Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Guide

Sep 04, 2014

Every Thursday, the Going Out Guide staff discusses concerts, happy hours, cheap date ideas, weekend getaways, new exhibits and other ways to have fun in the Washington D.C. area.

Hi everyone. We're back from our Labor Day vacations and ready to start looking ahead towards the end of Summer and the beginning of Fall. Helping you plan: Our September Hotlist, which looks ahead to everything from Oktoberfest parties to neighborhood festivals. 

There's so much to talk about -- check out our guide to all the pizza styles in the D.C. area -- so we're just going to get started. 

Hey Gurus, thanks in advance for taking this question: where can a bunch of friends meet up on Saturday night at around 9/930pm? Dupont, Chinatown, maybe even 14th street - we just aren't looking for something super crowded. Thanks!

9:30 is kind of the sweet spot for meeting up on a Saturday night. You're in the vapor trail of all the people who had dinner at 7 or 7:30, and you're ahead of the folks who are pregaming at home and not heading out to the club until 10:30 or 11 or so. 

In Chinatown, you could easily gather at Jackpot, Penn Social, Iron Horse Tap Room or even the Passenger, which doesn't get slammed until later in the night, depending on whether you want space to hang out, distractions like skee-ball and pool, or just good cocktails.

On 14th, I'd probably head for 2 Birds 1 Stone (remember, they've got that new-ish $10 or less cocktail menu), Black Whiskey or even Bar Pilar. Black Whiskey is having a special Summer Kiss-Off party with dance tunes spun by John Thornley of U.S. Royalty, free pool, free admission and whiskey specials. 

Was thinking about trekking over to Brookland pint. What do you think about the place? Good beer? Good food? When will they have weekend lunch hours????

I like Brookland Pint -- a lot. I think it might spur a lot of people to start considering that area for bar crawls and nights out: Between the fantastic beer selection there, the cocktails and delectable bar snacks at Smith Public Trust, and the cool vibe at Steel Plate, the neighborhood is starting to hop, bar-wise. (I do feel for the Catholic students who won't have a dirt-cheap dive like Johnny K's or the Library any more, but there's always the Irish Times a short hop away on the Red Line.)

My opening report on Brookland Pint is here: I liked the apps I tried, and the beer selection is great. Large patio that flows into the bar area, and the dining room is decorated with artists who sell their wares at the Monroe Street Market. 

Is it possible to eat at Roses Luxury as a party of one? I would like to go but it is too popular right now for a group.

Definitely! It's a wise move; your wait is not likely to be as long as everyone else's. They have plenty of solo seating at the bar.

Happy Thursday. I'm looking into planning a girls' weekend for 4 to 6 ladies later this month or in early October. Because not everyone could get away for Labor Day, I was thinking about the beach, maybe Ocean City or Dewey. But are there still things to do after Labor Day? Shopping, fun bars, arcade games and rides? Thanks so much for your advice.

Hey there. I just got back from the Ocean, and I can tell you that we're into what they call shoulder season: Cheaper prices, fewer opening hours, but still great weather and warm water. I'd go sooner than later: You'll find that a lot of the bigger attractions, such as the rides at the Ocean City pier, mini-golf or the Rehoboth arcades, are only open on weekends now, and will be through mid-October or so, weather permitting. The bars and restaurants vary: In Dewey, the Rusty Rudder and the Starboard are open daily, but the Bottle and Cork only has bands Thursday-Saturday. Most Ocean City bars will be business as usual for the next few weeks -- live music nightly at Seacrets! -- and you'll have an easier time staking out spots on the sand.

I may have missed it and if so I apologize, but any chance you guys do a list of bars for out of town NFL teams? Similar to what you did for the CFB Top 25.

Yep. Coming later today. Any team in particular you're looking for? Happy to give you a preview.

Same questions for Smith Public Trust as Brookland Pint -- overall comments? Good food and drinks? Do you know what time they open? If it's on their website, I can't find it.

Smith Public Trust is a great spot -- definitely towards the top of my list of new arrivals for 2014 (my first look is here). Have loved smoky tacos, Southern fried chicken and summery cocktails and local craft beer, and can't wait for a regular lineup of jazz and/or R&B music. Nice semi-secluded patio, too.

Pretty sure they open at noon daily for lunch/brunch. 

E-A-G-L-E-S....EAGLES!

Rhino Bar is the biggest Eagles bar in D.C. Ventnor Sports Cafe in Adams Morgan is owned by an Eagles/Philly sports fan, so they show all the games. Oh, and Mad Rose in Clarendon had something on Facebook/Twitter about Eagles games, so that's an option if you're in Virginia.

Looking for a nice place for a cocktail party of about 50 people, celebrating a recent wedding. Can be a bar, restaurant with a room, or event space that's interesting. It will be January, so not a garden or roof deck.Thought of Longview Gallery on 9th, any other spots that would be fun and not too loud?

One of my friends had a large birthday party at the upstairs space in Baby Wale, which was really lovely and had its own bar. That would work for a casual party. Fritz also recommends the Gibson's second floor, as well as PX and Ri Ra's private rooms. If you're looking for something a little more formal, you could check out the private rooms at Art & Soul, Joe's Stone Crab, or Vidalia.

As for Long View - it's a great space, but because it's not a dedicated restaurant/event space, I assume you'd have to bring in your own caterers/bartenders, which could be more work for you.  Just FYI.

It's my husband's birthday this weekend and it coincides with a pre-planned night of babysitting. He loves steak, but prefers non-fancy ones because he just doesn't think he can taste a difference. Any recommendations for places in Montgomery County that could make him happy? Thanks!

The Classics -- formerly known as Ray's the Classics -- sounds right up your husband's alley. Great meat, especially the hanger steak and N.Y. strip, served in a laidback atmosphere with a minimum of fuss. The prices are great -- seriously, $23 for the onglet and a baked potato -- so even if your husband doesn't notice how much better these are than Morton's, your budget will.

Hi Gurus! Any suggestions for a 3 day getaway within a 2-3 hrs drive for an anniversary weekend? Looks like Charlottesville is pretty booked up (looking at end of September) and we went to Philly last year. Wouldn't mind a B&B in the county versus a city. Thank you!!

For the country, I'd send you out to the Shenandoah Valley, maybe around Staunton or Lexington. You get the benefits of being in the city, including nice little B&Bs and great restaurants, but can tool around to the wineries, the leaf-peeping overlooks in the National Park, antiquing, etc. (And the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton is doing Comedy of Errors and Pericles this September, if you need something to do at night.)

I'd also be remiss if I left out that the end of September is a great time to go to St. Michael's for oysters and relaxing at one of the spa hotels or B&Bs, or up to Lancaster County for harvest time in Amish Country. 

I have a friend in NW DC this Saturday evening and we're looking for something to do BUT she can't be out in the sun and she tires easily due to ongoing medical treatment. I was thinking maybe an early dinner and some theater or jazz or even some stand-up would be fun. Know of anything fun for early-ish evening that doesn't involve a lot of walking or standing? She's staying in Woodley Park but we can metro or drive. Both love cocktails and fine dining, especially sushi.

Theater is a great idea, and the season is just starting up again. Regardless of you and your guest's tastes, there's probably something that will suit you both - "King Lear" at the Folger, "Yentl" at Theater J, "Sunday in the Park with George" at Signature, or even "Dirty Dancing" at the National Theatre if you're nostalgic for that movie. If you're looking for a weightier drama, there's "Belleville" at Studio Theatre and "Fool for Love" at Round House.

Your theater choice will probably affect your restaurant choice, but some great sushi spots include Sushi Taro (pricey, but close to the Studio Theatre), Kushi in Penn Quarter, and Perry's in Adams Morgan (though the restaurant is up a flight of stairs - hope that wouldn't be too hard on your friend).

With the forecast calling for rain most of the weekend, I'm in need of a date idea for the Fairfax/Tysons area for Saturday that's indoors. Any ideas of things going on around there, other than doing dinner and a movie? I live in DC, so this is a little out of my wheelhouse. Thank you!

Gosh, we're all coming up stumped on this one, and that includes people who grew up in McLean/Tysons. Chatters?

If it's a day date, it might be worth poking around some of the more interesting/unusual little museums around Fairfax that we don't really talk about much: The Civil War Interpretive Center at Historic Blenheim, an 18th century estate on Lee Highway; the Fairfax Station Railroad Museum; the Freeman House Museum and General Store in Vienna ...

I'm having a party for 50 at Joe's Stone Crab in the room that overlooks the bar. Room minimum is $2000 plus tax, tip. Hope that helps.

For the chatter with the party of 50 - here's some info to help you budget.

I'm meeting a friend for dinner/drinks/fun up there on Saturday. We'll be starting out at 6:00 and going until not too late, because we're old (practically 50!). Would prefer to just stay in that neighborhood, so what's good? We like any food, but especially sushi, and any fun that doesn't involve standing for long periods (theater, comedy, music).

Welllllll, there's not a lot to do in Woodley Park, and this is coming from someone who lived there for a few years. I'm a big fan of New Heights, the home of the Gin Joint, D.C.'s best gin bar, and one of the city's best cocktail spots. It's American cuisine, but with a twist. (Tono Sushi, on Connecticut, is okay, but not great sushi. Umi, which looks like a bad takeout spot, gets better reviews, though I haven't been.)

You'll get live music at Murphy's Irish Pub, or a blues bands a short walk up the hill at the Zoo Bar (across from the Zoo, strangely enough). 

and it is excellent. Also, not very long and performed without an intermission, so good for someone who might tire easily. And you can park in the MoCo garage on weekends, so it will be a very short walk to the theater.

thanks for this info!

for people searching for light entertainment. Not going to give away the twist, but it is pretty dark.

... and this caveat.

During the summer, AMC theaters did $1 movies in the mornings for the littles. Any idea if they (or anyone else) do this during the winter...when we need it just as much as the humid, summer months? Thanks!

Unfortunately, they don't, and Regal no longer does the Bring Your Baby matinees, either. One option: Silver Babies, on selected Friday mornings at the AFI Silver Theatre. Kids get in free with adult admission. The movies aren't really for kids, though: This week's film is the R-rated Boyhood.

Did this recently on a huge time crunch (came home from work, found a hotel, booked it and left in the morning) and we ended up in Gettysburg. Wouldn't have normally picked it but had a great time and that time of year should be less crowded than typically.

Flying up from Tennessee this weekend to visit my brother-in-law's family. What shouldn't we miss as two young couples with ~16 month olds? (They live near NoMa-Gallaudet station)

Consensus answer: The Zoo. There's a petting zoo, a carousel, ice cream, a pizza-themed playground, and plenty of animals to look at. (To make it easy on yourself, you can just pick one end of the Zoo, like the bottom half, where all that is. Unless the kids want to see the pandas, that is.

The Mall offers plenty of room to run around, and another carousel, plus the Natural History Museum or the Air and Space Museum to explore. If it's not raining, Yards Park is another great spot for the kids; if weather's bad, there's always the U.S. Botanic Garden.

Thanks for the annual warning!

No worries. I'm used to writing "Where Not to Go" football bar stories at this point.

1) Two girls trying to get shwasted on Saturday night with potential for dancing. Anywhere in NW DC (preferably around 14th St). Ideas on where to start the libations? 2) Group of possibly 10 people for a happy hour on a Tuesday. Anywhere in NW DC or MoCo. Thanks for all your help every Thursday! Happy early weekend!

1) 14th Street dancing and drinking, eh? I'd say margaritas at El Centro or mojitos at Masa 14, or maybe some of those potent drinks at Bar Pilar followed by a trip over to Saint-Ex for dancing at Gate 54. Lost Society is also an option if you want to class it up -- and we have more options in this week's Nightlife Agenda column, including Black Whiskey.

2) 10 people for happy hour isn't that much of a stretch on a Tuesday. Depending on the weather, Roof Bethesda's deck or the large patio at Denizens Brewing in Silver Spring are both possibilities if you go the MoCo route. In Washington proper, there are so many choices that I'm not sure where to begin. The downstairs bar at Pizzeria Paradiso Georgetown, with its half-price beers and $12 pizzas, comes to mind: Unlike the one in Dupont, seating is first-come, first served. Get there early and enjoy.

Love your info and will continue tuning in every week , but am sorry that you are no longer offering Post Points. Hope you will start that up again soon!!

I'll give you the code when the chat is over, but the chat ISN'T OVER YET. 

Oh, wait, now it is. Post Points Code is GG0456.

Okay, with that out of the way, we'll wrap this up and see you next week.

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The Going Out Guide
The Going Out Guide staff are the experts behind The Washington Post's Going Out Guide. They write about restaurants, bars, movies, the arts, special events and visitor attractions, and they're out every night to keep you on top of the D.C. entertainment scene.
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