SISTERS MEAT AND SMOKEHOUSE

Food: () Lean meats and cheeses, smoked in-house, highlight a limited sandwich menu.

Service: () Counter service with table delivery; sandwiches are made well and quickly.

Atmosphere: () Bunkhouse-style decor is suitable for neo-country Sisters.

More Info

Location: 110 S. Spruce St., Sisters

Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day

Cuisine: Meat sandwiches with baked beans

Price range: Sandwiches $10 to $13

Credit cards: American Express, Discover, Mastercard, Visa

Kids’ menu: Peanut butter-and-jelly and grilled-cheese sandwiches $5

Vegetarian and gluten-free menu: See kids’ menu; meats can be served gluten-free

Alcoholic beverages: Beer, wine and cider

Outdoor seating: Covered porch with heaters

Reservations: No

Contact: sistersmeat.com, 541-719-1186

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

If the community of Sisters conveys a particular image, it is that of a proud ranching town, with one foot in the Wild West and the other planted firmly in the 21st century. The Sisters Meat and Smokehouse projects that flavor better than any other spot in town.

Opened in August 2016, half a block south of state Highway 126, the Smokehouse appears as a red wooden barn or livery stable that would look just as much at home on rural Camp Polk Road as it does downtown, on Spruce Street.

A covered porch with tables for alfresco dining — serviced in winter by heat lamps (“Our locals brings their dogs all year,” said general manager Molly Wymer — frames the structure on two sides. Within, beneath wooden rafters rising above sheet-metal siding, large display cases offer fresh beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey and bison, as well as a variety of cheeses smoked in-house. Home chefs find it hard to say no.

Diners are here for the house-made sandwiches. Although the menu lists only seven (along with grilled cheese or peanut butter and jelly for the kids), they show off a wide range of the products that the Smokehouse’s “meat craftsmen” prepare in a backroom. Tri-tip steak, roast beef, pastrami, cotto salami and turkey are all smoked here. Old-fashioned bologna and a foot-long beef bratwurst are other choices.

Great sandwiches

These sandwiches are worth the trip. “We’re becoming a destination,” said Wymer. “People come from Sunriver and La Pine all the time just to get out meats and have lunch.”

On two visits from Bend, one with my dining companion, I was able to enjoy three separate sandwiches. My favorite was the tri-tip ($13), served on a toasted French roll from Big Ed’s Artisan Bakery, lightly spread with mayonnaise. The lean, smoked beef was accented by just enough barbecue sauce to be at once sweet and tangy, but not sloppy. Grilled onions and provolone cheese were the perfect complement.

My friend had the Reuben ($12), its pastrami some of the leanest we have seen — even if it wasn’t as peppery as we might have liked. The smoked meat was wrapped around a generous layer of sauerkraut. It was served on Sisters Bakery marbled rye with Thousand Island dressing and Swiss cheese which melted perfectly upon the meat.

On a later trip to Sisters, I enjoyed the Smoked Turkey ($12), a cold sandwich on Sisters Bakery white bread spread with mayo. A fresh grind of cracked peppercorns added a little zing to the sandwich, which also featured lettuce, tomato, onion and provolone.

A self-serve hot pot of oven-baked beans and pork is a marvelous accompaniment. Balanced with just a bit of molasses, these are some of the best beans I’ve had. What’s more, they really accent the chuck-wagon flavor of the establishment. There are small bags of Kettle chips, as well, and a selection of beverages that include local draft beers and ciders on eight taps.

Family heritage

Smokehouse owners Jeff and Kay Johnson live in Sisters, but this is really a Waller family operation. Managing partner Brody Waller is the store’s master smoker. His brother, Wade Waller, is the head meat cutter. Their father, Steve Waller, developed many of the recipes, techniques and seasonings that go into salami, jerky, sausage, bologna, pepperoni and other products.

Brody and Wade’s grandfather, whom they still call Grandpa Jack Culver, was a meat craftsman (don’t call him a butcher!) at Culver’s Market in Sutherlin, near Roseburg. Many of the tools he used 50 years ago are exhibited around the shop.

Times have changed over three generations in the meat industry. An emphasis on grass-fed and grain-finished meats, free of hormones and antibiotics, is of particular importance, Brody Waller said.

“We try to source locally whenever possible,” he said — although today only the lamb is a Sisters product. Local ranchers couldn’t keep up with the Smokehouse’s call for beef, he said, so it’s now trucked from Cedar River at Greeley, Colorado. Pork is from Iowa, chicken from Colorado.

But all meats — along with 20 different cheeses — are smoked in-house. Meat-and-cheese catering trays and gift baskets are popular products among Sisters locals.

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

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