Criss-crossed with train tracks and lined with old industrial factories, some of Portland’s favorite restaurants, boutiques and events call the Central Eastside home. Read on for our recommended things to do and see in Portland’s Central Eastside.
Where to Stay in the Central Eastside
Across the Willamette River from downtown, the Central Eastside area blends industrial Portland with new restaurants, microbreweries and riverside recreation and offers easy access to other central-city and eastside districts.
Place to Eat and Drink in the Central Eastside
You’ll want to start early if you’re looking to try Southeast Portland’s Delicious Donuts. Often selling out before closing, this low-key, family-owned doughnut shop sneaks under the radar in Portland’s food scene. With their flagship coffee shop in the Central Eastside, Water Avenue Coffee roasts interesting blends and single-origin coffee beans, making you an excellent cup.
With a year-round patio, live music and DJ, and weekend brunch Produce Row Cafe is a gastro-pub you don’t want to miss. A champion of craft beer in Portland since 1978, pair beer with whiskey and a great meal.
One of the neighborhood’s pioneering restaurants, clarklewis makes the most of its light-filled former-loading-dock location, turning out wood-fired delicacies like oak-grilled rib-eye steak served with local chard, creamed corn and oyster mushrooms.
Kachka brings a little bit of the old world to Portland with traditional Russian cuisine (their dumplings are incredible) and vodka samplers where you can try house-infused vodkas in flavors like horseradish and chamomile. Recently, they’ve opened Lavka, as a market with a deli counter daily, though still continuing their fine-dining by evening — so be sure to make a reservation.
For Italian classics and thin-crust pizza, Nostrana brings complex flavors to simple dishes.
With its own creative take on ramen — think rich, meaty broths with fried chicken, oysters and fresh noodles — Boke Bowl has also earned a devoted following. But despite their meaty servings, vegetarians can get in on the action here too, with Korean fried tofu and eggplant — and everyone loves Boke’s daring miso-butterscotch twinkies for dessert.
Perhaps the most nationally recognized name in the neighborhood, Le Pigeon, turns out French-based dishes with a local twist, like the Paris mushroom carpaccio starter and the entrée of smoked scallops with spaghetti and pig’s ear. Guests sit elbow-to-elbow at communal tables here, packing in for a crack at James Beard Award-winning chef Gabriel Rucker‘s ever-changing menu.
When night falls, the Central Eastside offers plenty of entertainment. Hipster biker bar White Owl Social Club serves shoestring fries and rave-worthy beet burgers on its expansive patio, where patrons can roast s’mores on tabletop campfires. Housing hundreds of barrels filled with award-winning sour ales, Cascade Brewing Barrel House offers a tart tap list ripe with beers made with berries, apricots and even local coffee.
What to Do in the Central Eastside
The Central Eastside knows how to have fun any time of day. Head to Water Avenue, which runs along the Willamette River, and find shops, restaurants and an old — and renewed — business district (accessible via Portland Streetcar or MAX Orange Line). Tucked under the Marquam Bridge, OMSI promises fun for all ages, with permanent draws like a four-story movie theater, and planetarium, high-profile traveling exhibitions like Body Worlds and Mythbusters, or special exhibits on everything from retro video games to nanotechnology.
And those who love trains shouldn’t miss the nearby Oregon Rail Heritage Center which features three steam locomotives and other train antiquities.
If you want to spend more time outdoors, Kerr Bikes rents any style of bike, including a surrey that will hold the whole family. With nearby trails to explore, bike along the Springwater Corridor or Eastbank Esplanade.
Pips & Bounce is a palace of ping-pong action. (Yes, ping-pong!) Packed with ten tournament-quality tables, hundreds of paddles and even ball-shaped lights, players can work on their backhand or kick back with vittles like local smoked sausage from Zenner’s. Staffers even scoop up stray balls to help keep the volleys coming. Around the corner, the traditional bowling alley gets a reboot at Grand Central Restaurant & Bowling. Giant projection screens play B movies and music videos to accompany the crashing pins and classic arcade games, air hockey and billiards. Order pub grub and signature mojitos straight from a comfy couch by your lane.
The epicenter of the emerging craft distillery movement, Distillery Row is home to independent, small-batch distillers who have put Portland on the spirits map.
With five breweries and counting, Portland's bustling Central Eastside practically overflows with award-winning suds.
A historic Central Eastside high school is reinvented as a music venue called Revolution Hall, the city's top destination for live entertainment.
You can sing your heart out at Voicebox, a karaoke bar with private rooms, so even shy crooners can slam the door on stage fright thanks to private, soundproof suites. Confidence-boosting beverages like sake cocktails along with pita pizzas and tater tot nachos help feed the need to belt out “Bohemian Rhapsody” until the wee hours. Singers can even order gummy worms and M&Ms by the half-pound — virtually guaranteeing a sweet note to end on.
If you’re in the mood for live music, Central Eastside has many world-class venues from Doug Fir to Holocene. Bunk Bar on Water Avenue, is an intimate, converted warehouse with eclectic bands, pinball, beer and Bunk sandwiches.
Shopping in Central Eastside
Look out, downtown — East Burnside is beginning to rival the city center as Portland’s fashion hub. Inside a hip, minimalist space, Machus, a tightly curated boutique for men, carries high-end designers from Saturdays NYC to Naked & Famous. Nearby, Una offers a collection of exotic knickknacks, indie clothing and local housewares sourced by thrift-store whiz Giovanna Parolari.
Check out OKO in its new East Burnside location. This small shop specializes in vintage and antique jewelry. It also sells new jewelry by Portland designers, art, a small selection of magical skincare potions and other antiques and rarities.
Books and Trinkets
With plenty of boutiques and small storefronts, Central Eastside provides trinkets of all kinds. The distinctive 811 E. Burnside building, with exposed iron beams and loads of glass storefronts, is home to a handful of fittingly unique shops. Complete a new look at xobruno, which offers one-of-a-kind leather bags. The Ones Shop is a collective that combines Portland designers of apparel, jewelry and accessories to fill the store with curated, one-of-a-kind pieces. Coy & Co., the city’s first sustainably certified florist shop, is equipped to handle all your floral design needs. It sells hand-tied bouquets, flower subscriptions, robust arrangements and more.
With apparel for hard-working folks, Red Cloud Collective — a group of artists, designers, musicians, woodworkers, motorcycle mechanics, skateboarders and photographers — is full of locally hand-crafted clothing, leather and products.
Mother Foucault’s is a stunning used bookstore, with old-world charms and occasional readings by local or touring independent authors.
Portland's Central City
There's a lot more to Portland's urban core than Downtown, a center for retail, restaurants and cultural attractions. Goose Hollow is home to Providence Park soccer stadium, while the Pearl District is famous for upscale bars, boutiques and galleries. Old Town Chinatown offers streetwear shops, Saturday Market and Lan Su Chinese Garden and Northwest/Nob Hill boasts shopping, dining and access to Forest Park and the historic Pittock Mansion. East of the Willamette River, the Central Eastside offers family-friendly attractions, shopping and nightlife, while Lloyd is home to the Oregon Convention Center and the Portland Trail Blazers.
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