Farewell, Bend. After nearly 14 years and more than 700 reviews, this is my final dining column for The Bulletin.
A month from now, I will fly to Asia to begin another chapter in my life, teaching and freelancing from a new home in Vietnam.
Beginning with the Oct. 3 edition of GO!, my longtime dining companion, Barb Gonzalez, will contribute columns on food.
Food is a very personal thing. The restaurants I will best remember will almost certainly not be everyone’s. In the following list, it may have just been a particular dish or flavor, a unique experience or a human interaction that left an indelible mark on my memory.
These, listed alphabetically, are my favorite Central Oregon restaurants:
Ariana. The best special-occasion restaurant this side of the Cascades. Andrès and Ariana Fernández are wonderful chefs, and there is no better server than Ron Lybeck.
Baldy’s BBQ. Two words. Cat’s Meow. Thanks, Brian Dioguardi.
Baltazar’s. Think of Señor Chavez’s seafood restaurant the next time you crave fresh Sea of Cortez shrimp.
Barrio/El Sancho. I have great admiration for the success of owner-chefs Steven Draheim and Joel Cordes in moving from food carts to permanent homes.
Bend-O Bento. Yukiko McLaughlin offers authentic, casual Japanese lunches to a dedicated core of regular clientele.
Bethlyn’s Global Fusion. Bethlyn Rider is a rare chef to please vegan and vegetarian diners as well as healthy carnivores.
Blacksmith. Outstanding steaks in a historic downtown smithy’s shop.
Bos Taurus. Chef George Morris lends his deft touch to this intimate steakhouse in the heart of downtown Bend. It isn’t as pricey as its reputation.
Boxwood Kitchen. This bistro added a welcome new dimension to Old Mill dining when it opened early this year.
Brickhouse. In Bend and Redmond, this casual fine-dining restaurant deserves as much acclaim for its fresh grilled seafood as for its steaks.
Brown Owl. My favorite sandwich in Bend is the Cubano.
Chi. This Asian restaurant overlooking the Deschutes is the crowning achievement for the Long family, active players in the local dining scene for decades.
Chow. Owner David Touvell is a champion of sustainable local sourcing. This creative west-side breakfast-and-lunch cafe is his finest statement.
Citizen. Romanian-born Sanda Costello celebrated her American citizenship with this stylish cafe, its kitchen the domain of veteran chef Gene Soto.
Cuban Kitchen. Little Havana thrives on Bend’s west side.
Currents at the Riverhouse. The arrival of chef Michael Stanton highlighted the overhaul of the riverside restaurant at Bend’s leading convention hotel.
Deschutes Brewery. The oldest brewpub in a city of craft breweries still serves the best food.
Drake/Washington. Hardworking chef John Gurney hops between these sister restaurants in downtown Bend and NorthWest Crossing, bringing a light-hearted professionalism to both.
5 Fusion. A multiple James Beard Foundation honoree, Joe Kim is arguably Bend’s most creative chef. I’m endlessly amazed by his creations. When I visit, I put aside the menu and just ask him to cook. I recommend that approach to anyone.
Greg’s Grill. The patio at this huge restaurant is a great place to dine and listen to concerts at the Les Schwab Amphitheater across the river. And the food is as inspiring as the view.
Hola! With six restaurants (three in Bend plus Redmond, Sunriver and Camp Sherman), Marcos Rodriguez’s lively Mexican-Peruvian group sets a standard for Hispanic dining … and good tequila.
Jackalope Grill. Owner-chef Tim Garling has a special way with hearty meats and wild-game specials.
Joolz. Lebanese-born Ramsey Hamdan has created the perfect balance between Middle Eastern recipes and High Desert sensibilities.
Kanpai. The best of the best as far as local sushi bars are concerned.
The Lemon Tree. This brunch spot highlights the fruits of the travels of a charming trio of marooned yachtsmen and women.
Los Jalapeños. Bend’s best breakfast burritos.
McKay Cottage. Just possibly Bend’s best breakfasts, in a historic home off O.B. Riley Road. Arrive early or be prepared to wait for a table.
Miyagi Ramen. Last week’s review will tell you what you want to know.
900 Wall. When erstwhile chef Jody Denton closed Merenda 10 years ago, a core group of employees banded together to buy it and reopen. Their considerable success is reflected in the fact that they are still going strong.
Pho Viet. My education in Vietnamese was launched at Tan Vo’s cafe, where the owner and his staff assist me with counting and basic pronunciations. Did I mention I also love the pho (soup)?
Pine Tavern. When I first enjoyed the skiers’ smorgasbord as a child in the early ’60s, this restaurant was already a generation old. It’s truly a Bend classic.
Pig & Pound. Where would I get a good shepherd’s pie and draught Guinness were it not at this Redmond pub?
Pisano’s/Pacific Pizza & Brew. Everybody has a favorite pizza joint. These are my two picks.
Poke Row. If you’ve ever spent more than a week in Hawaii, you’ve learned to love marinated raw tuna as a full-meal deal. Now it’s come to NorthWest Crossing.
Red Martini. My favorite Redmond restaurant, now with a rooftop bar.
Riff Cold-Brewed Coffee Company. Don’t be misled by the name: This new entry at the Box Factory offers an intriguing and colorful menu to accompany a full beverage list.
Rockin’ Dave’s Bagel Bistro. Who doesn’t love owner-chef David Flyer, especially now that he’s expanded his breakfast-and-lunch regimen with an intimate Backstage Lounge for evenings?
Salud Raw Foods. Owner-chef Corrine O’Shea may never make a vegan out of me, but I love her fresh and healthy menu, especially the collard wraps.
Sintra. Manuel Dos Santos, please send me a recipe for your Portuguese chicken stew!
Spork. Chef Jeff Hunt is a traveler whose wide-ranging international menu of ethnic dishes has likely been a motivation for me to hit the road again.
The Stihl. OK, I confess, I come for the whiskey. But the food is excellent as well.
Tetherow. Fine dining at Solomon’s, casual meals at the Row, with a view across rolling terrain that could as easily be in the highlands of Scotland.
Trattoria Sbandati. I adore chef-owner Juri Sbandati. Bend’s only truly Tuscan chef reminds me why I love good Italian food. No one else here inspires me like that.
Victorian Café. Eggs Benedict and bloody marys. That is all you need to know.
Wild Rose. This casual palace of northern Thai cuisine has no peer this side of Portland.
Zydeco/Bistro 28. Steve Helt and his crew have earned a reputation as one of Bend’s finest restaurants with consistent quality of food and service. The barbecue shrimp on Southern grit cake are a local classic.
— John Gottberg Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . Interested readers can continue to follow his adventures through blogs on gogotravelers.com.