Arlington, VA

The owner of Ambar and Baba in Clarendon is planning to open the last piece of a three-tier set of Mexican eateries at 2900 Wilson Blvd on Monday (June 10).

TTT Mexican Diner — a street food-style eatery on the first floor — and Buena Vida — a more traditional Mexico City dining experience — are both already open. But the rooftop cantina called Buena Vida Social Club will complete the set.

Ivan Iricanin, the owner of Buena Vida Social Club, is not Mexican, nor is general manager Marijana Skerlic. Both are Serbian, but worked together with celebrity chef Richard Sandoval, from whom they developed a passion for Mexican cuisine. For Buena Vida Social Club, Iricanin said he is working with chef Gerardo Vázquez Lugo, whose restaurant Nicos in Mexico City has earned acclaim.

The restaurant boasts a variety of seafood options and food from Acapulco with prices ranging from $9 to $16. Drinks range from cocktails served in fresh coconuts and frozen margaritas to agave-infused sangria, priced from $8 to $80.

The restaurant is open daily from 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Brunch hours on Saturdays and Sundays are planned to open sometime in July.

Opening restaurants in direct competition with each other can be hazardous, but Iricanin said he’s confident that the concepts for each of the Mexican eateries and the other nearby restaurants are distinct enough that they won’t poach each other’s business.

“I think Arlington needs a lounge,” said Skerlic. “This is not a sports bar. The whole place has the feel of a Mexican lounge. We want to give it a very social feel.”

Skerlic’s background is in tending bar, a job she’s worked since she was 17, so her passion is for the mix of new cocktails being offered at Buena Vida Social Club.

“I feel proud,” Skerlic said. “It’s not my restaurant, but to be able to run it… that feels special.”

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