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New rooftop alert: Buena Vida Social Club opens next week

The third floor respite completes the multi-concept Mexican hub in Clarendon.

Photo courtesy of Buena Vida Social Club

Let’s start from the bottom.

The first floor of Ivan Iricanin’s three-floor La Esquina de Clarendon is TTT Mexican Diner, a casual spot for tacos and tortas, flautas and quesadillas. The second floor is Buena Vida, an upscale restaurant with rabbit barbacoa, lamb birria and duck carnita enchiladas.

At the top, and opening next week: Buena Vida Social Club, a rooftop bar and restaurant with a seaside Acapulco, Mexico vibe.

The way owner Iricanin describes the spot is like one of those once-ubiquitous, auto-populated word clouds: “summer,” “cool drinks,” “sparkles,” “relax,” “chill,” “oasis.” It encompasses all of the buzz words of a happy hour high up in the sky. The 4,000-square-foot space can pack as many as 250 people, and for the crowds there is a full kitchen (a third of the roof is covered), two full bars, bar seating, booths and a lounge section with a custom bench that’s about 4 feet wide and 30 feet long and is just the spot, says Iricanin, where, with drink in hand, “you can lay down.”

The menu is designed for feeding lots of friends with party platters for up to 12 people and DIY tacos. There will also be empanadas (corn, beef), tostadas (carrot, beef tartar) and sliders (beet root, smoked fish). Like the other concepts in the building, this menu was designed by Mexico City’s Gerardo Vázquez Lugo. The chef was most recently here a month ago tasting dishes.

Drinks split the difference between craft and bartenders needing to sling cocktails fast enough for when the line is three-deep.  Iricanin, also the owner of neighbor Ambar, whose all-you-can-eat Balkan small plates restaurant serves as many as 2,400 dishes in a five-hour stretch of service, understands the complexities of time management and staff training. He hopes to get a cocktail in a guest’s hands in under three minutes, five tops. The tropical sips include margaritas in flavors like grilled peach-basil, mango-Madagascar vanilla and tamarind. There’s also a slate of mojitos, sangrias and spritzes.

Opening before the intolerable steamy days of summer, Buena Vida Social Club will be a respite from the busy city below. Says Iricanin, “I’m trying to make something that doesn’t exist in Arlington.” // Buena Vida Social Club: 2900 Wilson Blvd., Arlington

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