Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Guide

Feb 20, 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. Can you believe it's going to be near 60 through Sunday? It doesn't seem that long ago that we were dodging snowflakes... oh, wait, that was Tuesday morning. 

Have you seen our list of weekend must-do's, including the ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT PieFest at the Brixton? And tonight, you should check out the new late-night beer-and-bocce happy hour at Pinstripes: Think $3 Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA and $4 bocce per hour. Pretty solid deal.

Anyway, on to the questions.

Appreciate the post directing hockey fans to the sports bars opening for lunch; same spots for Friday's semi-finals? Will our "brothers from an Artic mother" be opening their embassy for a watch party? Related, albeit presumptive question: gold medal game is Sunday morning; same spots?

Most of the places featured in yesterday's Where to Watch Olympic Hockey roundup are going to be open again tomorrow. (Bars: If you want to be included, send an e-mail to

There's no word on whether the Canadian Embassy is doing anything, but for today's Women's game, they are steering Canucks to the Penn Quarter Sports Tavern, which is only two blocks from the embassy. I'd assume this will also be the case tomorrow.

I'm having dinner at Maple Avenue in Vienna this weekend. Two questions - 1) do they have a bar? 2) what should we do after dinner in that area?

They don't have a full bar area. If you're looking for after-dinner drinks and entertainment, there's Jammin Java at Vienna Plaza - the local classic rock/country band Franklin Station is playing for free from 10 to close on Saturday night. You could also head to downtown Falls Church: grab craft beers in a cool setting at SpaceBar, or catch Irish music over a Guinness at Ireland's Four Provinces.

There was an article in the Post the other day that the Lost Dog Cafe is coming to "Alexandria's Braddock Neighborhood," but do you know more specifically where? Thanks!

I believe we didn't have the address because the beer/pizza/deli chain has not officially announced the location yet. Looking forward to it, though.

Thanks! Two follow up questions. How do you like JV's? And I'm thinking about going early to visit Meadowlark Gardens, but they close at 5, so would need something to do from 5-8... any ideas?

God, I love JV's. It's such a great old dive bar -- and by old, I mean "same location since 1947." Good chili, cheap beer, laidback older crowd. Speaking of, they have live music on Saturdays starting around 4:30. It's usually an acoustic duo or trio, with the full band kicking off at 9:30. Could be a good pre-dinner happy hour spot.

Gurus, I have a challenging question for you. My 30th birthday is coming up in a few months, and I'd like to have a party at a bar with around 30 people coming. I'd like to go someplace where it is possible for a group that size to hang out comfortably (without having to pay for a private room or event). Location would preferably be in DC. To give you an example of what I am looking for, I did something similar for a birthday a previous time at the upstairs bar at Millie and Al's.

Not going to lie: Guaranteed room for 30 without paying a fee can be tough, especially on a weekend. A few places you can try for free (or low minimums) include Science Club, Laughing Man Tavern, Chief Ike's Mambo Room or upstairs at Dodge City. You might also look into finding a larger space where your group can just camp out in a corner, like the basement of Iron Horse or the sprawling Buffalo Billiards.

According to the person who writes my condo association newsletter, Lost Dog Cafe will be located on the 800 block of N Henry St in Old Town: Also coming to our neighborhood is the Lost Dog Cafe, a local chain with several locations in Arlington and Northern Virginia. They've identified space in the Belle Pre project (corner of Henry and Madison) that they would like to occupy, and they are also looking towards a late 2014 or early 2015 opening.

Well, looks like the cat is out of the bag. Thanks for the details. Lots of new condos going in by Braddock Road, and now the restaurants are catching up.

Hi Going Out, Please help--I live in the area but never go our for drinks so don't know where to start. I need a bar or restaurant for a work-related happy hour (drinksmore important than food, professional atmosphere.) It needs to be walking distance from Mass. Ave. and 16th St, NW. Suggestions welcome from you or the readers. Many thanks.

Feel like a broken record saying this, but the Jefferson Hotel's classy Quill cocktail lounge is only half a block south of that intersection. If you have a large number of people, call and see if you can reserve one of the private areas. (Haven't done that for a while; Don't remember exactly how much it costs.) The Bar Rouge at the Kimpton's Hotel Rouge is a little funkier, but I've seen work groups getting cocktails there, too.

There's a rumor JVs is expanding into the adjoining storefront. But yeah, excellent dive bar, good music, quirky crowd, better food than you'd expect. Depending on the band and your sensitivity, earplugs may be a must.

The chili and soups are no joke. And I love that you get older vets next to blues music fans next to neighborhood couples at the bar. Pretty cool spot, and I wish I made it there more often.

Hi. A group of us have tickets to Cirque du Sexy at the Black Cat this Friday night. I'm concerned that there might not be seating (or super limited seating and we might not get there early enough). Do you know if for this show, there would be seating? I have a condition and have a hard time staying on my feet for a long time. Thanks!

Cirque de Sexy is on the club's backstage, which means there's basically no seating, bar a few small tables in the far back. However, you should call the club ahead of time (202-667-4490) and explain your situation. I've had friends on crutches attend shows at the Black Cat -- they let the staff know they'd need assistance, and the staff provided (and reserved) bar stools and a spot with sightlines.

Wife and I have a date night and would like to go dancing to relive our 20s. Since the Guards is long since closed, where could we go that has a similar laid back vibe but still has a ton of people dancing? Would prefer non-EDM music...

Doesn't need to be fancy, right? In Georgetown, I like El Centro, the sister to 14th Street's popular El Centro DF. Music is predominantly top 40. Little Miss Whiskey's is good for soul, funk and ecelctic DJs, as is Dodge City and the basement of Saint-Ex. (You don't say what night you're going, but Saturdays can be really crowded at all these places.)

For dancing to a live band in D.C., try Acre 121 in Columbia Heights, maybe Mason Inn.

Some friends are coming in town tomorrow, and I'm going to skip out on work a bit early (around 2ish) to go meet them for a few drinks. I'm looking for a place in the Dupont area (maybe more toward the Farragut area) that has a decent beer selection and cocktails too. Ideally the place would also have early happy hour! Any recommendations? Thank you!

The early (good) happy hour in the neighborhood is Irish Whiskey at 19th and M, which has 6 wines and 6 beers for $4 beginning at 3 p.m. (The beers include Laguinitas and Sierra Nevada as well as Miller Lite.) 

For cocktails, try Firefly at the Hotel Madera -- The happy hour features craft drinks that mix name-brand spirits and house-made ingredients for $5 from 4 to 7.

My favorite beer-focused happy hour in the neighborhood (on Fridays, at least) both start at 5. GBD has three different craft beers for $3, $4 and $5. Yesterday was the cult favorite IPA Nugget Nectar for $4. There's also $3-$4 snacks and spiked punch.  Runs until 7 p.m.

Scion slashes prices on all of its tasty craft beers (Allagash, Bruery, Terrapin, Jolly Pumpkin) by half every weekday between 5 and 7, so you'll pay $3 to $4 for most pints.

Outside of HH, Pizzeria Paradiso still has the best beer menu in Dupont, though they only do happy hour on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Submitting last-minute but hope you can help: where should I take my (very hip, very particular) younger sister shopping for a prom dress? I was thinking Old Town Alexandria might be a good destination, but not sure if any of the wedding boutiques/consignment shops there carry teen-appropriate formalwear? Sis is afraid Tyson's will yield the same things everyone else is wearing, but we're also not dealing with an unlimited budget.

Chatting with our office fashionistas, they suggest that if your sister is quirky, she might like Meep's on 14th, or Current (that might be more cocktail than prom dress, Stephanie warns). But Current does have some second-hand options that could work.

(By the way, Lavanya says "I hate to send them online," but she suggests checking out the English company ASOS. "They have lots of party dresses, and because they're British, no one else will be wearing them. Shipping is free both ways.) 

Oh, also, Lavanya suggests browsing Karen Millen and BCBG for browsing in Georgetown; Friends of hers have gotten good deals on Inaugural dresses there, and there's a dress sale on at Karen Millen now, apparently. 

How kid-friendly is it? My husband and I have a groupon that is soon going to expire. A date doesn't seem likely to happen before it expires, so we might have to bring the kiddos (who are 2 and 5). I'm not so worried about our experience, more about the experience of the other diners. If we went at four, would that lessen our impact? Thanks!

"On Saturday nights, that place is all 2-year-olds and 5-year-olds," says our in-house parenting writer Amy Joyce. "I just took my two boys there on Saturday."

Four sounds like an optimal time, but you could even go a little later -- Amy says the crowd gets older (and hipster-er) around 8. Makes sense to me: When I go to Comet on weekends, it to see rock shows in the back room, which generally start around 9-10 p.m. 

Is there anything going on this weekend that would allow us to take advantage of the nice weather on Saturday (or Sunday) that is kid friendly in DC or Old Town (NOT Maryland - why are a majority of the kid friendly events in MD???).

There aren't too many kid-friendly outdoor activities scheduled for this time of year, since the weather is too variable. But you could take this weekend's good weather as a chance to take in some scenic vistas at Mt. Vernon, ride the area's bike trails, or ice skate without the threat of frostbite.

This is not outdoorsy, but there's the Intersections Festival on H Street, with kid-friendly performances, some of which are free.

Also not outdoors, the Building Museum is hosting its Discover Engineering family day on Saturday. This is an awesome, if crowded, day of activities: Build catapults, make a robot walk and fight, and simply "make slime," which sounds like something I would have loved as a kid. (Too much Nickelodeon, I think.)

Okay, that's going to wrap it up for this week. Enjoy the sunshine. 

Post Points code is GG2601.

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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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