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A fancy-looking stroganoff with herbs and pasta.
Liberty Tavern’s take on stroganoff, a special.
The Liberty Tavern/Facebook

Where to Eat and Drink Around Clarendon and Courthouse

Essential spots for happy hour, brunch, or a fancy night out

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Liberty Tavern’s take on stroganoff, a special.
| The Liberty Tavern/Facebook

Just across the Potomac in Arlington, Virginia, the Metro-adjacent Clarendon and Courthouse neighborhoods house a wide array of reliable restaurants, cafes, and bars, with recent openings and exciting options on the horizon.

The area just got a couple of new Asian additions in Sakaki Izakaya and Tiger Dumplings, while London-born noodle bar Wagamama will reportedly open its first area location in the heart of Clarendon (though dates have been continually pushed back). The team behind Michelin-rated Maydan is also slated to open kebab-centric Tawle in the area.

The next-door Arlington neighborhoods off of Wilson Boulevard are flush with mainstays for a dinner date, brunch, cocktail hour, and more.

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The Italian Store

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This combination deli, market, and carryout pizza place serves some of the best New York-style pies in the area, as well as a strong selection of hoagies with great rolls (a surprisingly hard commodity to find around here). Find a variety of Italian grocery and pantry products here, too.

Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery

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For year-round Mardi Gras vibes in the center of Courthouse, head to Bayou for beignets and muffalettas from its New Orleans native owner/chef David Guas. Caffeinated concoctions like the NoLa (chicory, simple syrup, half and half) and guava latte hit a little differently here. There’s also frozen hurricanes and daiquiris and icy Abita beers, plus Louisiana crawfish boils on tap for the summer.

A longtime location for Lebanese food, Mejana specializes in seafood dishes, salads, spreads, and kebabs. A “Lebanese Journey” menu offers a variety of dishes for $62 per person.

Galaxy Hut

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The longtime Clarendon bar with great vibes and quirky decor is one of the last of its kind — gone are the days of the surrounding IOTA Club & Cafe and Jay’s Saloon — and it remains an institution, particularly for vegans and vegetarians. Stop in for one of the rotating beers on draft, and stay for a heaping plate of “Totchos,” or tater tots smothered in largely meatless toppings of choice.

Ambar Clarendon

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The meze-focused Balkan restaurant features dozens of small plates ranging from piquillo pepper croquettes to house-smoked pork sausage served with a cabbage slaw. There are three all-you-can-eat “Ambar Experiences” to choose from (starting at $27.99 for brunch). Balkan restaurateur Ivan Iricanin also runs chic cocktail bar Baba below and the newly renovated Mexican restaurant Buena Vida across the street.

Maison Cheryl

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Take a seat at Maison Cheryl’s bar with its marble counter top and order drinks and dishes that feel a little Parisian, whether that’s ratatouille and parmesan polenta or just a truffle burger. Take a cue from the neon sign that says “Life is short, get the dessert,” and spring for treats like espresso creme brulee.

Four Sisters Grill

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Sadly the only remaining incarnation of this Vietnamese stalwart, Four Sisters Grill provides a more streamlined, fast-casual experience of the onetime institution. Find spring rolls, bun, pho, and more.

Spice Kraft Indian Bistro

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One of two locations in the area, Spice Kraft is a favorite for interesting Indian dishes. There’s a mix of traditional offerings like samosas, aloo gobi, lamb biryani, and several curries, as well as some creative dishes like butter chicken pasta or salmon tikka accented with pineapple.

Nam-Viet Restaurant

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Family owned and operated since 1986, Clarendon’s Vietnamese stalwart tucked off of Wilson Boulevard remains a go-to spot for locals, politicos, and professional sports stars. Its Saigon-style soft shell crabs are a top-selling favorite when in season. An unassuming bar in the back focuses on fruit-infused spirits to create a solid cast of cocktails.

The Liberty Tavern

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Liberty Tavern is one of those consistent restaurants that always manages to deliver a special evening. Wood-oven pizzas, pastas, and grilled items are sure bets: each day has a special dish that’s worth exploring (Friday, for example, is shrimp scampi night). Find well-made classic cocktails and a bustling bar area to boot; the company also owns bistro Lyon Hall and transitional coffeehouse Northside Social, all strong offerings in the same neighborhood.

Green Pig Bistro

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Hearty comfort food has been the focus at this neighborhood favorite, which has been known for its extensive happy hour with food offerings like terrific deviled eggs and bacon crackers. The menu’s currently undergoing a transition, though, courtesy of new ownership and a new chef, Laurence Cohen.

Smokecraft Modern Barbecue

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While it’s not unusual to find smoked dishes at a barbecue restaurant, chef Andrew Darnielle of Clarendon’s Modern Barbecue has created a standout menu with a wide variety of smoked meats, fruits, cheeses, and desserts. Try the smoked avocado deviled eggs, and end the night with a cedar-plank smoked brownie dessert. The theme also plays into the drinks menu, with drinks like the aptly-named Smoke on the Water cocktail mixed with bourbon, spiced honey, and bitters.

Board Room Brewing Company

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This brewery quite literally offers fun and games, with a selection of board games available for rent starting at $2. Games range from classics like Trivial Pursuit to Monopoly to Cards Against Humanity. Draft beers include award-winning house brews like the Ticket to Ride amber ale and No Limit lager. Expect straightforward bar food like hot pretzels and nachos, with a few interesting takes like General Tso’s pork wings.

Texas Jacks Barbecue

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Texas-style barbecue is the focus at this restaurant, which means items like brisket, Texas-style brisket, and smoked short ribs take center stage. Smoked meats can be ordered as platters and combos or make their way into dishes like nachos, chili, and egg rolls.

The Italian Store

This combination deli, market, and carryout pizza place serves some of the best New York-style pies in the area, as well as a strong selection of hoagies with great rolls (a surprisingly hard commodity to find around here). Find a variety of Italian grocery and pantry products here, too.

Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery

For year-round Mardi Gras vibes in the center of Courthouse, head to Bayou for beignets and muffalettas from its New Orleans native owner/chef David Guas. Caffeinated concoctions like the NoLa (chicory, simple syrup, half and half) and guava latte hit a little differently here. There’s also frozen hurricanes and daiquiris and icy Abita beers, plus Louisiana crawfish boils on tap for the summer.

Mejana

A longtime location for Lebanese food, Mejana specializes in seafood dishes, salads, spreads, and kebabs. A “Lebanese Journey” menu offers a variety of dishes for $62 per person.

Galaxy Hut

The longtime Clarendon bar with great vibes and quirky decor is one of the last of its kind — gone are the days of the surrounding IOTA Club & Cafe and Jay’s Saloon — and it remains an institution, particularly for vegans and vegetarians. Stop in for one of the rotating beers on draft, and stay for a heaping plate of “Totchos,” or tater tots smothered in largely meatless toppings of choice.

Ambar Clarendon

The meze-focused Balkan restaurant features dozens of small plates ranging from piquillo pepper croquettes to house-smoked pork sausage served with a cabbage slaw. There are three all-you-can-eat “Ambar Experiences” to choose from (starting at $27.99 for brunch). Balkan restaurateur Ivan Iricanin also runs chic cocktail bar Baba below and the newly renovated Mexican restaurant Buena Vida across the street.

Maison Cheryl

Take a seat at Maison Cheryl’s bar with its marble counter top and order drinks and dishes that feel a little Parisian, whether that’s ratatouille and parmesan polenta or just a truffle burger. Take a cue from the neon sign that says “Life is short, get the dessert,” and spring for treats like espresso creme brulee.

Four Sisters Grill

Sadly the only remaining incarnation of this Vietnamese stalwart, Four Sisters Grill provides a more streamlined, fast-casual experience of the onetime institution. Find spring rolls, bun, pho, and more.

Spice Kraft Indian Bistro

One of two locations in the area, Spice Kraft is a favorite for interesting Indian dishes. There’s a mix of traditional offerings like samosas, aloo gobi, lamb biryani, and several curries, as well as some creative dishes like butter chicken pasta or salmon tikka accented with pineapple.

Nam-Viet Restaurant

Family owned and operated since 1986, Clarendon’s Vietnamese stalwart tucked off of Wilson Boulevard remains a go-to spot for locals, politicos, and professional sports stars. Its Saigon-style soft shell crabs are a top-selling favorite when in season. An unassuming bar in the back focuses on fruit-infused spirits to create a solid cast of cocktails.

The Liberty Tavern

Liberty Tavern is one of those consistent restaurants that always manages to deliver a special evening. Wood-oven pizzas, pastas, and grilled items are sure bets: each day has a special dish that’s worth exploring (Friday, for example, is shrimp scampi night). Find well-made classic cocktails and a bustling bar area to boot; the company also owns bistro Lyon Hall and transitional coffeehouse Northside Social, all strong offerings in the same neighborhood.

Green Pig Bistro

Hearty comfort food has been the focus at this neighborhood favorite, which has been known for its extensive happy hour with food offerings like terrific deviled eggs and bacon crackers. The menu’s currently undergoing a transition, though, courtesy of new ownership and a new chef, Laurence Cohen.

Smokecraft Modern Barbecue

While it’s not unusual to find smoked dishes at a barbecue restaurant, chef Andrew Darnielle of Clarendon’s Modern Barbecue has created a standout menu with a wide variety of smoked meats, fruits, cheeses, and desserts. Try the smoked avocado deviled eggs, and end the night with a cedar-plank smoked brownie dessert. The theme also plays into the drinks menu, with drinks like the aptly-named Smoke on the Water cocktail mixed with bourbon, spiced honey, and bitters.

Board Room Brewing Company

This brewery quite literally offers fun and games, with a selection of board games available for rent starting at $2. Games range from classics like Trivial Pursuit to Monopoly to Cards Against Humanity. Draft beers include award-winning house brews like the Ticket to Ride amber ale and No Limit lager. Expect straightforward bar food like hot pretzels and nachos, with a few interesting takes like General Tso’s pork wings.

Texas Jacks Barbecue

Texas-style barbecue is the focus at this restaurant, which means items like brisket, Texas-style brisket, and smoked short ribs take center stage. Smoked meats can be ordered as platters and combos or make their way into dishes like nachos, chili, and egg rolls.

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