May 3, 2019
[posted by: Hannah]
Did someone say happy hour? I’m already on my way . . .
Evan and I have mastered the art of happy hour. You already know that we love getting a good deal, not over-eating and having a cold drank at the end of a long week. You could say that the Happy Hour was made for us. I think it’s safe to say that we’ve taken advantage of nearly every happy hour special on this side of Arlington Blvd. Our approach? All apps for dinner.
I want to go into a little more detail with this “apps for dinner” thing. We love tapas & small plates. We think it’s genius. Why would we order a ginormous portion of one thing for like $30, when we could eat multiple more-delicious options that also happen to be on happy hour special?! One of our core values is not overeating or over-ordering at restaurants because 1) money and 2) room for dessert. We also always share everything we eat. Appetizers, tapas, small plates, or whatever you call them are a perfect solution to our eyes-bigger-than-our-stomachs/wallet problem. And we even sometimes have room for dessert after. So, happy hour, we really love ya.
One more thing I should note: all the pricing is based on us ordering ONE drink a piece and, again, sharing all of our food. We rarely leave a restaurant feeling like we need to eat anything else, and for us, that’s 2-3 small plates split between us with drinks.
We chose our 6 favorite places based on variety of food, drink and price. These really are our favorite places, although we definitely disagree on the order. So, in no particular order: the 6 Best Happy Hour Spots in Arlington, VA!
No. 1. SER
Wow, this one was a sleeper! SER, a delightful Spanish tapas restaurant, moved into 1110 N. Glebe Rd. back when Evan lived just a block away. It’s at the bottom of an office building, and we honestly didn’t think much of it and never bothered going inside. For years we didn’t check it out. It wasn’t until we returned from a trip to Spain and were craving authentic Spanish tapas that we realized the potential of SER!
SER feels and taste very authentic. They have a bunch of classic tapas which are $7 each at happy hour, and we like to order 4 to split, which is generally just the right amount of food for the two of us! It’s funny how small plates seem like they’re not going to be enough food, and before we know it, we’re full. I feel so accomplished when I have room for dessert (or more sangria) and we usually nail it at SER!
RECOMMENDED DRINK ORDER: Pitcher of Cava Sangria
RECOMMENDED TAPAS: Papas Bravas, Pan Catalan & Piquillos Rellenos
WE USUALLY SPEND: $45 total
No. 2. Lyon Hall
So gotta be honest and say up that until recently, the only two things we knew about Lyon Hall were that our friends (now happily married) went on their first date here, and also that the bathrooms were kind of weird (for reasons that were never clearly defined). We resisted having date nights here because Evan deemed it “pretty expensive,” however almost ALL of the restaurants were “pretty expensive” when we first moved to Arlington and hadn’t yet learned the power of HAPPY HOUR and sharing our food!
So, last fall, we mounted 2 Birds and scooted on down to Clarendon for Lyon Hall’s happy hour. As our friend, Sauce, would say: wowie woo! We were so impressed and delighted by their selection of yummy apps that we hardly could choose! It was a mild October evening, and we sat outside on the patio which was so pleasant. Of the list, this is by far the most recent addition and it absolutely will stay on the list for the foreseeable future!
RECOMMENDED DRINK ORDER: The SFJ (I still have major regrets of not ordering it, it’s delicious)
RECOMMENDED FOOD: Bavarian Pretzels, Bar Burger, Mussels (if you love ‘em!)
WE USUALLY SPEND: $35
No. 3. Don Tito
Not one, but TWO of the past couples I have photographed met at Don Tito. And a third met at the restaurant next door! It was kind of a running joke for us that Don Tito was the trendy, young, fresh-college-grad place to go (we were certainly too sophisticated for it). But we finally got off of our freakin high horse and realized they have a SA-MANGIN’ rooftop bar and happy hour about two years ago. We’ve been giving the thumbs-up ever since!
So it’s got to be said that the rooftop bar is a huge plus for this place. The food is great, but the vibes are also a huge contributor. At the end of a long work day, I like to put on some pants, leave my house and just RELAX with a warm breeze and great view, am I right?? I said I AM RIGHT?
But back to the food, this place has a very trendy and Tex-Mex vibe. They have a bunch of fun taco options that we love which are on the happy hour menu. They also have a killer $5 margarita, 10/10 would recommend! Every day of the week has different drink specials AND their happy hour goes until 8PM?! These are my people!
In conclusion, I think it’s clear that Evan and I would prob have met here if we didn’t first meet at college.
RECOMMENDED DRINK ORDER: $5 Margarita!
RECOMMENDED FOOD: Tacos!
WE USUALLY SPEND: $40
No. 4. Grand Cru Wine Bar & Bistro
AKA the HIDDEN GEM OF BALLSTON. I’m pretty sure every one of my friends and most of my clients have either heard me rave about this place OR have been coerced into going here with me for happy hour. This place is just a few blocks from our home, which is sooo dangerous! I have even been known to go here alone, with my laptop as my date, and work on their patio whilst sipping a cool Sauvignon Blanc. Perks of being your own boss!
Grand Cru first came into my life when I was meeting a couple at the adjacent coffee shop, Republik Coffee Bar (which I frequent so often that I once mistakenly had mail sent here). The bride had accidentally side-swiped someone while parking and said something along the lines of: “forget coffee, I need a drink! Let’s go to THERE!” The rest is history, folks!
It’s hard to say what, exactly, I love most about GCWB&B. Let’s start with their absolutely delightful patio. Nestled in an outdoor atrium that somehow keeps out most of the loud street noise, I feel like I’m at a quaint European cafe every time I go to Grand Cru. They have a great list of $5 glasses at happy hour. We love getting a cheese board and sipping slowly on the patio on warmer nights during the year. It’s actually one of my very favorite things in the world! They have a super warm, friendly staff and you cannot go wrong ordering anything off the menu! You guys, I even took my Bible study here one week. It would prob be #1 on this list if I were to choose a #1 and it will be one of the hardest things to say goodbye to if we ever move!
RECOMMENDED DRINK ORDER: $5 glass o’ wine! My favorite is the Sauv Blanc!
RECOMMENDED FOOD: Cheese board
WE USUALLY SPEND: $25
No. 5. CIRCA
Am I supposed to capitalize the whole word? Is that a thing?
I already have a feeling that most of you have been here. And it’s no wonder why! Circa has several locations throughout the D.C./NoVA region and it’s a favorite happy hour spot for a lot of metro-riding commuters. I first went to Circa because a group of my creative entrepreneur friends wanted to get together, but one of them was working a shift at Circa so we figured why not hang out with her at work?! It was so fun and we got to tip someone we actually liked at the end of the night! I took Ev back for a date shortly thereafter!
Circa is very D.C., as in the regular menu is pretty overpriced. I think that’s why we weren’t that interested at first. However, they do have a bunch of fun small plates, some of which are discounted at happy hour. I would definitely recommend sticking to small plates & flatbreads here at happy hour, as the entrees are nothing too special, especially for the $$.
Circa is fun because it’s right in the center of Clarendon and you feel like you’re doing the Arlington thing when you’re here. It’s a great place to suggest when you’re meeting friends, and we really love every single one of the small plate options. Is it my very favorite on the list? Probably not. But it still made the list, guys. You should prob check it out before you move back to your hometown.
RECOMMENDED DRINK ORDER: House Wine! Red or White!
RECOMMEND FOOD: Brussels + Bleu
WE USUALLY SPEND: $45
No. 6. Northside Social
Last but not least (except when it’s sooo busy), is NoSo. Maybe you’re new around here and didn’t realize that Northside Social was more than just a coffee shop. Well I’ve got news for you, Jessica. NoSo has a fantastic happy hour!
I don’t think I’ve ever been to Northside Social without seeing someone I know. I used to meet clients here all the time until I realized how awk it is when you get interrupted by three friends stopping to say hi. I mean at least it makes me look popular? So now, we reserve our visits to NoSo for personal time only, and it’s a blast!
A $5 glass of wine is just about as good of a deal as it gets in Arlington, and I’ll take it! Northside Social is in the center of North Arlington and has a lively patio with string lights and long picnic table seating. They also have a great upstairs space in the winter (but come early or you might not get a table!). This is a classic Arlington hang-out and you’ve got to check it out at least once during your first year here! Ok, Chad?!
Unlike the other places, we don’t typically order food at Northside Social. If we do, it’s a cheese board, not our main dinner. We’ve stopped here after an early dinner or before a late one, and it’s a great option when we need to get out of the house but don’t want to go out for dinner!
RECOMMENDED DRINK ORDER: Literally any wine on the happy hour special!
RECOMMEND FOOD: Cheese board!
WE USUALLY SPEND: $25