Happiness comes in all formats.
In Prairie City, it’s served with a side of strawberry rhubarb pie under a giant buffalo head.
Welcome to the Oxbow Restaurant & Saloon, home of delicious chicken fried steaks, the best homemade pies anywhere between the Cascade Range and Boise and the most impressive collection of trophy heads in Grant County (which is saying something).
Full disclosure—I loved this place from the get-go because it reminds me so much of my parents’ steakhouse in western Kansas. Everything, from the smell of fried chicken coming out of the kitchen to the way owners Phil and Carol Bopp blast out daily specials on Facebook in all caps, makes me think fondly of home.
First—and most importantly—the Oxbow nails the classics. I feasted on fried chicken during my lone stop and stole some tasty bites of chicken fried steak from my unsuspecting travel partner. Even the baked beans were excellent and made from scratch. Prime rib allegedly goes fast on special occasions and the kitchen keeps things fresh with a different Asian-style dish every Wednesday.
Lots of restaurants and pubs around Oregon serve great meat-and-potato dishes, right? Well, nowhere else makes homemade pies quite like the Oxbow. From chocolate mint to strawberry rhubarb to key lime and everything in between, no meal is complete at the Oxbow without a slice (or two) of deliciousness on a dessert plate.
Hanging throughout the bar is the aforementioned collection of big game heads. Elk, moose, deer, buffalo, antelope . . . ibex? If you can hunt it, it probably hangs at the Oxbow. (Yes, it feels like you’re being watched if you drink too much Pendleton before your fried chicken is ready.)
Bottom line, this might be the best place between Bend and Baker City to grab a bite, a beer and Bavarian cream turnovers.
And yes, it’s worth going the long way from Bend to Boise just to enjoy a pie break.