An Early Look at William Jeffrey's Tavern

A new—and much-needed—neighborhood tavern opens in Arlington.

By: Jessica Voelker

The Spiedie sandwich at William Jeffrey's is stuffed with lamb kebab, lettuce, tomato, and feta cheese. Photographs by Jeff Martin

Slideshow: An Early Look at William Jeffrey's Tavern 

William Jeffrey’s Tavern opened six days ago at 2301 Columbia Pike, in a neighborhood that could frankly use a new hangout (soon it will get another one, an outpost of Eamonn’s scheduled to open in early 2012). Chris Lefbom, who owns the restaurant with partners Wilson Whitney and Adam Lubar (they also own Dogwood Tavern, Rhodeside, and Ragtime) says the crowd’s been mostly twenty- and thirtysomethings, though he expects young families to follow.

Here’s what they’ll find there: 191 seats spanning several distinct areas—“nooks,” Lefbom calls them—all outfitted with televisions, of which there are 18 in total, plus two glass-encased fireplaces that separate the main dining area and bar from a back room that’s available for private parties. Essentially a from-scratch project, the interior was designed by architects at CORE with lots of input from the owners. Murals by local artist Tom Mullany imagine a 1920s Rosslyn, once the site of brothels and speakeasies and other institutions of ill repute. Spread out throughout the restaurant, the artworks feature reoccurring characters: a jazz band, a mysterious white-suited fellow. The tavern was named by combining the first names of Lefbom’s father and the father of one of his partners, both recently deceased. William and Jeffrey appear amidst the fictional characters in Mullany's largest mural, just behind the bar. One Dad is smoking a cigar in the painting, the other is pouring beer.

This is the first time the restaurant group has worked with a chef; they hired Sam Adkins, a vet of Cashion’s and Jackie’s Restaurant in Silver Spring, to design the menu. Adkins tested dishes like the bistro herbed chicken and the pork carnitas wrap by first running them as specials at the group’s other restaurants.

Mixologist Logan Skidmore consulted on the restaurant’s list of nine cocktails, which includes a French 76 (like a French 75, except with vodka—in this case, rosemary vodka—instead of gin), and an Old Fashioned with chocolate bitters. Most of the 22 wines on the list are available by the glass; beers on draft include local offerings like Loose Cannon Hop3 IPA, made in Baltimore, as well as more far-flung options such as the West Coast (read: hoppy) IPA from Green Flash in San Diego.

William Jeffrey’s is currently open for lunch and dinner, with plans to expand to weekend brunch later this winter. A limited late-night menu is offered from 10 PM to close Sunday through Wednesday, and 11 PM to close Thursday through Saturday. A daily happy hour from 3 to 7 PM features drink discounts: $2.50 Miller Lights, $3 micros, and $5 house red and white wines.

William Jeffrey’s Tavern. 2301 Columbia Pike, Arlington; 703-746-6333; williamjeffreystavern.com. Open daily from 11 AM to 2 AM.