Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Guide

Dec 05, 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. This week, we're excited about the MARC train's new weekend hours, which will give Washingtonians a chance to get to know Baltimore in depth. We're getting ready for the holidays with kid-friendly and festive shows. Have you seen this mobile sculpture driving around town? Are you ready for the upcoming openings of Republic and Urban Butcher?

We're taking questions, rants and raves. Fire away. 

Husband & I recently celebrated our anniversary at LeMont in Pittsburgh, which sits atop Mr. Washington with an amazing panoramic view of the city. I was wondering where one could go in the DC area for a meal with a lovely view. We have gone to Ruth's Chris in Arlington & enjoyed that, but we'd like more choices.

As a native Pittsburgher, I'm so glad you had a nice anniversary at the LeMont! I wish D.C. had the elevation to support those amazing views that you get on Mt. Washington. Instead, your best bet is to dine at a top-floor restaurant or rooftop lounge. The POV Lounge at the W Hotel has one of the best views in town -- you'll see the monuments and White House. It's not a city skyline, but Tom Sietsema recently enjoyed the waterfront view at the new Osteria Morini. And there's always Sequoia on the Georgetown Waterfront.

Saw the posting about the DC Bartenders Guild event on Saturday, but any events of note on the the actual day (albeit a presumptive work eve for the "celebrating" bartenders)?

I haven't heard a peep about an event today, which is the official Repeal Day. Personally, I'd head over to a bar like Passenger, or 2 Birds 1 Stone, or Bourbon Steak, and just celebrate anyway.

The Sound of Music is my girlfriend's favorite movie. But like more and more, we've cut the cable on TV and so on't have access to even the over the air channels right now. Are there any viewing parties for the show tonight that you know of? Anyplace that we might be able to go to that would have the sound on? You guys are great and I love reading your stuff.

Hang tight for one minute, the question I'm about to answer is exactly what you're looking for! (And thanks!)

I just saw that the DC Gay Men's Chorus is hosting a free screening of the Carrie Underwood special tonight at the Lincoln Theater, and that sounds right up my alley! So many questions though: 1) it says it starts at 6:30pm and the show starts at 8pm...so are they singing ahead of time (please say yes)? do we need to be in seats by 6:30pm or is that just when doors open, and we can come anytime before 8? 2) I've never been to the Lincoln Theater before. Does it sell beverages/food, or should we get a decent meal ahead of time? Thank you!!

Yep, for you and the previous chatter, here's some info on the free Sound of Music Viewing Party at the Lincoln, which looks like tons of fun. There will be caroling beginning at 7:15, and you can get there early to claim a seat and get a drink. I'd eat elsewhere in the area beforehand, though - maybe grab a quick sandwich at G, or some bar snacks at Kapnos? And for anyone else looking for some Sound of Music nostalgia, read my colleague Marie Elizabeth Oliver's column about what the musical means to her.

In order to prepare for a medical test on the morning of January 3, I am supposed to stay up for 24 hours the day and night before. My only restriction is no caffeine. What's there to do in this town in the wee hours on a Thursday night/Friday morning? I can only eat so much pie at all-night diners...

The cross-cultural curiosity that is Spa World in Centreville is open 24/7 and I don't think they serve pie. Honestly, can you eat too much pie? 

Sorry if this question is not exactly on topic, but I feel like Fritz or another Guru would know the answer...I'm trying to buy some local bitters as a Christmas gift and came across a reference online to Pork Barrel Bitters from Range and POV bartenders, yet I cannot find any info about where to buy them. Any ideas on where to find Pork Barrel Bitters or other local bitters? Thank you!

Ah, yes - I've actually asked about this at the source, namely Joseph Ambrose at POV. Try e-mailing them directly. And if that doesn't pan out, consider stopping at Salt & Sundry at Union Market. It has a pretty excellent collection of things for the nerdy cocktail-head, including Tomr's Tonic for a bargain, and Bittermen's. 

Friends and I were hoping to do our own version of a pub crawl, sampling the best holiday/winter cocktails at spots throughout the city. I vaguely remember GOG producing a similar list in the past, but couldn't seem to find it. Any suggestions as to where we might start?

Fritz, who is on vacation this week, did this story about hot drinks and fire pits. A few others: The Gibson's new winter cocktail menu, here, looks pretty exciting. And Bibiana is counting down to Christmas by rotating through a list of 25 seasonal cocktails, including twists on classic eggnog and hot buttered rum.

Heading to Arena Stage this Sunday night to see Theo Huxtable--sorry, Malcolm Jamal Warner--in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. What's appropriate dress? Sweater dress? Skinny jeans? Something else entirely?

The crowd at Arena tends to be slightly more mature, and a little more formal, than you might find at some other theaters. So take this as an opportunity to turn out a bit: Do the dress, and maybe a little sparkly jewelry, even.

If it was YOUR birthday this weekend and you wanted to go celebrate with some mid 20s-early30s friends on U Street on Saturday, where would you go? (Open to exploring but not looking for something super fancy). Thanks!

DC9 is perpetually entertaining and unfussy. You've got a downstairs bar with a superb jukebox, an upstairs dance party and one of the best rooftops in the neighborhood if the weather's good.

Tropicalia is a favorite of mine - if you can get there a little before 11 p.m., you'll be able to stake out a little area for your group. And the drinks are mad cheap.

Are there any bars or restaurants that play Scandal on Thursdays?

The Park at 14th is hosing a viewing party. Any other chatters know of any public Scandal-watching?  

Have you had a chance to peek inside the almost opened Republic yet? How's it looking?

I'm getting a preview of Republic tonight, so check in with our blog tomorrow for more details. I'm looking forward to seeing Jeff Black's newest project -- I have heard that the decor is very quirky and interesting.

This is more a Dr Gridlock question but I take a commuter bus that goes down 14th st. I catch it around 5:15. Do you think the tree ceremony at the Ellipse will interfere with my getting home?

Oh, most definitely. This is what happened last year. I'd find a good happy hour and wait out the crush. 

You missed The Christmas Revels show at Lisner this weekend and next. Always kid appropriate and definitely festive. There are even children who perform in the show.

The 31st Christmas Revels -- featuring the music and dance of Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey -- runs Dec. 7-15. 

I know this isn't your typical question but I've come to the end of my rope with my significant other. I've mentioned at home more than once that I think we need to go our seperate ways and it's always turned into a full blown tear/fighting match and I relectuntely go back. This time enough is enough and I need to do this in a public place. I don't want to make or cause a scene so I'm thinking this might be the way to go. Prefer northern va. We'd both be driving seperate and going our seperate ways.

Hmm, you may have taken us out of our comfort zone here, as we're not sure exactly what kind of place would be best for a potentially scene-causing fight (though, I guess, if any chatters out there just so happen to know a perfect location for such an event, they can weigh in?). I'm guessing the more important advice you may need is how to end this tumultuous relationship safely, so you might consider checking in with Carolyn Hax's chat tomorrow.

I know it's a little early to be asking about New Year's Eve, but I will have a friend in town for the holiday and want to figure out our plans soon. Last year, I went to The Passenger, which had a $10 or $15 cover, a good DJ, a dancefloor, and Champagne at midnight. It was nothing fancy and had no overpriced open bar deal, but it was a great time. Are there any other places that will host lower key celebrations like that for New Year's this year? Thanks!

A few years ago -- about the same time that we decided bottle service was passe -- we started espousing this less-is-more attitude about New Year's. Spare yourself the $150 tickets and "open bar" that you wait in line for all night (and the crying girls, and the coat check, and the feeling that you've been stuffed into a sardine can) and just go with the flow. Here's Fritz's recent list of New Year's Eve parties (many of them ticketed), but take note that U Street Music Hall has a $10 party, and the Black Cat's is a mere $25. I suspect Tropicalia will be great, while keeping the cover charge low on New Year's Eve too. I love the way the Passenger marks a holiday, so if you want something new, consider one of the new bars opened by Derek Brown & Co. -- like Mockingbird Hill or Eat the Rich. And definitely look out in the next couple of weeks -- I'm sure Fritz will again round up every cool low-key New Year's party you'll want to know about.

Hi guys! I recently graduated from a small liberal arts school in rural Ohio and moved to DC with a few friends from school who are also live music lovers, and we really want to start exploring the live music scene now that we live somewhere that actually has one! What are your recommendations for the best places to see and dance to live bands in the area? We live in Bloomingdale, so preferably in the District, and preferably not too expensive of a cover. Motown, world music, and jazz would all be enjoyed. Thanks!

Motown and jazz have spiritual homes at Bohemian Caverns, Twins Jazz, Blues AlleyHR-57 and the Hamilton. For uptempo world music, Tropicalia is your best bet. You'll find DJs from around the world spinning at U Street Music Hall, which is essential if you're into anything electronic. And then there's always the 9:30 Club, Black Cat, Rock & Roll Hotel and DC9 for everything else. 

Cover and ticket prices vary, but on any given night you'll be able to get in to at least one for $10 or less. 

OK seriously? Carrie Underwood in the Sound of Music? I am a huge fan of the original movie, but why 1) wreck that memory/vision with this dreck, and 2) waste your time?

The entire thing seems like blasphemy for those on Team Julie Andrews.  But I doubt anything could ruin that musical for its most die-hard fans.

Unfortunately I take a commuter bus. If I wait until 7, the next bus will be Monday afternoons.

That is a predicament. May the holiday spirit buoy your travels. The good news, I guess, is that you'll have some company aboard the bus? Make sure your smartphone and/or preferred reading material is charged and close at hand! 

I'm going this year (thank you lottery). I know I have to be ready for whatever the weather and leave the backpack at home, but do you have any other advice? If the traffic is expected to be so bad, should I avoid trying to get there by bus? I was going to take the X2 and walk from H and 13th.

Congrats! It should be a lot of fun, especially since the weather is pretty warm (though I hear there may be a little rain tomorrow). And oh, yeah, it's going to be fun because Janelle Monae will be there. So, I think you'll be fine from H Street NW, but I've been stuck on H before for a ridiculous amount of time (going the opposite direction).  So I'd hop on the bus and play it by ear -- if you're not moving at all, just get off a few blocks sooner. The weather, as I said, shouldn't be too bad for you not to be able to hoof it.

For folks who didn't get tickets to tomorrow's lighting, know that you can wait till AFTER the ceremony is over, and go in.  After they open the Ellipse, you're welcome to go in and get a peek at the tree. Make a date out of it, even: Afterward, head to P.J. Clarke's, where they'll be having a kind of post-lighting happy hour, with $5 Irish coffee and $5 spiked cider, plus have free regular cider for kids, from 4-close, and carolers from  6 to 8 p.m.

How about Gravelly Point by the airport? The airplane noise would cover any hysterics and is large enough of a space that you could find a quiet (except the plane noise) spot and not attract too much attention. That's where my ex and I broke up.

Here's one suggestion for the chatter about to break up. Though I wonder if the constant buzzing of planes could make an already tense situation worse.

What is the best place to buy Pizza in Adams Morgan and in Dupont Circle?

Two faves:  Mellow Mushroom in Adams Morgan, and Pizzeria Paradiso in Dupont Circle. I remember the Big Hunt having some pretty good/bad for you pies. And Ghibellina's half-price pizza happy hour is an incredible steal for a very good pie. Readers, any other favorites?

I'm not endorsing this strategy, but I'd say somewhere that's public but still semi-private so folks aren't hearing every word (please, consider the rest of us). Maybe Quincy Park or the benches at Clarendon metro?

Here's another. Yep, definitely keep your breakup as semi-private as you can get, because otherwise, someone might live-tweet it and hilarity will ensue. This guy did it.

I've TWICE now been seated to next to a live breakup -- once in the pricey orchestra section at the Kennedy Center, a story I love to tell because, well, all the expletives.  I can honestly say, if you're breaking up, please do it somewhere you won't psychologically harm your fellow man.

Etto, Etto, a million times Etto! Not technically Dupont, but close enough and worth the stroll.

Well, OF COURSE Etto. But the wait.... that five-foot-square little waiting area gives me the willies.

Okay - what am I missing? I was finally able to go to Bluejacket and I walked away not at all impressed. There were some beers that I enjoyed but nothing that blew my mind. The food in the bar was not as good as I had hoped, although my fellow beer drinkers also said the restaurant is far better. I love good beer, I love craft beer, and remember when Greg use to serve me beers back at the original Rustico before he became a "name". It almost feels like they bit off more than they could chew with 20 beers from the start - and a lot were sour versions and not really accessible for the masses (which my normal beer snobby self would normally appreciate). I've been twice...and so what am I missing? I want to love this place - I want to support a female brew master (girl power and all that) - but...eh?

 

I've heard some variation of this complaint from a few different people. 

My first thought is that because of the years-long build-up and hype, expectations for Bluejacket reached unattainable levels. Not all of the 20 beers on tap are going to be Pliny the Elder. But that's the thing: They're brewing 20 of their own beers -- many in unusual/rare styles -- on premises, which is a seriously impressive undertaking. Nobody else has attempted that in D.C. and for that alone, it's difficult to walk away unimpressed. 

I've been twice as well, once on opening night and once earlier this week. The beer list was significantly different both times, and even a beer that I hated on night one (the Ingenue) had evolved markedly. It's going to be an evolving place with an unmatched assortment of beers. Their best beers are very likely still untapped. It's a month old. And it's too well-run to not prove satisfying in the long term.  

It's all well and good to say that it should be private, but this person isn't respecting emotional boundaries, so I say the first partner just needs to do it in a safe way. I vote Clarendon, for the following reasons: Multiple parking garages, so that if you pick an "unusual" one the SO won't follow you and continue the argument. Some of the bars have larger bartenders whom you can meet in advance and discuss the situation. You want allies if the SO tries to fall apart. There's ice cream right there.

Thank you, this is very thoughtful.

My husband and I might do a weekday day date the week of Christmas. If you spent most of your time in the Maryland suburbs with two young children, what would you do with seven child-free hours during a weekday? Thanks!

You'll definitely want to take advantage of the cheap multi-coursed lunch deals at kid-unfriendly, fancy restaurants -- it will give you a chance to eat at an expensive place for a fraction of the price. Here's our list of some of the best fine dining deals. Some of them are as cheap as $20.

After that, perhaps you'd be interested in going to a matinee performance at the theater? It's also cheaper than the nighttime performances, and decidedly kid-free. The Shakespeare Theatre's "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" is hilarious, and it looks like they have a matinee on Dec. 26. Arena Stage has matinee performances of both Maurice Hines' "Tappin Thru Life" and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" on the 26th and 27th.

Can you take metro to somewhere outside the city (Pentagon?) and take a bus from there?

Onpassing for the benefit of the commuter bus commentariat. If your bus picks up outside the city, that might be an option. 

If people keep giving this guy (is it safe to assume this is a guy?) suggestions of where to break up with someone, the rest of us are gonna start assuming our significant other just wants to break up the next time they suggest a romantic stroll in Rock Creek Park or a picnic at Gravelly Point! Please be a freaking ADULT. If you are unable to gracefully break up with someone on your own, you are probably not mature enough for a relationship. Geez.

I am sure more than a few people who see this are gonna be twitchily evaluating their SOs for signs of impending doom all weekend.

There are three other restaurants near LeMont which should also have the great views--Tin Angel, Isabela, and Grandview Saloon. Do you know anything about them? Is LeMont still the best choice or not? BTW on the last two Four Weddings, set in Pittsburgh, the brides from one show met at LeMont and from the other at Tin Angel.

The last time I went to Grandview was when I was in high school, and I haven't tried Tin Angel or Isabela, so I'm unfortunately not up-to-date on my Pittsburgh restaurants. You should check in with Melissa McCart, the Post-Gazette's food critic, who comes to the Burgh via Washington - she's the former City Paper dining columnist.

My wife and I do day dates twice a month or so. In the md burbs we usually try an ethnic restaurant that the kids do not care for. Indian lunch buffets can provide variety of flavors and be relatively cheap. We have tried Cuban, Turkish, Greek, Indian, Nepalese, and Japanese. Next in line are Korean and Vietnamese. We sometimes then watch a matinee in a non-crowded and quiet theater, go shopping, wine tasting, etc. we also clean the house in the morning.

I like this idea - great one. AFI for a movie, nearby Ethiopian restaurant or Vietnamese for lunch? Honestly, when I have a weekday off, I make day dates to Spa World. It's a little trek, which feels like a road trip, and there's a whole process in putting on your weird jumpsuits and meeting in the poultice rooms, sharing a red-bean shaved ice -- and it's much quieter during the week. 

Another thought - how about checking out a winery or two? There's Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyards in Montgomery County, and it's very close to the mountain, so you could even do a little day-hike first.

Please forgive my asking but I'm not sure I understand how postpoints members get points for participating in this live chat?

So, via GOG's Amy Orndorff: PostPoints is The Washington Post's Reader Rewards Program.
Membership is free and you can earn Points towards great rewards such as gift cards, movie tickets, merchandise and trips. Plus, you'll enjoy exceptional member benefits like invitations to special events, access to exclusive discounts, opportunities to win swanky prizes, and more. You can sign up here.  And today's code, if you want to start today, is GG5998.

While I genuinely do feel for person in the process of breaking up and I must agree with the other chatter regarding the ironic hybridization of romantic spots becoming literal dumping grounds, I've really enjoyed this discussion topic today. After all, doesn't EVERYone have some places in the DMV that went from beloved locale to the site of a painfully awkward date? (I mean, at least the food was good, right?!)

[Cringing at the memories]. Yes.

We're off to lunch - thanks for chatting with us! Enjoy the tree lighting and, as always, have a great weekend.

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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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