The creation of a brick-and-mortar restaurant for Blissful Spoon was a long time coming for Bendites, who have been clamoring for expanded offerings since at least 2018, when Miki and Kamal Bakkari started selling granola and baked goods at local farmers markets. The couple, meanwhile, admits that opening a bona fide restaurant was never really in their plan. But with a beautiful new space that opened in January 2021, serving Mediterranean and globally inspired tapas, plus wines and French-style baked goods, suffice it to say they've exceeded their own expectations.
"This was kind of never in the plan," Miki Bakkari said. "We always planned to see a change when we moved back to the States from Australia. We started with the granola and the energy bites and a few cakes at the farmers markets, and we were like, 'we just want to do something small and simple,' and it kind of just grew from there."
Soon after bringing Blissful Spoon to the markets, locals began to respond, asking when they'd open up a formal location. In 2019, after looking around for a location for a year and a half, the couple saw a sign advertising the opening of a new building under construction in downtown Bend, adjacent to Bend Brewing Company. The Bakkaris signed a lease on the brand-new space in January 2020—but with the advent of COVID-19, it wasn't until January 2021 that they finally moved in. The space is gorgeous, with tall ceilings and a modern-industrial feel that is relatively new for Bend restaurants. A floral mural by Kelly Thiel adds warmth to the space.
Today, Blissful Spoon offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Mediterranean-style menu, Miki Bakkari said, "is the way we like to eat. For us this is an extension of who we are. A lot of them are family recipes or family favorites. Kamal is originally from Morocco, and so he has a lot of regional dishes and family dishes that he creates."
Miki's upbringing on a "truck farm" in Northern California, meanwhile, is evident in the fresh ingredients prevalent on the menu. Tapas items including the Caprese salad and the sauteed shishito peppers bring that freshness, while fresh pastas, sandwiches and the chackouka—a popular North African breakfast—offer quality ingredients with bright flavors. Even the baked goods can have a hint of health to them; a recent version of macarons included goji berries, touted as a superfood. In a time when opening a restaurant that doesn't come on wheels is more of a gamble than ever, the Bakkaris hope their new space becomes a gathering place for many.
"It's a really fun place to come and hang out, be with friends, be with family," Miki said. "That's what eating and sharing and the culture around the Mediterranean in particular is all about—food, friends, family and laughter. That's what we designed the space to be."
Open Sun 9am-3pm, Tue-Wed 9am-6pm, Thu-Sat 9am-9pm
65 NW Newport Ave., Bend