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It's Always Happy Hour at M&J 

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M&J is the kind of bar that every town needs. It's got cheap drinks, friendly bartenders, the best tequila selection this side of the Rio Grande, two pool tables, a jukebox with everything from Willie Nelson to Phish to the Beastie Boys, and, of course, the adjacent Sip N Suds, so you can enjoy a pint while you wait for your laundry to dry. I suppose it also has a couple of things that you could live without-lighting that's slightly too bright, an entire room dedicated to video lottery and its brethren, motocross on at least one of the wide screen TVs at all times. And in all my visits to M&J, I always assumed the food belonged in the latter category, something to forgive in light all of the bar's myriad pluses. The menu board reads like the American Heart Association's most wanted: poppers, fried cheesesticks, hot dogs, onion rings, chicken strips with spuds, and the like.

The "kitchen" consists of a Henny Penny Pressure Fryer 500 that sits behind the bar. But with recession and all, and the most expensive item coming in at $7.25, I figured why not pair my even-cheaper-than-usual happy hour beer with some fried snacks. I went with the fried mushrooms ($3.50) and the wings ($5.75). The mushrooms turned out to be a nice, beer-battered version of the standard, but the wings were, frankly, the best I've had in Bend. That might sound hyperbolic, and granted, low expectations may have played into my enjoyment, but they fell perfectly in line with what I look for in a wing: not too big, not too saucy, a creeping rather than scalding heat from the homemade beer-based hot sauce, and the perfect cooling agent in the homemade ranch dip. Not that I really needed another reason to go to M&J, but I certainly have one now.


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