‘Beauty’ Champagne & Sugar Boutique Brings Guilty Pleasures to Crystal City
Find champagne, cookies, cocktail fixings and small plates at this woman-owned bistro and market.
A recently opened wine shop, market and bistro in Crystal City is a real thing of beauty—hence its name.
Beauty Champagne & Sugar Boutique opened May 4 along Crystal City’s Restaurant Row, joining a suite of eateries and shops that dot 23rd Street S. in Arlington. The 800-square-foot, woman-owned concept serves bubbly and small plates, and carries a tantalizing variety of sweets, bottled wines and sundry items for at-home dining.
The shop is a collaboration between restaurateurs Meshelle Armstrong of Eat Good Food Group and Zena Polin (co-founder of The Daily Dish, The Dish and Dram), who also work closely together at Hummingbird Bar + Kitchen in Alexandria. Two years ago, the pair set out to start something new and eventually located a vacant bungalow that most recently housed a consignment shop. Last fall, they leased it, painted it and got to work on its transformation.
“Every step was the two of us. Our partners, our friends. It takes a village,” Polin says.
Those who recall the decadent and delightfully packaged treats of the late gourmet market and bistro Society Fair, which closed in 2019 after a seven-year run in Old Town Alexandria, will recognize many similarities as they enter the shop. (Society Fair was owned by Eat Good Food Group, a collaboration among Armstrong and her partner, chef Cathal Armstrong, and mixologist/distiller Todd Thrasher. The restaurant group still operates Hummingbird Bar & Kitchen in Alexandria, as well as District Wharf concepts Kaliwa and Tiki TNT.)
Lollipops, gummi bears (including the alcoholic variety) and chocolates in the “Sugar Lounge” are labeled with the same circus-esque typeface that was a hallmark of the Society Fair brand, and one of the former market’s signature desserts, the Big-Ass Chocolate Cake, will soon have a presence in the new store. The luxe decor includes glittering light fixtures and other artifacts resurrected from other onetime Eat Good Food Group brands Restaurant Eve and PX.
Speaking of dessert, there’s a whole lot of it at Beauty. Bourbon balls. Rice Krispie treats. Double-chunk brownies. Knock You Naked bars (think cookie bars with caramel). Polin makes the aptly named Guilty Pleasure cookies, loaded with bits of dark chocolate, potato chips and homemade marshmallow fluff.
In a small wine room, where bottles are sold for at-home consumption, the offerings include vintages from woman-owned wineries such as McBride Sisters Wine Company and As If Wines. Labels are organized by price range, with higher-cost “treasures” beside rows of more affordable bottles.
“My idea here was: You come in for dinner. It’s Tuesday night. You’re like, ‘I just need a $10/$15 bottle,'” Polin says. “We want to be the neighborhood place where you come on in.”
The third room of the shop is home to a 12-seat bistro and market stocked with dry goods, gift items and bar cart essentials. Here, find upscale-yet-reasonably-priced basics for a home-cooked pasta dish (gluten-free tagliatelle, truffle salt, organic olive oil), as well as an assortment of whimsically named candles (Subbourbon Dad) and irreverent dish towels printed with sentiments such as, I choked on a carrot this afternoon, and all I could think was, ‘I bet a donut wouldn’t have done this to me.’
A section called the “Cocktail Kingdom” stocks several shelves worth of mixers, barware and thoughtful extras such as dried hibiscus flowers and bacon salt.
Feeling parched? Visitors can also pull up a chair at one of several small tables and grab a wine list. Choose a glass or bottle from more than a dozen-and-a-half options—the list includes wines from woman-owned vineyards—or order a sparkling tasting trio (Chloe prosecco, Amelia rosé crémant, Sumarroca cava). For variety, Beauty also offers dessert wines and a prosecco-meets-aperitivo cocktail named Bizzarro Love Triangle. (No word yet on whether the band members of New Order have given it a taste.)
To accompany that glass of moscato or malbec, reach for one of Beauty’s small plates, such as a charcuterie board or the Just Quiche Lorraine: “Bacon and gruyere, that’s all Julia Child needed it to be,” reads the menu.
Bento-style “Beauty boxes” are also available for in-house or at-home dining; each comes with a protein and a salad.
Since the shop’s opening, Polin says she has welcomed many pairs for bistro drinks and snacks, while others come in to grab wine or treats to bring to a friend. In the coming months, she says the shop will add more grab-and-go items and launch its Bellezza Wine Club, offering tastings and discounts to members.
“It’s going to grow,” Polin says. “It’ll continue to grow.”
Beauty Champagne and Sugar Boutique is located at 576 23rd St. S, Arlington. It is open Tuesday-Friday from 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m.-9 p.m.