East meets West tonight in Clarendon as Social Restaurant Group pulls back the curtain on Bar Bao, the street food-slinging, plum wine-cocktail mixing Asian concept the company has installed right next door to sibling Spanish restaurant and fellow newcomer, Pamplona.
This marks the second opening in the bustling Arlington enclave this year for Social Restaurant Group, which also operates Provision No. 14 and The Prospect in the District. The ambitious tastemakers have two other projects (La Vie, Rival & Rye) in development at D.C.’s waterfront redefining The Wharf complex.
Bar Bao is taking over the space vacated by defunct watering hole Mad Rose Tavern, refreshing the corner of 3100 Clarendon Boulevard in Arlington, Va., with a fully redesigned restaurant featuring hand-painted murals, leather-wrapped banquettes, exposed ductwork, and lots of bar stools (nearly 200 seats inside). The outdoor patio, which has communal tables sprinkled all about and offers seating to an additional 70 sun-worshippers, spills out onto the sidewalk directly opposite the bustling Clarendon Metro stop.
The menu is casual yet somewhat adventurous.
The beverage team has crafted a drink list punctuated by assorted sakes and house cocktails fueled by shochu, a distilled spirit favored by the Japanese, plum wine, and pineapple-flavored vodka. Dining options follow the sharing trend, with a handful of appetizers (think: wonton nachos with Sriracha mayo, tuna poke tacos, and Korean bulgogi layered atop french fries), dumplings, and the signature bao buns — eight in all, with fillings ranging from crispy pork belly to fried avocado — outnumbering the featured entrees (fried chicken with sweet-sour cilantro sauce; hangover soup with oxtail, short ribs, and meatballs).
The restaurant is launching May 11 with dinner service. Lunch, weekend brunch, and regular happy hour deals are expected to follow.
Status: opening at 5 p.m. 3100 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington, Va.; website.