There’s a new neighborhood wine bar and market in Crystal City where neighbors can drop by for bubbly by the glass or bottle, gluten-free pasta, and a slice of “Big Ass Chocolate Cake.”
Beauty Champagne & Sugar Boutique (576 South 23rd Street, Arlington) is located just minute drive from Amazon’s headquarters. This champagne and wine bar/market is a partnership from two female fixtures in the DMV restaurant industry: Eat Good Food Group’s Meshelle Armstrong (the co-owner of Kaliwa and dearly-departed NoVa outposts Restaurant Eve, Society Fair, PX, and Eammon’s a Dublin Chipper) and Zena Polin (founder of Maryland’s The Dish & Dram and The Daily Dish).
After meeting through a friend, the duo hit it off so much that they wanted to work together on a project — and post-pandemic, a 150-seat restaurant didn’t appeal to them.
“We thought what can we do that will be fun, that we can do together, that fits to what people are looking for now,” Polin tells Eater. “People always want wine. They always want cookies, pantry items, comfort food. That was the idea.”
The result brings to mind a smaller version of Armstrong’s charming food market Society Fair in Alexandria (where Mae’s Market is currently located). In fact, elements of Armstrong’s past restaurants live on at Beauty. A glitzy light fixture from Restaurant Eve can be found in this Victorian-style house on Fern and 23rd Street, and favorite Society Fair sweets like coconut cake, Rice Krispies treats and its infamous Big Ass Chocolate Cake make the menu here too.
Polin is also contributing desserts to the pastry case, like her brown butter and sea salt chocolate chip cookies, seven layer bars, and the equally-creatively named “Knock You Naked” bars, a brownie-like concoction with chocolate chip, peanut butter, and caramel.
“I taste-tested it and I was like ‘Oh my God, this is amazing.’ I ran to Michelle’s house, saying, ‘You have to have this. This is so good,’” Polin jokes. Another of her decadent desserts is “The Guilty Pleasure,” featuring homemade marshmallow fluff, dark chocolate chunks, and potato chips.
The market is divided into different zones, with a wine shop on one side grouping wines by price for easy shopping (the wine selection prioritizes local and women-owned wines). A “Belleza Wine Club” starting this spring will offer up tastings, classes, and special discounts. The Wine Room has its own section for bubbles and champagne, while a “Cocktail Kingdom” across the room offers mixers for an at-home bar.
At the front of the shop, there’s a selection of gummies, chocolates, and candies curated by Armstrong, as well as pantry items like pasta and pastry mixes. The shelves are stocked with items from women-owned businesses like coffee from Southeastern Roastery and Blissburg Candles in scents like “Sexy Thyme” and “Subbourbon Dad.”
A section of the space is set up with tables for neighbors to drop in for a drink, whether its a glass of wine, a sparkling tasting trio, or the “Bizzarro Love Triangle” cocktail mixed up with Bizzarro Aperitivo, prosecco, and raspberry simple syrup. The 12-seat restaurant will serve simple savory items too, like flatbread and dips, cheese and charcuterie, soups, salads, and sandwiches.
“It’s not a late night place,” says Pollin. “You come in before dinner, you come in while the kids are at school, you come in after dinner and have a little glass or a piece of cake.”
Beauty Champagne & Sugar Boutique’s opening hours are Tuesday to Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.