Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Guide

Aug 28, 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. We know summer doesn't REALLY end until Sept. 22, but Labor Day Weekend always feels like the last hurrah. No more Jazz in the Garden. No more Hill Country Backyard BBQ. College football gets underway. You better get out there and make the most of the weekend.

Here is our Nightlife Agenda for the next few days; the Best Bets are on their way. What are you planning to do with your long weekend? 

of speakers? They have info about the evening programming and the LoC Pavillion and when authors are doing signings, but I don't see anything about the author presentations. Should I just assume that they will talk in the hour before they are signing and that they are talking about their most recently published book? That is a lot of cross-checking. Isn't there usually a grid available?

Yeah, it would be nice to have an easy-to-read grid, which I haven't seen. Check out the LOC's author page. When you click on the name of the author, it tells you when and where they're doing the signing. But yes, your "hour before they're signing" rule usually holds.

Hi there, Tom was off today so I figured I'd ask you. A few friends are getting together for a movie late afternoon on Sunday, and then want to get a nice dinner afterwards. We eat just about anything but prefer Italian/Seafood. Can the GOGs offer up a few options in and around Metro Center/Penn Quarter? We're fine with 20-30 dollar an entree. Thanks!

Certainly. You could head to Menu MBK, which just launched an all-night happy hour, seven days a week. There are drink deals and upscale snacks on the happy hour menu, and plates of salmon, mussels and loup de mer on the regular menu, which is within your price range. Nopa would be another fine choice for seafood, and for Italian, you're a short walk from Graffiato.

Two questions, 'O Knowers of All: (1) do you have a recommendation for a nice, 2-5 mile walking trail to explore this weekend in NOVA?; (2) is there a particularly good resource for finding walking/hiking trails in the region? Cheers and thanks.

First, check out our guide to exploring the outdoors by Silver Line. I hadn't been to Lake Fairfax Park in ages, and I thoroughly enjoyed a 3-4 mile hike there last month. 

I would also suggest the scenic shoreline walk at Mason Neck State Park, which has a couple of picnic spots and great birdwatching, and the lovely Huntley Meadows, which has everything from wetlands (love the observation tower) to historic houses.

As for trails, I've used Everytrail in the past. Here's a link to the Virgina page.

Are there any festivals (indoor or outdoors) this weekend?

Beyond the book festival, you've also got the Lake AnneJazz and Blues Festival in Reston, the D.C. Blues Festival at Carter Barron, and the pricey ($85) Epicurience Virginia food festival in Leesburg. All the info on these is in our just-published Weekend Best Bets column.

The steps of the Lincoln seems like the obvious choice, but I was thinking something more NOVA. The couch ought to work, but we've spent the last month coming home exhausted; and fell asleep there drinking cheap wine and watching bad TV; I was looking for a place with more mystique. The bridge to Roosevelt island occurs to me (how are the bugs?), or the roof of the Kennedy center; but again I was thinking closer to the beltway. Do they still call it making out?


Alas, I haven't made out in Nova and can only offer District-based liplock suggestions. Northern Virginians, we need your kissing expertise!

Got a room at the Gaylord Saturday night - looking forward to some pool time in the afternoon but we need an agenda for nighttime. I've heard there's nightlife there but I am unfamiliar with the scene. We're two ladies open to just about anything- we just need to know where to go!

"Nightlife" is being kind. There's Bobby McKey's, a cheesy-but-fun dueling piano bar; Cadillac Ranch, which has country music and a mechanical bull; and McLoone's Pier House, which has live R&B or singer-songwriters and a great waterfront patio. 

Other than that, well, I might hop a boat to Alexandria for tiki drinks at the Majestic or some barhopping.

Hi GOGs, We have a babysitter for Friday night & desperately need ideas on what to do. The going out guide for the weekend seems to have skipped Friday! Can you help?

Rhome and I were going over and over this when we were writing Nightlife Agenda. The one thing I wanted to write about on Friday was DJ Dredd's annual Michael Jackson dance party at the 9:30 Club, which is always a great time -- but then Rhome's alter-ego DJ Stylus got added to the bill as a special guest and we tossed it out to avoid a conflict of interest. (A concert by soul singer Avery Sunshine at the Birchmere was the runner-up, but we weren't THAT stoked about it.) 

Friday is the last night of Jazz in the Garden, which can be a lot of fun -- especially with zydeco by the Dixie Power Trio --  but it's from 5 to 8:30. which isn't really prime babysitter time. 

This might be the night to explore a neighborhood that you haven't checked out yet -- especially since LOTS of people are going to be out of town. I bet it would be easier than usual to head to H Street, dine at Toki, play mini-golf at H Street Country Club or get an early start on Oktoberfest at Biergarten Haus, for example.

how crowded do you think the Hill Country Backyard BBQ and the late night Building Museum hours will be tonight? If I actually am interested in the museum, should I wait until another day?

Friends who went last month said it wasn't too bad -- there was a short wait to get into the maze, but it wasn't awful. If you're interested in the maze and the museum, go tonight on the later side, as there are fewer kids and it's easier to explore the exhibitions.

Does it have to be Metro accessible? If not, some of the pull-off spots along the south GW Parkway past Alexandria and headed towards Mount Vernon - lovely water views, but maybe a bit buggy. How about the steps of the Masonic temple in Alexandria?

If you're in the Founders Park in Old Town Alexandria, there's a tree stump down by the river that worked for me and my date. Until that boat full of tourists went by, that is.

Wait, now I want to hear your DC recommendations!

Some places thrown out by the staff, anonymously: The back steps of the Lincoln Memorial (facing the Potomac), on a blanket in Malcolm X Park (during the day only), the Spanish Steps (because they're secluded), and the Rapids Bridge in Rock Creek Park.

I work here on the odd place we call the Island....Cirque du Soule is here so that is an option. Redstone is a new place that has opened and is probably the best food. Beer selection is weak. Maybe the Ferris Wheel? But honestly - get thee to Old Town.

Yeah, the Ferris Wheel could be fun. Also, doesn't Gaylord still have the rooftop club that's now open to guests only? I loved the views when it a public lounge, so it might be worth a quick drink.

Can't beat Gravelly Point park by the airport.

Thinking of going to a game this weekend. Any good places to eat near by? One of us is a vegetarian.

Rips Country Inn is right next to the ballpark. It has a lot of old-school salads and some veggie appetizers. Grace's Fortune, a Bowie landmark for Chinese food, has a whole page of vegetarian options.

That sounds classy! Watch for bums drinking out of paper bags though.

What trendy restaurant would you recommend dining out at tonight for a solo diner? My boyfriend, who doesn't really enjoy eating out, is out of town for the night and i wanted to treat myself. I was set on Little Serow but looks like they're closed til September. Considering Rose's Luxury but a recent interview in the Post had the owner saying even on an early Wednesday night, the line was 200 people long and I get off work at 6, so I'm not even sure I'd get in with the crowds from its recent accolades.

(whoops sorry for the technical error, if this answer wasn't showing up for some of you at first)

Yeah, unless you can get there reeeeally early, I'd skip Rose's until the crowds die down (which could leave us waiting for a long time). I Lieu of Little Serow, you should definitely grab a seat at Doi Moi's barfor spicy Southeast Asian food. A few other suggestions that would offer you a range of experiences: Either of the Rasikas (or any Ashok Bajaj restaurant, really - their service is top-notch, and I expect they treat their solo diners well), Del Campo, Bourbon Steak, Daikaya Izakaya, Casa Luca.

Read with interest the entry in Fritz's piece about the soul classics dance party Daylight. Sounds great. But I was around when '70s and '80s dance music was current, i.e. my husband and are late 40s/early 50s. Can we go to this thing w/o looking like weird old people?

There are definitely people dancing at Daylight -- and running it -- who remember those great house and disco tunes from the first time around. You won't feel out of place. It's one of the most comfortable parties in town.

A friend's son moved to DC last year for work. We are finally getting together next week. He would like to go someplace "uniquely DC" since he has been so busy with work and hasn't been out much. I thought the rooftop bar with a view of the monuments would work. Unfortunately, the rooftop bar at the W Hotel is closed until next weekend. The Graham Hotel in Georgetown isn't getting a lot of love on Yelp. Now I am alternating between the Kennedy Center rooftop or Ben's Chili Bowl Next Door restaurant. Any thoughts?

My favorite place for rooftop cocktails right now is the DNV bar at Donovan House -- views of Thomas Square, downtown and even the Russian Embassy, high above Georgetown, if you know where to look. Great summer drinks, too.

From the roof decks on H Street - H Street Country Club, RedRocks, Avery's on H - you can see the Washington Monument and the Capitol dome. Avery's manages to sneak in a view of the Library of Congress, too -- a building I love. 

I think the Graham is fine: Midweek is the best time to go, so you don't deal with bouncers at the elevators or bottle service at the tables. Good whiskey selection and views of Georgetown and the Kennedy Center.

The Kennedy Center itself, though -- boring if you're not going to a show.

Watch it! You aren't getting younger. Age is a circumstance. Youth is a quality. If you have it you can't lose it.


You won't look like weird old people; you will be cool old people reliving a fabulously misspent youth.

Word x1000.

Any food options at the National book festival this weekend?

Editor Ron Charles writes, "In the new Culinary Arts Pavilion, cookbook and food writers will perform demonstrations of favorite recipes." Get snacks when you buy a cookbook! I'm not seeing any other info on food within the convention center, and you're also prohibited from bringing in outside food. For something more substantial, I'd stop by Sundevich for super good sandwiches on your way to the festival. There's also a Sweetgreen and a Taylor Gourmet close by, if you're looking for something fast for lunch, and Mandu, Kushi and Table if you want something more leisurely.

I miss Tiffany Tavern and the ability to drink super cheap beer while listening to great bluegrass and old timers talking about the good ol days. Is there anywhere else in the DC area that has a similar atmosphere or location to hear some bluegrass?

Gypsy Sally's and the Hamilton both have bluegrass on their calendars in the next month -- Gypsy Sally's even has the Hackensaw Boys and Jim Lauderdale on back-to-back nights -- but there's nowhere cozy like Tiffany Tavern and its burgers and beer.

OK, I see this term all the time but I must confess I am not sure just what it means. You can order a whole bottle of whatever rather than just a glass? And I presume that only applies to hard alcohol, since wine is often ordered by the bottle?

Yes. At some places, the only way to guarantee a seat/table is to agree to spend a few hundred dollars on bottles of alcohol, usually 7-8 times the actual retail price, which comes with mixers. You then get to pour the drinks yourself.

Fritz, how often do you and Luke Russert hang out? Do you guys hang out at that new bar in Adams Morgan you are always talking about?

Uh, what? Never met Luke Russert in my life. (We've been at Bayou in Foggy Bottom at the same time, though.)

Hi Gurus, I'm planning a happy hour on Friday to kick off the holiday/wife's birthday weekend. There will be 4-6 of us, and we're looking to stay in the Columbia Heights/14th Street/U Street/Adam's Morgan walking area. Any bars doing anything special? More importantly, any bars to avoid (i.e. doing something so special that it will be too packed)?

I honestly didn't see much for Friday night -- I think everyone's gearing up for a big Sunday night, honestly. And if anything, crowds will be lighter than usual on Friday as people head to the beach. This might be the night to get a table at Room 11 or a prime spot on the rooftop deck or Tiki Bar at Jack Rose.

I am tasked with planning a double date this Saturday in DC for two late 20s couples in the evening. I'll be at the book festival during the day so it needs to be something other than that and I'm looking for some sort of activity as well as dinner. Was considering something like H Street Country Club or Comet Ping Pong but closer to the center of the city would be better, and something you can't do everyday that's more special would be great.

Since you sound like you enjoy games, how about bocce at Black Jack or Vinoteca? There are plenty of great dinner spots between the two: Etto, Doi Moi, Kapnos, Fainting Goat, for starters.

Going to Wolf Trap, and plan on pouring up lots of wino. Therefore, am debating on taking a taxi and/or the shuttle from West Falls Church Metro. Any recommendations?

Shuttle. It starts two hours before the show and runs for 30 minutes after. Taxi on the toll road at rush hour? That could get expensive.

Allrighty then. Maura and I have to run -- got to get some work done so we can start enjoying the holiday weekend. See you next Thursday, and try not to get caught making out in public.

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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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