Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Guide

Oct 17, 2013

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. Happy No-Longer-Shut-Down Day. Things are returning to normal (with a few exceptions, including the Zoo) and we're looking back on the things we missed. What about you?

Got questions about weekend plans, concerts to see or happy hours to hit? Fire away.

I go all out for Halloween, but mainly stay home. I have won the costume contest for my community many times and set up a haunted driveway for the kids. It has been years since I have gone into DC or elsewhere for a costume party but should have time this year provided the party is on a Friday or Saturday night (either weekend before or after). Any suggestions?

Oh, we've got Halloween, all right: Everything from parties with a $3,000 grand prize for costumes, to day-long costumed bar crawls to pumpkin carving contests. My best-of list is in tomorrow's weekend section, and you can see it online now. We will, of course, have even more events in our database.

Happy government back to work day! If one wanted to spend their Saturday doing something outside this weekend, but not completely focused on drinking, where would you send them?

You've got loads of options for outdoor fun on Saturday. In the city, Dupont Circle is transforming into one big stage when Keegan Theatre performs songs from a bunch of famous musicals. And if you haven't checked out District Flea yet, that's certainly an option. The Bethesda Row Arts Festival is also going down that day with almost 200 artists showing their work. And speaking of art, it's also the Mid City Artists open studio weekend, so you can wander around U Street and Logan checking out what local artists have been up to.

Just was reading that hook-ups surged apparently as shutdown dragged on in Washington-area. I'm sorry but that's just too funny. Anyway, can we please stop saying unpaid leave. Federal employees are being paid but the flow of money payments changed during the shutdown. Unpaid leave is TOTALLY different. Not to mention that the shutdown was totally pointless, in the end. Good place to drink to push away all of the annoying media stories surrounding the shutdown? Thanks.

It's true: Hookups went up during the shutdown, according to Zoosk.

To escape this mess, you need a bar with no TVs, where the focus is on music, cocktails -- anything but politics and people who want to talk about politics. I'd steer you to the new 2 Birds 1 Stone under Doi Moi, the Red Room bar at the Black Cat, beers in the basement bar at Pizzeria Paradiso in Georgetown, Room 11 in Columbia Heights -- those would all be a start. (If the weather stays nice, I'd add Dacha Beer Garden in Shaw, too.)

It's early but my mind (and stomach) is already thinking about Thanksgiving. This year it will just be my husband and me, and we'd like to go out to a restaurant instead of cooking at home. It doesn't have to be a buffet, but somewhere that will have delicious turkey, pie and all the traditional fixings. Do you gurus or the chatters have any recommendations?

If money was no object and I was picking, I'd make a reservation at Bourbon Steak; I just don't think anywhere else will do more wonderful things with meat and potatoes, and what more do you need for Thanksgiving? (OpenTable has a very long list of Thanksgiving Day options.)

Hi Gurus, I'm making plans to celebrate my birthday the first Saturday in November. I have dinner reservations at Daikaya and then want to meet a larger group of friends (15-20 people, probably not all there at the same time) at a bar around 10/10:30 for drinks. Where would be a good bar that would have enough space for us and would either have fun games or a good dancefloor? I was thinking about starting at Vendetta on H Street, but I haven't ever been there before. I would prefer somewhere on H Street, 14th Street, or near Chinatown but would go elsewhere. My friends and I are mostly in our mid-20s. Thank you!

Vendetta's good, not great, but it does have one thing going for it : It doesn't get too crowded, and there's definitely room to spread out upstairs by the bocce court. Once you're tired of bocce, you could easily move over to the skee-ball and shuffleboard games at H Street Country Club, or hit the dance floor at either Little Miss Whiskey's or the Rock and Roll Hotel. 

I'd skip 14th Street at the moment with a group. Too many lines outside the bars where you'd actually want to spend time -- and even those where you wouldn't.

Saw that there are a couple of beer festivals this weekend. I'm interested in going, but I'm not a big fan of crazy crowds - how crowded do you think they will be?

I'm curious about Snallygaster. I honestly thought it was perfect last year at Yards Park -- not too crowded, plenty of room to move around, you could sit on the grass with friends and not feel like you were being run over.

This year, it's in the parking lot at Union Market, which organizers say is a larger space, but I'm expecting the crowds to be bigger, too. Hopefully it won't be the way the last few outdoor beer festivals were at Rustico, but I think the ChurchKey/Bluejacket folks have the organizational wherewithall to pull off a great festival.

Hi GoGs - I have a friend in town this weekend who is staying between Logan and Dupont Circles. Where would you recommend for a Sunday brunch? Le Diplomate, Ghibellina, or B Two have all been suggested. Thanks!

Le Diplomate and B Too are much better for brunch than Ghibellina -- unless you want a pizza brunch, which is perfectly valid in this magical age of egg-topped pizza. There's also the Ted's Bulletin option. Just be prepared to wait, wherever you go.

So they did a soft opening in August. Any new updates on when they're going to actually open? I am dying to try it and the location is just wonderful. What's the latest Fritz?

The DC Beer Week event wasn't really a soft opening -- it was more of an open house. There wasn't any brewing going on.

They've been doing a lot of work over there -- I'd expect a formal announcement in the next few weeks. But remember, this place was supposed to open last year. Delays are sadly inevitable. 

I asked a month ago about pumpkin picking with a 1 year old. I wanted to report back that we ended up at Marker-Miller in Winchester and loved it. Pumpkin patch is close-in and reasonably sized. The market was great; people very friendly. The have a big apple orchard, too, although we didn't pick, which was also close-in. No admission fees to the farm (definitely less of a festival than it is a farm), and pick-your-own and pre-picked are priced the same, which is great when you can't do everything. We went at the tail-end of the rain last weekend, so it kept the crowds down. Only downside was that is was still a haul to get out there (about 75 mins from Reston).

This is all great information -- thanks so much. If you're looking to go pumpkin picking this weekend, here's a ringing endorsement.

Yeah for the opening! WIll be at Ford's Theater on Saturday...what to do after the 2:00 show? What time does Eastern Market close? Are there any good exhibits that may be open after 5 that day? Thank you

Most of the museums close around 5, but the exception is the Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum, which is really close to Ford's and stays open until 7. You can certainly just wander the galleries or hang out in the Kogod Courtyard, but a couple of the stand-out shows include the Outwin Boochever competition portraits and the photo show A Democracy of Images at American Art.  

I'm newly pregnant (yay!) but I'm already bored with sticking to water and club soda when I go out. I was a big fan of cocktails at Passenger, PX, and others, but obviously that's verbotten now. Any (up to date) lists of great mocktails in DC for moms to be?

Congrats. So during my annual breaks from drinking, I've loved the sparkling sodas at Hank's on the Hill, the almost-taste-like-a-real-cocktail drinks at Firefly (a "Cosmo" with orange flower water, grenadine and non-alcoholic cranberry bitters) and letting the bartenders at Room 11 just play around with juices and ingredients from the kitchen.

Andrew Shapiro at the Green Pig Bistro in Clarendon is really into making fresh sodas -- think vanilla-cinnamon cream soda or blueberry lemonade, which he can whip into great non-alcoholic cocktails.

There are a lot of exhibits that were supposed to open at Smithsonians which were closed until today. Do you know, will they still open on time? If something was scheduled to run thru 10/31 will it be extended?

Is there a specific show you're curious about? I think it will likely be on a case-by-case basis. For example, the show Yoga the Art of Transformation is still scheduled to open Saturday at the Sackler. But Hirshhorn After Hours (which was slated for next Friday) has been canceled.

Is it worth the money though? Granted I live in walking distance of Rustico and the last one there was insanity crowd wise, but it's hard for me to buck up and pay the $30 or $50....

So, that's NOT the admission fee. The admission is $10, of which 100% is donated to local food charity Arcadia. The $30 admission includes the donation plus $25 in beer tickets; the $50 ticket is good for an hour of early admission plus $30 worth of beer tickets. 

I mean, you could go, pay the $10 to get in, try 3 or 4 beers (small pours will be $3-$5 each) and get out for less than $25.

Last year, I though it was totally worth the money. I won't be able to make it this year, but I'd hedge on it being better than the Living Social beer festivals. (I've been told that some breweries don't want to work with them anymore at this point.)

Does anyone know if the vendors rotate or change? Do you have to go early or later to get the best mix of offerings? I went semi- early, though not at first opening, to give vendors a chance to set up and settle in...I thought it was extremely disappointing. I'm willing to give it another try if vendors change.

The vendors do change week-to-week, but not completely -- a majority of them are back every week.

What do you recommend as a quick place to grab a bite before a movie? Not too expensive and something for a vegetarian. Thanks,

Jackie's is 1/2 mile from AFI Silver Theatre but can add up if you're doing more than sharing starters. How about Eggspectation? The menu has everything with most entrees under $15. 

i have NEVER seen the rocky horror picture show. i figure halloween would be a good time to go... is this a decent idea for a solo/ 1st timer?

While I've never been on Halloween, I think Rocky Horror tends to be a little overwhelming for a first-timer no matter the day. I say throw caution to the wind, embrace the wackiness and roll with it.

Hi Gurus, I'm taking my friend out for her bday next Tuesday and she expressed an interest in live music... or another active scene for dinner and/or drinks. I'm drawing a bit of a blank. What am I missing?! Thanks!

There is not a lot going on next Tuesday, after a quick scan of my calendar. R&B singer Lizz Wright is at the Birchmere, and indie-folk troubadour Freedy Johnson is at Hill Country -- those are the two biggest acts. You could also check out the 9 Songwriters Series at IOTA, a showcase for local musicians that can be hit or miss depending on which acts are on the bill. And Tuesday is a great night to check out Marty Nau, a stellar local saxophonist, at his residency at Twins Jazz on U Street.

Ok, so my fed friends are back to work and fed attractions have re-opened. YAY! I'm going to hit a few museums this weekend, just because I am so glad that they are back!

You're not alone. We're pretty excited about the shutdown being over, too, as you can see with our odes to eight-car trains and Glen Echo, plus the zoo and National Gallery.

Can you give me 5 unique things to do on a weeknight this month for a couple celebrating a milestone? I've looked through the Post and Groupon/Living Social for ideas. It can't be a typical dinner & movie, Caps/Wizards. Bonus points if it is in VA. Haven't struck the right thing yet.

How about some theater? There are two really well-received shows playing in Virginia right now: Pictures of Dorian Gray at Synetic and Pride in the Falls of Autrey Mill at Signature. It's possible that those might be a little heavy for a romantic night out, however, in which case I'd consider Cavalia's Odysseo (even though it's at the National Harbor).

We have an 80 year old uncle (who doesn't look a day over 70) coming to visit us this weekend. He's got a ton of energy and loves to dance and listed to live music. He's specifically requested going out to a "dance hall" one night. Do you know of any bars or restaurants in the DC area that might have live swing, rock, oldies, or anything else danceable? Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated.

Try the Fabulous Hubcaps, who perform doo wop, Motown and classic rock 'n' roll, at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club. There's a pretty big dance floor in front of the stage. 

Mandalay is very good and has lots of veggie options if you're in that sort of a mood.

Dear Gurus, Have you (or will you have) a list of Halloween horror movies? Thank you!

Your wish is our command. Check out this blog post about getting into the Halloween spirit with movies and theater.

Besides some of the classes at Living Social, are there any other places in DC/VA/MD where one can learn how to homebrew or paint or cook or any other myriad of interests?

I took art classes through DC Parks and Rec, and they were great. Glen Echo (now that it's reopened -- woohoo!) also offers painting/drawing/pottery/etc. For cooking, I'd check out CulinAerie which does all kinds of different cooking classes, and even some cocktail tutorials.

For the AFI Vegetarian, you MUST go to Kao Thai across the street. It's my FAVORITE Thai place in the area, SO yummy.

Check out the V Spot's showing of Rocky Horror at Mothership this Saturday. Very friendly group of event organizers, generally lesbian/queer (though by no means exclusively) and awesome neighborhood bar and restaurant! You can find the event on either org's FB page. See ya there!

Thanks for the tip!

Okay, all. We have to run. (Literally -- I have a plane to catch.) Enjoy the non-shutdown weekend, and don't miss  our list of this weekend's best events on the GOG Blog. 

See you next Thursday.

Oh -- Post Points Code is GG2794.

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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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