With pinball and New Orleans-style grub, Jinx on Killingsworth is a fam-friendly bar destination.

Even though some of my family’s favorite dining out destinations are brewpubs, whenever we hit a restaurant that also markets itself as a bar, I think of that line from the Reese Witherspoon movie Sweet Home Alabama: “You have a baby … in a bar.”

But the newly opened Jinx on Northeast Killingsworth does in fact have a kid-friendly vibe while clearly being a bar/restaurant (minors are welcome until 8 pm). As soon as my husband and I walked through the door with our 6-year-old and 4-year-old, we were greeted and asked if we’d like to sit in a booth or at a table in the pinball room. We chose a booth, but headed over to see about some pinball after we’d ordered our meals and our grown-up drinks had arrived (a very generously poured old fashioned for me, $7, and a Backwoods IPA for my husband, $5). Jinx had only been open for a few weeks when we visited and did not have a cocktail menu yet. Their brunch menu is also still in the works.

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The pinball room featured five machines. Two other families were eating their dinner on this side of the restaurant and sending their kids off with quarters to play the games. (Pro tip: A few games took dollar bills, but it’d be a good idea to bring quarters.) My 4-year-old didn’t quite have the hand-eye coordination to really get the game, but loved the lights and dinging bells. My 6-year-old daughter actually did pretty well, earning extra points and additional balls while playing on a The Sopranos-themed pinball machine. (The machines were linked to grown-up shows such as Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. We just didn’t dwell on it too much, and our kids were much more focused on hitting the buttons.) The host very helpfully brought over a couple of footstools so the kids could get to the right height to play. And our server also brought our appetizer of corn cakes with a zippy remoulade sauce, $8, out to us in the pinball room and said he’d let us know when our dinners were ready.

The food menu was still a work in progress and our server let us know they would be offering more traditional bar food like wings and sandwiches. But since we’d come for dinner, I tried the chicken roulade with mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts, $15. The chicken’s filling was tasty and the schmear of red gravy on the side was very welcome. The Brussels sprouts felt more steamed than pan-fried, but the lively onion compote helped take them up a notch. My husband ordered the poached salmon au vin and was surprised at how good it was, especially for the very reasonable price of $16. The salmon mingled in a tasty liquid of olive oil, capers and herbs and also came with mashed potatoes. My kiddos picked their favorites from the short and sweet kids menu. My 4-year-old son chose a slider with cheese, $6, and objected when all of us started stealing his yummy battered fries. We did have a little hiccup with the service. My 6-year-old daughter had ordered mac ‘n cheese with fruit, $6, but the server misheard and brought out a grilled cheese. He quickly apologized and asked the kitchen to rush the macaroni she’d had her heart set on. And it did come out in short order. My daughter polished it off approvingly, saying “This is real mac and cheese.”

Before you become a parent, there’s absolutely no way you can possibly understand how every aspect of your life will change. That includes things like going out to bars — and even restaurants. During our trip to Jinx, I got a small glimpse of my former single life, where I hung out in divey bars and rejoiced over cheap pours. But it was also an easy and fun place to get food with kids in tow. I’m not looking to relive my glory days, but Jinx provided a smash-up of the best of my former and current lives. I’ll drink to that.

3000 NE Killingsworth St. 4 pm-1:30 am. (Minors welcome until 8 pm.) Jinxpdx.com.

BARSTOOLS AND BABES

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Thunderbird Bar on Southeast Foster shares a kitchen with neighborhood favorite Foster Burger, but also offers an array of vegan and gluten-free choices. Minors welcome until 8 pm.

Root for the home team at The Station on NE Alberta. This sports bar has a kids’ menu and allows minors until 9:30 pm.

Backwoods Brewing Company from Carson, Washington brings its great brews and family-friendly vibe to the Pearl.

Denise Castañon
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