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A Well-Hidden Gem: Pono Farms & Fine Meats is a cut above the rest 

Pono Farms & Fine Meats serves fresh cut meat sandwiches with a choice of sides and satisfies the palate and the wallet.

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The restaurant world preaches location, but what's often forgotten is equally important - execution, variety and customer service. Pono Farms & Fine Meats is a butcher shop/deli offering fresh cuts and preparations of ranch raised beef and pork direct from their Central Oregon farm. This is farm-to-fork like you've never seen. Fresh ground beef, shaved meats, sausages and Wagyu beef to take home or enjoy on site. The Hunnell Road location was devised to serve the public directly, adding lunch and dinner plates to the meat counter and charcuterie options.

The first time I stopped in, I wanted to grab a quick bite to go. I wasn't expecting much in the way of seating or atmosphere and was pleasantly surprised by the open space, hardwood floors and tables. My first visit sent me away with the Philly cheese steak that, like all of the sandwiches and burgers, comes with your choice of side. Thin slices of peppery, seasoned beef were layered in a perfectly textured roll with mushrooms, sliced jalapenos and provolone cheese. It was one of the best Phillys I've had in town. I wouldn't change a thing about this sandwich.

I also took home a two-pack of all-beef hotdogs and 1.5 lbs. of spicy Italian sausage. The hotdogs were enormous and full of flavor although the casing could have been a bit thinner. At home the next evening, my boyfriend made a quick sauté with the sausage - adding peppers, onions, garlic and spices. He put all of the ingredients in a cazuela and added the beef hot dogs (cut lengthwise because they were so big). The quality and freshness made the hotdogs and the sausage stand out - and we ate for three days, I kid you not.

My second visit occurred after hiking Black Butte and spending the afternoon at Scout Lake - so it was with healthy appetites that my friend and I stopped at Pono. We ordered two sandwiches with sides and shared a carafe of 100-year-old spring water. Pricing on dine-in food is reasonable, with sandwiches and burgers priced between $8-10. Fresh cut meats and sausages are equivalent to Newport Market prices, just remember, the only way to get fresher meat than this is to butcher it yourself.

The corned beef sandwich was thinly sliced, tender and well seasoned, layered high on toasted and buttered rye bread. Also layered on the sandwich was an extra thick slice of Swiss cheese and coarsely chopped house sauerkraut. East Coasters can appreciate this sandwich and it will likely have them talking about their favorite deli from back home. The side of coleslaw was a perfect palette cleanser between meals. Although it was wetter than I'm used to, it had great flavor. My friend had a similar experience with her order, the roast beef sandwich. Shaved roast beef on a soft, chewy bun spread with tangy horseradish sauce and covered with a thick slice of cheddar cheese. My friend selected potato salad, a nice mix of skin-on red potatoes, green onion and spices, served chunky. The friendly staff was there to answer our questions. During the meal, we learned that the 100-year-old spring water is the same water Pono Farms feeds their animals.

Service was swift, and the staff knowledgeable and friendly. Pono will go out of the way to determine what cut of meat you're looking for. If they don't have it on that day, they will make sure to have it for you next time you come in. In addition, if you're picking up some steaks for the family dinner, Pono will cook your steaks for $3.50 while you finish your shopping.

When Bend grows to a population of one million, I'm confident that Pono Farms & Fine Meats will be in the center of it all. Until then, let's be honest: it's off the beaten path located near Cascade Village behind Lowe's. Hard to find your first time? Sure. Easy to find after you've eaten in or taken out? Yes, indeed.

Pono Farms & Fine Meats
63595 Hunnell Rd, Ste 100
(541) 330-6328
www.ponofarm.com

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