For more restaurant reviews go to bendbulletin.com/goeat
Limited creativity, but everything is served fresh and in generous portions.
Friendly, accurate and speedy, even without cheerleader costumes.
Sports-bar decor adorns an otherwise nondescript diner.
Location: 3081 N. Highway 97, Bend
Hours: 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day
Price range: Breakfast $5 to $14.25, lunch $6 to $!4
Credit cards: American Express, Discover, Master Card, Visa
Kids’ menu: On request
Vegetarian and gluten-free menu: Veggie omelet, salad, quesadilla
Alcoholic beverages: Beer and wine
Outdoor seating: Small patio
Reservations: Large parties
Contact: cheerleadersgrill.com, 541-330-0361
When Al and Linda Larson bought Cheerleaders Grill in 2002, it had the wholesome feel of a family-friendly sports bar.
Football jerseys and ice-hockey sticks hung from the rafters. Photographs signed by sports stars shared wall space with team photos of local youth sports teams.
The Larsons didn’t do much to change it. Ten years ago, however, they stopped serving dinners and made Cheerleaders a strictly breakfast-and-lunch diner. Seven years ago, they moved from South Third Street, the location now held by Laughing Planet, and moved to North Highway 97, next door to The Riverhouse hotel.
But the 64-seat cafe is still a family favorite, and it has more sports memorabilia than ever. A Green Bay Packers football jersey, signed by star quarterback Brett Favre (a family friend), hanging on a wall near the entrance. A banner celebrates the six basketball championships won by the Michael Jordan-era Chicago Bulls.
Suspended from the walls and ceilings, and in various display nooks, there are collections of baseball cards, hockey shirts and softball trophies. Colorful team banners and posters are everywhere. It seems the only thing missing are cheerleader outfits.
But the team spirit is there, even if the pompoms and “Sis-boom-bah” are not. On each of my recent visits, service was outstanding, both in terms of friendliness, accurate order taking and speedy delivery. The only snag I encountered was when a server forgot to bring the coffee I had ordered; the moment I mentioned it, she dropped everything else and returned with my java.
More than lunches, I will keep Cheerleaders high on my list of breakfast go-tos. They may not be as creative as other Bend morning favorites, such as Chow, McKay’s Cottage or the Victorian Café — there’s only one version of eggs Benedict, for instance, and there are no crepes on the menu — but everything is served fresh and in generous portion.
My fajita steak omelet ($14), for instance, was made with four eggs and filled with cubes of tender grilled beef, along with onions, mushrooms and green bell peppers. Monterey Jack cheese was melted on top, with diced tomatoes and green onions sprinkled upon all. It was served with hash browns and a choice of toast.
I also enjoyed a breakfast burrito, designed such that diners may choose any and all ingredients that accompany the scrambled eggs and cheddar cheese filling. From a dozen options, I picked onions, mushrooms and mildly spicy kielbasa sausage; others may have opted for ground beef, ham, bacon or pork sausage along with olives, tomatoes, bell peppers, and mild or spicy chilies.
A smaller-size burrito ($10), designated on the “senior moment menu” and made with one flour tortilla instead of two, was plenty big enough for me. I loved that it was wrapped so tightly that I could eat it with my hand without worrying that juices would drip through. Hash browns were served on the side, not inside the burrito.
The breakfast menu also includes biscuits and gravy, Mexican huevos rancheros, several omelet versions, and a “Mega Waffle Meal” with eggs, bacon and sausage links.
It may be hard to assess a diner without at some point trying its best burger. When Cheerleaders offered a bacon cheeseburger special ($10.25), one of 11 varieties of burgers served here, I couldn’t say no.
A 6-ounce patty, cooked medium well, was served on a modest bun dressed with mayonnaise and garnished with lettuce, tomato, white onions and pickles. It wasn’t fancy, but with the bacon and cheddar, it was very good. An abundant side of fries were oilier than I like, but tasty. I actually preferred a taco salad ($10.75) that I had on another occasion. A bed of fresh lettuces was topped with ample scoops of seasoned ground beef, and garnished with diced tomatoes, black olives and onion slices. Shredded cheddar came on top and crispy tortilla chips framed the plate.
A grilled turkey and Swiss sandwich on sourdough ($7.50) looks like a good selection for another occasion. But I’m equally intrigued by the Philly ($11), which has everything I look for in that sandwich, and more: It’s described as sliced beef grilled with peppers, onions, mushrooms, bacon and Swiss on a hoagie roll, served with au jus.
— John Gottberg Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .