Hunan Number One Restaurant
3033 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201
Hours: Mon: 4 – 10:30pm, Tue, Wed, Sun: 11 am – 10:30 pm., Thu, Fri, Sat: 11 am – 1:30 am
$7 liters of Smithwicks in the only bar without a cover in a sea of overpriced mediocrity… what could possibly go wrong? We went to the deep south to find out – at Hunan No. One in Arlington, VA.
It would have been unforgivable to cross the Mason-Dixon Line without finding a bona fide dive in the process. Right outside of DC, in Arlington’s Clarendon neighborhood, we were tipped off about a place that is a normal Chinese restaurant by day and full-on dive bar at night. After suffering through $50 bar tabs at a series of overpriced establishments in this urban dystopia, Hunan One sounded like the place to be.
Unlike the other crowded places in the area, Hunan One didn’t charge a cover on Friday or Saturday. They card every single patron that enters the place, but you can still tell right away that Hunan One is full of 19-year-old Georgetown kids. The Chinese-restaurant-masquerading-as-a-bar vibe is very apparent, but somehow it works. They figured out the sound and the lighting, and the bar is long enough that it is easy to get to the front and order a drink. I certainly wouldn’t call the place clean, which makes the restaurant-during-the-day concept seem pretty shaky, but it’s no dirtier than you’re average crowded Philly dive.
After a quick scan of the patrons – it’s obvious what you’ll be drinking here: liter mugs. For the price, it would be a travesty to order beer by the pint. Somehow, their cheapest liter is Smithwick’s Pale Ale at about $7 including tax! You’re lucky if you can get a pint in Clarendon for less than $7 – maybe Smithwick’s kegs keep falling off the back of a truck.
After pounding a mug, I went to use the facilities. The men’s room had a line, which was unfortunate, but at least the guy in the front was letting everyone go ahead of him to use the urinal. My first thought at this was “I can’t believe that guy is going to take a shit here!” Well, he didn’t. As soon as the stall door opened, the kid took off from his spot like Jesse Owens and lunged his body towards the toilet, attempting to provide some extra momentum for his projectile vomit. It was really quite impressive – and absolutely hilarious. My sources report that the women’s room was covered in puke as well. Fortunately we all avoided coming in contact with any bodily fluids… on Friday.
Like I said before, Hunan One’s prices can’t be beat for the area. So we returned on Saturday, this time with a local friend, and continued to binge. We pounded a liter, grabbed another, and decided to take advantage of a recently vacated booth. At the booth we played a drinking game – drink whenever the creepy guy gets rejected… drink whenever someone is obviously blackout drunk… After a couple minutes, some clown comes over looking for his wallet with his cell phone flashlight. In the process of looking under the table, I lean down on the booth… directly into some fucking bodily fluid. Vomit. Everywhere from elbow to wrist. The stomach acid absorbs into my sleeve as my hand squishes a cube of some errant vegetable. Drink whenever you get covered in vomit.
Obviously, we stopped helping the guy. After hearing “did you fucking vomit in this god damn booth!?” a few times, the bouncer comes over, and the wallet-less moron scurries away empty handed. The bouncer, repulsed by the situation, tells the manager about the vomit. The manager comes to see it, shrugs, gives zero fucks, and goes away. If it wasn’t apparent already, that level of indifference is truly the sign of a sure-fire dive.
Come last call, we scurry up to the bar to make up for all the drinks we were behind. They don’t sell full liters at last call, making this is only time that it is acceptable to order pints. To make up for the discrepancy, we threw back some shots too, in hopes that I would forget the vomit. But the smell – the smell would not let me forget.
Food: N/A (it exists but not at night)
If you’re headed to DC and want to dive on a budget, this is the place to do it. Just be careful in the dark corners.
$7 liter mugs of Smithwick’s Pale Ale. That’s all you need to know.