Red Papaya Ale & Spirits is a perfectly low-key Lower Queen Anne hangout in the former location of the Signature. The ownership hasn't changed, but they brought in another manager, tweaked the menu, and overhauled the look. The new decor is charming but vague, with no flourishes to seal an identity, just some dark red walls and dark wood tables. Early on a Friday night, it's crowded but subdued, with everyone dressed appropriately and watching sports on televisions. Maybe it's packed because of the happy hour deals; for a smorgasbord of lunatics and crazy adventures, you'll want to look elsewhere (the Mecca isn't too far away). Any excitement you encounter at Red Papaya will be the internal kind, so you should stock up on inappropriately intimate conversation topics and supply your own companion. (Friends are preferred, but your ice cream man or landlord will work in a pinch.)
Happy hours: Daily 4–6 pm and 9 pm–close.
Happy-hour drink specials: $3.75 wells; $5 well martinis; $6 flavored martinis—cosmopolitan, kamikaze; $5 house wine; $1 off draft beers—including loads of microbrews plus rotating brands such as Angry Orchard Hard Cider, Harvest Moon, Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, Firestone IPA.
Happy-hour food specials: Fancy-ish small plates at very fair prices with some Vietnamese choices—$3 grilled pork skewer, $6 beer-steamed clams, $4 shrimp fresh rolls, $5 salt-and-pepper tofu, $5 beef pho (with thin-sliced, medium-rare rib-eye and well-done brisket cuts), $3 yam fries (with house aioli).