NFT Washington DC Clarendon

Clarendon

Essentials
Clarendon is that remodeled community you love to hate: neat brick-lined roads with overpruned bushes and trees, matching signage, an overly sterile environment that feels like Disneyland but also feels relaxing with all its offerings: restaurants with ample outdoor seating, dance clubs, dive bars, live music, Whole Foods, and shopping. You could say it's a smaller, trendier, less Potomac-Rivery version of Old Town Alexandria. You could even argue it's better, since it's just as walkable but with closer access to the city.

Sundries/Entertainment
Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards are dotted with bars, restaurants, and music venues to suit most tastes. Get your freak on at Clarendon Ballroom or Clarendon GrillSee more.

>, chill and play arcade games at Galaxy Hut, rock out to up-and-comers (or painful open-mic performers) at Iota, or explore the trendy and emerging rooftop bar scene at Whitlow's on Wilson, Eventide, or The Liberty Tavern. Clarendon does want for parking, so walk or take the Metro. And if you don't party too hard the night before, come back and try out one of the many Sunday brunches, on your way to one of the several gyms, of course.




         


This Neighborhood Featured in...
Crossing the Great Divide

By Joe Viola

“Damn. I just wish my friends in DC would accept me for who I am. I’m an executive. I drink beer like everyone else. I love my DC neighbors; I just prefer to live in VA. Let’s get it on… I mean, along. Let’s get along.”


Read More...
Finding DC's Local Music Scene

By Sarah Bloxham
Everyone likes music! Do you think you're better than everyone else? Come down to earth, haughty, presumptuous feature reader, you!

Read More...

On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Kara Deniz
Photo:  Kara Deniz

Cava Mezze
Cava Mezze opened in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington to much fanfare over the summer. There are still long waits on the weekends to dine at this tapas establishment, which also has locations in Capitol Hill and Rockville. With new restaurants and bars opening up in Clarendon on what feels like a weekly basis, a mature, ethic restaurant was still sorely needed. Unfortunately, the lure of Cava Mezze is its trendiness more than the taste. The roasted eggplant dip had a thick mayonnaise consistency, the Spanakopita was overly fried and the Chickpeas 3 Ways were uninspired. The spicy meatballs were hot and flavorful, if overly seasoned. The dim lighting and candles lent to a romantic ambiance, if not for the acoustics which overpower any intimate conversation. Cava Mezze doesn't make much of an impression with its mediocre mezze. For a more satisfying and memorable experience, Zaytinya in Chinatown still remains the far better choice.



Posted By:  Kara Deniz
Photo:  Kara Deniz

Current Boutique
This isn't your grandmother's closet. Unless you're lucky enough to have Diane Von Furstenberg, Betsey Johnson, or Ann Taylor as your grandma. Contemporary couture meets affordable prices at the second-hand Current Boutique. Fashionable dresses, blouses, skirts, and shoes, along with jewelry, purses, and belts, are all hand-picked by the store's trendy staff so that each piece is in immaculate, as-good-as-new condition. If you're lucky, some items may still have original the tags, though the price you pay will be considerably less. For those with sartorial sense, and now, extra cents thanks to big savings, Current Boutique is conveniently located in Alexandria and Arlington.



Posted By:  Emily Groves
Photo:  Emily Groves

Galaxy Hut
I only have three words for you: Beer Lover's Paradise. Yes, a piece of the "Old Clarendon" still exists! And with the passing of the late, great Dr. Dremo's down the road, this funky bar deserves extra appreciation as one of the last solid, unique and laid-back Arlington watering holes. If you don't like beer, then don't come here because it's all they have--and with about 20 on tap and many more in bottles, they feature a mean assortment. The decor is super artsy and fun and the more beer you drink, the more distracted you will get by it, specifically the funky duck artwork and the old-school Pac-man machine tables. Yes, there are Pac-man machines tables. And they are totally awesome. Galaxy Hut is quite teeny, so just bring a close friend or two and check out one of the local live music shows on Sunday or Monday nights (for a $5 cover). And if the act is sub-par, then watch one of the black-and white classic movies on the bares TV. Yes, they usually have classic movies playing and it is totally awesome.



Posted By:  Emily Groves
Photo:  Emily Groves

Iota
I have a big problem paying a $10 cover at a bar only to be squeezed up against a group of sweaty, inebriated 20-somethings all en route to the bar, where I will proceed to immediately shell out another 6 buckeroos for a not-so-refreshing and probably weakish beverage. But I do not have a problem paying $10 or $12 to see music acts at a small, chill, funky venue with a rock solid ambience. Adorned with Christmas lights (year round!) and generally catering to a diverse and eclectic group, Iota Club and Cafe is all about live music, which it has (nearly) every night of the week. For its small space, there are two bars (but with a less than adequate draft beer selection), a very cozy-looking semi-attached restaurant, and a small back patio. Tickets cannot be bought ahead of time, so get there early if you really care about seeing a particular band. The only gripe I have about the place is the giant column in the middle of the room... but heck, I'd rather spend $10 to lean up against a column listening to cool tunes than a perspiring frat boy at a poppy club any day.



Posted By:  Emily Groves
Photo:  Emily Groves

Boccato
Who knew that Peru was known for its gelato? And that it could be oh-so-tasty and available right on Wilson Boulevard in Clarendon? Boccato Gelatos has only been open for a little under two months now, but is already quickly establishing itself as a wonderful enhancement to the neighborhood. With little to show but a bright orange outdoor canopy and a sparsely decorated, tiny interior, it does not want in creative and extensive gelato flavors. Late hours make it a good date locale on a hot summer night. At $3.75 for a "small" it may not be cheap, but prices will seem irrelevant after you savor that first cool lick of papaya or tiramisu…or Coco Loco…or cake batter... (or when your date pays for you). Oh, and take advantage of "unlimited" free tastings. Rumor has it that Peruvian owner Cristian is working on selling coffee and loose leaf tea in the near future (I also heard rumors that there are occasional late-night gelato dance parties…whatever that means. And since it's expensive to fly to Peru, I may just have to go back to Boccato Gelatos to investigate...).



Posted By:  Alyssa Kim
Photo:  Alyssa Kim

Boccato
If only more entrepreneurs were like Boccato's Cristian Velasco, the world would have a lot more happy customers. As owner of this Arlington gelateria, Cristian has prospered by taking customers' requests and churning out some of the joint's most popular flavors. Lychee peachy, mint pomegranate, and basil pineapple are just a few of the delicious ideas that came from his devoted following. Cristian makes all of the icy treats himself, and you really cannot go wrong with any of them. The selection changes daily, so you should be pleasantly surprised with each visit. A proud Peruvian, Velasco gives customers a flavor of his heritage through his Italian business. His signature gelato flavor is lucuma, a fruit from the Andes that has natural hints of butterscotch and toffee. Boccato's back wall is even painted a soft orange as a tribute to the subtly sweet fruit. Though Boccato has only been open for a month, it is rapidly developing and attracting plenty of foot traffic. Around August 1, it will start serving its specially commissioned Portland coffee brew and more than 50 types of loose-leaf teas. All the more reason to love this truly local and unique shop.



Posted By:  Elisabeth Grant
Photo:  Elisabeth Grant

Rocklands
They know you're hungry (who wouldn't be with all those delicious smells?), but traditional barbeque using wood charcoal takes time, so you're going to have to wait. Luckily, Rocklands' eight minute promise means you won't be left salivating in anticipation too long, and you can always keep yourself occupied at the bar. For a strictly barbeque place Rocklands offers a surprising number of options. Ribs, pork, sausage, chicken, brisket, and more. And don't forget the sides. Your grandma's got nothing on their macaroni and cheese, mustard greens, and corn pudding (to name just a few). Eat inside at the bar or one of the many tables, or head outside and grab a picnic table. You can also take the Rocklands experience home with you when you order in bulk or by the pig (available up to 120 pounds).



Posted By:  Elisabeth Grant
Photo:  Elisabeth Grant

The Liberty Tavern
The term "tavern" brings to mind low lighting, drinking songs, and mugs of frothy ale. But the Liberty Tavern in Clarendon reinvents this image, classes it up if you will (though they do keep the low lighting). Liberty Tavern is split between two floors, with the downstairs devoted to the bar and the upstairs all restaurant. And what a restaurant. It's a favorite of the Washington Post, and Washingtonian magazine included it their top 100 restaurants (number 62 to be exact) in DC, Virginia, and Maryland for 2008. While the dining area is just as noisy as the bar, the food is worth some ringing eardrums. The wood oven pizzas are simple but sophisticated, combining interesting ingredients, like the "Vermont" which features white cheddar, prosciutto, and Granny Smith apples. Or try their "handcrafted" pastas or selections from the "wood burning oven." Just save room for dessert. I suggest you treat yourself to my fav, the "Zeppole with Carnival sugar." These little airy donuts come with a sort of lemon pudding dipping sauce and a side of Carnival sugar. Sugar plus sprinkles = Carnival sugar (and awesomeness). You'll never be able to set foot in one of those regular "taverns" again.



Posted By:  Katie Pyzyk
Photo:  Katie Pyzyk

Buffalo D's
Every neighborhood needs a good dive bar. A smallish place where the beer is cheap, the jukebox plenteous, and the giant TV playing sports. In Ballston, that bar is Buffalo D’s. I found it while stumbling off the Ballston Metro one night, as it is located directly across the street. I’m tempted to keep this place a secret so it doesn’t get overrun by the clubby crowd on their way home from a bender in DC, but I need it to be patronized just enough to stay in business. Now don’t get me wrong, even though it’s a dive, D’s isn’t scummy. It’s clean, newly renovated, but it is what it is—a neighborhood bar. Although they’re known for their wings, which can come in 20 or so different flavors, I haven’t had the best of experiences with them. Your best bet is to order grub from the tiny kebab restaurant adjoining Buffalo D’s: The Food Factory. That Middle Eastern food is tasty, and you can munch on it while taking a few puffs of hookah in the back room. Cheap beer… fun locals … hookahs… TVs. If that’s not enough to satisfy your late night fun quotient, I can’t help you.



Posted By:  RP Wolosiuk
Photo:  RP Wolosiuk

Whole Foods Market
Though I am more of a Harris Teeter guy myself, I do like to shop at Whole Foods. Yes the prices on some items can be stratospheric, yes your local Whole Foods (like mine) may no longer offer free samples, and yes you don’t know what half of the shit in the store even is, but when it comes to the beer and wine selection, Whole Foods is number one. Of equal importance is the fact that Whole Foods is one of the best places to go if you are single and ready to mingle. Everyone from your corner lobbyist to your cat-loving next-door neighbor shops here. Not all the patrons are amorously inclined of course, but check your local Craigslist Missed Connections and see for yourself.



Posted By:  Mac Carey
Photo:  Mac Carey

Clarendon Boulevard is ground zero for Indian food, swathed with every kind of Indian restaurant imaginable, from upscale to café, vegetarian to lamb curries. What makes Delhi Club different is its intimacy. Across from the Clarendon metro station, it’s a small, quiet restaurant where you can get some good Tandoori chicken on the night when you don’t want to face a crowd. But its size works against it too: there’s always a chance you’ll be without a table on a Friday or Saturday night. There’s seating outside, but the indoor tables are a nice refuge from the Arlington sidewalk pseudo-intelligentsia.



Posted By:  Joanna Franco
Photo:  Joanna Franco

I love used CD stores. As an avid music buyer (the old skool kind who hasn't gone the way of mp3s), I wonder how on earth someone could part with anything from their CD collection. I mean, sure, maybe that Bobby Brown CD was a bad purchase in retrospect, but that CD is a part of your history, your life, it represents a moment in time when you wore socks over your jeans. But your loss is my gain…Used CD stores are the best because of all the treasures you can find there. It hurts that the used CD stores in the area are scattered all over the metro region—I mean, why can't they all be in one place? But I suppose that's part of the thrill of the chase. Luckily, CD Cellar has a great selection of stuff, and there's always people browsing to grow their home collection of 500+ CDs.



Posted By:  Kelley Coyner
Photo:  Kelley Coyner

Recently relocated from Lee Highway to Metro accessible Clarendon, Kinderhaus holds the answer for kid- centric gifts from new to the scene babies (like Groovy Girls) to older more sophisticated set (say a baby boomer mom). There is a great mix of puppets, puzzles, princess wear, and pirate dudes. There are lots of funky art supplies, traditional toys like tiddly winks, marbles, and magic slates. There are lots of cool games, dozens upon dozens of puzzles, toy buses, fire engines, and trains. There is a small well stocked sports section with an emphasis on introductions to sports (say carpet hockey and tee ball.) One can (or at least I have) spent hours just browsing. If you’re looking for Barbie or Power Rangers, head elsewhere. Check out the website for all their cool events. Who doesn’t love a good puppet show!



Posted By:  Kelley Coyner
Photo:  Kelley Coyner

Visits to a baker’s dozen of Arlington’s independent coffee houses reveal that the word” independent” does not tell you a lot about what you will find inside. The front step of Murky Coffee is an exception. A small sign advertising free, organic coffee grounds for your garden is a harbinger of the counter culture inside the peeling green wood work. (Disclosure: Counter Culture is also the name of Murky’s principal supplier). Within you will find a press pot whose brewing is perfectly timed (by the customer) with a personal egg timer, guidance on home coffee brewing and copies of Imbibe magazine. The décor is down-market; the coffee is exquisite. Murky sponsors great events especially if you take your coffee with politics. And if surfing is critical to your sipping experience, Murky lines up extra indoor tables in a Wi-Fi heaven. Events posted along with the story behind the name at the website.



Posted By:  Sean Keefer
Photo:  Sean Keefer

Whitlow's on Wilson
So what to do tonight? Dinner? A band? Pool with friends? Boat drinks in a nautical bar? My god, what to do!?!?!? Fortunately, you have Whitlow’s on Wilson in Arlington. Virtually a DC institution, the establishment has been around in one form or another for more than 60 years. The restaurant/bar/band venue/pool hall takes up what seems like an entire city block. Entering off of Wilson, you are treated to a spacious dining room that has a number of artifacts such as a bar made from a bowling lane, benches from the old Arlington Courthouse, and vintage items from the original Whitlow’s restaurant. From the main room/bar, you’ll walk past the large stage that hosts local and regional talent. Beyond this, you will find a third dining area with pool tables. Still not enough? Finally, you’ll find a beach-themed patio filled with fun seeking Districters.



Posted By:  Sarah Bloxham
Photo: 

Sometimes, when I get a craving for paneer makhni, I just can’t help myself. I drop everything and start the long trek to the suburbs that doesn’t end until I’m at the Delhi Club in Clarendon. The small restaurant’s simple interior has a few charming touches and an attentive staff (along with a sound system playing some screechy Bollywood tunes), but I’m really just there for the amazing food. This is the place to be if you like your biryanis full of flavor and your vindaloos spicy enough to make you sweat. For all you nuts who love to eat outside no matter what the weather, Delhi Club has a few outside tables that provide a superb view of the traffic on Clarendon Boulevard. So trust me: even if you’re one of those DC residents who hate venturing into Virginia unless its absolutely necessary, Delhi Club is a worthwhile destination.




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