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What's Brewing In Downtown Bend 

It's been what seems like a couple of years since Santiago Casanueva first started pushing yerba maté brews to Bendites and he's won a fair number of converts to his leafy coffee alternative that has long been popular in places like Brazil. Now Casanueva is back in downtown Bend just a few paces from his former digs at St. Clair Place. The Top Leaf Maté bar is now serving at the increasingly hip Tin Pan alley, between Lone Pine Coffee and Thump. It's going to take some sales pitch to get Bendites off coffee as good as Lone Pine and Thump, but if anybody can wean you off the bean, it's Casanueava. Bonus web points to anyone who logs online and checks out Casanueava's DIY "webformercial" that ran under the provocative headline, Bend Oregon What Is Yerba Maté. Extra bonus points and a bag of good old fashioned coffee to anyone who can spot and identify the Source staffer featured in the video. E-mail your best guess to and put off maté for another week.

Switching gears, Quick Bites received a recent press release about Pastini Pastaria's new $6 lunch in the Old Mill and just had to check it out. We found a nice selection of pasta dishes and settled on a succulent and appropriately, though certainly not fully, proportioned plate of linguini noodles that came with a side of cream of mushroom soup. Add in a couple of nibbles of their complimentary bread with olive oil and balsamic, and it made for about as much lunch as you could possibly ask for at the price.

Also in the Old Mill this month, Greg's Grill and Red Robin are donating 15 percent of sales on Wed. Dec. 16 and Thurs. Dec. 17 to Healthy Beginnings, a program that works to make sure that all young children are healthy and ready to learn by the time that they enter kindergarten. If you're shopping is centered on the north end of town, Johnny Carino's is taking the same pledge.

Speaking of Johnny Carino's, the Italian chain's main competitor, Olive Garden, is putting the final touches on its Bend restaurant, located predictably within eyesight of its competitor in the so-called Golden Triangle. Word has it that the OG will be opening its doors sometime in mid-January. Time to start fasting so you can cash in on those breadsticks and all-you-can eat salad. Meantime, we can only guess that their staff has been sequestered to a secluded Italian villa to learn the secrets of Old World cuisine masters like Chef Boyardee.


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