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We Got Spirit: Diego's adds evidence of a downtown Redmond revival 

Diego's adds evidence of a downtown Redmond revival.

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There are two things that bring my husband and I into Bend regularly: walking and eating. Lately we've been searching out alternatives closer to home. As far as walking goes, our favorite trail within a 10-mile radius is along the Deschutes River at Eagle Crest or, if we decide to put up with the extra company, the Dry Canyon Trail.

Eating out in Redmond has proven more challenging. In fact, unless we grab our favorite Chinese take-out, we never seek out chow in this hometown of ours. I've avoided downtown Redmond for so long I didn't realize how far along its new facelift has come, transforming a small town frontage into an inviting area to shop, grab a coffee, or go out to eat.

Last week I stopped inside the new, locally owned Green Plow Coffeehouse, a welcome addition to downtown that touts itself as a living room for the community. As I sipped my cup of hot cider, I gazed out the windows at the brick walkways, built-in tables and chairs, and bright new store awnings along Sixth Street. Gee, I thought, I could actually hang out here.

This week, I returned to hip, happening Sixth Street with my husband during the evening hours to see if we might just be able to have a night out on the town - right here in Redmond!

Of all the local non-chain establishments, Diego's Spirit Kitchen sounded like the most exciting possibility. I was further encouraged after a quick phone call to check if they could accommodate a vegan and was told by an energetic gentleman, "We make everything from scratch. We will do whatever we can for you."

Seb and I arrived later that evening and were shown to a cozy nook overlooking the walkway. I felt like we'd been given our own private room. As the hour grew late, more and more people arrived until every table in the restaurant was full despite it being a Monday evening. I don't know if it was the full moon bringing folks out or if Diego's is simply the hot spot in Redmond.

Despite being tucked away in our corner, the service was superb and timely. We were attended to by three different wait staff. Water glasses were always refilled and a fresh basket of warm tortilla chips were presented to us before we'd even finished the first. These were served with just the right proportion of homemade salsa with a kick I found myself growing fond of by about the tenth chip.

Diego's features a large beautiful bar when you first walk in and offers a full wine, beer, and spirits menu with a couple of whites at only $5 a glass. My glass of Riesling was generously filled, enough so to get by on one glass the whole evening.

The dinner menu offered a wide selection of salads, soups, sandwiches, steaks, burritos and dinner platters.

All I know is I haven't had a burrito make me this happy in I don't know how long. I ordered the grilled veggie burrito ($9), filled with juicy seasonal veggies, green rice and black beans smothered in a delicious chili sauce and topped with salsa mixed tomatoes. I ate every last bite of that jumbo burrito.

Seb went for the sizzling South West Fajitas ($16), which comes with a choice of chicken, shrimp, steak, or (his pick) veggies. It arrived with an extra plate heaped with green rice, black refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, salsa and flour tortillas.

Our bus boy was overjoyed when he saw my clean plate and started speaking with such excitement; we couldn't understand a word he said.

Furthermore, we could have been leaving The Ritz the way Diego's host whisked open the front door for us as we headed out onto the posh streets of Sixth Street.

Diego's Spirit Kitchen

447 SW 6th St., Redmond. 316-2002. Daily 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.

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