Bend’s Food Carts Take it to the Streets

Food trucks offer a unique dining experience

There is a movement coming to Bend that actually, well, moves. With around 20 carts popping up in the summertime, the food cart scene is blossoming, offering the Bend-ite a unique way to eat well and cheaply from local vendors.

One of the more popular eateries is Spork; the green-conscious, renovated 1962 Airstream Tradewind that has a rotating menu of eclectic global street food for under $10. For a refreshing summer treat, DaKine Grindz gives you authentic Hawaiian shave ice, acai (ah-sigh-ee) bowls and iced coffee. At The Codfather Fish & Chips, you can order your food from the bottom of the bright red British-style double decker bus and eat it at the top. The genres of food, the locations, and the vehicles are about as diverse as it gets.

Although summer is when the food cart scene tends to flourish, some of the vendors are still willing to shiver their way through the winter. If you didn’t already come across a cart or two at Oktoberfest or Munch n’ Movies, check out for a complete list of vendors, menus, and “permanent” locations. So what are you waiting for? Hop onto the bandwagon—er, cart—and sample some of the grub they have to offer.

Bend has really gone to the dogs. And we’re all wagging our tails.

Bend is paradise for humans and dogs alike.

Central Oregon is not only a great place to live for humans, but for dogs, too. Every year, Dog Fancy magazine names the top “Dog Towns” in the country. And the winner for 2012 was…(drum roll)…Bend, Oregon!

The article sites Bend as “a place where dogs both work and play, ski and swim.” And rightly so. With “ruffly” 27,000 dogs to 80,000 people, the city has definitely warmed up to its canine companions.

First of all, we have countless beautiful places to take your retriever, shepherd, schnauzer, cock-a-poo or All-American mutt for a daily stroll – and almost as many bag dispensers for cleaning up after them.

In the summertime, it’s not uncommon to see dogs floating along on the front of a kayak or paddleboard with the locals, or jumping into the river after a Frisbee at the River Bend Dog Park. The city boasts six other off-leash areas, along with miles of dog-friendly mountain biking trails in the Deschutes National Forest.

In downtown Bend, residents can flaunt their dog at the annual 4th of July Pet Parade. Numerous restaurants, namely breweries, allow—even encourage—dogs on their patio areas. And numerous shops leave a fresh bowl of water outside their doors so Nugget can have a cool drink on a hot day.

Wintertime is just as much fun for dogs. The city’s dog advocacy group, DogPAC, has acquired a snowcat—renamed Sno-Dog—to enhance trail grooming at Wanoga Sno-Park, resulting in a two-mile loop of dog-friendly winter trails next to your own ski and snowshoe tracks.

Area residents and winter visitors can take dog-sled rides at the Oregon Trail of Dreams on Mt. Bachelor and maybe meet local Iditarod musher Rachel Scdoris. Mt. Bachelor Avalanche Rescue Dogs are skilled at locating victims under masses created by snow slides, while the dogs in the High Desert Search Dogs group focus on wilderness and urban tracking and trailing.

It’s easy to see why Dog Fancy has honored Bend as the best place for man’s best friends to have a healthy, active life. And it’s not too shabby for their owners, either.

Extending Your Summer Vacation

September Wildflowers on the Green Lakes Trail

For most families in Oregon, it may feel like Labor Day weekend was the last hurrah of summer. But for those of us here in Bend, the season is just reaching its peak.

“Indian Summer” is upon us. Temperatures are still comfortably in the 70s and 80s, but the evenings and mornings are refreshingly crisp, cooling off by as much as 40 or 50 degrees. (And that, my friends, is what kills off those annoying mosquitoes that bugged us at the lakes in July and August.) It’s that time of year when we get to enjoy the endless outdoor opportunities that Central Oregon provides, but without all the pre-Labor Day crowds.

School is in session and the tourists have gone home, which means fewer encounters with sweaty mountain bikers and rambunctious dogs on the trails. You can have your favorite fishing spot or swimming hole all to yourself again, as well as your first choice tee time. You can even float the river without an armada of other inflated watercraft surrounding you.

While fall colors are starting to appear on the leaves as you walk the river trail, wildflowers are in still in bloom, most noticeably in the Old Mill District, of course. Yet on my hike up to Green Lakes in the Three Sisters Wilderness last weekend, an assortment of wildflowers was still on display, which is unusual for this time of year. And although I wouldn’t recommend it at Green Lakes, it’s a great time to go for a swim in the Cascades Lakes are while water temps are at their warmest.

Yes, the kids may be back in school. But for a few more precious weeks, you can let that inner child keep on playing with the pristine conditions that late summertime in Bend has to offer.

Fro-Yo Fanatics

While Bend’s nightlife may be dominated by its growing number of brew pubs, there’s a different type of bar scene that is a lot sweeter—and becoming popular with a much broader audience.

Ever since Cuppa Yo opened its doors on Newport Ave. in 2009, the community has embraced the phenomenon that is the frozen yogurt shop. The creamy “fro-yo” comes from an Oregon-based company called YoCream, and is a tasty alternative to regular ice cream. It has the added health benefits of being lowfat or nonfat and containing beneficial probiotic cultures, and it is certified Kosher, not to mention the protein, calcium, potassium, and vitamins that the yogurt contains. Add some fresh fruit and delicious toppings, and you’ve got a tasty treat perfect for anyone from 1 to 101.

After Cuppa Yo, other shops quickly started popping up, each with their own twist on the craze. Bend Yogurt Factory in downtown Bend is the largest of the shops and offers soups from Harry’s and locally owned Rockin’ Dave’s. Yo Wild in the Cascade Village Shopping Center offers self-serve shakes and dipped waffle cones. While All Mixed-Up in NorthWest Crossing emphasizes their eco-friendly café, organic fro-yo, fresh smoothies, vegan soups, Strictly Organic Coffee and occasional live music.

Maybe it’s the freedom to choose whatever you want for your dessert and the ability to serve it yourself that makes this fad such an attractive alterative. Better yet, you’re even in control of the cost of your cup-of-yo – with prices near 40 cents per ounce – rather than at a fixed rate. You also get choices galore: multiple toppings and unique flavors that change frequently to make your frozen yogurt endeavor a new experience every time. And if that’s not enough to love, these establishments typically stay open until 10:00 or 11:00pm on weekends. So when there is not a scrap of dessert in your fridge and Goodies is closed, you can still get some late night yummy in your tummy.

Paddle Boarding Pandemonium

Water SportsBend is a paradise for water sports, including kayaking, canoeing, boating, and rafting, just to name a few. But one of the more obscure sports, stand-up paddle boarding, is quickly making its way into the heart of Central Oregon culture. And the best part is you don’t need any prior experience. So it is easy to get out on the water and try something new and exciting.

Stand-up paddle boarding is an ancient Hawaiian sport, in which riders stand on a large surfboard and maneuver with a long, lightweight, single-blade paddle. On any summer day, you’ll see paddlers of all ages and fitness levels making their way through the middle of town on the Deschutes River. Sometimes there’s a dog on the front of the board, and always there’s a smile on the rider’s face.

Several outfitters in Bend offer stand-up paddle-board lessons and tours. For those already comfortable on a paddle-board, renting equipment and setting out on your own is another great option. Check out Sun Country, Tumalo Creek, Standup Paddle Flatwater and Stand On Liquid, which offer services ranging from two-hour group lessons to private and semi-private options. They provide all gear, including boards, paddles, life jackets, water shoes and even the tie-downs to mount the board on your car.

One, two, or three paddleboards are not uncommon to see strapped on vehicles driving around town. More adventurous folks can partake in yoga classes and moonlit excursions on their boards. The opportunities are endless. And it is the perfect way to explore the beautiful area from a fresh perspective. The spirit of Bend is captured in the sport, proving that the locals will always take advantage of their environment by embracing unique ways to enjoy the outdoors.

Bendites are adopting surf’s up attitude of Hawaii and SoCal without the travel expenses and the crowded interstates—or the waves.

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