Clarendon was once home to a "Little Saigon" of Vietnamese restaurants and a number of neighborhood dives, all of which have been swept away by high-end restaurants and new office buildings.
Next, it seems, will be Jay's Saloon and Grille, one of Arlington's last true neighborhood bars. Its lease won't be renewed to make way for development.
So before that happens, let's celebrate the place's many old-school charms: the dog-friendly, artificial turf-covered front porch, the banners on the walls for the Kansas City Chiefs and Arkansas Tech (home of the Wonder Boys!), a sign that reads "My two best friends are Charlie and Jack Daniels" and a Friday night DJ who uses cassette tapes.
The folks at Jay's are more likely to be in their 40s or 50s than in their 20s, unlike the trendy spots down the block. Happy hour, which runs from 4 until 7 on weeknights, draws a mix of repairmen's uniforms, Redskins polo shirts and suits for $2 frosted mugs of domestic draft beer (i.e. Bud or Coors Light), $2.50 domestic bottles and $3.50 glasses of house wine poured straight out of a jug. Bringing friends? Get an $8 pitcher.
Jay's is the kind of well-worn, no-pretense spot that so many new bars wish to capture the spirit of, but make sure you get a taste of an original while you can.
-- Fritz Hahn