Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Guide

Jun 13, 2013

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.

Hello everyone. Hope you're safe and dry (so far). There's a lot going on this weekend -- Father's Day, Bloomsday, a beer festival and the final shows of the D.C. Jazz Festival. 

Oh, and speaking of the D.C. Jazz Festival, we're giving away a pair of tickets to see the Roots at Kastles Stadium on Saturday. To enter, just head over to the Going Out Guide Twitter page and retweet our list of the weekend's best bets. (Hint: It's the one with the hashtag #WeekendBestBets.) Retweet it to your followers by 2:30, and we'll randomly pick a winner around 3.

Other than that, the floor is open for questions about avoiding rain, happy hours, or enjoying the weekend. Let's get underway.

I also snagged tickets to the NatGeo/BYT party on Friday night - has anyone been before? What's it like? What should I expect?

The BYT party at National Geographic is one of their more interesting events, I think. Rather than the usual "party in a museum" after-hours throwdown, it's one where you can listen to talks from explorers and animal experts, watch movies, see demos on robotics and other cool/weird science stuff -- oh, and also dance to DJs, sample cocktails and laugh at comedians. Some of the BYT events, such as the ones at the Newseum, just seem like a party in a museum -- there's no real connection between the exhibits and the partygoers. That's not the case with events at NatGeo. (And yeah, I'll be the guy who's actually geeking out over exhibits with a drink in hand.)

GOGs! I was planning to do Jazz in the Garden tomorrow -- but even if it doesn't rain, I'm sure the ground will be soaked, so I need a backup birthday plan. Can you recommend a good, metro-accessible spot for about 10 people to gather for a few drinks and appetizers? Ideally some place where we could chat and enjoy each other's company without getting drenched.

How about moving your party to one of the rooftops in our list of this year's new options? DNV house, with its happy hour and frozen drinks from 5-7, is a good choice, plus, you still get the outdoor vibe without the mud to worry about.

I was thinking of taking my Little Guy to Truck Touch at RFK stadium this weekend. He's only 18 months though, and I worry he might be a little young. Anyone been to this and can let me know?

The moms on staff seem to think Truck Touch would be fine for an 18-month-old. As editor Amy Joyce -- who has two little guys of her own -- put it, "There are fire trucks RIGHT THERE. It's like a little slice of heaven."

Hi, any suggestions for kid-friendly activities in DC? I don't have kids, but will have family in town, including a 10 year old girl. We're going to the B'more aquarium and doing some general sight seeing (monuments, zoo), but I'm not sure I can fill 5 days! Any other ideas, especially unusual ones, appreciated!

How about a day at the pool/minigolf? There are a couple in the area - particularly Ocean Dunes in Arlington - that do this week. There, you can take them for a day of swimming, minigolf and then hit the batting cages (and it's just $12 to use all three). Honestly, it's the perfect summertime thing to do with a kid who will probably be worn out by being a kind of involuntary tourist. 

Which brings me to my totally unsolicited advice: A 10-year-old girl is a strange animal, not quite adult, but not a zoo-loving child by any means.   So, if you're doing monuments/zoo, at 10, consider that she might like to visit one of the museums, particularly the American History Museum, which is full of nods to pop culture, or Madame Tussaud's, or the Spy Museum. And maybe she'd enjoy a stop at a cool cafe like Mitsitam, or people-watch at  Jazz in the Garden.  You could send her a few links and let her choose, which might help her get excited. I'd throw in a fro-yo stop after the zoo (there's a place on Connecticut), too. A few nods to things she might enjoy, and to the fact that she's old enough to weigh in, could make the trip fun for everyone.

I am thinking it will be pouring when I get off work (around 4). I like wine. lots and lots of wine. I prefer to have it at $5-6 a glass or under for happy hour. I am in Penn Quarter/Chinatown area so where can I go that opens around 430 for HH with reasonable prices for wine? Proof is an obvious choice but they dont even open til 530 :( HELP! (willing to branch out to somewhere that has well drinks for a resonable price as well...) i can go a few stops on metro (yellow, red or green) if need be but ultimately im going south to crystal city for home so keep that in mind. Thanks in advance!

Oyamel is an interesting choice -- $5 glasses of Mexican wine (and $5 margaritas, too) from 4 to 6 p.m. I've had the red, and it's actually not bad.

You also wouldn't do badly at Hill Country's 3-7 p.m. happy hour, which has $5 margaritas and mixed drinks and $4 glasses of wine. (Honestly, I've never had wine there, so I can't speak to the quality.)

District of Pi had decent wine and beer specials last time I was in -- $4 beers, $5 wines from 4 to 6:30 or 7. 

And while they don't have wine deals (as far as I know), the $5 cocktails and beer deals at  Graffiato are worth a visit.

Georgetown cupcake-- she won't mind waiting in line. This is the one thing all of the 10 year olds coming into town for my wedding are excited for. They have also liked millennium stage, taking metro, and Nats games.

No need to wait in line, by the way. You can place your order in advance and skip the line. Unless the line is part of the fun (?)

Hey Gurus, So I was planning on celebrating my birthday this Saturday dancing the night away at Black Cat's Right Round. I need a bar in the area that can accommodate a lot of friends stopping in for drinks or gearing up for dancing. We are mostly late 20s early 30s. Group could get as large as 20+. Also if you know of any better DC dance parties than Right Round this Saturday I'll gladly take suggestions.

Wow. 20 is a lot of people. If you're doing it early enough -- post-dinner, pre-going out, maybe in the 9-9:30 range, you could get 20 people on the roofdeck at Marvin or 1905, or maybe El Centro D.F. (Sometimes the roofdeck is dead in the evening, sometimes it's hopping by that point.) Policy could also work. And I know from experience that the basement at Saint-Ex doesn't get obnoxiously crowded until later than 9, so that's another option.

Oh -- my OTHER suggestions. After you dance at Right Round, head up to Hanoi House (the former Blackbyrd) for late-night karaoke. And you're right above Tropicalia, where Sao Funky Saturdays with Fort Knox Five is a cauldron of awesomely funky world beats.

This isn't a question, but a critique: I don't know whether this is intentional or a glitch, but the going out guide used to have a feature when you were on a detail page, where you could check a box to show nearby establishments in various categories (bar, restaurant, etc.) on a map. Now, when I try to use this feature, instead of getting a page with, say, the ten nearest bars to Zaytinya, when I can then go to the next page to see the next ten nearest, the map stays on the detail page and points pop up for the nearest establishments to, in my example, Zaytinya, but they aren't in the category I selected (if I select bars, it shows restaurants, museums, everything) and it only shows those within a very small radius, with no ability to expand. This was a really nice feature in the guide that let me plan to get a bite or drink somewhere if we had a destination in a part of town I wasn't super familiar with. I hope it's an easy feature to revive, and thanks for the chat and making the guide so awesome.

Hi, thanks for your detailed note. I just checked this feature -- using Zaytinya as the detail page -- and it worked for me to check restaurants nearby, then I unclicked that box, and selected Metro stations, and it showed me only Metro stations.  But as you said, bars and clubs is coming up glitchy, so I'm sending this on to our resident techies right now! Thanks.   

There is  an easy way to expand the area you're searching, however. Just place your little handtool/arrow on the map and drag to the right or left -- new points will pop up, so you can see what's a little further away.

Office temp here in the Grosvenor-Strathmore area....if the storm hits about rush hour, where can one ride out the storm to avoid the traffic mess?

Hank Dietle's? That's where I'd go ...

Any places that serve breakfast (pre-10am) in DC on the weekend?!

My favorite of favorites is Jimmy T's on East Capitol Street. Such a wonderful little homey joint. Eastern Market's Market Lunch, Florida Avenue Grill and Ted's Bulletin are other fantastic choices. 

Here, by the way, is the Post's guide to the best breakfasts in the D.C. area.

Going for Mom's 60th Birthday on a limo wine tour June 29th - any advice on which wineries to visit? Leaving from Centreville with a limo booked for 6 hours. Hoping to visit 3 wineries. There are so many wineries in the area and I know some have limo restrictions, so any advice on which ones to visit would be great! Thanks!

Since you're so close to I-66, I'll recommend the places that a bit closer to you, because frankly, that gives you a little more time to enjoy your visits  -- you could start by zipping up to Chrysalis winery, because the estate is so gorgeous and it's the champion of the local wine), then wind down the road a few miles to Middleburg, where you could stop for a little shopping and lunch, if you wanted, or continue on to Boxwood. Boxwood makes some strong reds, and the winery itself is lovely. Since you're calling in advance, see if they can't do something cool, like a tour.  And finally, end with the John Marshall tasting at Barrel Oak Winery. I really enjoyed the white-napkin sort of experience,  and I think a mom would love it for a 60th. You need reservations for that one, but I'd also be sure to call and make sure that any of these three will allow your group -- and take note, they may charge a little more for a tasting if your group is larger than 10 people.

If you suggested 1905 as a pre-Black Cat destination, you could also go with Cause across the street as another option. I've been there on a weekend evening, and it seems like you could find room for 20 people.

Man, the last two times I went (with a date), we had to wait for barstools.  Maybe we're hitting it at bad times or something.

(I did blanch a little at telling 20 people to walk from 9th and T to 14th and T.)

Because our beach plans fell through for this weekend, I want to take my mom out on a fun day trip for just the two of us. We like being outside, so I'd love to take her somewhere where we can walk/hike and take in stunning views, then maybe treat her to a summery fresh meal. My thoughts were running towards Annapolis for the water, or Virginia wine country, but I figured gurus would know best! Thanks guys!

How about you spend a morning in Harpers Ferry?  I can't think of views more stunning than that (the weather this weekend is supposed to be amazing), and that will put you fairly close to a particularly busy part of wine country. After a hike, you could make a reservation for lunch at Grandale Farm, which is delicious, and has a beautiful patio (ask if you can sit out there when you make your reservation). It's also very close to Harpers Ferry. After that you could easily add one winery to cap off your day. Skip 868, the one connected to Grandale. It's still getting off the ground. Zip down to Hillsborough (a quick drive), to North Gate, which has some veteran winemakers at the helm, and a truffle pairing with its wine tasting, if your mom digs that. If not, you could skip Grandale and head to Corcoran Brewing for a beer tasting and barbecue.

Hey Gurus, OK, call me cranky, but I've stared and studied the menu for etto and it completely bores me (and this is coming from someone who loves Italian food and could eat it 24/7). It's been getting really good reviews, the space looks nice enough, though small. But the menu just kills it for me, with nothing special enough to get me inside (both drinks and food). There are some places where things make me salivate, just looking at the menu but nothing does it here for me. What's my question? What is the hype about? What do people like about it, other than being a new place? Maybe your words will inspire me to try it out. Thanks. Ever-so-curious.

Tom Sietsema just wrote a love letter to Etto in the food section yesterday, and his praise of the pizza has me dying to try it.

I haven't been, but I've been looking forward to a first visit. As at Standard, sometimes the simplest things are the best.

 There's a difference, sometimes, between an ambitious menu and a well-executed one.  I don't think Etto's hype is that it's simply a new place, but rather that it's excelling at execution. That said, if you're looking for Italian, but for a menu that's a little adventurous, you could do Red Hen, which has both an interesting cocktail list (shrubs!) and inventive flavor profiles. The gnocchi = my forever friend.

I am turning 30 the first week of July. I am looking for a new fun place for dinner, anywhere in DC works, a group of around 10-15 people, none of us are picky eaters. Something special, since it is my 30th birthday but nothing too stiff, formal or break-the-bank. I was thinking under/around $50 per person including drinks, tax and tip. Is that possible?! This group has done Zaytinya, Jaleo, Hill Country BBQ, Graffiato, Bandolero, Le Diplomate. Thanks for all your help!

(First, how did you do around $50/pp at Le Diplomate? Lavanya and I have both been, and barely got under $50 with appetizers and wine plus tax/tip.)

The biggest problem I see is that a lot of the places we'd recommend for being new and trendy, such as Etto, don't do reservations, which is tricky for a group of 15.

I would say that you'd get the festive and funky atmosphere at Daikaya's Izakaya, which takes reservations.

Oh, my. One can't accuse PBB of serving watered-down drinks. Oh no no no! That rum punch is some strong stuff. Anyone else had it and agree!? You get your money's worth there. And then some.

Oof, so much regret as a result of those babies.

I second that rec. I am a vegetarian and ate very, very well there last weekend. Love the place.

I'm not a vegetarian, and I had a great meal on Tuesday -- but those veggie crostini may be my favorite things ont he menu. Love the new Morrissey-themed cocktail list, too, speaking of vegetarians.

I don't mean for this to be a rude or inappropriate question, but I'm wondering because you each have such an awesome job that I'd think you'd want to keep your identity under wrap and not be chased after because your the bar editor or the food editor or the entertainments editor. You get the idea. More of a technical question as opposed to a how-to question. No, I'm not asking for myself, either.

Ha,  how does anyone in Washington date? I feel sometimes like half of our readership has some kind of job with security clearance or access to the White House bowling alley.  And yet we all meet genuine folks to date. The wonderful thing about this town is that while everyone asks you what you do, no one is really impressed by it.

Okay guys, we're wrapping up here so we can batten down the hatches. The weekend, however, will be beautiful, so be sure to get onto Twitter and take a stab at winning those Roots tickets! See you next Thursday at 1 p.m.

In This Chat
The Going Out Gurus
The Going Out Gurus 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.
Recent Chats
  • Next: