While restaurant closings and restricted dining hours have made headlines across the country continuously in 2021, local foodies are lucky, as several new establishments have opened this year—bringing with them a handful of can't-miss dishes. This is an overview of some favorite new eateries and eats as ascertained by "reservations recommended," order ahead, the grapevine, and even the Source Weekly's Best of Central Oregon 2021.
Voted Best New Restaurant by Source readers this year, Sen Thai Hot Pot and Noodle House on NW Newport Avenue at the edge of downtown is inspired by traditional Thai noodle shops. The lunch and dinner menus offer up a delicious variety of small plates, noodle and street food dishes and it seems everyone is raving about the Tuah Gratiem (wok fried green beans with fresh garlic). Sen's Thai-style hot pot, available for groups as well as individual diners, is another big hit. Book in advance to enjoy the hot pot experience which includes a house stock, boiled tableside, with fresh, raw accoutrements you cook yourself, along with house-made chili sauces.
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- Spacious new food patio on Cushing Drive in Bend.
Bend's west side culinary choices expanded this year with the opening of several new spots, including BOSA Food & Drink in the historic Bakery Building on NW Galveston and Walt Reilly's on SW Century Drive. BOSA's menus offer regional Italian and French specialties, including house-made pasta, seasonal produce and a diverse wine list. The Bigoli "Cacio e Pepe" is a traditional Roman dish made of simple ingredients (cheese, pasta, peppercorns) and a must-have appetizer when you're dining at BOSA.
Around the corner on Century Drive is the new twist on a sports bar. Walt Reilly's is all about bringing folks together with food, drink and entertainment. Play mini golf with the whole gang, catch a game on one of the many TVs, or enjoy a nice brunch or dinner. But perhaps the most noteworthy menu item that has folks' mouths watering is the Soft Serve. Get vanilla, Dole Whip or Swirl straight-up or doused in peanut butter sauce or bourbon caramel sauce or marshmallow fluff or even served with a side of fries.
The latest 2021 addition to the burgeoning food scene on Bend's east side is the new plaza at NE Cushing Drive that opened this past summer. It's the east side home of Bangers & Brews, along with Hablo Tacos and Cuppa Yo. Right next door at On Tap Bend you'll find Rush's Squares, voted Best New Food Cart by Source readers this year.
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- BOSA's Cacio e Pepe dish.
Rush's serves up Sicilian square pizza and Central Oregonians are rushing to the cart for the Bendite with salami and goat cheese, the Carnie with, you guessed it, all the meats and the Fancy Pants with pesto, bacon, feta, spinach and artichoke.
Another food truck opening to stellar reviews this past year was Burrito Sunrise. Voted Best Breakfast Burrito in 2021 by Source readers, this busy truck parked on NW Greenwood Avenue serves up a handful of California-Style breakfast burritos. It's difficult to pick a favorite but The Carne Asada with marinated steak, egg, hash browns, grilled onion, cheeses, and Salsa Verde is hard to beat.
If authentic Indian food is your thing, the 2021 opening of Anita's Kitchen cart on SE Third Street in Bend must have made you smile. Anita's Butter Chicken is a fan favorite and if you like Chai tea you must try Anita's Masala Chai.
Another beverage that got our attention this past year was the Mexican-style aqua fresca. Chulitas Authentic Juice bar mobile cart was abuzz during the summer with fans drinking down its unique varieties of aguas frescas made with real sugar and nothing artificial. And now, Chulitas has opened a new modern street taco cart at The Barn in Sisters. The Corn Esquites is Mexican street corn served with queso cotija, lime and chili powder and the Taquitos de Papa stuffed with potatoes, cabbage, and cream is a unique menu item worth giving a try.
Masa Empanadas is another homegrown Bend entity. Founder Emanuel Colombo's dance career was halted by the pandemic shutdowns, so with the extra time on his hands he started making his Argentinian mother's empanadas. Fillings are all vegetarian and organic, and range from mushroom and goat cheese to corn and cotija to guava and cream cheese. You can order easily online for pickup.
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- Anita's Kitchen serves up authentic Indian food from its Third Street location.
A couple of other new places which opened in 2021 are attached to hotels. Roam at the Oxford Hotel in downtown Bend serves breakfast, weekend brunch, lunch, and dinner and has two daily happy hours from 2 pm to 5 pm and 9 pm to 10 pm. A couple of Roam's bar offerings are interesting additions to the local cocktail scene; Necessary Provisions features whiskey, chicory, coffee, amaretto, cardamaro and black walnut, and the Cimarron is made with blanco tequila, pear brandy, toasted fennel and pineapple-green tea gomme.
The Canteen at the Campfire Hotel on NE Third Street in Bend is a new cocktail lounge owned and operated by the creators of The Dogwood Cocktail Cabin. Fun, campy creative drinks are their specialty and if you've never tried the Poco Loco with pineapple and habanero infused vodka with lemon and honey, it's still an award-winning perennial favorite served at The Canteen and at the original Dogwood location. Also new this year in Redmond is Terra Kitchen, a plant-forward restaurant inside the SCP Redmond Hotel, along with the Wayfarer Club, a hip, inviting bar also located on the ground floor of the hotel.