Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Gurus

Nov 01, 2012

The Going Out Gurus discussed concerts, happy hours, weekend getaways and other ideas for seasonal fun.

Welcome back from Sandy, everyone, thanks for joining for us today. We know more than a few of us have a bad case of cabin fever, so if you're in the market for things to do this weekend, be sure to check out our list of best events this weekend. We've got lots of election questions in the queue, so let's get started.

Hi! It's cold outside, but the 2011 link for where to find winter cocktails is broken (http://www.washingtonpost.com/gog/best-bets/best-winter-cocktails,99765.html). Can you please help me remember what was on the list? Thank you.

We generally take that down every spring and re-report and re-write it every fall because bars tend to create new and different cocktails each year. With the warm weather we've been having lately, many bars haven't gotten around to coming up with their full list of warm drinks yet.

My best bets for warm drinks, though, generally include the Tabard Inn, Bourbon Steak, Proof, the Passenger, the Gibson and PX.

I know we are now officially into November, so the weather is getting chilly, but are there any good outdoor festivals or beer fests happening this weekend? I'm getting a little starved for outdoor entertainment after being cooped up for 3 days because of Sandy! Anything involving drinking or great food is a plus.

I'm pretty cised for the Cask Ale Festival at Mad Fox Brewing Company this Saturday. Beers from 14 Virgina/Maryland/D.C. breweries plus fried oysters and barbecued turkey legs, all in the "courtyard" outside the Falls Church brewpub. No cover charge, and beers and food start at $3.

I've left the political world where I'd naturally be invited to election parties, but still itching to be out amongst those either toasting in celebration or drinking away their sorrows when the results come in. Do you know what NW DC bars plan on having election night specials or parties?

My (growling) list of election viewing parties has a dozen events on it so far, and I should be close to doubling it by the end of the day. It's everything from themed cocktails at Art and Soul to the hipster BYT throwdown with DJs to a "non-partisan party" at the National Press Club. And free red and blue Jell-o shots at Hill Country, because, you know.

Before anyone asks: The story in tomorrow's Weekend Section is avoiding the usual Capitol Hill bars, because, yeah, you know Capitol Lounge and Bullfeathers will be crowded, but we wanted to highlight things that were a little bit different.

Looking for fairly hopping spot to watch the returns roll in. Preferably not too frat-early 20s crowd. Close to Woodley Park is key. Trying to avoid a mob scene, but don't want super-sedate scene either. Two 40ish locals.

Uptown Tap Room: $5 cocktails, $5 burgers and sandwiches, half-price beers, lots of TVs. 

Gurus, I need your help! My anniversary is next week, and I'm looking for a great restaurant. Something trendy and fun, expensive is okay but I'd rather not go somewhere a jacket is required. Arlington/Georgetown/Midtown area perhaps? Thanks!!

A tasting menu at a finer restaurant always feels special;   Rogue 24 will definitely feel like an event, and the atmosphere is less formal than some. Right now, Mintwood Place in Adams Morgan will fit all of your requirements, as would Cashion's, though the former is the newer, hotter commodity. I'll list a few impossible dreams, in the event that you can magically score a reservation,  Komi is  an anniversary staple (if, big if, you can get in); if your partner doesn't mind a wait that could take as much as an hour and a half (there are no reservations), Little Serow will deliver low-key romance. And Blue Duck Tavern is also high on our romantic restaurants list, but reservations are hard to come by. 

Hi Gurus -- Have any of you been to the Gin Joint at New Heights recently? My parents are coming into town and we have a reservation at Mintwood Place in Adams Morgan. I was looking for a fun place for a drink beforehand. They've enjoyed the Columbia Room and Gibson on previous visits but we really only have an hour to an hour-and-a-half so figured I'd try to stick to somewhere in the hood. What do you think? Is the Gin Joint interesting? Or are we better off trying something like Jack Rose? Or going somewhere else entirely and cabbing to restaurant after? Thanks!

If your parents like gin, then yes, go to the Gin Joint. They have dozens of gins and a selection of custom tonics to play around with -- making your own G&Ts is a fun way to spend time before dinner.

Speaking of winter cocktails, do you have any suggestions of where I could find something, anything interesting to drink that is alcohol-free (and not a Coke product)? I am so bored of lemonade, which isn't all that great of a cold weather drink anyway... Thank you.

A lot of restaurants and bars are doing delicious house-made sodas right now; I loved some of the ones I've had at Graffiato (less so the ones at El Chucho), but you can also find them at the Hank's Oyster Bar on the Hill, where Gina Cherservani is  definitely making the most innovative flavors around. Fritz wrote this great story about the soda trend this summer; check out the offerings here.

I am going to be at DAR Constution Hall on Sunday night. Can you please recommend some good food in that area? Any places with drink or food specials that we can hit up before dinner? I will be driving so it doesn't have to be within walking distance. Thanks!

There's nothing right next to Constitution Hall. About the best you can do is Chef Geoff's, which is across the Ellipse; happy hour there, with discounted burgers, pizzas, cocktails and "super-mugs" of beer, runs from 3 to 7 p.m.

We are having a few friends down from New York to celebrate NYE this year, and they have indicated that they would like to do "a thing" (which I think means something worth dressing up for) that is not too expensive (which I think means <$75 per person) and properly aged (we're mid-to-late twenties, please no fist pumping college-oriented dance clubs). I'm skeptical such a thing exists, but I'm willing to be convinced!

New Year's Eve is too far away at this point; the stuff I'm getting so far is along the lines of mega-hotel parties with hundreds of people, tickets over $100 and black-tie-optional dress. We'll probably have a better idea closer to Thanksgiving.

But yes, if previous years are a guide, there will be parties that are worth it...

Any good Diwali celebrations in DC in the next few weeks? We'll go eat a nice dinner at Fusion, do candles, music and a meal at home, etc but looking for a fun event where we could take our daughter who would love nothing more than to get dressed up and dance to bhangra or watch a performance.

Unfortunately, this year's big D.C. Diwali mela was at FedEx field about two weekends ago, and another much lower-key event at Indique Heights was also earlier this month. (Strange, since the festival of lights doesn't actually begin till Nov. 13.) I did dig up this event in Leesburg, though you might want to call about it's kid-friendliness and whether there will be a garba/dancing;  since I haven't been and can't vouch for it. Happy Diwali!

What bars in Foggy Bottom or Georgetown (Dupont could work too) have good happy hour specials for a big group? The happy hour will be on a Friday around 5:00 pm.

Good happy hour specials and room for a group? You're lucky that you want to do it around 5, since it's still possible to get into most places at that point. I'd check out one of the upstairs lounges at Tonic at Quigley's ($4 beers, wines and tater tots until 7), upstairs at 51st State Tavern, ($4 rail drinks, beers under $4, $6 nacho platters).

Are there any election viewing parties coming up on Tuesday? I'm particularly looking for anything in the Columbia Heights area!

Red Derby is going to have election results up on the projection screen, with drink specials. Waiting/hoping for details on a Wonderland party as epic as 2008's was (according to friends who were there).

Hi. My husband (a public school teacher) has next Tuesday off and is going to come have lunch with me near Capitol Hill. Any suggestions on where? It should be fast (as it's still a work day for me), but not too fast. So no McDonald's but yes...? Thanks!

Hank's Oyster Bar on the Hill is open for lunch daily at 11:30. It's pretty easy to get in and out of there in an hour, or linger with a cocktail if you'd like to extend your break.

Hi Gurus! My parents are in town this weekend, allowing my wife and I to venture our first night-apart-from-baby on friday night. We were planning to take a drive down Skyline Drive (maybe a shortish hike along the way) and stay in Charlottesville for the night. Unfortunately, due to Sandy, Skyline drive is closed. Consequently, we are now looking for an alternate activity and overnight destination. Any suggestions for something that would be nice this time of year, and (relatively) unaffected by Sandy? Looking for something within about 3hr drive max. VA Wine country / B&B? Berkeley Springs? Deep Creek Lake? Other? Thanks so much!

Though Skyline Drive remains closed, I wouldn't rule out a trip to Charlottesville, which has a lot of great food and things to do. This list includes some of the wineries and breweries you might visit; Fritz's trip to Staunton was awesome, and it's quite close to the Charlottesville area; he offers lots of fun recommendations here.  As for Deep Creek or Berkeley Springs, I think they got a bit of snow this week, so that might be a deterrant. Instead, I'd throw in Philadelphia, which you can get to in about 2.5-3 hrs, and they've got museums, great dining and more.

Hi, can you recommend some open mics in DC or MD for singers that want to sing non-original material (any style)? Thanks.

Hi there! It might help to have a little more info. Like, are you an instrumentalist too, and want to find somewhere more folksy to play your guitar/keyboard and sing for a crowd? Or were you hoping to have a live band back you up on a classic tune? For non-original material, the later approach is probably your best bet, and actually there are some good local options. If you're thinking jazz and you have some experience singing with a band, you may want to check out the jam sessions Sundays at Dahlak or Wednesdays and Thursdays at HR-57, which draw excellent musicians and are generally fairly singer-friendly (you should know your key though, and it helps to have music with you). Also, for a generally awesome time, go to Hill Country's Rock 'n Twang Live Band Karaoke on Wednesday nights. It actually brings in a lot of regulars who are pretty good singers and love belting out their favorite hits while being backed  by a great band (the same band also does Thursdays at Ri Ra).

Do you know of any in NoVA?

The one at Capitol City Brewing Company in Shirlington is the only one I've gotten confirmed so far. Would welcome hearing from more bar owners who've finalized plans, though. (Seriously, when I called people, they'd say, "We haven't decided what we're doing," even though election day's next week.)

I know this isn't the most original question, but I turn 30 on the 11th and want to go out for a nice dinner and then dancing with a group of friends. One suggestion was District Commons to Bayou – but haven't been to either on a Saturday night. Any other suggestions for a good dinner and dancing combo? No restrictions on location other than it being metro accessible. Thanks for the help!

Right now, one of our favorite places for dancing has to be Tropicalia, because, like Bayou, there's live music and a sprawling dance floor, and so far, it's been unpretentious. Check out our list of the hottest places to dance to live music; it's brand-new, and there are great suggestions to help you decide, depending on what music you're into. For a freshly minted 30-year-old, I can't help but think dinner at Pearl Dive or Estadio (you can make a reservation for 6 or more, or just get there by 6:30 or so, and you should be okay), would be a perfect prologue for a night at Tropicalia, or if you're more of a rock-n-roller, New Vegas Lounge.

How about Tacqueria National right behind Johnny on the Half Shell. They have great food, are fast, and affordable. Seating is outside, so make sure it is warm out or take your food across the street to union station!

Another good option, except for the whole being outside thing. I should also add Aqua al 2 across from Eastern Market, which does three lunch courses for $20 Tuesday through Sunday.

Do you know of any watch parties in the Rosslyn-Courthouse-Clarendon area? Ideally someplace full of policy nerds with great drink specials. Last election cycle it was so much fun to watch with like minded nerds and I would love that feeling again, but closer to home.

Seriously, Arlington bars. People want to watch election results. Plan something fast.

The link's missing. Happy Diwali, by the way!

Oops, sorry! Here it is. Oh, and you mentioned you were looking for something with your child, but  for 21-and-up folk, looks like the big bhangra club party is slated for Fur on Nov. 10.

Hi GOGs, I have a friend coming to town next week just in time for the election. He wants to go out to watch the results but I don't know where to take him. Other than just popping in to some random bar on Capitol Hill I'm lost. I'm not looking for a specific party or candidate event but just a fun place to watch the results in DC? Thanks!!!

If you want more of a scene than fancy themed cocktails, I'd head to the Brightest Young Things party at Bohemian Caverns, Hill Country's country-themed party, or Penn Social, where you can always get distracted by skee-ball or pool.

I saw this listed in the guide and it says this show is scheduled for tomorrow at 7:30 at the Lincoln Theater, but when I called the theater, they said this is not playing there. I also could not find any information on Ms. Vaidyanathan's website. Any clues as to where this performance is really being held?

You're right. Both this performance andthe Alarmel Valli show are at UDC now.

hi - any idea what a 'partially seated show' means at rams head in baltimore (for the eric hutchinson show this sun)? what time do you think one needs to get there to snag a seat? also - any ideas for a quick din before right in the area?

Rams Head Live has bleachers in its upper balcony (it's like the 9:30 Club's, only bigger) and barstools at the bars that line the walls. All are available on a first-come, first-seated basis. I'd probably get there an hour before if you think the show is going to be popular. 

I'm not the biggest fan of Harborplace, to be honest. If you want to eat, I'd recommend going up and spending the day in Charm City and grabbing dinner in Fells Point.

Fritz: Your response said there was no cover, but the link shows that cover for the event is $20 which includes five food or drink tickets. Do you which it is? If the cover is $20, how many drink tickets does it take to get a beer? I checked the website, but didn't find an answer. Thanks!!

Sorry, I wrote what you're reading after the link, so let me clarify.

If you want to drink, you pay $20 for a commemorative mug and 5 tickets, which can be used for food or drink. 1 ticket = half a pint of beer, or $3. If you're not drinking, my understanding is that you can just buy food tickets for $3 each; fried oysters are 1 ticket, a turkey leg is 2, etc.

Hey guys, I have a weird request. I'm sort of a loner and really prefer to stay at home with a good book or movie. I also don't drink and don't enjoy restaurant food. Any suggestions for things I can do this weekend with one other friend or by myself that does not involve a bar or restaurant? I do enjoy the outdoors. Thanks.

Amy Orndorff suggests hitting the visitors center at Great Falls and grabbing a trail map to check out the Gold Mine Trail - should be a nice time to see the colors, the waters should be very interesting right now, but safe. This weekend also brings some cool theater, including "My Fair Lady," and Fall Fringe. And finally, it looks like the Tweed Ride afterparty is sold out, but the ride itself is free and open to anyone (register at www.dandiesandquaintrelles.com). Nothing like a brisk bike ride in tweed shortpants to make you feel cool -and since it's a bike ride, it's not at all something you have to do with a group.

Hi Gurus! I happen to be a HUGE James Bond fan and am hoping that there are some bars/restaurants that have theme events for Skyfall's release. If not, where would you say some good Bond-ian bars are so I can DIY a party. Thanks :)

There were a bunch of parties for Bond's 50th anniversary last month, from $100-a-plate dinners at Plume to the celebration of Bond cocktails at Bar Dupont, but I'm not seeing the same amount of events surrounding "Skyfall." (As someone who owns the Flemming books and most of the films, this is weird.) There is a party at Science Club to benefit Refugees International next Saturday. (Attire: Black-tie optional for men, "Bond Girl" for women.) with cocktails and a DJ. (Get advance tickets here.)

Are there any election night parties of note this year? What about bars showing the election results, maybe in the Dupont area?

I think one of the most original/interesting events will be the Election Night Jam with Jason Moran and the Bandwagon at the Kennedy Center. In the Grand Foyer, they're showing the election results and having live performances by Moran (the KenCen's jazz adviser) and others. Not exactly Dupont, but definitely an event worth noting.

The oyster bar looks great, but I'm more at the north end of the hill (near union station). Taqueria Nacionale is great, but we've been there (I think last election day!). Anything else?

Ah, the old one-end-of-the-Hill problem. Have you tried lingering over lunch at Bistro Bis? That's what I would do.

Hi GoGs! I'm usually the one my friends go to for these types of questions, but I'm stumped so I need your help! We want to meet up for breakfast on Saturday at 10 or 10:30 am in NoVA. It has to be that early so that a couple of my friends can bring their baby before he needs to nap. They live in Fairlington and we live near Courthouse so ideally some place in between would be great. They also offered to pick us up and drive to some Korean/Chinese place out in the boondocks, but not sure if there are any places that early in the morning that would be open other than Honey Pig. And I think that a sit-down brunchy place like Lyon Hall would fit the bill, but do you have any other suggestions? Thanks!

For brunchy fare, your best bet would Liberty Tavern, which opens at 9:30 a.m. on the weekends.  I also wouldn't rule out the trusty old Silver Diner, which began using a local farms and embracing gluten-free and vegetarian options not that long ago. Similar is the Original Pancake House in Falls Church, which isn't too far from either of you.  And I might throw the Shirlington Busboys and Poets in as an option. And, finally, if you can get them to bump breakfast back to 11, you could do  Rustico in Ballston on Saturday for an amazing brunch. There are housemade doughnuts.

Snagged an Amazon local deal for Buck's Fishing & Camping. Is this place kid-friendly at all or better for date night?

I put your question to Weekend editor Amy Joyce, a parent of two who lives near Buck's, and she responds, "Save it for date night. I've seen kids there on the early side, but they don't have a kids' menu,  so they're not very kid-friendly."

For those who asked questions about a cool place to watch the election results, check out the theater/results party at Woolly Mammoth Theater! All tickets to their new show You For Me For You are $20 that night, and they are having politically-themed refreshments and party favors. You also get a free drink at their bar if you have an "I voted" sticker or pin! http://www.woollymammoth.net/performances/show_you_for_me.php

Thanks for this, Woolly-ite. Wished you'd reached out to us earlier, so we could have included you.

I have to work for election night (in politics) but what about when it's done and I want to keep drinking -- around 2 or 3? Anything staying open late?

Unfortunately, Wednesday's not a holiday, so bars in D.C. will be calling last call around 1:30 a.m., as usual.

I might try the bar at Rasika or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, one of the new fast casual places (Roti, Chop't) in Union Station

Another good suggestion, and it shouldn't be as bad on a Tuesday...

Okay, that's it from us today. Remember to vote on Tuesday, and we'll see you here next Thursday, when this election season will (thankfully) be all over.

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The Going Out Gurus
The Going Out Gurus 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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