Leftover snow clings to the ground, blustery winds hit the faces of Falls Church residents and temperatures keep dropping — and yet sounds of an island party can be heard not too far away. It sounds like Bob Marley and the Wailers and it smells like burning Tiki torches and spiced rum … and it tastes like Clare and Don’s Beach Shack.
Pushed out of its space in Clarendon by yet another new development in Arlington, the neighborhood favorite has landed in Falls Church on Washington Street near the State Theatre. Clare and Don’s gives off that summer vibe as soon as you enter the parking lot. Sea reeds line the outdoor eating area, with pastel orange and yellow picnic tables and chairs just waiting for warm weather. Covered Tiki torches stand by the fishing nets and buoys that decorate the outdoor area. When entering the shack, you are greeted by a beautiful mural on your right that displays a summery day at the beach. Lounging chairs and a plush couch sit in front of the large window, while a long bar accommodates customers snacking on hush puppies and sipping drinks such as Blue Margaritas and Mai Tais. Above the bar are dozens of colored flip flops, a collage that adds to the laid back vibe.
Walk up a step or two and you are in the dining area. There salads and soups are at $3 – $6 a bowl and half-pound burgers served with fries and coleslaw are $8.75 – $9.50.
But you come to the beach for seafood, and fortunately Clare and Don’s features seafood aplenty. Delicious lump crab cakes are $10.75 and fresh Grouper, grilled or fried, is $8.75. If you feel like just snacking on shrimp, get one of the baskets that serve coconut-crusted prawns with cocktail sauce for $9.75. The ‘empty net’ category is for those in your party that prefer food that never walked on land or swam in the sea. Tofu platters are $9.75 and Un-Crabcake (fake crab, in case you couldn’t decipher the name) sandwiches are $7.75.
Main courses from the grill, sautéed or fried, start at $12.75 and can go up to $23.75. Choices like the Admiral’s Feast that includes fried shrimp, scallops, oysters and fish can satisfy any seafood lover’s appetite. For steak aficionados they offer a surf and turf — center-cut New York Strip and a Rock Lobster Tail. If you prefer a creamy scampi sauce to be added to any of your dishes, just tack on $5 to your check.
All desserts are homemade and scrumptious (try the Key Lime Pie for $3.50). A piece and Ice Cream Pie topped off with whip cream will loosen your belt, but it’s well worth it at the end of the night.
The servers will greet you right away with smiles on their faces. They take your order and bring out your appetizers right away. The bartenders focus on you even before you find a seat and will help you pick out a tropical drink and garnish it with a slice of fresh pineapple. Even if you decide it is not what you wanted, you can exchange your drink for another without much fuss. Clare and Don’s Beach Shack has only been open in Falls Church City since Jan. 19, but already an ocean breeze is starting to waft through the city. So if you are walking along Broad Street and think you hear Bob Marley in your head and taste Old Bay on your tongue, then it’s time you turn the corner and head over to Clare and Don’s Beach Shack for a quick get away.