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Posted at 12:19 PM ET, 06/16/2006

Tiki Tumble

By Erin

When did Clarendon turn into Arlington-by-the-Sea? You've got the flip-flop-covered-walls of Clare and Don's Beach Shack, Dewey favorites Love Seed Mama Jump and Kristin and the Noise performing regularly at the Clarendon Ballroom, and now Mama Quan's Tiki Hut, which promises island drinks and a sun-drenched patio just blocks from the Metro.

Things started well enough: There's plenty of outdoor seating, and the minimalist interior is covered in old surfboards. The back room has a pool table and a few other games. A chalkboard behind the bar announced that cocktails were served in 24-ounce tiki glasses. But inflatable Corona products hanging from the ceiling should have been our cue that something was amiss.

If you're going to call yourself a Tiki Hut, you need a good Mai Tai in funky Polynesian glassware. Mama Quan's can't get this basic requirement right. The only recognizable name on the menu was a Suffering Bastard, which is what I felt like after ordering the Papa Quan cocktail. Though the ingredients made it sound like the legendary Mai Tai, it's in fact a tepid blend of rums, fruit juices and wayyyyyy too much grenadine, served in a neon-blue plastic cup that resembles a child's version of a glass from Trader Vic's. Erin described it as a melted slushee, and she wasn't far off. My friend Kathryn hopefully ordered the Grandpa Quan, made with Myers dark rum and pineapple juice, but was served some clear fluid that tasted closer to bathwater.

As for the food, it's pretty much what you'd expect to find from a poolside snack shack. You'll find wings, coconut shrimp, peel-n-eat shrimp and a smattering of salads and sandwiches. We opted to split the flash-fried fish bites with remoulade and the shrimp skewers. The skewers, which can also be ordered with beef or chicken, were heavy on the marinade and slightly undercooked. The accompanying cole slaw was the highlight with zippy peanut and ginger flavors. As for the fish bites, the consistency was not quite right with flaky breading that couldn't contain the watery fish, but they're easy to share and less messy than a plate of wings.

Two saving graces: A huge patio (covered in grape vines from its previous incarnation as Aegean Taverna) with ample seating, though it is already packed with the after-work crowd, and a daily happy hour with $2 bottles of Bud Light and Miller Lite from 5 to 7. No wonder everyone outside was sipping those instead of fun summer drinks.

--Fritz and Erin

By Erin  | June 16, 2006; 12:19 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs  
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I miss Aegean Taverna!! Anyone know what happened to them? Just what Clarendon needs, another frat party scene.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | June 16, 2006 12:44 PM | Report abuse

I went the other night and had a great time. I think this is exactly what Arlington needed, especially with the great weather coming, nice and open. It wasn't too crowded when I was there, but I can imagine it being so.

Posted by: Arlington | June 17, 2006 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Mama Quans is temporary---just for the summer. It was bought by the owners of other successful Clarendon restauarants and they are planning to put a new upscale restaurant there in the fall. I don't know if they are building from the ground up or gutting it. The owners wanted to do something profitable with the space during the summer before construction begins. That is why you are not going to find good food there. For what it is its a great idea.
I've never looked at your blog before but this is common knowledge around Clarendon.

Posted by: Jessica | June 17, 2006 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Are you kidding me, As a Greek, i was appalled by the quality of the food, the service and the ambience. At least Mama Quan's is a cool space to hang out in, of course that's only until all the toolbags over run it, enjoy it while you can

Posted by: nikos | June 17, 2006 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Jessica- was it bought by the same people who own Clare and Don's, that Mexican-ish place, the ice cream place, and the old Big Belly Deli? I hope not, all of their restaurants are a little crappy. I keep trying them out and finally realized I need to stop going to them (how can Icecream actually not taste good??) If it is them, I hope they do a better job in this one.......

Posted by: susan | June 18, 2006 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Mama Quan's is owned by Greg and Susie Cahill, who also own Whitlows. Also--it is waaaay similar to a place in the Outerbanks called "Mama Kwans." WAY too similar. Are there really no original ideas left?

Posted by: reston | June 19, 2006 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Oh good, Whitlows is way better than those other places. I'll be interested in seeing what they do with the place, for their Upscale restaurant.....

Posted by: Susan | June 19, 2006 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Well, at least it's not yet another Irish bar!

Posted by: dc | June 19, 2006 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for reminding me why I never cross the river!

Posted by: Dupont | June 19, 2006 8:53 PM | Report abuse

I just don't understand how they can call themselves a tiki bar without (as mentioned) a good mai tai and AN OUTDOOR BAR! I went to Mama Quan's for an after dinner drink a few weeks ago and was told outdoor seating was for dinners only, but I could sit at the bar inside! ??

Posted by: Arlington Girl | June 20, 2006 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Mama Quans= Mama Craps. Stick to Clare and Don's if you want that beach feeling while all your friends are living it up in Dewey. Or better yet, stick with the old faithfuls like the deck at the Ballroom.

Posted by: J | June 22, 2006 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Keep in mind that Mama Quan's is only going to be open for a little while, why would anyone invest a ton of money i.e real glasses that will only get stolen, or completely redoing the restaurant. The premise for the bar was simply to have nice, laid back, non pretensious outdoor bar to chill out for the summer, we should be thankful that they invited everyone to the party.

Posted by: me | June 23, 2006 2:19 AM | Report abuse

Have you ever tasted Lazy Sundae ice cream?
I guess not....It is the best!
Ice cream is two words, dumb dumb.

Posted by: susan is a retard | June 24, 2006 3:07 AM | Report abuse

I just read that Lazy Sundae is moving out of Clarendon, to Falls Church, in the end of July. No great loss. Cute store, and I love the idea of a locally owned ice cream shop, but it was definitely not the cleanest restaurant around, and their ice cream, in my opinion, was not so good. I even brought out-of-towners there and they weren't impressed either. But maybe that ownership group's style is just not my cup of tea, I didn't like Don and Clare's or any of their other ones either. And I'm usually pretty easy to please, restaurant-wise!

Posted by: susan | June 24, 2006 4:59 PM | Report abuse

susan, thankfully you are in the minority. over the past ten years lazy sundae has been open we have been positively reviewed by washingtonian, washington post, washington times, npr and thousands of happy customers. i am sorry you don't like our place but if you don't have anything nice to say...

Posted by: rebecca tax | June 25, 2006 9:28 PM | Report abuse

" i am sorry you don't like our place but if you don't have anything nice to say..."

Then what? Don't state my opinion? Uh, ok.

I've known a lot of people who found the place a little unclean and found the ice cream to not be so tasty. So much so, that we don't go there anymore. And it takes a lot to keep us away from ice cream!

I'm sorry you don't like to hear negative words about your place, and I'm happy that you got a lot of good press (people love locally owned shops, I usually do as well), but as I said, it's not my cup of tea. I'm not sure that holding my (valid) opinion because it doesn't jive with yours and other some other people's is particularily useful.

Posted by: Susan | June 29, 2006 9:17 AM | Report abuse

The gogs are obviously clubbers. Their reviews are boring and predictable.

Posted by: LoganCirc | June 30, 2006 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Why are the GOGs obviously clubbers? I didn't see anything about a DJ or dance floor in this review. The beers are cheap, the patio is large, the drinks aren't so good.

Posted by: Clubbers? | June 30, 2006 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Susan, not only do I disagree with everything you said, but it appears to me that have some sort of vendetta or some other agenda. Just a quick question, if you dislike this place so much why would you bring out of town guests to it. Maybe it is your job to show all of your out of town guests the low points of Virginia. Hey guys let's go out tonight on your visit to Virginia and check out this burger place I hate, and then we can go to this terrible ice cream store and then we can go to see the worst movie I have ever seen....WOW you sound like a great host.
"I'm not sure that holding my (valid) opinion because it doesn't jive with yours and other some other people's is particularily useful." Nice quote! What the heck does it mean? It is really hard to argue that logic...Then what? " don't state your opinion." YES THAT WOULD BE A GOOD START. Save us all the time from trying to figure out what in the world you are talking about.
p.s. I know a disgusting chinese restaurant you can take your parents to when they come to visit!

Posted by: susan has an agenda | July 3, 2006 1:59 AM | Report abuse

I feel I'm going to have to speak up in support of Susan (don't quite get why people are so offended that she doesn't like Lazy Sundae). My office just moved to Clarendon, and I immediately tried out Lazy Sundae because (a) I heart ice cream and (b) whenever I told people my office was moving to Clarendon, one of the first things they would say was 'oh, you have to try out the local ice cream place!'

I went there twice the first week we were here. I think I'll wait til I'm on my way home and stop at Larry's in Dupont, thanks. The ice cream isn't just 'eh,' it is actively not very good. The texture just isn't right (kind of icy).

As for everyone who seems to think that Susan (and now me) shouldn't say anything if she doesn't have anything nice to say . . . isn't the point of these comments to give your opinion? And isn't a negative opinion equally as valid as a positive opinion?

Posted by: Clarendon Newbie | July 7, 2006 12:29 PM | Report abuse

No vendetta, "susan has an agenda". I went there infrequently enough that it never really left an impression on me. It wasn't until I brought my out of town guests there (we had dinner nearby and popped in afterwards) and they all disliked it (although politely stated so as not to offend me of course) that I formalized my opinion. I don't like Lazy Sundae. Then when mentioning it to other friends, I heard the same from them. Wow, never knew it was such a offense, kinda funny. Or maybe I'm Ben of Ben and Jerry in the Market Common, or better yet - Mario of the Carvel in Mario's- and I'm out to trample the poor owners of Lazy Sundae and all their fans.....could be I guess. Never knew the influence and power I had, I should look into politics!

I like Larry's in Dupont too, so different strokes. Seriously though "susan has an agenda", lighten up.....

Posted by: susan | July 11, 2006 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I've got to stand up and be counted as a long time lover of Lazy Sundae. I find their Ice Cream to be among the best I've had (and I've had a lot), and Chocolate Black Raspberry has achieved cult status in my extended family. I bring all my out of town guests there and not a one has complained (indeed, quite the opposite). And I have picky friends. Clare & Don's is another favorite spot for my wife and I and we love it as well (best assortement of vegetarian dishes I've seen in Arlington). I know this will sound particularly like I'm a paid shill for Lazy Sundae, but when my wife and I were debating a move back to Arlington, Lazy Sundae was one of the major pluses for the area in my book.

(And I swear I'm completely unrelated to the Taxes or any of their employees.)

As for "not clean", I find this to be ridiculous. If you prefer the sterile, corporate, "clean on the surface" atmosphere of, say, The Cheesecake Factory, please feel free to go there.

And, yes, like all negative over-posters on otherwise friendly forums, Susan does appear to have an agenda. Or at least a lack of basic politeness. You stated your oppinion, did you really have to repeat it a number of times until you'd driven away anyone who disagreed with you? Congratulations, your bull-headedness won the day!

Anyone have the new Falls Church address for Lazy Sundae?

Posted by: Lazy Sundae Lover | July 12, 2006 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Lazy Sundae, 112 N. West St., Falls Church, VA 22046, one block off of Route 7.

Posted by: Tom | August 1, 2006 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Only a fool would believe that the Taxes aren't behind the excessively mean and retaliatory posts against Susan. Geez! Thin skin much?

I've never been to Lazy Sundae, but I go to the Woodgrill and La Tasca a lot and have considered going a few times. Now I think I definitely won't -- seems like if you don't like them, they'll pretend to be numerous people just to defame you on a blog. Pathetic!

Good for you for having an opinion and stating it, Susan. You've certainly influenced me (or should I say, all the negative reactions to you have influenced me to believe you are fair and the people who like Lazy Sundae are frightening and mean)!

Posted by: Whoa, the Taxes are posting a lot | August 11, 2006 11:22 PM | Report abuse

I think that the place is GREAT!! Finally somewhere to go in Arlington that isn't to stuffy. I went back this week looking for a guy that I met by the name of Jacob-plays for Badabing. Anyway, if you ever happen to see a reply-I have moved to California.

Posted by: Adrienne | September 29, 2006 12:20 AM | Report abuse

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