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Aug 30, 2009 08:05 PM

Arlington: Ray's, Guajillo, The Liberty Tavern

We've been here over the weekend dropping our daughter off at college so we took the opportunity to explore some of Arlington's restaurants.

We've been to the new Ray's the Steaks before but went again when a call at 2:30 the day of our arrival (a Thursday) scored a table at 7:30. As always, a solid meal with spectacular smoked bacon-sauerkraut appetizer and perfectly executed steaks. Wine service was great as well as we let Mark suggest wines based on our party's preferences and they neither disappointed nor broke the bank. Remains a must visit.

We scoured chowhound for a mexican place and went to Guajillo Grill (1727 Wilson Blvd.). Opted for an outdoor table where we could enjoy the breeze and watch the masses crowing Ray's Hellburger next door. Very friendly service, outstanding marguertias. Homemade salsa with chips had just the right amount of spice; fried plantain appetizer with sour cream was perfectly done although the con queso was a little less warm than it should have been. The tacos (chicken, flounder, beef) were all subtle combinations - my only complaint was that the chicken was a little overcooked and the sauce with the flounder could have used a tiny bit more spice. Chicken quesadilla was enormous but fantastic; shrimp fajitas the same. We were too stuffed to try the desserts but they should be good if the plantains were any indication.

Tonight we ventured further up Wilson Blvd. to The Liberty Tavern. As others have mentioned, the bar is quite loud - the dining room upstairs is as well but it's manageable. Service and food were spectacular. We were told it was the last night of Restaurant Week and that the entire menu was included for $35pp (app-main-dessert). The grilled octopus and clams with grapefruit, fennel, sugar snap salad with lemon-coriander vinaigrette was an unbelievable combination of flavors. Lobster fettucine carbonara was a nice twist on an old standard. Pork chop with ham hock jus, chantarelles, and pepper mostarda was well executed, but the accompanying corn/potato hash in cream sauce was fabulous. Cheeseburger sliders with spectacular herbed french fries were perfect for our nine year old. Desserts were also great, including warm profiteroles and american farmstead cheeses. French press coffee was better than most. Wines by the glass matched dinner well and the wine list was interesting - both were well-priced.

We will definitely visit all three again. Great food at great prices with good, friendly service.

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  1. Visited the Liberty Tavern again last month and took 4 college students (two of my daughters and two of their friends). Food was again excellent - I had the grilled octopus salad again and it had been changed a bit but was still spectacular. One in our party had one of the pizzas and it was also very tasty. All our meals were well-executed, very flavorful, and the service was attentive. Once again a good selection of wines by the glass. The price was very reasonable considering we all had appetizers and desserts. Definitely a place I'll visit whenever I am in the area.

    The Liberty Tavern
    3195 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22201

    3 Replies
    1. re: L84Dinner

      Liberty Tavern is one of my favorite places in the area. The pastas are generally winners, too. A few of them have half portions that are a nice serving size.
      Next time you are treating your college students, try Eventide. It is getting a lot of national press and has some great options. It is a little more adventurous than Liberty but still has some great options for picky eaters. I also really like the brunch options at Boulevard Woodgrill. Check it out!

      The Liberty Tavern
      3195 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22201

      1. re: daves_32

        Thanks for the recs - will definitely try.

      2. re: L84Dinner

        I agree- I went with a friend for drinks and dinner; had a very, very solid Manhattan, which came with a warning (appreciated!) that they were out of the Luxardo cherries, and that this was a normal maraschino, which I probably wouldn't have even noticed. The market greens were heaped and delicious, and so was the basic Tavern greens salad. The pizza, the Vermont, was liberally coated with the promised cheddar, prosciutto, apples, sage and caramelized onions, though the crust itself tastes more like flatbread rather than a true pizza dough. Not really a complaint, as it was delicious, but we both thought it was a different kind of beast. The Red Velvet cheesecake was ridiculous, wacky, and also totally delicious. I'd definitely take the trek out to NoVA again just for that.

        The Liberty Tavern
        3195 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22201

      3. yep, yep, had dinner here sunday night, an excellent filet and some amazing scallops.

        1. I hate the pizzas here. The crust is crunchy like fried dough. I had a prosciutto pizza that dripped orange grease. Yup, shitty cheese and shitty meat. I go every few years to remind myself that I still don't like it.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Worldwide Diner

            Did anyone say "pizza?" Where do you hate the pizzas? Ray's? Guajillo? Liberty Tavern? Pizza Hut?

            1. re: MikeR

              Liberty Tavern. Sorry for not spelling it out.