Road Food. That is what I think of when I think of the Black Bear Diner. I always associate eating there with road trips. I have some personal rules about road trips, but the ones I put highest in priority are:
- No Fast Food.
- No Drive-Throughs.
- No Eating In The Car.
I like to get off the road, sit down, and have somebody bring my food to me, enjoy some conversation with my traveling companions, and enjoy the respite from the road.
Black Bear Diners can be found in almost every mid-sized town down the west coast from here. I have made many a road trip down to California and back, and have likely eaten at every Black Bear Diner between here and the Bay Area. Why? Consistent good quality food and service. Sometimes I’ve eaten every meal in one day’s (slow) drive (with a truck and loaded trailer) at Black Bear Diners, with breakfast in Klamath Falls, lunch in Willows, and dinner in Tulare.Oddly, I have eaten at the locations in California far more often than I have the ones right here in Central Oregon. Mostly due to that “road food” association in my mind. The Madras location is my most often visited local stop, either as a breakfast, or dinner break on trips to and from the Portland area. Madras is a good stop for an early breakfast stop to gather ODOT pass condition data (All BBD’s seem to have free Wifi in my experience) before going over Mt. Hood. It also makes for a good stopping point on those late night runs home from Portland where you just want to get out of the car before that last hour of US 97 traffic to get you home. So the Road Food mentality rules again, even close to home.
The menu at BBD is huge. It is presented as a newspaper, with the outside of the folio being a reproduction of that town’s newspaper from the past, complete with local ads. The ones I’ve seen range from the 1930s through the 1960s. It is a fun thing to read. The inside of the folio is the full B/L/D menu.
You’ll also find a laminated flip menu on your table with some amazing dessert choices. Black Bear Diner’s berry pies are amazeballs. The only pie I’d steer you away from is the coconut creme pie. I bought one from the Redmond location once to bring to a friend who loves coconut creme pie, and it was a bust. But their berry and other fruit pies are fantastic.
On a recent road trip we stopped and had a dinner after an exhausting day in the car. It was quite late on a weeknight, so the place was almost empty, with just one or two other parties finishing up their meals. In fact a hostess was running a vacuum over the floor when we walked in. She stopped immediately and seated us in a booth. As it was late we opted for a light meal and ordered two salads. My companion picked the “Cheeseburger Salad” and I chose a Chicken Caesar.
The meals arrived promptly, and were fresh and delicious. My companion didn’t like the bacon on her salad, as she said it wasn’t crunchy as she likes it. I happily took it off her salad and added it to mine, as I like bacon any way I can get it! Otherwise she loved the cheeseburger salad.
On other occasions/visits I’ve enjoyed their bacn & eggs, eggs benedict, several sandwiches, and even a steak dinner. All have been great values.
As a final test, I thought I’d test their hot sauces for you dear reader. Not having eggs at this dinner (even though they serve breakfast all day) I tried them on a spoon. Starting with the “Baby Burn” and working up to the “Papa Burn”…
They’re all quite good. None of them are “mild” by any stretch of the imagination, even the “Baby Burn” has some heat. All had some savory flavor to go with the heat. Try them yourself next time! Yum.
Black Bear Diner Locations in Central Oregon:
237 SW 4th St. Madras, OR
29 NW Cedar Avenue, Redmond, OR
1465 NE 3rd St, Bend, OR