Clarendon ups its barbecue game in old Tallula space

Published in the Washington Business Journal. By Rebecca Cooper.

The iconic “Eat” sign that denoted EatBar remains, but that’s pretty much the only similarity between Tallula, the former occupant of 2761 Washington Boulevard that closed last year, and Texas Jack’s, the barbecue joint aiming to open later this month on the outskirts of Clarendon.

Gone are Tallula and EatBar’s dramatic velvet curtains, gone are the plush banquettes, and in their place, a lot of — you guessed it — reclaimed wood, industrial-looking metal accents and an open kitchen. There’s also a lot more light, thanks to the removal of the former wine store section in the front of the restaurant space.

The smell, however, is the first clue that this isn’t like every other similar-looking modern American or small plates restaurant. The aroma of wood smoke, and the meat it’s infusing, wafts throughout, creating the kind of casual, comfortable atmosphere owner Steve Roberts is going for.

Roberts signed on to do Texas Jack’s more than a year ago, after running several Cleveland-area restaurants. The 6,700-square-foot restaurant space, designed by Akseizer Design Group, is divided between the main dining room, with some individual tables and one long, communal-style table, and the bar and lounge, which is in the old EatBar space.

Unlike many barbecue operations, which revolve around counter service, Texas Jack’s is full-service, although it’s meant to be casual.

“The food is too good, we want to provide you that service, so you don’t have to figure out where to go or what to do each time on your own,” said Roberts, the managing partner who owns the restaurant along with Paul Capetanakis.

The food at Texas Jack's comes from Chef Matt Lang, a Baltimore native who was most recently cooking at Brooklyn’s Fette Sau — one of of the early movers in the now widely heralded New York barbecue scene.

Lang is doing tried-and-true Texas brisket and ribs — salt, pepper and smoke only — along with rotating styles of sausage, pulled pork and some other meats. He’s also testing out recipes on some special cuts, such as a lamb belly special, or a jerk goat leg.

Despite being a barbecue chef, he's also mostly a vegetarian, so he's trying to make as many of Texas Jack's sides vegetarian as possible. His food is also infused with a Mexican influence, leading to sides such as cucumber salad with lime juice and piqín peppers and mesquites, which is basically elote — a Mexican street corn — taken off the cob.

The Mexican flavors also work their way into the bar menu, which will include nachos, Lang’s take on chicarrones and sopes — the latter made with potato cakes instead of corn — and sandwiches that use the barbecued meats.

Texas Jack’s bar includes 12 beers on tap, a wine-on-tap program and an extensive bourbon and rye selection. The 190-seat restaurant aims to open Dec. 7.

See original article, more photos, and video here.


Abdo Shoots for Another Level with its Last Arlington Project

Published in the Washington Business Journal. By Michael Neibauer.

Gaslight Square Phase 3 Groundbreaking Ceremony 

Gaslight Square Phase 3 Groundbreaking Ceremony 

Jim Abdo has saved his best for his last Arlington job.

“This is the top of the pyramid for us,” Abdo, president of Abdo Development, said Tuesday during a groundbreaking event for the third phase of his Gaslight Square condominium development in Rosslyn. “It’s our last site in Arlington. It’s the completion of two city blocks.”

Abdo’s Gaslight Square — so named for the gas-lit lanterns that line the pedestrian mews between its buildings — sits on a square block bounded by Clarendon Boulevard, North Queen Street, North Quinn Street and 16th Street North. Immediately to the east are the Wooster and Mercer lofts, also from Abdo.

The properties are roughly the same distance from both the Rosslyn and Courthouse Metro stations, which means, as Abdo likes to say, you can walk down the hill to Metro in the morning, and down the hill from Metro in the evening.

Gaslight Square’s $27 million third phase, consisting of 37 units, will appear from the outside like the first two 40-unit buildings, but with upgrades that Abdo said will take the property “to the next level.” Those include interior design and "flow" changes and upgraded finishes. For the bi-level penthouses, it will mean direct elevator access to either floor, where only the lower level of the penthouses in the first two phases are elevator accessible.

The buildings feature large, private rooftop terraces with views of Courthouse, light from front to back, 21-foot floor-to-ceiling windows, open floor plans, full-size washers and dryers and very few common areas, to keep the condo fees to a minimum. The frames are constructed of concrete and steel, which costs more but ensures the buildings "endure the test of time," Abdo said.

"It's not an acronym going on this building," he said. "It's my name. It's my family name."

Units in the third phase are listing from $799,900 for an 1,158-square-foot one-bedroom to $1.55 million for a 1,992-square-foot, two-bedroom penthouse. While delivery is roughly 14 months away, Miriam Fernandez, vice president of real estate marketing firm McWilliams Ballard, brought a signed contract to the groundbreaking. She’s already sold multiple units in Phase 3, including two penthouses.

“The first phase, we liked it so much that my wife and I bought a place here,” said Davis, who expects to be under construction within two weeks. “Love it. We’ve got wonderful neighbors. I can attest to the quality of construction.”

Sandy Spring Bank provided the financing for the last phase of Gaslight Square. Akseizer Design Group is the interior designer and Reston-based Architecture Inc. is the architect of record.

See the original article, video, and more images in the Washington Business Journal here.