The Washington Post

Street Smart — What to do in Clarendon


Few traces of “Little Saigon” remain in Clarendon — that neighborhood’s moniker after the Vietnam War when Vietnamese immigrants settled there. In the past decade and a half, Clarendon has seen a steady influx of hip eateries, high-rise condo buildings and happy 20-somethings in search of organic quinoa.


The intricate details of the Clarendon Ballroom's pressed-tin ceiling have been easier to view since the venue underwent a significant renovation a decade ago. (Photo by Amy Rogers Nazarov/For The Washington Post)

Clarendon Ballroom
3185 Wilson Blvd. 

A favored nighttime haunt among Arlington’s young and restless, the meeting-space-cum-nightclub was built to be a Woolworth’s. These days, the art deco building is host several times a week to corporate events or bat mitzvahs. But when the roof deck is open and the pace of the flirting is quickened by liquid courage, the Ballroom is the site of many budding romances among the nonprofit staffers and lobbyists of the decades to come.



In addition to "boules" like these, LeoNora Bakery bakes and sells about a thousand baguettes a week. Some gluten-free items are available via special order. (Photo by Amy Rogers Nazarov/For The Washington Post)

LeoNora Gourmet Bakery
1108 N. Irving St

After earning a master’s degree in international business and working as a marketing executive, owner Carolina Garcia, 30, chucked it all to apprentice under Parisian baker Arnaud Delmontel. The move was professional and personal: “When I arrived, I was so frustrated with the bread in D.C.” She opened the shop in 2011, naming it for her mother and aunt who taught her to bake. The baking for the day’s pain au chocolat or salted-caramel vanilla cakes begins at 4 a.m.



Boccato Gelato and Espresso in Arlington: flavors include basil pineapple, pistachio and salted caramel. (Photo by Amy Rogers Nazarov/For The Washington Post)

Boccato Gelato & Espresso
2719 Wilson Blvd.

Owner Cristian Velasco has phased in a few of his warm-weather flavors, including pineapple basil. While about 200 flavors rotate annually, he keeps 24 in the case at any given time. A native of Lima, Peru, Velasco, 51, cops to a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in his home freezer, but says gelato “has a romance associated with it. You have to go out of your way to find it.”


Doc Friedman stands at the back of the Public Shoe Store. "A lot of people are wearing shoes that are too narrow for their feet," he contends. (Photo by Amy Rogers Nazarov/For The Washington Post)

Public Shoe Store
3137 Wilson Blvd.

Back in 1938, Russian emigre Samuel “Big Sam” Friedman opened at 3154 Wilson Blvd. this footwear store, now at 3137 Wilson. His son, 80-year-old Sholom “Doc” Friedman, trained as a podiatrist at his father’s urging and still fits customers six days a week. Some of his middle-aged customers were once tykes perched in the child-size turquoise leather seats, still in use.



IOTA's Stephen Negrey (who, along with sister Jane Negrey Inge, co-owns the bar and live-music venue) pulls a beer for a patron. The siblings mark the club's 20th anniversary this year. (Photo by Amy Rogers Nazarov/For The Washington Post)

2832 Wilson Blvd.
shows: 703-522-8340
food: 703-522-2354

Iota is enjoying its 20th year. Local musician Michael Dunkley recalls a night at the club when Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary, “showed up after their show at Wolf Trap and performed with Last Train Home,” the D.C.-born roots-rock outfit that formed in DC in the late ’90s and is now based in Nashville. “Wow, wow and double wow.”


For more areas to explore, visit

For stories, features such as Date Lab, Gene Weingarten and more, visit WP Magazine.

Follow the Magazine on Twitter.

Like us on Facebook.

E-mail us at




Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read
Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Sleep advice you won't find in baby books
In defense of dads
Scenes from Brazil's Carajás Railway
Play Videos
For good coffee, sniff, slurp and spit
How to keep your child safe in the water
How your online data can get hijacked
Play Videos
How to avoid harmful chemicals in school supplies
Full disclosure: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 ghoul
How much can one woman eat?
Play Videos
What you need to know about Legionnaires' disease
How to get organized for back to school
Pandas, from birth to milk to mom
Next Story
Stephanie Merry · May 1, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.