Central Oregon has a blink-and-you-missed-it growing season. Luckily, we're smack dab in the middle of the 90-day window that farms have before the frost returns. Local farms are finally picking their bounty and are sourcing out their produce to lucky restaurants across the area. The high desert is a tough growing environment, but it produces some unique and hearty vegetables - and nothing tastes as good as when it's grown in our neighbor's backyard. Here's where to go to taste veggies that haven't been trucked across a border.
1110 NW Newport Ave.
This westside breakfast and lunch spot has a reputation for using as many local ingredients as possible, including meat, cheese and produce. They also have the distinction of having their very own 1,000-square-foot vegetable garden, which they pull from daily for their dishes. The locavore omelet uses vegetables straight from Chow's garden, which right now includes carrots, tomatoes, herbs and mixed greens. Central Oregon is also a great environment to grow beets, which can be tasted - courtesy of Cinco Estrellas Farm - in Chow's beet salad, with herbed goat cheese and a chive blossom vinaigrette.
845 NW Delaware Ave.
Another restaurant committed to serving local produce is Jackson's, which gets the majority of its produce from Bend CSA as well as Paradise Farms, Rainshadow Organics and Fields Farm. You can taste their bounty in any of their vegetable dishes, but we recommend the Market Salad, which is a 100 percent Oregon grown medley of organic greens, seasonal vegetables and a homemade vinaigrette, and tomato pesto pasta, which combines homemade pasta with organic roasted vegetables in a tomato-based pesto sauce.
Bourbon Street Bend
5 NW Minnesota Ave.
This recently opened New Orleans-inspired eatery on Minnesota is heavy on Louisiana flavors, but the chefs haven't forgotten the show-stopping power of local veggies. Evidence is their bumper crop heirloom tomato salad, which uses a variety of beautiful heirloom tomatoes from Fresh Green Organics in Klamath Falls. The salad features tomatoes with names like green zebra and plum lemon and colors ranging from bright red to green and light yellow, tossed in a balsamic or herb garden vinaigrette.
811 NW Wall St.
One of Bend's all-time favorite pizza places also has the benefit of having the Wednesday Bend Farmers Market in its backyard. Starting this Wednesday, Pizza Mondo will be heading to the Farmers Market bright and early to scoop up the best vegetables they can find for their weekly special, the Farmers Market Pie. Mondo plans on incorporating squash, zucchini and peppers, but will change up the pie based on what looks good to them. And that sounds pretty good to us.