Got Plans?

Jan 27, 2011

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

Hello, snowbound Washingtonians. Thanks for joining us today -- those of you who have electricity, at least. Let's get the ball rolling today: We're giving away a four-pack of tickets to see the child-friendly "Perseus Bayou" at Imagination Stage. All you have to do is give us your favorite snow day activities and we'll pick a winner. Let's do this. 

We'd like to host a dinner and dancing party -- more fun than formal -- for about 40-50 forty-year-olds, somewhere in DC. Where should we do it? The trick is to find a cool space with good food -- maybe a private room or floor at a restaurant separate from the rest of the diners; or perhaps a small art gallery -- where we can get our groove on after eating/drinking. We've looked at Darlington House and Sonoma. Other ideas?

Both of those are good ideas, especially Darlington House -- I've been to some fun parties there, and they have a great setup for dancing. I'd also throw Bourbon into the mix, since that upstairs floor is pretty cool. Same with the new Smith Commons on H Street, or Bayou, the New Orleans-flavored spot in Foggy Bottom. They have live jazz most nights.

I'd also call Dodge City, since the upstairs is a cool mix of lounge and hip bar, and there's a built-in DJ booth.

Oh, one more option: Church and State, a cocktail lounge above H Street's Fruit Bat bar, made its bow on Tuesday night. Before it opened, it looked like it was going to be a very cool little space. Not sure about the music situation, since snow prevented me from making it out last night.

Hi Gurus! Does anyone know of a (good) Bruce Springsteen cover band that plays in the DC metro area? An internet search didn't really help me but I'm sure there are other fans who might know. Not looking to go on any date specifically, just sometime in the relatively near future. Thanks!

I know there is a cover band that plays occasionally at State Theater, but their name is escaping me at the moment. But I do have something for you: CityDance is performing to the music of the Boss on Sunday in Annapolis.

I believe Amy was thinking of the B Street Band, who play around here a couple times per year.

Hello! I'm a teacher enjoying a day off. Do you have a recommendation for an activity or place to eat in the city that teachers may not have access to on a normal business day?

Most places I would recommend don't open until 5 p.m. but if you can wait that long, I'd head for Estadio. Terrific people watching if you can snag one of the 14th Street-facing windows.

Hey Gang! Looks like I have a Saturday to myself this weekend, with nothing planned (first time in months; horray!). Any suggestions for something fun to do by myself in the city? I like museums, art, music, etc....just nothing too expensive. Thanks!

David just put together our list of weekend picks, which may help. A day along H Street sounds like a fun option, including the DC Shorts Festival, checking out the cool Fossilized exhibition at Industry Gallery and a slice of pie at Dangerously Delicious. Of course, there's always the Monster Truck Jam, which I am irrationally excited about.

I love watching the Oscar nominated shorts at the Archives every year, but can't make it this time. Is there anywhere else to check out these great movies? Thanks!

Landmark's E Street Cinema will show the Oscar-nominated animated and live action shorts starting Feb. 11. 

I have to organize a happy hour for next week, preferably near dupont to accomodate 10-15 folks. Still new to the area, need ideas please! A laid-back vibe is what I'm going for

James Hoban's is pretty laid back and pubby (at least by our country's definition of the word) and has plenty of space, so I would try there.

I'm looking for somewhere to get my hair cut. I only want a trim, so I don't want to go drop $65+ at my usual place for a cut & style. I'm fine with a basic SuperCuts variety place but they are so hit-or-miss on quality. Female, my hair is a little longer than chin length, thick and wavy. Any suggestions? I'm NW - Cleveland Park, work near Metro Center. Thanks for taking a style question!

I'm a huge proponent of the Aveda Institute in Chinatown. You'll get a shampoo, haircut and style for $18 (plus tip), and in my experience, you get a step above your average Supercuts trim for the same price. You'll get your haircut by a student at the Institute, but everything is checked before and after by a teacher to make sure you're satisfied with your cut. And you get the benefit of nice-smelling, high-quality Aveda shampoos and products. The students also tend to be more painstaking -- on the whole, they really care that they're doing a good job.

Gurus, Where in NoVa can a couple go tonight to chat over a glass of wine and live music, preferably jazz? Arlington/Alexandria would be ideal, and even better if there is no-to-low cover charge. Many thanks!

The Not-So-Modern Jazz Quartet plays Dixieland, swing and 30s and 40s jazz at the cosy little St. Elmo's in Del Ray every Thursday night. It's free and runs from 7:30 to 10.  Really intimate and nice for a date.

Hi Gurus! I'm hosting a bachelorette party for a friend at my home in DC. The bride-to-be loves girly drinks, so I thought it would be a great idea to hire a mixologist to hang out with us for 1-2 hours and teach us how to make strong colorful drinks. Any recommendations, or advice as to how I should start my search? The group hopes that it doesn't cost too much per hour (around $100 max). Thank you!!

Bartenders Gina Chersevani at PS 7's or Laura [blanking on her last name] at Eatonville would both fit the bill in terms of drinks, though you'd have to ask them about their rates.

I think this is such a cute idea. That sounds so fun.

Question for Holly - who does a good job hemming jeans (with the original hem)? I know I've seen this question come up during the old fashion chats, but had a hard time finding the answer. Prefer DC locations. Thanks!

Holly's not with us today -- we're going to send out a St. Bernard soon. Hopefully she's not trapped in a snowdrift!

BTW, Lee's Tailor at 15th and L does a fine job with jeans using the original hem. 

It's not in D.C., but I've used the service at Denim Bar. I think it was about $30 to keep the original hem.

Hi Gurus! My boyfriend & I are planning a weekend for our parents to meet in DC and we need to pick a restaurant that will be nice for both of them. His parents go to fancy/trendy restaurants on a regular basis while my parents are more accustomed to eating at home, so we're looking for a fun restaurant that won't be super expensive or really fancy. Any suggestions? Anyplace in DC is fine. Thanks!!

Ooh, the old parents meet-and-greet. The first idea that popped into my head was Eatonville, because it has that sort of downhome-y feel to it. Saint-Ex and Hank's both might work with their mid-range prices, casual vibe and the fact that they're both usually hits with the foodies. If you want to go even cheaper, then Pizzeria Paradiso is always a crowd-pleaser.

Will clean house this weekend in anticipation of Chinese New Year (of the Hare), but wondering if there are any celebrations/restaurant offerings I shouldn't miss next week?

There is plenty of ways to celebrate. The Arboretum is having a pretty cool exhibit celebrating the new year that opens Saturday, and then there is the parade in Chinatown on Feb. 6. Which side of the river are you on? There are lots of festivals in the burbs too!

Tonight is my husband's birthday. I haven't planned anything because I'm a bad wife. So help save me, please. Here's the issue: he's on crutches so metro is out, but we could cab. We live in Shaw, so I'm trying to think of someplace with valet parking, no stairs and mid-range prices. Any suggestions?

I'd cab and skip the valet parking, which is going to be iffy because of the road conditions.

Stairless restaurants near Shaw include Proof, Bibiana, Rasika and PS 7's. Even if Open Table says the places are booked, I'd call anyway, as I wager the snow means some people are going to be canceling.

Hi all - 2 questions about seeing the Oscar shorts. First, when is the showing at the archives? Second, if seeing them at either the Archives or E St Landmark Theater, do they tend to sell out (ie. how early do I need to get there)? THANK YOU!!

I saw the shorts last year at E Street and the theater was probably half-full. A few years back I did the Archives thing, and while it's nice to see them free, you have to get there early to make sure you'll snag a seat (I think I got there an hour before showtime). They're screening at the Archives on Feb. 26-27.

I can speak to the Archives screenings in general -- they do fill up, I would get there early, and prepare to wait in line a little bit. But once you're in, it's a beautiful theater, and a cool experience to see those films. I have to say - the shorts aren't the only thing worth seeing; the best documentary nominees are screened, and those are my favorites, but I love a good documentary.

Best places for a b-day dinner for a group of 4 in DC? Nothing too expensive.

Something convivial and festive, right? Bistrot du Coin and Brasserie Beck come to mind. 

this weekend we would like to do some cool things each day within 1 1/2 hours of dc if not in town. Budget is about 200 bucks a day, no overnights, kids are 6 and 8. We are wide open to anything from sledding, tubing, hiking, restaurants,whatever...just not chuck e chz

Since you are willing to drive I suggest taking them to Massanutten Water Park.  I am sure they will have a blast and you might, too!

I read about a place doing a Valentine's Day aphrodisiac food and beer tasting. Sounds awesome right? Well, it's in Oregon. So just wondering if you guys have heard of anything like that going on closer to home? Or just local beer tastings in the next few weeks works too! Thanks!

It's not necessarily a tasting, but a cocktail class at PS7s comes pretty close -- It's called  “Love Potion #9” and will feature cocktails and food pairings that, yes, claim to get you in the mood. I've been to a couple of these now, and they're fun -- you really do get to eat and drink (and shake your own cocktails). They're $65, and you can sign up by calling the restaurant.

If you want actual pairings, check the blog tomorrow; I'll have a post of wineries doing chocolate and wine tastings for V-Day.

My husband and I came up with this one last year during the major storms - we grabbed one of our two sleds and dragged it and ourselves to the Trader Joe's nearby, which was open. We picked up some beer there. We took it outside and put it in the sled with some snow to keep it chilled. Since the hills aren't steep enough we couldn't quite sled home with the beer, but we tried!

Ha, nothing like sledding down a hill while holding a six-pack. I like it.

Hi gurus, is anyone familiar with Annapolis? I'm trying to help plan an outing for approximately 20 people to include dinner then bar hopping. we're trying to keep dinner costs resonable (~$30 per person). do you have any favorite spots? we're all staying at the marriott on the water and would like to stay within walking distance. Thanks

I love Annapolis, but the bars are relatively small. I don't think you could show up with 20 people at Galway Bay, Castlebay, McGarvey's or Boatyard Bar and Grill and expect to get everyone in. There are a couple where you might -- Pusser's, which is the tropical-themed bar in the Marriott, maybe Fado, maybe the Rams Head Tavern, and maybe the fratty Dock Street, a two-level bar with a dance floor. You could pretty much take over the place if you arrived early enough.

In warmer weather, there's the large patio at Sly Fox, which would be perfect.

Go see Ayisha at the Bubbles next to the CP Metro. Do not see anyone else. She only works on weekends. I almost hate to let this secret out, but TRUST ME! (I think it's $25-30 for women, but that includes blow dry & styling).

Thanks for the insider info.

I'm a newly engaged lady attempting to avoid the wedding industrial complex as much as possible. Part of that means looking for a fabulous vintage dress to sport on the big day. I've done a little searching to find a place that may sell vintage wedding gowns in the area, but to no avail. Any ideas? Thanks, gurus!

How about I Do I Do in Gaithersburg?

Any drink specials going on today/tonight in honor of the snow?

Strangely enough, I just put up a blog post on this very topic.

My favorites would be the strong beers at Meridian Pint (going on right now!) and the Great Lakes beer blowout tonight at Scion on P Street. If you didn't get your fill of Great Lakes Christmas Ale in December, you can get it again tonight, along with five other Cleveland brews.

Thanks for answering my haircut question! I had totally forgotten about the Aveda Institute but I'm excited to try it out!

No problem! Glad to help.

My husband and I watch "The Shining" the first snow day of every year. Neither can recall how the tradition started, but I have to admit looking forward to it every year.

Oh creepy. Well, you might just win for originality!

First, thanks for answering about the shorts! I am glad I can still catch them. My favorite snow day activity is heading to Meridian Hill Park. Last year, there were tons of people to have snowball fights with and go sledding. Everyone was so friendly, it actually felt like I knew my neighbors. We ended up sledding down the stairs on a deflated air mattress with 4 or 5 other people. Someone at the bottom even took photos and handed out his email.  Afterward, head to Bourbon for grilled cheese, tomato soup & beer!

This sounds like a good, fun, community-minded day out. We approve.

Hi GOGs, I need your help my parents sprung a surprise trip up to visit on me for next weekend, Not only is it superbowl but also my dad's 57 birthday. Can you please recommend activities we can do (they have been here many times and i can't think of anything to take them too) and also a great place for a birthday brunch/lunch on Sunday in DC.

Justin ate his way across town to come up with this new  list of best brunches. Some of these (ahem, Masa 14) don't quite fit the "dad" bill, but Chesapeake Room and Tabard are solid bets. Then, can you plan the day around the Superbowl? You could head to Bar Code or Maddie's (which always has great specials) and settle in for a day watching sports together. I think I've never seen my dad prouder than when I buy the man a fancy beer he's never had before.  If you want to do something really different, Shakespeare Theatre has "Black Watch," a Scottish play about soldiers that should be pretty amazing -- and very dad-friendly.  

So any new sports bar in DC to watch the big game next Sunday? Any good drink specials? I want to bring my crew and go hard!

Fritz has a review of the new Redline in tomorrow's Weekend section. It has plenty to offer in the way of TVs and table taps, but they haven't announced any drink specials for the big game just yet. 

And there's always Public Bar, where you could get free shooters after every TD during the NFL playoffs. 

Check back next week where I'm sure we'll have more to discuss on this front as bars announce their promos. 

I got my wedding dress there and loved it (although realistically the prices aren't much cheaper or sometimes any cheaper than a sample sale), but they don't sell vintage gowns. Their dresses are all in the catalogues of the past two years. preownedweddingdresses.com might fit the billl, though. If the OP just wants a pre-owned, less expensive dress I Do I Do will have lots of nice options, but not vintage.

Thanks for the heads up. I knew they had pre-owned dresses and I had hoped that might translate into a few vintage options. But anyway, the search continues...

We take our kids on the toboggan run that we carve out on the hill in our front yard. We make it real slick with tall sides so no one can fall off but you can go fast. The kids love it! Then we head inside for hot chocolate with floating marshmallows (of course). Last year during snowmageddon, we had a house full of friends since we were the only ones with power and the midnight drunken toboggan run was also a lot of fun!

Nice. Kid friendly, adult friendly. Love it.

Heading to NYC next week. Do they have anything similar to you gurus?

No way, we're one of a kind. If you're looking for event ideas, the Village Voice does a pretty good job....

If you have an iPhone, grab Time Out's free NYC guide app. It's really handy.

I read the New York Mag restaurant writeups obsessively. BTW, it says we should all be visiting Eataly.

I asked for inexpensive things to do w/ my bf since I had been out of town. You guys suggested R&R Hotel. We had never been there & never heard of the band, but decided to take your suggestion. I am so glad we did! I loved U.S. Royalty, bought their CD & ended up partying upstairs after the show. We thought about going to Liv, like you also suggested, but thought there was a high chance we would be stuck outside in the cold due to a packed Liv. Thank you guys! I can always count on you!

The lines outside of Fatback were looooooong, but it's always such a great party.

Glad you enjoyed U.S. Royalty.

My friend is turning 40 this weekend; Friday night she's going out with her hubby and Sat. night with a couple of girlfriends. (Seven years ago, we went skydiving to celebrate; her three kids later --- how life has changed!) When single, she lived in Glover Park and hung out a lot in Clarendon, so I thought about revisiting one of those two areas for drink/dinner. Thinking about going for drinks early (6ish) and then dinner. She enjoys a glass of wine more than beer or a cocktail. Leaning towards newer rather than places we actually went back in the day, like Bourbon (GP) and Tallula (Cl). We're pretty laid back -- heck, we both met our husbands at Carpool! -- but want her to be able to celebrate and feel special. Thanks!

Both those neighborhoods have changed a lot in recent years. In Glover Park, I'd hit Town Hall -- really solid American food, crowd that's slightly older than Gin and Tonic or Kitchen -- and then maybe wander over to Breadsoda for drinks and shuffleboard or Wii games. You could also start off down the hill at Bistrot Lepic for some outstanding French food and a glass of wine in the cozy wine bar.

Clarendon has a lot of new places that we like -- Lyon Hall and Liberty Tavern probably top the list, but I'd also include the awesome little Screwtop wine bar, because the food is great and the service is friendly, even if it can get a bit crowded. And if you haven't been back to check out the newly remodeled Clarendon Grill, you could do that as well; when I was rereviewing the place, we talked to a bunch of late-30s/early-40s customers who were rediscovering the place.

For those looking for a fun Superbowl party, three of the Washington Humane Society's Fashion for Paws models are hosting an event at Thunderburger bar in Georgetown -- food and drink specials and HDTVs. Also, I'm celebrating a birthday with an 80s dance night at Tattoo in a couple of Wednesdays. Any suggestions on a good but not too expensive place in the neighborhood where we can go for dinner and drinks beforehand? I was thinking DC Coast, but if any of us dress up in 80s attire, that might not be the place to go. Thanks!

Thanks for the info on Fashion for Paws. Great charity.

As for pre-Tattoo dinner, I'd say Barcode, where the food is much better than you'd expect from the clubby vibe, could be a good bet. I'd probably get a burger or something at PJ Clarke's, though.

Is more of a band for hire, as in I paid for them come here to play my wedding. Most of their events here are private, as in someone else is paying for them for a private event.

Could also be referring to Bruce in the USA, a cover band that was in town earlier this month.

Pushing a buddy's car up Wilson Boulevard so we could all make it to Four Courts for some warm Irish coffees (with some bonus drinks to celebrate our victory in making it there!)

That sounds like a great reward for a job well done.

Going to the zoo to watch the animals play in the snow. Even those lazy pandas are more entertaining in snow.

Very cute!

Planning a birthday for four friends Feb 12. All in early 30s. Was looking for a place where a smaller group could get dinner and then hang out all night while their other friends stop in and go out or come to stay and party. Would like somewhere without a cover. Was thinking barcode, but I haven't been. Any other suggestions?

I think the key here is finding spots with good music and no lines as well as no cover. Barcode could work well for this, especially if you're looking for a loungey vibe with electronic music. Science Club, too.

I'd also toss in American Ice Company (was there for barbecue and Hopslam beer last night with a cool neighborhood crowd), though there's no dancing, if that's an essential part.

Oh, and Bayou, since I like the idea of New Orleans-style bands and po'boys. But that's just me.

Hey Gurus, Heading to the Monster Truck Jam on Saturday night. What would you suggest for appropriately themed dinner before and drinking after? Thanks

Capital Q for BBQ before and Iron Horse -- motorcycles are kind of like monster trucks -- after. 

Thanks for stopping by today, folks. Would the author of the toboggan-related snow day post shoot me an e-mail? baldingera@washpost.com. I'll set you up with the theater tickets. Be careful on those slippery sidewalks.

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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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