Bend’s amazing food cart pods are full of beer taps

Picnic tables. Hearths. Flowing craft beer.

Food trucks are great, and most cities have them. What sets Bend apart are its food cart pods. These permanent clusters of mobile food vendors are tucked away in neighborhoods, providing a casual and inviting atmosphere to enjoy a meal and a pint with friends, kids, and even the dog. At last count, Bend had seven such charming gathering places.

Most are outdoors or indoors and outdoors, with covered seating, twinkling lights, music and – always – a separate tap “room” stocked with craft beer, wine, cider, kombucha and nitro coffee. Here are three that we visited several times on a recent trip to Bend.

The Lot, one of many food and beer pod concepts in Bend, offers approximately 16 rotating taps of beer, cider, wine and more. (Jessica Yadegaran/Bay Area News Group)

The Batch

The original food cart pod, The Lot, has been feeding locals and delighting visitors who stumble upon its west side residential neighborhood since 2013. A few blocks from Mirror Pond, The Batch features four food carts – Fricken Faco, BND Burgz N Dogz, Maki Maki Sushi and A La Carte, a fries, salad and taco concept – and a bar counter serving beer, cider, kombucha, seltzer water and wine from 16 rotating taps.

The focus is on regional beers, but they have a good selection from around the world. During the summer months, its garage doors stay open and the built-in seating is delightfully alfresco; but they close them during the colder months and turn on the heated benches (yes!), making it a comfortable, self-contained dining room. Don’t miss the lava rock wall and the gas fireplace.

Fricken Faco, a chicken and fish concept, is one of four food trucks permanently stationed at The Lot in Bend. (Jessica Yadegaran/Bay Area News Group)

Choice of food: I have to give it up Fricken Faco’s clever range of fried chicken and fish taco offerings. We liked the combo of two crispy, fried Pacific Northwest cod tacos served with tomatillo-avocado salsa and cilantro-lime aioli ($11). Do you crave chicken? Get an order of hand-breaded, fried-to-order nuggets with sweet maple bacon sauce ($11).

Details: Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily at 745 NW Columbia St. in Bend; www.thelotbend.com.

The Podski offers a picnic-type field next door with benches and a host of food carts. (Courtesy of the Podski)

The Podsky

Located opposite the Box Factory, between the city center and the old mill, The Podski offers a picnic-inspired lot with several food carts offering a dizzying array of options, from Thai street food and Mexican sushi tacos led by a chef, grandma-approved pierogis. and even charcuterie. Did we mention Podski Salon? (In case you need a blowout between bites.)

Hairdresser appointments aside, here’s how it works: buy your food, grab a table, then pop by the shiny red double doors of the shipping container for a pint of something soapy. Inside, it’s a fully paneled bar with red stools, family-style benches, and six rotating West Coast craft beers on tap, plus canned cider, wine, and kombucha.

Choice of food: Thailand has been offering drunken noodles, pad Thai and other Thai street food classics in Bend since 2012. Their curries (from $14) pair beautifully with PNW draft beers. Simply choose your protein, spice level and sauce – red, yellow, green, panang or massaman – on a bed of jasmine or brown rice.

Details: Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily for beer (and until 8 p.m. for most food carts) at 536 NW Arizona Ave., Bend; www.thepodski.com

Crosscut, behind the Box Factory, features a cabin-style tap house surrounded by three Bend food trucks. (Courtesy of Crosscut)

Crosscut Warming Hut #5

Located behind the Box Factory, near the Old Mill district, the garden with the appearance of cross section is the latest addition to Bend’s dietary capsule scene.

Three food carts – Bluma’s Chicken & Waffles, Abe Capanna’s Detroit Pan Pizza + Italian, and Gyro Power – surround a two-story cabin-like bar with 36 rotating beers from the Pacific Northwest and unique beers from around the world, including including sour and wild beers. For non-beer drinkers, they have cider, wine, and kombucha.

During the summer months, enjoy a crunchy grapefruit Topo Mind IPA from 10 Barrel Brewing on the shaded patio. In the winter, claim a spot by the fireplace or settle into this cozy pub – by the wood-burning stove – with a sweet Backroad Vanilla Porter from Klamath Basin Brewing.

Choice of food: at Abe’s pan pizza, which is made in blue steel pans and baked in an old fashioned gas oven. The Ruby Baby is delicious – made with mozzarella, red onion, parmesan, rosemary and pistachios, which gives the thick pie a delicious crunch ($16/$30).

Details: Opens daily at noon at 566 SW Mill View Way in Bend; https://crosscutbeer.com

Crosscut Warming Hut No. 5 is a two-story cabin faucet surrounded by three food carts, fire pits, and plenty of seating. (Courtesy of Crosscut)