There’s something to be said for old-time neighborhood hangouts.
I’m talking about the kind of place that can serve you a cheeseburger and fries with a cold draft beer, or eggs with bacon and pancakes and a stiff bloody mary.
I’m thinking about a spot where you can sit indoors or out, read the morning paper, watch the latest sports news on television, or just hang out with friends — and their kids and dogs — recounting the misadventures of the night before.
This place might double as a small grocery, offering essentials like chocolate, chips and cheap wine to save you a trip to a supermarket. And it could serve as a message center where events, lost pets and house rentals are offered a little extra publicity.
If you live in the Old Bend Neighborhood, you might already have recognized the Riverside Market & Pub, surrounded by residences just one block east of the Deschutes River.
Built in 1935 as a service station, the Riverside has been through many changes, but for years it has served Old Bend as a market.
When Jon and Melanie Gaipo purchased the building just over a year ago, they stabilized and refined the food service that was then being offered, while reemphasizing the Riverside’s role as a community center.
Three meals a day
A breakfast menu, served until 11 a.m., features a dozen items that range from breakfast burritos to biscuits and gravy. An extensive but modestly priced list of sandwiches and salads is offered through the midday and evening hours, with occasional dinner specials such as prime rib offered on weekends.
Diners order and pay at the counter, where they are presented with an order number to be delivered wherever they choose to sit.
My first forays to the Riverside were at lunchtime, when together with my dining companion I sampled five different pub offerings.
I had two favorites. One of them was the Greek salmon burger, so named for the yogurt-based tzatziki sauce that is added to the toasted roll as a spread, along with a tangy pepperoncini relish. Dressed with leaf lettuce and red onion, the fish was delicious.
I also loved the very generous barbecued chicken salad, served on a bed of romaine hearts. Chopped poultry breast and black beans, drizzled with zingy barbecue sauce, were tossed with slices of red onion and Roma tomatoes, cilantro and multi-colored tortilla chips, along with jalapeno slices on request. I opted for blue cheese dressing over ranch.
Riverside’s Angus burger is another good meal option. One-third pound of premium beef, cooked to order, is served on a toasted bun with all the trimmings, including cheese, bacon and/or avocado as requested. Side options include fries or tater tots, a fresh green salad or the soup of the day.
I didn’t think there was anything special about the Riverside Reuben. A slice of Swiss cheese was melted atop lean pastrami and served with thousand island dressing on grilled, marbled rye bread.
And the “Bend burrito,” which sounded good on the paper menu, failed to move me. Small bites of tri-tip sirloin, marinated in a local beer, were rolled with roasted potatoes, onions and red and green peppers in a large tortilla upon which cheddar cheese had been melted. Unfortunately, the meat was overcooked, there were too many potatoes, and even with the addition of salsa I found it dry.
I went vegetarian for breakfast and was delighted with the pub’s version of Mexican huevos rancheros.
A chipotle black-bean burger patty — always a good choice for non-meat eaters at any meal here — was plated with two eggs, cooked over easy per my request, and served with home fries, salsa, sour cream and cheddar cheese.
I shared an inside table with two neighborhood friends who happened to drop into the Riverside at the same time as me. We chatted about our previous evening’s adventures and melodramas, talked about the day ahead, commented on the child trying to ride a large dog just outside the cafe’s window and suggested that the boxer — not to mention the tot’s parents — might be more comfortable were the youngster to take his energy to the playground equipment that Riverside provides.
Meanwhile, we kept an eye on the ebb and flow of clientele, placing orders, checking out the morning news and gossip, bantering with the Riverside’s young staff.
At one point, one of my table mates recognized someone she had met the previous evening. “Weren’t you ...?” she began. “Didn’t I ...?”
The Riverside is that sort of place.
The new Astro Lounge opened its doors in downtown Bend on July 22. Owner Josh Maquet said the bar-restaurant, which takes over the former Subway space, has doubled its capacity from 45 patrons to 90 while adding a music stage and an alley-side back patio. The menu is one of moderately priced, gourmet comfort food. 939 N.W. Bond St., Bend; 541-388-0116, www.astroloungebend.com.
The former Astro space on Minnesota Avenue is being converted into the Glow Lounge , according to owner Gavin McMichael of the adjoining Gatsby’s Brasserie Bar.
Chan’s (B): A major renovation after a disastrous fire has given this 25-year-old restaurant a new look, with more space for dining and exhibiting art. But the menu remains the same as before, with Westernized variations of Chinese regional dishes. Open 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, noon to 9 p.m. Sunday. 1005 S.E. Third St., Bend; www.chanschinese.com or 541-389-1725.
Baldy’s BBQ (A): The popular barbecue joint’s new Redmond cafe delivers fresh pork, beef, chicken and seafood straight from the smoker to the plate. A well-trained staff provides attentive service amid ranch-style decor. Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. 950 S.W. Veterans Way, Redmond (541-923-2271), 235 S.W. Century Drive, Bend (541-385-7427), 2699 N.E. U.S. Highway 20, Bend (541-388-4227); www.baldysbbq .com.
Broken Top Club (B+): A skilled and creative menu of Northwest cuisine is served in a relaxing atmosphere, enhanced by a lovely lake-and-mountain view. Service can be spotty, however — attentive in the evening but lackadaisical at midday. Open 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. 62000 Broken Top Drive, Bend; www .brokentop.com/dining.htm or 541-389-8200.
Pono Farm & Fine Meats (A-): A carnivore’s delight, this custom butcher shop on Bend’s north side serves quality beef and pork from Pono’s own 200-acre organic livestock ranch near Culver. Sandwiches and combination plates, all priced under $14, are served in a well-maintained cafe. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday; kitchen opens at 11 a.m. 63595 Hunnel Road (at Cooley Road), Suite 100; www.ponofarm.com or 541-330-6328.