After a recent late-season ski day, a burger was calling my name. The lifts were still turning but the snow has gone all sticky in the hot sunshine. Bend Burger Company is my usual apres-ski burger, but honestly I was in a hurry to get back home and back to work. I needed fast food, but not fast food, if you know what I mean. Dandy’s is nothing like BBC, or Pilot Butte, or Jody’s. It is a drive-in, and the food is fast and good. Think of it as a retro In-n-Out for Bend. Very limited menu, very fast and friendly service.
The wait staff are on roller skates. They are universally upbeat and friendly. If that doesn’t improve your mood, I don’t know what will.
I ordered something quick, just a simple burger and an order of onion rings. I had some cold drinks on me in a cooler that I bring to Bachelor on hot late-season days like this, so no shake or soda this time. Sorry I didn’t snap a photo of the rings, as I snarfed them down almost immediately. Quite tasty! The burger was very good. An honest fast-food burger. I was in and out pretty swiftly, and was completely satisfied with the experience. Far better than McD’s or BK for sure.
After our review of Bogey’s, who claim to have “The Best Burgers on Earth”, we wondered if they could even claim the best burgers in Redmond? To test that hypothesis COE made a lunch stop at Jody’s Drive in to run the experiment.
To quickly compare the two:
Menu: Both are basically burger joints that offer sides and a few non-burger type foods. Bogey’s is pretty much a “build your own from the basic list” while Jody’s has an extensive list of specialty burgers and an option to BuildYO.
Ambiance: Bogey’s feel like a small place in a strip mall (becasue it is) and Jody’s feels like a shack next to a highway with a few picnic tables (because it is.) I suspect that most folks phone in their orders to Jody’s and pick them up to eat at home.
Service: At Bogey’s the service is attentive, fast, and friendly. At Jody’s… well lets just say it is slow and indifferent.
But the burgers? Jody’s wins hands down.
This time I tried a “Ragin’ Cajun” burger, which has grilled jalapenõs and pepperjack cheese. I opted for fried onions on top and a side of sweet potato fries. Since I’m not on a bike, I stayed away from the shakes, though if I’d have ridden there, I would opt for a chocolate malt! Maybe later this summer.
I’ve had many of their specialty burgers (Ortega Chile, Bacon & Bleu, etc) and have done the build-your-own thing often. Jody’s has never let me down in terms of a damn good burger.
Don’t come to Jody’s with high expectations of fine dining, or a pampering atmosphere. They just make great burgers. Grab one, and go.
Bogey’s advertises itself as “The Best Burger On Earth”. That’s a pretty outrageous claim. There are some damn fine burgers to be found on this planet. Hell you can find some pretty awesome burgers just in Redmond alone. (Jody’s comes to mind…)
To test their claim, I’ve visited the Redmond location several times.
Bogey’s is a counter order sort of place, with about a dozen tables in the dining area and outside. It is a bit back off of the road, so the noise outside isn’t a big problem. They serve beer, and ice cream in addition to big or little burgers, chicken (in tenders, wings, salad, and sandwich form), hot dogs and grilled cheese. They’ll custom build your burger from a list of options. Sides are fries, waffle fries, or onion rings.
Bogey’s always seem to have a couple of specials, which are priced well, but are rigid, allowing no substitutions.
On my first visit I ordered a “little” bacon cheeseburger and a side of onions rings. You can choose your cheese: Cheddar, Pepper Jack, Swiss, or Blue cheese. All Bogey’s Burgers come with: Fry Sauce, Lettuce. Onion, Pickle, and Tomato. You can also add: Mayo, Ketchup, BBQ Sauce, Steak Sauce, Hot Sauce, Red Onion, Sautéed Onions, Sautéed Mushrooms, Jalapeños, or Pineapple.
I opted to swap the tomato out and add jalapeños into my burger, and added BBQ sauce…
The rings were damn good, with a great onion-to-ring ratio. They were fresh out of the fryer so having the fry sauce was handy to cool them down. You can also choose Ranch dressing for your sides dipping pleasure.
The burger was pretty good. Though hard to call it the best burger on earth certainly.
On subsequent visits I tried varying the size to “big” and trying the different sides and toppings.
Have to say that sautéeing the onions really improves the burger. Given that on this visit it was quite crowded and I had to wait a long while to make it through the queue and order, the extra time to sautée the onions didn’t seem to add any wait time for my lunch to get delivered.
The staff at Bogey’s are very friendly and pleasant. From taking your order, to delivering it to your table with a smile. Every time I visited they were very nice, and swiftly completed their tasks in a pleasant manner.
The burgers are pretty good, and the option to customize your condiments is excellent. The sides are great, and after trying them all I prefer the onion rings, which are damn near perfect.
Though I did find that once the stick is removed long-cut pickles make the perfect sliding surface for your bun.
On the downside, the layout of the dining room leads to crowding around the drink dispenser, extra condiments, napkins, and self-bussing station. Grab extra napkins there when you can, you’re going to need them and they’re not on the tables and they don’t come with your food. There are extra condiments at the tables, but they’re packed so tight I spilled salt every time I visited as I tried to pull the shakers out of the too-tight condiment holders.
There is a sign on the drink dispenser that says “ONLY ONE FREE REFILL” which contradicts the menu which says “Fountain Drinks (free refills) $1.95 … so which one is it? Mind you, I rarely refill my drink, but when all of your customer service posture is super-positive, this sign sort of feels school-marmy and finger waggy, which is a total turn-off to an otherwise great experience.
One of the best benefits of living in Central Oregon is skiing on Mt. Bachelor. In the springtime our ski season blends into summer sports and recreation, so that you can ski in the morning and play at some other pursuit in the afternoon. Additionally, during certain days and conditions, Bachelor will remain open into the evening for special events.
On a recent Saturday Bachelor had a “Pine Party”, keeping the Pine Marten Express lift running until 7pm. I had been skiing since first chair. Completely worn out by 6pm, I came down the mountain with a mighty hunger. Having heard of the excellence of El Rodeo many times I thought it would be an opportune moment to try it out.
Looking for just a quick bite, I opt for the bar. I walk in and see several tables open, and pick one in front of a TV which is showing the NCAA ice hockey championship game. Service is swift. I am given a menu, along with chips and salsa along with a sort of light salad immediately. I order a Margarita and some Carne Asada. The waiter, looking at this gringo, asks “Flour, right?”
“No, corn” I reply.
Who eats Carne Asada with flour tortillas?
Very soon after, in fact even before my Margarita arrives, the Carne Asada lands on the table. I tentatively taste a small bit of the meat… mmm. Quite good. Cooked close to perfect, and just the right amount of marinade. The beans and rice are “fair” but given that I just skied for seven hours straight, I was hungry enough to shovel it down along with tortillas and beef.
The highlight of the meal is the Guacamole!
I usually don’t like guacamole unless I make it myself. I take a small taste of this guac, and it is damn good!
Less than ten minutes after the photo above was taken, that plate was as clean as it could be short of going after it by licking.
Looking forward to coming back with a dining companion and taking in some more of the menu. Stay tuned!
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 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.
There are four categories of hamburger in American Cuisine:
The one you make at home on the grille.
The fast food burger.
The pub-food burger.
The local burger joint burger.
Bend Burger Company falls into the latter category, as it is the prototypical local burger joint. BBC has two locations in Bend: on Franklin just west of Drake on the corner of Wall & Franklin downtown; and a second location on 3rd Street between Thurston & Seward, right across from Rite-Aid. I’ve eaten many times at both locations. Oddly, I eat downtown when it is ski season and on 3rd when it is bicycle season. I think I’ve only parked a car at the BBC on 3rd once, but have biked there many times. Go figure.
Note: The 3rd Street location does land-office business on weekday lunches, so be prepared for a crowd, unless you arrive early!
This week we stopped at the Franklin location downtown for a dinner before a movie at McMenamins. While it may seem odd to have dinner before going to a movie theater that serves dinner, I will admit to having a strong hankering for a PARTICULAR burger at the Bend Burger Company all week prior to our date night, and since I was driving, BBC it was!
We’re both on “low carb” diets at the moment and BBC offers two great bunless low-carb options:
A Burger Salad
Any burger served on a bowl of sautéed green beans
When you enter either BBC you order at the counter and they give you a number, delivering your meal when it is ready. BBC is NOT fast food, so set your expectations accordingly. It will be a while, as your meal is made to order and VERY fresh. Good things come to those who wait. Both locations plenty of seating (the downtown location is much smaller however) and have bright decor with large format photos of central Oregon scenery and action shots of climbing at Smith Rock. A large screen TV has an endless slide show of Central Oregon images.
Both locations offer beer on-tap and wines by the glass. If your diet allows it (like my summertime 50+ mile bike days do!) order a milkshake. BBC shakes are delicious.
On this trip I order a Ponderosa Burger on Green Beans, and my date orders a Bend Burger Salad. I ask for a side of onion rings. Yeah, that’s a bit of a cheat on our diet, but since I am missing out on some of the best fries in Central Oregon, I want something to compensate with.
Our rings arrive first and rather than a small side, it is a huge basket of them! The BBC onion rings are amazing. Perfectly cooked with a crunchy outside and tender inside. My date proclaims them the best onion rings she has ever had. They are served with fry sauce, which I like to spice up with a few shots of the hot sauce they have on the table alongside the catsup and mustard.
About the time we’re licking our fingers after the last onion ring is gone, our burgers arrive:
The Ponderosa is covered in Pepper Jack cheese, onion straws, and to top it off another couple of onion rings!
The green beans are perfectly cooked and have a sauce that includes bacon and bits of ground beef. Some black pepper and a few shots from the hot sauce dispenser kicks up the heat a little.
The Bend Burger Salad is delivered with a bit of salad dressing of your choice. I would have picked Blue Cheese, but my date requests Ranch, on the side.
The entire meal is delicious. My date finishes her Burger Salad, but there is no way I can finish the bowl of beans. I’ve ordered this dish a few times and never been able to finish it in one sitting, but it makes for great leftovers so I get a “to-go” box and bring them home.
I’m not a big fan of fast food. I prefer sit-down dining and fresh stuff. But sometimes eating has to take a back seat to more pressing concerns. Yesterday I had to drive to Portland for a funeral. As I’m heading out of Central Oregon I stop to fill up the tank at Freddie’s in Redmond and my tummy was growling. Where should I go? Heading north my choices are a few Burger places (Sno-cap, Bogey’s), Sonic, and a couple of sub sandwich places. Then I recall a great Carne Asada combo plate I enjoyed at Rigoberto’s on Antler and 5th last summer. I decide to swing by and grab a burrito to go.
There is an art to rolling a burrito so well that it can be eaten one-handed. I can recall a burrito shop I frequented back in the early 90s that could wrap a football-sized one so well it would maintain cohesion down to the last grain of rice. I figured it would be a good test for Rigaberto’s.
Above: The Burrito, in hand.
The service is quick, I have my burrito in hand and am underway in minutes. It is a chicken burrito. Heavy, and well-wrapped. The paper wrapping is easy to partially undo to facilitate eating. The tortilla wrap is perfectly constructed. The filling is a wonderful concoction of an earthy red sauce, chicken, rice & beans.
Honestly it is one of the best chicken burritos I have ever eaten.
So much better than a fast-food hamburger to be honest. I wolf it down before I arrive in Terrebonne. True to form, it maintained its shape as I ate it. No “burruption” risk at all.
Tummy satisfied, I drive non-stop to PDX and on arrival I note that in the bag are some sauce samples:
The burrito of course is long gone, but I open one of the green ones and have a taste. So good I down the whole container! Again, a spicy/earthy/savory delight.
Back in the day, I used to host many business dinners and Greg’s Grill in the Old Mill was an easy choice because it:
Is huge, and can usually accommodate a large party on short notice.
Has a great setting. High ceilings in a very pleasant dining room, phenomenal view of the river, Snob Hill and Mount Bachelor above it all.
Produces god quality fare swiftly and at a reasonable price.
However in recent years I haven’t had a reason to visit Greg’s, until today that is. Testa Rossa (my redheaded S.O.) and I are at the Old Mill to pick up something for her at a nearby store and I suggest lunch.
We are seated immediately and I order a glass of Merlot. Testa Rossa order a Moscow Mule. They arrive in a flash.
The wine list is simple and utilitarian, with an emphasis on domestic vintages. A good section of beer taps and custom cocktails round out the drink selection.
Above: Custom Cocktail Menu Above: Starters & Salads
Above: Lunch Menu
For lunch Testa Rossa orders a Salmon Caesar salad, and I take the Chicken Club sandwich. As with the drinks, they arrive almost instantly.
Above: Our lunch. Salmon Caesar and Chicken Club sandwich with side salad.
Testa Rossa reports quite favorably on the Caesar… “Tangy dressing!” “Great salmon!” She shares a few forks of it with me, and I concur. Quite good. I have a weakness for a Caesar salad and it is rare to find a REALLY good one.
I opt for a side salad for my sandwich, and in hindsight should have requested a Caesar, as it is much better than my green salad. It has an overload of diced cucumbers. The dressing (blue cheese in my case) comes on the side, something I guess most folks want, but I did not request it that way. The sandwich itself is quite good. It is not a traditional triple-decker Club, but instead a bun containing the usual Club ingredients plus the California-standard avocado slice. I’m not a huge fan of the avocado normally but in this case it is complemented by the buttery roll that Greg’s calls a “Stadium Brioche.”
I finish my sandwich easily, but end up leaving the majority of the side salad. Maybe next time I’ll damn my waistline and opt for the fries.
As for the rest of the experience, the service is excellent. The host allowed us to opt for a shady booth away from a window (it is a very bright sunny mid-winter day.) Our server is prompt, but unobtrusive. She arrives at the right moments and takes care of us very well.
She offers the dessert menu, and as tempted as all of the items appeared, we reluctantly demur…
Above: Dessert Menu.
Overall, Greg’s is an excellent choice in Bend for a good value meal in the mid-high price range. They execute well, consistently serve good food and provide great service.