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Rosa Mexicano’s Arlington outpost closed its doors today, after opening a little over a year ago in Pentagon City.

An employee confirmed the closure of the restaurant to ARLnow, citing issues with the location and proximity to the mall. A moving truck and crew were seen clearing out the space, while a sign on the door confirmed its closure.

Rosa Mexicano opened its Pentagon City location in late 2022, a year or so after its first D.C.-area location — across the street from the Capital One Arena in D.C.’s Penn Quarter neighborhood — closed after 16 years in business.

The New York-based restaurant chain serves classic Mexican fare, such as tacos, enchiladas, ceviche and fresh-made guacamole, in a colorful setting.

The Pentagon City location featured a bar with a long list of tequila- and agave-based cocktails, seating for 200 guests, a private dining room for events and an outdoor patio.

The chain still operates a local location — in National Harbor — as well as locations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York and at Walt Disney World in Florida.

Hat tip to Angela Fox

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For Five Coffee is opening a new location on Lynn St. in Rosslyn next to Chopt (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The Rosslyn location of For Five Coffee Roasters is set to open in the next three weeks — and it will serve more than coffee and pastries.

The café at 1735 N. Lynn Street will be the company’s first to offer a bar with wine, beer and liquor, “making it the perfect after work destination or residential happy hour spot,” Vice President of Marketing Tracy Imhof said.

The Rosslyn location of the New York City-based coffee company will be the biggest one yet at 4,316 square feet. Initially predicted to open this time in 2022, the new location next to Chopt will fill a gap in cafés on the block left by the closures of Cosi and Starbucks.

For Five Coffee Roasters in Rosslyn will boast a full coffee menu, artisanal pastries, stuffed cookies and made-to-order breakfast and lunch items with a “For Five twist,” Imhof said.

The company was founded in 2010 in Queens, New York, and has since branched out to Chicago, Los Angeles, D.C. and Northern Virginia. For Five’s Rosslyn shop is about a mile from its Courthouse location, which opened in 2020.

According to its website, the company has direct connections with small coffee farms “renowned for their top-tier crops.” For Five provides signature blends and single origin coffees sourced from 30 different regions around the world.

“For Five’s coffee philosophy is firmly rooted in the essence of the coffee bean,” the website says. “It’s not the familiar brown bean we recognize, but the vibrant green bean plucked fresh from coffee trees that truly reveals coffee’s quality.”

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A football (Photo by Dave Adamson on Unsplash)

There’s no better pairing than high-caloric food, cold drinks and the Super Bowl.

Spend your Super Bowl Sunday — next Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024 — at one (or several) of these local bars and restaurants in Arlington, serving up food and drink specials all game long.

Some of the food available for order at Astro Beer Hall in Shirlington (courtesy Farrah Skeiky)

1. Astro Beer Hall

4001 Campbell Avenue, Shirlington

Astro Beer Hall’s Super Bowl special includes a $100 food package for four people, available for both dine-in and take-out. The food package comes with one order of pretzels, one order of mac and cheese bites, one order of loaded nachos, 25 chicken wings or tenders and six doughnuts or cookies.

Visit Astro Beer Hall for both inside and outside dining, a full arcade, signature cocktails, fresh fried doughnuts, 24 beers on draft and plenty of screens for you to cheer on your favorite team.

Punch Bowl Social in Ballston in October 2020 (staff photo)

2. Punch Bowl Social

4238 Wilson Blvd, Ballston

Punch Bowl Social is offering drink specials and a scratch kitchen menu all game long during the Big Game Watch Party. Not interested in the big game? Punch Bowl Social offers other games too, including board games, ping pong, bowling, shuffleboard and more.

Revamped entrance to the Clarendon Ballroom (staff photo)

3. Clarendon Ballroom

3185 Wilson Blvd, Clarendon

Clarendon Ballroom’s Super Bowl watch party will feature a $25 bottomless Super bowl Buffet Station, an 18,000-watt sound system with game commentary, a 50-foot projector wall, a 20-foot TV Video Wall and all night drink specials, features, and giveaways. There will also be a private “tailgating: sections for reservation and a game area with cornhole, water pong and giant jenga.”

Doors open at 4 p.m. for the pregame party and super happy hour.

Crystal City Sports Pub (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

4. Crystal City Sports Pub

529 23rd Street S., Crystal City

Head to Crystal City Sports Pub for a third-level Super Bowl party. Tickets are required and are $60 each. Each ticket includes access to a 18ft video wall, pre-game buffet and a touchdown buffet. Beverages are additional.

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For three decades, Westover was home to a dive bar called The Forest Inn that, in yesteryear, sold cigarettes and garnered a reputation for attracting a “rough crowd.”

Now, it is home to a taco and margarita spot with a kids’ menu.

The Forest Inn first opened in 1981 in a former post office space, under the name of The Black Forest Inn. In 1994, it moved a few blocks to its location on Washington Blvd where it remained until it closed in 2022. The bar had a blue-collar atmosphere — though it attracted judges and congressmen in addition to cops and teachers — and earned a reputation as one of Arlington’s last dive bars.

When it closed in 2022, however, times were changing. At the time, General Manager Ken Choudhary told ARLnow that he guessed the landlord, Van Metre Commercial, did not renew the lease because it wanted “something new… something that’s not a bar.”

Nearly a year and a half after The Forest Inn’s closure, Westover Taco opened at 5849 Washington Blvd. According to local serial entrepreneur and restaurant co-owner Scott Parker, the clientele at Westover Taco is less like a dive bar and more family-oriented — but cocktails are always available.

“There are people that come in and just have a couple margaritas but the great majority of people that come in are… having at least some food,” he said. “We’re open to people just having drinks if they want. There’s some people that come just for drinks, there’s some that come for food, and we’re happy with both.”

While the recently opened restaurant now has some regulars, Parker says he is mostly seeing an influx of new patrons trying it out.

“There are definitely some regulars from the neighborhood that have come quite a few times, some that come weekly for sure, but at the same time there are definitely folks that are just trying it out for the first time as well,” he said.

The entrepreneurs behind the taco shop also reflect the new focus. At the helm is Sarah White, a restaurant industry veteran who also runs the Cowboy Cafe on Langston Blvd, which many lovingly consider a dive bar, as well as several local Lost Dog Cafe locations. White co-owns the business with Parker and Cowboy co-owners Mike and Jim Barnes, Mike Danner and Wes Clough, who are all Yorktown High School grads.

Tacos and margaritas are the backbone of the menu but the casual eatery also serves a variety of tequila-based cocktails. The space features three roll-up doors that create an indoor-outdoor feel for spring and summer months.

Westover Taco might not hold the dive-y appeal of The Forest Inn to its former regulars, but Parker says it is finding success in its own, community-centric way.

“We had big expectations just because we love the neighborhood and know how much that neighborhood supports the local businesses, but even as much as we had hoped for I think it’s surpassed our expectations,” Parker said. “It’s just been really an amazing experience. I really love being there and it’s blown us away with how much the neighborhood has supported us.”

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Burger Billy’s Joint (via @alysonphoto/X)

A new burger restaurant with a novel take on contactless service is coming to Cherrydale.

A sign for Burger Billy’s Joint has been installed above a ground floor retail space at the condo building at 3800 Langston Blvd.

There are no specifics on when the burger joint might open, but a Facebook page associated with the restaurant says that “Burger Billy’s Joint is coming to the Cherrydale community in Arlington, VA, very soon!”

Burger Billy’s Joint promotes quick and simple service, locally sourced ingredients and “food lockers” to get customers “in and out quickly,” the restaurant’s website says. Customers can place their order and pick it up from the no-contact locker system or have it delivered through an app-based delivery service.

“We love and appreciate you but we know you’re busy,” the website says. “That’s why our restaurants are designed to get you in and out quickly. Our Food Locker system will ensure you get the correct order, fast!”

The burgers at Burger Billy’s Joint will be fresh and made-to-order, using ingredients from Virginia farms, including grass-fed beef from Cottonwood Ranch in Front Royal and fries and hot dogs from Winchester, the website says.

The burger joint will join L.A. Leaf, a CBD and vape shop which opened in 2023, and an existing ATM-only Chase Bank vestibule, in the building’s street-facing retail bays.

The condo building in Cherrydale has seen a few homegrown businesses open on the ground floor and gain popularity, only to close a few years later. Among them were tea house and foot-soaking “sanctuary” House of Steep, closed in 2018, and Gaijin Ramen Shop, which closed in 2022.

Photo via @alysonphoto/X

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Arlington’s first halal barbecue restaurant is up and running in Ballston.

Hal & Al’s BBQ in Quarter Market, the food hall in Ballston Quarter, opened in December. It is best known at this point for its beef brisket, though it also serves beef ribs and turkey sausage and sides such as chili and mac and cheese.

All of the meats follow Islamic food preparation laws — meaning customers will not find pork on the menu.

Owner Mohsin Rehman was born and raised in Baltimore and his parents immigrated to the U.S. from Pakistan. Rehman incorporates his upbringing in his dishes by merging Baltimore and Pakistani flavors to create Hal & Al’s popular brisket.

“Deep down, I have my love for Old Bay,” Rehman said. “So we use kind of a hybrid of Pakistani spices and Maryland crab seasoning mixed together to create our brisket. It creates this kind of ‘Bay-B-Q’ vibe, a Chesapeake Bay barbecue vibe.”

Rehman believes it’s important to highlight flavors from different regions as part of the varied Northern Virginia food scene.

“We live in a world — such a diverse world with such a diverse palette — and just black pepper and salt really keeps you from showcasing what you could do with brisket,” Rehman said. “You’re not going to go to a fancy restaurant where they’re like, ‘We only use black pepper.’ They’re going to use a multitude of spices from all over the world. I try staying to my roots.”

Rehman started his venture into the culinary world in college where he was lovingly titled the “Italian grandmother” by his friends due to his love of cooking.

“I get a lot of joy from feeding people,” he said. “I’ve always really gotten a lot of pleasure from seeing people nourished and happy from what I put my time into. The nice thing about barbecue is it’s a very family-oriented community, it sparks a lot of memories for folks.”

In 2010, Rehman started a food blog and, he says, was the only halal food blogger who traveled nationwide as part of his writing. He was inspired to open Hal & Al’s BBQ in Quarter Market (4328 Wilson Blvd) after noticing a lack of halal barbecue spots on the East Coast.

“I found halal Italian places, halal Chinese spots, but not once did I find a halal barbecue place,” he said. “When I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do, what theme I wanted to go with for the restaurant, there’s nothing more quintessential to being American than barbecue. But there’s also nothing more quintessential to being human than barbecue.”

Rehman’s big goal? To put his “Bay-B-Q” spin on the map.

“You have Texas barbecue, you have Kansas City barbecue, there’s Memphis barbecue, you go to Carolina and they have that vinegar barbecue, and you go down to Alabama and they have the Alabama white sauce barbecue,” he said.

“I’m hoping 20 years from now we’re going to have Bay-B-Q, which is going to be barbecue using Chesapeake Bay seasonings or Old Bay,” Rehman continued. “And it’ll be barbecue all based here in the DMV, up and down the mid-Atlantic.”

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The Pinemoor in Clarendon on Jan. 21, 2024 (staff photo by James Jarvis)

Former Clarendon mainstay Mister Days appears to be opening in a new location, nearly five years after its closure.

An LLC associated with Mister Days, Celtic LB Group INC, recently applied for a liquor license for the currently vacant restaurant space at 1101 N. Highland Street.

Tiffany Lee, daughter of Mister Days founder Bobby Lee, said in an email to ARLnow that her father “is once again at the helm.” She noted that she is “not involved in the new one.”

The previous occupants of 1101 N. Highland Street include Clarendon Grill, which shuttered in 2018 after 22 years, and The Pinemoor, which closed its doors in July after three years. The Pinemoor was the last occupant of the large restaurant space, which features both an inside bar and an outside patio bar.

In late November, readers noted an old Mister Days sign in the space.

Sign in the new Mister Days space at 1101 N. Highland Street (courtesy anonymous)

Mister Days first opened in an alleyway off Dupont Circle on Nov. 21, 1977 serving prime rib, ham sandwiches, a soup and a salad. In the years that followed, Mister Days moved to 18th Street NW between L and M Streets NW before opening in Arlington in 2000.

Mister Days grew a strong following and remained a local staple for over 40 years. The Arlington sports bar closed permanently in April 2019.

The original bar served famous guests like movie star and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as former Washington football greats like Sonny Jurgensen and John Riggins. It also had live entertainment from singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter early in her career.

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Chip City Cookies has opened its doors in Clarendon.

According to the general manager, the grand opening Friday was successful with folks waiting in the snow to take a peek at the new sweets shop.

“We had a line out the door on Friday while it was snowing,” she said. “It was crazy.”

The Clarendon location at 2700 Clarendon Blvd is the cookie business’s first foray into Virginia, though Chip City is in the midst of a big expansion effort overall in the D.C. area and across the country.

Known for its large, gooey 5.5-ounce cookies, Chip City has a rotating weekly menu of 40 different flavors, including the classics, chocolate chip and triple chocolate, and more inventive flavors, from cannoli to horchata.

There are two dairy-free options: chocolate chip and a rotating flavor.

There’s no shortage of cookies in Arlington. Captain Cookie and the Milkman opened a location in Courthouse earlier this year while Crumbl Cookies is planning to open this spring at the Lee-Harrison Shopping Center. There’s also delivery-only local cookie purveyor MOLTN.

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Astro Beer Hall’s second location in Shirlington is thriving four months after its opening.

Peter Bayne and Elliot Spaisman, two of the beer hall’s owners, said they receive more patronage in Shirlington than in their downtown D.C. location at this point.

“We opened up and it was like pure madness,” Bayne said. “We had so many people coming through the door. We were just trying to keep our heads on, essentially. It was overwhelming, the amount of support and love we felt from the community. People were even more excited than we were to get open.”

The beer hall’s second location opened Sept. 19 and has seen consistent business. Bayne credits much of the Shirlington location’s success to the mix of ages and professions in the area.

“They all interact and they all are like regulars together,” Bayne said. “It’s nice to see these cross-generational friendships that happen in the neighborhood of Shirlington… I was just really happy because we clearly picked great real estate to be at and something that we know is going to be there for a long time, and just a wonderful community to be a part of.”

Spaisman and former Washington Capital Jeff Halpern were childhood friends. They opened the first Astro Doughnuts — which later became Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken — in 2013, inspired by the doughnut shop they visited after hockey practice when they were kids in Bethesda.

The pair quickly expanded the business by offering fried chicken, chicken sandwiches with airy doughnut buns.

Elliot Spaisman (left) and Peter Bayne (courtesy Farah Skeiky)

Spaisman and Halpern later partnered with a hospitality development group, Tin Shop, and conceived the idea for a donut-shop-turned-beer-hall.

The 14,000-square-foot two-story beer hall features a game room, a 140-seat patio and a full-service coffee shop. The restaurant offers brunch, lunch, dinner, a variety of beer and cocktails, and of course coffee and doughnuts.

According to Spaisman, the most popular menu items across the board are the chicken fingers and the asteroid fried chicken sandwich. The most popular drink: the ‘Woke Up Sexy Again’ hazy IPA.

Following the Shirlington location’s successful launch, there are now plans in the works to revamp the basement area with pool tables, music and visiting DJs, giving the space more of a bar feel.

“We’ve been really happy with the level of business we’ve had and we’ve had a problem where we don’t have enough seats for everybody,” Bayne said. “It would be great for the basement to really have a nightlife activity, a spot that feels that it’s going to be a bar as opposed to a restaurant.”

Bayne and Spaisman are excited to add a level of nightlife to the beer hall and are hopeful this addition will open by the spring.

“It’s a busy operation and we’re having fun with it,” Bayne said. “Overall it’s been a great success.”

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Brick House Butcher in Falls Church (via Brick House Butcher/Instagram)

A new butcher shop is set to open in Falls Church within the next few weeks, giving Arlingtonians more options for high-end, locally sourced meats.

Brick House Butcher, owned and operated by brothers Afsheen and Arash Tafakor, will be located just off of W. Broad Street, next to Dominion Wine & Beer, which they also own. They aim to open the shop by the end of January.

The shop at 109 Rowell Court will offer an array of beef, poultry, pork and seafood products and a variety of homemade items — like crabcakes and meatballs — that are ready to cook or eat. It will additionally feature different types of compound butter made and sold in-house and will serve OddFellows Ice Cream.

The two butchers working at Brick House, Mike and Emma Ferguson, have a combined 23 years in the hospitality industry, including fine dining and livestock management, according to the shop’s Instagram account.

Butchers Mike and Emma Ferguson (via Brick House Butcher/Instagram)

Afsheen says Brick House Butcher has a “farm-to-butcher-to-table” concept and will source meat from Virginia farms. The butcher will also find ways to use the whole animal, rather than focus on specific cuts.

“We’re a whole-animal butcher shop, so we’ll break down a whole animal,” Afsheen said. “We don’t just get, like, loins of ribeye. We have a lot of the parts of the animal that we gotta use.”

The brothers decided to open Brick House Butcher after noticing a lack of “old-school American butchers” in Falls Church, Afsheen said. The closest option is The Organic Butcher in McLean, a perpetually busy shop that serves many Arlington clients.

Afsheen and Arash grew up working at Georgetown Square Wine and Beer, owned by their father. In addition to Dominion Wine and Beer, they own Downtown Crown Wine and Beer in Gaithersburg and have plans to open a restaurant called Stratford Gardens elsewhere in Falls Church.

The butcher will eventually provide meat to Dominion Wine and Beer’s in-house, second-floor restaurant, as well as to Stratford Gardens, according to the brothers.

Meat from Brick House Butcher (via Brick House Butcher/Instagram)
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Lantern Restaurant and Bar, located at 320 23rd Street S. (staff photo by Madisson Weyrich)

A new restaurant is set to fill a decade-long vacancy in Crystal City.

Lantern Restaurant & Bar, owned by Shen Zhao and Bing Liu, is moving into a storefront at the base of an apartment building at 320 23rd Street S., last occupied by Matsutake Hibachi Steak and Sushi until its closure in 2014.

The property, next to a Virginia ABC store and across from a Hilton hotel, appears to have sat vacant since.

Window dressings on the property say Lantern Restaurant & Bar is “coming soon.” Neither the owners nor the leasing agents for the space responded to requests for comment before deadline.

The new bar-restaurant is moving into the base of an apartment building plagued by stubborn business vacancies. Around the corner, storefronts have been vacant since the departure of Bar Louie and Legal Sea Foods.

The main attraction on this block, which also formerly was home to a Chili’s, is now the bowling alley Bowlero — which, for a while, drew a rowdy crowd that rankled apartment residents living atop it.

Crystal City has seen several restaurant closures in the wake of Covid. Most recently, The Freshman closed earlier this month and San Antonio Bar & Grill shuttered its location in the underground Crystal City Shops in December.

Not far away, however, the neighborhood received an infusion of new dining options last October when developer JBG Smith opened a 1.6-acre outdoor food hall and park in the Crystal City Water Park. There, visitors can get everything from duck-fat fried chicken sandwiches to Indian-style crêpes filled with lentils and chutney to gelato.

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