Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Oregon Part Four: After the Bus in Bend

To see related posts in this series, click this link.

We were dropped off at our hotel by the Bend Brew Bus around 5:45. We stopped back into the room for a quick Voodoo Doughnut break and then headed one block towards the center of town. Bend's main downtown area is about 3x4 small city blocks. There were a few national stores and chains in the area (Starbucks, Patagonia) and lots of smaller boutiques and specialty shops. There was a good selection of dining options featuring ethnic foods, pub grub, and a few steakhouses.

For the beer hunters the center of Bend is a good location to do some serious brewery touring. There are 4 breweries within 5 minutes walking distance of the center of town. Luckily today's Brew Bus didn't visit any of them so we were at a good point to continue as self-guided tour.

Deschutes Brewery was our first stop. This downtown location is mostly a restaurant and bar since the bulk of their brewing happens at their location by The Old Mill District. The place was lively as you'd expect around 6pm on Friday. We ended up at two low bar seats (for wheelchair patrons) right next to the taps. This gave us a chance to talk to the bartender a bit. Apparently they don't get many folks visiting from Illinois. The beer list was big, but mostly full of hoppy, higher IBU beers. They were out of stout so Holly ordered a Big Butte Porter and Dave had the organic blonde. Big Butte Porter was a real nice beer, which is likely available at our large beer stores back home. Deschutes did not serve liquor. Their menu was "pub grub" and had a few nice entrees too.

Next up was Bend Brewing Company. They had a nice location along the river. We ended up at barside pub tables and picked our beers - a porter and a hefeweizen. Both were decent. The menu's main focus was sandwiches and pizzas. Seemed more like a place you go have dinner at more than a place to sit around for a few rounds.

Those were the last beers of the evening. Time to move onto something else to drink. In the following video we take a doughnut break and talk about how many beers we sampled before heading over to dinner.

We found our dinner spot via twitter. Before our trip Holly tweeted Bend resident and professional cyclist Chris Horner (@hornerakg) and got a response back with a few suggestions. We decided to dine at Zydeco Kitchen & Cocktails. Dave researched the website beforehand and thought it seemed casual, but it was actually a bit more upscale. We didn't make ressies so we had a half-hour wait at the bar. Once we sat down we were treated to some great food. We had BBQ shrimp with a corn cake, shrimp étouffée, wild boar tenderloin, and truffle potato au gratin. We paired all this with a local pinot noir. Nice experience!

The evening was capped off by a drink back at our hotel's cognac bar. This was housed in the old chapel building and was the home to the beer garden where people crowded around the fire pits.

The next morning we shopped and browsed downtown, headed to REI for a last minute supply, and had lunch at the Old Mill Brew Werks.  This was a small location buried in the middle of the Old Mill corporate park area.   They were more of a taproom and small restaurant vs. a traditional brewpub.   Because they were changing their brewing schedule at their main facility only one of their own beers was available - an IPA.   We ended up with a few beers they had as guest taps from California.  We had a nice lunch here and had fun talking to the bartender.  We learned Oregon has high state income and property taxes which makes it possible to not have a need for sales tax.  A win for the visitors!

Next stop is Sunriver (about 20 minutes from Bend) for the marathon! We didn't fill our passport, but we have two more scheduled trips into Bend.

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