Photos by Clarissa Villondo, Words by Kaylee Dugan
Best if: you love tiny food and big groups. Lunch hours and a solid happy hour would make this place even better.
If you find yourself stranded in Virginia with a handful of your closest friends, I can’t imagine a better place go then Pamplona. Tucked away in a boring little strip mall right by the Clarendon Metro station, Pamplona’s stark and minimal outside hides a beautiful little jewel of a restaurant.
Named after the town in Spain where the running of the bulls is held, Pamplona takes the old school Spanish style and runs wild. Like Social Restaurant Group’s other restaurants (Bonfire, Provision No. 14, and The Prospect) Pamplona is meticulously designed. Primary colors are in full force, as are a variety of textures like sumptuous velvet, rough wood, and smooth ceramic. David Anthony Chenault Interior Design haven’t skimped on a single detail, from the collages of bullfighters to the little bull heads that serve as purse hooks, the theme is in full force.
And it makes for a beautifully chaotic place to have a meal. The menu, which focuses on pintxos and sangria, means it’s a fantastic spot to come with a variety friends, and the restaurant is more than suited to deal with groups. There are two full bars, a number of smaller tables, booths that could easily fit six plus and a communal sized table that could comfortably accommodate 19.
I don’t find myself in Virginia very often, but I can easily see myself spending a couple hours here drinking frozen sangria and eating serrano ham. And that’s the point. The folks at Pamplona aren’t interested in pushing people out the door. It really does seem like they want you to linger and get comfortable. They’re even plan on bringing in some DJ’s during the weekend just in case you’ve had enough frosé (yes they will have frosé) to forget how bad you are at dancing.
What I’m saying is, if someone put a gun to my head and made me hangout in Virginia, I’d choose Pamplona.
Pamplona is located at 3100 Clarendon Blvd, Arlington, VA and opens tomorrow, January 11. The dining room is open from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Sunday – Wednesday, and stays open until 10:30 p.m. Thursday – Friday. The bars are open 4:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. Sunday – Wednesday and stay open until 1:30 a.m. Thursday – Saturday. The restaurant is closed Mondays.