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TTT in Clarendon temporarily closed amid another rebranding

TTT in Clarendon is rebranding, again, and offering all-you-can-eat Mexican fare starting next month, moving away from a more pandemic-friendly grab and go style.

The tacos, tortas, and tequila-focused (hence, “TTT”) eatery at 2900 Wilson Blvd closed earlier this month in order to become Buena Vida Restaurant & Lounge starting in April. It will offer an “unlimited tasting menu,” in much similar fashion as its sister restaurant Ambar across the street.

This switch is a bit of a reversal of sorts from summer of 2020, when the restaurant first switched concepts from TTT and Buena Vida (on separate floors) to just TTT — to become more pandemic-friendly.

In 2019,  TTT and Buena Vida opened on Wilson Blvd in Clarendon. With both owned by restaurateur Ivan Iricanin, who also owns Ambar, TTT occupied the ground floor while Buena Vida had the second floor and the rooftop bar. The intention was for TTT to offer a more casual experience with its assortment of tacos and tequila, while Buena Vida was to be more upscale.

Then, the pandemic hit and a casual, grab and go style eatery became a more viable option. Plus, as an employee told ARLnow, patrons were often confused with the branding. So, in August 2020, the entire complex became known simply as TTT.

But now, the entire operation is moving back to being known as Buena Vida, along with some other changes.

“We are optimistic that spring is going to be a season of revival for the dining scene, and now is the time to bring Buena Vida back to life,” Iricanin said in the press release. “Street Guys Hospitality pivoted this restaurant, letting the first-floor concept of Mexican-inspired street food, TTT, take over the reins during the pandemic to be a fast casual, grab-and-go option as it is what our patrons needed from us at this location. As we see increasingly repeat customers visiting the restaurant and requesting a more adventurous dining experience, it is time to bring our unlimited tasting menu here and revive Buena Vida.”

That means all-you-can-eat traditional Mexican dishes like tacos, ceviches, and carnitas, but also entrees that are reflection of Buena Vida’s “new culinary direction” including chicharrón prensado (pressed pork belly), tortilla aztec (described as a Mexican lasagna), and house-made mole de olla.

Disappointedly, to some, alcoholic drinks cannot be “bottomless” due to Virginia alcohol laws.

The decor and design are also being altered, though the layout, the kitchen, restrooms, dining room, and bar area will remain pretty much the same as in previous iterations.

There will be “new jungle-like foliage throughout the three levels,” notes the release, with the rooftop lounge being reworked to hold 124 seats.

Sticking with the jungle theme, “guests ascending the stairs will feel like they are climbing a tree in the jungle of Tulum as they absorb the twining and cascading greenery surrounded by dark, moody colors.”

With the re-worked rooftop, Buena Vida is also being marketed as a place for “late night fun.”

There was previously a TTT in Silver Spring, but that location shuttered in November due to the pandemic and media company Discovery shutting down its headquarters nearby.

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