Bar Meditation 

Shuffleboard Is the New Xanax

I liken bar shuffleboard to rollerskating in the sense that A) I'm no good at it, and B) regardless, I still find it profoundly relaxing. The way the metal puck skates along the surface of the wood, the accompanying cold brewski, and the fact that two people can compete without having to grunt, yell, and high-five makes it my kind of sport. Check out one of these local spots where you can indulge in this game of tranquility, and smoke cigarettes while you're at it.

Black Cat Pub
8230 SE 13th, 235-3571
Probably Portland's (or rather Sellwood's) most infamous shuffleboard haunt, the Black Cat is a spot everyone should visit at least once. Homey and friendly, decorated with beer logos, and stocked with video games, a juke box, and tons of beer, the Black Cat could easily entertain you from morning to night. And much like its diverse forms of entertainment, the pub hosts clientele from white-hats, to grandpas, to little ol' you and me. Because they're famous for shuffleboard, the three tables sometimes have a wait, but in summer you can bide your time on the back patio, playing ping-pong and horseshoes and absorbing some much-needed Vitamin D.

Hal's Tavern
1308 SE Morrison, 232-1259
Even though Hal's is a classic old school dive with a long row of red barstools, it's somehow not yet overrun by obnoxious hipsters. Perhaps it's because they only serve beer, or perhaps it's the dedicated crowd of locals and old folks that keep the faux-hawks away. Whatever the case, Hal's is a smoky place to hide out from the growing list of people you're avoiding. The long narrow room that makes up the tavern has a shuffleboard table smack in the middle, and beer prices that will keep you there all night. So scroll through your cell phone, call up someone you can stand, and plan on making a night of it. And for those of you who are serious about the shuffleboard, Hal's hosts tournaments Friday nights at 6:30 and Sundays at 6 pm. Come five minutes early to sign up, and make damn sure you know the rules ahead of time.

Speakeasy Tavern
609 SE Taylor, 234-8991
Being a humongous barfly, I can't believe that I only recently discovered this adorable neighborhood bar. Housed in the bottom of a cool Southeast apartment building, they close early (around midnight) but make up for it by packing the evening hours with (low-key) activity. With pinball tables, pool, and yes, a popular shuffleboard table all crammed inside, your Attention Deficit friends should find themselves satisfied while you indulge in a little afternoon space-out. Also of note: the Speakeasy just recently started serving booze, so hardcore drinkers and liquor snobs will find themselves at home.

Sandy Hut
1430 NE Sandy, 235-7972
Yeah, I know, a totally obvious mention, but indulging in a little shuffleboard at the Slut is a nice way to escape the madness--especially if you can't find a place to sit. Tucked away in the back (or, what used to be the front) of the bar, people seem to forget the table is there, so you have a decent chance of scoring it at any moment. Plus, if you happen to be a gambling addict, you're close to the video poker and can easily lose $5 between turns.

Wilshire Tavern
4052 NE 42nd, 284-8083
No matter how froofy a Portland neighborhood gets, you can always count on it still having a welcoming local bar. In the Pearl it's the Lowbrow or Yur's, and in Beaumont Village it's the Wilshire Tavern. Local and lotto types fill up the cozy space, and of course, this is a great spot to indulge in some shuffling that's off the beaten path. After you're gamed out, head up the street for some box-stepping, fox-trotting, and cheap drinking with the raucous crowd of older folks at the Spare Room (4830 NE 42nd).

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