It’s decidedly a beer town, a very good beer town. But if you get awash in this haven of suds and need a palate cleanser, Bend, Oregon also has some good spots for margaritas.
Beer taps seem to prevail on every corner in Bend, in every neighborhood, and on most menus. While there are several labels with widespread distribution – Deschutes, Sunriver, and 10 Barrel among them – you should also check out some of the stellar small breweries such as Boneyard, Silver Moon, and Bend Brewing.
I am an admitted beer lover, so a trip to Bend definitely puts me in my happy place. But after knocking back a few IPAs, I find myself thinking about margaritas. The local Mexican/Peruvian chain Hola! has five locations, including downtown, as far south as Sunriver, and as far north as Camp Sherman. On the north end of Bend is El Rancho Grande, which has some pretty tasty margaritas, especially the hibiscus and tamarindo. Though the location lacks a bit of ambiance, it’s in a convenient one-stop shopping plaza, so you can quench your post-errand thirst.
Hands down though, El Sancho is my definite go-to for margaritas and casual Mexican food in Bend.
This local favorite got its start about dozen years ago as a food truck. Since then, El Sancho has expanded into two brick-and-mortar locations with full bars (plus a couple of spots where they still operate as food-only carts). One is on the east side of town, the other on the west side’s Galveston Street.
The culinary mood at El Sancho is relaxed street fare, with tacos front-and-center. However, the food is elevated with the use of sustainably-raised proteins and farm-fresh vegetables. The rest of the menu offers mainstays such as tamales, tostadas, and some of the best tortilla soup I’ve had in a while. But it’s the refreshing margarita selection that keeps me coming back.
Nine on-the-rocks margaritas are offered year-round, with seasonal concoctions taking their turn as well. The solid house margie serves as the basis for the other eight flavors that are punched up with fresh squeezed citrus juices. Among my favs are the hot-but-not-too-hot pineapple serrano, guava-lime, and passionfruit (which I preferred with a tajin rim instead of its standard sugar).
Of course, this being Bend, El Sancho also showcases a rotating selection of microbrews, plus sangria and rum drinks. But … really … I’m just here for the margaritas!