The Village at Shirlington Makes You Want to Stay Awhile
“With its established café culture, live theater and pedestrian promenade, Shirlington has become the arts and entertainment capital of Arlington,” raves the Arlington Economic Development website.
The reason for this rousing description is undoubtedly The Village at Shirlington, a collection of restaurants and other attention-getters nestled in and around Campbell Avenue. Not really a mall or plaza, the Village at Shirlington combines elements of the two, skipping most of the retail in favor of restaurants and service-oriented businesses, while adding both a silver screen and live theater to the mix – and even a library – to make it a different beast altogether.
There are many reasons to shop, play and – if you favor the élan enough – rent an apartment in Shirlington. If you’re hungry and need groceries, you can hit Harris Teeter, famous for being both a Harris and a Teeter. If you’re hankering to check out the latest spy thriller, political/sociological work, or even a classic John Steinbeck novel, you can walk over to the Shirlington Library, which, coincidentally, shares a building with the Signature Theatre.
In its new digs since 2007, Signature Theatre is a Tony Award-winning, nonprofit professional theater with a mission to produce contemporary musicals and plays, along with putting a different spin on classic musicals. The village also houses the Synetic Family Theater. For the lazy among us, or for those who want their action just like you see it on TV – only bigger and louder – I give you AMC Loews Shirlington 7, where you can find all the “entertainment” that Hollywood can feed you.
Food, that’s a good segue into restaurants and cafés, what Shirlington really flouts. There are plenty of places to eat, including quite a few where you can drink beer, wine and spirits to boot. For family fare, we’ve got retro diner Johnny Rockets, the redundantly named Bistro Bistro, Mexican food served up by Guapo’s (the latter two can get a tad pricey) and T.H.A.I. in Shirlington, which if you couldn’t guess, offers Peruvian delicacies from the remotest Andes … Thai food, they serve Thai food. Thought you’d get the joke. I know, I know, you don’t give a horse’s behind about my humor or anything else I scribble. You just wanna know where you can throw a few back and get your flirt on.
All right, the Village at Shirlington offers the Capitol City Brewing Company, a small, District-based franchise with three restaurants. Those in town should feel a bit lucky here, because now that the one in Baltimore shuttered its doors, the Shirlington location is the only one outside Washington, D.C., borders.
I’ve eaten at the downtown location more than once, and it’s a fun place that brews its own beer. Amber Waves Ale is a tasty one. A number of places at the village serve alcohol, but I doubt many have that Capitol City atmosphere.
But patron, beware. Soak up too much of that atmosphere and you might awaken the next day realizing those goggles of lore really do exist and that special someone you met there has to go … now!
The Village at Shirlington also features a spa, a Pilates/yoga studio and Edge Health & Fitness, a private training studio “in which only trainers & their respective clients work together.” Plus, there are a few boutique stores as well, including Mill End Shops, the oldest locally owned and operated custom decorating shop in the area, and Dogma Bakery & Boutique, which bakes healthy, all-natural pet treats daily and has a plentiful supply of specialty items for your pooch or pussycat.