Ambar restaurateur Ivan Iricanin started from the ground up when debuting La Esquina de Clarendon, his tri-concept Mexican spot that’s complete as of today. The project started with all-day cafe TTT Mexican Diner on the first floor followed by the more upscale Buena Vida restaurant above. Buena Vida Social Club, a massive rooftop bar and lounge, opens today with tropical spritzes, DIY tacos, and cracked-to-order coconuts filled with your choice of rum, vodka, or tequila.
The 150-seat, plant-filled space is partially set with lounge furniture as well as tables for al fresco dining. Mexico City-based chef Gerardo Vázquez Lugo of the lauded Nicos is behind the menu on all three floors. Dishes on the roof are casual and drink-friendly, including empanadas, tostadas, burritos, burgers, and molletes (open-faced sandwiches) topped with chorizo or crab gratin and pickled chilies. A grill turns out skewers or marinated chicken, fish, shrimp, veggies, and steak for assembling your own tacos with homemade tortillas, salsas, and guacamole. Eventually, the kitchen plans to add more seafood to the menu for an Acapulco vibe as well as a rooftop weekend brunch buffet.
Bar consultant Esteban Ordonez is behind the large menu of beach-y drinks. Patrons can pick between several styles of margaritas, sangrias, and fresh fruit spritzes such as a tropical mix of mango, aged rum, sparkling wine, and citrus. The team recently added more Mexican wines to the list as well as the usual beer suspects (Modelo, Pacifico et al). As for entertainment, Iricanin has permits in for live music and DJs.
“You could be in Miami—we want you to forget where you are,” says Iricanin.
La Esquina de Clarendon. 2900 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-888-1259