Join Club

Restaurant Talk: Where We Eat (and Drink)

Restaurant Talk is an occasional feature written by Nick Freshman, a native Arlingtonian and co-owner ofSpider Kelly’s and Eventide Restaurant in Clarendon.

Restaurants in ClarendonThis is a column just begging to get picked apart. I could mention a Peruvian chicken place and start a war between the Super Pollo fanatics and Pollo Rico acolytes. Name a kebab joint and the Ravi rowdies will have at it with the Kabob Palace crazies. I came up with the idea for this column, then thought to myself: Maybe this is a bad idea.

What the hell. Anything that gets us all talking more about the places in the community we value is a good thing. And to beat the commentators to the punch: This is an absolutely biased list. Our bias.

The fact is we in the industry don’t go out to eat much. Between long hours, late nights and tight budgets, most servers, bartenders and cooks don’t have a lot of time or money for dining out. That said, there are a few spots in the county where you are almost guaranteed to run into the server who took care of you the night before. These places tend to be cheap, casual and almost always have a bar. At many the food is terrific; at others, the drinks are the draw.

What follows is a list of our crew’s favorites. Most are close to work, and there are no doubt many great places not mentioned. This is not supposed to be a comprehensive list, nor a list of the best spots; it’s just our list.

El Charrito Caminante Taqueria

First off, it’s closed on Tuesdays. I have no idea why Tuesday, but I guess they have to close sometime. The parking is tough and the service attentive but, um, brief, and there may be no better place that fits the descriptor “no frills,” but the tacos here are the best. It’s cheap, fast and authentic, and since it’s right on my way to work, I often stop to pick up a bag of tacos for the gang. Other than the namesake product, go for the Yucca con Chicharron–salty fried pork cubes with crispy yucca–and an orange soda. Oh, and bring cash.

Pho 75

Service with a smile? Don’t count on it. And if you really appreciate the sumptuous decor at Eventide, then drive right by this place. But the pho is incredible, the portions huge and the prices cheap. And if you have a double shift ahead, you can order a Vietnamese coffee which will have your heart surging out of your chest by the time you leave.

Nam-Viet

The spot on Hudson Street that separates this classic Vietnamese spot from the back doors of Eventide and Spider Kelly’s is well-worn. Most of the time, we place multiple orders for multiple people pre-shift. We almost always get it to go, but I see a number of our staff, and staff from neighborhood spots, dining in on their days off. The food is great either way, but sitting down gets you the benefit of consistently good service. Crispy spring rolls wrapped in lettuce are a huge hit amongst our crew and the pho always warms us up, but my favorite is #61: the Pad “Thoi.”

O’Sullivan’s. Or, as we like to call it, The Office.

I asked five or six of our guys what they like to eat there, and I got a number of answers that ranged from “I’ve never eaten there” to “Jameson shots.” So, here is a shout out to the ultimate insider watering hole. Always open and always friendly, our neighbor to the west takes great care of our staff when they want a chance to be on the other side of the bar. Stop by late on a Sunday or Monday night and you’ll get a taste of Arlington’s “industry” crowd. We’ll see what the recent renovations bring; more business for them, I’m sure.

Jay’s Saloon

Twenty years ago (gasp), Kathy hired me as a server one summer so I could make money for college, and my career in the business officially began. At the time I figured it was a temporary thing, but had I listened to my instincts, I’d have known this was where I really wanted to be. It’s still there, and so is its gracious owner. Cold beer, cheap prices; the latter is hard to find in Clarendon, which makes it a favorite for insiders. Kick back on the patio with a pitcher and you get a sense of what Clarendon was like before the explosion.

Other mentions:

Italian Store

Come by at 3:30pm, before we open, and you will often see a bartender sitting at a stool trying to get through a huge Italian sub. The slices are always nice as well.

Northside Social

Just great coffee. And we drink a lot of coffee. Well, really, I drink a lot of coffee. When the night drags on, it’s nice to know they are open late and the coffee is always fresh.

Green Pig

The new bistro with a nose-to-tail focus is a hit with the staff when they want a grown-up dinner.

Even though we often have the inside track on what’s good to eat and drink in town, we also only have limited time to poke around. Is there somewhere we’re missing? Let me know.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Recent Stories

Walk to Ballston and Clarendon Metro, shops, restaurants, parks, bikepath

Police are investigating a crash and a carjacking that might be linked. Arlington County police responded to a crash around 9:20 p.m. tonight (Thursday) on Route 1 at 12th Street…

Good Thursday evening, Arlington. Today we published articles that were read a total of 12587 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today —…

This past week saw 24 homes sold in Arlington. The least expensive condo, single-family home or townhouse sale over the past seven days was $264,000 while the most expensive was…

St. Charles offers a play-based curriculum in a welcoming, Christ-centered environment.

Our program focuses on socio-emotional development and kindergarten readiness through hands-on and engaging activities. Our programs offer different schedules ranging from 7:30 am-5:30 pm for students, ages 2-5. We feature a full-day Jr. kindergarten class for older 4’s/5’s. Our facility includes a full-sized gymnasium, school chapel, and library. All of our students enjoy music and physical education weekly. Children have an opportunity to participate in enrichment classes such as soccer, basketball, ballet, and science.

We offer Summer Camp with weekly themes and twice a week water play, including Fun Friday moon bounce. Please join us for our Open House Feb. 3 at 9:30 am and 11:00 am. Click here to sign-up.

For more information or to schedule a tour, visit us at www.stcharlesarlington.org or call (703) 527-0608.

Submit your own Announcement here.

If you are a lifelong learner over 50+ who wants to make new friends, power up your brain, and enjoy a wide-variety college-level courses, Encore Learning is for you. An Arlington based nonprofit, Encore Learning offers courses in the arts, theater, literature, history, technology and more. This semester we offer our most popular course, Global Hot Spots as well as 25 new courses. Courses are presented either online or in-person at George Mason University at Virginia Square and other Arlington locations.

Join the free presentation to learn about courses and meet the instructors. This is Encore Learning’s signature event to highlight the upcoming semester with brief presentations by each instructor.

The Spring Course Preview event is Thursday, February 2nd at 9:30 AM via Zoom: 

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84855394419

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

First-time Moms Meet & Greet

The truth, your first pregnancy and new mom months are full of twists and turns, ups and downs, and lots of questions! None of us really know the best way to do it – we just figure it out, together…

×

Subscribe to our mailing list