Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Guide

Mar 27, 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! Now that the worst days of our forever winter are behind us (cross your fingers, knock on wood), we're here to help you plan some fun for a warmer weekend. Have you tried the Peking Duck tacos at El Rey? The new sandwich pop-up at Black Whiskey? And don't forget to vote in our Monument Madness tournament -- the only bracket where Dante faces off against Kermit the Frog.

During this chat, we also have a pair of tickets to give away -- the first District Sounds concert, hosted by the Post's Chris Richards. Kris Funn, the featured musician, will be performing tomorrow night at 8 p.m. at Hill Center. Want to go? Tell us about your best local concert-going experience, and why you'd like the free tickets. We'll pick a winner at the end of the hour.

We're looking forward to taking your questions.

Hi Friends! My husband and I were able to score two tix to SAVOR for Friday, May 9th. We went two(?) years ago and had a great time. We live in Baltimore and will be spending the night in DC. Do you have any suggestions for a cool bar to go to after the event and a good hotel in a fun area (late night bars and possibly brew pub) that we should stay in? (We've aged out of the Adams Morgan/Dupont scene.) Thanks!!

Lucky you! I'm always a fan of the Kimpton hotels, and I might try to stay close to the 14th Street corridor, which is bursting with new bars and restaurants. Hotels Helix or Rouge should fit the bill. If you're not too full of beer by that point, you can head to Churchkey nearby and pick up a brew. If you're looking for something a little different, then take a walk down to 7th Street in Shaw to check out Derek Brown's new trio of bars: sherry bar Mockingbird Hill, oyster destination Eat the Rich and (my personal favorite) Southern Efficiency, which specializes in whiskey.

What's the best way to try the Derek Brown's trilogy of bars in Shaw? Would it be doable to go to each of them for a drink and a nibble of something? Or is it better to stay put at one? I'm thinking about getting there early-ish, say before 6 PM.

I've personally never done the barhop myself. Once I get to one of those bars, it's always hard to leave. But I know a lot of people have been taking the barhopping route and enjoying it. You really can't lose! Chatters, any recs?

Since I already proclaimed my love a few weeks back I have an actual question this time: I have a free SaturDAY which almost never happens...of course the forecast is gloomy! Been meaning to get to museums for a couple months. I know the Portrait Gallery has a great photo exhibit right now of famous faces(??) What else can you tell me about something that should not be missed in the exhibit/museum/learning something realm this weekend? Free would get first choice of course but willing to pay for something that is worth it. - Appreciative as always!!

I would definitely put the Garry Winogrand retrospective at the National Gallery on your list, if you're interested in photography. Critic Phil Kennicott called it a "phantasmagoria of American society, a dream-like disconnected tour, without beginning or end." Here's a peek at some of my favorite images from the show.

Any ideas for two sets of parents with three kids under 2? The rain isn't helping out in the planning department. Thank you!

Oh wow, you've got your hands full. The Building Museum is always a go-to for parents looking for something to do indoors. Otherwise, I'd suggest a play for really, really little ones. You could try Animal Crackers at Glen Echo or Inside Out at Imagination Stage. The Rainbow Rock band are also performing at Jammin' Java this weekend, but that might be better for older kids. Good luck!

What are some good options around the Renaissance Hotel on 9th St?

You'll be right next door to City Tap House, where there's something for everyone on its diverse brunch menu. If you want a traditional Southern brunch, head to Acadiana. Cuba Libre, one block away, has an unlimited small plates brunch, and Matchbox is always a crowd-pleaser.

Gurus, I need help for something to do the evening of Friday, April 4 that is metro accessible, and preferably in DC. My friend is visiting for the cherry blossoms that weekend. She wasn't feeling the burlesque show at the Black Cat when I mentioned it. I don't see any good bands in town that night despite us both being big music fans (we both like jazz though but are not feeling who is scheduled for Southwest Jazz Night that evening.) Bocce and bowling is crazy on a Friday night. She's not a dancer, unfortunately. Neither her nor I are big drinkers so bar hopping is out of the equation. I am thinking an early dinner at Rasika or Morini, but after that ? We are two late 30 something women. I have Saturday and Sunday covered (Le Diplomate, the National game, Fireworks, Shakespeare theatre, walking tours, etc.) But I am stumped on Friday night. Thanks for your guidance!

The One Mic hip-hop festival at the Kennedy Center will be in full swing by then and there are all kinds of really cool (and many free) performances. That night, dancer Jonzi D will be performing on Millennium Stage, and then there's an offbeat play-hybrid by Marc Bamuthi Joseph called "red, black, and GREEN: a blues (rbGb)." Other than that, Loveland at Arena Stage is getting lots of good buzz.

My uncle and his family (kids 17, 14 and 11) are going to arrive mid-day or a bit later on Easter Sunday and stay through Monday before heading down to Williamsburg for the rest of school vacation week (it is late in Vermont). I'm a little concerned about feeding everyone on Easter Sunday. Will the restaurants only be packed for brunch hours? Should I make reservations someplace for dinner just to be sure we don't end up in a McDonalds? Parents are on the foodie side and the kids are pretty flexible. They are staying at the Embassy Suites closest to the Convention Center.

I would definitely err on the side of caution when it comes to Easter and make reservations, particularly because you have a big group. Easter dinner can make restaurants just as crowded as they are at brunch. You don't say what you want to spend, or whether you want a traditional Easter dinner or don't mind something different, so I'll toss out a few suggestions nearby: Nopa, Poste, Woodward Table, Zaytinya (which will be featuring traditional Greek Easter dishes), Alba Osteria.

Is the kite festival still on for tomorrow?

The Kite Festival is actually Saturday. They're monitoring the weather situation, and you can check the Cherry Blossom Festival web site for updates. Rain date is Sunday in case Saturday is as blah as the CWG is predicting.

searching for a brunch option that isn't Matchbox before the 12:30 Caps game on Saturday. We're willing to venture beyond the immediate Verizon center area if it's a place that opens at 10. And someplace that won't toss us out showing up in Caps jerseys.

Sixth Engine is my current favorite brunch spot in D.C. They open at 11, but it's not too far from Verizon, and I've definitely seen people in there wearing Caps jerseys, so you should be fine.

I have two friends visiting next week, and they'll have time to themselves during the day Friday while I'm at work. They have a car this time, so they were hoping to get outside the city and see anything they've missed on (several) previous visits. I've taken them before to Old Town, Frederick and Annapolis, and my mind hit a blank. They don't want to go to the Air and Space in VA, which was all I could think of. Any ideas?

Downtown Leesburg is actually really charming, and not too far. If they're into biking, I've explored some really great paths around there, too. But if not, there are some nice restaurants and cute shops. Plus if they love a good sale, they can swing by the outlets on their way back to the city. If they're willing to go farther, Charlottesville is of course a great option (though I'm totally biased) and they'd find plenty of things to keep them busy.

This is more for Fritz, but thank you for the suggestion of Southern Efficiency for my date last week. It worked out really well. Carrie (or Kerry) the bartender was fantastic. My date loved we had. Loved that I had suggested this place. We're going out again. Scores all around!

More love for Southern Efficiency. We'll pass along your praise to Fritz, who will hopefully make it back to the office for the end of the chat. He's currently on a secret mission that probably involves drinking some kind of alcohol.

I was very impressed by the Baltimore Aquarium (not cheap though) or maybe Mt Vernon as it's really only accessible by car (or boat)

Thanks for the input. Great ideas!

If you guys want free tickets to tomorrow night's District Sounds, you best start telling us about your favorite concert-going memories.

I want to explore galleries that feature local artists in DC or VA . Maybe explore the neighborhoods & eateries as well...suggestions on where to begin or how to find these galleries?? Much appreciated

Kudos to you for getting in touch with our local art scene. A good introduction would be Arlington Arts Center, which has a show up right now, CSA, featuring many local artists. Read Michael O'Sullivan's review here. You should also add the Artisphere in Rosslyn to your checklist -- they exhibit both D.C. and national artists there. I love the idea of doing an art and restaurant crawl, so here are two separate paths you could take:

H Street: Connorsmith on Florida Avenue is a must-see. If you're interested in meeting artists, the gallery's next opening -- for the Katie Miller and Agniet Snoep solo shows -- is on April 12 from 6-8 p.m. And on H Street, there's Randall Scott Projects. You can put your name on the list at Toki Underground, and look at art while you wait, or you can head to Red Rocks or Biergarten Haus.

14th Street: Transformer is a micro-gallery on P Street near the Whole Foods. One block away, you'll find Hemphill. Further up on U Street, there's Hamiltonian Gallery, and above that (with an amazing view) is Project 4 Gallery. And anywhere in between any of those, you can get wine and charcuterie at Etto, small plates at Doi Moi or Kapnos, or even outdoor barbeque and beers at Standard.

A few more to add to your list: Flashpoint down near Metro Center, Long View Gallery near the Convention Center, and Hierarchy in Adams Morgan if you like street art. Hope this helps!

If the chatter is referring to "American Cool," I thought it was pretty skippable. I did the Winogrand exhibit and this one back to back and the former was far more interesting. "American Cool" was really just a compilation of photos of famous people, some of them pretty common images, with the only unifying theme being that the people were "cool" in some way. I was expecting something like an Annie Liebowitz exhibit with really impressive photos, but few of the captions even talked about the photos themselves. I love the Portrait Gallery, but this exhibit missed the mark.

Duly noted. Here's Kennicott's review for that show, btw.

I'm looking for a restaurant in Arlington or Alexandria with a private room for a weekday lunch. About 20 people, and I'm looking for American comfort food at not break-the-bank prices. Something like Liberty Tavern's menu would be ideal, or like the Majestic Sunday dinner, except neither of those have private rooms. I'd prefer local rather than a chain if that's possible. Ideas?

Here's an addendum to this question: "Re: Private Lunch in Arlington/Alexandria P.S. The lunch will follow a memorial service, so I'm not looking for a festive atmosphere. I love Tallulah's wine room, but being surrounded by wine isn't really appropriate for the occasion." My response: So sorry for your loss. You might want to call around to some places that sound good even if they don't have private rooms. For weekday lunches, some places don't do great business and would rather secure a big group, which they'd be willing to close the restaurant for. For example, I went to just such an event at Faccia Luna, which doesn't have a private room. (Also, some people may not mind being surrounded by wine. Some people might prefer it.)

I just moved back from Texas, and I miss BBQ! I know of Hill Country and DCity Smokehouse (haven't tried them yet). Do you have any other suggestions ANYWHERE in md/dc/va?

How about Smoke & Barrel in Adams Morgan, or Standard on 14th Street? Here's our (slightly outdated) list of best BBQ in the area, for more suggestions. Ex Texans, please chime in - where do you get your BBQ fix?

Rolling Stones in town and they wanted $5.00 for a ticket!!!! Outrageous price so I decided to sneak over for the next show. A bunch of us hid in some paneling in the ladies room between shows. Yes we were found but we ran and were not caught. 2 shows for $5.00 was reasonable. (Obviously not assigned seats)

Now that's a bargain.

Hey gurus - how hard will it be to get a table for 2 at Red Hen this weekend without a reservation? Their website says they leave room for walk ins. What time should I get there by? Also, parking situation? Thanks!

How do you feel about eating at the bar? Because in my experience there, that's where you're going to end up, unless you are willing to show up shortly after opening. For the record, I like eating at bars, but I know it's not for everyone.

Gurus, got any other suggestions? I've already seen Loveland and my friend, oddly, is not a hip hop fan. I'm usually great at planning stuff but all my go to stuff I've already done, or she has done, or we already have scheduled for a different evening or due to a Friday night it's a madhouse crowd. I'm completely stymied. Best concert memory: Dismemberment Plan, December 2002, Black Cat. The opening band was a go go band. At the end of the night, around 2 am, Travis, the leader singer, and Miss Spice, the lead singer of the go go band, start freestyling. Amazing. Really, does it get anymore local for a concert memory than go go, Dplan and the Black Cat? I think not.

Great concert memory! Love it. You're quite high maintenance today, aren't you? I kid. How about wandering the galleries of Dupont. It's First Fridays, so they'll be open with (cheap) wine and interesting art. Speaking of galleries, there will also be the opening reception for this intriguing new show at Flashpoint. The art is created from light that's triggered by people in the gallery making contact with one another. Reception is 6-8, then you guys can hit one of the many great nearby restaurants or bars after. (My pick would be Zaytinya, if you're curious)

So many good concerts to remember. I'll skip the ones at the Cap Center, although ALL of those were better than the large venues available now. So, on to small venues and club shows: Tin Machine at the Citadel - When I go in the Harris Teeter that is in that space now, I always picture David Bowie in the produce section. The Bayou: So many shows here - John Eddy, Tommy Conwell, The Young Caucasians, The Hooters, Flock of Seagulls, Warren Zevon. Always a good place to see a show, as it was an small room with a mix of seating and floor space. The old 9:30 club: King Missile! They Might be Giants! Lots of great bands. Too bad about the smell, and the fact that there always seemed to be a tall person pushing in front of me. There was the night that Starship opened for Night Ranger at the new (now demolished) convention center. I only stayed for Starship. Grace Slick rules. It always amazes me how many good shows Millennium Stage gets. I wish it had been there when I was in college, because despite living a few years on campus at GW, RIGHT up the street, I could rarely afford shows there. OK, one larger venue - John Prine at the Warner. That was cool.

Great list! David Bowie in the Produce Section would be a great name for a short story, by the way.

Fritz, I'm on the wagon for a month (inspired by...Ahem). I know the point of abstinence is self-improvement through self-denial, but with all the beer flowing into DC nowadays - can you suggest any bars and/or stores that stock ZERO ALCOHOL beers (not the "Alcohol Free" kind that are up to 0.5% abv)? I'm sick of the club soda & lime routine, and mocktails are a hit or miss depending on the bartender, with most options tending to be fruity/sugary "virgin" concoctions that generally induce severe emesis in me...Cheers!

I'm drawing a blank on zero alcohol beers, but I do have a suggestion for a drink alternative. Whenever I'm off the sauce, I order club soda with a splash of Rose's lime juice. It's way more interesting than club soda and lime but not as sweet as some of the crazy mocktail concoctions. Chatters, can you help a 0% alcohol beer seeker out?

My first of course! 98 degrees with my mom and six girlfriends. They were the last act at a daylong festival, so we were teeming with anticipation. Fog machines revved up, and when it cleared four dudes in full body space/beekeeper suits appeared. After an awkward stomping dance sequence the suits came off to reveal the four hotties with bodies. I swooned and my imaginary love affair with Drew grew even deeper.

Beekeeper suits?? Amazing. I actually saw them last year with Boyz II Men and NKOTB. True story.

I swear, I had paragraph breaks in the wall o' text. I wish we could submit readably formatted stuff.

It's okay, no one's judging you.

My friend and I were sitting outside of Cap Lounge one summer day, lamenting the fact that everyone we knew was at the U2 Concert when out of the blue a guy in a suit walked up and said he had to run to a meeting and was going to miss the concert, would we want his two tickets. "Um, yes please!" Best concert, and the pricetag didn't hurt either!

As I like to tell my yoga students: Tell the universe what you want, and it will deliver. (I'll just be over here lighting my patchouli incense)

Hi - my two nieces (ages 9 and 11) and their parents are visiting from the bay area April 6-8. They've never been to DC. When I ask what they want to do, they're very vague (monuments and Smithsonians and my BiL wants to see the Exorcist steps). We'll do the cherry blossoms on the 8th, and I can do a monument tour pretty well - but what else? Also - what are some good family friendly restaurants in DC - I hope we can get into Ted's on 14th for brunch, but any thoughts about lunch and dinner? I know this isn't much to go on . . . but can you help?

So, this could be fun for your nieces if they're the girly type - after you do the exorcist steps, take them to the new Lady Camellia in Georgetown for tea and cakes. It's a kid-friendly place that will make them feel grown-up. 2 Amys is also a classic kid-friendly restaurant in DC, as is the ever-popular Shake Shack. You could take them to Market Lunch in Eastern Market for brunch. Oh, and Comet Ping Pong would be fun for kids and adults at dinnertime!

It was weird. Kind of looked like these with masks: Wasn't really sure what they were going for, but I was too excited to care.

Yikes. Sounds kind of scary.

I'd like to go to the game next Saturday evening with some friends in from out of town, but I have a feeling I should play it by ear with the rain. Do you think I'll miss out on the cheap seats if I wait until next week to buy them?

Our colleague Alex, who writes most of our Nats Park-related stories for Weekend, says you have a good chance of missing out. So you might want to pull the trigger and buy those tickets ahead of time.

Hi Gurus! Loving the idea of West End Wednesdays, and hope to get into the next series of dinners! I have a question - do you know if the menus will get released and/or how they handle food allergies? I haven't been able to find a lot of info, maybe I'm just not looking in the right place. Any info would be appreciated, thanks!

If you have a food allergy, it's always best to call ahead and talk to someone at the restaurant about how it will be handled. Even if the menus are released ahead of time, best practice is always to let the kitchen know about your allergy at the time you make a reservation, so they can accomodate you.

Thanks for stopping by today and sharing your fave music memories. The winner of the free tickets is the Rolling Stones concert-goer. Congrats! Email me at stephanie [dot] merry [at] to claim your prize.

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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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