2715 NE Alberta

It has a goofy name, the people outside look like yuppies, and the decorating is wooden, colorful, and expensive. It's new-age Alberta, and when you first see it, you just might fear it--especially with the Last Thursday yuppies crawling through, the new swanky co-op down the street, and the constant fear of a new Starbucks lurking around every corner.

But there are few places nearby, other than Billy Ray's or the Jockey Club, to get a casual drink. And, besides Binks, there is NO place to take a date or a friend from out of town--you know, like when you're pretending that you have standards.

When driving by, Binks is intimidating. You might think the people inside drive Land Rovers and wear cuff links, but that's not really true. The two owners work there, and are easygoing and friendly. The customers are pretty chill, and aren't meatheads or super-trendies. I mean, I've been to Binks four times and I haven't had to viciously roll my eyes or stick my finger down my throat once.

The food is also great. Though you might expect Tapas or something, be prepared for something different: pizza with salad on top. The pizza is like that awesome little circle cafeteria pizza, which sounds bad, but is really a perfect compliment to the salad (more green than red, more leaf than stem). They also have a Tandoori chicken variety, caesar, and cheap side salads if you need more roughage. Enough food for two costs $6--less than a frozen pizza from Safeway. And cheap eats allow for a few more Coronas or Fat Tires, an anticipated cure for a thirsty summer evening.

Binks is not disappointing at all. They open the big garage door, and you can play pool like you're outside. You can smoke indoors (an appreciated absence of analness), and their ashtrays are plentiful and made of ambiance-enhancing, colorful, blown glass. If you get the vinyl bench by the fireplace, you can fit seven friends and you won't want to leave. Trust me, I spent five hours there one night. Though you might be surprised, Binks ain't filled with yuppie scum--they're all still over at the Lucky Lab.