In the past, big crowds have converged on Arlington’s Mexican restaurants on Cinco de Mayo and this year will likely be no exception with a number of events going on across the county.
Friday, May 5 marks the anniversary of Mexico’s victory over France in 1862’s Battle of Puebla. While considered a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo in the United States has become a day to celebrate Mexican culture.
Here in Arlington, that often includes eating tacos, drinking margaritas, and general revelry.
There is no shortage of local bars and restaurants hosting special Cinco de Mayo events this year, including the following.
- Assembly in Rosslyn is hosting a week of events including trivia, salsa dance lessons, and food specials.
- B Live in Clarendon is putting on a “nacho average Cinco De Mayo event” starting at 3 p.m. with food specials, live entertainment, drinks, and the “infamous Patron Tree.”
- Banditos at Westpost in Pentagon City is celebrating by opening early at 11 a.m. with tequila, tacos, and kid-friendly activities. A live band, Maria and The Sacred Hearts, will be playing from 2-4:30 p.m. in the plaza.
- Buena Vida Gastrolounge on Wilson Blvd in Clarendon will have a discount on margaritas and a special four-course “Cinco Fiesta Feast” available all weekend.
- Clarendon Ballroom is hosting a free Cinco de Mayo rooftop party starting at 3 p.m. featuring a Mexican and taco buffet, music, giveaways, and tequila.
- Don Tito’s in Clarendon is hosting its annual Cinco de Mayo Block Party on both Friday and Saturday.
- Inca Social in Rosslyn is serving discounted margaritas and tacos all day on Friday.
- The Lot, which is closing for good later this year, is putting on a Taco, Tequila, Taps outdoor festival starting at 3 p.m. in Clarendon with frozen margaritas, live entertainment, and a “taco toss.” Furry friends are also invited.
- WHINO in Ballston is hosting a Latin house party at 9 p.m. on Cinco de Mayo with DJ Mike Rodriguez spinning.
- Arlington Rooftop Bar & Grill in Courthouse is holding a “margarita and mimosa fest” on Saturday, May 6 starting at 2 p.m. There will be drink specials, live DJ, and bar hopping.
There is also a Cinco de Mayo-themed bar crawl also planned for Saturday, beginning at 3 p.m., that will visit several Clarendon bars.
The Arlington County Police Department will be blocking off N. Hudson Street between Wilson Boulevard and the alleyway behind CVS starting Friday morning through 10 p.m. Saturday. The closure and police presence is intended to assist with crowd control and safety during the Don Tito’s Block Party.
Also for safety, the regional SoberRide program is offering free Lyft rides, up to $15, from Friday at 4 p.m. through Saturday morning at 4 a.m. A promo code is scheduled to be posted on the program’s website at 3 p.m. Friday.
After a five-year hiatus, there will again be a bar crawl in Clarendon in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day.
The last such bar crawl happened in 2018. The next year, more stringent county regulations were blamed for a dearth of bar crawls. Then, of course, the pandemic struck. But now, crawls are making a comeback.
“The infamous Leprechaun Lap is making its way to Clarendon on Saturday, March 11th!” says the registration page for the St. Paddy’s-themed event. “Join the shenanigans to Clarendon’s best bars, patios and rooftops, featuring all day drink specials, DJs, bands, signature party favors, and giveaways.”
Early bird ticket pricing of $10 ends later today, after which the price goes to $20 plus fees.
The crawl is being organized by B Social Events, from Clarendon nightlife power couple Christal and Mike Bramson. The bars listed as crawl destinations — including Clarendon Ballroom, B Live and Pamplona — are all Bramson owned. (Their company also has a crawl in D.C.’s Dupont Circle neighborhood planned for the same day.)
The event listing promises more bars being added to the crawl in the near future.
More on the Clarendon crawl, below.
Don your green and get ready for your St. Patrick’s Day bar crawl adventure!
What do you get:
- Access to Clarendon’s Best Bars, Patios, and Rooftops
- Drink Specials ($3 beers, $4 shamrock shots, $5 mixed drinks, $8 car bombs)
- St. Patrick’s Day Swag & Free Giveaways
- Entertainment and DJs
Your Favorite DC Bars Are Going Green:
- Clarendon Ballroom + Rooftop
- The Lot
- B Live
- And more bars are coming soon…
*Registration is from 3-6pm. If you can not make it on time, have a friend pick up your wristband.
Tickets are non refundable, however, they are transferable.
This is a 21+ event. Please drink responsibly.
The Falls Church restaurant community is coming together to raise money for the employees of Ireland’s Four Courts.
The Courthouse mainstay was heavily damaged on Aug. 12 when a rideshare driver, who was apparently suffering a medical emergency, slammed into the front of the pub during a Friday happy hour. Three people were seriously injured and a raging fire sparked by the crash charred much of the interior.
Arlington County police announced yesterday that the driver will not face criminal charges. A Four Courts co-owner told ARLnow that the first step of rebuilding, a partial demolition, will start soon, followed by construction “in a couple of months.”
In the meantime, fellow restaurants have been banding together to support Four Courts employees while the pub remain closed.
Samuel Beckett’s Irish Pub in Shirlington held a fundraiser last month and, in early November, a number of prominent Fall Church restaurants are holding a fundraiser dubbed the “Crawl for the Courts.”
“Clare and Don’s Beach Shack and Ireland’s Four Provinces are organizing this Falls Church effort to support the staff of Ireland’s Four Courts,” said a press release for the event.
Three employees were reported to be among the 12 who suffered injuries not considered serious.
More on the event, from the press release:
On Saturday, November 5, 2022, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., the local Falls Church restaurant community is coming together to host a Crawl for The Courts to benefit the employees of Ireland’s Four Courts. To participate, one will need to buy a voucher. The vouchers for the restaurant crawl will be available for purchase at each participating restaurant, on the day of the event. The cost is $100 per person and 100 percent of the proceeds raised will be presented to Irelands Four Courts. The patrons who come out to support this community effort will show their voucher to enjoy a bite and a drink special at each of the six participating restaurants.
A half dozen restaurants are participating, including:
Clare and Don’s Beach Shack
130 North Washington Street
Ireland’s Four Provinces
105 West Broad Street
370 West Broad Street
205 Park Avenue
132 West Broad Street
513 West Broad Street
There was a time when Arlington — Clarendon, in particular — was known for bar crawls.
There was Shamrock Crawl, the Clarendon Halloween Crawl, and Shirlington’s SantaCon. Thousands of mostly younger people attended. Along with the revelry, however, there were arrests, property damage, public intoxication, and nudity.
Then, in 2014, the Arlington County Board had enough and passed a number of regulations designed to allow local officials at least some control over how bar crawls operated in the county. It made event organizers apply for a special events permit, have insurance, and reimburse the county for any event-related expenses, like the cost of assigning extra police officers.
The regulations not only curtailed the number of incidents related to bar crawls but decreased the number of crawls in Arlington overall. From many people’s perspectives, the regulations worked.
Eight years later, the bar crawl scene in Arlington still hasn’t recovered.
Only 9 bar crawls have been issued special event permits since 2018, per data provided to ARLnow by the county’s Dept. Parks and Recreation (DPR), which manages the process.
“Pub crawls can draw a crowd and impact our community, so their organizers need to have a permit to hold a pub crawl,” DPR spokesperson Susan Kalish told ARLnow. “Special event organizers are required to pay any costs to the County due to their event, such as public safety, trash removal, and more.”
The upcoming crawls include an 80’s and 90’s themed crawl set for this Saturday (Sept. 17) in Clarendon. It’s being co-organized by local restaurateurs Christal and Mike Bramson.
There are two more bar crawl applications pending for this year as well.
While DPR said statistics are not available for permitted bar crawls prior to 2016, anecdotally and going through the ARLnow archives, it appears there are now far fewer bar crawls — especially those of the large, 1,000+ attendee variety — than prior to the enactment of regulations.
While the pandemic certainly impacted the last several years, 2018 and 2019 both only had 3 permitted crawls per year. That’s out of combined 401 permitted special events. With 2022 wrapping up, though, special events are returning to the level of the “before times,” including bar crawls.
“This fall we are pretty much back to pre-pandemic levels of applications,” said Kalish.
It takes a lot more to put on a bar crawl in Arlington today than it did in the free-wheeling days of the early 2010s.
“You’d be surprised how many people who are organizing a special event haven’t thought about all the specifics,” Kalish wrote. “Trash. Toilets. Noise. Flow. The [county’s] Special Events Committee helps them through a number of possible scenarios so they can have a successful event.”
How far in advance organizers need to submit their application, either 30 or 90 days, depends on a number of factors including the size of the crawl. Kalish noted crawls with only three or four establishments on the route usually require less time to process.
“The first year we had [permitted] pub crawls they were quite large, but recently they have gotten much smaller,” Kalish said.
A crawl or organizer “with a satisfactory history” of managing safe events also requires less processing time, as well as one that has a clear mapped route.
Because of these regulations, guidelines, and extra costs, though, some companies have decided to forgo organizing crawls in the county and instead stick to a place where the process is more straightforward and there’s no shortage of potential young and single attendees: the District.
(Updated at 9:20 a.m.) It’s been more than a year since the last large, organized bar crawl in Arlington, and the former seasonal staple of the Orange Line corridor shows no sign of returning soon.
The last notable crawl to fill bars in the Clarendon area was the March 2018 Shamrock Crawl. The St. Patrick’s Day-themed pub crawl was one of three — including the Halloween Crawl and a Fourth of July-themed All American Bar Crawl — to bring thousands of revelers to the watering holes along Wilson and Clarendon boulevards.
Though many local residents were not big fans of the bar crawls, which sometimes led to participants vomiting in front yards or running naked down the street, the events did generate local buzz and were reliable draws for Courthouse and Clarendon-area bars.
The free-wheeling nature of the bar crawls was curtailed a bit when the Arlington County Board approved new regulations targeted the events in 2014. While the crawls continued for more than 3 years after that, Scott Parker, a partner in some of the bars that participated in the events, tells ARLnow that the costs imposed by the regulations likely led to them petering out.
“My sense is that the regulations and costs made it impossible for it to be as profitable in Arlington as it is in D.C. for the operators,” Parker said. “I think the demand was still there, but the regulations made it too hard for them to turn a profit.”
“Kind of hurts because Arlington bars already have a competitive disadvantage to D.C. bars since we have to close an hour earlier, and must live by many other restrictions that they don’t have to in D.C.,” Parker added.
Project DC Events, the primary organizer of the big Arlington bar crawls, is still holding similar crawls in D.C. and Baltimore — even using video from Clarendon to promote its upcoming All American Bar Crawl in the District. The company did not respond to requests for comment.
Arlington County spokeswoman Susan Kalish says the county has chalked up the lack of bar crawls to declining popularity and is not reconsidering any of its policies, which call for event organizers to cover the cost of an added police presence and trash pickup.
“Arlington County supports more than 250 special events a year,” Kalish told ARLnow. “We have seen a decline in pub crawls, however there is always an ebb and flow in what’s popular.”
“Last year, we did have a pub crawl organizer complain about the cost for holding their event,” she noted, adding that “this does not appear to be a systemic complaint regarding our special events and there are no plans at the time to reconsider the policy.”
“Public safety remains our top priority during all special events and resources are deployed to ensure the safety of participants, neighborhood residents and businesses,” Kalish said.
The Trolley Pub, the mobile biking platform hopping from bar to bar across Arlington, has undergone a rebranding to Pedal Saloon.
According to John Alligood, general manager at Pedal Saloon Arlington, the change came after former partners were bought out by the current leadership.
Passengers on the Pedal Saloon meet at 3101 Wilson Blvd and board a pedal-powered party vehicle.
While Virginia law prohibits consuming alcohol onboard the vehicle, guests will pedal to bars across Arlington like Spirit of 76 or Don Tito, where there are special deals and discounts. Tickets for the Pedal Saloon are $35 for individual tickets or $420 for groups of 14.
Photo via Pedal Saloon
Clarendon has been known for its nights-and-weekends bar scene and drinking culture, and there is perhaps no more pure an example of the drinking culture than the bar crawls that come to the neighborhood a few times a year.
There’s the Halloween crawl, the “All American” crawl and — this past weekend — the St. Patrick’s Day-themed Shamrock Crawl, which returned to Clarendon after a one-year hiatus. Like Dan Zak before me, I went to check it out.
The final list of bars included Bar Bao, Pamplona, Whitlow’s, Mister Days, Hunan One, Oz and Clarendon Grill. An earlier list featured Courthaus Social, but it was later removed.
Starting at 1 p.m. my friend and I were among the first people to show up at Bar Bao, where you had to register. We were given free plastic mugs and a map.
Nothing was ready when we first got there. No bartender, no music. Just my friend and I and two other guys awkwardly sitting around. After 5 to 10 minutes of standing around waiting for something to happen, we got up, left and headed to Courthaus Social, not knowing that it was no longer on the list.
We killed an hour at Courthaus Social and decided to finally start heading back. On the way over, we passed Oz and my friend insisted on checking it out.
Inside, I saw a $4 “shamrock shooter” was being offered. The bartender told me it was a watermelon flavored liquor of sorts, and it was so good I had another, clumsily spilling some on my green shirt. But the revelry was rather subdued — as far as we can tell, no other bar crawlers were there.
Fast forward to 3 p.m. and we decided to head back to Bar Bao. On the way over we found a grocery cart that I pushed my friend in for 10 seconds. She then jumped out and we went into Bar Bao. Finally things are poppin’. A DJ is performing, the bar was open for those inside and outside on the patio. People were actually there. The weather was between 40 and 50 degrees, but it was sunny so it wasn’t too bad to stand outside while having a beer.
While at Bar Bao I also met a guy who said he was friends with the man who was famously tased by police while wearing a Pikachu onesie, about one year ago. The man is still in prison after fighting with both police and the bouncers of A-Town Bar & Grill, his friend said, adding that they were wrongly discriminated against when they were kicked out of A-Town.
After Bar Bao, it was time to cross the courtyard to Pamplona, which serves Spanish cuisine but today was also offering $7 Irish car bomb shots.
Before our final stop at Mister Days, my friend and I were tempted by yet another grocery cart. Except this time, when I pushed it, the cart fell over, with my friend rolling out (she was fine). A police officer then came out of nowhere and initially told us to return the cart, seemingly less interested in my friend’s tumble. I offered to take the cart back to Trader Joe’s, but the officer had seen enough shenanigans.
“Just leave,” he said, which we promptly did.
Four and a half hours of drinking later we couldn’t make it to the four remaining bars. But I like to think we still had a great, boozy adventure. And for the record, neither us nor anyone we saw vomited in any front yards.
Free Lyft rides will be available to those looking for a safe ride home on St. Patrick’s Day this weekend.
The promotion is being offered by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program, a local nonprofit, and will run from Saturday, March 17 at 4 p.m. through March 18 at 4 a.m..
“During this twelve-hour period, area residents age 21 and older celebrating with alcohol may download Lyft to their phones, then enter a SoberRide code in the app’s ‘Promo’ section to receive their no cost (up to $15) safe transportation home,” the organization said in a press release. “WRAP’s St. Patrick’s Day SoberRide promo code will be posted at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 17 on www.SoberRide.com.”
Last year, 460 people used WRAP’s SoberRide Lyft services on St. Patrick’s Day in the D.C. area.
“Almost three-fourths (69%) of all U.S. traffic deaths occurring during the six evening hours following St. Patrick’s Day [in 2016] involved alcohol-impaired drivers,” noted WRAP President Kurt Gregory Erickson.
Eligibility Changes Proposed for Cemetery — “With Arlington National Cemetery set to run out of space in the coming years, restrictions on who can be buried there need to be considered, officials said Thursday.” [WTOP, Army Times]
Emergency Metro Repairs Next Weekend — Emergency repairs will mean reduced service on Metro’s Silver Line and some changes to Blue Line service next weekend, during St. Patrick’s Day and peak cherry blossom season. [Fox 5]
ACPD Conducts DUI Education Event — To discourage driving under the influence, Arlington County Police and the Washington Regional Alcohol Program conducted an anti-drunk driving event during Saturday’s Shamrock Crawl. Among other activities, attendees were invited to try to shoot basketballs into trash bins while wearing impaired vision goggles. [WTOP, Twitter]
Video Project Keeps Iota’s Memory Alive — A video series called The Iota Chair is “an oral history project on Facebook with musicians who frequented Iota Club & Cafe,” which closed last year. [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Local Journalist Pens History Book — “Arlington resident Michael Doyle recounts the life and times of a 19th century morality crusader who campaigned against an infamous ‘free-love’ commune, in a new book entitled ‘The Ministers’ War: John W. Mears, the Oneida Community and the Crusade for Public Morality.'” [Amazon]
DHS Official Charged With Beating Wife in Arlington — A “senior career official with the Department of Homeland Security who… handles a ‘high volume’ of classified information in his role as an intelligence briefer,” served jail time after a 2016 incident in Arlington in which he was charged with assaulting his wife, breaking two ribs and causing bruising around her neck. [Washington Post]
Anti-DUI Event at Shamrock Crawl Tomorrow — The Arlington County Police Department will hold a St. Patrick’s Day-themed anti-DUI event dubbed “Don’t Press Your Luck” in Clarendon tomorrow (Saturday). The event will coincide with the planned Shamrock Crawl bar crawl. [Arlington County]
More on Wakefield’s Championship Run — But for a great defensive play by Varina, the Wakefield High School boys basketball team might have emerged victorious from yesterday’s state championship game in Richmond. [Washington Post]
Arlington to Co-Star in Travel Video — Arlington County has received grant funding that will help pay for its share of a new Virginia tourism video that will also feature Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Loudoun County, Richmond and Staunton. [Arlington County]
Long Branch Creek Profiled — “A mostly residential section of south Arlington, Long Branch Creek is a diverse community where almost 75 percent of residents are renters. In addition, there are condominium buildings, townhouses, duplexes and one single-family home.” [Washington Post]
Fire Station History to Be Recognized — Last month Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz established a “Fire Station No. 8 History and Legacy (FS8HL) Working Group,” to record and celebrate the history of the first Arlington fire station staffed by African Americans. [Arlington County]
Kanninen Gets Democratic School Board Nod — “An Arlington County Democratic Committee School Board caucus? Fuggedaboutit. Incumbent School Board Chairman Barbara Kanninen was the lone candidate to file to run in the caucus, which had been slated for several days in May. With no opposition bubbling up, the caucus was nixed.” [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Rex Block
The Shamrock Crawl is returning to Clarendon after a one-year hiatus, with at least nine confirmed bars participating in the bar-hopping bonanza.
Project DC Events, the crawl’s organizer, is now selling tickets for their March 10 bar crawl, with ticket prices as low as $15 listed on the website. The tickets come with a refillable shamrock mug and cover-free access to Mister days, Pamplona, Whitlow’s on Wilson, Courthaus Social, among other bars. Additional party favors, a raffle, event pictures, and food deals are included in the ticket price.
The company also organizes a sister event in Washington’s Dupont Circle.