Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Guide

Mar 13, 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. So, presumably you're here because you couldn't sneak out of work to go watch the Maryland, Michigan or Villanova games. If you're going out later, we put together this handy guide to bars in D.C. showing basketball on your lunch break.

So what else is new? Opera in the Outfield is coming back to Nats Park, the Pour House is closing,  Hill Country's Backyard BBQ will return (with shorter hours) in May, and the Forum Theatre is making audiences queasy

Okay, on to the questions.

My 28th birthday is this Saturday and I'd like to go out dancing somewhere in NW DC with a group of friends. I'm looking for Top 40/Hip Hop music, no/cheap cover, and a crowd in their 20s that wants to dance more than sit around and preen. I'm thinking a Little Miss Whiskey's-vibe without having to trek out to H street if possible. Hope this is an easy one, I just don't get out as much anymore, thanks!

I'd say you should head straight to Liv for DJ Dredd's Poplife, a party that mixes '80s Top 40 with classic hip-hop. He's one of the best party DJs in the city, and on my last visit to Poplife, you could count the wallflowers on one hand.

The best part: You can RSVP via for free admission before midnight.

I saw the announcement about Opera in the Outfield for early May -- would love to go, disappointed that I don't think I can. Is this something that happens only once a year, or should we expect more dates to be announced later on?

Opera in the Outfield is a one-a-year event, unfortunately.

Hey gurus, random question for you - I'll be on crutches this weekend and I'm wondering if there are any accessible rooftops or patios over on H Street NE. Obviously Biergartenhaus, but any others? I'm hoping its actually warm/sunny enough to be outside. Thanks for the help!

The Maryland Avenue patio at Argonaut is going to be easiest. There are a couple of steps to the patio behind the Elroy, and while Little Miss Whiskey's patio is step-free from the bar, you'd have to navigate those front steps.

Another option to consider: Bardo, the outdoor beer garden a few blocks north of H Street on Bladensburg Road, is completely accessible. 

Hi! I want to make brunch or lunch reservations for during the Cherry Blossom Festival...somewhere that isn't a far walk from all the trees! I figured I better make my reservations now. Last year, we had trouble finding a good lunch spot that didn't have a long wait and I don't want to make that mistake again! Any recs?

Sure thing. The closest restaurant is probably Muze at the Mandarin Oriental, and you'd get some nice views while you eat -- also the Asian-inspired menu would be in the spirit of the festival. If you don't mind walking from the other side of the Mall, your options increase: the classic thing to do is the cherry blossom tea at the Willard, menu here. There's also brunch or lunch at J&G in the W.

Hi- My husband, my 1 year old and I are thinking of going to the St. Patrick's Day parade on Constitution Avenue on Sunday. We have never been before. Is it really crazy and crowded? What are the chances of getting a seat? Any tips on attending in general and with a baby in a stroller? Thanks! Happy St. Patrick's Day! Erin go braugh! Green beer!

It's not too crazy (or wasn't last year), because you can essentially pick your spot along the parade route from 7th to 17th Street. The catch is if you need a seat: Tickets for the grandstand at 17th Street cost $15. (You can feel free to bring a camp stool or other folding seat, but views aren't guaranteed. The parade begins at noon, so you if you're going the latter route, you might want to get down there a little early to find a place that works -- maybe along the Ellipse, around 15th.

So, I know this may be a little early...but what are the best bars for watching the games during March Madness...the usual suspects like Vetnor, Buffalo Billards are always way too crowded. Thanks

I wound up loving watching March Madness at Penn Social last year. There's a 30-foot projection screen for the game of the night, plus nine 10-foot screens, so you can basically watch every game at the same time. The bar is so huge that you don't feel swamped.

We have tickets to the Saturday March 29 NSO Pops show featuring Nas and I'm curious what is the typical dress code for Pop events? Also, what would be a great place to get drinks in the area beforehand? Thanks

Lucky you: This is going to be one of the best parts of the Kennedy Center's Hip-Hop Festival. (Lavanya tells me there's going to be an orchestral version of "Life's a Bitch," which sounds amazing.

As for the dress code: It's going to be a mix. You should wear whatever you're comfortable in. (Probably a step up from what you'd wear to a ScHoolboy Q concert, though.) I'd say casually dressy: a blazer or opera-worthy dress would be a little much.


My SO and I have tickets for the Piano Guys at the Warner Theatre (Saturday, March 29 at 8pm), what should we expect for dress? Also, any recommendations for dinner beforehand - gluten free options are the only requirement?

The Warner is not as formal as the Kennedy Center. It could be described as upscale casual - you'll see some people in jeans, some people in suits. You'll be safe somewhere in the middle - maybe jeans and a blazer for guys, and a casual dress or skinny pants with a cute top for girls. It's easier to err on the side of being overdressed in these situations. And Chef Geoff's, right around the corner from the theater, has an entire gluten free menu.

Since the demise of the fashion Q & A you guys have fielded such questions, so here goes...I have not been able to find a pair of straight-leg jeans that fit my body. I have an unworn pair of boot-legs that fit great, and am wondering if the legs could be altered / made straight by a tailor. Is this possible? If so, if there a tailor you would recommend in DC? (I am near Dupont Circle.) Thanks so much!

I bet the folks at Denim Bar could help you out -- but they're all the way over in Pentagon City. Any chatters want to lend a hand here?

Our friends are visiting from out of town this weekend and we're looking to get in some good Irish cheer on Saturday. We'll be a group of six in our late 20s but aren't really particularly drawn to some of the bar crawls that have popped up in Dupont or Arlington. Do you have any other suggestions? Or, if you were going to craft your own little Irish-themed bar crawl, what would it include? We're closest to Cleveland/Woodley Parks (and U Street is close enough), but we're happy to hop elsewhere, too. Without being too picky, we'd love to get in at least one drink in an outdoor space (rooftop or patio, since it is supposed to be gorgeous) and take advantage of any specials so we aren't dropping $10 for each drink. We're also OK with straying from the Irish theme for a stop or two. Thanks!

Many pubs are doing the "St. Practice Day" thing on Saturday with live music and deals. (Nightlife Agenda has a few alternative options, including a bar crawl.)

I'd say you could do alright around Dupont Circle: The patio at Irish Whiskey is having a party all weekend, including drinks and bagpipes on the patio. Pair that with drinks on the patio at James Hoban's Irish Pub, then down to Mackey's Irish Pub.

Actually, adjust the crawl based on the weather, and fit Mackey's in early depending on your start time.

I was considering checking out Bluejacket or (and?) the new Heavy Seas Brewery this weekend but realized this Saturday may be a bit of a madhouse due to some of the st.paddy's events this weekend. How crowded do you predict these places may be over the norm?

If you're going in the afternoon, Heavy Seas isn't bad. Don't go after 7 p.m. or so on Saturday (or after 6 on Friday), until the place gets its sealegs. I've been twice, and the happy hour crowd was bonkers.

I actually tried to go to Bluejacket last Saturday afternoon, assuming that everyone else would be outside enjoying the sun, but couldn't even get close to the bar. I'd avoid the place on Saturday, especially with the big beer festival over by Nats Park.

Do you have confirmed information on the Ringling Bros Pachyderm Parade this year? I have heard conflicting dates (both this coming Tuesday and Wednesday), and online I'm only finding 2013 information. I'm hoping it's at 8pm again this year and not in the afternoon, so I can enjoy the sight of elephants and circus folks parading through the streets of DC!

I just got off the phone with one of the circus publicists, and she says that the elephant walk is tentatively scheduled for the 18th, at 8:30 p.m., with a few caveats: This year, the train will be getting in late, so there's a chance it will start late. Also, because of the late train, it won't be a full parade with clowns and other performers -- just elephants this time.

I've been going to a bunch of shows lately at the Warner and National and one tip about Chef Geoff's - it gets really busy and they never seem sufficiently staffed. Allow extra time for dinner beforehand (we were seated at about 6:15 and were very rushed before an 8pm show last time on a Thursday night). I personally like Del Frisco's better, but not sure about their gluten situation.

Good to know. If the original chatter is looking for something fast, the nearby Ella's and District of Pi both have gluten free pizza, too.

Are there any places doing St. Patrick's specials tonight if we're looking to get a head start on the fun?

A few ideas for you:

1. Irish Whiskey has Irish music from 7 to 10, and then a late-night Irish happy hour with $4 beer and wine.

2. Murphy's of Alexandria (my favorite pub in Old Town these days) is hosting a Guinness-pouring contest for customers, beginning at 5.

3. Fado has $5 drinks from 5-7, and then live music starting at 8:30 with Danny Burns and Scythian. (I went last week. It was crowded, a little sweaty and led to plenty of Smithwick's and Guinness being consumed.)

4. Ri Ra in Georgetown -- whose Whiskey Room I'm writing about in tomorrow's Weekend Section -- flew a band called Ruaile Buaile over from Ireland for a week of shows. They're an acoustic folk-rock band, and I liked what I heard on their website. Pair that with $6 drinks and you've got a good night out.

Gurus, March Madness is upon us and I have friends visiting for the occasion. Any suggestions for places with a good happy hour and a good set up for game viewing (AKA lots o' tvs)?

The link I posted above about places to watch basketball on your lunch hour has plenty of info about happy hour specials and bars that are discounting food and drinks during all games. 

There will be even more added next week for the NCAAs; the TV-laden Cleveland Park Bar and Grill and Penn Social are among the places that aren't doing deals for conference games, but will start offering $3 and $4 drinks once the tournament proper is underway.

My family of 8 is coming into town next weekend. I'm looking for a casual-ish, not overly expensive place to bring them to brunch/lunch that isn't too "ethnic" for my grandfather's bland palate. they are staying in dupont and i live in columbia heights, but we will travel to any neighborhood in the district. I can't seem to narrow it down. little help?

Here's a whole slew of non-ethnic, traditional brunches that might be to your family's liking. With a group of 8, you're definitely going to need a recommendation, so I'd recommend calling around to see who can accomodate you. Check out: Iron Gate (beautiful setting to impress visitors), Mintwood Place, Cashion's Eat Place, Le Diplomate, Founding Farmers, Ted's Bulletin (especially if there are any kids in the group), Poste.

P.S.: Here's our "Best in Brunch" gallery for anyone else looking for a new Sunday Funday spot this weekend.

A friend is thinking about having happy hour there for her birthday in about a month. Sounds like that might be a bad idea? Or might it be better in a month? (Yes, maybe it's silly to be asking this far out.) Any suggestions for making it work, or maybe other places in the area that would be good backups?

Depends on how many people you have coming. There's a cool room in the back with old photos of the waterfront - maybe you can reserve part of that, or a few of the high tables by the front door? (Check the second photo from the bottom in my review to see the area I'm taking about.)

But if you're just talking about showing up with 10 people after work on a Thursday or Friday, I'd be wary of how crowded it's going to be.

What's your best strategy for a weekend evening of food and cocktails along 14th St? My sister is visiting and we want to take her to a couple of different places. Should we go early-ish and put our names in at Etto or Doi Moi, then have a drink somewhere else while we wait? We're pretty much up for anything, but she leans more cocktail than beer. Happy to eat at the bar, but there will be three of us, so it's more challenging to snag a spot.

This sounds like a good idea: Go early to Doi Moi, get on the list and depending on the time, you can go sip some gorgeous cocktails downstairs at 2 Birds 1 Stone, or head over to Bar Pilar for a drink.

Alternatively, you could do small bites at 2 Birds, since they come from Doi Moi's kitchen, and then more small bites at the upstairs bar at Pilar, which has been my strategy lately.

Foodwise, if you feel like snacking on little bit of everything, you could mix-and-match a meal from the following: salumi at Etto, tapas at Estadio, pasta or cheese plates at the new Lupo Verde (which has a very handsome bar), and the 40 Eats-worthy mushroom curry at Doi Moi, where you can also get exotic flavors of soft-serve for dessert. If that's too incoherent for you, narrow it down to Doi Moi, Etto and Le Diplomate as your three can't-miss dinner choices.

How much of a pain is it going to be to get into the city from Northern Virginia around 12:30 on Saturday? Any idea? Thanks!

It shouldn't be too bad: There will be rolling street closures, but the marathon starts on the Mall at 7:30 a.m. and wraps up at RFK by 1 or so. Most of the roads (66, etc) should be running again by 12:30. And hey, the Orange and Blue lines will be running relatively on schedule!

Hello gurus! I'm going to the Birchmere tonight for the Steve Early show (rescheduled thanks to the snow...) I've never been before, and am not sure 1) how early to get there (starts at 7:30) but mainly 2) Are there any good but quick places nearby to get a bite? Thanks!

Birchmere shows have no reserved seating, and there will be people who show up at 6 p.m. to be the first ones in to snag their seats. If this matters to you, get there early, grab a table and just eat at the Birchmere. 

If you have time, go about a mile down Mt. Vernon Avenue to the heart of Del Ray - I'm a fan of the (relatively quick) bar snacks and drinks at Evening Star Cafe, or the nearby Sushi Bar.

I'm in my late 20s and interested in doing something fun but free this weekend. I live right by the mall so I've already done most of the typical tourist things. Any suggestions?

What do you usually do for fun? Since we don't have a lot of info to go off of here, I'll throw out a bunch of random free events: How about this home brewer's book talk (free beer!)?  Or the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage's tribute to Pete Seeger? The tapas exhibition at the former Spanish ambassador's residence is really cool. Or if you like art, head over to H Street to see exhibitions at Connersmith and the Randall Scott gallery, or check out the Artisphere in Rosslyn. I know you're kind of sick of the mall, but the National Gallery has a great free film program. This weekend's "Masterworks of Czech Animation" looks fun. 

Not a question, just love you guys! Thanks for every little piece of advice you give!!!

Thank you, nice reader!

I have family visting and wanted to go to Right Proper in Shaw. One member is 16 years old. I cant tell from their website if she would be able to dine there.

So Right Proper's rule, according to co-owner Thor Cheston, is that under-21s are welcome if they have parental supervision. I've been there before and seen babies at the bar, and no one batted an eye. But if a group of 19-year-old college students showed up, they wouldn't be allowed in.

In short: A 16-year-old is welcome at Right Proper at a family meal. But if she likes it a lot, she can't go back by herself.

Okay, all - that's going to do it for us. Stay tuned for way more St. Patrick's Day info on the blog, as well as NCAA viewing details.



Post Points code is GG4375.

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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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