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Quick Bites: Good, Cheap Eats on Northbound 97 

Not to worry, the world still revolves around Bend. But for times when you are forced - by death or marriage - to leave Bend,

Not to worry, the world still revolves around Bend. But for times when you are forced - by death or marriage - to leave Bend, where will you eat along the way? For many years, my trips northbound on Highway 97 to Portland or Seattle were punctuated by visits to Pepe's in Madras. I swore up and down that Pepe's was the only decent food to be had between our fair berg and the Northwest's culinary utopias. When I say decent, I just mean food prepared by real cooks - versus pimply faced teenagers - in an owner-run establishment. When Pepe's temporarily closed last year, I reluctantly embarked on a deeper search into my roadside dining options

What I found was that there were actually TWO other restaurants that rated return visits. Alongside the 97 North route in Madras is Los Gatos and north of the Oregon-Washington border is St. John's Bakery just outside Goldendale.

I recently discovered Los Gatos, on a night when Pepe's (now reopened) was closed. When I saw the sign in the window for "papusas," I was sold. The El Salvadorian dish is basically a stuffed tortilla, or in their case, a trio of stuffed tortillas: one with beans and cheese, one with pork and one with chicken. Fried plantains can be ordered as a side. Don't expect your food in a jiffy. A husband-and-wife team do all the order-taking and cooking themselves. Open 10 am - 9 pm, Tuesday through Sunday.

St. John's Bakery is an unlikely outpost among the ponderosa pines ten miles north of Goldendale. Operated by nuns of The Holy Monastery of St. John the Forerunner, the bakery offers quick Greek food and pastries, as well as gifts and espresso drinks. I always browse the gift items and buy a box of baklava for whomever I'm visiting in Seattle. Hours are 9 am - 6 pm, Monday through Saturday. - Annissa Anderson

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