Neighborhood 101: Clarendon

28 Feb

Arlington County in Virginia is broken down into neighborhoods that are often referred to as if they are towns in and of themselves. Of these, Clarendon has the liveliest night life scene, and it’s also a bustling residential area and very pedestrian-friendly. Clarendon is rapidly changing, there’s always a new restaurant or store popping up—and they are getting yuppier and yuppier. I’m not saying that in a negative way, it’s just the plain truth. Ethan Allen, lululemon, Pottery Barn, Anne Taylor Loft, Mac Store—Clarendon has it all. And the Whole Foods parking lot is just plain crazy. CRAZY I say!

Two of my favorite people, Susan and Steve, took me on a lovely walk around Clarendon to discuss its ins and outs. They live in what they call the “yuppie ghetto” of Clarendon as their apartment building is one of the older brick buildings located off of Lee Highway and not one of the shiny, new (and much more expensive) complexes closer to the Metro station.

Getting there:
Clarendon Metro Station (Orange Line) is located right in the heart of the neighborhood. Depending on where you’re going, Court House and Virginia Square (Orange Line) are also very close. But if you live in the yuppie ghetto, you’ll probably prefer to take one of the convenient buses to work instead of Metro.

Regarding parking, until recently there was a municipal parking garage that was free, but alas that’s a thing of the past. There’s several garages though and they aren’t terribly expensive. There’s also metered street parking, but pay attention to which ones are free on weekends and which ones aren’t because they are diligent ticketers. Street parking on residential streets is discouraged but also a possibility depending on when you’re there.

One way streets Clarendon Boulevard and Wilson Boulevard are two of the neighborhood’s main roads. They run mostly parallel but at one point come together, which can be kind of confusing. Like in DC, streets in Arlington are named alphabetically (Adams, Barton, Cleveland, etc.).

This church was torn down to make room for affordable housing, which has caused a bit of a stir from nearby residents.

Hot Spots:

  • Whitlow’s – This bar and restaurant is one of the most popular hangouts in Clarendon. And soon they’ll be debuting a brand-new roof-top tiki bar.
  • Clarendon Ballroom – When I first moved to Northern Virginia someone described the Ballroom in two words: Meat Market. That’s all I needed to insure that I’d never, ever go in. But it’s very popular.
  • Clarendon Grill – A great place to see local music.
  • Hunan One – Much to my chagrin I JUST found out about Hunan One about a week ago. This place is the best pre-party hangout you could ever imagine. Good food and cheap, cheap drinks.
  • Galaxy Hut – I really heart this place. It’s like a charming dive bar.
  • Liberty Tavern – One of the best meals I’ve had since moving to the DC area was here. And one of the most fun nights out was here too.
  • Classic Cigars and British Goodies – In the mood for blood sausage? Look no further!
  • Red Mango – There’s always a line at this frozen yogurt place. ‘Cause it’s real good.
  • Pacer’s Running Store – This local chain, which has a location right outside the Clarendon Metro station, has a very popular “fun run” club.
  • Bake Shop – Susan and Steve ordered cupcakes from here for their wedding. Who picked them up? Sports Editor Rachel, my boyfriend and moi. Do you know what it’s like to go into a shop and say, “I’m here to pick up 200 cupcakes”? Because I do. But even better than that was when the owner helped us out to the car and said, “My buttercream’s not going to last a minute in this heat!” This has become one of my favorite quotes of all time. Oh yeah, and the cupcakes are freaking delicious.

Other places of note: Northside Social Coffee & Wine, Nam Viet, Mexicale Blues, Jay’s Saloon and Grill, O’Sullivan’s and Best Cellars.

Local Blog: Clarendon Nights

Fun Fact: Virginia bars legally can’t advertise drink specials on their websites, so visit On Tap for happy hour promotions.

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