Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Guide

May 15, 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. Glad you can join us today. The good news: After tonight's "wall of water" deluge, we're looking at a cool, sunny Saturday and Sunday -- and we're one day closer to a three-day weekend.

In other news, did you hear there's a new whiskey bar with a rooftop deck on 18th Street? Or that Flying Dog is unleashing its Dead Rise -- aka "the beer brewed with Old Bay" -- at ChurchKey tonight?  And that District Flea has been scratched?

Here are our plans for the weekend: Tell us about yours.

My allergies finally seem to be letting up and I can't wait to enjoy the low 70s temps this weekend. What fun outdoor festivals or activities are going on Saturday?

So the one I'm most looking forward to on Saturday, strangely enough, is the Graveyard Grub food truck festival at Congressional Cemetery. There will be a bar, bocce and seven food trucks serving lunch from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., plus free walking tours: an introduction to the cemetery itself at 11 a.m., and one focused on the Civil War at 1 p.m. (The latter includes a stop at the unmarked grave of one of the Lincoln conspirators, which I find really cool. I know.)

There are people who might be a little freaked out by the idea of picnicking in a cemetery, but as Congressional's program director Lauren Maloy reminded me last week, it was normal practice in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Whoops. Hit publish too soon. I'm also looking forward to the first tour of the Arts in Foggy Bottom sculpture exhibition, which is really more like a neighborhood treasure hunt. You can start looking for art at 4 p.m., beginning at the corner of New Hampshire and I streets.

Hi! My boyfriend's grandparents came to town a day earlier than expected and I'm looking for a nice place for dinner tonight for the 4 of us. Can you recommend a place that's within a 15 minute walk of 14th and M, not too loud, and not too exotic with the cuisine? I'm currently thinking Tabard Inn (though I'm wary with their ownership issues of late) or Joe's Seafood, would love to hear your suggestions!

Hi! The Tabard has been less than stellar after the changes that have taken place, but there's a perfectly lovely alternative across the street from there: Iron Gate. The informal garden menu, as opposed to the tasting menu, would probably be the best bet for your group. A short walk south of you, there's also Casa Luca. Joe's Stone Crab, as you mentioned, would fit the bill, as would the nearby Woodward Table.

Hey Gurus, I'm looking for a place for happy hour before Monday's Nat v Reds game. I've been wanting to check out Bluejacket, but the one time I went there early on, it was so insane that we couldn't even get close to the bar and we went elsewhere. I was thinking a Monday might be easier, but the game could mean a big crowd. Any advice or other options (not Gordon Biersch). Thnks!

Yeah, Bluejacket can get slaughtered between the happy hour and baseball crowds. Actually, most places in the neighborhood do, since you've got thousands of baseball fans converging on basically five bars. (Fairgrounds, Justin's Cafe, Gordon Biersch, Park Tavern and Bluejacket. Kruba has a large bar too, but it's still usually more people eating sushi than getting drinks in before the baseball game.)

To beat the crowds, I still suggest getting drinks around Eastern Market or Barracks Row -- Barrel, Ugly Mug, Ambar, Matchbox -- and then getting the Circulator or walking. 

But without knowing exactly how many tickets have been sold, I'd think you'd be fine getting drinks at Justin's (or *maybe* Bluejacket) on a Monday night, which isn't generally a hectic night.

HI! Where can 20 somethings go to dance to hip hop/ R&B with a mixed or African American crowd? Don't want Park at 14th or Lux Lounge (ugh)but somewhere where there is a lot of dancing to hip hop music on a Friday or Saturday.

A few options:

The Lodge at Redrocks on H Street has been getting some dope hip-hop DJs on the calendar: Mr. Sonny James and Matthew Law from Philadelphia last Saturday, Cuzzin B and DJ Face of TruSkool on the 23rd. They haven't announced the night of the 30th yet, but it's such a cool space, with the rooftop deck and multiple bars, that I'd recommend keeping an eye on the schedule.

Sticking with H Street, I love the house-party vibe at Avery's Bar and Grill on weekend nights. Great DJs, live drummers playing along, open bar from 10-11 p.m., friendly crowd and two floors of dancing to hip-hop and old-school R&B.

Also, Liv is one of my favorite spots for alternative hip-hop events, like the all-'90s Reminisce party with DJ Underdog and 2-Tone Jones, or the throwback Axel F events. Again, nothing mentioned for that weekend (yet) but it's worth keeping an eye on.

My husband and I have not been out in DC in forever, and we were planning to do a river cruise from Old Town to Georgetown and back. Ideally we would get dinner in Old Town, drinks in Georgetown, and then maybe a nightcap in Old Town. Do you have any recommendations of where to go?

My ideal trip would be dinner at Restaurant Eve or Majestic. After sailing down to Georgetown Harbor, grab  for classic cocktails or a glass of Italian wine at Fiola Mare, and then maybe a tiki drink on the patio at Farmers, Fishers, Bakers. Once you've re-docked in Old Town, I'd say some of those really tasty '80s cocktails at Majestic (if you didn't do dinner there) or a craft beer at the bar at Pizzeria Paradiso.

A bit of warning on assuming Bluejacket will be calmer on a Monday. I was there two Mondays ago and they didn't realize there was a Monday night game, so were understaffed. My burger was incorrectly made twice, but our server handled the mistakes incredibly professionally and brought me two tasters on the house. A manager also came over to address the errors. Takeaway - everything will be packed near the stadium, especially if the weather is nice, no matter what day it is.

Your point about "everything will be packed" is the key one. (And shame on Bluejacket for not realizing there would be a game.)


HI Gurus- here's a challenging one for you! Celebrating my husband's 36th birthday on Saturday night. He loves the fun! He wants to do a bar crawl around Bethesda and we are stumped as to where we should go. Caddies is an old standby- but anything new and fun in that area? We've got a babysitter for the kids and are looking to have a great time! Thanks for the help.

I did my own mini-bar crawl around Bethesda a few weeks ago for a story: Started on the rooftop deck at Roof, then went for beers at Rock Bottom, made a pitspot for filling lobster mac and cheese and craft brews at Freddie's Lobster & Clams, and finished with cocktails at Brickside. 

If you want to dance, you could sub out Brickside for Union Jack's. 

Depending on the weather, you could also add in the beer garden at Piazza, which reopened for the summer last weekend. Cool little -- and I mean little -- spot with picnic tables, beer and a simple menu of soft pretzels, sausage sandwiches, etc.

We haven't been out in ages together due to job changes for both that have weird hours and reduced pay. We both have from 4 p.m. onward free on Saturday night and would love to spend some time outside, just hanging out and exploring the city since it's a rarity these days! What's new? We love art, music, food, drink, though one of us is a vegetarian. Open to hitting a few places and making the most of the evening. Thanks!

How about this weekend's Arts in Foggy Bottom festival? There's a guided tour of the neighborhood-wide sculpture exhibition that begins at 4 on Saturday. After that, you might check out the new Soi 38 Thai street-food themed restaurant in the West End -- try the bottled cocktails. You could also do a restaurant crawl on 14th Street, where some of the veg-friendly restaurants include Compass Rose, Doi Moi, and Lupo Verde -- all of which have patios to allow you to people watch and enjoy the finally-warm weather.

Ok, I googled and it looked like this hadn't been asked since 2012 so I feel like it's fair game again. What are some good places in DC/VA that attract a slightly older crowd? I'm trying to meet men in their mid 30s. I was thinking probably breweries (Bluejacket?) or places that specialize in bourbon? (The lengths this Miller Lite drinkin gal will go to to meet a guy...) Thanks so much!

Any place that doesn't do cheap Miller Lite on a Saturday night? I'd say craft beer and/or bourbon places would work -- Southern Efficiency, Jack Rose, Right Proper, things of that nature. Restaurant bars, for sure -- even, say, happy hour at Vidalia. Also, I wonder about the Art Tour of Foggy Bottom that we mentioned earlier, or cultural events, such as the Corcoran or Phillips happy hours. (Though I admit the majority of the people I've seen at the latter two were women.)


We're at a loss for where to go for my dad's upcoming birthday... there will be four of us, and we all eat adventurously and eat out a lot in DC. Previous favorite birthday spots are Little Serow and Le Diplomate, and we'd like to keep it around that price range. They need to take reservations, and bonus points if the sound level isn't shattering, though I know that's hard these days! We're also willing to go somewhere great a little further away. Thank you!

How about one of the Rasikas -- where the chef was recently honored with a James Beard Award? I bet he'd also like the top floor izakaya of Daikaya, or Kapnos on 14th Street, or the South American smoked meats of Del Campo. I'd put Iron Gate  and The Partisan on your list as well, assuming you are carnivores for the latter.

Sidenote: this does not fulfill two out of three of your criteria, but I think an adventurous eater would really get a kick out of Compass Rose, the worldly restaurant on 14th Street that serves my new favorite dish. It doesn't take reservations, but if you get there early and sit on the patio, you can avoid some of the noise -- the back room is really shouty.

Hello, Now that the weather's warmer I'm itching to be near the water! What are your recommendations for exploring the Eastern Shore of MD? I've been to Annapolis but am more interested in smaller/hidden places. Must be doable as a day trip from DC. :)

St. Michaels, though it's obviously not hidden or smaller, is a popular one, and something I recommend to people who don't go over much.

My favorites would include Cambridge, which has a great historic downtown full of shops, restaurants and bars; and historic Chestertown, with its farmers markets, art galleries, sailing and tallships, and fun First Friday celebrations. Both are under two hours from D.C.

Honestly, I'd probably drive from D.C. to Cambridge again just to eat another of Louise's Crab Cakes at Jimmie and Sook's.

The first weekend I want to eat England vs. Italy with chicken wings.

We definitely will be. Viewing is not going to be the struggle it was when games were in Capetown or Seoul, that's for sure. Lots of "long lunches" coming up, if you know what I mean.

I think you picnic before a relative's grave, you can't just pick a random grave and chow down. You also tidy the stone.

At Congressional, though, you could picnic next to the memorial to Henry Clay or John Calhoun, or former vice president Elbridge Gerry!

And yes, you tidy...

I'm volunteering at the event on Sunday, and I get some free taste tickets in exchange. (Yay.) Where should I use them? I'm fine with buying a few extras.

Taco Bamba! And Kapnos, and Lyon Hall. I'm also intrigued by the brand new liquid nitrogen ice cream place NiceCream, which is also on the list.

Come by and let your toddler run wild.

Cinema Del Ray is one of the most fun outdoor movie series for kids, as all of the movies are animated.

(It's on the third Saturday of the month, beginning at 7 p.m., at the Mount Vernon Rec Center in Alexandria.)

My husband's single friends hang out at the Georgetown Waterfront, Rustico, Heavy Seas, and the Green Pig (but if you are looking for a relationship, my husband's non-single friends all dated/married people they met on Match, not the ones they met in bars)

There are graduations being held at various points in DC and Maryland this weekend. What are the peak times for traffic congestion and to avoid as I am not sure when the graduations are being held. Thank you, Sandy

Actually, some of them, including Howard and American, are done. Georgetown and Catholic are on Saturday, though both are on campus: Georgetown begins at 9 a.m., and Catholic begins at 10. GW's ceremony is Sunday morning on the Mall, beginning at 9:30.

Sorry for the fashion question. I'm trying to pare down my wardrobe. Can anyone recommend a good list for what one should have for a summer wardrobe? Or online resources for such questions? I'm a middle-aged mom who works at home in a university town. Thanks much!

No apologies needed, I love taking fashion questions! I like this checklist from Real Simple, which is segmented into all-season basics, and season-specific items. Among its summer recommendations: white jeans, flat leather sandals, and bright cotton dresses and tops. I am also a fan of having a good summer silk scarf, because it can totally transform an otherwise basic outfit. When you pare down your wardrobe, don't forget to send the best cast-off pieces to your local consignment shops, where they might earn you money.

Actually there are a ton of school-specific ceremonies being held on Friday too--GW has them at 2 hour intervals all day and I think Georgetown might too. Probably less of a scrum than the giant full university ceremonies, but then again the staggered method may just prolong the pain. Maybe check the school websites if you are on a time-sensitive mission and need to be sure?

Good advice, especially if you're driving in Georgetown or Foggy Bottom this weekend. (Personally, I wouldn't -- there's a lot of moving out going on all weekend, too.)

Okay, we've got to run. Enjoy your weekend and try not to get stuck in graduation traffic.


Post Points code is GG3686.

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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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