Roaming around Portland can sometimes be an interesting experience – Hipsters wear their wool-knitted caps on an 85 degree day, a homeless man with $5,000 worth of tattoos drags along four dogs while on a skateboard, and what would be an attractive woman is staring at you through glasses so big your grandma wouldn’t be caught wearing them. That’s kind of what makes Portland the unique town it is though – unique styles mixed into one. Eastburn continues that tradition to the tee, and now I’m hooked.
Sitting on the inner East side of 18th & E Burnside, it’s right where you’d imagine an eclectic joint would be. This is within walking and bicycle distance of all the scenesters after all. Walking up you’ll find a number of outdoor tables and about 30 spots for bicycles which are usually completely full. Walking in the door you’ll have to decide on one of two avenues – Upstairs with the laid back yet classic feel that leaves you between restaurant and bar, or down the stairs to the pub which is lit with an uber classy neon sign. In reality, you’re probably going to want to visit both so be prepared to spend some time here.
Upstairs is a classy area. There are bird cage chairs in the window, live local music playing every Wednesday-Sunday, and a beer selection to die for. To keep it Portland you’ll find a number of unique microbreweries on tap, some of which you’ve never heard of. Speaking of, let me recommend the Crux Fermentation Project. It’s a brewery I’ve never seen elsewhere, yet they’ve been highlighting it here at Eastburn and even had it win a beer tasting competition this month. The bartenders know the brews well and can give you enough background on each to make you start planning your next trip with friends. Need this to sound even better? How about $2.50 Tuesdays where a number of 5-8% microbrews are only…. yep, $2.50. That’s better than a PBR any day of the week (sorry, hipsters).
Downstairs is where the hip kids probably are. The lighting is dark and the booths have fish tanks where you’ll be mesmerized by the jellyfish floating in the same environment as the fish – Don’t they get stung? With an entirely different selection of beers from the upstairs, they also have old school arcade bowling games. My top score thus far – 280. There are likely screams coming from the new 4 player Pac-Man where you’re pitched not only against ghosts but also each other. Get the food first to super size and gobble up your opponents. Why does this game cause so much stress yet I can’t stop!?
The real secret to Eastburn is the place you probably haven’t been to your first few trips – the back patio. You’ll have to walk out the door upstairs past the bar. You wouldn’t really think to look back there. An outdoor-but-indoor backyard with roofing, tables with miniature fire pits in the center, and likely the best tables ever await: Ones with swings. Say what? Yep, swings. Now, likely not a good idea to go full bore since you’ll probably piss off one of your neighboring bad-asses. There is one swing (by experience) that will turn on a water faucet if you go back to far. This makes for a hilarious time for your friends, though your pants will not be as happy.
But what would all this atmosphere be without scrumptious grub to eat? Not much, and thankfully Eastburn does not disappoint. Pan crusted Steelhead with edamame ganache, red beet salad with goat cheese, candied walnuts and sprouts, calamari that’s only ever so slightly breaded and served with a pesto aioli and pickled peppers… the list goes on. Needless to say the food provides an outstanding pairing to the choice beers on tap.
So it’s a Wednesday evening and you’re looking for a place to hang out, have some fun, enjoy your food and do it all at a good price in a good atmosphere… there’s really no need to bicker back and forth over where to go. Eastburn has everything you’re looking for and probably a bit more. The only thing I can say is to make sure you’re not taking up all the swings, because I’m on my way down and want to relive my childhood.