Pilot Butte Drive-In
Food: As the price of a basic burger goes up, so do my expectations on what I’m receiving. This price-to-quality ratio is why I love Wendy’s — though I’m sure many would disagree — and am hard on “boutique” burger places that charge $10 or more for a beef patty, bun and toppings. It’s also why I have found room in my cholesterol-laden heart for Pilot Butte Drive-In, which I tried for the first time last weekend. I’m glad I didn’t spring for their signature 18-ounce burger: The six-ounce was more than enough. My Western BBQ burger was juicy, flavorful and massive, slathered in cheddar cheese and not-too-sweet, not-too-tangy barbecue sauce. A substantial bun, crisp romaine, tomato and onion rings supported this monstrosity. As good as the burger was, I’d be remiss not to mention the battered fries. Fries are usually an afterthought to a good burger for me, but I’d go back just for these.
Service: Faster than expected for handmade burgers. The gentleman behind the counter was friendly — he even asked, unprompted, if I wanted add-ons such as raw onions, which I did not.
Atmosphere: The building itself has an unassuming, old-school diner feel, but it’s the drive-in portion that turns heads. Simply park, order at the stand and a carhop will be out with your order as soon as it’s ready. (I had too much anxiety to try this out. Unfamiliar things are scary. Maybe next time — there will definitely be a next time.)
Location: 917 NE Greenwood Ave., Bend
Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily
Cuisine: classic drive-in fare; known for burgers
Price range: $9 and up
— Brian McElhiney, The Bulletin