The Horseshoe is the oldest, cheapest, dingiest, sleaziest and most dangerous 24-hour restaurant in Bellingham. It's located on the corner of Holly Street and Railroad Avenue, in the heart of downtown Bellingham. Founded in the 1880s, it is the single oldest surviving business in Whatcom County. The clientele is primarily composed of college students, blue-collar workers, alcoholics, gamblers (there for the pull-tab games) and homeless persons seeking shelter from the cold weather outside. The patrons can be ill-tempered and unmannerly, so the police usually have to show up at least once a night to toss people out.

Walking into the Horseshoe, you will see that it has a sort of a grunge-Western atmosphere -- no, not a fusion of alternative styles with Western-style furnishings and decor, but a fusion of Western-style furnishings and decor with dirt. The walls are a nauseating yellow, the floors unrecognizable, and the furnishings are fashioned of scratched, burnt faux-wood formica.

If you look to your right as you walk in, you'll see two phone booths voted "Best Place To Do A Drug Deal" by the local marijuana growers' association ten years running. On the wall perpendicular to the phone booths you'll see a smily-face sketched in what appears to be white paint on the yellow wall. That isn't painted over -- one of the night-shift dishwashers took a rag and scrubbed the wall there, leaving that face behind. The walls are actually supposed to be white -- but decades of cigarette smoke has left a thick deposit of yellow nicotine on every surface.

If you're visiting the Horseshoe after midnight on a weekday, the cashier will be an attractive young goth lady, sporting a silver ankh and a black velvet skirt, chatting amiably with a gaggle of other goths who have come to visit her (that would be my friends and I; the goth lady is the heroine of "I may be a trenchie bitch, but you forget we wear combat boots!"). It is thanks to this group that the Horseshoe has the dubious distinction of being the only restaurant in Bellingham which permits its patrons to smoke clove cigarettes. Come and introduce yourself and say "hello"; we only bite when asked nicely.

It is important to note that the Horseshoe is home to the famed Ranch Room, a lounge separated from the main dining room by a wood-panel partition, which is famous for serving the cheapest, strongest drinks in town. This reputation is quite well-deserved.

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