Restaurant review: Vegetarian options in Bend

By John Gottberg Anderson For The Bulletin

Next week: Cabin 22

For readers’ ratings of more than 150 Central Oregon restaurants, visit bendbulletin.com/restaurants.

As diners increase their awareness of what they’re putting into their bodies — chemicals and hormones as well as proteins and sugars — the interest in vegetarian cuisine has grown exponentially.

What’s more, the farm-to-table movement, emphasizing familiarity with local producers, has prompted many food lovers to turn beyond simply avoiding meat: Veganism, whose devotees repudiate any animal products, including eggs and cheese, continues to grow in popularity.

For some time, most Bend-area restaurants have offered a few vegetarian items on their menus. At first, that may have been no more than a plate of steamed vegetables. Now chefs have added more gourmet creations. You can find spinach-ricotta cannelloni at Ariana, corn-and-arugula quinoa at 900 Wall, vegetable risotto at Zydeco.

A few other restaurants (Spork and Barrio immediately come to mind) have almost as many vegetarian as nonvegetarian items on their menus. And Bend’s trio of Middle Eastern restaurants (Joolz, Kebaba and the Mazza Bistro) continually satisfy vegetarians with a selection of chick-pea falafel, stuffed grape leaves (dolmades), hummus, baba ghanouj and other traditional items.

The ensuing restaurants, however, do them one better. These seven establishments have made vegetarian and vegan cooking an art, not just a service.

— Reporter: janderson@bendbulletin.com

Broken Top Bottle Shop & Ale Cafe

“BTBS” is many things to many people. For beer lovers, it’s a pour house. For carnivores, it offers meats smoked on-site, as well as a marinated lamb platter and one of Bend’s best pulled-pork sandwiches. But to vegetarians and their kin, the menu developed by former chef Bethlyn Rider (who recently left BTBS to open her own mobile kitchen, “Global Fusion”) is impressive and expansive — even without a gas stove to cook it on.

My favorite veggie entree is a blue-corn tamale pie, layered with vegetables and covered with cheese and a red-chili enchilada sauce. The roasted beet salad with candied walnuts and pink grapefruit is delicious. And the smoked tempeh Reuben may make you forget all about pastrami.

Just off College Way in northwest Bend, this spacious cafe has a large outdoor patio on its east side and a wall-length cooler filled with international ales on its west side. Service is excellent, whether you find a vacant table or order at the bar.

Location: 1740 NW Pence Lane, Bend

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day

Menu highlights: Blue-corn tamale pie, black-bean hummus, sesame-salmon sushi kale salad

Contact: 541-728-0703; www.btbsbend.com

Cafe Yumm

Launched in Eugene in 1997, Cafe Yumm has grown to 14 restaurants around the Northwest — including, most recently, Seattle. The Bend cafe, in the Old Mill District, was franchised seven years ago; like the rest of the group, its emphasis is on healthy, organic cuisine, not just vegetarian. Many meals may include salmon, turkey or chicken, but tofu and tempeh are common variations.

The classic meal here is the Original Yumm! Bowl, made with brown rice, black beans, red salsa, a variety of veggies and other ingredients. It’s made special by the house-recipe Yumm! Sauce. A blend of almonds, lemon juice and numerous other ingredients, it is “egg-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, gluten-free (and) wheat-free,” as its label announces.

Diners order at the counter and wait for their order to be delivered. I like the Secret Asian Man salad, which includes chow mein-style noodles and a sweet ginger-miso dressing. Sandwiches include the Deli Lama, billed as the “ultimate vege sandwich.”

Location: 325 SW Powerhouse Drive, Suite 130 (Old Mill District), Bend

Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day

Menu highlights: Yumm! Bowls, sandwiches, wraps, soups, salads

Contact: 541-318-9866; www.cafeyumm.com

Laughing Planet

With nine restaurants in Portland and another four divided between Eugene, Corvallis and Reno, Nevada, Laughing Planet is far from a newcomer to the vegetarian dining scene. And the group realizes that being vegetarian-friendly doesn’t have to mean excluding those with carnivorous tendencies, gently called “omnivores.” But LP does give special attention on its menu to those of vegan, paleo and gluten-free preferences.

My favorites are the Highway to Kale salad, featuring cranberries, pumpkin seeds and carrots in a lemon-parsley vinaigrette; a house-made cauliflower-and-chickpea soup; and the Che Guevara burrito, containing black beans, plantains, sweet potatoes, brown rice, pico de gallo and chipotle barbecue sauce. Counter orders are delivered to tables.

Laughing Planet bends over backward to be a family-friendly restaurant, with toy dinosaurs positioned around the establishment and plenty of space between tables for kids to play. Diners uncomfortable around small children might want to avoid early dinner hours.

Location: 913 NE Third St., Bend

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday

Menu highlights: Soups, salads, burritos, rice bowls

Contact: 541-306-3995, www.laughingplanetcafe.com

Next Level Burger

Matt and Cierra de Gruyter are two people who like healthy food for themselves and their children. A former Marine, bartender and venture capitalist, Matt swapped a suit for chef’s uniform in mid-July when he and Cierra, a Redmond High School graduate who met her husband while studying psychology in college, opened their west-side restaurant.

Somewhere along the way, Cierra became a master of plant-based cooking. Until I dined at Next Level Burger, I had never been a big fan of “veggie” burgers — but this little cafe in Century Center changed my mind.

There are seven varieties of burgers, made with ingredients such as quinoa, tempeh, beans and rice, tofu and vegetables. There are chili-cheese dogs and mock-bacon BLT sandwiches. There are kale salads with garlic-tahini dressing. And you can get a grilled-cheese sandwich with tomato soup just like mom used to make, only better.

Location: 70 SW Century Drive, Suite 120, Bend

Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Menu highlights: Veggie burgers, hot dogs and sandwiches, as well as salads and soups

Contact: 541-306-6778, www.nextlevelburger.com

Salud!

At Salud! — on Franklin Avenue, beside the Re/Max real estate offices — Corrine O’Shea wraps nutmeats, fruits and vegetables in collard leaves, and offers tacos rolled into leaves of romaine. Raw-food specials range from pad thai to falafel.

Location: 431 NW Franklin Ave., Suite 150, Bend

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday

Menu highlights: Collard green wraps, tacos, salads

Contact: 541-678-5368, www.facebook.com

Sarah’s Raw And Vegan Cafe

At Sarah’s Raw and Vegan Cafe, facing an alley behind Cafe of Life Chiropractic on Colorado Avenue, Sarah Boorstein is known for her “superfood smoothies,” served in Mason jars. Daily special entrees feature the likes of raw pizza and fettucine Alfredo.

Location: 519 NW Colorado Ave. (alley entrance), Bend

Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday

Menu highlights: Superfood smoothies, daily specials, desserts

Contact: 541-389-6224, www.sarahsrawvegancafe.com

Sunny Yoga Kitchen

Combining its owners’ passions for good food and exercise, this simple cafe in the NorthWest Crossing neighborhood begins serving lunch as soon as morning yoga classes have finished in the back of the building. Yet this is no vegan or raw-food establishment: Carnivores may be treated to dishes like roasted chicken and Burmese pork.

Most cooked dishes are prepared in a convection oven, including a tasty version of Mideastern falafel. I prefer the soups, including a house-made asparagus potage served with honeyed-oat sourdough bread, and the salads. Shinji’s salad is a white-and-red-cabbage slaw with red bell peppers, arugula leaves and creamy sesame vinaigrette. A peppery arugula salad blends kale and herbs with thinly sliced red onions, chopped dates, pistachios, Greek myzithra cheese and apple-cider vinaigrette.

There is seating for only 18, so diners should be prepared to wait for a table.

Location: 2748 NW Crossing Drive, Bend

Hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday

Menu highlights: Eclectic soups, salads and entrees, including Shinji’s salad, a vegetable slaw.

Contact: 541-678-3139, www.sunnyyogakitchen.com

The Bulletin file photo A Cafe Yumm original bowl with organic brown rice, signature Yumm sauce, organic black beans, cheese, tomatoes, olives, avocado, sour cream and cilantro.
Joe Kline / The Bulletin file photo A salad from Sarahs Raw & Vegan Cafe that includes nuts, fruits and raspberry vinagerette dressing, with raw leek bread and a caprese side salad with raw cashew cream cheese.
Andy Tullis / The Bulletin file photo Courtney Hynum, left, and Amy Wright, co-owners of the Sunny Yoga Kitchen, do yoga and cook in the kitchen at the NorthWest Crossing restaurant and yoga studio.
Andy Tullis / The Bulletin file photo The Shinji's Salad, bottom, Sunny Rice Bowl, and a Green Juice at Sunny Yoga Kitchen in Bend.
The Bulletin file photo Cafe Yumm offers many vegetarian and vegan choices in its colorful Old Mill District location.
Andy Tullis / The Bulletin file photo A Island Style Roll with chips at Salud restaurant in Bend.
Andy Tullis / The Bulletin file photo Salud restaurant staff prepares food for patrons.
Joe Kline / The Bulletin Diners have lunch outside at Broken Top Bottle Shop in Bend.
Joe Kline / The Bulletin Next Level Burger in Bend serves a variety of vegetarian burgers.
Joe Kline / The Bulletin Lunchtime at Laughing Planet Cafe in Bend.
Joe Kline / The Bulletin Patrons dine at lunchtime at Laughing Planet Cafe in Bend.