It was Mid-May and humid as shit when I felt the need to play darts. I hadn’t been to the Highliner II since the wintertime, but knowing that this is the best low key spot on the Shoreline to play, there was no better place to set off towards. Upon arrival there were two remarkable things adorning the Brown Shack — as its affectionately known. The first was that they were still promoting the hell out of their NFL Sunday Ticket with both the entrance and nearly every window littered with Direct TV propaganda. Good to know. The second was somewhat harder to reconcile, which was why Santa and his sleigh were still perched on the Highliner’s roof in 82 degree heat.
The answer is because the Highliner doesn’t give a fuck. There is a dearth of rappers residing on the Shoreline, but thats probably because the Highliner II is such an OG that they’d shank any newcomers who’d dare challenge their throne. Put it this way, outside of a few Trip Advisor reviews, nobody in the history of the internet has ever written about the Brown Shack. Further, I have to imagine that AT LEAST 90% of the regulars will never even have the opportunity to read this, because they are stubborn donkeys who are still holding out hope that this internet fad will pass. Yet all of this is the great appeal of the Highliner II. Its a place that absolutely shouldn’t stay in business, but somehow keeps its doors open against all odds, which thus adds to its allure.
Structurally both the exceptionally long bar and side nooks that house darts are plus features. Behind that there’s a porch with the grand view of the Westbrook Train station to smoke cigarettes. The theme here is that it’s an ideal place to hideaway and throw some back. It’s one of the few bars on the Shoreline where a bottle of bud tends to be accompanied with a shot of well whiskey. And those drinks are far from expensive. $3 PBR pounders and $4 dollar domestic beers are staples and reinforce the authentic dive bar mystique. To double down on cost savings and efficiency, the Highliner offers FREE food every happy hour, which will last through dinner time. You can get loaded and have dinner — if you’re brave enough to make the 4 hour old Tuna Melt on a hot plate your meal — for like $20. This is both disgusting and glorious.
If your expectations are set correctly, you can embrace the fact that you’ll almost always be the only people at the bar. This can be nice. And if you aren’t the only ones there, well, there will be characters to encounter and top people watching to be had.
Strengths: Great Dart Set-Up / Cheap Booze / Primary Bartender is a Throwback & Fantastic
Weaknesses: Not a Place to Meet People / Draft Beer is Off (Old Men Don’t Drink Draft Beer!) / Dead in the Summertime / No Food Save Happy Hour
Tips: The Highliner is consistent with getting construction workers from 3-5PM after work and that crowds lingers till around 6pm. The Wintertime on Friday or Saturday nights past 10pm is the next best bet to find people there. Cash Only Bar
FEAST: You can’t fuck up hot dogs. Hot Dogs are the safest thing offered for the FREE FOOD Happy Hour.
FROTH: PBR Pounders & Jameson shots. Don’t stray from the old reliables.
FEAST: 2/10 – FROTH 4/10 – BAR: 4/10 – DIVE BAR: 10/10