I’ll be honest—stepping through a bar’s rainbow-adorned doors and instantly becoming the focus of 30 mostly middle-aged men is a touch intimidating for a young-ish straight man. But after a moment in the spotlight, all eyes at Joq’s return to the center-stage pool game, and I’m welcomed into the asexual comforts of a free plate of barbecue and friendly BridgePort IPA ($3.75). Though its rep is of a gay sports bar, Joq’s maintains an aesthetic that is neither stereotypically sporty nor gay. Assorted baseball paraphernalia and trophies compete for attention with the back wall’s huge landscape mural, but that’s about it for athletics-related decor. Two TV screens are set to reruns of The Newlywed Game. Most of the clientele look like they’d be just as lost perusing Pearl District boutiques as the rest of us sartorially challenged Portlanders. All of which prompts my female friend (one of two ladies in the crowd) to comment quietly that this is a place “where you’d go to meet a top.”
What to drink: Cherry poppin’ martini, $5.
Happy hour: Various daily specials.
Entertainment: Pool, darts, pinball, sports.