10/04/2012 11:16:00 AM

Fuego Fires Up in Clarendon

100 tequilas line Fuego's bar wall
The Passion Food Hospitality talents (Acadiana, Burger Tap & Shake, Ceiba, DC Coast,District Commons, Passion Fish) crossed the Potomac River into trendy Clarendon, VA, to open Fuego Cocina y Tequileria, their first modern Mexican venue. The high-gloss setting (formerly Harry’s Tap Room), debuted last night, serving small plates in the spacious ground-floor lounge and dinners upstairs. While there’s no shortage of eateries in its zip code, its designer digs, ambitious kitchen and over 100 tequilas bring something new to the mix.

The Look: A 50-ft. wraparound bar, backed by shelves lined with tequila, dominates the bright, colorful downstairs lounge. Enormous windows, pale wood, red tiles and cheery murals add to its upbeat vibe. Upstairs, earth tones, a fireplace and an open kitchen add to the relaxed, modern-rustic ambiance.

The Food: Look for moderately priced, full-flavored renditions of Mexican classics. Housemade corn tortillas, spit roasters and bins filled with different varieties of peppers in the kitchen provide evidence that this is no burrito joint. Diners can snack on beer-steamed mussels, duck flautas or goat tacos. For a heartier meal, there’s the likes of red snapper with tomatoes, olives, capers and jalapenos or slow fried pork carnitas. Brunch on Saturday and Sunday will wake up its neighbors with its many small plates as well as Latin flavored dishes like grilled skirt steak, nopales salad and over easy eggs.

The Drink: Sipping and infused tequilas as well as agave-based cocktails and frozen margaritas are a given. Fresh fruit drinks, plus south and north of the border beers, are also featured.

2800 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington, Va.; 571-970-2180

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