Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Guide

Feb 06, 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. We're gearing up for both Valentine's Day and the Winter Olympics. Big discussion in the office this week: Are you actually planning to watch any events in bars? Places are laying on drink specials, but we're not hearing much of a buzz about the games. 

In other big GOG news, Georgetown's "bocce-and-bowling fortress" Pinstripes opens on Saturday, Roofer's Union opens early next week and -- breaking -- Amsterdam Falafel is heading for L'Enfant Plaza.

Your questions start now.

USA! USA! USA! Do you know if any bars will be open on Saturday, Feb. 15 for the USA vs. Russia hockey game? Looks like it starts at 7:30 am EST. Ideally NOVA/Arlington bars, but will travel to DC. Thanks!

This is one of the things we were talking about: While bars are perfectly happy to open at odd hours for the World Cup (or random English soccer games), no bars I talked to were planning to do anything special for early-morning hockey.

Your best chance, I think, is to go to one of the bars that regularly shows soccer, because they're already going to be open that morning: I'm thinking Ireland's Four Courts or Summers in Arlington, or Lucky Bar or Fado downtown.

Any interesting and delightful cocktails in Montgomery County along the west side of the Red Line? Yes, I'm terribly lazy, and specific. Would also accept suggestions in upper NW along Connecticut Ave.

Best cocktails I've had on the western side of the the Red U are in Bethesda: The moonshine punch at Brickside (white whiskey, prosecco, orange vodka) was festive. The bartenders at Nest are great, too -- especially if you put yourself in their hands.

Any word on how fast the free tours at Bluejacket are filling up? I'm going to The Arsenal for lunch with a few friends on Saturday and we're hoping to take a tour afterward, just curious how it went last weekend.

I meant to go last Saturday and wound up changing plans. Anybody make it out for the first weekend of tours at our shiny new brewery?

Any place to watch the Olympics in Old Town? Any place with drink specials??? Virtue had football specials, maybe they have something?

Hmm. Virtue's been so up-and-down since the Armstrong/Thrasher pull out. I'd probably head to Southside 815.

Some friends and I are looking for a place to watch the Opening Ceremony for the Olympics on Friday night. We're hoping to find a venue that will play them in their entirety, provide sound, and not be too pretentious (i.e. our American flag capes won't be frowned upon). Thanks!

Redline sounds like it would be the spot -- and they're offering food and drink specials as well as full sound and more than 50 TVs. 

I didn't get a clear answer from Nellie's about whether they'd keep the sound on when the DJ starts at 10 p.m., otherwise they'd be a top pick, too.

Hi, my in-laws will be in town this weekend, and I'd love some advice on things that could potentially be enjoyable for our almost 2 year old as well as her grandparents and parents. We live in Rockville but are fine traveling. Thanks!!

I put your question to our OnParenting expert Amy Joyce, and she says:

I know this has been said to death, but how about the zoo? It’s an interesting place, and my father loves to go (right dad?) with our little guys. Watch the seals swim right next to you, wait in line (or don’t) to try to catch a glimpse of Bao Bao, take your two year old on the fun carousel, and sip coffee while s/he plays on the pizza playground. Then head to a nearby restaurant like Open City, or pack a lunch and eat at the zoo. Parking costs, but the zoo itself is free.

Many of the Mall museums are fun for all ages. The Air and Space is crowded particularly on weekends, but always has a fun aspect for different ages. The Botanic Garden is surprisingly fun for even toddlers (bridges to pass over, fountains to throw pennies into). Check out the Sculpture Garden (another good spot to eat) and watch the ice skaters.

Or, if it’s not too cold this weekend, how about a fun walk? Along the Jefferson, the Bishops Garden, explore a neighborhood (Dupont?).

Seems like most of the news leading up has been negative: Sochi is dangerous/not ready; Vonn injured and can't compete; Shaun White bailed on one event because the course was dangerous.... Maybe this is the reason that there is less hype this year? I would still like to watch some events in a bar, though.

Yep. I think the issue of delays is also a big problem: 9 hours ahead of D.C. is far worse than three hours behind us, as Vancouver was. It's going to be hard to watch events live, though some people will. 

I'm still pretty stoked for the Penn Social events on Feb. 15, though: They're showing the Czech Republic-Switzerland hockey game live at noon and tapping the first keg of Czechvar Dark lager. Should be fun.

I understand there are bars that have skeeball- do you know which ones. I could not stand the noise at Dave and Busters(too many kids!)

So many bars have skee-ball these days -- might even be more than shuffleboard if I think about it. My favorites would be the lane of 5-6 machines at Penn Social (it's cavernous, but 21-and-over), the two at Iron Horse Tap Room, or the ones in the first floor of H Street Country Club.

The two "hidden" skee-ball machines upstairs at Big Hunt are a lot of fun to play, and not as crowded as Iron Horse, for example. Get a craft beer at the first-floor bar and go spend a few bucks.

What beer should I be drinking as I watch the Olympics?

Good question. Something American, for sure. I'd say a California Common, like Anchor Steam, since it was invented on the West Coast. Locally, Atlas Brewing does a great version called District Common.

Or just something ridiculously hoppy, because that's what people in Europe think of when you mention American beer these days. (They love them some Lagunitas and Stone in London.)

Other nominations?

Hi! Valentine's Day question from a girl recently dumped. I originally planned to sit at home and watch House of Cards, but my relatives are coming into DC and kindly offered to take me out. Just a few challenges: They aren't particularly adventurous eaters, I don't want to shock them too much with DC prices, and it will be 4 of us for Valentine's Day. Suggestions for where we can all have a good time? I thought maybe Old Ebbitt or Ted's Bulletin, but they don't have anything available until very late.

Hi there, and sorry to hear about your breakup. I'm seeing a few options for four around 7ish on Open Table -- the new City Tap House has nice steaks and flatbreads that would please picky eaters, and there's also DGS for schnitzel and rubens; Domku for swedish meatballs (if that's not too adventurous?); or Shaw's Tavern. None of those are super-Valentiney places that will put you around couples having a romantic night. Depending on what kind of fun your relatives like, you could also go to a bar or restaurant that has an activity -- i.e. mini-golf and Mexican food at H Street Country Club, or bowling at Pinstripes in Georgetown -- which would also help get your mind off of V-Day.

Oh no, what's going wrong at Virtue? I'm thinking about hosting a party there...

Virtue parted ways with opening partners Cathal Armstrong (Restaurant Eve, Majestic) pulled out of the venture last spring. It was a little inconsistent before that, but it's been more so (in my experience) since. Not necessarily bad, and that party space upstairs is great. It's just not the same draw, as far as I'm concerned.

I asked last week about unique party venues. The distillery at Mount Vernon doesn't do private events... only corporate. How lame is that?

Yeah, I know. Like I said, I'd LOVE to have had my birthday or holiday there.

Did you try New Columbia Distillery (the home of Green Hat) or, for another option, Port City Brewing Company?

And which will be Game of the Day at Redline? I wish their websites had info!! I am not a bar person, but love the Olympics, so I would actually go out to one of these places if more info were available.

Redline: It's whatever the featured hockey game of the day is. That's NBC's call, though you can expect the U.S. team to feature heavily. (Their first game is Feb. 13 at 7:30 a.m. EST, but it will play that night at 6 p.m., for example.)

Penn Social: They will be showing all games, but no guarantees about whether the sound will be on. (Again, I would assume it would be for the U.S. games.)

It might be worth reaching out to Catoctin Creek in Purcerville. They have a lovely new facility. It's a little far out, but so is Mt Vernon really

This is true. I'd been thinking of places closer to D.C., but Catoctin Creek is totally an option despite the drive. (This is a case for a party bus.)

What to do this weekend for 3 hours with 2 dogs? We need to be out of the house all afternoon and will have our pups with us for most of the time....Not particularly interested in being in the potential snow. Ideas?

Oh man, this question is a tough one in the wintertime, when you can't just camp out on a cafe's patio with your pups. I see that there's an indoor dog park in Rockville, but that might be a little far for you. I can't think of a dog-friendly restaurant in DC that allows non-service animals beyond the patio. Chatters, any inside tips?

Where's the best place to have a book club meeting on a Tuesday night? Our club's about 8 people and we have members who live in NW DC and Arlington, so somewhere central would be ideal.

Since you need to be able to talk -- and all sit down -- you want it somewhere that's good but not wildly popular. Teaism in Dupont, Upstairs at Northside Social in Clarendon, Open City in Woodley Park?

Book-clubbers, we're open to suggestions.

Go shopping: Interestingly enough, according to corporate policy, Nordstrom stores are dog-friendly (assuming your dog behaves!). On the less-fancy side, most Lowes and Home Depots allow pets (although not the Seven Corners HD). I believe Hudson Trail Outfitters allows dogs, although REI does not. There are also plenty of local pet boutiques (Wiley Wagg, Dogma, Pro Feed) in addition to PetCo and PetSmart; in fact, Dogma in Shirlington will even let your dog hang out in the store while you run errands elsewhere in the shopping center!

Good to know! I'm a dog owner too, and I'd never heard about the Nordstrom policy. Here's a list of a few more chain stores that are supposedly dog-friendly.

So how busy do we expect Pinstripes to be this weekend?

They're opening at 10 a.m. Saturday, so we think that lunchtime wouldn't be too bad, but would skip mid-afternoon. (And hey, since this is D.C., it's bound to slow down again around 6-6:30. But don't even try to go at night.

I assume that's because so many women with money also have little purse puppies.

Hah. Yeah, this chatter might have an easier time during those three hours if her dogs are, say, Bichons, than if they're Great Danes.

Most stores in Old Town are dog friendly and ESP also allows dogs. Pie, coffee, dogs. Done. As for the Olympics, try Lighthorse, TJ Stones, and Rustico sometimes shows game but doesn't have sound.

Thank you for your suggestions!

Well, not really. My girlfriend and I are both 40. She's married with kids, I'm not. She drinks, I don't ( go figure ). We have plans to go out tonight, but don't know what to do. We want to get dressed up and have fun. I don't mind drinking atmospheres as long as drinking in't the only event. What can we do tonight that will keep us fulfilled till the next time we have an opportunity to let our hair down again?

Okay, here's one suggested itinerary, all around Dupont Circle:

Phillips Collection's monthly Phillips After 5 has a "Nordic Lights" theme with cheeses, snacks and (optional) beers from Scandinavia, tours, live music, short films and a chance to make some Northern Lights-inspired art on a LiteBrite.

Afterwards, head over to Firefly for good American comfort food and some great drinks -- for both of you. Jon Harris makes some of the best cocktails in D.C., and during my recent detox, he made some great booze-free ones, too.

Finally, after dinner -- how do you feel about showtunes? The Gay Men's Chorus of Washington hosts its monthly open mic in the lower level of the Black Fox Lounge on Connecticut Avenue from 8 to 11 p.m. It's free, always entertaining and there are $6 martini specials. The place feels like such a hidden secret, which is part of the fun.

What's a good spot for a drink between Columbia Heights and the Hill? Metro access would be a huge plus. Thanks!

There really is no easy way, is there? (I say this as someone who's seen it from both sides.)

I'd say it's probably Penn Quarter -- two stops from Union Station or a short bus ride for the Hill-ite, four quick stops from the Heights for the Green Line rider. 

Try the new Jackpot bar on 7th Street -- it's next to California Tortilla, in a basement under Lime Fresh. Great beer list, stripped-down old-school bar feel. Probably my favorite new spot in the neighborhood.

Okay, that's going to do it for us. Enjoy your weekend and (hopefully) the Olympics. We'll see you next Thursday, when the topic will probably be Valentine's Day. 

Post Points code is GG4001.

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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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