Housed at the rooftop of the Hotel Eastlund in Portland’s Eastside Lloyd District, Altabira City Tavern offers a wonderful panoramic view of the city’s downtown skyline and the West Hills —along with terrific food and a lively, beer-centric bar program. The fine dining menu of updated American classics focuses on what’s seasonal and fresh in the Northwest. Beer-loving patrons enjoy a choice of 16 beer taps of local craft beers, as well as a selection of American and international bottled beer and a diverse wine list and cocktail menu.
Indoors, the décor is breezy and sleek with a double-sided bar and great lighting. The walls of windows provide great views from any table or bar stool.
Outdoor Patio You’ll Want at Home
The outdoor patio, which seats 103, boasts heaters, dining tables with umbrellas, cozy sofas, and three fire pits. Walls of glass block the wind but not the views.
Altabira is just blocks from the Portland Convention Center and Moda Center, home of the Portland Trailblazers and Winterhawks, and host of many of the city’s concerts and sporting events. The area is revitalizing; Hotel Eastlund was previously a Red Lion Inn, but now offers the near Eastside’s first boutique four-star lodging. Some 80% of patrons are Portland-area residents, but Altabira is a great place for visitors and hotel guests as well.
A Professional Team
Altabira is one of co-owner David Machado’s latest projects. Machado has a long-standing career in Portland’s restaurant scene (before it was a “scene”). He’s cooked in,opened, owned and sold a number of the city’s top restaurants. He’s active in Portland’s artistic community, and currently consults in the hotel/restaurant business and is also involved with Citizen Baker and Nel Centro.
Working for someone with Machado’s extensive background could be intimidating, but Chef Luis Escorcia, who has been with the restaurant since its opening in May 2015, is happy with what’s he’s helping create—and with the great success the restaurant has seen in its first year.
As a group, we were able to take advantage of eating across the menu and sample an array of beers with the courses, each recommended by Becca June, who heads the bar program. (She also serves as Secretary of the Oregon Bartender’s Guild.)
Food and Drink
We start with a glass of Common Farmhouse Ale and fresh, warm pretzels from Citizen Baker, David Machado’s bakery and café located on the hotel’s main floor level. The pretzel comes with pots of beer mustard and pimento cheese. Penn Cove mussels are steamed in Urban Farmhouse Ale, garlic, parsley and chili flakes.
We pass around a couple of salads. Short-seasoned, crunchy fresh fava beans and small and sweet Oregon strawberries combine with pea tendrils, slivers of Pecorino and salty-sweet lemon vinaigrette. Nothing could be fresher. (Get the recipe here.)
The poached asparagus and salmon pastrami salad turns out to be one my favorite dishes (on a menu in which I wouldn’t eliminate a single item). The asparagus is lightly poached and still crunchy and combined with the creaminess of house-cured salmon and underlying crème fraiche. A cold, egg-based grabiche sauce that includes fresh parsley, onion and garlic brings all the flavors together beautifully.
Salads are at their best when they refresh and this is case here, where the beer, Ecliptic Brewing’s Zenith Grapefuit Gose Sour Ale, is equally refreshing. This German-style sour ale’s citrus with a salt and coriander kick accentuated the flavors of both salads. (“Gose” is pronounced as gose-uh, by the way.)
We move on to a couple more dishes that work great as starters or for happy hour. Pork and lemongrass skewers with pickled green papaya salad are Southeast Asian fresh. The house-made charcuterie plate excels (in a town and at a time of excellent charcuterie.) There’s a truffle head cheese, a country pate and a pot of chicken liver mousse. The plate is accompanied by mildly brined veggie pickles, spiced olives, and bar mustard.
We enjoy these two plates with a pilsner from pFriem Family Brewers, with a crisp, citrusy kick that brought out, rather than overpowered the substantial heft of the meats.
Yes, we’ve had enough to leave and go home happy, but there’s the chance to enjoy Chef Luis’ main course take on salmon. This roasted wild salmon is served with braised baby artichokes, morel mushrooms, lemons, herb and a generous garnish of chives, green onions and fresh greens.
Macaroni and Cheese receives the for-the-kid-at heart treatment; medium-sized shell pasta, a combination of wonderful cheeses, wild mushrooms, leeks, white wine and garlic, and a hint of citrus, with a crispy breadcrumb and parsley topping. June paired this course with a dry-hopped pale ale from Double Mountain Brewery.
At the time of my visit, other main dish dinner options include a lamb shank, a New York strip, a roasted half chicken with gnocchi and fava beans, and a fresh pasta entrée.
For dessert, we enjoy a bit of almost everything to share. There’s berry pie ala mode, with a fabulous pie crust and house made ice cream. Don’t miss the Chocolate, Peanut Butter Bombe, with salted caramel and pretzel brownie. The Chocolate mousse cake is flourless, with three layers of wonderful chocolate intensity, and served with a port cherry sauce. The shortbread and Florentine cookies and fresh berries added by Pastry Chef Natalie Harkness rounded it all out, decadently.
Service throughout the meal was attentive, friendly and knowledgeable. Add a glass of Feckin Irish Oatmeal Porter to any of these desserts and you are set for the night.
Regardless of the time of day or night you go, or whether Portland is experiencing a sunny, warm summer day or the worse of winter rain storms and dreariness, the view at Altabira—and the fabulous food—will make the day a good one.
- Altabira City Tavern, Hotel Eastlund, Portland, altabira.com
- On our site: Pullman Wine Bar: Wine Bar with an Old World Surprise
- On our site: Fava Bean and Strawberry Salad recipe from Altabira.
-All photos by Nancy Zaffaro.