Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Guide

Aug 01, 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.

Hi everyone. The rain has gone away (at least for now) and we're here to answer all your weekend questions. We're buzzing about the choco-centric Max Brenner in Bethesda, Sunday's all-you-can-drink Rickey contest, and Galaxy Hut's beefy new menu. What about you?

I just got back from a West Coast trip to SF and Seattle and am looking to replicate the amazing coffee shop experience those two cities offer . Where would you say the best place is to grab an afternoon cappuccino or espresso in DC that isn't Starbucks, especially near Dept. of Treasury?

Ah, so, we have plenty of genius baristas in town, so definitely skim this list, and I will say that you should definitely make visits to Peregrine Espresso (my favorite locations are 14th and Union Market), for an incredibly well-made espresso drink, and Filter, which serves local Ceremony coffee. Both scooped up top honors at a national coffee competition this spring.   Near Treasury? A lot more difficult. Swing's is a locally roaster and cool deco little cafe. But since you seem to be looking for a well-made espresso, your best bet --  100% worth a sweaty hike --  is Chinatown Coffee for a cortado.

re: where to find food trucks and a place to picnic? L'Enfant Plaza (7th & Maryland Ave exit). Lots of good places to enjoy the food and the people watching.

Thank you! This is in reference to a chatter who last week asked where to nosh on food truck fare in a picnic kind of setting. I just got an e-mail about this last night too - L'Enfant is a great option.

Any suggestions for dance lessons in the area, preferably DC. I'm a mid-30's guy who never learned the fundamental of real dances: two step, waltz, etc. It'd be a good skill to have at weddings and what not. Any places that give lessons, like group classes, at convenient hours for people who work 9-6? Thanks.

I will say off the bat that I have a bias against cornball Arthur Murray-style "learn the basics of EVERY dance!" classes. I'd suggest look at the schedule at Glen Echo's Spanish Ballroom, which offers swing, ballroom, Latin  and waltz dances, all of which offer a free one-hour class before the dance begins. Drop into a few and see if there's a style that really appeals to you. Most instructors at the dances also offer regular multi-week classes in a particular style, which are held in evenings. 

Does Port City have a tasting room; if not, what brew pub has widest selection on tap?

Port City's tasting room is open Wednesday through Sunday, and you can usually find five or six beers there to sample, and take home in a growler. (Note that tours of the brewery are offered during the day on Saturday and Sunday, and Friday has one tour at 6:30 p.m.) There are TVs there to make it feel more like a bar, and you can order samplers of all their beers, or just pick one and enjoy a pint.

Being able to sell pints on the premises is one advantage Virginia and Maryland have over D.C., for sure. 

A long-time friend and I get together about twice a year for drinks and dinner at one of DC's hottest new bars and restaurants. The quality of the food is important to us and the fact that few have gone there yet or gotten in. Any recommendations? We're planning something for August while everyone else may be at the beach. Usually, we do a separate bar and restaurant. Cost is not a dealbreaker.

Play catch-up with our little cheat sheet here of the newest and most notable restaurants (my way of saying, good/buzzy). Casa Luca is fabulous, though not particualarly hip. Instead, I'd hit the rustic Italian Etto on 14th Street on the early side (I know, also not the coolest thing to do, but as you asked for, it's one of those places no one can get in). Then, I'd either walk up the street to Mike Isabella's Kapnos (new!) and settle in at the bar for cocktails, or I'd make a reservation for Barmini, the Jose Andres all-white cocktail laboratory (hard to get into!).

I am looking for good ideas for four or five men in their early 40s for a place to get a drink this Saturday, then have dinner, then maybe another drink before ending up by the Verizon center. Thinking maybe POV, Hamilton, Iron Horse? Or maybe Graffiato for dinner? All except one person from put of town.

Three very different places, eh? Depends on what, exactly, you're looking for. P.O.V. isn't my favorite these days, due to reservations and crowding, but out-of-towners do love the views of the Mall and the White House's back yard. I'd sub out the Hamilton for either Hill Country, especially if the out-of-towners like Texas 'cue, or Daikaya for ramen if you'd like something lighter. (Graffiato is a fine third choice if you're looking for something more substantial, though I also think you could split some deep-dish pies and beers at Pi Pizzeria.)

For the nightcap: The beer list at Iron Horse gets more and more impressive, and I love hanging out in the expansive basement. That, or a rum drink at Hogo, would probably be my picks. If you want to end the evening on a classier note, visit the swank bar at Fiola for a nice glass of bourbon or an amaro cocktail.

Your new GoG site is not an improvement and the search fucntion for restaurants on 14th street yielded a whopping 9 results. lock it up, Post web team. weak showing.

That's odd. Can you tell me what you were searching for? I just tried searching for Restaurants with the neighborhood as Logan Circle and got 38 results, the vast majority of which are on 14th.

Hey Guru's, I'm crossing my fingers and hoping the weather holds up this weekend. My gf and I were hoping to rent a kayak, canoe, or paddle boards this weekend to use up around georgetown/ three sisters area. While I've always seen the rentals, I've never done one myself. Any suggestions on good times to go? are reservations needed? Is one rental shop better than the other? Thanks,

I like Key Bridge Boathouse - it's casual and friendly, though it does get packed. My last visit was at 10:30 a.m., and it was starting to get nutty, but by the time I rolled back in to shore, it was mobbed, because you do have to provide ID and sign waivers, etc. So my advice -- try to get out onto the water by 10 a.m. -- not just because it can get busy, but also because it can get quite hot out there on the water without shade. You can head toward Three Sisters easily from there, while the waterfront is a nice endurance trek. Advice about parking - a lot of runners, cyclists etc are also around the Boathouse (because it's just outside the Capital Crescent Trail), so parking can be tough. Grab a spot anywhere you can and pay the meter for the maximum time (you will be out at the boathouse and on the water for at least two hours), or go ahead and pay in the Shops at Georgetown garage, to be on the safe side. This sounds kind of corny, but if you're paddleboarding, bring a fanny pack or backpack for your gear or leave it in your car, because there won't really be a place to put it.

Has there been an announcement when Bluejacket brewery will be open or when we'd start seeing it in the tap lineups as regularly as other local breweries? Also, I thought I read that they would specialize in sour beers and things of that nature... that seems a bit limiting... any word on what their specialty may be?

Bluejacket doesn't have an opening date yet. The opening has been delayed repeatedly; when I asked about it back in May, the working date was "the end of the summer," but who knows if that will still happen. (I'm betting it won't, though I hope I'm wrong.)

The brewery is going to make all kinds of beers, though the ones that they're most bullish about -- sour ales, ales with wild yeast, barrel-aged beers -- are the ones that are getting the most press, because they're so unusual. The collaboration beers they've wheeled out at tastings at ChurchKey have ranged from saisons to hoppy IPAs to light Belgian wit beers. I think that's a better reflection on what the final offerings will be like, instead of walking in and expecting 20 really odd experimental brews.

Hello GOGs - My parents will be in town this weekend. They've been here many times before. I have a lot of fun things planned (brunch, Gettysburg, WWII memorial, Screen on the Green). But I'm looking for things to do with them Satursday afternoon, and that they can do alone Monday during the day. Any ideas? Thanks!

Since they seem somewhat cool, you could take them to the Capitol Skyline Pool on Saturday afternoon for SynchroSwim, the funny, artsy synchronized swimming competition that should attract a fairly artsy crowd. There's also Signature Theatre's open house.

Your recent articles and discussions on this topic inspired my husband and me to take a day off and go to Richmond for training camp! We are super excited to explore the city and see our favorite team. The articles were SUPER helpful but do you have any specific advice about getting the best experience out of training camp - can anyone go down to the sidelines? Is it better to come early or stay later if we wanted to try for pictures or autographs? And is there any downside to going close to the end of camp (around Aug 14 or 16)?

Thanks for the compliments. I had a great time down in Richmond doing research for our story on Richmond restaurants, bars and attractions. The best time to go, our 'Skins writers tell me, is in the afternoon, for both 11-on-11 contact drills but also because the players are generally happier to sign autographs and pose for photos. (In the morning, it's hot and they have a long day ahead of them.)

I can't think of a downside to going later in the camp. Anyone? 

Are there any interesting festivals or museum exhibits to go and see on Saturday?

Hi, there. See my previous answer about SynchroSwim at the Capitol Skyline and Signature Theatre's open house. It's NOT Saturday, but I can't help but admire Taffety Punk's event Monday,  a "bootleg" version of  "Love's Labours Lost" that's effectively a whole Shakespeare play  rehearsed and performed in a single day -- so you can imagine how that goes.

We are heading down to the Saturday afternoon session at the Citi Open Tennis tournament. Because we need to leave for BWI later that day, we plan to get there early to ensure a parking spot at the tennis center. Is there anywhere to eat a late breakfast/early lunch within walking distance of the center? The food vendors will not be open yet.

Yeah, you're wise to get there early. A friend tweeted the other night that the parking was full, so he had to park in an overflow lot in Silver Spring and take the bus down to the tournament. Major fail there. 

There's unfortunately not much around that residential neighborhood -- I'd suggest the Kennedy Street branch of Taqueria Distrito Federal, which is about half a mile from the Tennis Center.

Hi - my girlfriend and I are meeting another couple for drinks on Saturday night but they don't want to go anywhere too far from the red line... (MD or DC ok) We are looking for a bar with good mix of beer and cocktails. Any suggestions? (no bars w/ DJs please)

Jackie's Sidebar would be a good choice, and not too far from the Silver Spring Metro. Proof has a surprisingly good beer list, though the bar can be crowded on a Saturday night. I was pretty surprised by the beers at Casa Luca when I dropped in last week: Some solid Italian and American small producers to go with great cocktails and wines and prosecco on tap, and it's fairly calm at the bar, so you can chat. (Also, it's fairly close to Metro Center.)

Where would you guys suggest going crabbing this weekend? I am thinking the Solomon's, but open to other Southern MD locations. A place with rental boats would be needed. Thanks!

Not an expert, so throwing this out to the chatters. Chatters? 

Have tix for Book of Mormon at the Kennedy Center on Sunday. Any suggestions for a brunch spot within walking distance. Have heard some restaurants will allow you to park while at the show. Thanks for your help.

So, you're lucky - Sunday is the only day you can escape D.C.'s dreaded meters. So you can actually park fairly easily on the street (I do that without exception when I'm going to the Kennedy Center). I would grab a parking spot on 23rd Street near Foggy Bottom (Right around I Street NW), then have brunch at Circa, or the very popular Founding Farmers (if you can, make a reservation, or squeeze in at the bar!) or District Commons, then catch the Kennedy Center shuttle from just outside the Foggy Bottom Metro station (it'll get you to the theater in 5 minutes flat). When you return, you'll have your car waiting for you.

Has anyone been to these concerts at National Harbor? What are they like? Can you picnic, or is it better to go to dinner first either there or in Old Town and then take the water taxi?

Oh, I forgot to mention this -- we've started answering one Got Plans? question every Thursday morning on the blog. This was the question I chose this week. you can check out the response here.

Okay, we're signing out for this edition of Got Plans. If you're looking for more ideas for weekend fun, check out our Weekend Best Bets list

Post Points chat code: GG2468 

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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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