review

Altabira City Tavern – Upscale Beer Bar with a View

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Altabira City Tavern logo

At Altabira City Tavern you will reach new heights of upscale drinking–literally. Already named #4 on our list of the 10 Best Beer Bars with Outdoor Patios & Beer Gardens in Portland, the new classy hotel beer bar by well-liked local chef and entrepreneur David Machado has a view to rival Portland City Grill and Departure. Known for his PDX restaurants Nel Centro, Pazzo, Lauro, and other places known more for food and wine, Machado has turned his focus to a beer-centric tavern with Altabira.

 

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Located on the rooftop of the new Hotel Eastlund near the Convention Center and Lloyd Mall, the Altabira City Tavern looks like Apple’s Jonathan Ive turned his design attention to restaurants. With three of its four walls nearly all glass, the Altabira Tavern is split nearly 50/50 indoor and outdoor seating and looks more like a fine dining establishment than what you would expect from a beer bar or tavern. The bar is literally the centerpiece, with two flatscreens above it, two more on each side, and 16 taps of nearly all local beers and ciders from 2 Towns and Reverend Nat’s. The draft list is complimented by over 50 bottles and cans, including 3 ciders and 2 gluten-free beers.

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The tap and bottle list will rotate, but not with every keg. Beer geeks are probably not going to find anything rare and exciting here, but it’s a nice diverse selection of small local hits like The Commons Urban Farmhouse Ale, Crux Pilsner, Ninkasi Dawn of the Red, and pFriem Belgian Dark Strong, among others. The pricing ranges from reasonable for an upscale hotel bar–like Occidental Brewing’s Hefeweizen for $5 a pint–but how is it that Pints Brewing’s Seismpic IPA and Commons Farmhouse Ale are $7 a pint? The bottle and can list has a lot of great classic Belgians like Orval, Rodenbach Grand Cru, Saison Dupont, and Chimay Red and Grand Reserve, plus UK beers like Belhaven Scotch Ale and Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout, and modern California classics like North Coast Old Rasputin and Ballast Point Sculpin. The bottle prices swing even higher, like a Crux Half Hitch Imperial IPA for $16.50.

A Caipbeerinha beer cocktail at Altabira

A Caipbeerinha beer cocktail at Altabira

If you bring your non-beer drinking friend, there is a nice cocktail list with a couple of beer cocktails, and all are priced more reasonably than the beer. Props to whoever created this cocktail list, because they actually have re-appropriated one of my own that I created years ago for the Brewing up Cocktails series I put on with Jacob Grier. The Caipbeerinha was my take on the Brazilian cachaca-based cocktail, only I updated it with Ninkasi’s Total Domination IPA. The Altabira version is very similar to my own, but with less citrus and using Worthy Brewing’s Kolsch instead. Finally, the wine list is at least as extensive as the beer list; don’t ask me about the prices, though.

Altabira Cheeseburger

Altabira Cheeseburger

A full-sized kitchen with lots of prep space and a wood-fired oven puts out fresh baked breads, pizza, salads, and other gastropub-style food. Altabira serves a lunch menu, dinner menu, and pub menu. You will find American BBQ like brisket, a huge cheeseburger, roasted chicken, German pretzels, and fresh seafood. We tried the pretzel and burger: for $6 you get a house made pretzel with beer mustard and pimiento cheese dip; oddly, the pimiento dip was spiked with smoked salmon, but it doesn’t say so on the menu. The cheeseburger is served on a brioche bun with a big thick housemade patty that must be egg heavy for its soft, almost bready texture and perfectly cooked fries. For $14 it’s well worth it. We would be seriously remiss not to mention that the new Happy Hour menu debuts today with nearly all the bar menu items prices slashed in half with the same proportions. This deserves a second visit, but with that kind of discount, the Altabira makes a case for best Happy Hour food menu in town.

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Having buried the lead, let’s now talk more about Altabira’s space, decor and vibe. Actually we are better off just showing you.

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Huge windows, folding glass doors, light white and grey colors that make the space seem even brighter and more well lighted than it is.  The patio is walled in by glass–lest you fall from the top floor–with flower boxes of succulents and tropical plants, gas fire pits, and heaters for cold days.

 

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Altabira City Tavern
6th floor of the Hotel Eastlund
Opens at 1130am Monday – Friday and 4pm on Saturday-Sunday

1021 NE Grand Ave.
Portland, OR 97232
503-963-3600
[email protected]

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: [email protected]

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