Food

A Massive Mexican Rooftop Bar Opens in Clarendon With DIY Tacos and Booze-Filled Coconuts

Buena Vida Social Club brings the beach to Arlington.

Sip from a rum-filled coconut at Buena Vida Social Club, a huge new rooftop in Clarendon. Photography by Evy Mages

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. 

Buena Vida Social Club rooftop bar restaurant Clarendon outdoor rooftop dining drinking.
Umbrellas and dry-mist fans keep things cool in hot weather.
Buena Vida Social Club rooftop bar restaurant Clarendon outdoor rooftop dining drinking.
Guests can wrap their own tacos with grilled meats, salsas, and homemade tortillas.

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. 

Buena Vida Social Club rooftop bar restaurant Clarendon outdoor rooftop dining drinking.
The 150-seat space mixes covered and open-air sections.
Buena Vida Social Club rooftop bar restaurant Clarendon outdoor rooftop dining drinking.
A large cocktail menu includes several styles of margaritas, sangrias, and spritzes.

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

Buena Vida Social Club rooftop bar restaurant Clarendon outdoor rooftop dining drinking.
Look for live music or DJs on weekends.
Buena Vida Social Club rooftop bar restaurant Clarendon outdoor rooftop dining drinking.
A casual food menu includes molletes (open-faced sandwiches) like these topped with chorizo and beans.

Get Our “Brunches This Weekend” Newsletter

The best breakfasts and brunches to try every weekend, plus our most popular food stories of the week.

Or, see all of our newsletters. By signing up, you agree to our terms.
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.