Ambar - Arlington

4.7
1391 reviews
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$30 and under
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Tapas / Small Plates
Top tags:
  • Tapas
  • Creative Cuisine
  • Good for a Date
Our aim is to put together the finest products of the New World and Old World for your dining pleasure. Perennially on the edge of great empires, the Balkans owes much of its food culture to its history, geography, and climate. The term Balkan is generally believed to come from the Byzantine word meaning: “a chain of wooded mountains.” With a desire to introduce Virginia to cutting edge Balkan cuisine, we created a dining space that will delight and indulge the senses. Primarily featuring “small plates,” Ambar also offers wines and spirits from the Balkans not often experienced by the American diner.
Ambar showcases the best dishes from the Balkan Peninsula with a modern twist. These dishes are presented artfully, with modern combinations that deliver the flavor profiles in a unique way. Serbian natives Ivan Iricanin and Uros Smiljanic developed the menu with the help of Executive Chef Dejan Pilovic .

Special Offers

Valentine's Day Special Menus & More

Ambar in Clarendon will be offering $85 per person for unlimited food (regular menu + Chef's specials), $0.25 per each select drink and one dessert to share. Celebrate your love in Arlington's best restaurant.

Thursday, 14 February, 2019

What 1391 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.7based on recent ratings
4.7
food
4.5
service
4.5
ambience
4.5
value
Noise · Moderate
94% of people would recommend it to a friend
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b
Washington DC
1 review
Dined a day ago
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 5

I’ve been here in the past for happy hour. Great food, great atmosphere. However, their restaurant week menu is exactly the same (food & price) as their regular menu - just in a different font. So this week I opted to take advantage of another restaurant over Ambar - since I can try their unlimited tapas for $35 another time.

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OT
1 review
Dined 2 days ago
Overall 2food 1service 1ambience 5

Server was not the most attentive and made it feel as though she truly did not want to be there at the time and it most definitely affected the entire experience. She seemed to have a lot of attitude anytime we would request anything for the table; almost as if we were asking a complete stranger to bring warm water to the table and such. Also disclaimer I never usually write reviews but I felt the need to address this as it genuinely altered the evening and entire experience for us. Most likely will not be trying this restaurant again. Service aside, food also tasted very mediocre. :/ Almost felt as though salt was lacking in almost every (vegetarian) dish.

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JL
1 review
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 3food 2service 2ambience 3

overpriced for the brunch- coffee was NOT included!?! Coffee is always included in brunch ?? $2.95 for a cup of coffee plus the $34 for small
plates?! Food overall was ok but several items were boring ( waffles) tasteless ( fried bread balls) and the salad was wilted and mushy.... the chicken dip that we were served was all skin - no meat.. maybe a mistake but left a bad taste in our mouths... literally. Waitress initially was not friendly but we figured she was “in the weeds”...eventually she became sweet, friendly and attentive.... was fun as we were with a group but we all decided we would not be going back

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N
Miami
5 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We did the Balkan Experience during restaurant week. All you can eat small plates for $35 - literally the entire menu is small plates so it was amazing to try so many dishes. Good food, good ambiance!

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Y
Orange County
12 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 3food 4service 1ambience 5

The "Amber Experience" is a bit pricey, however, food was good and creative. Unfortunately, our server was terrible. I informed the manager about it. He wanted to give me a free desert to "compensate" for our terrible experience with the waiter... I declined the gift. I would have preferred a discount, even if small. Who is going to eat a desert after having unlimited entrees? Come on...

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AR
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 4

Our experience was mixed at Ambar (on a Friday evening at 6:30 pm). On the plus side, the service was good, the food was very flavorful, and the all-you-can-eat deal encouraged experimentation. On the minus side, the small plates are really small (about 6 Brussels Sprout halves per serving), the hot dishes were often served at room temperature, and the phyllo dishes were not crispy, as if they had been sitting for a while. In addition, the servers were so quick to take your plates that we sometimes had to shoo them away while we were enjoying the last few bites. I would try the restaurant again on a quieter night, but was a bit dissapointed given all the accolades the restaurant has received.

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MR
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Restaurant Week was my first time at Ambar Clarendon and I absolutely loved it! The Balkan food as tapas servings is bloody brilliant and so good! I captured pics on my foodgram @stoopkidseat on Instagram to show everyone who excellent the presentations were! Love love love Ambar and the service!

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MJ
1 review
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 2food 2service 2ambience 4

The food was not as good as I was expecting. The restaurant was very busy and the staff could not keep up. All the dishes that were brought to our table with the exception of one or cold. It was not worth the money and I would not go back. That said the meat pie and the goulash were delicious but we didn’t want to spend the time to wait to get a second order of those because things took so long to get.

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LK
1 review
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Fabulous! Interesting small plates. Perfectly prepared.

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KM
Washington DC
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food Is AMAZING!!! WE Will be going back and recommending to everyone

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m
Washington DC
7 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 4

Went during Restaurant week. Enjoyed everything we tried, we split about a dozen plates. Will come back again becasue there are more plates to try.

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OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 4food 4service 2ambience 3

Had the unlimited tapas. Delicious food and Mojitos! Staff was friendly but long intervals between servings. Went during weekday lunch hours and restaurant was packed. Definitely need more staff to accommodate peak times.

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LE
Washington DC
27 reviews
Dined on 16 January 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

My wife and I visited Ambar today. Felix was our severer. He was managing several tables in bar area. hBut e was very attentive to all the tables that he served. the experience in any restaurant is distinguished by the service and the food. Ambar has an extensive menu and all items appeared tempting. Felix gave us recommendations based on our dietary preferences. We tried seafood and vegetarian dishes; they were all great. We especially enjoyed our desert, Forest Gnocci. It is awesome, we highly recommend it. We enjoyed our dinner with mulled wine. Overall the experience was amazing and we highly recommend this restaurant in DC metro area.

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A
New York Area
8 reviews
Dined on 16 January 2019
Overall 4food 3service 3ambience 3

Fun place to share plates with a date or a group of friends!

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SG
Richmond
1 review
Dined on 15 January 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great food and excellent service! We had a wonderful time and will be back!

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BG
1 review
Dined on 15 January 2019
Overall 2food 4service 2ambience 3

I would not recommend this restaurant due to the rude service. We booked a table for the restaurant week deal, and the earliest slot we could choose was 2pm. However, when we got there, they told us that since the kitchen would close at 2:30, we could no longer participate in the unlimited small plates deal. They only told this to us after we had ordered drinks, so we were stuck having to pick only a few plates. As each plate ranges from $7-10, it was far more than we were expecting to spend (this especially sucked because I am furloughed and money is especially tight right now).

The portions were small for their price though 3 of the 4 dishes we tried were good, the kalamari was disgusting. Towards the end of the meal they said they would only charge us $22 each for food and they allowed us to pick one other dessert. However, when you consider that the original deal is $22 for unlimited tastes, we each paid $22 for 5 small plates, so that was not much of a deal.

We felt rushed through the whole experience, and they didn’t ask us if we’d like a second round of drinks. This was the worst restaurant week experience I had ever had, primarily because we did not get to experience the Restaurant Week deal.

There should not be an option to reserve a table at 2pm if 1) you will not honor the deal or 2) your staff will be unpleasant and rush customers who book at this time.

Additionally, while they claim to have parking, they don’t mention that it is only available after 5 pm, so we were stuck frantically looking for a place to park. We eventually found a paid parking garage, which added to the cost of this negative experience. While I could have taken the metro, my brother had driven down from Pennsylvania for this lunch.

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AK
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined on 14 January 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Interesting, inventive small plates. Tried for the first time during restaurant week and got to sample a number of types of dishes. I was expecting heavy food, but this was done in a way that you don't overeat but get a good twist on food from the Balkans. The lamb flatbread was fantastic and spicy.

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T
1 review
Dined on 14 January 2019
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 5

I thought the food was decent. The setting of the restaurant is very pretty. However, the hostess appeared to be very snob like which I did not like. Would I recommend this restaurant? Maybe but it's not high on my list to.

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OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on 13 January 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great unlimited tapas menu with options for everyone. Each dish was fantastic and the cocktails were amazing.

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J
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on 12 January 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 4

I would characterize our brunch at Ambar as an experience. It's definitely a trendy place to be, and it was filled with mostly 20-30 year-olds. It was quite loud, but not boisterous. The wait staff is excellent, providing suggestions on small plates to try, which was especially helpful since we knew little about authentic Balkan food. The brunch all-you-can-eat small plates is definitely the way to go for a weekend dining experience

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OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on 12 January 2019
Overall 3food 3service 5ambience 3

Food good. Service excellent.

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AJ
1 review
Dined on 12 January 2019
Overall 3food 5service 3ambience 4

The only real con was slow drink service-we waited about 10-15 minutes in between drinks and felt like we had to beg the waiter to come to our table and give us a refill. He may have been busy but we felt like we were annoying him.

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OT
New England
2 reviews
Dined on 12 January 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This is one of my favorite spots in Arlington! Whenever I have friends in town I bring them.

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M
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on 12 January 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

$35 Balkan Experience is well worth it. I dined at Ambar with family from out-of-town on a Friday night. The ambiance is cozy and while it can be a little loud in the restaurant, we still were able to talk without yelling and enjoyed a relaxed meal. My guests loved it and wanted to know if we could go back Sunday for brunch! All of the small plates were delicious and flavorful. Even the bread they serve off the bat is pretty excellent. Great dining experience, thank you!

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OT
New Orleans
2 reviews
Dined on 12 January 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 5

They do not have bottomless drinks at this location. VA law forbids it. They do not advertise this.

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OT
New York Area
1 review
Dined on 11 January 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food was great as always. The ambience was wonderful. We love this place. Every item is superb.

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SS
Richmond
25 reviews
Dined on 10 January 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

I’ve been to Ambar for dinner brunch and lunch and it never disappoints. The menu has favorites and new items. With a group of people, it’s a wonderful way to taste the number of different plates! The wait staff was attentive and always ready with suggestions. Fair warning: you should eat lightly before you go!

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r
Los Angeles
3 reviews
Dined on 10 January 2019
Overall 2food 2service 1ambience 3

Ambar is not what it used to be. We used to come to this restaurant once a month because we leave nearby. Last month we had brunch and the food came out super cold. We understand this could happen because of the number of orders they receive. Also the manager was nice about it and gave us a $25 giftcard to come back. We decided to give it another chance and returned for dinner, but this time we decided not to do the Balcan experience since we were not super hungry. To our surprise, the size of the dishes were significantly reduced and what it used to be a bigger turned out to be a very expensive tapa. Again, this was not the first time ordering a la carte so we inmediately knew that they adjusted the size of the dishes. The funny thing is that I even asked the server about the size of the lamb medallions and he told me that they were a good size for dinner. When they came out, they were really a joke and we were very upset. The server excused himself saying that things changed and he was out for a month. After this lame excuse, we decided not to keep ordering and left. There was no point of complaining at that point, I am sorry but there won't another chance to this place. I think people is starting to realize this because for dinner it was not that crowded.

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OT
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined on 10 January 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great experience.

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OT
1 review
Dined on 9 January 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great food and great ambiance! Friendly and attentive service. My go to place whenever I’m in DC!

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ZH
1 review
Dined on 9 January 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We tried the Balkan Experience and it was worth every dollar. Our server, Kevin, was really helpful and the entire staff made sure that we always had a new food to try. 10/10 would recommend to a friend.

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JD
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on 8 January 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 5

Went to Ambar to celebrate an anniversary. Overall the food tasted good and the service was great, but the portion sizes have significantly decreased since last dining here. Balkan salads are now half the size; the brussel sprout dish is halved; the amount of bread that comes with the spreads have decreased, etc. While that part is unfortunate, the food was still really good.

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LP
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on 8 January 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Enjoyed a really nice birthday dinner for two at Ambar on a Monday evening. Our waitress was very nice but there were a few occasions when she came to take new orders when we were still waiting on small dishes. I also noticed that the radish spread found its way to three separate dishes; wasn't sure why. Overall, though, it was a terrific dinner and experience. A special birthday dessert was a nice surprise at the end of the meal.

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CW
2 reviews
Dined on 7 January 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Ambar is a great neighborhood restaurant, with a creative, funky menu. The unlimited small plates is a bargain! There are so many great dishes to try.

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OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on 6 January 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Food was served quickly and quality was great. Love the ambiance and decor of the restaurant. Trendy and somewhat upscale, but a casual and fun atmosphere.

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JW
1 review
Dined on 5 January 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Although this restaurant had been highly recommended to us by friends and family, this was our first visit. I'm sorry that we waited so long!! The food was fresh and tasty. We enjoyed numerous tasting dishes from their menu. All were pleasantly presented and tasted delicious. The service was top-notch and attentive. We will not wait so long to visit this place again. I highly recommend it.

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OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on 5 January 2019
Overall 5food 5service 2ambience 5

Great food and good value. They try to limit your drinks so not truly a bottomless experience

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OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on 5 January 2019
Overall 3food 4service 2ambience 4

The food was fine, but the service was so rude that made the experience more negative than positive.

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J
Washington DC
5 reviews
Dined on 5 January 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This is the go-to restaurant for brunch with friends. You can’t beat the concept. All you can eat and cheap drinks. It’s fun, quality food, and great service. We have been to Amber at least 10 times and it has never failed to meet or exceed our expectations.

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OT
Atlanta
1 review
Dined on 5 January 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great food, excellent service!

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