THE BITE

Food: () Burgers, Mexican food, cheesy sandwiches and Japanese through September.

Service: () Best at Rogue Chef and Ronin, which announce completed orders with pagers.

Atmosphere: () A broad lawn and a covered pavilion are great places to listen to live music.

More info

Location: 19860 Seventh St., Tumalo

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day

Cuisine: American, Mexican and Japanese

Price range: Nothing is priced above $15; most plates are in the $8 to $13 range

Credit cards: American Express, Discover, Mastercard, Visa

Kids’ menus: On request

Vegetarian and gluten-free menu: Take your pick from the different food trucks

Alcoholic beverages: Beer, wine, cider

Outdoor seating: Exclusively, along with a covered, open-air pavilion

Reservations: No

Contact: www.thebitetumalo.com, 541-610-6457

For more area restaurants reviews, visit bendbulletin.com/restaurants

M any food-truck owners dream of growing their businesses into brick-and-mortar establishments. Longtime Bend chef Scott Byers is taking that step.

A month from now, Byers’ mobile Japanese kitchen, Ronin, will have vacated its space at The Bite in Tumalo, soon to reopen in the Century Center complex on Bend’s west side. Well known for his work at many of Bend’s leading restaurants, including Joolz, Kanpai and 5 Fusion, Byers follows an example set by such other local chefs as Jeff Hunt (Spork), Steven Draheim (Barrio) and Joel Cordes (El Sancho).

In the space formerly occupied by Next Level Burgers, Byers and his partner, Jake Peterson, will downplay sushi and serve more izakaya-style cuisine (traditional Japanese bar food). Byers said he plans to focus his menu on what is fresh and creative.

Ronin’s space at The Bite will immediately be filled by Noi Thai, according to owners Steve and Donni Davidson. Regulars at the popular food pod, just off U.S. Highway 20 on the route from Bend to Sisters, won’t be left without other great dining experiences: The Rogue Chef, Heidi’s Grilled Cheesery and Rico’s Tacos aren’t going anywhere. A seasonal dessert truck called Dude. Sweet will close from October through March.

Native Oregonians, the Davidsons have lived in Tumalo since 2005. The Bite, opened three years ago on Labor Day weekend, is built around a broad lawn favored by local families An open-air pavilion with a good selection of local beers offers a stage for regular live music.

Ronin

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For the month of September, a meal at Ronin is a highlight of a visit to The Bite. Byers and Peterson are performing culinary wonders in an 8-by-17-foot truck.

The Hokkaido scallop nigiri ($7), lightly drizzled with a jalapeño-cilantro vinaigrette, was a melt-in-our-mouths delight for me and my dining companion. The fresh-frozen seafood was express freighted from the frigid waters around Japan’s northernmost island.

Sushi rolls were delicious. The albacore tuna roll ($11) in particular was outstanding. Raw tuna was folded with asparagus, pickled red onion, ponzu sauce and microgreens, rolled in nori seaweed with perfectly prepared rice. The soft-shell crab roll ($12) was similarly excellent.

Perhaps the truest test for a sushi purveyor is in the quality of undisguised raw fish. Ronin’s seafood is as fresh and tender as that of any more-permanent restaurant. Our ahi tuna poke bowl ($13) was an authentic Japanese-style dish without a lot of random additions: The fish was tossed in a poke marinade, topped with wakame seaweed and sesame seeds, and served with steamed rice and a green salad (with miso dressing).

Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday to Monday. Contact: facebook.com/roninbend/, 541-797-4325.

The Rogue Chef

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The Rogue chef is Stefan Peña, who began his career in Bend, established his business in the Rogue Valley in Ashland and Medford, and returned to Central Oregon with a cart specializing in gourmet sandwiches.

The Everything Burger ($13) was built around a juicy, smoked patty of Wagyu beef. One-third pound of meat was topped with cheddar cheese, thick-sliced peppered bacon, mushrooms and onions sauteed in Maker’s Mark whiskey. A garnish of fresh romaine lettuce, hearty tomato slices and chopped red onions, along with an aioli spread on a fresh bakery bun, truly made this an “everything.” But we were not a big fan of the garlic fries, which overwhelmed with minced garlic.

Of The Rogue Chef’s nine sandwiches, I was also tempted by the Oregon cheesesteak ($13), a full-meal deal with sliced steak, sauteed mushrooms and onions, bell peppers, Provolone and Swiss cheeses. There’s always a next time. There’s a grilled cheese sandwich ($9) for vegetarians and a chicken club sandwich ($12), on a Kaiser roll with avocado, for non-red meat eaters.

Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. Contact: theroguechef.kitchen, 541-647-0093.

Heidi’s Grilled Cheesery

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With her husband, Justin, Heidi Henneous operated Alaska’s Deshka Landing Lodge for 16 years. Her experience cooking for 25 guests every day led her to open this cheesy mobile kitchen.

Cheezus Crust ($10) is a deliciously cheesy sandwich on fresh grilled sourdough bread, featuring both sharp cheddar and cream cheeses, bacon and spicy jalapeño peppers. It was just like what my mom used to give me with tomato soup — only much better.

The Big Lebowski ($13) is built on thick slices of marbled rye piled high with lean pastrami, Havarti cheese and coleslaw. The essential addition of Russian dressing made the slaw a little sloppier than we would have liked, but it was a great meal nonetheless. It came with kettle chips and pickles.

Not everything at Heidi’s is about cheese. The Sunshine Curry ($6) is a Thai-style soup served in a large cup on jasmine rice. Red and yellow curries were blended in coconut milk with crispy water chestnuts, onions, yams and Thai basil. I had it with slices of sauteed chicken, but it could as easily have been prepared vegetarian. The curry was full of flavor and no more than medium spicy.

Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday to Wednesday; Contact: facebook.com/heidisgrilledcheesery/, 541-241-4599.

Rico’s Tacos

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Even though it’s well-known around Bend and the original resident of The Bite, Rico’s Tacos is the weak link at this food lot. We found the window service to be less than enthusiastic, and the prices — while on a par with the other trucks — too high for the quality of the food.

An exception was the street tacos ($2 apiece). Made with double corn tortillas, cilantro and chopped onion, they are available in several varieties, including lengua (beef tongue). I preferred my chicken taco, my companion her pork carnitas.

But the chile relleno plate ($12) was a poor recommendation for the rest of the extended menu, which included burritos, tostadas, tortas, tamales and quesadillas. The Anaheim pepper was fresh but it was fried in a soggy corn breading and was swimming in cheese. A hearty Spanish sauce, with tomatoes and onions, helped some. But the plate’s refried beans were soupy and bland, and the Spanish rice had no vegetables or other additions to boost its flavor.

Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. Contact: www.facebook.com/ricostacoscentralor/, 541-420-5188.

— John Gottberg Anderson can be reached janderson@bendbulletin.com .

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