Wilson Hardware is not new to the Clarendon scene, but it did just undergo $1 million glow-up, shining the spotlight on this three-level hardware store-turned-restaurant again. The space originally opened in 2017, with the goal of bringing a trendy downtown DC experience to Arlington. With its industrial-style architecture, neon lighting, eye-catching papier-mâché mural, and lengthy bar, this is no ordinary restaurant.
According to Faris Ghareeb, one of the four owners, during the two-month renovation period, the main dining room remained open, while behind the scenes, the newly-expanded Instagram-worthy rooftop bar doubled in size and received a new retractable roof, making it a year-round, rain-or-shine operation. (Electric heaters will soon be added, as well.) The chic half indoor-half outdoor “garden lounge” area was also overhauled with new décor, furniture, and lighting.
“The goal was to offer different experiences within the same venue; we have the main dining room where it’s high energy, louder, and a more dynamic environment, and then the garden lounge space is quieter — you can have a more intimate meal or date and focus on conversation,” says Ghareeb.
The renovation didn’t just impact the physical space; “we also overhauled the menu, adding a lot of shareable apps and entrees,” notes Ghareeb. The most popular items have been the garlic shrimp skillet, charred eggplant appetizer, and truffle hanger steak, he says.
A major draw of Wilson Hardware’s menu is the variety; while some dishes fall into the more casual, bar food category, others have a more upscale feel. From Tuna Poke Nachos (a bit skimpy on the tuna, but appreciate the clever use of wontons as chips) and Bacon Four Cheese Mac (a happy marriage of Asiago, Gouda, Parmesan, and cheddar, but arrived to the table only lukewarm), to the Signature Short Rib Mash (a generous portion of pre-shredded short ribs served over mashed potatoes) and chocolate hazelnut cake (somehow rich yet light), there is something for everyone — and every occasion — on this menu.
The most significant menu update resulting from the recent renovation is the new happy hour menu. At $29 per person, this two-hour “all you can eat shareables” option is a way to entice the happy hour crowds back, “because that was one of the biggest things we lost during COVID,” says Ghareeb.
So far, Ghareeb and the Wilson Hardware team is pleased with the results of the renovation; they’re already seeing an increase in private event bookings, and they’re now able to accommodate more rooftop reservations. “Even though we had a great first five years, you have to keep improving and pushing the envelope,” he says.
Though there may be some minor kinks to work through in the kitchen, we’re excited to see this updated menu and trendy renovation bring renewed attention to this unique, versatile Clarendon space.
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