Near where ocean waters cascaded off the earth's edge, old maps had a warning: "Here be dragons." At Portland's old-time Hal's Tavern, you might have needed the same heads-up; the bar was always full of grizzled men who woke to boozy tumblers that dragged them to the depths. At There Be Monsters, there are currently no monsters—although there are a lot of veteran bikers, the modern age's closest thing to pirates—and the seas are all well-charted, lit by Edison bulbs and a kitschy glowing mustache propped behind the bar. It's a sort of midrange hangout Portland specializes in these days, a rehabbed dive with intentional rough edges—an unfinished wall, a patio like a storage locker—with sturdy old-time cocktails and taps that include Breakside Pilsner and a terrific barrel-aged cider from Carlton. The food is whatever you might find on a British ship, whether shepherd's pie or salmagundi. But whatever the colonial theme, the real piece of history is the midcentury shuffleboard table, which the bar inherited from Hal's. Multiple customers have bragged across the bar about their boarding prowess, telling it like an old fish tale—something from times long gone, when there were things to fear on Southeast Morrison.
Happy hour: 4-7 pm Monday-Friday. $3.50 wells, $4 pints, $5.50 cider pints, $2 Rainier, High Life and PBR.