Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Guide

May 22, 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. Are you as ready for a long weekend as we are? Here are some suggestions for things to do this weekend, but there are a ton more coming up. (I'm putting the finishing touches on the big beach story right now, so you can look for that this afternoon.)

Have you tried the new G Street Food, which opened today (conveniently near our office)? And did you know five top cocktail bars are hosting happy hours tonight to celebrate their RAMMY nominations?

Let's get right to the questions...

Hey guys, my 40th birthday is coming up and although I initially wanted to fly out of town somewhere I realize now with a newborn that that's not going to happen. Do you have any ideas that my husband and I could do that would be unique and fun here in the city? Also, could you recommend a restaurant with a great tasting menu? We don't want to spend the night anywhere because of the baby, so we're looking for ideas that we could do during the day and/or in the evening. Thanks so much. :-)

Happy birthday! A milestone birthday calls for a special meal, and if you're willing to spend a little extra, I'd head to CityZen or Komi. Or, for a similarly pampered experience but slightly less cash, you could check out Rogue 24, Aggio, Fiola Mare, or Barmini. To make a day of it, I'd go to a 2 p.m. matinee at the theater of your choice -- you don't say which weekend you're planning to celebrate, but upcoming shows include "Cymbeline" at the Folger, or "West Side Story" at the National. Then, in the time between your show and your dinner, you could head to a rooftop bar with a view -- maybe the W Hotel? -- and take in the view over a cocktail.

Hi all, Thanks for taking my question. I'm trying to find a bar to meet up with 10-15 friends to celebrate my 30th birthday. Ideally, I'm looking for someplace on the Red Line in NW DC or Bethesda, with a laid-back vibe, decent beer list, and (if a guy can dream) outdoor space that might actually be open on a Friday night. I was thinking Cleveland Park Bar and Grill, but I'm sure there are other spots that fit the bill. Any thoughts?

Hmm. With a group that size, you wouldn't have any trouble taking over the roof at Roof, in Bethesda, especially on the early side. Went back a few weeks ago, and there was plenty of space on a Friday, though that may change as the summer goes on. The have good local stuff (Flying Dog, Brewer's Art) as well as more pedestrian choices.

Also in Bethesda is the Piazza beer garden at Cesco, a small place with picnic tables, good beers and sharable snacks. Seats are first-come, first-served, but I've seen parties there before -- It might be worth calling and asking about a birthday party.

Cleveland Park Bar or Grill isn't a bad choice, btw -- there's not a lot of outdoor space in the Cleveland-Tenley corridor. Public Bar in Tenley is another option, and I've found that I like the bar more in the summer, when it's not packed with students. (No offense, students.)

What are your favorite Roof Decks in DC and Virginia?

I can't speak to Virginia's roof decks, but in D.C., I love the roof of the new, aptly-named Roofers Union, which overlooks 18th Street in Adams Morgan, and Perry's, which overlooks Columbia in the same neighborhood. Both have nice happy hour specials, too. Other favorites include the W (can't beat that view!), 1905, and the laid-back Red Derby. One roof deck I'm dying to check out is the family-style table at Rose's Luxury, but it's all booked up through June 9.


Readers, wanna chime in with some of your other favorite perches in the area?

I rarely get to go out for happy hour, but I will finally have a chance to go out on Friday. I care more about food than drinks, but my girlfriends care more about drinks, of course. Can please you recommend some places with great food specials and metro accessible in Arlington or DC? We are looking to get started around 3pm, so if you could recommend a couple of places, that would be great! Thank you so much!

I love it when places can combine good food AND drink deals.

A couple of options: Vidalia is one of my favorite spots for Southern food in D.C., and happy hour small plates, which include everything from pimento cheese to charcuterie, run $3-$5. There's good wine for around $7 a glass, beer starts at $3.50.

At the Partisan's "Aperitivo Hour," five sharp Italian drinks made by bartending whiz Jeff Faile and his team are $5 each, but they're designed to pair well with the foodie-friendly meno of lardo and jowl ham ($2), BBQ pork rinds ($5) and small sandwiches on Italian tigelle bread ($5.50). 

Other places I've been recently with good food and drinks: Discounted tapas and sangria at Boqueria; discounted margaritas and sangria at Del Campo; pairings of cocktails and oysters at Teddy and the Bully Bar; $1 oysters and $5 drink specials at Hank's on the Hill.

Hi GoGs! I am going to Kent Narrows Saturday. I was originally supposed to go with a friend but he taken ill and probably won't be able to accompany me. What fun things do you recommend doing there solo? I definitely want to check out Red Eye Dock Bar. Thanks!

Honestly, there's not a ton to do in Kent Narrows, as much as I love the scenery.The Terrapin Beach Nature Park, closer to the Bay Bridge, has some scenic trails through beaches and wetlands, and good birdwatching.  

I was at Harris Crab House for crabs a few weeks back, and would recommend the crab cakes and hush puppies.

Whitlows in Clarendon has a nice roof deck, so does Clarendon Ballroom.

I love Brixton at 9th and U St! It has a huge rooftop, all wines are $6 and happy hour ends at 8pm. They also have food and beer/rail drink specials.

Any recommendations on a good day trip in the DMV area that both a) has an all-American feel to it for Memorial Day, and b) won't involve sitting in traffic half the day? Extra points if barbeque is involved. -Carolyn

Anywhere around here is going to involve sitting in traffic, if you believe Dr. Gridlock.

Using the Virginia State traffic forecast (very cool slider, btw) it seems like heading out towards the Shenandoah wouldn't be anywhere near as bad as going south or west. I love the small-town feel of Staunton, which is convenient for a number of wineries and breweries as well as good restaurants, antiquing and Memorial Day in the town park. Lexington, too, is pretty awesome for a day trip, though it's about two-and-a-half hours each way. It's easy to break up with pit stops, though, if you travel through Orange and down 29.

Purcellville is an even closer Virginia option, a small town that's close to wineries, has some cool shops and both multiple breweries (Corcoran and Adroit Theory), and multiple barbecue restaurants. (Go to Smokin' Willy's.) 

I plan on going tomorrow night but since I don't get off work until 5 I won't get there until about 5:30. Will there be places to sit? I know first come first serve sit on the fountain. Where else is there to sit? Since I m coming from work I won't have chairs. At my age I can sit on the ground but I will not be able to get up when the concert is over.

I think you have a shot at finding a seat -- If I remember correctly from last year, there are benches in other parts of the park. And as long as you don't have a huge entourage with you, if you explain to someone that it would be harder for you to sit on the ground, I bet some people will slide over and make enough room for you to squeeze in somewhere -- or at least I hope they would! Still, I'd try to rush down there as fast as possible, to maximize your chances. And bring sunglasses, because your odds of finding a seat in the shade might be small.

Also consider other restaurants there, like Bridges, which has a nice deck that looks out on the Narrows and the local docks, so you can watch the boat traffic passing. If the weather's nice, it can be lovely.

Yeah, that's the beauty of the Narrows (literally): Almost everywhere you go has a scenic waterfront view.

Say one wanted to check out this Strawberry Festival in Delaplane, and also visit some wineries while out that way. Any suggestions? Any other thoughts for things worth doing out that way if one was going to get a Zipcar and some friends together? (I suppose at this point, I'm getting a bit ambitious.)

"If I were in Delaplane, " says our in-house wine expert Lavanya. "I would do Holland Farms for pick-your-own strawberries, which you can't do at Delaplane, Naked Mountain Vineyards is right there. It has a great view. Vintage Ridge does food and wine pairings, and it's a particularly pretty part of the area."

"Personally, I would do RdV. It's the one everyone wants to go to right now. It has a salon tasting on Saturdays. It's $30 per person, but it's really a special experience if you're going to be out there."

Hey Gurus, I'm staying in town for the holiday weekend but want do some outdoor activities (hiking trails, etc) in close proximity to some wineries/breweries. Are there any special events at any of your favorite winery or breweries this weekend? Thanks!!

You know what sounds like a great idea for this weekend (to me, anyway)? Take a hike in Shannondale Springs, a wildlife preserve along the Shenandoah between Leesburg and Harper's Ferry, and then hitting Adroit Theory and Corcoran breweries in Purcellville, and the Corcoran winery, which about a 20-minute drive from Shannondale. They're all open on Saturday and Sunday.

Love most of the recs for Delaplane-area sights and wineries, but unfortunately Vintage Ridge is now closed aside from hosting some wine club events. Definitely a loss for the area!

You are correct -- they stopped doing tastings as of April 1. We were just talking about how that area seems to be trying to distance itself from the wine tourism model that other parts of the state are building up, asking for reservations, limited access to wine clubs, etc.

Hi Guys -- Love the chat. My wife and I are looking for a place to grab a drink or two in Capitol Hill on Sunday evening. We both love personable bar tenders and fine cocktails. Any recommendations?

Hank's on the Hill is a go-to for me, especially with its rotating cocktail menu, but it can be LOUD. Barrel, the whiskey bar down Pennsylvania Avenue SE, is new, but the bar staff is friendly -- ask them about their barrel-aged cocktail program -- and they make a mean drink. (I've had better service in the quiet basement bar than in the main room upstairs.)

Some of the bartenders at Beuchert's are personable and fun, others only seem to interact with each other. If you get the former, it's a fun night, and they do make a mean Seelbach cocktail.

We are meeting long-time friends for dinner next Sunday evening. We're looking for a nice restaurant in the Ashburn/Sterling area, hopefully not too loud so we can hear each other talk (we're getting older, after all). Any thoughts?

The classy Clyde's Willow Creek Farm can be loud or quiet, depending on the night -- but a Sunday should be much better than, say, a Friday. 

I just did the West End Progressive dinner last night and loved it. Are there other similar opportunities in DC? I liked being able to experience so many restaurants in one night! Thanks for your help.

I have not yet heard of a similar, restaurant-organized progressive dinner elsewhere in D.C., but there's no reason you can't DIY! Pick a neighborhood where there are tons of adjacent restaurants (Shaw, 14th Street, H Street), chart out your courses, and go. One that I think would be fun would be to start at Mockingbird Hill or Eat the Rich for an appetizer and drink (ham or oysters, respectively), then walk down the street to Thally or Table for dinner, and then end your night at Baby Wale for their "cookie dim sum" dessert and a drink.

Hi, gurus, looking to meet up with a friend and her two little ones (1 and 3) on Sunday in the 4-8pm time ... anything kid friendly that you would suggest? DC is best. Thanks!!

Just ran the question by On Parenting expert Amy Joyce, who ways that Sunday evening isn't usually packed with kids' activities. She suggests packing a picnic and meeting at a park where you two can catch up while the toddlers play -- maybe Yards Park on the waterfront, the padded playgrouind on Livingstone Street in Chevy Chase, or the park at the Georgetown waterfront.

Okay, that's it from us. Beach-related work is calling. We'll be back next Thursday.


Today's Post Points code is GG3489

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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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