South Side Pub

Food: () Excellent burgers and sandwiches; only the coleslaw fell short.

Service: () Regulars are on a first-name basis with staff at this fast, friendly bar.

Atmosphere: () No-frills urban pub with video gaming and sports television.

More Info

Location: 61160 S. Hwy. 97, Bend

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

Cuisine: American

Price range: Burgers and other sandwiches $3 to $13.95, salads $10

Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa

Kids’ menu: No

Vegetarian and gluten-free menu: Salads

Alcoholic beverages: Full bar

Outdoor seating: No

Reservations: No

Contact: 541-383-7672

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It was just last month that I received an email from a reader who wrote in praise of his local watering hole, the South Side Pub.

His words were enough to inspire me to visit: “It is truly a locals and blue-collar sort of place — with some occasionally colorful language — but it’s friendly and safe, and it sure does have some great food!”

My conclusion: He’s right, on both counts. The South Side, in the same SE Third Street strip mall as Tomo Sushi isn’t much to look at from the outside (or, for that matter, from the inside). But the food is surprisingly good.

This is your standard, no-frills urban pub. Long bar on the left. Video poker on the far right. Sports television in the heart of the south-side wall. Seating mainly at barstools, apart from a trio of simple window-side booths.

If there’s any sort of theme here, it’s about the sasquatches. Bigfoot appears on the menu, on a couple of walls, and in newspaper clippings posted near the restrooms.

And language? On my first visit, I was unimpressed (indeed, I was somewhat offended) by the middle-aged patron who loudly spouted a stream of conversational obscenities to a young woman who sat silently nearby, finishing her lunch and only occasionally nodding in his direction.

But the bartender-server was outstanding, quickly and affably filling orders while maintaining a running chat with half a dozen regulars. And the cook, working the grill in a tiny kitchen space, was even better.

Great burgers

On my first, solo visit to the South Side, I asked the bartender what she recommended.

“‘The BOSS’ sandwich is really good, and so is the ‘Pulled Pork Sando,’” she said. “But we’re actually kind of famous for our burgers.”

In a way, the menu seconded that pitch. “All our food is made to order,” said the menu notes written by owner Greg Farfaglia. “Our burgers are hand-patted with fresh (never frozen) lean ground beef, and our French fries are hand-cut making them the best in town.”

I ordered the Grilled Mushroom Burger with all the fixings. A full one-third pound of grilled beef was topped with a slice of Swiss cheese, grilled onions and mushrooms. It was served with green leaf lettuce, tomato slices and pickles on a toasted sesame bun dressed with a house sauce.

It was juicy and delicious.

Burgers come with a choice of house-cut fries or homemade potato salad or coleslaw. Other options, for $2 extra, include onion rings, tater tots, chili or a small salad. I chose the coleslaw, made from scratch. It was well balanced, sweet and vinegar, but was too dry.

Plentiful choices

On a subsequent visit with my dining companion, I ordered the Southside Reuben.

It was packed with layers of lean, pan-roasted corned beef, along with moist and tart sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing, all melted together on toasted rye bread. And this time, I ordered it with the French fries, which were everything Farfaglia had promised.

My companion ordered the chicken chef’s salad, which came not only with sliced grilled poultry but also thinly sliced ham and bacon on chopped romaine lettuce (before the recall!). The salad also had sliced tomato, minced carrot and tiny croutons, as well as shredded Monterey and cheddar cheeses. Bleu cheese was crumbled on top, while thick cucumber slices and Texas toast was served on the side with a choice of dressing.

It was as fresh as salads in any fine restaurant. She enjoyed every bite.

The menu features a variety of other sandwiches, as well as fish and chips, a Polish dog, chicken wings and more. But that’s not all:

“One of our favorites is the Fridays-only ribs platter, a half or full rack,” my reader reported. “Another Friday special I enjoy is the homemade clam chowder, Northeast style. It’s actually chock full of clams! And of the usual pub fare, I haven’t found anything to be other than very tasty.”

Not being a regular, I was unaware of some of the South Side’s specials. Now I know. And I’ll be returning.

— John Gottberg Anderson can be reached at .