Back in my younger years, “chasin’ tail” meant something besides eating seafood, but at “Chasin’ Tails” in Arlington, it means lots of seafood however you like it.
Crispy and crunchy is the way I like it and that was exactly how “Tony” brought out our dishes when Blake and I went in to sample the goods of what’s coming to Founders Row.
Plenty of fried calamari and shrimp ($19 each) with Cajun fries arrived, enough for me to take some home and more, like more of everything I ordered, which included a luscious parmesan crab dip (also, $19) which came with toasted baguette pieces and, honestly, tasted better the next day (although it was good enough in the restaurant, especially if you like warm appetizers).
To satisfy my green needs, I also ordered a salad which was huge and full of everything healthy, lettuce, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, croutons and a good nutritious balance to the fried foods I like so much.
Several groups were around us who seemed to be enjoying their shareable meals, like the “superfeast” for four or five who were picking (piggin’ on?) a pound of king crab legs, clusters of snow crab legs, two pounds each of shrimp and crawfish, garlic noodles, potatoes, sausage, and corn for $249.
For a smaller size party, there are crab legs and shrimp with all the sides for $79 for one or two persons, plus several other shareables are available.
One of Chasin’s top selling drinks is a combination of two of my favorites, corona and a margarita, called (you got it right): coronarita. Chasin’ pops the little beer bottle upside down in a healthy-sized margarita, the beverage which gradually disappears as you drink it while the glass slowly fills with the beer, but each taste is distinctive and not mixed.
I was a little reluctant to go for a coronarita, remembering my college days and “boilermakers” of beer and whiskey we’d drink which are not recommended if you need to stand up over the next five hours.
The coronarita was not as strong as a boilermaker, and for $15 and an automatic service charge of 20% (which Chasin’ makes sure you know about ahead of time), the price is a “healthy” fee worth it, at least once.
Chasin’ Tails is a landmark at the corner of Langston Blvd. and North Westmoreland in Arlington to become no doubt a hot spot at the corner of West Broad and West.
Happy Endings Hospitality, the umbrella organization, is bringing three restaurants to the Founders Row table, all joined by a common kitchen, restrooms and, when necessary, shared staff, according to two of the owners, Di Dang and Tuyet-Nhi Le, who designed them all.
One of the new restaurants is a fine dining concept with a bar and lounge and named after a painting by Le’s great-uncle, Lê Phổ, (1907-2001). “Nue” sold for $1.4 million in 2019, one of the highest prices ever paid for Vietnamese art. The restaurant’s theme and design stem from flowers and nature which defined much of Phổs art, Le said.
The third restaurant will be the second location for Roll Play, a Vietnamese “fast-casual” grill and to be mostly takeout.
It’s a “three-in-one-concept,” Dang said, who with Le led me on a walk-through of the new spaces which looked far from completion for a December 7 opening, but Dang showed no concern. The builder has a great reputation and will get the job done in short order, Dang said confidently. No worries.
For several reasons the owners decided to move Chasin’ Tails from Arlington but not too far from Arlington.
Parking is “always troubling” there on weekends (customers will be able to park for free in the Founders Row garage) and “we almost outgrew the space” which was “kind of breaking down,” Dang said. The new space will be larger.
“This [Founders Row] is the right clientele.”
Chasin’ Tails will carry over its popular choices from Arlington and add new ones such as charbroiled oysters and more “shareables” like a “seafood tower,” Surf ‘n’ Turf, garlic butter lobster tails, bigger and premium crab legs and new signature sauces for the seafood boil.
Dang said ‘the staff is testing a sauce, leaving a margarine-based sauce for butter, using French techniques. Our sauces will be significantly upgraded in taste and quality.”
The new restaurants will be “more of an elevated experience.”
Dang may be the first person I’ve ever interviewed who has his own Wikipedia page, earned from playing online poker when he was a student at the University of Virginia. With the money he won in poker, he invested in restaurants to recreate his family’s long-standing traditions and fun with their backyard seafood boils in Louisiana.
After starting the restaurant, he realized he couldn’t handle poker playing and restauranteuring simultaneously.
In a restaurant backroom, he’d be playing poker “for thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars and be called out to the restaurant to settle a $10 catfish bowl complaint,” he laughs. He chose restaurants. Now, he may play small poker games “for fun.”
His focus is on “everybody having a really grand experience” at Chasin’ Tails which will be “bigger and better.”
Dang and Le have been a team for 10 years: “We’ve grown up and we wanted to rebuild the restaurant,” she said. In addition to her design work, Le is the product developer.
The restaurant automatically adds a 20% tip to bills which a waiter told us immediately upon entering the restaurant, and another waiter repeated to us to make sure we got the message. The menu says Chasin’ has “replaced tipping with a 20% service fee because it will help us provide our entire team a year-round living wage.”
Le said they spent months discussing the tip change. For takeout, Chasin’ Tails adds a recovery fee of 20%.
The couple said the original name of the restaurant was going to be “Heads or Tails” until it was discovered to be trademarked by another restaurant. Chasin’ Tales became the title after a Facebook contest won by Dang’s cousin.
Arlington Magazine just named HEH as one of the “Best Places to Work” in the Washington area.
The new eateries will have more than 100 seats outside for customers who like to eat under the sky.
Chasin’ Tales is open at 2200 North Westmoreland in Arlington 22213 from 5:00 – 9:45 p.m. (Thursday); 5:00 – 10:45 p.m. (Friday), 12 – 10:45 p.m. (Saturday), and 12 – 9:45 p.m., Sunday. The staff is in training on other days, Dang said. The Arlington location will probably close in November. (703) 538-2565; firstname.lastname@example.org.