Clare and Don’s Beach Shack: Good Food, Gators and Going Green in Falls Church City

Recently, when I was feeling under the weather and craving some homestyle soup, I headed over Clare and Don’s Beach Shack in Falls Church City. I have ordered lunch there a few times, and their nice selection of from-scratch comfort food was perfect for my mood.

When I arrived, I found out that the soup of the day was a homemade chicken noodle, brimming with big chunks of fresh celery and carrot. Just what the doctor ordered!

The restaurant has a Florida beach shack theme, which is colorfully carried throughout the décor and menu selection, which even includes fried alligator tail (really!). In the summer, my family and I often head over there for an early dinner on the outdoor patio, where live music plays in a fun, lively environment that really makes you feel as if you are at the beach. And their location next to The State Theatre, makes them a great pre- or post-concert restaurant.

Besides being a great place for good food and entertainment, Clare and Don’s Beach Shack is doing a lot to be a sustainable business. While I was waiting for my soup, I spoke to Dave Tax (who co-owns the restaurant with his sister, Rebecca), about their green initiatives. He told me that they had installed solar panels on the roof of their restaurant to generate 15% of their power usage.

solar panels on the roof of Clare and Don's

Their used cooking oil is saved then collected by Free State Biofuels, who then turn it into biodiesel. And, according to their website, their recycling far out weighs their solid waste! This is extra impressive given that Falls Church City does not have a mandatory business recycling program, so Clare and Don’s has to pay to have their recycling collected.

mural inside Clare and Don's

They also have a nice-sized vegetarian menu, many items of which are vegan. Manager Susan Anderson told me, “People love our vegetarian selection. Even non-vegetarians like our buffalo tofu and other non-meat items.” Their offerings including Phish and Chips, Uncrabcakes and Tofu Sandwiches. My favorite vegetarian items are the Cluckless Tacos, and Tofu and Grits.

When I received my order, I was delighted to see that it was in a compostable container. Apparently all of their “To-Go” containers are made from recycled materials. Yay, no styrofoam!

Clare and Don’s was established in May 2005 in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington (the inspiration for the restaurant’s clever name!), then moved to Falls Church City in 2007.  I remember being thrilled to find that they offered whole belly clams, a rarity in the DC area, and a dish that has been part of my spring dining ritual for as long as I can remember. They are my go-to restaurant whenever I am in the mood for any kind of seafood.

Or, if you’re in the mood for homemade ice cream, or a New York style deli sandwich (with a Dr. Brown’s to wash it down and black and white cookie for dessert), check out Mike’s Deli/Lazy Sundae, their sister business.

As you can probably tell by now, I highly recommend Clare and Don’s for good seafood in a fun, casual setting. And, if you’re brave enough to try the fried ‘gator tail, let me know how it is!

Clare and Don’s Beach Shack is located at 130 North Washington Street, Falls Church, VA 22046

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