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A Construction Tour of Clarendon's New Sexy Sangria Bar and Restaurant

Pamplona is set to open later this month

Pamploma, a restaurant with a naughty-and-nice theme, will appropriately open in Clarendon right around Christmas.

Pamplona—named after a city in Spain—is the fourth restaurant from The Social Restaurant Group, whose other local spots include Provision 14 and The Prospect. The space at 3100 Clarendon Blvd. was designed by David Chenault. Basque country dishes will include paellas, chorizo filled bocadillos, papas bravas, horchata flan, and classic pintxos. By the numbers, the 3,600-square-foot space can hold 24 at the entrance bar, 80 in the dining room, and 54 on the patio with windows opening to a second 27-seat bar.

Longtime Arlington residents will have some serious deja vu when inside, as it used to function as veteran karaoke bar SoBe back in the day. Pamploma’s goal is to embrace Arlington’s buzzing nightlife via medieval details, says Chenault, who integrated fabrics, furnishings, and metals inspired by both edgy fashion icon Alexander McQueen and romantic artist Paul LaCroix.

"I thought the mixture would add sexiness. LaCroix does it with a lot of lace, flowers, and corsets, while the naughty side of McQueen includes masks and ponytails," says Chenault, who also did the design of Alexandria's The Majestic this year. Think embossed wallpaper created to look "wet" like lace, black face-shaped lighting fixtures attached to walls, and horns hanging from the ceiling. Also expect reclaimed woods (a DJ will play tracks behind a sliding wooden window) and metallic grates throughout.

Upon entrance, colorful Spanish tiled flooring leads to a nearby long, red bar that resembles a chest of drawers. It purposely matches the hue of sangria, which is destined to be a prominent fixture on the cocktail menu.

Chenault also ordered a stampede-sized amount of small metal bull heads, which will be affixed to doors to mimic Gothic-style entrances with knobs in the form of hands and faces. The arsenal of bull heads will also likely double as purse hooks, he said. "We are playing with the bull but not throwing it in your face," he said.

Executive chef James Martin hails from Restaurant Nora and Michelin-rated establishments. A sampling of dishes under his watch will include butternut squash and truffle churros to serrano ham with creamy oil ice cream. Patrons can eat from a pop-up chef's counter during certain hours.

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