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The Early Word on Bar Bao

“The menu, especially drink menu is unlike any of the bars in Clarendon.”

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Bar Bao
[R. Lopez]
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Asian restaurant Bar Bao debuted on May 11, bringing street food and plum wine cocktails to Clarendon. The space at 3100 Clarendon Boulevard resides next door to sibling Social Restaurant Group spot, Pamplona a Spanish restaurant and fellow newcomer to the area.

The new concept, which replaced late watering hole Mad Rose Tavern, features hand-painted murals, leather-wrapped banquettes, exposed ductwork, and lots of bar stools (nearly 200 seats inside). There’s also a huge patio.

Sharing is encouraged, with a handful of appetizers (think: wonton nachos with Sriracha mayo, tuna poke tacos, and Korean bulgogi layered atop french fries), dumplings, and eight signature bao buns with fillings ranging from crispy pork belly to fried avocado all up for grabs.

Read on to hear what the public is saying, just a few weeks in:

The Bao Wow News: Facebooker Tidal Wave “tried three different buns (fried chicken, avocado, and steak and cheese), nachos, dumplings, and the shrimp appetizer, all of which were fantastic!” And Facebooker Will Normand said his “two favorite food items are probably the chicken and crispy pork belly Bao buns.” [Facebook]

The Decent News: Yelper Jackie N. “thought the buns were decent - not much plum sauce on the pork baos and not much of anything else...the gyoza were good, the tuna poke tacos which were decent, and the bulgogi fries, which were tasty but pretty salty. My favorite food was the dessert — banana and nutella spring rolls.” [Yelp]

The Mad Rose 2.0 News: Facebooker Pascal Halabi says, “What a great makeover! From the artwork to the food. Impressing.” Yelper Michaele M. says, “Decor is trendy w/ some industrial, minimalist added in. Its a bar, lounge and restaurant in one ... turns into a club at night but too much EDM for my taste.” [Facebook, Yelp]

The Ambiance News: Washingtonian says the “indoor and outdoor spaces are designed for grazing and imbibing, with a handful of entrees, fried rice, and noodle dishes thrown in for heartier eaters.” Yelper Rebecca F. “found service to be very good. Our waiter helped recommend a bunch of dishes and wasn't delayed in our food.” [Yelp, Washingtonian]

The Fried Chicken News: Yelper Cee K. got the “top notch” Fried Chicken Bao, “cooked to crispy perfection. There was no grease dripping out or any unnecessary mess. It had a slightly sweet sauce encoded into the skin which made it that much more irresistible.” He billed the featured bird as “just as good or maybe even better than the Birdhaus Bao from BaoHaus.” [Yelp]

The Booze News: Yelper Charles G. says, “Their signature drinks are all on point with the Swizzle being one of my favorites.” ArlNow notes the gamut of “Asian-inspired cocktails, like the Hiddel Leaf Swizzle, referred to as the “Ninja Cocktail,” and served in a cup that looks like a ninja.” Yelper Sana S. thought “the menu, especially drink menu is unlike any of the bars in Clarendon.” [Yelp, ArlNow]

Bar Bao

3100 Clarendon Blvd, Arlington, Va 22201 703-600-0500 Visit Website