portuguese benedict with linguica sausage and the Francesca breakfast sandwich with dijonnaise.
Lunch is where the Portuguese flavors really shine with tons of fresh sandwiches, salads, soups and pizzas with ingredients like linguica sausage, fresh goat cheese, drizzles of olive oil, and plenty of fresh tomatoes and herbs. The eatery is a counter-style establishment, so tables are on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Quality Street Tacos and Margs at El Sancho
Admit it, you got excited when you read “tacos and margs,” right? It’s alright, we feel the same way, and that’s why El Sancho has become a Bend staple since it opened as a food cart in 2010. The menu has a great selection of Mexican meats to fill the taco with, and is one of the only places around where you can get either chorizo or lengua. For a non-meat taco, the shop also offers fillings of Oaxacan cheese, potato and poblano, and a blend of grilled mushrooms. Other than tacos, El Sancho serves up tamales, tortilla soup, deliciously-snackable fried plantains and more.
As for libations, El Sancho has nine margarita flavors, plus one seasonal flavor on rotation. For house cocktails, try a michelada with homemade mix, or any number of their Mexican and tropical inspired cocktails, all of which can be enjoyed on their large outdoor patio, which is heated in colder months.
Flavor-Packed Stacks at Planker Sandwiches
A sandwich shop with a local twist, Planker is located in a prime downtown location, making a mid-shopping lunch break easier. The sandwich shop has a cozy interior with walls decked in Central Oregon memorabilia, like vintage ski gear and old mountain resort advertisements. Open for breakfast and lunch, the menu is sure to please everyone. The breakfast sandos come in a couple different forms, depending on your appetite and diet, from the small tomato muffin sandwich with a fried egg to the almighty Planker, a sandwich with two fried eggs, bacon, ham, avocado and white cheddar. All breakfast sandos are served all day.
For lunch, Planker stacks turkey, Italian meatballs, roast beef, chicken salad, tuna and more to create amazing artisan sandwiches, like the roasted turkey, which comes with housemade pickled onions, bacon, avocado and provolone. All the ingredients and sandwiches are prepared fresh daily to ensure the best flavor.
A Local Hangout at Jackson’s Corner
Jackson’s Corner, with an east side location on Cushing Drive and a west side location on Delaware Avenue, serves up fresh, local and sustainable food, and they plan on keeping it that way. Not for the sake of being trendy, but because they believe sustainable food is the future. Based on this place’s popularity with locals, it would seem people agree.
Jackson’s Corner is a great go-to spot for brunch, lunch and dinner. Their brunch menu features classics like biscuits and gravy, BLTs and salads, but each one is made with a fine attention to flavor and detail; here you will find well-known classics that have been taken to a new level.
Hawaiian Comfort Food at Big Island Kona Mix Plate
For fans of Hawaiian-style plate meals, Big Island Kona Mix Plate, located in the Old Mill by the movie theater, has all the meat, rice and potato mac salad you could ask for. Hawaiian staples like loco moco, kalua pork and their sweet and spicy chicken are served alongside other Asian dishes that made their way to the Hawaiian Islands like beef bulgogi, chicken teriyaki, yakisoba, pot stickers and tempura-fried shrimp, most of which can be ordered spicy with “grandma’s homemade garlicky sauce.”
A great lunch option is the mixed plate which comes with two or three entrees and your choice of side. The reviews on their website boast that newcomers and native Hawaiians alike will find food they love here, and that this might be the only place in Bend to get real Kal-bi ribs. Grab a beer or wine with the meal, and enjoy.
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