When your main priority is taking in the sights and sounds of Bend, street food is just what you need.
This city, and nearby Sunriver, may boast incredible restaurant fare but there are times when you don’t want to plan ahead to make a reservation or wait a long time to be seated to have a rather formal sit-down meal. Fortunately, food carts and food trucks are spread all over this resort town. They include permanent food cart lots, like The Lot on Bend’s west side and On Tap, situated on the east side, both with equally tasty offerings, including beer on tap. Let’s dig into these and some other top-rated favorites.
745 NW Columbia Street
Look for a group of food carts around a central seating area with a decorative lava rock wall and you’ve found Bend’s original food cart pod.
Owner Dave Staley and his wife Michelle secured an overgrown lot in 2012 and transformed it into a spot with an inviting ambience. The open garage doors are a part of Dave’s special touch and create just the right atmosphere for enjoying a cool brew.
The innovative concept was well received from the start and remains the perfect place to satisfy any craving for comfort food. Choose from four carts – Frickin Faco, BND Burgz ‘n Dogz, Greek Street and À la Carte. Frickin Faco is actually a food truck kitchen, serving up fried chicken and fish tacos from an old double decker bus that Dave Staley bought and converted in partnership with Brandon Chambers of À la Carte.
One of the most attractive features of The Lot is the taproom with 16 rotating tap handles. You’ll find cider, kombucha, CBD, hard seltzer, wine and beer, more specifically a wide variety of local and regional pints to wash down your sumptuous meal.
1424 Cushing Drive
What could be more exciting than 30 rotating taps with a variety of beer, wine, cider and kombucha options? Sit inside the semi-covered tap house or outdoors, where you’ll find a few tables, a beer garden, fire pits, a lawn and more casual seating, all ideal for summer days. Your preference may be determined by the best vantage point for the view of Pilot Butte. If the weather isn’t cooperative, there’s a clear plastic tarp to tuck you safely under complete cover.
Does your mouth start to water when you hear the names Barrio, CURBBQ, Himalayan Bites, Jackaroo’s Aussie Pies, Shaka Shave Ice and The Bleu Rooster? That’s expected. These six on-site food trucks serve up a range of global delights from tacos, burritos and enchiladas to brisket, noodles, shave ice, acai bowls, gyros, po boys and much more.
Learn more at: https://www.ontapbend.com/
787 NE Purcell Boulevard
Bolstering the fairly quiet restaurant scene on Bend’s east side, River’s Place is “a community gathering oasis”.
There’s dog-friendly outdoor seating for those patronizing any of the five food trucks – Bluma’s Chicken & Waffles, Bai Tong on wheels, Nik’ Snacks, SOPA, for innovative Mexican cuisine, and Hogan’s Hoagies. Pick a spot from the casual seating, or on the lawn with its kids’ play area, or maybe around the gas fire pit. For a cool beverage on a hot day, check out the climate-controlled indoor tap house. Enter through the garage doors to choose from a large selection of beer, wine and cider.
Tucked away from the bustle of Highway 20 by Jake’s Diner, River’s Place may not be the easiest place to find. It might help to know that Costco is a nearby landmark. Either way, you’ll be glad you found it.
Learn more at: https://www.riversplacebend.com/
536 NW Arizona Avenue
This local watering hole is centrally located between the Old Mill and Downtown Bend.
Its distinctive super-chill vibe is a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of downtown and it’s a testimony to its origins. Mikel Lomsky and Caleb Trowbridge started playing music together in 2016 in a garage-turned-studio on the spot where The Podski is now located. Caleb was bartending at Crux at the time, and when Mikel mentioned he wanted to put together a food truck lot, Caleb told him he’d love to handle the beer bar. Clearly, it all worked out. Today The Podski is known for its a diverse mix of food and businesses.
There’s something from every corner of the world – southern chicken from Tin Pig, Polish pierogis from Big Skis, vegan cuisine from Toasty, burritos, sushi, Thai food, tacos and a European charcuterie with a difference, it’s all on one lot. What could be better than exciting mouthfuls of modern comfort food topped off with your choice of beer or wine?
Learn more at: https://www.thepodski.com
Don’t underestimate street food offerings. For example, the former executive chef of CHOW, a well-loved Bend brunch restaurant displays his talents at the food truck Bleu Rooster with standout dishes like the PBLT—crispy pork belly, topped with Sriracha aioli, lettuce, tomato and house-made bacon-tomato jam on a brioche bun. Food cart lots may look deceptively simple but you can unearth culinary treasures that will blow your mind and keep you coming back for more. It’s no wonder they are wildly popular with Bend residents and visitors alike.