King Street Blues touts itself as “comfort food with a southern accent.” This is not entirely accurate, but definitely more catchy than “above average diner kinda dressed up like a blues bar.”
There are four King Street Blues locations around this area, a fact that may contribute to the restaurant's somewhat standardized look and feel. The location I visited is located on Clarendon Boulevard in Arlington. The food here is nothing flashy, but there is certainly something on the menu that will satisfy everyone without too much trouble.
The wait staff is professional and polite and your food comes before you've had a chance to get too drunk to eat — unless you drink really fast. The drink menu could certainly tempt you in that direction, with an ample wine list and a tap that includes the Roadhouse Red house brew and the house Black and Tan. For those of legal age, you might want to try out some of the bartenders' specialty cocktails.
The atmosphere is very nice, and they have an area for outdoor dining that spills into the square near the Courthouse movie theater. The music they play, in keeping with the blues theme, is a lot more enjoyable than you would hear in any equivalent restaurant. When I walked in, I was greeted by the opening guitar crunches of “Mannish Boy” by Muddy Waters and later in the evening I even heard some Robert Johnson.
The menu is comprised mostly of diner standards with a few fancier courses thrown into the mix. Of the two main courses I tried — a half rack of “Ultra Famous” ribs ($11, $19 for a full rack) and the Salmon Cakes ($14) — the Salmon Cakes were the clear winner. Unlike a lot of salmon cakes, they weren't so loaded down with grease or butter that you couldn't comfortably finish one or taste the salmon. They were light, slightly crispy on the outside and very, very good. The Ultra Famous ribs were tasty, tender and moist, but a clear second compared to the Salmon cakes.
The atmosphere of King Street Blues is an interesting mix between a blues-themed family restaurant and a drinking establishment catering mainly to young urban professionals. The decorum is pleasant and friendly, the light is dim and red. There are posters of blues legends such as Muddy Waters all over the walls along with framed recreations of concert bills from various eras of the blues. The main decorative features of the King Street Blues in Arlington were a few plastic Disney-esque molds of different types of people typically associated with the south and/or the blues in various states of revelry. If you have small children however, make sure to sit away from the one of the judge and the lawyer arguing, because while the judge is supposed to look exaggerated and whimsical, to my eyes he looked like a manic-eyed, plaster-cast demon ready to bash me with his gavel before he feasts on my soul with disturbingly crooked teeth.
The fare is fine, the atmosphere is cool and the drink menu, uh, helps. All in all, King Street Blues won't do you wrong, unless you trifle with that creepy plaster judge.