Got Plans? Discuss great ideas for local entertainment, dates and family fun.

Nov 10, 2011

The Going Out Guide staff discuss great ideas for local entertainment, dates and family fun.

Thanks for joining us instead of heading to your favorite food truck on this gross afternoon. Today, we've got guest Gurus Vijai Nathan and Sheldon Scott, two  hilarious storytellers who have shows in Fall Fringe (and two very awesome people). So we thought we'd ask you for a good story -- family-themed, in honor of the themes of both their shows. Tell us the worst piece of advice your parents ever gave you and you can win tickets to Vijai's show, "Good Girls Don't, But Indian Girls Do" this Sunday at 8:30 p.m.  To kick it off,  Vijai offers this gem from her parents: "Sex is only for the Americans."

I love DC but one thing I hate the DC taxi system. I was thankful that the ridiculous, unfair, prone-to-fraud zone system was changed to meters, but I am still not happy with the DC taxi system for three reasons: 1. drivers often do not know the city (I caught a cab last week at the Kennedy Center right by Rock Creek Parkway and I live 0.1-mile off of a RCP exit, yet the driver told me he could not take RCP because it confused him); 2. the driver's id is rarely in view, so if there is a problem, they know you cannot report them (this does not happen in NYC cabs, so the problem here is the lack of enforcement); 3. drivers who smoke in their cabs and think if they open a window for a couple of minutes, the cab clears out. It does not. In the past month, I have gotten out of two cabs because it was clear (and admitted by the drivers) that the driver had just been smoking. I'd use a lot more cabs if these issues were addressed (and I'd be willing to pay a bit more, though I am not convinced by the drivers' claims of too-low rates). I'd guess you take a lot of taxis. Do you think DC taxi system works well?

Sheldon Scott: I agree the new system is a lot better than it used to be, but it could still use some improvement!  Now having some unique experiences in cabs, once I hijacked a cabbies license until he dropped me off home, I know for certain that they must always have their "hack papers" in plain view.  They usually put them in the front passenger visor and that's all you need to put yourself in the "drivers seat".  Get that number and you can lay down the law on those reluctant drivers or those who claim ignorance, put the hack office number on speed dial on your smart phone and threaten to call in an incident until you arrive home safely! 

I (Fritz) was in a cab last night that reeked of smoke, rattled like a death trap and sounded like the hubcaps could fly off at any moment. I've never been in a cab in that condition in New York or Philly, for example. I think that the clapped-out cars are one of the reasons people are so anti-D.C. Cab, but I notice that increased inspections and better quality of automobiles feature nowhere in these proposals for higher fares.

Lavanya: Ugh. I have decided over the past year to take cabs as little as possible and just walk and bike more. Yeah, that means I leave a bar a little earlier so I can walk home safely.  Frankly it's really reduced the number of bad encounters I've had, not to mention leaving money in my pocket. If we don't like the system, we can boycott it, right?  No force more powerful than economic ones.

I don't take a lot of taxis in DC, but I did when I lived in New York, and the terrifying thing is that most of the drivers are talking on their phones during the whole ride-- seriously at times fighting with their spouses... and they are often wearing too much cologne or patchouli oil.

Hi Gurus! I'm going out on H Street for my birthday Saturday night, but it's not a neighborhood I go to frequently. We'll be out around 10 after dinner at Atlas Room. What bars (2-3) would you recommend, starting with somewhere more low-key and ending up somewhere with some dancing? Thanks!

With a group like that, I'd probably head to either Church and State (the "secret" craft cocktail lounge above Fruit Bat) for classic martinis in a dimly lit setting, or the more raucous Queen Vic for an English pub atmosphere and hearty beers. And I'd finish up at Little Miss Whiskey's for some dancing.

I also like Granville Moores too-- good margaritas

Tomorrow is the Marine Corps birthday...I know the ball is on Saturday but are there any other events going on tomorrow? Possibly at Iwo Jima? Also do you have a Veterans Day list? Love your chats! Love our military!

You are in luck, we have an entire cover story about ways to observe Veterans Day.

If I gave you $10,000 for your restaurant how would you spend it, on what, and why? and when are you having another rooftop party?!?!?!?!?!? Andre (Kwisatz Haderrach) Dune) Holmes

I would spend it erecting a statue in your likeness!  The next rooftoop fete will be in the Spring of  '12!  Probably some fundraiser for the kids!!

DC is a great walking city. What are some of your favorite streets and/or neighborhoods to take a leisurely stroll with that special someone?

I love walking from Cleveland Park down to Dupont Circle. There is a bridge you cross on the way that overlooks Rock Creek park and you can pretend to  "fall" off and getting "saved" by your beau...

Instead of church (don't tell my parents!) my husband and I are taking our 4 kids, ages 10-19, to the Redskins game on Christmas Eve. Afterward, we'd like to take the kids to a nice dinner at National Harbor. We're trying to decide between Bond 45, McCormicks & Schmick's or Old Hickory Steakhouse. What do you suggest? Or somewhere else?

If you're set on National Harbor, I'd go with Bond 45. Tom Sietsema gave it a "Good" two-star review. It's personable, warm and should have plenty of room for Christmas Eve dining. 

Looking for a bar (in DC) for a small group (late 20s/early 30s) to grab some fun (okay, girly) cocktails. Want to avoid places that are so loud we won't be able to hear each other, as well as those with price-y drinks.

For fun, girly cocktails, I like PS7's, the Tabard Inn, the Tiki Tuesday party at the Passenger -- and you'll find drinks in the $8-$10 range at all three. Just look at the menus before ordering.

Hey GOGs! I'll be in the Dupont Circle area on Saturday, and am looking for a (non-Starbucks) coffee place to sit and read for an hour or so. Tasty pastries are a definite plus. Thanks!

Oh, I've got two favorites: Dolcezza, the gelateria on Connecticut (near R) makes fantastic coffee (it's my Saturday coffee spot), and the best pastries ever (house-made churros!). Plus it's adorable. If it's too crowded, another equally awesome bet is Filter Coffeehouse, hidden away on 20th St., also near R.

Hi GOGs. Frequently the times are listed wrong for chats when seeing the schedule from another chat. Like today it puts the GOG chat at noon. Also the front page used to list all the chats, and now just a select few. Gripe over. Enjoy the weekend!

Thanks for the heads-up/gripe. We'll definitely look into it.

--Alex

Hey GOG's I checked the UMD site but came up empty. My parents are headed to town this weekend with tickets to the Maryland v. NDU game. Im so not a fan of Notre Dame but the folks thought this would be a fun family activity. Ive never been to Fed Ex field but have certainly read your hints. Will there be parking available? Will there be beer sales? Any insight on what to expect would be wonderful. Many thanks from a devoted GOG fan

I have always taken the metro to FedEx and have never had any problems. It is a bit of a hike, but parking is always a premium. Fritz says yes to them selling beer at FedEx during college football games.

I saw her at DC9 on Tuesday and she rocked! Can you post ticket info for her Fringe show (google is failing me right now) in case I don't win tickets? My parents are disappointingly awesome and seem to give good advice only.

I love you too-- unless you are the guy who invited me to "donate blood" as a perfect first date.

You can get tix at capfringe.org-- if that doesn't work let me know!

And feel free to friend me!

We took a family trip to New Orleans, during which I left for a few days to be MOH in a wedding a few towns over. The night before I left, we went out on Bourbon Street to check things out. We ended up at Howl at the Moon, where my mother (annoyed at everything all night) was aghast at my father, who kept ordering rounds for himself and me for the next 2 hours. By the time we left, Dad and I were a little tipsy, the funny giggly kind (first time drunk together) and Mom was ticked. The next morning, as I was leaving for the wedding, Mom, very seriously, expressed her wishes that I not drink and drive. Me, at 30, having never done so previously, just chalked it up to yet another lousy attempt to properly parent, 15 years too late. Let's not even start with when I finally got the sex talk, last summer...

I think it's so funny when moms dole out advice they should have when you were 18. My mom told me recently that she'd prefer it if I drank wine -- cue Indian accent --  "because beer is trashy. Girls shouldn't drink beer."

Taking my favorite recent Veteran out. We were looking to do something outside around lunch and afternoon on Friday but it's looking cold. Any recommendations on drives to fall leaves or other activities? PS Thank you but no restaurant discount lists please, I've got them all.

We have you covered with plenty of Veterans Day ideas!

Hey Fritz! Any new ideas for watching the MNT take on France tomorrow? (eg beyond Lucky Bar et al). Bonus for anywhere in Mt Pleasant/U Street area. Thanks!

The tricky part here is that the game is at 3, which is before plenty of bars open for the day. (On U Street, I would recommend Duffy's, for example, but they don't open until 4.)

Two options for you: Touchdown on U Street, one of DC United's partner bars, opens at the stroke of 3, so you'll have to time it just right. 

I might suggest heading over to Meridian Pint in Columbia Heights, which is opening at 11 a.m. tomorrow for all of you lucky people who get Veterans Day off.

Looking for inspiration for an indoor or outdoor Saturday afternoon activity for two 30-something women in the DC/Maryland area. Any ideas?

The Phillips is having a 90 anniversary exhibit and it is fabulous!

Hey Gurus-The boyfriends dad is coming into town with his new g/f this weekend-would like to find something that doesn't make dinner/drinks as awkward as it could be-Was thinking DC Improv, but it looks like its sold out-any suggestions??

You're always taking a big risk going to see a stand-up show; you never know when the comedian's going to set his sights on your table and unleash with a torrent of (good natured) withering commentary. You can always try Riot Act if the Improv is booked. 

 

You're looking for dinner for four where there's something going on to distract from the potential awkward pauses and such? I'd go for small plates, someplace like Estadio, Zaytinya or Vinoteca, where the ordering and delivery of dishes can serve as punctuation marks when things slow down. 


Or you could go someplace like Hill Country where it's too loud to make awkward conversation, anyway. 

-- AB

On Friday & Satuday night you can go see "Stripped" a comedic storytelling show with performers from NY & DC produced by SpeakeasyDC. I realize that an evening of sexy stories could be awkward-- or it could be something that could break the ice... drink heavily is my final suggestion!

Hello- Can you recommend any places (preferably in DC or VA) with bottomless mimosa brunches on Saturday? Thanks!

Jess had some great suggestions last week: Vinoteca or Masa 14, Getaway, Front Page, and El Centro DF.

I'm going to see them on Friday with some friends (yay!) and am in charge of figuring out where to go before the concert for snacks and beverages. I'm sure the places in immediate proximity will be packed, so can you recommend a place within a few blocks where we can get good beer and martinis where I won't stick out like a sore thumb in my leather boots and leopard print top?

Zengo is yummy but kinda fancy- get there for happy hour and get cheap snacks and drink--it is a bit sex and the cityish

There is also Fado if you want chill bar food and drinks-- that might be the most "concertish" place.

I reliable stand-by is Jaleo

Hi gurus! My family is coming into town for Black Friday and after a marathon day of shopping around town we will be staying at the Grand Hyatt at Metro Center and need somewhere fabulous for dinner for 5 of us preferably within walking distance. (side note - that Saturday is also my birthday so it can be somewhere extra special!) Last year we did the same deal and went to Oya and everyone loved - so something along those lines. Slightly more special and fun than a normal din but not crazy expensive. I made a reservation at Zaytinya but the only time i could get was very late so I'm looking for other options. Thanks!

Sheldon Scott: The Source by Wolfgang Puck is a brisk walk away (6th and Pennsylvania) but more than worth it!  Ask for Rikka, the GM, she is awesome and Scott Drewno, the chef is epic!

I hear all the talk about raising cab fares, which will really make going out more expensive. Do you have any tips for going out barhopping without taking cabs, or just making going out less expensive?

Pick a neighborhood for the evening and take Metro to and from. Easy (if you plan ahead, take track work into consideration). No cabs required. 

I'd recommend Capital Bikeshare, but not if you're bar-hopping aggressively. If you're not imbibing, however, or you're just having one, we have a bike-friendly itinerary for an evening on the town

 

--AB

What are some good bars in Georgetown for 30-somethings to spend a Saturday night?

Bars where I see 30-somethings on Saturday nights in Georgetown: L2 (requires a $2,500-for-two-year membership), George (private, list-only unless you're with a member), the Ritz-Carlton's Degrees Lounge (very low-key, but elegant) and the cool little bar at Mie N Yu. Other than that -- I mean, yes, you may find people around the piano bar at Mr. Smith's, but it's really not a 30-something neighborhood. I'd head to 14th Street, personally -- Black Jack, Masa 14, El Centro, Lost Society, etc.

Looking for places to see the leaves this weekend.

Me too? Chatter peeps do you have suggestions for where to drive too? As a kid I went to Skyline Drive

My two best girlfriends (30s) and I are hitting the town this weekend. I'm most excited about Friday's Spelling Bee at Rock and Roll Hotel, but have never been to it, and was wondering if anyone knew if it is as cool as I think it's going to be? Also, we want to go dancing on Saturday night, and are spying Mixtape at Black Cat. Is that the right choice, or is there a better choice for people who love to dance but will probably turn into pumpkins at midnight?

Lavanya: So I fall into your same fabulous age range, and Rock & Roll Hotel is skewing wayyy young for me lately. I've been to Spelling Bee, and it's a little wild. H Street in general is a little wild, particularly as it gets later. Here's what I would do: Hit Spelling Buzz, dance a little before it gets way too crowded, then over to Smith Commons or Atlas Room afterward for drinks and a more sophisticated vibe. End night at Dangerously Delicious pies or Taylor Gourmet for late-night. That sounds just right.

Hi, all - I am going to be a godmother and would like to get the little one a lovely, traditional silver gift. I've thought of just going with something from Tiffany but was hoping to get other suggestions of places (either local to DC or online) where I could find high-end baby gifts. Thanks!

This is a nice gift idea if you have a goddaughter-- I have bought intial pendants for my friends (actually in gold- but you can do silver) for the child's name-- the mom can wear it until the kid is old enough. There is something really special about later being able to wear a  piece of jewelry that was from when you were born. It might be kind of an "Indian" tradition-- but my American friends really love it.

Skyline will probably be busy, Sky Meadows (off I-66) would probably be a better option.

Lavanya: Great option, thanks. Right now, the Mall, around the Tidal Basin, is looking pretty great, and I'd also imagine that Great Falls would be beautiful. Okay, more beautiful than usual.

Not to be a complete ass but I'll go ahead and be one. Your Veteran's Day list has a lot of things that are happening later in the year not on Veteran's Day so I think it's a little false advertising.

Ow. Ok. Let me just go with the official title of the list: Best Military Events. Better?

 

Yes, there is only one event on our best bets list that is actually on Friday, but, if you scroll down, you will see that we suggest museums and ships that you can visit all year.

 

Our friends at Local Living have also compiled a list of events.

The Newseum has free admission for active duty and veterans this entire weekend.

Thanks for the tip.

Besides Sequoia and the W, what are better restaurants with a great view, great architecture (e.g. sitting under a dome or cupola, or on a heated veranda with city views), or spectacular interior design? Thanks, Peter

A crisp Fall night under the heaters on Perry's rooftop looking up Columbia Rd is awesome! Full Disclosure, I am closely related to Blackbyrd at 14th & U and the second floor lounge is an interior design favorite of mine.

 

Sheldon

We just ran a story with the folks who own Mitchell Gold on 14th -- you know, the amazing velvet, studded sofa people? -- and these are some of their favorite D.C. spots. All stylish, naturally.

I feel like you get this question all the time, but I couldn't find it... where are some good places to watch the Pacquiao fight Saturday night?

The Park at 14th is showing it, and since Mayweather was just there, it might be a fun place to watch.

Public Bar is generally my go-to spot for fights. Bar 7 usually has them, too, and there's no cover if you get there before 10.

I think Skyline might be past peak. I was there 3 weeks ago...and even then at higher elevations it wasn't that great. I agree that just around this area would be your best bet, as I'm seeing fantastic colors in Mongtomery County. Great Falls, C&O Canal, Rock Creek Park, Seneca Creek State Park, I'd think those would be good options - but those are more suitable for walking/hiking. And if driving is a must - maybe the GW Parkway?

Thanks for your suggestions, I agree with all of them!

Heck, just about everywhere is great! Driving to work on rt. 50 in Maryland was gorgeous!

Lavanya: I feel exactly the same way! Everywhere I'm driving lately, I just want to take pictures.  I don't think it'll last much longer -- they're falling like crazy in the wind today, so get out there soon.

My dad used to always tell me, "Don't eat the yellow snow!" I wonder what I've actually been missing out on all these years...

Lavanya: I just threw up in my mouth a little.

Hi! My 22 yr old cousin is visiting from LA and will be in DC with me for a couple of nights during her 'East Coast tour'. Any recommendations for some entertainment Sunday, Monday and Tuesday evenings? Any recommendations for things to do during the day I can give to her? She'll be on her own while I'm at work.

On Sunday I will be at the Fall Fringe Festival experiencing Vijai Nathans', my friend and co-blogger today, "Good Girls Don't But Indian Girls Do!" storytelling and laugh-fest at 8:30 PM, 607 NY Ave NW!

 

Monday and Tuesday daytime, double dose of Warhol at National Gallery of Art and Hirshhorn, squeeze in some time for "30 Americans" at the Corcoran Gallery as well!  For those nights, hit the neighborhoods of U Street, 11th Street in Columbia Heights and Mt. Pleasent for a real DC experience!

 

Sheldon

Hello, A friend and I are interested in planning a surprise 40th birthday party for her husband. We're figuring 50 attendees and were looking into Vinoteca's upstairs space, but we're not sure we can afford it . Our crowd doesn't put away as much alcohol as it used to, and we could be stuck with a big bill if they don't buy enough drinks (and that's assuming we subsidize part of it). We LOVE the space at Vinoteca. Do you have any other suggestions for nice party spaces in the city? It doesn't have to be a wine bar. The party wll be in February, so outside space isn't an option. Thanks!

How about Coppi's Organic on U Street? The atmosphere is really nice, delish food and a good selection of wine. The owner/chef is delightful and when you are there you feel like family.... that is a great slogan...someone should use it.

There aren't a lot of private party spaces in the city -- especially on weekends, and especially for a party of 50  -- that don't have a good-sized minimum bar tab.

The Science Club's upstairs space could work for you, and they generally don't have a room rental fee. You could also look into the back room at Ripple, maybe the side room at Bar Rouge in the Hotel Rouge....

I am a loyal follower & you guys have sent me to all the right places in the past, so I'm back asking for your help, eventhough, it's not really DC related. We are going through a rough spot and want to do something fun this wkend to bring us back together. We want to get away this wkend, but can't decide where. Maybe NYC or AC, but open to other suggestions. We like to dance, drink, eat, play & party. Not really interested in museums, theatre or sightseeing this wkend. We prefer to drive and be back in this area by early evening Sun. Any suggestions on places & things to do? THANK YOU!

Have you thought about a tantric yoga retreat?  That would definitely bring you closer to.... well it may just bring you closer to yourself actually. How about a couples massage or spa? if you want to reconnect that would be lovely.

OOh-- this is fun too-- pretend that you are on a "first date" with each other and meet for dinner-- it might remind you of what you and your partner are really about

As I was getting shipped off to summer camp in Minnesota: "Don't stand behind a horse because they kick and watch out for jelly fish." The camp didn't have a single horse and was situated on a freshwater lake. Thanks Dad!

Love it! My parents would never let me go to summer camp because they thought I'd be sold into some sort American Sex Slave Trade ring.

This might not be advice per se, but one of my favorite tales to relate about my mother was how she used to never let me have friends over past 10 p.m. in high school - not because she was worried about having them in the house, but because she was worried about "what the neighbors would think" if they saw a strange car after 10 p.m.!

Ha, my mom used that line, too.

My friend's mom would always remind her when she went on a date: "Don't play your ace too soon...."

Lavanya: Were they going out to casinos? If so, this is stellar advice.

My family (mom, dad, brother, wife, 14 month-old kids) wants to go to a restaurant for Thanksgiving. Do you have any suggestions for toddler-friendly places to go, preferably in Virginia? Thanks!

Liberty Tavern in Arlington. Not only is it cooking ver well right now, but it's very family friendly. They have space for six at 5:30 and 5:45, according to OpenTable, so book soon. 

How about wine tasting? You could go to Charlottesville for the weekend.

True! Here's our list of picks of great local food, breweries and wineries in that area. You could also try a spa-ish day, checking into a hotel (the W?) or checking out Living Social or Groupon and seeing if there are any "getaway" deals nearby, and just going there. I interviewed Dr. Ruth once, and she said it's key, too, to just unplug -- don't answer calls, texts, check emails. Just explore and hang out with each other, and remember why you like each other in the first place.

So if you were a group of lovely, lowkey (30s) ladies who just spent your Saturday taking the best wine VA has to offer, how would you spend your evening? I'm just looking for some ideas!

Honestly: Probably sleeping, depending on how much wine I'd been taking.

But I think you're right to keep things low-key. I'd say dinner and wine at the bar at the Majestic Cafe in Alexandria, maybe a table at Lyon Hall in Clarendon -- Somewhere where you can catch up and get something to eat (your body will thank you) and then head out to a nearby nightspot if you get a second wind. Like, say the PX.

Thanks to our Fall Fringe guests Vijai Nathan and Sheldon Scott for helping us answer questions this week. Vijai is giving a pair of tickets to her Sunday night show to the chatter whose parents advised them to avoid jellyfish and horses at a summer camp that had neither. (Nothing like doing your research, Mom and Dad!) Just email events@washingtonpost.com and we'll make sure you get on the list.

Next Thursday, our special guest will be Andy Meyers, the rockin' four-star sommelier at CityZen. You can ask him anything: about beaujolais nouveau, about ordering wine in restaurants, how to find the perfect under-$20 bottle of red to bring to Thanksgiving at Grandma's.

We'll see you then.

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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. Join the thousands of readers who have followed us on Twitter and Facebook. And for nightlife news delivered twice-weekly to your inbox, make sure to sign up for the Going Out Guide newsletter.
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