I'm capable of getting misty-eyed about almost any neighborhood in the City. But, I'm sorry: Woodside, Queens, has almost nothing to recommend it. I've explored the area thoroughly and found only two things of note, other than the elevated subway tracks, which give the place an atmospheric, film noir vibe that it doesn't really merit.
Those two are Donovan's, the Irish pub which serves up great ambiance and a nice burger, and the Station Cafe, and out-and-out dive that is almost unmatched in the City in its unironic dinginess and destitution. Its name is derived from its location, almost dead center under the intersection of the 7 line 61st Street stop and the Long Island Railroad station. In an interview, a bartender said the place was founded about 80 years ago, which would mean it started up in the heart of Prohibition. There's a story there.
The squat building is one story tall and coated in brick-red metal. The awning over the central door has been losing its battle with gravity for years, but refuses to hit the ground. I've often passed the tavern at 9 AM, so I know it opens early, and its patrons take good advantage of its early hours. Barflies gather just after breakfast, nursing weak beers or whiskey, and presenting drawn, resigned faces to the world. Actually drinking in the place is fairly unsettling Eugene O'Neill kind of experience (I've tried once or twice). It could be the place where Dana Andrews spends his last nickel in a 1940s, postwar flick. There's a pool table, seldom used, and a couple windows, shaded by Venetian blinds, through which escape a few sad, dim rays of sunshine.
But I have to hand it to a bar that is a bar, and not an idea of a bar. I also applaud the place's spirit. Though life and time stands still inside the Station Cafe, they don't forget the holidays. Decorations go up like clockwork after Thanksgiving—evidence that the management utilizes the calendar. Merry Christmas, boys! Have one on me.