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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Casual restaurant

Mon 5:00pm–10:00pm
Tue–Thu 11:30am–2:30pm
Tue–Thu 5:00pm–10:00pm
Fri–Sat 11:30am–2:30pm
Fri–Sat 5:00pm–11:00pm
Sun 10:00am–2:00pm
Sun 5:00pm–9:00pm

Features Date-friendly, kid-friendly, outdoor dining, Wi-Fi
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted


Arlington, VA
3195 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA
(703) 465-9360
Liberty Tavern
A versatile neighborhood bar and restaurant that far outclasses its local competition

With windows set far above eye level and a spare, brown-on-brown décor, the intended design effect is immediately understood: the focus here is meant to be strictly on the food. It’s a fun, lively neighborhood place that seems equally content to be an after-work bar or a real restaurant. Above the kitchen, a panoramic shot of the kitchen staff adds a sentimental touch to the dining area, a sense that what you eat was made with care.

The menu at Liberty Tavern consists of regional, seasonal dishes, with a concerted effort at using smaller farms and ranches for the best possible taste. Breads are made in-house, as are pastas. But if sourcing the best ingredients is ninety percent of the work, the other ten is in not mucking it up. The capable chefs here display an unusual grasp of balancing textures and flavors within each dish. Pan-fried skate wing is unbelievably tender, with flaky flesh that falls apart with the gentlest nudge of your fork. A sort of beurre blanc is liberally kissed with hazelnuts and wedges of grapefruit, both lending the dish an arresting depth. Summer pizza emerges from a wood-burning oven with its properly crisp dough lightly charred and bubbling. Fresh figs and crisp ham set off tiny fireworks of crunch in your mouth, while sage and creamy Fontina mediate the bitterness of arugula. There have been complaints of oversalting (which seems to be an epidemic as chef’s palates—like ours—build immunity to salt over time; anyone hiring tasters?)

The Tavern’s crostata is a bold statement of what dessert should be. Its pastry purse cracks open like a pomegranate, revealing steaming, crimson cherry seeds that are rich and so hot that they taste almost savory. Goat-cheese ice cream is stalwartly tangy and smoky, and eating it is an act of poetry, from the lusty display of scarlet filling to the enjambment of savory-sweet. Nothing would pair better with this than a succint Tajlianich White Solero from the dessert wine list.

In an era of flashy restaurant “concepts,” industrial meat, and genetically-mutated vegetables, it’s refreshing—dare we say, critical—to have those few restaurants that are truly committed to the art of making food that slows you down, makes you close your eyes for a few chews…and notice.

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