(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) Arlington’s newest stop for tacos is holding a soft opening tonight (Friday) in Clarendon.
Tacos, Tortas, and Tequila (TTT) is the colorful creation of serial restauranteur Ivan Iricanin, who also owns Ambar and Baba across the street. Iricanin modeled the menu after Mexico City’s street food.
Starting Friday and continuing through Sunday, Iricanin says TTT will test out a limited version of its new menu with a dozen types of tacos available to order in groups of three. TTT will serve patrons from 4 p.m. until 1 a.m. tonight, he said.
The new restaurant’s soft opening continues this weekend, with TTT serving up taco combos Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
“The goal is to be a neighborhood gathering spot,” Iricanin told ARLnow Friday morning, gesturing to the downstairs bar where he hopes people will order drinks, food, and bring books or laptops to hang out.
Eventually, he plans to open TTT for brunch seven days a week, keeping the taco eatery open from 7 a.m.
TTT occupies the ground floor of the giant, three-story homage to Mexican cuisine that Iricanin opened in what used to be La Tasca at 2900 Wilson Blvd. A mural of traditional Mexican motifs adorns the new eatery’s open kitchen in the style of Diego Rivera, and murals along the wall help guide patrons to the right floor.
The concept is similar to the Iricanin’s Silver Spring TTT, but he says the new spot will be unique because of a a collaboration struck with famed Mexican chef Gerardo Vázquez Lugo of the award-winning Nicos restaurant in Mexico City. With Chef Lugo’s help, the theme of the Clarendon building’s three restaurants — TTT, Buena Vida, and Buena Vida Social Club — is traditional Mexican food not altered for American palates.
“What I learned from Ambar is if you stay true to the roots and present the culture you can’t go wrong,” said Iricanin.
Upstairs from TTT is Buena Vida, a sit-down restaurant that opened Monday with a focus on what Iricanin called “indigenous recipes” of traditional family-style cooking in Mexico. Waiters prepare caesar salads and guacamole fresh at patron’s tables using rolling side carts that line the edges of the spacious room overlooking Wilson Blvd and N. Fillmore Street.
Buena Vida’s menu features cold starters like tropical ceviche with tuna, cucumber and pineapple and classic starters like queso fundido served with herbs and tortillas made in-house. Entrees are a mix of meat and seafood dishes, like a Yucatan recipe for duck cooked in a pumpkin seed sauce.
The rooftop floor will host a third restaurant and bar space newly named “Buena Vida Social Club” and is still under construction. Iricanin says he hopes to open it in late April.
“It’s a challenge opening one restaurant. We’re opening three,” Iricanin admits.
He plans to also seat patrons on patios outside Buena Vida and TTT come early summer, pending better weather and sidewalk seating permits. With the patios, the three-story establishment will be able to seat a combined 345 people.
Despite the “tequila” in the name, Iricanin says he’s focusing on growing the restaurant’s wine selection. At the moment he says he’s importing craft wines from Mexico’s Baja region to pair with the menu, and hired a sommelier from Mexico City to help make the selection for Clarendon.
“Their wine culture is growing, there are amazing wines there,” said Iricanin. “My goal is by the end of the year to have 50 to 80 wines.”
Other future plans include using the 190 inch projection screen installed in front of TTT’s mural for game nights during the World Cup, or black and white movies on Fridays.
The new location of Bread & Water had a “soft opening” the past weekend on Pentagon Row (1201 S. Joyce Street).
The eatery, the original location of which is in the Belle View section of Fairfax County, sells pastries like fruit bars, danish, muffins, key lime pie, plus sandwiches, salads, and more.
The artisan bakery regularly sells at local farmer’s markets in Ballston, Crystal City, and Columbia Pike. Additional farmer’s market stops are as far apart as Dale City, Va., and Silver Spring, Md.
Signs for the bakery initially went up in January. It is located at Pentagon Row’s central plaza, in a space formerly occupied by a sunglasses store and a Capital Teas shop.
The store’s Facebook page lists hours of operation between 7 a.m.-7 p.m. The company also caters.
Wilson Hardware’s soft opening at 2915 Wilson Blvd will begin at 5 p.m. Friday, with happy hour from 5-7 p.m., according to an event listing. It will open at the same time on Saturday as well, with a DJ to perform on both nights from 10 p.m. until close.
Anyone wanting to make dinner reservations for Friday or Saturday can now do so online.
“The team has been working hard create a beautiful, multi-level space for everyone’s enjoyment,” an invite to the soft opening reads. “Guests can anticipate bold fixtures, textured artwork and a unique experience in the new eclectic venue.”
The new 7,000-square-foot bar and lounge has three distinct bar areas, including one on the roof. Inside and outside are motifs and murals.
Food to be served will include Hardware fritters, crab dip and panzerotti, which is crisp-fried pizza dough stuffed with cheeses and marinara sauce. The menu will also feature avocado burgers with grass-fed beef, duck confit with roasted vegetables, steak frites and pan-seared salmon with saffron mashed potatoes.
Many of the drinks will reference the Virginia Hardware store, which occupied the space from the early 1960s until 2005. The cocktail menu will feature signature drinks such as the “Blueprint,” a mix of rosé, vodka, cantaloupe, lemon, ancho chile and mint; the “Adjustable Wrench” made with bourbon, rum, vanilla and chocolate bitters and the “Bright Idea,” a shareable cocktail for two.
Work to renovate and build out the space began last year.
“We’re so excited for everyone to finally see our vision for Wilson Hardware to come to life,” co-owner Jad Bouchebel said in a statement. “We know Arlingtonians will be pleasantly surprised when they see how we’ve revamped the space into an elegant new restaurant and bar.”
Photos No. 2, 4-6 via Instagram.
A new fast casual Korean barbecue restaurant has opened in Crystal City.
KBQ Korean BBQ & Bar is located at 2450 Crystal Drive, next to Buffalo Wild Wings. It opened earlier today, offering a Chipotle-style experience, allowing customers to build their own rice and lettuce bowls, lettuce wraps, tofu dogs and rice burgers.
KBQ offers six proteins — from steak to pork belly to tofu — and nearly a dozen “banchans,” or sides. That’s topped off by a selection of sauces and garnishes.
In addition, there’s a separate “bubble tea shop” offering a selection of bubble teas, including taro, chai and mango, for $5 apiece. As of earlier today, the boba for the teas was not yet ready, so customers had to make do with bubble tea sans bubbles.
Though KBQ seems likely to capture a primarily lunchtime dining crowd in Crystal City, it also has a bar serving cocktails, beer, wine and “bombs” — as in soju, Jager, car and cherry bombs. The restaurant will be open nightly until 1 a.m.
Korean barbecue “is the hottest trend in the culinary world,” according to a press release announcing the restaurant’s opening today. The full release, after the jump.
KBQ Korean BBQ & Bar, we combine these intense flavors in dishes that use a variety of fresh vegetables and lean meats for quickly-prepared healthy meals, in a ‘fast casual’ setting.
Korean BBQ is gaining momentum and popularity is the hottest trend in the culinary world. It’s savory combination of signature ingredients such as garlic, soy sauce, green onions, ginger and sesame are the bold flavors that are capturing the interest and taste buds across the country.
Korean cuisine is based on five tastes: Salty, Sweet, Sour, Spicy and Unami. KBQ Korean BBQ & Bar pleased to present Korean food in a friendly, casual atmosphere, inviting those new to these flavors to sit and enjoy, as well as being the comfort food spot for those already familiar with the cuisine.
We also have a stand alone Bubble Tea Shop within KBQ Korean BBQ. Bubble Tea (also known boba) is a Taiwanese tea-based drink invented in the 1980s. Most bubble tea contains a tea base mixed/shaken with fruit or milk, to which chewy tapioca balls added. Ice-blended versions are mixed with fruit or syrup, resulting in a delicious slushy consistency.
We want people to feel at home – whether you are taking a meal to go or enjoying table service and our full service bar featuring signature cocktails. Open for lunch and open late – serving food till 1am every night. Catering is available. When you eat with us, we’re making these dishes fresh to-order and giving you flavors that we know you will love.
Spirits of 76, new bar with a patriotic name and Americana decor, has opened.
Specializing in whiskey and American comfort food, Spirits of 76 aims to be a neighborhood hangout. Live music is also part of the plan.
The bar quietly opened its doors Wednesday as part of a soft opening. It’s now open from 4 p.m. to last call on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to last call on weekends.
Despite signs on the door and statements to the press to the contrary, the new TargetExpress store in Rosslyn is now open.
Even at mid-afternoon today the store wasn’t lacking for intrepid customers who figured out that they could just walk right past the “Opens October 11” sign on the door. An employee described it as a “soft opening.”
The 23,000 square foot store, at 1500 Wilson Blvd, stocks a selection of groceries, beer, wine, personal care items, clothing, tech gadgets and other sundry goods. It also boasts the area’s third Starbucks store within a one block radius.
Although the location plans to have a grand opening event within the next two weeks, it opened today with lease specials, finance specials and discounts on certain cars. The sticker prices on the dealership’s website start at $132,999, but General Sales Manager Alex Macatuno said at least one model is being offered for less than $70,000.
Macatuno said the location, an affiliate of Maserati of Washington in Sterling, opened next to I-395 in Arlington in order to better serve customers closer to the District.
“We wanted to be closer to Washington, so that’s one of the reasons why I think it’s a great location,” Macatuno told ARLnow.com. “There’s an Audi store here, there’s a Porsche store here, there’s a BMW store two exits up and a Mercedes store right down the street, so it’s perfect.”
Macatuno said the dealershop, at 2710 S. Glebe Road, will cater to people “right around the Beltway” and from the Pentagon. It is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Maserati owners can drop their cars off at the dealership for service, he said.
As of 1:00 p.m. today, the location hadn’t sold any cars, according to salesman Tate Attia.
The storefront, as it stands presently, is a “temporary facility,” according to Macatuno. Within the next two to three months, construction is expected to begin on a new 18,000 square-foot facility that will accommodate more cars and more employees. The dealership will remain open during the construction, Macatuno said. Afterwards, the existing building is expected to be knocked down.
In the next two weeks, Maserati of Arlington plans to hold a “grand opening” event. Community members and “those in the area who own luxury brands” are among those the dealership is hoping will attend the event, Macatuno said.
Although it’s only considered a “soft opening” period, BonChon officially opened its doors today at 2209 N. Pershing Drive, near Clarendon, to let the public try out its Korean chicken.
The dining area quickly filled when the restaurant opened at 11:30 a.m. and customers steadily streamed in through lunch hour. Although BonChon will be open for lunch and dinner, for the first few weeks the restaurant will be closed from 2:00-4:00 p.m. while staff members work to perfect operations.
The restaurant has a dining area, bar area and a separate counter for customers to pick up carry out orders.
Although the menu lists side dishes, salads and appetizers, the main attraction is the crispy fried chicken which comes as drumsticks, wings or chicken strips. Orders are accompanied by garlic soy sauce or hot sauce.
BonChon, which means “Original Village” in Korean, started out in South Korea and quickly came over to the United States. It now has more than 50 locations around the world.
The still-unnamed restaurant currently serves but one main dish: the “steak and cheese.” A sign next to the cash-only ordering station sums up the difference.
“WARNING: We absolutely do not serve ‘Philly’ or anything ‘cheesesteaks!!!’ We do not claim or attempt to be anyone’s idea of ‘authentic,” the sign reads.
Located at 1713 Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn, in the former Ray’s Hell Burger Too space, the restaurant interior and furnishings are little changed from what it looked like when ‘Too’ closed less than a month ago. What is new is the menu.
The eatery — we’ll unofficially call it Ray’s Steak and Cheese — serves a $10.99 steak and cheese sandwich made with a half-pound of ribeye and top sirloin steak (the same steaks used in Ray’s the Steaks in Courthouse) between a hearty, custom-made roll from Lyon Bakery. By default, the sandwich comes with American and Provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato and grilled onions. Green and red peppers, sauteed mushrooms and charred jalapenos are also available, for 50 cents each.
Landrum says a vegetarian sandwich — the exact ingredients haven’t been decided yet — will be added to the menu tomorrow (Thursday). Otherwise, the only other food item on the menu is a $2.00 side order of tater tots. The drink menu consists of sodas (Coke products plus boutique sodas like Ale 81 and Cheerwine), water, iced tea and beer.
As for the name, Landrum says he’s not sure what the restaurant will eventually be called.
“I haven’t really thought about it yet, to be honest,” he said today, after taking the Ray’s Hell Burger Too sign down from the front window. In its place, Landrum taped a printer paper-sized sign to the door, with “STEAK AND CHEESE HERE! NOW OPEN” written in Sharpee.
Already, Landrum has won a fan, in the form of the first paying customer who randomly wandered in around lunchtime today.
“Best steak and cheese I’ve ever had,” the man said, on his way out the door.
The restaurant is expected be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.
With no formal announcement to speak of, save a modest “now open” sign outside the door, restauranteur Michael Landrum opened his latest “Ray’s” restaurant in Rosslyn last night.
“Ray’s to the Third” (1650 Wilson Blvd) is, at first blush, a casual-ified version of Ray’s the Steaks, with a bar. The menu, which is still being worked on, consisted primarily of steak and seafood items from Ray’s the Steaks (2300 Wilson Blvd) at a slightly lower price point. (The familiar Ray’s steak dishes are now all served as steak frites.)
There was a small but relatively inexpensive beer and wine selection. A glass of the house red was only $4, as was a bottle of the Hofbrau Oktoberfest, but it’s not clear if that’s a permanent price. The bar area included two flat screen TVs, a couple of beers on draft, a liquor selection and seating for about eight people. A couple of chairless tables were placed behind the bar.
So far, it appears that Ray’s³ (referred to as “Hell³” at the bar) is an attempt to simplify and, at the same time, add to the existing Ray’s the Steaks formula. The simple brown-and-beige decor and the fact that virtually every entree — including every steak — comes with fries and a salad is part of the “simplify” plan. The bar and the slightly reduced prices can be seen as an attempt to make Ray’s³ into a bit more of an everyday neighborhood hangout — an “add.” What’s not apparent is what exactly will come next.
Staff hinted last night that more changes are coming. There will be additions to the menu including, perhaps, some “bar food.” There will also be milkshakes. The intrepid souls who sat down for a meal (the restaurant still lacks a permanent sign) were treated to a free sample of a very thick, rich banana nut milkshake. Alcoholic milkshakes, like White Russians, were also said to be in the works.
Last night was described as a “very soft opening,” although you wouldn’t know it from the virtually flawless food preparation and attentive service. Landrum and managers wandered the restaurant at times, asking the 15-20 customers who filled up less than half the tables about their meals. A couple of interesting appetizers were on the menu but were not being served. Deviled eggs, a cheese platter and a $10.99 dish simply described as applewood-smoked bacon — nothing more — were all unavailable.
Ray’s³ will no doubt be a welcome addition to the Rosslyn dining scene, although the location is a bit of a no man’s land. Located a block down from the two existing Ray’s Hell Burger locations, and on the same block as BBQ joint Red, Hot and Blue, it’s not clear if the new Ray’s will attract the same kind of crowds as the more Metro-accessible Ray’s the Steaks or the parking lot-equipped Ray’s Hell Burgers. But it should be fun to see what Landrum has up his sleeves in the next couple of weeks.
The six-year-old restaurant has launched two new dining/food concepts inside the existing restaurant. The two eateries-inside-an-eatery– called Nosh… A Willowesque Bistro and Kate at Willow bakery — began serving customers last night.
Nosh introduces bistro-style dining as a half-way point between Willow’s white tablecloth main dining room and its less formal and less extensive bar menu. Nosh is located near the restaurant entrance, in a space that was previously “underutilized” as a lounge-y waiting area.
“Set amidst stained glass windows and gleaming black granite tables in Willow’s main vestibule, Nosh will offer a constantly changing roster of small and large dishes fit to carry the Willow name,” according to the restaurant. “No reservations are needed at Nosh, making it the perfect spot to drop by whether you are already in the neighborhood or venturing out from afar.”
Chef and co-owner Tracy O’Grady says that one thing that will set Nosh’s menu apart from other local bistro-style dining establishments is the use of vegetables. While others may emphasize combinations of meats, cheeses and frites, Nosh takes a more balanced approach. For instance, a flavorful chicken sausage is served with a heirloom scarlet runner bean stew and a succotash of corn and zucchini. And while the slow-roasted pork belly may not come with veggies, its offset by veggie-only dishes like the spicy stewed chick peas and kale.
“A far cry from common pub fare, the Nosh menu will feature a wide variety of vegetarian and fresh fish options along with dishes to satisfy any conscientious carnivore,” the restaurant says.
Between Nosh and the main dining room is the new bakery counter, Kate at Willow. Pastry chef Kate Jansen is responsible for the bakery, which will offer its “high-end and beautiful” cookies, cupcakes, bars, brownies, tarts and cakes to walk-in retail customers. Many of the goodies will also be available as desserts to Willow diners.
Most of the items on the bakery menu were not previously offered in the restaurant. Among the offerings are sticky toffee pudding cake, s’mores sandwich cookies, ginger scones, pineapple upside-down cupcakes, key lime tarts, and red velvet cakes.
O’Grady says that Nosh and Kate were conceived earlier this year with all customers in mind, but she’s especially hoping to attract a neighborhood crowd with the new offerings — not just Ballston’s workday professional crowd.
“We need to service the neighbors too, the people who live here,” she said. “It’s been an evolution for us… As the neighborhood grows, we’re growing with it.”
More photos, after the jump.
On Monday, the new “Seoul Food” truck will have a “soft opening” at an undisclosed location in Arlington. The truck will serve “Korean fusion” food, including Korean-style maki rolls (vegetarian maki, caramelized kimchi maki, spicy tuna maki) and bibimbap bowls, according to its Twitter page.
The ingredients used to make the dishes include “local beef from grass-fed cows, organic tofu, all-natural chicken and ingredients from local farms,” according to the truck’s Facebook page.
On Wednesday, the truck will begin using Twitter to announce its daily locations. The truck will operate exclusively in Arlington at first, but the owners plan to start serving D.C. as soon as they obtain the appropriate licenses.
Hat tip to Snack Decision
For two short, unannounced hours today, Courthouse’s new Bayou Bakery opened its doors and started serving customers. The soft opening will continue tomorrow, “from 8:00 a.m. until I have to say ‘Uncle,'” according to a Facebook post by owner/chef David Guas.
Guas had originally hoped to open yesterday, but that plan was foiled by a late Certificate of Occupancy.
Bayou Bakery, which is more of a cafe/restaurant hybrid, will be closed on Sunday. No word on when it will “officially” open with regular hours and a full menu.
Tonight’s “soft opening” will start at 6:00 and go until whenever management decides to kick everybody out. Owner Peter Pflug says he’s hoping for a small crowd, so the staff is not overwhelmed while they get used to the new setup.
Just this afternoon bartenders were still stocking and sorting bottles of liquor and the outdoor patio was still buzzing with construction workers who were laying bricks on the adjacent sidewalk. The padded bar stools only arrived from a factory in Canada yesterday. A small, separate bar by the music stage appeared to still be a work-in-progress.
Assuming all goes well over the next two days, popular local cover band Gonzo’s Nose is scheduled to perform Saturday night.