Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Guide

Apr 24, 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. The weather looks perfect for a super-busy weekend, with TWO bar crawls on U Street, the return of the Lot at Union Market, the Springfest beer bash in Shirlington, Georgetown's French Market, the Kingman Island Bluegrass Festival and much more. (Read our general picks here, or check out Nightlife Agenda for music, DJs and bar hopping.)

Lots to talk about today, so we'll get right to the questions.

Hi GOGs, have a first date tonight with a guy who seems great and we both like sushi - win. What's a good, low key place we could go to? I really like SEI but that feels a little fancy/formal for a first date. I also want somewhere that doesn't feel like a production incase after an hour we are both not feeling it. I don't want to eat crappy food though just to avoid a place that may take a little more time, though. Thanks for your advice.

I think Kushi strikes the perfect balance that you're looking for - casual & stylish enough for a date, but not a place that cuts corners. Here's Tom's review. Hope the date goes well!

Oh all knowing GoGs!! I woke up today and decided I needed more public humiliation in my life, so I'm hoping you can help me find the best places in DC to do karaoke. I'd prefer the "sing on a stage in a bar" scenario over the "sing to a TV in a creepy private room" scenario. A few friends and I have tentatively planned to do it on a Friday or Saturday night, if we could find a good place. However, I would love to hear your recommendations no matter what night of the week they occur. I live in Arlington, and had been planning to make this happen in DC. Thanks in advance for your assistance Gurus! Now, must start practicing in my car.

This is when I miss Japone. A lot of the bars that offer karaoke in D.C. do it early in the week, when business is slower, rather than on weekends. Starting with a couple of weekend options for you: Recessions has karaoke on Thursdays and Fridays, and tends to get a younger crowd that comes in for $4 28-ounce jumbo beer at happy hour (5-8 p.m.) and sticks around to sing, beginning at 8 p.m. 

I love the Meeting Place on Fridays, but more to listen than sing, because some of the regulars can sing. Like church-choir good.

Rock It Grill in Old Town is a divey, spot with a weird crowd, but they do karaoke every night, and it's always busy. You probably won't be judged too harshly.

Favorite weeknight spots include the live-band karaoke at Hill Country on Wednesdays (the best karaoke night in D.C., I think), Mondays at Banana Cafe's piano bar on Capitol Hill, and Kostume Karaoke (every Thursday at Solly's, every other Wednesday at Little Miss Whiskey's). Putting on a goofy wig really seems to change people's mood about karaoke.

Hi! I am going to the Lincoln Theatre for the first time, and it is a sold-out, general admission show. Do you know how they handle seating? Is it just a free-for-all when the doors open? Do you think people will be lining up many hours beforehand? Thank you!

For GA shows at the Lincoln, it is every man or woman for themselves once the doors open. The line depends on the artist, but I've seen it go down the block for big names before. Play it safe: Get down there an hour or more before doors open and see if there's a line. If not, you can duck over to happy hour at Saint-Ex or have a drink on the roof of Marvin.

Hi gurus. I think I'm priced out of tickets for Friday night's Wizards game. Are there any bars with a great Wizards TV experience--sound on, fans watching, etc.? (I'll leave Ivy & Coney for the Bulls fans.) Barring that, any suggestions for a bar where I can at least catch it on TV with some decent food and beer?

If you go down to the Verizon Center, a lot of bars will have the game on with sound -- thinking Redline and the Greene Turtle for starters, and Jackpot and Rocket Bar have had games on with sound earlier in the season.

Hi all! For our upcoming wedding anniversary in May, we've booked a room at the Donovan House. Any advice on where to eat or what to do in the neighborhood during our one-night stay? We plan to arrive in the area early in the day on a Saturday and take off mid-day Sunday. Thanks!

I think Rogue 24, a short walk away in Shaw, is a great anniversary spot - romantic, chic and memorable -- but it's also on the pricier end. If you don't want to spend quite that much, there are plenty of places on 14th Street that are celebratory: Le Diplomate would be at the top of that list (but get your reservation now!), followed by Kapnos or, if you go south of the hotel, Joe's Stone Crab. While you're at Donovan House, get a drink on the rooftop and take in the nice views. Happy anniversary!

I have a group of 10 or so friends that go out once a week in Capitol Hill after a club meeting. We are a very mixed group ranging from business suits to (nonfashionably) ripped jeans. The 18th Amendment's basement was perfect for us. After the closings of the Remington's, the Little Pub, the Pour House, and the 18th Amendment, we are having a hard time coming up with a place that suits us. Besides this weekly get together, none of us spend a ton of time in the area, so I'm sure we don't know about all of the options. Can you recommend a little less "nice" place within easy walking distance of the Eastern Market metro?

You've still got a few more days for the Pour House, you know. Might be worth making one last trip over.

Places around that side of the Hill that are friendly to a mixed crowd would include the Ugly Mug on Barracks Row, Mr. Henry's at Sixth and Penn, or the Banana Cafe on Barracks Row. You'd be fine at Molly Malone's, but my last experience there was more expensive and less "service oriented" than I would have like.

Oh, or Lola's, especially if you can grab the second-floor patio, which is only big enough for 10 people, really, and is a little more welcoming for neighbors than some of the other spots in that mini-restaurant chain. (Pacifico, Boxcar, etc.)

I'm hyped about the Wizards playoff games. I want to go somewhere in NoVa to watch game 3 on Friday. Preferably a place that has plenty of TVs, the volume up during the game and has great food. I'm driving, so it doesn't have to be near the metro. Thanks!

Oh, then you HAVE to go to Grevey's in Falls Church. It's owned by Kevin Grevey, who won the NBA title with the Bullets back in 1978, and they're having playoff viewing parties for every game. (Tuesday featured a chance to play Kevin in Pop-A-Shot.) Great atmosphere, fun neighborhood bar with a good-sized patio.

I'd like to celebrate my birthday on a Friday or Saturday with a group of 20-25 people. Any ideas on great locations that could accommodate that size? Private rooms ideal. Thanks!

I honestly don't know -- our favorite Norabang spots, including Muzette in Adams Morgan and Cafe Muse and Cafe Tu Ah in Annandale -- usually cap out at 15 people for the private rooms, though I'm sure you could squeeze in more if you tried, especially in Annandale. 


OK I guess I don't get out much. It never would have occurred to me that karaoke still existed in this country...

Yeah, you probably don't go to bars on weeknights, then. Karaoke is everywhere. Still.

Since Tom Sietsema didn't chat on Wednesday, I'm asking here. I'm not very familiar with restaurants in MoCo. Two 50+ aged ladies are going to a play Sunday, at 3pm in Bethesda. I'm looking for a restaurant for brunch, lunch, or dinner, somewhere between Silver Spring and Bethesda with good food, but not too gourmet. Cuisine could be American, Italian, Chinese, Thai, seafood, steak, or BBQ. Cost around $25 - $40/per person w/ a cocktail. I've thought of brunch at Mrs. K's, but I'm looking for other suggestions. Thanks!

Channeling Tom, I think one of the restaurants he would have suggested for you would be Food, Wine & Co., which he praises often.  Towards Silver Spring, I'd check out Urban Butcher or 8407. You could also do the dim sum brunch at Hollywood East!

We're a group of almost 30something girls headed to Rehoboth this weekend for a friend's birthday! We have reservations at Bramble & Brine, but any suggestions for other fun restaurants/bars that will be open during the off-season? The weather doesn't look warm so we're also looking for things to besides sitting on the beach (day drinking is on the agenda already). Thanks!

A lot of the Eastern Shore spots have started springing to life in the last week or two. Most of the big places in Rehoboth are set: Dogfish Head for beers and live music, Purple Parrot for that giant sandy beer garden and karaoke, the fun rum bar at Zogg's -- are already up and running. Same with Dewey: You'll find crowds at the Starboard, and this weekend, the Rusty Rudder is hosting the annual Admiral Dewey Day with live music all afternoon and Love Seed Mama Jump at night.

As for things to do during the day: Go to Lewes. Lots of great little shops, bookstores, antique malls and restaurants downtown. Also: Outlet sales.

Come on Fritz, admit it - you're laughing.

When the first three "breweries" listed at a beer festival with "unlimited tastings" are Yuengling, Bud Light and Coors Light? Yeah, I'm laughing.

Thinking of going to the Art Soiree Saturday Night opening at the Beacon Hotel, but have no idea what I'll be getting myself and date into... Key question - are drinks being served?

This is the first weekend for 2014 Art Soirees, and they're going to Thursday-Sunday this year, so I'm kind of curious about what to expect. Going by previous experiences, drinks have been fairly standard "martinis" and sweet mixed cocktails, decent beers and wine. (It's a little high because you're paying hotel prices.)

Not a bad way to spend a Saturday night, especially if you get the free RSVP

Thanks! Just booked at Kapnos! (Le Diplomate had no reservations avail and Rogue 24 would be lost on my husband). Other than the Donovan rooftop, which we will definitely do, best bets for drinks? Or Sunday brunch? Thanks so much!

2 Birds 1 Stone, the somewhat-hidden basement cocktail bar that was in my recent 21 Bars to Try Right Now story; the tiny upstairs bar at Bar Pilar, especially if Owen Thomson (formerly of Range) is behind the stick; the 555-beer list at ChurchKey, but not at prime time on a Saturday.

Sunday brunch: I've heard good things about brunch at the Belgian B Too, though I've not been. For meatlovers, the Pig offers some really interesting choices, including eggs with face bacon (so good), shrimp and grits, and pulled-pork eggs benedict with a barbecue hollandaise. 

Personally, though, I'm more likely to wind up at Bar Pilar, siting at the bar with a super-spicy bloody mary, and one of the pork belly hash or the cheesy biscuits-and-gravy "hangover cure" bowl.

Hello GOGs! I know you get this question all the time, but a group of girlfriends and I want to go out dancing on Saturday for a friend's low-key bachelorette (there will no no sashes or wigs or tiaras). We are all late 20s and early 30s. Where can we go to just dance, dance, dance?! Thanks so much

So many places, honestly. Assuming you're not looking for cutting-edge house or techno (which would be U Street Music Hall or Flash), my favorite spots right now include the rotating DJs at Little Miss Whiskey's and RedRocks on H Street, the rooftop deck at the Brixton, or Heist if you're looking for something a little fancier. (Oddball mix, I know.)

Hey gurus! Are there any bottomless brunches in downtown Bethesda? I've been to the ones downtown, but we'll have people in our group who live in out in suburbs and don't really want to trek downtown. Thanks!

So I haven't been to brunch at Roof Bethesda, but I've been a few times to sample cocktails and rooftop drinks for recent reviews and the bar guide. Anyway, last time through, they mentioned that they do $25 bottomless mimosas and bloody marys. If they're as good as the rest of the cocktails and food, that's intriguing. 

I have tickets for a Saturday afternoon performance. Is there anyplace near there to get a bite to eat?

You've got Station 4 two blocks closer to the Waterfront Metro. It's just okay. Cantina Marina is across the street, and it's mostly fish tacos, blackened salmon or crabcake sandwiches, etc., in a beach-bar setting. Also okay. 

You might be better off heading a half-mile or so east and eating over near the Navy Yard, where you'll find Kruba Thai, Nando's, Justin's Cafe, etc.

Okay, we have to run. Get outside this weekend and enjoy the sun.


Post Points code is GG6932.

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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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