4830 NE 42nd Ave., 287-5800. 7 am-2:30 am daily. Happy hour 3-6 pm daily: $2.25 wells and Budweiser, $1.25 PBR.

Established: 1977

The Spare Room was born the same year I was, and so it is perhaps no accident that its version of America and my own should coincide so felicitously. The former Cully bowling alley offers cheap meatloaf and spaghetti dinners, live-saxophone karaoke and lively dancing to both soul and country, in a crowd whose demographics read like a roll call of the U.S. Census: old and young, white and brown and black, gay and straight. The Spare Room, always with room to spare, might host card tournaments for the elderly and infirm early in the day, a wedding party in the afternoon, and a six-deep indie-rock bill later on.

At Christmas, it looks like a 1970s TV special's idea of Christmas, and the place does the same for Halloween. It is the only bar in which I've seen a regular patron use a wheelchair as a cheery affectation, and at no other bar have I been bought so many drinks by people I don't know: The hilarious cheapness of nearly everything—Beam and coke is forever $3—seems to encourage this behavior.

Bar story: The business association of Cully banded together to buy a community bench and garden last year in front of the Spare Room—at approximately the same time the Spare Room was told it could no longer use its rear smoking porch as a smoking porch. So now the community bench is the Spare Room smoking porch.

Where to Play Shuffleboard | Pinball | Pool Halls