Food Cart of the Year: Ronin Sushi and Japanese GrillFor sushi lovers, or people who like good poke bowls or bento boxes, Ronin should be your go-to spot. And as a bonus, it's in the popular food cart lot at The Bite in Tumalo.
The sashimi is buttery and fresh, and the rolls have excellent flavors, set off by the staff's magical use of sauce. You'll get soy sauce and wasabi for dipping, but you won't really need them. Owner Scott Byers says all Ronin's fish needs to be wild caught or sustainably farmed, so the menu can change slightly depending on what fish is available.
For those who really love creative sushi, the staff at Ronin will serve "off the menu" rolls put together depending on what fish they have, and what the customer is craving.
Ronin Sushi and Japanese Grill At the Bite in Tumalo
19860 7th St., Tumalo
Rookie Food Cart of the Year: Hogan's Hoagie StopJason Hogan and his wife Hillary opened the food cart at River's Place on Purcell Boulevard in October 2018. Hogan's has been a frequent stop for the Source staff this year—which includes a variety of different eaters, including vegetarians and omnivores. The sandwiches at Hogan's Hoagie Stop are next level. The bread, meat—or veggies—and the special, homemade sauces make these delightful meals into something you'll dream about.
Hogan's Hoagie Stop also serves soup and cookies, along with some soft drinks and juice. Go get 'em—you won't be disappointed.
Hogan's Hoagie Stop
787 NE Purcell Blvd., Bend
Wed. 11am-3pm. Thu.-Mon., 11am-9pm
Restaurant of the Year: El SanchoOur restaurant of the year for 2019 is a Bend-style success story, many years in the making.
Joel Cordes started the first El Sancho as a taco food cart downtown in 2010. When he took a hiatus to make bagels, he met his soon-to-be partner, Jon Barvels. They worked at a few restaurants together, including Spork and Crux Fermentation Project, and when Cordes turned the El Sancho cart into a taco shack at the home-improvement resale yard, Pakit Liquidators, he and Barvels became partners.
The two now have a brick-and-mortar Taco Shop location on Dekalb Avenue, as well as a taco "shack" at Crux, a truck by Cascade West bar, and a cart at other locations for special events. El Sancho uses recycled materials to maintain a funky street vibe, opting to cook on a "rocket" stove—always recognizing the culture they've created is reflected in their food.
El Sancho Taco Shop
335 NE Dekalb Ave., Bend
Taco shop hours: Daily 11am-10pm
Rookie of the Year: The Lemon TreeSince its opening, The Lemon Tree has seen a steady stream of visitors, and nearly a year in, a host of loyal followers—making it a natural choice for our Rookie of the Year. The downtown location, on the corner of Bend's Franklin Avenue and the Brooks Street alley, certainly has something to do with their success—but the varied, international menu and the care the team puts into its drinks, pastries and overall presentation also helps.
The Lemon Tree
718 NW Franklin Ave., Bend
To see listings for all the restaurants in Central Oregon, check out the Restaurant Guide online by navigating to the bottom of the page at bendsource.com. Or, stop into the Source office at 704 NW Georgia Ave. in Bend to get your own copy!