Arts & Entertainment

Restaurant Spotlight: Caribbean Breeze


The gloom of an eight-hour workday can dull the five senses, but a sweet escape to Caribbean Breeze is sure to set your taste buds tangoing with its Latin-inspired lunch specials.

The refreshing, ever-changing daily specials hail straight from the Caribbean, promising recipes of “Nuevo Latin” fare. This quaint eatery lies in Ballston, just one of Arlington’s urban neighborhoods. Located within a few blocks of the Ballston Metro station on Fairfax Drive, the restaurant offers a trendy alternative for office workers eager to delight their palettes with a medley of Caribbean spices and sauces.

The festive presentations of entrées are exceptional, with prices for such culinary crafts range from $8-18.

Compliments from the chef begin with long chips, baked to perfection with a hint of garlic seasoning and a side of roasted salsa.

Don’t be fooled by the “pequeño” (“small” for the uninitiated) size of the empanadas ($9.75), as each of these Latin turnovers is filled with fresh tender shreds of chicken, beef, and a combination of shrimp, calamari and scallops. This appetizer is complemented with a jalapeño sauce that combines lemon and lime juices with garlic and jalapeños for a zesty mix.

One of this week’s lunch specials is the Grilled Skewers Jumbo Shrimp Cesar Shrimp Salad ($13), a dish only served during summer months. Six grilled jumbo shrimp top a bed of romaine lettuce dressed in Cesar make this entrée a summertime favorite among patrons. Thick slices of toasted sesame bread were sprinkled throughout the salad.

The menu caters to seafood lovers with its “Ceviche of the Day.” The ceviche, or citrus marinated seafood, salad of this particular week is the Salmon Ceviche ($10). Lean slices of salmon are layered between julienne cucumbers and tri-color peppers.

Appetizers are recommended with any entrée, as servings are small. Still, the affordable price of dishes includes authentic tastes of Argentinean-style steaks and Latin hospitality. Expect greetings from a friendly staff await guests the moment they walk into the restaurant.

A Latin dessert only adds to the sweet escape you’ll experience at the Caribbean Breeze. The Brazilian Coconut Flan ($6), a homemade caramel custard and coconut served with sweet whipped cream, is a perfect finishing touch to any lunch specialty.

The Caribbean, Central and South American ambiance thrives with an interior décor that enhances the tropical meals on the menu. Restaurateur Mike Cordero founded Caribbean Breeze with the reminiscent images of Latin American islands in mind and the eatery’s décor certainly echoes that idea. The peach-painted walls are accented by seats woven with purple and orange bands. Greenery and potted palms dress up the interior corners of the establishment, while tall windows allow the afternoon light to pour in.

Tucked along the side of the restaurant, a patio provides a quiet haven amid commuters from neighboring offices hurrying past.

After a long day’s work head on over for a tasty evening mean that ends with instructors leading groups of salsa novices through the basics of the dance for $10. Home to Arlington’s largest dance floors, Caribbean Breeze features live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights. Friday’s main event attracts as many as 150 people to the restaurant to hear DJ Andy spin salsa music. The success of Friday nights has led to an expansion in Saturday night’s entertainment.

For a break from the workday, an authentic Latin dinner or a night of south-of-the-border-style entertainment, Caribbean Breeze offers a quick and enjoyable island getaway.


Caribbean Breeze

4100 N. Fairfax Dr.

Arlington, Va.


Monday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – midnight

Friday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.

Sunday (Brunch): 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.