We were surprised when Arlington Rooftop Bar & Grill opened above Delhi Dhaba last winter: Why would anyone head to a nightspot with the word “rooftop” in the name in December, especially if the roof wouldn’t be ready until spring? But the huge outdoor space has been worth the wait. A tiny bar houses a dozen taps, a couple of TVs and two bartenders who efficiently serve the waiting crowds. (I have to give bonus points for having a rotating Dogfish Head beer on draft; this is one of the few rooftops with a halfway-decent beer selection.) The space contains a good mix of open standing room and tables and chairs.
The scene: Walk though the glass front doors and take the unmarked stairwell one flight up to the bar room, where two-story high, floor-to-ceiling windows look out over Wilson Boulevard. A richly carved 40-foot-long bar adds a curious sense of grandeur to the room, which otherwise is dominated by dozens of TVs facing every angle. The combination of the orange-and-brown color scheme, columns covered with mosaic tiles and large semi-circular booths feels somewhat chaotic, especially when loud music plays through the speakers after dinner. Upstairs, the secluded mezzanine dining room has its own fireplace.
In your glass: Twenty-eight wines are available by the glass and bottle, a dozen beers are on tap and 21 more show up on the bottle list, although a fair number of those are variations on Corona/Corona Light and Budweiser/Bud Light. Seasonal Dogfish Head and Sam Adams ales show up alongside Bell's, Guinness and Stella. There are some treats on the wine list, including the Cabernet Franc Reserve from Virginia's Barboursville vineyard, and the Morgan Cotes du Crow's in California.
On your plate: The wide-ranging menu -- everything from ostrich salad and grilled filet mignon to fried calamari and fish and chips -- is prepared by Aldrin Asencio, whose resume includes fine-dining destination 2941. The bartenders keep recommending the burgers, and so far they've been right. The winner is the Baja burger, which comes with guac, poblano peppers, jack cheese and bacon.
Price points: Beers are $5 to $6, and wines go from $6 to $16; most glasses cost less than $10. Appetizers and salads range from $6 to $10 if you avoid mussels, clams or scallops. Burgers are mostly $10.
Need to know: Happy hour runs from 3 to 7 daily.
-- Fritz Hahn (Updated September 2011)