Editor’s Note on COVID-19 Closure: Please note, this review was written pre-coronavirus closure. As of press time, Salt’s dining room and kitchen remained closed per state government orders. The restaurant is offering takeout cocktails. Because state law requires the purchase of food to order takeout cocktails, diners can order food and pick up their cocktails at Open Road in Arlington. Please check the restaurant’s website for more information and the latest updates.
Finding Salt can be a little tricky. Its address is listed on Wilson Boulevard, but the entrance is actually around the corner on North Lynn Street, just below its sister establishment, Open Road. There’s a sign outside, but inside there’s nothing but unmarked wooden doors and an elevator. Never fear, both lead down to Salt, an underground haven blending the aesthetics of a swank speak-easy of the 1920s with a snazzy 1970s-style finished basement. The buzzy boîte is the latest venture from Metropolitan Hospitality Group, which owns the restaurant upstairs, as well as the original location in Merrifield, El Bebe in DC’s Navy Yard, Trio Grill in Falls Church and several Circa bistros.
Dimly lit with a dusky sensibility, Salt is divided in half: a bar with high-top tables on one side, a small carpeted dining room populated with booths, banquettes and framed landscape photos on the other. The crowd is a mix: friends and colleagues catching up, Tinder dates and singles on the prowl. Half-dressy servers in black vests, white shirts, ties and jeans dart about with smart pads strapped to their wrists to take orders on.
Cocktails are divided between classic-esque—a barrel-aged maple Old-Fashioned cooled down with a giant ice cube imprinted with Salt’s logo is a standout—and more experimental choices, such as the rye-powered Date Night, which successfully blends the flavors of pine, pomegranate, brioche and date.
The menu is relatively short and to the point, focusing on a globe-trotting array of crowd pleasers (though mostly devoid of options for plant-based eaters). Highlights include silky house-made burrata accompanied by sticky fig marmalade and toasted country bread, steamed bao buns featuring hoisin-accented duck confit and a super juicy wagyu burger stacked with caramelized onions, melted Gruyere and truffled aioli. Just the kind of stuff you want to eat while you’re drinking. By the time you leave, you’ll be more than happy that you found Salt.
Blending the aesthetics of a swank speak-easy and a snazzy 1970s-style finished basement, the subterranean sipper club is great for dates and catch-ups, boasting world-hopping cuisine as well-executed as the cocktails.
House-made burrata accompanied by sticky fig marmalade and toasted country bread; duck-packed bao buns; wagyu burger stacked with luxe toppings // 1201 Wilson Blvd., Suite G113, Arlington; Open for dinner Tuesday-Sunday; Starters: $12-$28; Entrees: $16-$55