It has been an odd year for restaurants in Central Oregon.
While the economy has blossomed and the population has steadily grown along with tourism, the number of new restaurants over the past year has been relatively low.
“It’s about restaurants planting their roots this year,” explains Kinley Sbandati, for Trattoria Sbandati, our choice this year for Restaurant of the Year. She explains that it has been a good year, but also one when she believes restaurants have been returning to the basics and making plans for the future—and, in this year’s Restaurant Guide, we take a few snapshots of various trends in the food scene, and where it may be heading.
We surveyed a panel of foodies and food experts for their opinions, and those observations are included in this issue. As well, we talked with local chefs about what foods they see trending—and those profiles are peppered throughout the guide.
And then there were the trends that were impossible to miss: While there have been relatively few new restaurants in the region this past year, food carts have been popping up like mushrooms. In our 2014 Restaurant Guide, we awarded The Lot, the collection of semi-permanent carts gathered around fire pits on the city’s west side, our Rookie of the Year honor—and this year we go one step further, and acknowledge food carts' importance and staying power with an entire new section, and a Food Cart of the Year category.
We also note the prevalence and relevance of crowd-sourced opinions when selecting where to eat by adding a “Readers' Choice” category.
By the Numbers: Restaurant and Food Index
Restaurant of the Year 2015: Trattoria Sbandati
Rookie(s) of the Year: Stihl Whiskey Bar and Next Level Burger
Food Cart of the Year: Global Fusion
Trending: Brussels Sprouts
Trending: Pickled Foods
Trending: Smoked Meat
Check out the full guide below.