Deep in the heart of the Oregon Outback, which is the south-central part of the state, is one of the most unique dining experiences our little family has ever had. Located in Silver Lake, Oregon, the Cowboy Dinner Tree is an old fashioned cowboy dinner.
The Cowboy Dinner Tree is located about 90 minutes south-southeast of Bend, Oregon. The rustic setting is right on the cattle drive path and back in the early 1900’s, when cowboys would drive cattle between Paisly, Summer Lake and Silver Lake and points in between, they’d stop at a place called the “Dinner Tree”. The dinner stop was half-way along the journey and was home to a chuck wagon that fed the cowboys. Today, you can dine in a rustic setting storefront that houses the restaurant.
When you call to make your dinner reservation (note: reservations are required), you make your order up front. Your two choices are steak and chicken. 🙂
To get to the DInner Tree, you’ll drive through the beautiful Oregon High Desert. It’s a beautiful drive – and that’s good, because being an hour and a half, scenery along the drive is a nice distraction for little kids.
Once you arrive, you’ll see the rustic shack – this isn’t a white napkin type of steak-house. It’s unmistakably casual and quite filling.
The entire meal is family style and the food is made fresh that day. Shortly after you sit down you’re greeted with a large plate of sweet yeast roles on a cast iron plate. Also, you are given a huge salad with honey mustard and ranch – both of which are delicious!
After the salad and rolls, the next course of soup is brought out – for us it was an amazing bean soup. Here’s a tip: just snack on the appetizer first courses because if you eat it all, you’ll be full by the time your main course comes.
When the main course comes – you’ll see a baked potato that’s huge and the steak itself looks amazing, but it’s massive. To finish off the most perfect meal – deserts are on-hand and vary depending on when you go. For beverages – they keep it simple with coffee, iced tea and pink lemonade being offered with dinner.
Don’t worry, Dinner Tree staff provide boxes and doggie bags because you will have leftovers. For us, we had leftovers for the next two days after visiting the Dinner Tree.
The Cowboy Dinner Tree is truly an experience – a chance to visit the old west, just off highway 97 in Central Oregon. The entire meal from start to finish takes about 90 minutes and it’s such a fun activity. The meals are a flat $30 for adults. Kids 6 and under eat free but must share off their family member’s meals – if you’re between 7-13 years of age, the charge is $11.00. If you do decide to head out to the Dinner Tree, keep in mind they only take cash or check – there are no debit or credit cards accepted with no exceptions.
Another tip: take a cooler with ice and your own Tupperware along with you, if you can. There are take-out materials like boxes, but having your own Tupperware would be advantageous if you can plan ahead.
The Cowboy Dinner Tree is open year-round but for family enjoyment we suggest heading out in the summer. The restaurant is open Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in the summer. Plan on arriving a little early so you can wander around the outside cooking area prior to your prescribed reservation time.
We were greeted by the chef who’s manning the huge grill outside – he’ll let you peek in if you ask nicely. The sight of thirty 30 oz steaks cooking is quite a sight.