Dakine Cafe

Food: () Blended açai bowls dominate a dessert-like menu, which is not for everyone.

Service: () Counter orders are taken quickly, but they may require a long time to fill.

Atmosphere: () New room is clean and bright, with surf decor.

More Info

Location: 1142 NW Galveston Ave., Bend

Hours: 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Cuisine: Hawaiian-influenced “superfoods”

Price range: Açai bowls $10-$11, other dishes $7-$8, smoothies $4.50-$6.75

Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa

Kids’ menu: Smoothies $4.50, spreads $6

Vegetarian and gluten-free menu: All vegan and gluten-free except for bread

Alcoholic beverages: No

Outdoor seating: Seasonal deck

Reservations: No

Contact: www.dakinecafebend.com, 503-740-3326

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

“Dakine,” is a Hawaiian Pidgin word with no real meaning, but with scores of partial meanings. “Where did I leave my glasses?” might be answered, “Over in ‘dakine.’” “Bring me ‘dakine’” could be a request for a whatchamacallit. Instead of, “You’re the man!” you might be told, “You ‘dakine!’”

When Dakine Cafe owners Andy and Shannon Harlin moved from Hawaii’s Big Island to Central Oregon a few years ago, they brought a bit of the islands back with them, opening first one, then a second, Dakine Grindz food cart. They offered shave-ice desserts (flavored sno-cones) as summer refreshers.

As surfers, they also knew the importance of high-energy foods. Thus they developed a menu around healthy açai bowls, blended meals featuring a nutritious palm fruit native to northeastern Brazil.

Visitors unfamiliar with açai (pronounced “a-sah-EE”) might well have asked what it was — and been told, in response, “You know, ‘dakine’!”

Blended berries

After a couple of years of planning and construction, the Harlins opened a permanent, freestanding cafe on Galveston Avenue in early November. While the vegetarian menu (posted on blackboards) includes espresso drinks, baked goods and veggie spreads on toast, the main focus is açai.

This small, dark, pulpy berry, sometimes called a superfood, is blended in a variety of different ways with other fruits and vegetables, nut butters, seeds and other ingredients.

On my first visit to the Dakine Cafe, I placed my order for a Warrior Blend ($11) at the espresso bar, found a seat among a dozen tables in the bright little cafe, and waited about 15 minutes for its preparation.

The warrior mixed açai with bananas, raw cacao, plant protein powder, almond butter and almond milk for a protein buzz. But it was not like any blend I’d had before: I felt as though I was eating a chilled dessert for my lunch. And the ingredients were so intense — in addition to the açai blend, it had a topping of blueberries, almonds, banana slices, cacao nibs and crumbled granola — that a little bit went a long way. In fact, I took half home with me for the next day.

My dining companion felt the same about her Greens Blend ($11). This one featured plentiful vegetables — spinach, kale and Swiss chard — in a concoction with avocado, strawberries and banana, along with açai and almond milk. It was topped with granola, blueberries and banana, along with hemp seeds, chia seeds and honey.

Other choices are the Get Pitted ($10.50), highlighting dragon fruit and coconut milk; the Kickin’ It ($10), with peanut butter and macadamia nut milk; and the Hana Hou ($10), featuring mango puree and coconut milk. “Hana hou!” is Hawaiian for “Do it again!”

Smoothies and toast

The menu at the Dakine Cafe includes a variety of 16-ounce smoothies, priced $4.50 to $6.75. Among them is the Vanilla Cashew, which includes bananas, dates and cinnamon in addition to its namesake ingredients.

Seeking something a little less dessert-like, I considered a seasonal fruit ricotta ($7) with pears, walnuts and Hawaiian honey. Instead, I settled upon a couple of “toast” options.

The first was the Avosmash ($8), a generous smear of mashed avocado, sprinkled with chili flakes and pumpkin seeds, topped with microgreens and thinly sliced radish, and finished with a squeeze of lemon.

The second was hummus toast ($7), highlighting a house-made hummus of roasted beet root. While its reddish color was starkly different from that of traditional chickpea hummus, its flavor was very good. Sliced avocado and microgreens were finished with a squeeze of lemon.

The avosmash and hummus were spread on a delicious, freshly baked whole grain bread, lightly toasted.

Of several Island-influenced latte drinks—made, for example, with macadamia nut milk and/or white chocolate — I accepted Andy Harlin’s recommendation of the “lehua latte.” Lehua is Hawaiian for honey, and this coffee drink was sweetened with raw honey straight from the Big Island. It also had a dash of cinnamon for flavor.

Surf decor

Dakine’s permanent home stands atop the foundation of a 1920s residence on Galveston Avenue at NW 12th Street, opposite 10 Barrel Brewing Co.

Other than the bare bones, it was built from scratch. There’s seating for about two dozen at tables and a bench that faces through a window at Galveston, and room for additional deck seats when spring brings warmer weather.

Beneath the peaked roof of the dining room are surfboards and Hawaiian-themed paintings. Turquoise-colored chairs add a splash of oceanic color to the dark hardwood floors and light wood tables. A soundproof room in a back corner is devoted to blending.

The cafe’s clientele, on both of my visits, seemed to be dominated by young men and women of the millennial generation. Indeed, they are often the most willing to try new “superfoods” like açai — or, you know, dakine!

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