This year’s Rookie Restaurant of the Year turns one year old just after this Restaurant Guide comes out—and while this particular place is new this year, its owners have been around the Bend restaurant block a time or two. The Itti/Westlund family opened Sen in May 2021, roughly eight years after opening the wildly popular Wild Rose in downtown Bend. But Sen is not simply an extension of that Northern-Thai vibe at Wild Rose; instead, Sen boasts a different menu and a different atmosphere. Chatting with co-owner Rosie Westlund, we joked that Wild Rose sorta defines 2013 Bend—eclectic and casual, while Sen might define 2021/22 Bend—a tad more elevated, boasting enviable Deschutes River views, an amazing patio and a bright interior.
And while the space itself makes one want to dine there, the food and drinks are still the stars of the show. Thai-style hot pot dishes offer an appointment-style dining experience—something you want to coordinate with friends to create a memorable night. Noodle dishes, noodle soups and a street food menu inspired by the informal eats of Bangkok and Chiang Mai offer a chance for passing around lots of dishes among friends. As the restaurant evolves, the team hopes to add more creative dishes from the varying food traditions of Thailand to the menu, Westlund said.
And even if the food wasn’t such a big draw, the creative cocktails are also worth making a special trip.
“At Sen we have a really great bar program,” Westlund said. “Craft cocktails—everything our bar manager is producing is really great. We have a lot of customers who come because they say the drinks are so interesting.” Sen has also worked on building up a quality wine list, and also produces its own Riesling wine to pair with some of its dishes.
With summer around the corner, Sen’s gorgeous patio will soon be the place to be for Deschutes River dining, encompassing all the greatest parts about Bend: Great food, delightful cocktails, an abundance of views and atmosphere… and the river, always flowing by.
Sen Thai Noodles & Hot Pot
69 NW Newport Ave., Suite 100, Bend