THE LOT

Food: () Gourmet sandwiches, salads and tacos include vegetarian and gluten-free options.

Service: () You may have to wait in line, but truck owners are universally welcoming.

Atmosphere: () Fine design keeps energy focused in the community-friendly dining patio.

More Info

Location: 745 NW Columbia St. (at Hartford Avenue), Bend

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day (Greek Street 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day)

Cuisine: Sandwiches and small-plate casual

Price range: Depending upon the cart, prices vary from $3 to $16

Credit cards: American Express, Discover, Mastercard, Visa

Kids’ menu: Inquire at individual carts

Vegetarian and gluten-free menu: Selections at all carts

Alcoholic beverages: Beer, wine, cider, kombucha

Outdoor seating: Covered open patio with adjacent fire pits

Reservations: No

Contact: thelotbend.com, 541-688-1815

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

Gatherings of mobile kitchens, or food trucks as they are often known, are a common sight in Central Oregon. But not so many years ago, they were a novelty. It seems only yesterday that enterprising young men like Steven Draheim, who owns Barrio, and Joel Cordes, the proprietor of El Sancho, were serving soups and tacos from wheeled carts in the alley adjacent to The Blacksmith steakhouse.

Portland has been a host for many years to “pods” of food trucks in underutilized parking areas and abandoned neighborhood lots. Bend didn’t have such an assemblage until six years ago, when The Lot opened a block off Galveston Avenue on the city’s west side, at Columbia Street and Hartford Avenue.

It was the brainchild of David Staley, a Bend land developer who was inspired by a visit to Portland. Together with his wife, Michelle, he bought the 5,500-square-foot lot in 2012 with the intention of creating exactly such a neighborhood center. Construction, permits and licenses took a full year to obtain, but in 2013, The Lot opened for business with four mobile kitchens surrounding a covered, open-air dining area and tap room.

There’s space here for as many as 100 patrons at individual tables, at a central community table or around the fire pits. Much of the focus is on the west end of the patio, where the taproom draws 16 beers, as well as cider, wine and kombucha.

“Beer was really a huge part of the design,” Staley said. Activities are scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. four times a week — bingo on Mondays, trivia contests on Tuesdays, an open mic on Wednesdays and live music on Thursdays.

Fricken Faco

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A double-decker English bus, painted Liverpool green, anchors the west end of The Lot on Columbia Street. Co-owned by Staley and chef Brandon Chambers, Fricken Faco serves mainly “fricken” (fried chicken) and “faco” (fish tacos).

The gluten-free rice panko breading on the chicken and fish makes the meals. Flash-fried, this coating is thin but deliciously crispy, with a nutty flavor despite the absence of nuts.

Chicken may be enjoyed as a sandwich in a po’boy hoagie bun ($10), with a waffle ($12) or as small bites ($9 or $16), with veggie sticks, accompanied by a scratch sauce such as orange tamarind or Korean pear barbecue. Fish tacos ($5 and $9) come with slaw and original aioli and salsa. Macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and a cucumber salad are available sides.

By Memorial Day weekend, Staley plans to open the upper deck of the bus to dining.

Contact: thelotbend.com/frickenfaco

À La Carte

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When Chambers launched À la Carte, he specialized in creative versions of French fries — such as carne asada fries, sweet-potato curry fries and the politically charged Vladimir Poutine (all $8 and $9) — and a selection of salads ($7 and $8), many of them featuring cranberries and almonds.

At The Lot, the Parrilla Grill veteran expanded his offerings to include $3 tacos wrapped in double corn tortillas. I ordered two, a Spicy Shrimp Taco and a Pork Curry Taco. They more than I could eat in a sitting. And they were the best I’ve had in Bend (which is saying a lot).

The shrimp was sauteed in olive oil and spicy harissa seasoning and served with pineapple salsa and a chipotle-citrus sour cream, cotija cheese and sweet onion. The other taco featured shredded pork, slow-cooked in coconut milk curry, and finished with roasted peanuts, feta cheese, green onions and sesame seeds. Both tacos were filled out with sliced radish, cilantro and cabbage — enough to make three of each.

Contact: thelotbend.com/alacarte, 541-815-1247

Bend Burgz n Dogz

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After more than two decades in retail and restaurants, Jack and Suzan Ashley opened Burgz n Dogz five years ago in a parking lot near the Old Mill District. They moved to The Lot in 2015, serving all-American hamburgers and hot dogs, cooked to order inside their truck.

Eight varieties of quarter-pound, all-beef dogs ($5 to $7) are grilled and served on toasted Big Ed’s artisan buns. They include a Chicago-style dog, a Reuben dog with sauerkraut and Swiss cheese, and a crispy wasabi-bacon dog, guaranteed spicy with jalapeños and kimchi.

Six-ounce beef burgers, local and dry-aged, are priced $8 to $15. I ordered a Boss Burger ($12) with bacon, pepper-jack cheese, grilled onions, jalapeño peppers, barbecue sauce — and all the usual fixings on a Big Ed’s bun. Although it was tasty enough, I thought it was overpriced for what I got. And the fries were very standard issue, clearly not hand-cut.

Contact: thelotbend.com/carts-1, 541-678-1786

Greek Street

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Johnny Mehas has been a part of the food scene in Bend for many years. His Demetri’s Café was a popular eatery on the city’s east side a dozen years ago. For a time, he also ran a business at the local airport, and his food cart often appears at local events.

Greek Street, which flies the blue-and-white banner of Mehas’ ancestral nation, keeps it simple with a selection of gyros (“yee-roes,” $8 to $12) — beef, lamb, chicken or meatless, wrapped in freshly baked pita bread.

My dining companion enjoyed Greek Street’s vegetarian falafel sandwich, but complained there wasn’t enough of its namesake chick-pea fritters in the pita wrap (which came with tomato, onion, lettuce and traditional tzatziki sauce). And she found that the honey-sweet baklava pastry was overcooked.

Contact: thelotbend.com/greek-street

Sol Verde

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None of the food trucks in The Lot opens for breakfast. But owner Kat Morrow’s New Mexico-influenced eatery, just around the corner on NW 12th Street, offers breakfast burritos from 8 a.m. weekdays. And she remains open through the lunch hours.

An engineering graduate of New Mexico State University, Morrow came to Oregon 20 years ago to cook for a Rogue River kayaking school, and eventually made her way to Bend. At Sol Verde, she insists on using only New Mexico chilies (green from Hatch, red from Albuquerque) in her recipes. “It doesn’t taste right if it’s not,” she said.

The carne adovada ($9), tender chunks of pork topped with spicy red sauce, served in a bowl with slaw and corn tortillas, is outstanding. And Morrow recommends her stacked and layered enchiladas ($10 to $12), either vegetarian or with a choice of meats.

1040 NW Galveston Ave. Open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday. Contact: www.solverdebend.com, 541-610-8399

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

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