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Good Restaurants in Bend?

I've been having a fun time reading the threads on the Bend Bubble 2 about the horrid housing, nightlife, shopping, activities, and restaurant situation we have here in Bend.

I like Bend. I've been here for just about 10 years and I came from a major city. I came to Bend because I didn't like all the traffic, the noise, the hustle and bustle of a major city. I came out here because I liked the slower pace, the quiet, the lack of humidity, how it gets freezing cold at night, how the lights blink red and the town is quiet at 10pm, how most people are really friendly, and an overall better quality of life.

I enjoy cooking food. I love to go out to eat. I read recipes and restaurant reviews. One point I can agree on in the Bend Bubble 2 thread is the misleading of media here in town. In particular, the restaurant reviews are horrible. Has there been one bad word said about ANY restaurant by the reviews at the bulletin, the source, and Gusto?

Why would these guys say anything bad about a restaurant when they have to turn around and sell them ad space? I would be more apt to buy an ad from your rag if you say how awesome my place is. “Your restaurant is sweet! Check out this great review we have written for you. Oh hey, let me transfer you to our account team, it looks like you’re due to renew your ad campaign”.

The lack of an honest opinion about the restaurants in Bend by the media and so called restaurant review magazine is one of the main reasons I started this little blog. I found myself disagreeing with many of the reviews I was reading. I know what I like and try to do my best to let you know where you can find good food at a good price, in my opinion. I don't get paid by anyone to write any of the posts and the money I make from the Google Ads will be donated to COCAAN to help feed the need.

But why do people say that there aren't any good restaurants here? I've said that there aren't any good Italian restaurants here. Or that Kanpai is the only good place to get sushi even though it's expensive (and because Don Don isn’t around). No there are not a million restaurants to choose from. This town is not big enough to support a huge variety.

Even great restaurants like Don Don end up leaving for whatever reason. I bet if they had a line out the door every night, they wouldn't have shut down. Oh I love you Don Don, please come back!

The idea that service is bad here is silly as well. Service can be bad at any time and any restaurant for anyone. I've had good and bad experiences at almost every restaurant that I frequent. I've had bad first experiences all over the country. But I've also had great first experiences and continued good times at many many restaurants.

Sometimes I wonder about certain people that ALWAYS seem to have a bad experience no matter where they go. I wonder how they present themselves to their waiter or waitress. I've witness people speaking down to their wait staff, insulting, and just being rude many times, and MANY of those times here in Bend. If you are rude to your waitress, don't be shocked if you don't get the best service. Dummy.

Watch the movie “Waiting” or talk to your friends who have worked in fast food or at a restaurant chain. Get an insight into what it's like and how you're treated by customers as a server.

Anyway, I forgot where I was going with all that. The point is, there are good restaurants here in Bend. They may not be exactly what you had where you came from but hey, we have Izzy's, Jonny Corinos, Applebees, Outback, Red Robin, and more to make you feel at home.

Sorry, that was mean. Just remember, you’re not in your big city anymore, you’re in that cute small town of Bend, Oregon. Remember why you moved here. It had better not been for the nightlife or the shopping cause everyone knows, we ain’t got it. Go to one of the many breweries like BBC, Cascade Lakes, McMenamins, or the tourist favorite – Deschutes. Get a pint of something that doesn’t read “Lite” on the side, and relax.

For more upscale dinning (but you can still wear jeans) you can try out The Blacksmith, Scanlon’s, Cork, Merenda, or 38 Degrees.

For some casual or family friendly dining you can check out my favorites like, El Caporal, Baldy’s, SOBA (I go there mostly for lunch), Angel Thai, and Olde Towne.

These are just quick examples. There are still many restaurants that I don’t get out to often at all.


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Kanpai Sushi and Sake Bar


It's not often that I get out to eat sushi in this town being that there is only one acceptable restaurant in town and it's expensive. Kanpai had a bad reputation for the wait staff and the sushi chefs being extremely rude. Customer service in general used to be horrible. The last couple times that I've been to Kanpai have been the opposite. The service has been quite good.

I'm sure everyone has their horror stories from Kanpai. I know my first time going there I almost walked out without paying. But, like I said, I've been satisfied the last couple times.

On the last visit I started off with Hot Sake. That's right I said HOT Sake. You can keep your fancy pants cold sake with the high prices and your "knowledge" of "traditional" sake. I like the cheap stuff and served hot.

Now I don't know my fancy wine's and I don't know one cold sake from the other. I know what I like and what I like gets me tossed and feels good in by big belly. I don't drink enough cold sake (or sake in general) to know one from the other. Kanpai should do a sampler and maybe I'd try em out. Until then, I'll stick with my hot sake and be plenty happy.

When I do go to Kanpai I try to get there early and during the week to take advantage of their Happy Hour Menu. Unfortunately, I have zero self control especially when I think I'm getting a deal so I still spend way too much.

The photo above and below are the only two I was able to get before it got too dark for me to take photos without using the flash. I'm lying, I took these with my cell and it doesn't have flash.

The tempura at Kanpai is good but has a really really light batter. I like a little heavier mix but it's still pretty good and you get a large selection of vegetables.

We also had the Hamachi Kama (I'm not going to pretend to say the definition but I'm pretty sure it's the cheek) which is insanely good. Get it!

And of course we had some nigiri. All good stuff but man, that bill took a toll on the old wallet. Fortunately the left overs provided enough for lunch the following day.

Anyway, if you have a chance to swing by Kanpai for some sushi or sake or both (my choice), I recommend it. Yes Shannon, I'm going to try Shoji's eventually. If you haven't been back to Kanpai since your bad experience (also Shannon, I think your post was the last one I've read where you had terrible service) I think you might be pleasantly surprised by their improvement.

Kanpai Sushi and Sake Bar
990 NW Newport Ave.
Bend, OR 97701

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Baltazar's Seafood and Spirits


I love seafood, I love Mexican food, so it's only fitting that I would love Baltazar's where they serve seafood with a Mexican flare. The wife an I made it over there for lunch recently with what appeared to be a Power Lunch crowd all biz casual types. I actually heard a guy use the phrase 'power lunch' while attempting to impress a waitress. I'm still laughing at him.

She had the fish tacos and I the skirt steak:

The wife traded me a fish taco for half of my steak. Well almost half. If you're smart (and very selfish) you'll fold over the thin tip of the steak and then cut half. It looks like half but you get more! Good thing she never reads this blog.

After lunch the wife described the lunch as clean. Makes sense to me. I will agree with her though, the food was very "clean". The fish was refreshing and not drenched in butter like at some places (El Caporal). I like El Cap's fish tacos but mainly because of the butter. Baltazar's was nice and light. The rice and beans were not heavy either. My steak was filling but not overwhelming even though my half was bigger than hers! hehe.

I enjoyed the lunch immensely and can't wait to get there for dinner in order to enjoy the Spirits.

If anyone has been there and has a recommendation on the drinks, I'd love to here it. I noticed on the drink menu that they have three sizes for margaritas, the largest costing like $18 or something around that! I can't wait.

1465 SW Knoll Ave (just off of 14th)

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BBC Fish Tacos - Bend Brewing Company

Bend Brewing Company

I love the BBC, or as its also called, the Bend Brewing Company. I haven't been disappointed by their service, food, or beers ever. I do have one complaint. Would it kill them to turn the heat on once in a while? I mean, I like it cold but damn, sometimes I leave my coat on if eating an early lunch on a cold day. Might as well have the patio open if it's warmer outside with snow on the ground than inside in my booth.

Ok that was a bit much but seriously, it's pretty cold in there sometimes. Turn the heat up Wendi, that's all I'm saying.

On my last visit I decided on the Fish Tacos. It's quite the meal. Look at all you get:

Rice and beans are under the two tortillas. So you assemble your fish tacos as you see fit. Here's a locals tip, ask for an extra tortilla. I don't like to stuff all of my food into the two tortillas provided and make a mess out of my meal. So having an extra tortilla works out perfectly. Now for some reason when you ask for ONE extra tortilla, you'll get two. Don't ask me why. I think I asked once and the answer was something like "that's how they come". Since that's all I remember...vaguely, I came to the conclusion that Outback is a strong beer.

The fish tacos are filling yet leave you feeling light and not weighed down like when I get the BBQ Turkey and fries. I also ask for some Chahula hot sauce since the salsa they provide doesn't pack the punch that I need.

Other BBC Reviews:
Fish and Chips
BBQ Turkey

Bend Brewing Company
1019 NW Brooks St.
Bend, OR, 97701

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I just wanted to take a moment to discuss edamame. Edamame is not good. It doesn't taste good, doesn't look good, doesn't even smell good, yet you want it cause it's neat, different, cool, hip, edgy, whatever. I get it, you want to feel cool, you want people to think that you're a world traveler, you want to impress your date, you want the waitress to know you are on top of things, so you order edamame in your best "I know what I'm talking about" voice in an attempt to blend in and look hip.'re awesome.

The only reason anyone orders or attempts to eat edamame is because it's called edamame. I'll admit, it's a fun name to say. Ed Eh Mom May. It rolls off the tongue and sounds cool. Go on, say it out loud right now. Now say it like you want to say it....edamammmmehhhhhhhh. You think you're so high class, so with it.

Edamame would not be as popular if it we called it by it's real name - Boiled Soy Beans. Think about it, would you have even clicked on the link to read this blog post if I titled it Boiled Soy Beans? I doubt you would have. Boiled Soy Beans...that doesn't sound good. You don't salivate over boiled soy beans. You don't want to pay $3 for some boiled soy beans. You don't suggest to some friends you're having over to watch American Idol that you can go boil some soy beans if any one's hungry.

"Hey fellas, thanks for coming over to my Superbowl party. For an appetizer we have some boiled soy beans with a nice dose of sea salt and some Zima's chilling on the deck."

HAHA Zima. If you're a guy and you order edamame, you might as well pour yourself a nice cold Lime Zima, Nancy.

Boiled soy beans...I just paused typing to actually give a big thumbs down motion to the wife...she just sighed and went about her business not giving me another thought. She loves edamame.

Soba's Edamame:

Kanpai's Shrimp and Vegi Tempura with Edamame in the background:

Please feel free to post your comment on who has the "best edamame" in town...suckers. Like you can have the best soy beans.

"Man, have you tried the soy beans at Shoji's?"
"Nah dogg, I'm still hooked on them soy beans over at Yokos"

Might as well rate who has the best can of green beans on the shelf at Rays. Soy beans = yuk face.

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