You'd like Quincy's; how much depends on the day of the week you go, the time of night you arrive and which way you turn after you come in the door. The place is much easier to like than define.

Technically, Quincy's is a restaurant -- as are all Virginia "saloons" -- that immediately distinguishes itself from its suburban shopping-center surroundings with an artful red neon-script sign facing Columbia Pike. Historically, it has also been a haven for primarily high-quality country and country-rock music -- the Rosslyn Mountain Boys, an apt f'rinstance, are at Quincy's this weekend.

Recently, though, Quincy's has expanded its overall (overalls?) image by inviting rock, top-40 and even blues- jazz bands like the Uptown Rhythm Kings to fill out the week. Harry Traynham and Pylot are longtime standbys at Quincy's; their classy guitar-based, harmony-dominant mix of twang and boogie kind of characterizes Quincy's itself. Singer-songwriter Jon Carroll, he of Starland Vocal Band fame and author of Linda Ronstadt's "Get Closer" last year, works the upright piano in the back barroom most Monday nights.

Although things get steadily louder and looser as the night progresses, Quincy's maintains a certain class. In the men's room, graffiti yields to a large bulletin board where sections of the morning's paper are tacked above the important spots. Sports is in the middle.

The decor is warm -- dominated by brass, oak, glass, hanging plants and such splashes of color as the large antique Shell sign on the wall, the carousel horse suspended on a brass post and the two neon paintings that flank the stage. Turn left from the front door to find the main dining room and the stage; turn right to a large bar, go straight ahead into a smaller one. Both are separated from the band room by open-shuttered dividers.

Music doesn't start until 10, and even then the first set takes a back seat, decibel-wise, to dinner. Couples and groups dominate the main dining room. Dinner in the room -- wherein tables on two levels surround a medium- size dance floor, with a standup bar in the back -- allows you to forgo the after-10 cover charge ($3.50 Friday and Saturday, $2.50 otherwise), and also tends to make the room a little quieter and older through the first set. (Also costlier: The tab for two who stayed through dinner and two sets on a recent Saturday night came to $59, including tip.) There's another way to avoid the cover charge -- just sit outside the main room. There's plenty of room out there, and the walk to the dance floor doesn't cost anything.

Draft beer (Heineken, Michelob and Coors) is $1.55, rail drinks $2.10, calls $2.60, and the kitchen's open till midnight. QUINCY'S, 5444 Columbia Pike, Arlington. 671-2774. Last call's at 1:20 a.m., seven days a week. Music every night.