IN GOD WE TRUST . . . but a real neighborhood tavern may be the next closest thing.

We're talking about the kind of place where on a blazing Saturday afternoon, you can hear this exchange between customer and barkeep:

"How much is the {Kaliber} six-pack? I've always bought it by the bottle."

"I'm not sure . . . but if that's not right, I'll give you the money back next time."

And if the tavern is enveloped in a restaurant, and the food turns out to be remarkably good, you better stake your claim to a corner seat quick.

Leesburg's Tuscarora Mill is both a chummy neighborhood bar and a new-American restaurant that emphasizes local produce, local wines and local beers (we like it already). And judging from the quality of the smoked seafood, Tuscarora Mill keeps the home fires burning in more than one sense.

A slightly transplanted but evocatively intact grain mill (check out the turbines and belts in the rafters), Tuscarora Mill is the centerpiece of the Market Station complex on Harrison Street (478-1141 or 703/771-9300) about a block from the historic area around the courthouse. The main dining room is new, sunny and elegantly simple (Miss Grey with a steak knife in the conservatory), but the bar area is a real wood-right shop, rough as the Barns of Wolf Trap and blessedly undemonstrative, except for the food.

This is bar fare -- and bar prices -- for the urban jaded. Baked polenta with prosciutto, smoked mozzarella and roasted peppers for $4.50. A bowl of veal stew for $5. Ragout of wild mushrooms with asparagus and truffles for $7.50. And the extraordinary salmon, a slab the size of a chicken breast, sweet-smoked and not salty, garnished with equally mellow smoked shrimp and served with a horseradish cream, capers and chopped onion, $7. (The home-smoker makes implied appearances on the dinner menu as well, notably in an enticing east-meet-west mixed grill of rack lamb chop, mesquite sausage and smoked lamb shoulder served with couscous, candied ginger and rosemary. At $18.50, that's another bargain you won't find inside the Beltway.)

Tuscarora Mill has an equally admirable wine list, about 120 titles long and showcasing a number of the Virginia labels. (For those particularly interested in tasting new vintages, the Mill offers flights -- small glasses of three different wines.) In addition, it carries two area brews on tap, Old Dominion and Dark Horse, at a modest $2.25 a glass, and cycles through bottled specials three or four at a time. Wurzburg Hofbrau may not be the traditional beverage for Wimbledon-watching, but it's not bad. It goes pretty well with baseball, too, it turns out: In the past year, Tuscarora Mill has offered an estimated 300 types of beers in the bottles.

Incidentally, as a way of making Mondays more pleasant, Tuscarora Mill has what it calls the "less billing, tastes great" special: a half-priced dish, or a second lunch free, served at the bar between noon and 4. Ask for Candy: You can trust both her mixing and her menu recommendations.

Elsewhere, in restoring its historic center, Leesburg seems to have gone a little overboard in ye olde authentick Williamsburg tradition. Many of the restaurants boast old-gentility names (King's Court Tavern, Georgetown Inn, Colonial Inn), servers in 18th-century garb and menus that are your basic hearty-hefty but with "period names" -- like a ploughman's plate, a cheese and fruit platter described as being the traditional midday meal of the self-reliant colonial farmer but really dating back about 40 years. Or Tom Jefferson's succotash or salad dressing or something. However, they are exceptionally friendly and pleasant to look upon -- especially the Laurel Brigade Inn, which has a gazebo out back where lighter meals (and private parties) are served.

On the other hand, there is a seriously low-down no-tie anti-yuppie bar facing the courthouse square, Payne's Old Towne Pub (or, as its other, less "authentic" sign reads, Payne's Leesburg Biker Bar) that evokes another, less commercial historicity. The farmers and formica culture, that is.

Smoky, loud, papered with notices and posters and split between a battered elbow bar and a few tables, Payne's seemingly serves only a handful of beer brands -- all, apparently, beginning with "B" -- and is proudest of its role as the "only authorized H-D T-shirt distributor in Leesburg." Now, if you don't know what H-D is, you may want to skip Payne's. If you do, though, wear your boots and prepare to kick back.

SPEAKING OF LOCAL beers (but no "B's"), Thomas Point Light Golden Ale, from the folks who brew up Wild Goose and Samuel Middleton, has been out for a couple of months, working its way east from Annapolis. From around the other side of the Beltway, Virginia Brewing's Gold Cup Classic Light, which was delayed by six-pack manufacturer red tape (or plastic collar), should be generally available later this month. Meanwhile, it's on tap at the ever-dependable Union Street Pub in Old Town, Brian's Grill in Fairfax, the Ice House in Herndon and the Hard Times Cafes in Alexandria and Clarendon.

PAY PHONING: Charging concert tickets to your credit card over the telephone is meant to be a convenience to music fans who don't have the time or inclination to drive out to the club or arena in advance. However, you should realize that electronic ticket vendors are in business not for convenience, but for commercial benefit. Thus, the service charge.

Buying tickets by phone -- and from ticket charge windows -- rather than from the venues costs at least a dollar per ticket; and depending on the company and the location (ticket vendors often rent space from retail stores, for instance) may add several dollars to the price. In the case of Saturday's Blue Bayou Festival at the Prince George's Equestrian Center, for instance, advance tickets were priced at $11 and gate tickets at $18. However, advance tickets were available only though Tick- etCenter, not at the Equestrian Center or any record stores, say; and service charges substantially cut the apparent savings. So you may want to reconsider how much time and gas money this is actually saving you -- unless you expect the show to sell out, of course.

NO MAC ATTACK: The Fleetwood Mac concert scheduled for Wednesday at Capital Centre has been postponed because of illness in Christine McVie's family. Tickets will be honored for the rescheduled concert sometime in November; or they can be returned for refund at the place of purchase before Wednesday.