I’ve been exploring this whole happy hour concept a lot lately so I figured I should start reviewing some of the places I’ve been to. And if anybody wants to join me some time for some investigative happy hour journalism, please let me know. For you D.C-residing, anti-Arlington ultra-urbanites out there, I apologize if I’m offending your sensibilities by starting out with the Clarendon scene, but truth be told, I’m afraid of driving into D.C. But maybe when I get braver I will start exploring D.C bars as well.
First of all, let me start by saying that happy hour truly is the happiest hour. While a normal cocktail may cost you $12 at any given D.C/Arlington bar, a happy hour cocktail is only like $4 or $5! This whole concept is new to me. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I left the U.S when I was 22 and didn’t move back permanently until I was 27, so I wasn’t happy-houring much. And in Colombia there are only two kinds of bars: The kind that plays vallenato, ranchera or 80s rock where the only respectable thing to order is a $1 beer and the Zona T/Usaquen/Zona G bars that make “American” style cocktails but also charge American-style prices. And as far as I know, there’s not much in the way of happy hour deals, at least in Bogotá.
But anyway, back to America. I would describe the Arlington bar/club scene as a place where former frat guys, sorority girls and current yuppies come together for good times. People are fit, good-looking, young (mostly under 32, I’d say) relatively well-educated and appear to work mostly in the contracting and financial sector. If you are a tortured artists or hardcore creative type, you may not be happy here. But if you’re just looking for a place to enjoy a few drinks with friends, it’s as good as anywhere else. Last Friday I met my friends Cecile (coolest married person I know) and H.J at Fuego. I liked this place because the bar is huge and spacious and the restaurant is open and airy. It makes me feel like I’m at a fancy beach bar in Cartagena or something. It just has a happy vibe to it. You get free salsa and chips with your drink and you can’t go wrong with their (strong) margaritas ($5). I had the frozen lime margarita and it was pretty good. And I hate tequila. If you don’t like sweet drinks there are wine and beer options too. We didn’t order food here, but I believe you can order two tacos for $7, which isn’t too bad.
However, I have to admit that I feel a little more at home at Cava because I’ve been there more often and really like their appetizers. They have decent drink deals ($4-$5, pretty large glasses of wine), plus great happy hour appetizer deals…crazy feta with pita, $3 (and so delicious) and fries with yogurt sauce for $3 (also delicious) among others. You can see a full happy hour menu here. Cava feels a little dark and cramped and the bar is pretty small, but there is a large outdoor patio as well as more spacious indoor seating if you are planning to order non-happy hour food.
I think we were all feeling pretty happy at this point and we should have stopped there. I mean, we’d already had French fries, lots of crazy feta and a couple of drinks. But we didn’t. Instead, we decided it would be a brilliant idea to head over to Hard Times Cafe and order macaroni wedges (macaroni and cheese, breaded and fried – it’s as delicious as it sounds) and fully loaded nachos. All in all, a great night, though it’s probably a good thing we went hiking the next day.
If anyone has any Arlington/D.C happy hour suggestions, please let me know!