Things to Do

Best of Wilson Boulevard: Nightlife

Casual watering holes, late-night dance parties, live music — here are ten fun reasons to head to Arlington after dark

Clarendon’s Lyon Hall is a popular new spot for drinks and brasserie food. Photograph by Chris Leaman.

The hipster haven Galaxy Hut has been drawing crowds to Clarendon for nearly two decades. It has 20 beers on tap and another 25 bottled microbrews. There are vintage arcade games such as Ms. Pac Man and pinball plus live music Sunday and Monday ($5 cover). The vegetarian-friendly menu boasts some of the best tater tots in town.

From the group that owns DC’s Chi-Cha Lounge and Maté, Guarapo is a trendy Latin lounge popular for its craft cocktails and live music. It’s also the only bar along Wilson Boulevard where you can smoke a hookah.

The sports bar Spider Kelly’s reopened this spring after a 2½-month renovation that quadrupled its size. The revamped space has 31 flat-screen TVs, three pool tables, four shuffleboard tables, three dartboards, and arcade games including Big Buck Hunter, Golden Tee, and Pop-a-Shot basketball. A notch above standard sports-bar fare, the menu offers comfort-food classics such as mac and cheese and garlic-rosemary fries.

Thursday is Mug Night at Whitlow’s on Wilson — buy a mug for $5 and get $1.50 refills of Yuengling, Flying Dog Old Scratch Amber Lager, Blue Moon, or Miller Lite until 9. Other weekly specials at the popular hangout include half-price burgers on Mondays, taco deals on Tuesdays, and half-price bottles of wine on Wednesdays.

The intimate Iota Club & Café is one of Northern Virginia’s premier spots to hear live music. Rub shoulders with the music world’s next big thing—recent acts have included folk-rock artist Richard Buckner and Argentine singer/songwriter Federico Aubele—or play the part yourself at Wednesday’s open-mike night. The cover is usually less than $15.

The Ballston hot spot CarPool is a gamer’s paradise with 33 flat-screen TVs, ten pool tables, four shuffleboard tables, and seven dartboards. The auto-themed space is popular with football watchers, particularly Penn State and Steelers fans.

Break out the high heels if you’re heading to Eleventh Street Lounge, where the candlelit ground floor is a see-and-be-seen scene. A menu of trendy cocktails includes more than 20 options—from a chocolate-pear martini to the grapefruit-spiked Clarendon Cosmo. On weekends, the basement hosts late-night DJ dance parties.

At Ireland’s Four Courts, a neighborhood favorite, Monday trivia night packs the house. The kitchen serves up classic Irish dishes such as shepherd’s pie and corned beef and cabbage. The 11 beers on tap include Kilkenny and Guinness.

Open since April, Lyon Hall — decorated with subway tile, globe lights, and lots of dark wood—is a casual place for house-made sausages and beer flights. A sign that the place is serious about beer: Each of the 20 drafts comes in its own unique glass. Oenophiles will appreciate the extensive wine list, which skews European and offers 18 pours by the glass.

Clarendon Ballroom draws crowds of young professionals for Top 40 and pop dance parties every Friday night as well as for the occasional live band. In warm weather, the large rooftop patio is often packed.

This article first appeared in the November 2010 issue of The Washingtonian.  

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