Come as a Stranger, | Leave as a Friend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Come as a Stranger, Leave as a Friend

South Side Pub celebrates 25 years as a hometown bar and grill

The poet Robert Burns nailed it when he lamented in his poem, "To a Mouse," back in 1785, about, "the best laid plans of mice and men" going awry. This week's plan to write about a certain breakfast/lunch establishment in the area took an unfortunate turn so I was left scrambling for a last minute replacement. I'm thrilled to report that the spontaneous Plan B led to an unexpected culinary adventure and a very full, satisfied belly.

click to enlarge Come as a Stranger, - Leave as a Friend
Donna Britt
You’ll find the South Side Pub on the north end of a small strip of stores on the south end of Bend. Look for the Sasquatch carrying a keg on the exterior sign.

It's hard to know where to begin in telling this story so I'm going to cut right to the chase, the moment when, after driving all around town from end to end and side to side (thank you, sweet man of mine) looking for a replacement restaurant to write about, I glanced over and saw the sign for South Side Pub. While this neighborhood bar and grill is not too far from where I live, I think I'd only been in once before a long time ago for a drink. But for some reason this time, the sign with the big Sasquatch carrying a keg caught my attention, and next thing I knew we were sitting at a high top table sipping on a $4 rum & cola special, admiring the menu.

It was a weekend midafternoon and there were a number of folks at the bar and groups of people scattered around the tables enjoying their drinks, giant pretzels, burgers and wings. Televisions of various sizes, hung high around the room, were showing everything from NASCAR to golf to the Little League World Series. The music, a familiar yet fresh mix of classic rock and country, was at just the right volume and the vibe was relaxed, comfortable and inviting. Oh, and did I mention the place was immaculate, as in sparkling, gleaming clean?! I have a thing about clean. Even the diviest of dive bars (and I do love a good dive bar) need to be clean, IMHO.

So there I was, in one of Bend's original local neighborhood bars (South Side is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year), feeling all the feels. And I was hungry. I was watching other apps and meals come out and I was very tempted to try the giant Bavarian Pretzel with the house-made jalapeño beer cheese or the Chicken Cordon Bleu Balls with honey mustard, but instead I went for the wings. I have a thing for wings (kind of like my thing about clean). I love wings. If they're on a menu, I have to try them. I'm constantly on a quest for the perfect wings. I've found a few good ones locally and the South Side wings have just been added to that short list.

click to enlarge Come as a Stranger, - Leave as a Friend (3)
Donna Britt
South Side Wings, 6 or 12 pieces, come with choice of sauce: Buffalo, mango habanero, BBQ, garlic parm or teriyaki.

I chose the smaller portion with buffalo sauce with ranch and blue cheese on the side. Out came six glistening drumettes; semi-dry, crisp and perfectly sauced on the outside while juicy and tender on the inside. Other than the blue cheese sauce being a little thin, the wings were delightful, especially with a squirt of fry sauce on top (try it!). Next time I plan on getting the garlic parmesan or maybe the mango habanero wings. Yum.

While it was hard to choose which burger to order, we landed on the Bigfoot, a peppered patty with lettuce, tomato, pickle, crispy onions, bacon and chipotle aioli. We added Swiss cheese and chose fries as our side (other options were salad, coleslaw, sweet potato fries, tots, onion rings, chili or soup).

Out came a very generous burger on a soft brioche bun alongside a pile of skinny French fries. This burger was fantastic and the fries were hot and crispy, as fries should be. The onions, also perfectly crispy, smashed down nicely into the flavorful peppered meat and each bite was highlighted by the bacon and chipotle aioli. I'm looking forward to many other visits to South Side so I can try other burgers and sandos, such as the Sunny in Bend roast beef with caramelized onion and confit garlic and the Squatch Sando with carne asada, bell peppers and blue cheese sauce on rye.

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Donna Britt
The Bigfoot burger at South Side Pub features a peppered patty with lettuce, tomato, pickle, crispy onions, bacon and chipotle aioli.

Other grub that caught my eye: the Bigfoot Fish & Chips and the Chicken & Waffles, as well as the Cheese Curds and Fried Cauliflower apps. Sure, this is bar food, but I'm telling you, this isn't your average bar food. Everything tasted fresh and even the lettuce on the burger was nice and crunchy, not soggy. The presentation was pretty. The service was top-notch and the vibe was everything you want in a neighborhood pub. There's even a covered outdoor patio if you prefer al fresco dining and drinking.

I must also mention the modest prices. Food for two — and we definitely had plenty to eat, came in under $30. That's a real bargain these days. Since it was a day off, we imbibed a bit and took advantage of the drink specials and still came out right around $50 including the tip. Not bad, huh? And we'll be going back soon because South Side Pub lives up to its slogan – "Come as a stranger, leave as a friend."

South Side Pub
61160 S. Highway 97, Bend
Open Daily 11am-Midnight

About The Author

Donna Britt

Food writer, food stylist, recipe tester, cookbook editor, podcast producer/host are a few of the creative hats Donna Britt wears. Donna loves to hike, paddle board and spend quality time with family and friends. Oh, and she also collects cookbooks and cast iron cooking vessels.
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