By Julianne G. Crane
The Cowboy Dinner Tree Restaurant, about four miles down a county road from no where in the high desert of Central Oregon, is a well-known secret around many a campfire where full-time RVers gather in the Pacific Northwest. When talking about the top five places to (over) eat a mouth-watering steak, the Cowboy Tree is frequently mentioned, followed immediately by the sound of smacking lips.
About five years ago, I read about this destination eatery in an RV Short Stops post by Russ and Tina De Maris, and it went on our Bucket List for whenever we might be moseying through that region.
|Hungry folks waiting in front of Cowboy Tree Restaurant. (Julianne G. Crane)|
Fast forward to earlier this spring when I asked my husband, Jimmy Smith, where he wanted to go for his ‘very special’ upcoming birthday–without hesitation he said the “Cowboy Dinner Tree.”
Well, one does not just pop into this place. First of all it is located near a wide spot on state Hwy. 31, called Silver Lake, about 80 miles southeast of Bend, Oregon. Second, while it is open year round, it is not open every day (see hours below). And lastly, reservations are mandatory.
When I called to make our reservations about a month in advance of our desired date, there were only two spots available, one at 4 p.m. and one a 7:30 p.m. We opted for the later time because we were unsure of our travel plans that far ahead.
|One of three small intimate dinning areas. (Julianne G. Crane)|
We decided to make Jimmy’s birthday celebration really special and planned a full week of camping at various state and BLM campgrounds across Eastern Oregon. The Cowboy Dinner Tree was our first stop and what an amazing kickoff to seven days in June. There was delicious food, friendly service, and authentic ambiance. All magical.
Menu – Fresh and Homemade Daily:
|This is just part of the cow poke spread.|
- Salad – with special Honey Mustard or Ranch Dressing
- Hearty Soup – served piping hot with Old Fashioned Sweet Yeast Rolls
- True Cowboy Cut 26-30 oz. Top Sirloin Steak
- One Whole Roasted Chicken
- Baked Potato with soft butter, sour cream
- Topped off with a delicious dessert. Coffee, Iced Tea or Pink Lemonade
One strong suggestion, because there will be leftovers, bring your own food storage containers. On the night we were there, the wait staff provided plastic bags, but no twist ties. It’s a definite challenge to transport soup in a baggie.
Cost: $33 / Per Person
- Children’s prices: 7-13 – $11; 6 and under – free
- No splitting of dinners is allowed.
|RVer Jimmy Smith digging in.|
Reservations Required: (541) 576-2426
- No Credit Cards – No Debit Cards – No Kidding
Open Year Round
Hours: 4 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
- Dec 1 – Jan 31: Saturday Only
- Feb 1 – Feb 28: Saturday – Sunday
- March – May: Friday – Sunday
- June 1 – Oct 31: Thursday – Sunday
- Nov 1 – 30: Friday – Sunday
Free Boondock RV parking across road
|Boondock RV parking in turn around across from restaurant (Julianne G. Crane)|
One huge bonus is the free, overnight parking in the turn around area across the road from the restaurant. It’s dry camping, no frills, no facilities. But it was a great safe spot to sleep off a few of those calories. There is easily space for at least half-a-dozen RVs of various sizes. On the Thursday night we were there, we were the only boondockers.
If you go:
Cowboy Dinner Tree Restaurant
4 1/2 miles south on East Bay Road
Silver Lake, Oregon 97638
County Rd. 4-12, /Forest Service Rd. 28