IMAGE: Heather Zinger
Ten minutes after my boyfriend and I get to the Queen of Hearts (5501 SE 72nd Ave., 788-9844), a woman with a gray bob and voluminous suede parka sits down on his other side. Her name is Jennifer, and she regales us with tales of tequila-drinking adventures in Mexico and details about the (surprisingly good!) blues band—her boyfriend is the bassist—before she sees three of her friends come in. We part with hugs and promises to hang out again next week. That’s the kind of bar Queen of Hearts is: a neighborhood place where everybody knows your name, with zero pretensions or scene. Just $1 Rainiers on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 pm to midnight, and steak bites on the menu. “This is where people go to get away from hip young jerks,” my friend said as I sipped my Roots Organic Kolsch. I surreptitiously push it away and contemplate ordering a Jäger bomb. Queen of Hearts is stacked with entertainment: A widescreen TV satisfies the sports fans at one end of the bar, and arcade games like Extreme Hunting line the wall in the pool room on the other side. In between is an adequate stage, illuminated by Christmas lights, where one can sit and be served by Lacey, your vaguely Zooey Deschanel-esque waitress. All in all, it’s the kind of corner-bar experience that almost made the 20-minute drive from downtown Portland worth it. Almost.