I went to Oregon expecting to come back with lots of memories of the beautiful landscape and outdoors activities, but what really ended up leaving an impression on me was their food scene. Don’t get me wrong, the road trip from Vancouver to Bend, and then back up north to Portland, was a gorgeous one with a variety of mountains and canyons and farmland BUT a good majority of my time was spent eating, and I was impressed.
Our weekend started out in Bend, Oregon where hipsters and outdoors people (often one and the same) roam the town in search of the best lattes and bike trails. To say the city is a popular one these days, is an understatement. It seemed at every turn there was a new townhouse complex, shopping area, restaurant district or hockey arena being built. It’s no wonder why Bend is rated as one of the best places to live in the United States. Everything is relatively easy to get to, it has some of the best hiking and biking trails, ski areas and bodies of water for fishing (Deschutes is a world class fly fishing river), as well as water sports like paddle boarding and kayaking, and there are all sorts of fun little restaurants, bars and bakeries to indulge in. Oh, and let’s not forget, it has one brewery for every 4,500 people, which means a ton of tasty craft beers to choose from.
Speaking of craft beer, we toured the oldest brewery in town, Deschutes Brewery, where over 500 bottles are packaged every minute. I tasted a half a dozen or so and especially recommend their staple beer – Black Butte. And although we didn’t have time, the locals will recommend trying a handful of breweries and their respective pubs to get a real sense of the craft beer presence. (A Bend local recommended I try the Boneyard Brewery next time I’m in town).
Before indulging in the 6+ varieties of beer, I made sure to check out some of the outdoor activities that Bend has to offer. Justin from Skjersaa’s took me out to a super scenic bike trail along the Deschutes River and I took myself out on a lovely little Stand Up Paddle boarding tour, right in the heart of town. For all your ski/snowboard needs head to Skjersaa’s, for everything mountain biking check out Hutch’s and for all things water sports check in with Tumalo Creek. Between these three outfitters, you’ll be hooked up with everything you need for a fun visit, exploring the forests, mountains and rivers of Bend.
To fuel up before all the sports you’re bound to get into while in Bend, make sure to plan a stop at Jackson’s Corner, a local hotspot for breakfast/brunch. Their lattes are expertly made, their food locally sourced, and the atmosphere light, happy, trendy, and charming.
So that was the first 24 hours of my trip. The next 48 were spent in the larger, more well known city north of Bend, Portland. As mentioned at the beginning of this blog, I didn’t set out to eat my way through the weekend…it just…happened, and it resulted in an especially satisfying weekend.
My first lunch in the city of weird was fried chicken and waffles with kimchi maple syrup. It was comfort food meets korean and it was delicious. This was at the restaurant in the historic building of the Crystal Hotel, named Zeus Café.
My next meal was at the first certified, sustainable sushi restaurant in the world, Bamboo sushi. We ate at the location on the west side of town (which is in a charming neighbourhood full of shops and beautiful lit trees) but there’s also a location on the east side. We sat at the sushi bar, which is always the best spot if you can get a seat, and our chef Heeyoun was a young, cheerful Canadian who has clearly spent her time well perfecting her craft and served us fresh, delicious and aesthetically pleasing dish after dish.
The following day we went Italian, also on the west side of town, and like Bamboo sushi, it served authentic and fresh cuisine. Bar Mingo is the more casual sister to Caffe Mingo and did not disappoint. The wine list and freshly made pasta were totally on point. The key to good Italian food is in the freshness and simplicity of the ingredients and Bar Mingo had both of those qualities in spades.
Lastly, as if we hadn’t eaten enough, there was a quick stop at the many food trucks stationed around the city, my favourite definitely being the Gaby sandwich at the Grilled Cheese Grill truck at SW 10th and Alder.
So there you have it! Go to Bend and Portland, eat lots of tasty food, then work it off with the abundance of outdoor sports that it offers!