TAKODA’S RESTAURANT & LOUNGE

Food: () Solid American comfort food: generous servings and few shortcomings.

Service: () Staff is young but welcoming — prompt, polite and efficient.

Atmosphere: () Pleasant pioneer homestead atmosphere with ample seating.

More Info

Location: 425 U.S. Highway 20 West, Sisters

Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day

Cuisine: American

Price range: Appetizers $5.95 to $8.95, salads $5.95 to $12.95, burgers and sandwiches $10 to $13.95, dinner specialties $15 to $18, pizzas $6 to $27.75

Credit cards: American ­Express, Discover, ­Mastercard, Visa

Kids’ menu: Eight selections priced $5.95 to $7.95

Vegetarian and gluten-free menu: Black-bean burger, walnut-apple salad and Rogue veggie pizza (with gluten-free crust) are options

Alcoholic beverages: Full bar

Outdoor seating: Renovated patio with fire pit.

Reservations: Suggested for groups of eight or more.

Contact: takodassisters.com, 541-549-8620

Kyle Harbick has come a long way with Takoda’s Restaurant & Lounge since he and his younger cousin, Trey Harbick, opened the business on the west side of Sisters in 2011.

Now 29, Kyle had little food-and-beverage experience when the Harbicks took over the former Coyote Creek Café 7½ years ago in the Three Wind Shopping Center off U.S. Highway 20. After washing dishes and waiting tables at the family’s original Takoda’s cafe on the McKenzie River Highway near Blue River, they had been tutored by owner Darin Harbick in the fine details of restaurant management. But the learning curve didn’t immediately yield a smooth operation.

Good service was never a question. Then and now, the staff demonstrated its grasp of making clientele feel immediately at home. On recent as well as past visits, we have been warmly greeted at the front door, shown to a table and had water and menus delivered. Orders were promptly and politely taken, and meals delivered with reasonable speed. Servers checked back time and again to confirm our satisfaction.

That’s in keeping with the meaning of “Takoda.” According to the Harbicks, the word means “friend to all” in a Siouxan dialect.

The simple atmosphere harkens to the pioneer homestead era in Central Oregon, with tin-roofed Western buildings erected on a raised platform above the dining room. They overlook seating for more than 50 at booths and tables, plus a second overflow room perfect for large parties, including sports teams and civic clubs. Outside is a seasonal patio with a fire pit.

Meal time

Most importantly, the food was much improved over what it had been in its opening months. Although the basic fare is American comfort food — “very much the same as at our other restaurant,” Kyle said — it seems to get extra attention from the kitchen staff here.

That definitely seemed so for my dining companion’s order of a Mean Black Bean Veggie Burger ($12.95). Homemade in Southwestern fashion, with peppers and onions blended into the bean-and-seasoning mix, it was topped with pepper jack cheese and served on a multigrain bun (from Big Ed’s Artisan Bread in Bend) spread with chipotle mayonnaise. Fresh avocado, tomato and red onion slices provided garnish. My friend also enjoyed her burger with sweet-potato fries, which she said were some of the best she’s had.

I thoroughly enjoyed the flavor of my shepherd’s pie ($13.95), made with ground buffalo from local ranches. I was only disappointed that there wasn’t more meat: The rich and mildly peppery brown gravy had more peas, chopped carrots, green onions and sliced potatoes than it did buffalo. But it was topped with a generous layer of creamy mashed potatoes (the chefs doubled down on the spuds) and golden cheddar, then baked.

A popular draw at Takoda’s is its fresh, 20-item salad bar. An 8-inch plate can be filled with a perfect side salad for $5.95, while an all-you-can-eat 10-inch bowl is only $2 more.

Great pizza

Perhaps our most pleasant surprise came when we returned for dinner and ordered a pizza. The Boat Load ($14.50 for a 10-inch “small,” plenty for two people) was a meat lover’s delight, layered with pepperoni and salami, ground beef, Italian sausage and American and Canadian bacons. We added black olives for 50 cents more.

It was one of the better pizzas we’ve had in Central Oregon. Priced from only $6 (for a 7-inch cheese “mini”) to $27.75 (for a large, 16-inch Greekishly Good pizza with artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives, feta cheese and more), it’s a fair deal for hungry eaters of all ages.

Seven regular dinner entrees are served from 4 p.m. to close daily, complemented by chefs’ specials. For future visits, I have my eyes on the Marionberry Chicken and Beef Stroganoff, both $15. There are also steaks, coconut shrimp and other choices.

One of Takoda’s most popular meals, said Kyle Harbick, is the Clubhouse Focaccia ($12.95). Better than a “BLT,” it has three meats (honey-baked ham, roast turkey and hickory-smoked bacon) and two cheeses (cheddar and Swiss) on grilled focaccia bread, dressed with pesto mayonnaise and garnished with lettuce and tomato.

The All American Burger ($10) has a third of a pound of hand-pressed beef served on a brioche bun. “We serve only fresh beef, never frozen,” Kyle said.

With a slowdown in winter business, Takoda’s has stopped serving breakfasts until next summer, he said. But a faithful local clientele “drives us and keeps us going,” Kyle said. And an upbeat and brightly lit cocktail lounge has become a popular Sisters venue for watching sporting events on its several TV screens.

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

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