Where: 1424 NE Cushing Drive, Bend
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
The 35 beer taps lined the wall behind the bar, inviting a pour. Aromas from a half-dozen food trucks meandered in the air, tempting visitors.
“This is great. It’s so accessible,” said a woman as she picked up her pint. About the same time, a flannel-clad man carried a freshly made, pulled-pork sandwich over to a nearby table.
A new indoor-outdoor food truck pod with rotating taps and spaces for up to eight food trucks has opened for business on Bend’s east side. On Tap is the latest addition to the fast-growing Central Oregon food truck scene.
“Beer is a big passion of ours, and we love food trucks,” said co-owner Eric Kramer. “For people who have different ideas for where they want to go eat, they could most likely both find something here and then also find beer, wine, cider, whatever they’re drinking.”
Something for everyone
The food truck lot and tap room has six trucks serving a variety of cuisines.
EMW East Meets West specializes in “pandos” — savory Korean pancakes filled with meat, cabbage and a housemade crema sauce. The owners of Philly Style are busy slinging Philly cheesesteaks and hoagies.
Barrio has Latin-inspired dishes like tacos, chilaquiles and tamales. Curb B Q brings barbecued favorites like the aforementioned pulled pork sandwiches and brisket grilled cheese. Gourmet American food truck The Rogue Chef grills up specialty burgers and an alternating list of specials. And Tenzin Sherpa’s Himalayan Bites offers authentic Himalayan dishes, such as sha-momo (stuffed dumplings), masu-bhaat (a chicken and rice dish) and shaapta (Tibetan-style stir fry beef).
“To be asked to be a part of that lineup was pretty cool,” said Brandon Walsh, co-owner of EMW East Meets West. “We were pretty thankful that they looked at us in that regard.”
On Tap owners Eric and Laura Kramer invited Walsh to park at the food truck lot, after walking past the EMW East Meets West truck and stopping to talk to Walsh.
“We don’t want any of our food trucks to really compete against one another, and we know people like variety with their food and the beers. We just wanted to bring in all sorts of different things and give people options,” said Laura Kramer.
The Rogue Chef opened a second food truck to be parked at this east-side location. EMW East Meets West, Philly Style and Barrio left the mobile and event market to be stationed full time at On Tap.
“For us it will be nice to have a permanent location so it’s easy for people who like our food to find us,” Walsh said.
Himalayan Bites and Curb B Q moved to On Tap from Spoken Moto where the Parilla Grill food cart and new food truck Shibumis Okonomiyaki Yakisoba will fill the spaces.
Shibumis will serve up “Japanese Osaka-style soul food, street food,” as described by owner Shibumi Tatsuta. Tatsuta also mentioned it would be a good fit because Spoken Moto has Japanese motorcycles.
Location, location, location
On Tap is at 1424 NE Cushing Drive, about one block away from St. Charles Health System and next to Phagan’s Cosmetology College — Central Oregon. St. Charles Health System is the largest employer in Central Oregon, employing 3,409 people in 2017, according to Economic Development for Central Oregon’s 2017 Bend profile. For such a large number of workers, there were only three dining options within walking distance: the hospital cafeteria, Cafe Yumm! and Jackson’s Corner.
Many of the doctors on call can’t venture far from the area on lunch breaks in case they are called back in for an emergency.
In general, many residents feel there’s a lack of restaurants on Bend’s east side, beyond Third Street and Greenwood Avenue.
“The east side doesn’t get much love, so it’s about time,” Walsh said.
10 Barrel Brewing opened a second location on 18th Street in 2017 and the large industrial brewpub is filled with customers most weeknights and weekends.
“For us it was so obvious, we almost missed the opportunity too, like ‘Oh man Bend just has so much stuff like this. Then a light bulb went off, and we were like wait, we live on the east side, and there’s nothing like this over here, so why don’t we do this over here,” Eric Kramer said.
The tap list, and location, has set On Tap apart from other Central Oregon food truck lots. The bar has 35 rotating taps.
“We wanted to have a big list, and also everything is on tap here, the wine’s on tap, kombucha, cider,” Eric Kramer said. Nitro coffee also is on tap.
Local favorites like Bend Brewing Co.’s Ching Ching and Boneyard Beer’s RPM are available as are out-of-state options like Modern Times Beer’s Blazing World and Georgetown’s Bodhizafa. Beer, cider and kombucha cost $5 per pint. Wine and nitro coffee cost $7.
On Tap has a large open space at the corner of Neff Road and 27th Street. The covered tap room has a rustic interior with square wooden tables and chairs and some bar seating.
“We tried to use a lot of Central Oregon materials, a lot of things are reused or reclaimed,” Laura Kramer said.
Repurposed juniper wood was used to make the light poles; reclaimed barn wood was used to make the side walls; corrugated tin adds extra overhead coverage, and restored blue pine wood was used to create the bar.
The structure was designed by Stemach Design and Architecture, the firm that also designed The Bite in Tumalo.
“We had to balance a lot of priorities and goals with the clients, and they wanted to create enough open space and shade during the summer as well as protection during the colder seasons,” said Stacey Stemach, co-owner of Stemach Design and Architecture.
Gas heaters, portable heaters and soon-to-be fire pits will warm up diners during spring and summer months. Thick plastic screens and garage doors are expected to be installed before the fall for extra coverage against the winter elements.
On Tap will have a grand opening celebration 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, with live music and lawn games.
“We live in midtown,” Laura said. “And we just thought something like this for the east-side community would be so much fun and bring people together.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0351, firstname.lastname@example.org