For those of you that know me, the fact that I am starting my reviews with my beloved local beach shack is probably no surprise. Part of me doesn’t want to let others into the relatively well kept secret that is Clare and Don’s, but that would be selfish and I just have to explain why this laid back, dog friendly diner-cum-cocktail bar has stolen my heart.
It is true to say that like any other beach bar, Clare and Don’s comes into its own once the weather starts to rise into the 80’s. But even in winter, though it may be 50 miles from the nearest sea shore the owners Clare and Don have done a nice job of keeping the theme warm. There are heaters on the covered patio for those brave of heart and furry of paw or if you prefer cozying up indoors there’s no shortage of options. Sidle up to the authentic wooden bar adorned with beach signs and surf boards or pull up a chair at one of the many rustic dining tables. Enjoy an array of delicious, albeit not especially ‘healthy’ menu items, which include a wide range of quirky seafood and vegetarian appetizers. There’s also an impressive list of hearty salads, burgers and mains to keep most people happy. My favorites include the perfectly golden fried, coconut shrimp, a carefully crafted crab cake appetizer and the supremely delicious Shrimp ‘N’ Grits – a cheesy, fragrant entree that is definitely not for those on a diet… Vegetarians can rejoice too as almost everything on the menu has a veggie alternative – even Tofu ‘N’ Grits. I’ve tried it and it’s GOOD!
So I’ve talked about the food, now let’s get down to the real business here – the cocktails. They’re well made, well priced and will get you well on your way to, well – as long as you’re not driving – somewhere else. From Mai Tais to Painkillers, frozen or on the rocks, the bar here has got you covered.
The real beauty of this tiny bar, hidden in the back of a parking lot in Falls Church, is its ability to transport you from the middle of suburban Virginia to a beach somewhere in the Keys… When the weather turns hot, Clare and Don’s becomes the buzzing heart of this small community. Relaxed friendly service, regular live music on the outdoor stage, a tiki bar on the patio and Pina Coladas that would make Jimmy Buffet blush – it’s what keeps me and everyone else coming back. If you haven’t been – go soon, just don’t tell everyone…
Overall Rating: 9/10