Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Guide

Aug 07, 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. Vacations and reporting have robbed us of most of our staff today -- Lavanya and I are the only ones in the office right now, so I apologize in advance if things are little slow. 

Did you hear that 2 Birds 1 Stone has a new menu that focuses on cocktails for $10 or less? Or about the Southern-flavored Mason Biscuit popup at Roofers Union this weekend? We're also buzzing about the return of the Bentzen Ball comedy festival in October. How about you?

Hi Gurus - My girlfriends and I have been talking about getting wings for the past month. Oddly, our girls night planned for this weekend is centered around wings. We're on a mission. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Oh, this is one of our favorite topics, honestly. 

My top three: The super-spicy Ghost Pepper wings at the Pinch, which pack an amazing amount of heat without sacrificing flavor; the double-fried Frank's Red Hot wings at GBD; and, because I can't help it, the Old Bay-coated Chesapeake Wings at Duffy's, especially when paired with the Flying Dog Dead Rise.

(Alex, for what it's worth, loves the dry-rubbed wings at Austin Grill.)

Chatters? Got wing suggestions? 

Is the Arlington County Fair any fun for a 20-something who appreciates "cultural experiences" and has never been to a state/county fair? Is there an admission price? Good music? Worth the "trek" to Arlington?

I mean, there are pig races. Let's start right there. You can watch adorable little piglets run three times tonight along (5:30, 7 and 9 p.m., if you're curious).

Other entertainment this weekend includes live bands, cow-milking demonstrations, and judged competitions in everything from beeswax to dioramas to needlework. You can look at the exhibits of the "best" and largest vegetables or watch performances by cloggers. Learn hip-hop dance or play bingo on Friday night. 

And it's free, which I think makes it worth at least a few hours of your time.

Hi, going to dinner with 5-6 girls at Tico Saturday evening. Before moving along for a bigger night out, where to go in that area for fun drinks immediately after dinner? And, if we happen to get there early (unlikely) where to go before dinner? Thanks, Fritz!

Depends on the time. I'd definitely point you to 2 Birds, 1 Stone, based on the new $10/$9 cocktails (see my story above). I also have been enjoying the drinks at Bar Pilar lately. I know the downstairs bar can get a little tight, but the upstairs cocktail bar never seems quite as crowded. And G, Mike Isabella's place up at 14th and V, does Aperol Spritzes and other fun Italian drinks.  

Another option you may want to consider: The Gibson doesn't take reservations for its patio or the upstairs bar on Saturday night, so you can see if you can get in on a first-come, first-served basis.

Earlier, if the weather holds, I'd point you to the rooftop decks at El Centro, which has happy hour with $4 margaritas until 7 p.m. daily, or its sister bar Masa 14, which also has a rooftop deal from 5 to 7. (The problem with Masa is that it doesn't have as much standing room as El Centro, so with a group, I'd probably lean that way.)

Hey there. I'll be at a convention in downtown DC next week. Are there good takeaway breakfast places (besides the usual, McDonald's/Starbucks/Au Bon Pain) in Penn Quarter so I can have breakfast on the go?

Chinatown Coffee at 5th and H is my go-to for coffee (both pour-over and espresso) in the neighborhood, and they have a solid selection of croissants, scones and muffins. 

The French patisserie shop Paul has one of its few U.S. locations at 7th and Pennsylvania, next to the U.S. Navy Memorial, and it's a great place to grab breakfast sandwiches, croissants and a cup of dark coffee.

We are interested in going to see the Maze at the Building it worth it? Seems expensive for a 5 minute maze. What else would you suggest we do on Saturday in the area? We are up for anything, willing to walk and will eat almost anything.

I still haven't done the maze myself -- I was thinking about it tonight, honestly, during the extended adult hours from 5 to 9 p.m. Estimates on finishing time take from 5 to 15 minutes. That might seem quick for a $16 admission, though that price does include entry to all the other Building Museum exhibitions, including Designing For Disaster. about buildings that can withstand earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes, and the Recent Acquisitions show.

In the area around NBM, I'd definitely suggest the National Portrait Gallery ("American Cool" closes next month) and the Degas-Cassatt exhibit at the National Gallery. And perhaps it's just me, but I'm really curious about the World War I "Postcards in the Trenches" at the Pepco Edison Place Gallery at 8th and G, with dozens of postcard-sized sketches and paintings done by regular American and German soldiers during the Great War.

Also, if you're doing the Building Museum later in the afternoon -- the best time for adults to do it on weekends, in my experience, once the kids begin to clear out -- you can head outside for barbecue and live country music at Hill Country's Backyard BBQ. 

As a person who is far more likely to relax at a museum or theater than anywhere else, I love a good ag fair. But you can't go in expecting to be entertained. It is up to you to find what interests you. I personally really love reading the judging notes on the rabbits that the 4-H kids raised (are shoulders really that important for a bunnny? shouldn't they care more about hips and ears?) and checking out some extremely odd looking chickens. And it is interesting to see just how indifferent a bovine is to being "shown." Nothing like a dog show at all.

This is a great perspective. I think you have to go in with the idea that you will be entertained by something "unusual," whether that's playing bingo with senior citizens or checking out the tent with the biggest veggies.

Or racing pigs, because they're really cute.

The regular season of England's second-tier soccer league, the Championship, starts up this week, and I'm hoping to watch a game Saturday Morning. Obviously there are a lot of good soccer bars in DC, but I'm not sure if they'd show these matches--any idea of where to start looking?

Okay, this is utterly bizarre. I know BeIn Sports has the rights to the Championship (and the Capital One Cup), but it seems like they're not showing ANYTHING over the weekend. There's Cardiff v. Blackburn on Friday at 6 p.m. (tape delayed) but nothing else.

FWIW, I've watched Championship matches at both Lucky Bar and Summers in the past, but they have nothing on their schedules for the weekend.

Don't foget about Teaism at 8th and D. Their tea cured salmon with cilantro scrambled eggs is ToDieFor.

Ah, yes. Thanks for filling that gap in my answer. Yes, conventioneer, Teaism should definitely be on your radar.

Why do the hipstersnappers get to do all the cool stuff these days??? That sounds like a blast but I'm sure my mid-40s self would stick out like a sore thumb.

Does it matter, though? You only have to be 21 to get in for Saturday's full afternoon of water gun fights, water slides, wading pools, '90s cover bands and a Bluejacket-sponsored tiki bar.

Really hoping the rain holds off for this one.

Hey Fritz, Thanks to you, four of us have all purchased tickets for the Johnnyswim concert, and are looking forward to meeting other individuals with similarly fabulous taste in music!

Wow, fantastic! Hope you have a great time.

(This is in reference to last week's chat, where I agreed to organize a quasi-GOG meetup for four people who were otherwise heading solo to the Johnnyswim show at the Hamilton later this month.)

I have a female friend coming into town tonight (I'm a guy) and she is familiar with the DC area, so she has been to most of the normal or cliche places to go in DC. I'm from here, but have been gone for several years. What is something different and fun that we can go experience this weekend? Doesn't have to be romantic. Food is a must! lol

Okay, it's going to sound like a plug, but I'd start with our Weekend's Weekends concerts at Carter Barron tomorrow. (See? Told you it might sound like a plug.) It's reggae night, headlined by the great Junior Murvin, who played lead guitar on a few songs you might have heard of -- "No Woman Cry," "Jammin," "Exodus" -- during his time with Bob Marley and the Wailers. Something about sitting outside in Rock Creek Park on a summer Friday afternoon is amazing. Food-wise, you would have to bring your own picnic, but ... 

I have friends coming to visit from the midwest. They want to go somewhere "local" for dinner and will be coming from a day of sightseeing. 4 adults, a tween and a teen. Gallery Place/Penn Quarter or West End/Foggy Bottom. What would you suggest? Thanks!

In Gallery Place/Penn Quarter, Lavanya suggests Graffiato for its combination of celebrity chef, cool vibe and crowd-pleasing food. If the crowd are more adventurious, the Chinese noodle joint Chinatown Express would get the nod. (After all, you're in Chinatown.) I would say the pizzas and miniburgers at Matchbox are interesting takes on familiar foods, but on weekends, the waits for a table can be looooooong.

(It's not local, but I'd put in a vote for Shake Shack, too -- after all, the only places you'll find it are D.C. and New York, which might impress a tourist.)

Over in Foggy Bottom, we're split between Burger Tap and Shake, which is cool and should appeal to the whole crowd, and Foundering Farmers, which gets some middling reviews, but has a broad enough menu to appeal to all ages, and that local-first ethos.

So how about this week you organize one for the water festival? Are there any other middle-aged hipsters besides me that want to go?

Oh, why not -- anyone want to join a middle-age-hipster meetup at the tiki bar on Saturday?

Is there anything going on in DC or VA on this Sunday afternoon that would be good for a date (early stages of relationship so I want to impress)?

It's honestly hard to say without knowing the other person's proclivities -- exploring exhibits? dancing at rooftop parties? -- so I took a quick survey of GOG staffers in the office to see what would impress them on, say, a third or fourth date. Here are the (paraphrased) answers:

* You want to do something where you're together and talking. I'd say a walk around the market and flea market at Eastern Market, followed by a late lunch at Ted's Bulletin.

* "Early in the relationship" is more of a get-to-know-you date. I'd say pick up some picnic supplies (Union Market? Cork Market?) and have a picnic at the Arboretum. It shows they're putting planning into the date.

* I'd say the bar at Iron Gate. It's romantic, it's quiet, it's classy, and the food and drinks are pretty solid.

Okay, that's going to do it for today. Thanks for joining the chat. We'll see you next week ... and today's Post Points code is GG0484.

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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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