dining by the tracks at terrebone depot.I've never been much for climbing. Stairs, okay. Ladders, fine. But rocks, particularly when they're positioned at a dead right angle to the ground, absolutely not (and for the hundredth time, honey, no, I will not be your belay bunny). But even if carabiners and crampons aren't your thing, summer in Central Oregon wouldn't be complete without a visit to Smith Rock. With a network of trails on and around the dramatic rock formations, Smith Rock State Park, less than 45 minutes from downtown Bend, is one of the most accessible daytrips in the area (day-use fee, $3). Work up a sweat and an appetite with a hike to spectacular panoramic views on the Misery Ridge Trail-more scramble than climb and manageable even for us mortals-and down along the Crooked River past some of the world's premiere climbing routes dotted with the intrepid souls who travel from far and wide to attempt them.
If you're in the mood for a treat on the way out, stop at Juniper Junction for a scoop of world-famous huckleberry ice cream (and likely a somewhat awkward interaction with the store's colorful proprietor). But if you're looking for something heftier and service that's a little, well, friendlier, head straight for Terrebonne Depot. Housed in the old Oregon Trunk Passenger Depot, originally constructed in 1911 but expanded and relocated before being abandoned mid-century, the award-winning renovation was initiated in 2005. The entire structure was put on rails and moved 36 feet west to accommodate a new foundation, but as much of the original building layout and materials were incorporated as possible. The result is a charming spot with a spacious, high-ceilinged dining room with wooden crossbeams featuring a large square bar at the center and a beautiful outdoor patio that boasts unobstructed views of Smith Rock and the Cascades.
The menu, largely the same throughout the day but with a selection of steaks and other higher-end entrees ($10.95-$21.95) available at dinnertime, focuses on quality and execution rather than innovation, though the seemingly traditional fare is often adorned with a New American twist or global influences. Appetizers ($6.25-$9.95) include Buffalo Nachos that feature ground buffalo meat and a nicely done smoked chicken quesadilla with grilled chicken breast, Tillamook smoked cheddar and Monterey jack cheese, peppers and cilantro. Small plates with international flavors round out the starters like bruschetta, a hummus plate with cucumber salad and tzaziki and stuffed triangles, modeled after the classic Greek spinach pie.
A long list of salads, sandwiches, burgers and pizzas, many of which are under $10, ensures that there's something for everyone. I've heard good things about the fish tacos with seared ahi, mango cabbage slaw, avocado slices, jalapeño honey lime sauce and cilantro, but I went with the steak sandwich ($10.95). Served on a fresh roll with horseradish mayo, greens and steak cooked to order, it was satisfying and cohesive. Also deserving of special mention were the fries. Perfectly crispy and nicely seasoned, I couldn't stop eating them long after I was full.
Terrebonne Depot, located just a quarter mile from Highway 97 en route to Smith Rock, also offers picnic baskets with sandwiches and salads to take out, as well as a great happy hour popular with locals and daytrippers alike that features $2.50 beers and $5 pizzas, chicken quesadillas and hummus plates that are no smaller or different than they would be at full price.
With a solid lineup of hearty and tasty dishes, a selection of specialty cocktails and ice-cold regional beers that honor its location like Cascade Lakes' Monkey Face Porter and Terminal Gravity IPA, along with incomparable views, Terrebonne Depot is a must on any visit to Smith Rock-at the very least for a toast on the patio to one of Oregon's most magnificent natural wonders.