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Beefing Up the Westside: Pilot Butte Drive-In opens another location for its colossal burgers 

Pilot Butte Drive In brings its huge burgers to the Westside.

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The Pilot Butte Drive-In has been serving enormous burgers and other items of similar proportion along Greenwood Avenue for more than a quarter century and is as ingrained in Bend culture as any other business in town. Their midtown location draws a varied cross-section of the Bend population through its doors, making for an often-crowded (but nevertheless eat-your-brains-out) experience, that even with a bit of a wait is totally worth it.

Now, PBDI, as the hardcore fans call it, is thinning some of the crowding - well, hopefully - with the addition of a westside Bend location that opened last week in the Century Plaza between Safeway and Starbucks in the space once occupied by the delicious but short-lived Tony's Delicatessen. I went in there wondering if PBDI could possibly transfer the downhome service, old-school atmosphere and, of course, juice-dripping burgers on which it has made its reputation over to a westside shopping center environment.

The answer in a word, yes they can. Upon entering the surprisingly spacious locale, the familiar scents created only by the careful collision of sizzling ground beef, cheese and onions wafted my way and awakened the meat-devouring demon that lives at the bottom of my stomach. I wanted a burger. Immediately... and I wanted it to be enormous.

I've tasted both the classic cheeseburger and the patty melt and found few, if any, deviations from their eastside cousins, which is a good thing. That said, PBDI Westside is not a carbon copy of its parent location. While the burger menu is the same and the space has some throwback art on the wall, the restaurant is spiffier and, most notably, it's not technically a "drive-in," but seriously, if you can't get out of your car for a burger, do you really deserve it? Food for thought.

Also, there's no breakfast at the westside location. Sure, the PBDI breakfast is the stuff of legend, but there are plenty of morning eateries in that neighborhood. What it really needed - and just landed - is a place to drop in and get a damn good burger to go.


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