Wild Eats – Adventuresome Local Dining


Elk Lake Winter Dining

Call resort for snowcat reservations and winter hours.

Elk Lake Resort  |  541-480-7378

Hop in a snowcat at Dutchman Flat and head off through the Deschutes National Forest for dinner at Elk Lake Resort. Built in the 1920s, the resort’s mountain lake lodge is warm and cozy in the snow. Classically trained chef Asa Kenney hails from Austin, Texas and brings his rustic, southwestern style to the lodge dining room. Winter holidays are popular at the resort, where guests are treated to seasonal favorites with a kick—think roasted poblano cream and maple bourbon sweet potatoes alongside slow-smoked turkey. Cabins are available in the winter—with no cars in or out you’ll experience one of our most beloved lakes in all of its serene beauty. You can snowcat back out in the morning.


Sea Urchin and Octopus at Tomo

Tomo Japanese Restaurant, Bend  |  541-323-8888

photos by Heidi Weiss-Hoffman

There are plenty of opportunities for adventure with sushi. At Tomo Japanese restaurant in south Bend, start the night off with uni nigiri—sweet and briny sea urchin over pressed vinegary rice. Also try an order of the house-cooked tako (octopus). In the roll department, go for the Fire Roll—spicy tuna topped with Sriracha and jalapeños. (It’s hot, but not too hot.) Ask for one of the private rooms where you can sit on cushions around the table. Tomo has a good selection of sake including Asian pear and lychee-infused options, and an outstanding happy hour on Mondays.

Comfort Food at the Mohawk on Hwy 97

Mohawk Lounge and Restaurant, Crescent   |  541-433-2256

Photos by Heidi Weiss-Hoffman

In an unassuming building on the side of Highway 97 about 45 miles south of Bend is the Mohawk Restaurant. This roadside attraction is a must-see for lovers of taxidermy. All kinds of critters big and small cover the walls of this down-home eatery. Enjoy a hot meatloaf sandwich with mashed potatoes and country gravy under the watchful gazes of taxidermied elk, moose, bighorn sheep, bison, jackalope, and a pair of bear cubs (to name a few). The Mohawk is also home to an equally impressive bottle collection that includes a number of unique liquor bottles from the good old days.

Korean Waffle Bowl at Bethlyn’s Global Fusion

Bethlyn’s Global Fusion, Bend   |  541-617-0513

Venture into Bend’s Makers District east of downtown and find Bethlyn’s Global Fusion café on the corner of Second and Norton. Chef Bethlyn Rider made a name for herself with her popular food cart and her expansion to brick-and-mortar is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. She’s inspired by flavors from around the world and uses top-notch local ingredients to create some of Bend’s most interesting dishes. Try the Korean Waffle Bowl—it’s a kimchi rice mixture formed into a waffle shape and covered with sweet chili sauce, sesame seeds, nori (dried seaweed), bean sprouts and a fried egg.

The 18 oz. Pilot Butte Burger

Pilot Butte Drive-Ins, Bend   |   541-382-2972

The Pilot Butte Burger is 18 ounces of Angus ground beef and has been known to take down truck drivers and growing adolescent boys. Just ordering it is an adventure—you’ll need both hands to carry this behemoth to your table. Four pieces of your choice of cheese (we recommend half cheddar/half Swiss) are needed for proper smothering. The burger comes with the old-fashioned basics: special sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles. The huge bun that completely covers the burger is the showstopper. (Where do they find a bun that big?) Bring this to your next party—just make sure you have enough people share it.

Mountain Oysters at Tumalo Feed Co.

Tumalo Feed Company, Bend   |   541-382-2202

photos by Heidi Weiss-Hoffman

The Tumalo Feed Company lounge is a hidden gem in the back of the steakhouse. The dark bar is candlelit and the walls are covered with cow skulls, longhorns and cowboy art. Strong martinis are served in mason jars. It’s a ranching tradition after cow-castration time to throw their testicles in a frying pan over an open fire, and at Tumalo Feed Company you can try these “Mountain Oysters.” They’re cut into strips, deep-fried and served with mustard and barbecue dipping sauces. On most Friday and Saturday nights, two-steppers fill the tiny dance floor as a local musician croons out old country favorites.

Picnic in the Snow at Tumalo Mountain

From Bend, head out Cascade Lakes Highway about 20 miles to the Dutchman Flat Sno-park on the right. Sno-park permit required.

Tumalo Mountain is across the highway from Mt. Bachelor, and is a popular trekking destination in the winter and the summer. In the winter, you’ll need skinned-up backcountry skis or snowshoes—most of the ski shops in Bend rent them. Plan a picnic lunch and fill backpacks with a loaf of striata bread from The Village Baker, salami from Redmond Smokehouse, local cheeses, hummus, olives and maybe a bottle of wine. The hike is steep but short (about 1.5 miles one way) and the view from the top is a big payoff—you can practically reach out and touch Broken Top and the Three Sisters. And it’s pretty cool watching skiers make their way down the bowl on the backside.

Cowboy Dinner Tree in Oregon’s Outback

Open weekends only in the winter and reservations are required

Cowboy Dinner Tree, Silver Lake | 541-576-2426

photos by Heidi Weiss-Hoffman

Take a drive into Oregon’s outback for dinner at the Cowboy Dinner Tree, located in Silver Lake about 80 miles southeast of Bend. Originally a stop for cowboys pushing their herds across the high desert, the Cowboy Dinner Tree still keeps things simple, although you’ll get more than a plate of beans for supper. In this sweet little outbuilding of a restaurant, choose between two entrées—a gigantic steak or a whole chicken. Salad, soup, beans, a pan of homemade rolls and baked potatos are served family-style with every meal. It’s a cowboy adventure in one of Oregon’s most beautiful places.


Sweet and Savory Gelato at Bonta

Bonta, Bend    |   541-306-6606

photos by Heidi Weiss-Hoffman

Go on a little adventure and find Bend’s first gelato shop. (Hint: It’s downtown and it’s called Bonta.) The owners are committed to creating artisan, small-batch gelato using local ingredients in compelling combinations. Deschutes Brewery’s Black Butte Porter is combined with vanilla gelato. Strawberries are soaked in balsamic and honey for depth of flavor. Instead of the traditional pistachio, live a little and go for the inspired Oregon hazelnut. And two words for you: Maple. Bacon.

Wild Game at Kah-Nee-Ta Resort

Bird in Clay requires three-hour advance notice—order when you check in.

Kah-Nee-Ta Resort, Warm Springs   |   800-554-4786

You’ll drive down a beautiful canyon, stopping to let wild horses cross the road on your way to Kah-Nee-Ta resort on the magnificent Warm Springs reservation. Built into the hills in the early 1970s, the modern architecture of the lodge showcases bluebird winter skies. The Chinook Northwest Grille opens in March and features wild game including rich, tender venison with a huckleberry reduction and pan-roasted Bandera quail. Since the lodge first opened, Bird in Clay has been on the menu—that’s a Cornish game hen stuffed with figs and apricots and roasted in a clay shell. Use your own juniper mallet to crack open the clay and reveal the savory bird inside. For a year-round dining option, The Warm Springs Grill serves elk fajitas and fry bread with huckleberry jam. Spend the night at the lodge and wake up to a soak in the hot springs mineral pool, which is even more fun when it’s cold out.

No Comments

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.