Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Guide

Jan 02, 2014

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. Welcome to the first Got Plans? chat of 2014. Congrats on surviving the holidays. How was your New Year's Eve? Have you checked out the new Ivy & Coney or Dry 85 yet?

If you're looking for things to do this weekend, we have a few ideas for you

Otherwise, we're ready to take your questions.

I know the opening ceremonies are not for another month, but I'm a girl who likes to plan! Any suggestions on where to park myself and friends to watch the Sochi Olympics? We could go to any sports bar, of course, but looking for something a little more interesting... Was looking at Russia House and Mari Vanna but don't know how TV-friendly they will be...

I'm sure we'll have a number of bars hosting Olympics-themed events as we get closer to the start of the Games; plenty of bars made sure the London games were on TVs at all times. Details are thin at this point, though; I think most places were trying to get through New Year's Eve before considering what to do about the Olympics.

As for Russia House and Mari Vanna, both are thin on televisions; I think Mari Vanna has two at the downstairs bar and one on the third floor. Both are primarily used to show old Soviet cartoons. Russia House has a few more screens -- I've watched hockey there in the past -- but they're small. It will be interesting to see if either does anything for the opening ceremony in Sochi.

Any idea where a few ladies in their early 30s should go Saturday to watch the NFL playoff games? Audio would be a great plus. We are open to options in DC or Arlington along the orange/red lines. Thanks in advance!

First Down in Ballston is a great place to watch Football. There's also Mister Days in Clarendon, and the "female-focused" Bracket Room, which is loaded with TVs. Lavanya and I think it's a good place to watch a game, regardless of sex. (Just avoid the cheesy Senor Frog-style shooters.)

Along the Red Line, try Cleveland Park Bar and Grill or Ventnor Sports Cafe, though you should be warned the latter is an Eagles bar.

Hi gurus, I'm curious if you know the different juice cleanses out there in DC. I saw you did a post on juice bars a year or so ago but I'm specifically wondering about the cleanses out there - which are best, keep you most full, etc. Do you or the nuts have any experience with them? Thanks!

Funny you ask, because Stephanie is trying to convince me to try Gwyneth's "Warming Winter Detox" during my upcoming multi-week break from booze. 

For the record, I haven't agreed to anything.

So hey, if anyone has any cleansing tips, or advice on juice bars in general, send them this way.

Happy New Year! Running out of things to do w/ our 1.5 year old in the Winter. Any ideas or links you can direct me to?

You're in luck: OnParenting Editor Amy Joyce compiled a list of places to take the kids in bad weather. She's also going to be tweeting out more ideas, so you might want to follow @AmyJoyce_Berg.

Don't cleanse. Your liver is actually very good at helping your body remove toxins. If you want to give it a break, stop drinking alcohol excessively. If you are trying to lose weight, go see a certified dietician. This whole cleansing thing is a scam. For more details, see this Slate article.

Yeah, that's basically my feeling on cleanses. I stop drinking altogether for extended periods a couple times a year. (I talked to the director of NIH's National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism about the benefits of drinking hiatuses a few years ago, and came away marvelling at what an amazing organ the liver is.

Hi GOGs, I am helping to plan a baby shower for a close friend of mine that lives in Alexandria. Can you recommend a few venues with private dining areas for 20-25 people that won't break the bank? Ideally, we'd love to have a lunch or brunch on February 1st and are open to DC/MD/VA locations. Thanks!

We did this list last spring that includes large restaurants that are particularly adept at handling private parties. But to add a few newcomers to it, you could look into private dining at Alba Osteria, Water & Wall (which recently started serving brunch), or the Iron Gate (on the pricier end, but really pretty). The Tabard Inn is another good bet, with many charming small rooms. And other restaurants affiliated with hotels, like Firefly or Art & Soul, are always good for big groups, too.

Sorry but if you want to cleanse your system, just juices are not the healthiest way to go. Too much sugar and carbs. Try a healthy diet that focuses on vegetables, whole grains, nuts (full of healthy fat and antioxidants), LOW fat proteins like chicken/fish/eggs, and yes, some fruits and juices. But to eliminate all the other things your body needs is not the best idea.

More ideas.

Any good sports bars, price wise and good food for the Super Bowl in the clinton md area?

I've only been to the Bottom Line on Old Branch Avenue. Decent happy hour, lots of TVs, including a projection screen, and good wings and beer.


In looking for a date night idea, the Synetic Theater was suggested to me. However, it appears that they only do silent Shakespeare. This is a very strange concept to me, but I think it could be fun. Have you been? Is it too out there for a couple that normally sticks to Kennedy Center/big time Broadway shows?

I love Synetic -- they're one of the most innovative theatrical companies in D.C. As long as you're open to stepping a little outside of your comfort zone, you should definitely give them a try! I think you'll find that it isn't even too much of a stretch for you -- they're such pros at conveying the story through movement that you'll have no problem following along. Their upcoming version of "Twelfth Night" is set in the Roaring Twenties, so you can expect a bit fo Charleston dancing, which will appeal to your musical-loving side. Here's a video that can give you a little more background on their style.

For a restaurant shower on a budget, check out Teaism. I often see showers when I go and their food prices are low.

Great suggestion!

I've recently decided to take a leave of absence from alcohol. Who knows for how long, it may be permanent, but I was planning a cocktail night out with a couple of the girls for my birthday soon, so who has the best cocktails *and* mocktails? Prefer Penn Quarter area, but could branch out elsewhere in DC or NoVa if it's Metro accessible.

Here's a selection of bars I hit during last year's detox. In Penn Quarter, I like the house-made spiced sodas at Graffiato; the five-spice ginger ale and the pomegranate, lemon and lime are favorites. They're flavorful enough to be cocktails. Your drinking friends will like the Empire State of Mind or the Mezcal-based Tony Starr.

Also, Firefly in Dupont Circle and Hank's on the Hill are very high on my list for quality of both mocktails and cocktails. (Gina Chersevani at Hank's has been upping her non-alcoholic drink game lately, as she's pregnant.)

Trying to choose between Doi Moi and Estadio - can't get a reservation at Diplomate. Any thoughts on which one to choose?

Doi Moi, for me. I love Estadio, but the spicy, flavorful meals I've had at Doi Moi in the last few months have made it one of my favorite restaurants in D.C. I dream about the blue crab curry and fried rice, and the hanger steak skewers are fabulous.  (And 2 Birds 1 Stone is the perfect nightcap.)

Cut out or waaaay down on aspartame, fast food, processed food, high fructose corn syrup, refined sugar, partially hydrogenated oils, and cured meats. If you don't put toxins in, you won't have to worry about taking them out.

We're a group of 3 single ladies varying in age from 25-32. We're looking for somewhere to meet quality single men in DC preferably off the red line. Thanks!

Some enterprising soul should open a bar called "Quality Single Men" to target just such a demographic.

Until then, though, I don't believe there's such a place. (Unless all the Quality Single Men want to tell the ladies where they're hiding in plain sight.)

The screams emanating from the UK indicate that Sherlock S3 is upon us. Will there be watching parties for the PBS airings? If so, where?

Well, since we got bars showing the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, I'm sure we'll get some places showing the new "Sherlock."

In my experience, though, you're more likely to get bars screening shows that appear on cable, such as Doctor Who, the Sopranos or, going back to the dark ages, Sex and the City, since not everyone buys cable. That's why I think Scandal viewing parties haven't really taken off: People have the option of watching on their couches.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who is doing the no-alcohol rule for a month after the holidays. I started doing this three years ago, and while sometimes its hard, after the excesses of the holidays, it just felt like my body needed a break. Happy to see the recommendations for the "mocktails"!

I do it every January -- for a few weeks, not for the whole month -- and occasionally other times during the year. After about 10 days, you feel like a new person.

Also, I haven't started yet, so nobody should get on my case for instagramming photos of cocktails yesterday or tonight.

Suggestions for a cheap date night restaurant? Any cuisine except Indian or seafood-y, preferably in NoVa or DC proper. Thanks!

Domku and Bistro Bohem are nice and cozy, and it's the perfect season for hearty Eastern European food. Iron Gate just oozes romance, and while the tasting menu may be out of your budget, the bar menu is affordable (though it might not qualify as "cheap"). If you and your date are into beer, you could check out Right Proper's bar bites and brews -- most of their dinner menu is less than $15.  Or you could check out the new menu at Bar Charley, where the drinks are dirt cheap.

Haven't we been through this before? We're all out training for triathlons and marathons, working late, and volunteering on Saturday nights. /terrible joke

You forgot saving puppies and playing with rescue dogs.

In Alexandria, Society Fair may be a nice venue, but I don't know about its cost for a group. It's such a great place.

My friends had my shower at Del Ray Cafe in Alexandria a few weeks ago- (in the private room) food was fantastic, staff was fabulous.

I keep hearing that there is so much to see and do and eat at Eastern Market. Sundays are out -- I am only able to get there on a Saturday morning. Any suggestions on what I must see, do or eat?

Breakfast from Market Lunch inside the market, Ted's Bulletin or a breakfast burrito at District Taco; coffee from Pound or Peregrine; browsing the artists on Seventh Street and the antiques in the parking lot at Hine Jr. High. And spend time exploring the shelves at Capitol Hill Books.

I've got a 3rd date Saturday night and would like to do something fun and a bit off the regular dinner and drinks path. Ideas for something in DC that isn't too pricey? We're late 20's.

Do you like theater? Pointless Theatre's "Minnie the Moocher" is an adult puppet show about the jazz age, and features live music. Tickets are only $15-20. Afterwards, take yourselves on a little bar crawl through the new(ish) places in Shaw: Eat the Rich/Mockingbird Hill/Southern Efficiency, All Souls, Baby Wale, etc.

My suggestion: Get out of D.C. entirely. You don't say when your date is, exactly, but I heartily suggest taking advantage of the new weekend MARC trains to Baltimore. There are so many shows, galleries and bars to explore there, and everything is much cheaper, starting with the trains: $7 from D.C. to Baltimore is cheaper than a cab from the 9:30 Club to H Street NE. 

Here's our cheat sheet to what to do and where to eat and drink

Rasika (at least the one in the West End) has great non-alcoholic drinks- I'm 8.5 months pregnant and have been enjoying them and my husband enjoys their other drinks!

Okay, that's going to do it for us. If you're looking to fill out that brand-new (and presumably empty) 2014 calendar, make sure you take a look at our January-to-March planning calendar, which is in print tomorrow but online NOW at

Also, today's PostPoints code is GG5229.

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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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