Best of Bend Oregon 2010
(Editors note: right off the bat I have to say that I wrote 98% of this about a month before posting it. I was at my favorite watering hole reading the results in The Source Weekly when I realized I never posted mine. I did skim through them and thought that I had to make a note before you read my rant, BLOND BOMB-FUCKING-SHELL won Best Locally Brewed Beer!!! Blond Bombshell!!!! I mean, you can take the ass end of any beer from Deschutes and BBC and it will taste better than the Blond Bombshell....in my opinion. But I'm only one guy without any advertising revenue....what do I know.)
The Source Weekly Best of Bend 2010 ballots were being accepted up through Friday, July 9th for you to add your opinion about what your favorites of Bend Oregon are, from Best Tattoo parlor, to Best Politician. Best pet store to Best bank branch. It is unclear to me as to how anyone can honestly vote on most of the categories offered. I mean, who really goes out of their way to try different places that offer piercings or know what business is the Best Green Business or the Best Auto Shop.
"Best of" lists are complete shit. And this year, The Source Weekly is going to take the brunt of my abuse for calling bullshit. Gusto and whoever else has lists like these, including this one I'm writing now are also guilty. For the last couple years I have complained about these "Best Of" type lists. There is not a third party that audits the voting system, there is only the trust that we have as readers to take the legitimacy of the voting pool.
Did you vote? If you are not a business owner, or connected in some capacity to a business that could be included in a category, why would you vote? What is your incentive? The Source Weekly listed out 89 questions, that you have to login in order to fill out (meaning you had to give them your email and create a login password), and you have to answer at least 25 questions in order for your vote to count.
The incentive could be some gift certificates to local businesses. But honestly, will you, the average person with no personal connection actually create a username/password and answer enough questions to qualify? And on top of that, are these questions/categories even worth a vote? Most of them are absolutely asinine. No one has the experience to know what the Best of anything in Bend is unless they have tried everything. And no one has. Shit, I've been writing this blog for over 4 years and I still have not been to every restaurant in Bend. Especially over the last year.
Best of Bend lists only serve the media that produce them. They create categories sooo stupid that it allows their advertisers the opportunity to get some creative ad space outside of their normal ad spots. Best Politician? Best Local Ad Campaign? Best Vet?
Seriously, how are these categories? Might as well have Best Community Outreach, Best Dog Friendly Business, Best Realtor, Best Athletes Foot Cure, Best Massage (you know what I mean), Best Spot to get Sun, Best mountain in Bend to Ski, Best Place to Rent Boats, Best Fast Food Chain That is New to 3rd Street between the months of Sept - April, Best Burger on Pilot Butte, Best Brewery Named after a river, Best Advertising Budget (oh wait, isn't that restaurant of the year?).
That being said, I'm going to offer my Best of Bend answers for The Source Weekly's survey as they relate to food/restaurants. I'm not going to answer the additional bullshit categories like Art Gallery, Politics, and Car Dealerships. My answers never match up with the actual results but I think we understand why that is.
Best Local Radio Personality - Awesome, I just said that I was going to stick to food/restaurants for the Best of Bend list but right off the bat, I'm going to answer this one - @929kris is my favorite. She turned me on to Carolina Drama by the Racantours and plays a mean mix that I enjoy listening to in my car (since 92.9 doesn't offer online streaming yet and I don't have a radio).
Best Radio Station - 92.9fm (formally 92.7) is my station of choice. Of course I'm sure NPR will win. I don't even know what station to get that on.
Best Local Blog - Hack Bend is awesome. My man is consistent with his updates about the happenings in Bend. He won last year and should win again this year. Jon is awesome. I actually got honorable mention last year but don't think I should get it again as I suck. I have not been up to date on anything.
Best Breakfast - My vote goes to Jake's Diner again and will continue until they let me down. The Wife's favorite is The Breakfast Club. The Club is very good but I go with Jake's.
This is on the back of another disappointing breakfast at Victorian Cafe on the 4th of July. Horrid chicken fried steak that was insanely tough, swimming in grease, and breading burnt. Over medium eggs were barely over easy at best. The Wife didn't care for her overpriced special either.
Jake's is the best! Go there for huge portions, no frills, great pricing and you'll be happy every time.
Best Coffee - You KNOW I am a fan of Starbucks so my opinion doesn't count to most of you. I actually hate coffee anything. I drink one cup from the Wife's pot every other day and I normally put in french vanilla creamer on weekdays and Bailey's on the weekends. That being said, I do like Bom Dia and the Wife LOVES it.
Best Drive-Thru Coffee - Starbucks. Take that Dutch Bro's!
Best Place for Tea - My grammy's tea rules, so does the tea in the UK. I bet my boys Peter, Simon, and Paul (the threesome of Brits that everyone in Bend should know) who I see at Deschutes Brewery or Brother Jon's all the time make up a mean batch of tea while watching England suck balls in World Cup (again). There are only one or two places dedicated to tea in Bend. I'm sure one will win and the other will get runner up.
Best Bakery - Sparrow wins in my opinion with their Ocean Roll. I once walked into Nancy's P's bakery and asked for an Ocean Roll. They were not amused. It was an honest mistake as I was told that they sold them. It was Backporch right next door that sells Ocean Rolls. My bad.
Best Lunch - Toomies is still one of my favorite lunches in Bend (but not THE Best). For $6.50 you get a salad with peanut sauce, phad thai, rice, and what ever your main dish you order. I still go with the Chicken Red Curry (3 stars) - Good Old #11.
But like I said last year, Brother Jon's should win and I definitely think they deserve best lunch. $9 sandwiches that are massive. Great food, great prices, great beers on tap, and more TVs than Toomies. Brother Jon's!
Best Salad - If you have ever read anything I've written, you'd know that I'm not into salads. My favorite salad is a taco salad I make at home which is awesome. But if I have to choose, I would take the Buffalo Chicken Salad from Crouton's.
Best Sandwich/Deli - What's going on here? We've combined Best Sandwich with Best Deli? Does that mean I have to choose the best sandwich from a deli or just omit one or the other?
My favorite sandwich is served up at Brother Jon's. The club sandwich is my favorite and at only $9 (a sandwich big enough for two) it is incredible.
I don't really have a favorite Deli. To me a deli is where you go to get sliced meats and cheeses. I'm not going to drive across town for a deli so my favorite is the closest one with the best prices.
Best Casual Dining - The last time I answered this I said it was Deschutes Brewery but with their steadily increasing prices and decreasing portions, it seems like they are trying to compete in the Fine Dining category. Right now I'm thinking along the lines of El Caporal West, Kona Mixed Plate, and Bend Brewing Company. I think I'd vote for Kona Mixed Plate, and I'm really looking forward to their new location opening up right next to the theater in the Old Mill.
Best Family Dining - Jake's Diner and Mio Sushi are two of my favorites for family dining. There is something on either menu for everyone and the atmosphere is ripe for kiddies.
Best Fine Dining - It is difficult for me to pick just one here as there are a few Fine Dining restaurants that always seem to make the list for me. Trattoria Sbandati is my favorite for a special occasion or just when the Wife needs a little pampering, Ariana (their beef carpacio is just insane), Blacksmith, and Jackalope Grill are all great Fine Dining restaurants and you really can't go wrong with any of them.
But, I can't be wishy washy too much so I'll pick one - Trattoria Sbandati. I went there 6 times over the last year for dinner and LOVED every single dish (except for that one lemon mousse or whatever it was).
Best Service - Zydeco and 900 Wall both are well staffed and have great service on a regular basis. Now that is not to say that I've had phenomenal service at other places but I'm also starting to get to know owners and staff and that definitely can change things in the service category.
Places that I visit on a regular basis that all give out great customer service include El Caporal, Joolz, Brother Jon's, Trattoria Sbandati, Gardners Automotive (now called Steve's Automotive), Stars, and 10 Barrel (whoever the hiring manager is needs a plaque, they are hiring serious "talent").
Best Vegetarian - Nope, they are all losers.
Best Grocery Store - I say Rays since they have a liquor store inside.
Best Place to Buy Fresh Produce - The Wife takes care of buying veggies.
Best Cheap Eats - Even though he's a street vendor, El Sancho (Joel) is awesome. That and the Breakfast Club is great for some cheap eats.
Best BBQ - Baldy's is still the King of the Que.
Best Pizza - Pizza in Bend seems to be going downhill. Pizza Mondo has been in the dog house for a while. Too many bad experiences in a row....but somehow I bet they win again for the billionth year in a row.
I can't seem to get a good pizza delivered for a reasonable price anymore. My favorite pizza right now is coming from happy hour at Community Flatbread Pizza. Cheap and awesome. I still go to Cibellis for a slice fairly often but the newest batch of kids at the Westside location don't seem to give a shit about me or my pie.
Best Sushi - Mio Sushi is still my favorite Sushi in Bend. I've been ordering more nigiri instead of rolls as the rolls are over packed with rice lately. Its too much. I know all of you Whitey's like to throw in your california-rollesque opinions on sushi but I know what I'm talking about here. I've eaten sushi with actual Japanese people. That makes me more qualified than you.
Best Mexican - La Rosa is my favorite over the last year. Very clean food, not covered in butter/oil/grease.
Best Burrito - Over the past year, when I wanted a good burrito I have been going to Baja Fresh. I haven't been to Super Burrito or Taco Stand in a long time. I'm sure one of those will win but my personal favorite lately is a bean and cheese (mixed beans) add chicken at Baja Fresh.
Best Thai - Taste of Thai is still my favorite. Last year's comment still lives today "those ladies can sell a ketchup Popsicle to a woman in white gloves. "you want spring roll, you wife will like", "you buy one more, you have lunch for tomorrow." Oh they are awesome."
Best Chinese - I'd vote for Double Happiness. There are not that many options available.
Best Italian - Shiiiit, Trattoria Sbandati hands down!
Best Steak - Still would go with Blacksmith and Jackalope Grill.
Best Seafood - Baltazar's and Mio Sushi.
Best Dessert - The Wife would kill me if I didn't give props to Cuppa Yo. Come on, its just frozen yogurt! Yo not gonna get my money! Actually one of my favorite nights out is to hit up happy hour at a couple places, get a small plate somewhere else and then end up at Blacksmith for some bread pudding or their tart trio. Blacksmith wins!
Best Place to Get a Sugar High - Not sure how this is a category. I guess someone wants to make both Goodies and Powells happy.
Best Bagel - I normally get a Bagel at Big O' Bagel on Galveston. It is conveinent to me, they taste good, and the price is fair. I like the Bacon Eye Opener on the Bacon/Cheddar bagel.
Best Burger - Ah yes, the old Pilot Butte vs Dandy's discussion. I still like the price and flavor of the Grand Dandy over the Pilot Butte burgers. Dandy's wins in my book.
Best Ethnic - Joolz is my favorite "ethnic" outside of the other ethnic categories. The wife would say Spork but I havent even had it yet. I do like Spice Box but have only tried it once so far.
Best Patio Dining - Brother Jon's has patio seating but its not my favorite (even though I'm at Bro J's almost daily). I still think the BBC (Bend BREWING Company) has the best outdoor seating in Bend.
Best Caterer - Not sure how to judge this one as I haven't had a caterer this year let alone multiple.
Best Sports Bar - Brother Jon's is my favorite place to watch sporting events. Plenty of TV's, great group of people to watch with, great grub, stiff drinks, great prices.
Best Hangover Grub - Not really my thing. I usually just down a tylonol, a few pints of water and a banana. Then get ready for my first drink at lunch.
Best Chow Cart - As you know, I don't frequent the street vendors often. But El Sancho and Soupcon are both awesome. I vote for there tag team offerings.
Best Brew Pub - Brew pub is defined as a pub that servers beer brewed on site. That gives us a few options here in Bend. Bend Brewing Company, Deschutes, 10 Barrel, Silvermoon, Cascade Lakes (though they don't brew at the Bend location, at least I don't think they do), McMenamins, and the new Boneyard Beer.
Of these options, the best Beer and food, it has to go to Deschutes, even though I have to take out a personal line of credit to get some fish and chips.
Best Smoothie - Oh lordy. I don't drink fruity drinks. Do the olives in my martini count as a fruit?
Best Bar - My favorite bar is Brother Jon's (if you haven't guessed by now). Then there are the specialty places that I like going to for certain things. The Wife and I end up at the Blacksmith for dessert after hitting up a couple other spots for apps or small plates. She'll get a dessert, I'll get either a bourbon or a martini.
I also really like hitting up Joolz for some Arak and see my boy Ken over at Astro.
Best Girls Night Out - Eh, Stars?
Best Guy's Night Out - Stars.
Best Happy Hour - I have to vote for 900 Wall. Kid friendly, 3:30-6, great prices and food. Their shrimp and scallops ceviche is great and so are the pizzas.
Other notables are Blacksmith, Joolz, and Bo Restobar.
One thing you will note by my picks, you will not see an ad from my favorites on my site since I don't take advertiser revenue other than Google Adwords. I also donate all my earnings to charity. I am bias to places I like, and places I dont. These are all my opinions and you should form your own. Try different places and don't listen to idiots like me.