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Relax your spirits at the North Highland Pub 

When going out, some people prefer a mob scene, some the obscene. Others want a place where you don't have to worry how you'll be seen. Once that perfect pair of boots begins pinching your toes sometime in late winter, the pub becomes a refreshing alternative to the clubs.

Call it the North Highland Pub, the NHP, the Highland or, if you live in the vicinity, quite simply, the pub. For years now, the dark wooden bar and deep green walls of this tavern, tucked between Il Localino and Wisteria along North Highland Avenue's southern end, have provided a haven to Inmanites and others looking for a respite from the surrounding scenes. Wear your jeans and a T-shirt, because the fashion police aren't patrolling as in Midtown and Virginia-Highland.

Craggy urban pioneers and young, attractive nearby renters are greeted by name, with their regular pint of beer poured before they even take a seat. Get to know your friendly neighborhood police officer by heading in at lunch, where respectably large specials draw an equally respectable audience of Zone 6 officers.

Despite nearly 75 different beers on the menu, as well as a varied selection of liquors, food remains a primary draw. Certain wily waitresses maintain that this is because an extraordinarily large amount of the food is made fresh on the premises.

Still, this is a pub that doesn't masquerade as a restaurant. Head in on a weekend night for proof: Groups of singles pack themselves in around the bar while pals of all kinds -- guys looking to catch a game on the widescreen TVs, upwardly mobile Eastsiders grabbing a late-night bite, ladies not often interested in said guys -- sit snugly in booths and tables.

The bartenders stay busy, generously pouring a wide assortment of cocktails and pints. Although margaritas and various microbrews are popular choices, with the cold weather coming in and out, remember that nothing will keep you warm like good head -- on a pint of Guinness, that is. With the North Highland Pub's old world, neighborhood-friendly vibe, a big frothy glass of it is the only thing you'll be better off being seen with.

North Highland Pub. Mon.-Sat. 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m.; Sun. 11:30 a.m.- midnight. 469 N. Highland Ave., 404-522-4600.

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