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Apple wood smoked Chesapeake crab cakes from Smokecraft Modern Barbecue
Smokecraft Modern Barbecue sends Chesapeake crab cakes through its smoker.
Smokecraft [official]

Where to Eat and Drink Around Clarendon and Courthouse

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

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Smokecraft Modern Barbecue sends Chesapeake crab cakes through its smoker.
| Smokecraft [official]

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 new and exciting options on the horizon. Brass Rabbit Public House just debuted this spring in Clarendon’s old Bracket Room space, and West Coast-styled Bar Ivy is set to pop nearby soon. Meanwhile, London-born noodle bar Wagamama plans to plant its first area location in the heart of Clarendon this summer, and the team behind Michelin-rated Maydan will open kebab-centric Tawle nearby next year.

The next-door Arlington neighborhoods off of Wilson Boulevard are flush with mainstays for a dinner date, brunch, cocktail hour, or even board game night.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Ireland's Four Courts

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Saddle up to this durable Irish pub, a Courthouse fixture for more than 20 years. Draft beers range from Irish classics like Guinness and Magner’s Irish Cider by the pint, plus a selection of whiskey includes four variations of Jameson. Traditional pub grub includes corned beef and cabbage ($17) and beer-battered fish and chips ($16).

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 muffelatas 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 different here. There’s also frozen hurricanes and daiquiris and icy Abita beers, plus Louisiana crawfish boils on tap for the summer.

Courthaus Social

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Located right next to the Courthouse Metro station, slide up to one of the many picnic tables for a giant “Big Haus Pretzel” ($13), served with sweet and grain mustard and wash it down with one of the many 32-ounce draft pours of domestic and German beers.

Fire Works Pizza

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This Courthouse pizza spot features dozens of customizable options to create your own pizza or calzone, with toppings including staples like parmesan, roasted red peppers and pepperoni, all the way to vegan cheese, clams, and prosciutto. An extensive drink menu includes house cocktails like a frozen mule ($10) and a watermelon martini ($12).

Galaxy Hut

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The longtime Clarendon bar 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 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 meatless toppings of choice, starting at $7.

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: an express lunch for $25, brunch for $39.99 and dinner for $44.99. 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.

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 alike. Its Saigon-style soft shell crabs, a top-selling seasonal favorite, and just joined the menu in May. 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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Clarendon’s long-running Liberty Tavern stands apart from the pack with pastas, sausages, and desserts all made on-site, as well as a wide variety of freshly baked breads and pastries. Wood-oven pizzas ($15-$18) included the Spring Pie, topped with seasonal veggies like artichoke and spring onion. The gnocchi a la carbonara ($20) with house-smoked Duroc bacon, peas, egg, and pecorino is also not to miss. Happy hour is available daily from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., with select beer, wine, and cocktails priced at $6.

Pamplona

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The Spanish tapas restaurant serves a la carte tapas like pan con tomate ($7) and rice croquettes made with manchego cheese and mushroom ($8). Diners can also opt for unlimited plates for $41.95 per guest or $16.95 for kids 13 and under. Of course, it wouldn’t be tapas without sangria, and Pamplona features four staples: red, rose, white, and sparkling rose, with a rotating seasonal flavor. All are available $8 by the glass or $40 by the pitcher.

Green Pig Bistro

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Clarendon’s cozy French bistro offers standout comfort dishes like handmade cavatelli pasta served with Italian meatballs ($26), smoked pork shoulder ravioli paired with roasted mushrooms and a bacon crumble, and pork cassoulet made with crispy pork belly and smoked pork shoulder, wrapped up with duck sausage alongside toasted garlic bread ($33). Drinks include beer, craft cocktails, and an extensive wine list by the glass and bottle.

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 crafted a standout menu with a uniquely wide variety of smoked meats, fruits, cheeses, and desserts. Try the smoked avocado deviled eggs ($13.95), and end the night with a cedar-plank smoked brownie dessert ($8.95). The theme also plays into the drinks menu, with drinks like the aptly-named Smoke on the Water cocktail ($14) mixed with bourbon, spiced honey, and bitters.

Northside Social Coffee & Wine

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This neighborhood cafe offers a plethora of coffee and pastries, as well as cheese and charcuterie plates ($14.50), sandwiches, soups, and more with plenty of outdoor and upstairs seating to spread out. A variety of wines are available both by the glass and the bottle, as well as beers, ciders, seltzer, and $5 all-day mimosas.

Detour Coffee

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This Clarendon cafe and eatery curates a sizable list of made-to-order Mediterranean dishes for breakfast, lunch, and weekend brunch. Try the “Aleppo” made with falafel, hummus, beets and tahini served on pita bread ($12) for lunch, or the “Magician” breakfast arepa stuffed with eggs, corn, queso fresco alongside plantains ($10). Detour curiously sits under stylish hookah bar and club Darna, a scene-y favorite of both D.C. and visiting sports teams.

Board Room Brewing Company

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The on-site craft 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.

Ireland's Four Courts

Saddle up to this durable Irish pub, a Courthouse fixture for more than 20 years. Draft beers range from Irish classics like Guinness and Magner’s Irish Cider by the pint, plus a selection of whiskey includes four variations of Jameson. Traditional pub grub includes corned beef and cabbage ($17) and beer-battered fish and chips ($16).

Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery

For year-round Mardi Gras vibes in the center of Courthouse, head to Bayou for beignets and muffelatas 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 different here. There’s also frozen hurricanes and daiquiris and icy Abita beers, plus Louisiana crawfish boils on tap for the summer.

Courthaus Social

Located right next to the Courthouse Metro station, slide up to one of the many picnic tables for a giant “Big Haus Pretzel” ($13), served with sweet and grain mustard and wash it down with one of the many 32-ounce draft pours of domestic and German beers.

Fire Works Pizza

This Courthouse pizza spot features dozens of customizable options to create your own pizza or calzone, with toppings including staples like parmesan, roasted red peppers and pepperoni, all the way to vegan cheese, clams, and prosciutto. An extensive drink menu includes house cocktails like a frozen mule ($10) and a watermelon martini ($12).

Galaxy Hut

The longtime Clarendon bar 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 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 meatless toppings of choice, starting at $7.

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: an express lunch for $25, brunch for $39.99 and dinner for $44.99. 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.

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 alike. Its Saigon-style soft shell crabs, a top-selling seasonal favorite, and just joined the menu in May. An unassuming bar in the back focuses on fruit-infused spirits to create a solid cast of cocktails.

The Liberty Tavern

Clarendon’s long-running Liberty Tavern stands apart from the pack with pastas, sausages, and desserts all made on-site, as well as a wide variety of freshly baked breads and pastries. Wood-oven pizzas ($15-$18) included the Spring Pie, topped with seasonal veggies like artichoke and spring onion. The gnocchi a la carbonara ($20) with house-smoked Duroc bacon, peas, egg, and pecorino is also not to miss. Happy hour is available daily from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., with select beer, wine, and cocktails priced at $6.

Pamplona

The Spanish tapas restaurant serves a la carte tapas like pan con tomate ($7) and rice croquettes made with manchego cheese and mushroom ($8). Diners can also opt for unlimited plates for $41.95 per guest or $16.95 for kids 13 and under. Of course, it wouldn’t be tapas without sangria, and Pamplona features four staples: red, rose, white, and sparkling rose, with a rotating seasonal flavor. All are available $8 by the glass or $40 by the pitcher.

Green Pig Bistro

Clarendon’s cozy French bistro offers standout comfort dishes like handmade cavatelli pasta served with Italian meatballs ($26), smoked pork shoulder ravioli paired with roasted mushrooms and a bacon crumble, and pork cassoulet made with crispy pork belly and smoked pork shoulder, wrapped up with duck sausage alongside toasted garlic bread ($33). Drinks include beer, craft cocktails, and an extensive wine list by the glass and bottle.

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 crafted a standout menu with a uniquely wide variety of smoked meats, fruits, cheeses, and desserts. Try the smoked avocado deviled eggs ($13.95), and end the night with a cedar-plank smoked brownie dessert ($8.95). The theme also plays into the drinks menu, with drinks like the aptly-named Smoke on the Water cocktail ($14) mixed with bourbon, spiced honey, and bitters.

Northside Social Coffee & Wine

This neighborhood cafe offers a plethora of coffee and pastries, as well as cheese and charcuterie plates ($14.50), sandwiches, soups, and more with plenty of outdoor and upstairs seating to spread out. A variety of wines are available both by the glass and the bottle, as well as beers, ciders, seltzer, and $5 all-day mimosas.

Detour Coffee

This Clarendon cafe and eatery curates a sizable list of made-to-order Mediterranean dishes for breakfast, lunch, and weekend brunch. Try the “Aleppo” made with falafel, hummus, beets and tahini served on pita bread ($12) for lunch, or the “Magician” breakfast arepa stuffed with eggs, corn, queso fresco alongside plantains ($10). Detour curiously sits under stylish hookah bar and club Darna, a scene-y favorite of both D.C. and visiting sports teams.

Board Room Brewing Company

The on-site craft 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.

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