Roll Away the Zoo

Inside, it's 1978 again.

A sign taped to the mirror behind the bar states: "Warning! You Are Entering A Time Vortex." No kidding. At the Eastlake Zoo Tavern (a sort of younger sister to the Blue Moon), the walls are decorated with the following: a vintage "Steal Your Face" Grateful Dead poster, dusty pool trophies, a print of Hendrix adorned as Uncle Sam, and a giant American flag. Hell, even the wrinkled old man drinking PBR and babbling at the bartender reeks of the bygone. It's a Wednesday afternoon when we stop in, and the place is pretty dead, so we take our beers (the Zoo maintains a strict beer-and-wine-only policy) and stretch out in a deep booth near the front of the house. The TV plays a History Channel show about hippies on repeat, and we wonder if the bartender would balk if we lit up a joint. Outside the propped-open front door, yuppies hurry down the street, yakking into cell phones. A few doors down, a boutique sells expensive jeans. Indeed, Eastlake is no longer the neighborhood it was when the Zoo opened in 1978. But here it sits, sprawled out in the middle of a condo boom like a lazy longhair on a sunny day. When I settle up my tab (cash only, naturally), I spot a row of old LPs tucked behind the bar. Could it be? Do they really have a turntable to match those old Dead and Hendrix posters? "A what?" replies the young bartender. "A turntable?" I say. "To play those LPs?" She laughs. "No, those are someone's who used to work here, I think. They just never took them home." 2301 Eastlake Ave. E., 329-3277.

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