Got Plans? - the gurus dish on red meat

Sep 09, 2010

The Going Out Guide staff discuss great ideas for local entertainment, dates and family fun on Thursday, September 9, at 1 p.m. ET.

I had great intentions of trying out the TaKorean truck this afternoon and sharing my experiences with you fine folks, but man, that is one long line. I had to bail to make it for the chat. Though it is completely gorgeous out there. My advice: use any excuse to get out of the office today (after the chat of course). Let's get started...

Please help! My foodie friend is visiting from out of town and we'd like to go to some happy hours that include excellent food. I enjoy the bar menu choices at Willow and Zola. Where else should we go? Thank you!

Kushi has both regular and late-night happy hour deals that include bar menu items and cocktails, beer and sake. I've yet to have a bad meal there.

I'd like to help a dear friend celebrate her 50th birthday. She recently enjoyed a local ropes course with her family so I thought I'd take her on a day trip for some outdoor adventure - any recommendations?

End of last week you listed an item about an improv workshop at the Studio School on V st. I believe it was this Friday, but I can't find any information on this. Can you please refresh my memory? Thanks. GH

Sure thing. Washington Improv Theatre has occasional free intro to improv workshops, which they're offering now through Saturday. You can sign up online here.

Looking for bar in Metro Center or Penn Quarter for a reunion after-party. There will be about 25 people in their mid-40s. Sorry, I'm away from my PC during the chat. Thanks for your suggestions.

Bar Louie can easily handle that kind of crowd, and it's not loud/crazy/super young.

You don't say what day or time in your question -- really important details -- but I'd also consider the lounge at PS7's or the private "train car" room at the Passenger. The downstairs bar at Laughing Man Tavern is yet another option.

I need to get a bunch of shoes fixed and was wondering if you guys knew of any good cobler in the city.

I brought a pair of brown leather oxfords that were beaten to within an inch of their life to American Valet in Tenleytown (202-364-9440); they spruced them up for a very reasonable price and now, more than a year later, they're still kicking, no pun intended. They're right off the Tenleytown Metro, across from the Best Buy.

Hi GOGs! Love your chats, and I need some help! I'm looking for a really fun, most-of-a-weekday-afternoon/into-an-evening activity for an office outing. The thing is, we're an office of 5, so many fun group activities don't really work for us. We've done a baseball game before and a crab/booze cruise so are looking for something new and interesting. Budget is about $500, and alcohol is welcome! It's a pretty young office. Thanks a million for any brilliant ideas you have!

I had a work outing for a small team at Lucky Strike once. Tons of fun, and fewer people means more chances to get a strike. Or gutterball.

Hey Gurus, I have a group of about 7-8 women some seasoned football fans, some just coming along. We want to watch the game somewhere with good tvs, good food and men. Can you help some single football fans out?

I think you ladies would like Maddy's on Connecticut Ave. Awesome servers, really good food, good specials (on Sunday!). About the men: I wouldn't say this place is a magnet for hot, eligible men.  I can say the chances are good no gross men will bother you, and you'll like the spot, the food and the TVs.

Does Lotus lounge still do Kar"Wii"okee Wednesday? If not where can one go on a Wednesday night?

Lotus is only open on Friday and Saturday nights, or that was the last I heard from their promoter. (Honestly, I haven't been by the lounge in months.)

Actually, most of the upscale lounges in D.C. are dead midweek -- Shadow Room, Current, the Park, Tattoo. Josephine's got a hip-hop party. Same with District, although that one at least has an open bar.

My choice would probably be Eden -- two DJs spinning house and dance music, with free admission via

How timely are the early shows at U St Music Hall? I'd love to go see Miami Horror this Saturday, but there's a concurrent party which has more of my interest. The early start might let me get both in, but not if their set times tend to slip.

Usually pretty timely. They'll be done close to 10, though maybe 10:30 if things run late. Gotta let the Nouveau Riche boys do their thing, but honestly, I'm kinda surprised Miami Horror is on so early. ("I flew halfway around the world to spin at 8 p.m.?")

Hi! My parents are in town this weekend but i am getting over being sick and dont have the energy to be a tourist with them. what would be a good thing for them to do tonight without me?? Thanks!!

Would love to know more about your parents' interests, but I'm guessing they just want to do some touristy stuff, right? In which case, they could hit up the Phillips or the Corcoran, which both have extended hours on Thursdays. There's also a promising program at the Hirshhorn tonight at 7 -- a discussion about the amazing and soon-to-close Yves Klein exhibition.

How early is too early for Fall color hiking? How late is too late? What are the best trails in the local areas? Where would you go to find inexpensive B&B near good trails? Are all the best places for Columbus day weekend booked by now?

There really is a short window to do this at peak period. I was just told by folks at the National Arboretum that around here, it's looking like right around Halloween will be when you see peak colors. Here's a story from last year all about hiking, driving, etc., to see the colors close to home. If you want to head to Skyline Drive or Luray Caverns, you HAVE to check out this awesome web cam they keep up so you can monitor the leaves from afar.

Have friends in from SF and want to take them to the best of DC's bars for full fun experience. Thinking POV, ChurchKey, Quill, Marvin's----what are your thoughts? Thanks, Love-my-city

If I'm looking for a bar that says, "You're in Washington, D.C." I'd go with the Old Ebbitt Grill, the Round Robin at the Willard Hotel  or Off the Record at the Hay Adams. The others are certainly trendy, though.

ChurchKey's on my list. Quill if we're looking for good cocktails somewhere a little more quiet.  Marvin if you're going early in the week. (I'm not a huge fan of the place when it's sardine-crushed on Fridays.)

My list of places to take out-of-towners for good beers and cocktails includes the Passenger, Tabard Inn, Birreria Paradiso, PS7's and probably Bourbon, even though the place has slipped ever-so-slightly since its top bartenders defected to Jose Andres's restaurants.

For a fun night out, still love Little Miss Whiskey's and Breadsoda, and am getting more impressed with Toyland if you travels takeyou out to H Street.

Hi Gurus! I've been reading blog archives all week looking for a good place for a surprise birthday dinner. Found lots of great places with entrees $25+. Group is in our early 20s and would prefer something a little less expensive ($15-$25 entrees). Prefer DC and something fun, delicious, and ladies-about-town! Love your chat!

How about Bistro Lepic or Masa 14? They are pretty different scene-wise, but both have what you are looking for I think. Though if it tips the scales, I prefer the after-dinner drinking options in Masa's neighborhood.

Any suggestions for a first date/drinks spot in Dupont?

Pizza and beers at Birreria Paradiso, unless this is a Friday night date. I always like Kramerbooks for this, too -- especially because you can spend time browsing a fantastic independent bookstore until he/she shows up. And Scion is nice -- pretty quiet, great beer/wine selection, fantastic burgers.

Part of me really wants to suggest Russia House, though. That could be an EPIC first date.

Why does everyone have to plan their festivals for the same weekend? Both Penn Quarter and Alexandria are having arts festivals. Rosslyn and Silver Spring are having jazz festivals. Takoma and Adams Morgan will be competing, too. It's crazy!! How am I supposed to choose?

I know! It's a bummer! If it helps, I  would take Arts on Foot in Penn Quarter over Alexandria, because Arts on Foot offers really good food from the neighborhood's restaurants at really cheap prices ($1-$5, with most on the lower end) and because the arts preview at Harman Hall should be a blast. I think the Rosslyn Jazz Festival has a great view, and music that's a little more worldly, but man, this year, Aaron Neville is at Silver Spring, so I gotta go that way. Finally, I'd take Takoma's folk festival. Adams Morgan Day is kind of loosely structured for me. I just wander and eat -- I never stay very long.

Some friends are coming to town this weekend and we want to watch the Michigan State football game somewhere. I looked it up and see that they're playing at 11am on ESPNU. Do you know how we can find out what bars or restaurants might be playing it or which ones carry ESPNU? Thanks!

Most of the big D.C. sports bars -- Penn Quarter Sports Tavern, Public Bar, Rhino -- will have ESPNU, especially during college football season.

If you want a guarantee, though, the Michigan State alumni group meets at Capitol Lounge, and they have a menu of food and drink specials just for Spartans fans. I'd pick that one.

Is there one coming to the DC area anytime soon? I love the stuff and want to display some of the sclupture I've made with it over the past ten years.

If only.

My parents (who are in their early 60s) are in town and I am looking for suggestions on things to do. Please help! Activities that are not too strenuous would be good.

I am a big fan of Roy's Place or Growlers for food in Gaithersburg. As for things to do, if you want to stay in the burbs I suggest checking out the Takoma Park Folk Festival or seeing a performance by the Victorian Lyric Opera Company in Rockville's F. Scott Fitzgerald Theater.

Just a note -- Growlers' roof blew off during the big storm a few weeks ago, and they're currently closed for repairs. Fingers crossed they'll be open by the end of the month or early October.

There's so much going on in town this weekend... how's a person supposed to choose? KenCen, Arts on Foot, Jazz Fest, Adams Morgan Day, etc! Recommendations, please, especially because I can only spend one day out (too much work) - what are the top events this weekend?

See my answer above. If you had to choose one, I'd say Arts on Foot. You get a wine tasting festival, performing arts, street festival, and get to sample amazing food, cheap. 

Where does a misplaced Texas gal like myself go to watch the Cowboys on Sunday night and not be surrounded by 'skins fans? Somewhere in Adams Morgan is ideal, but I'm willing to travel anywhere! Many thanks.

People in the office don't believe me, but there really *is*  a Skins fans-free zone on Sundays: The bar at Mezza Luna, which is packed with crowds rooting for the Cowboys. You get specials for wearing a jersey.

And as a reminder, we have this nice long list of bars that cater to college alumni and out-of-town NFL fans, which I will be even further updating this afternoon with more college picks. (Ole Miss, for example, is joining the SEC fans at Gin & Tonic on Saturdays.)

I'm looking to organize a happy hour event for a network of young professional AU alums. While I'd like a venue near AU/Tenleytown, I'm more concered about finding a venue that is metro accessible & that does not cater to a college crowd. Any suggestions on a place that fits the bill?

The Friendship Heights area might be your best bet: Clyde's (especially the outdoor patio), LIA's, Maggiano's and Chadwick's can all handle a crowd. Sticking in the Tenleytown area, how about Guapo's? Margaritas + Networking = Tex-Mexworking.

Best Foot Forward in Pentagon Row (back of Sine) does great great work. For the single football fans - bear in mind that most fans (men and women) go to sports bars to watch the game and cheer like escaped lunatics and that it's usually an awful time to try to strike up conversation with it's 3rd and 6.

Advice on shoe repair and trying to hit on people during a very important football game! Our chatters are so wise...

Hi GOGs, My husband and I were planning on getting tickets to see "Oklahoma" for our upcoming 25th anniversary. I was a little concerned about getting good seats. Do you know if they play to all sides of the stage, or is one side considered the front of the house? I would hate to spend $90 a ticket to see their backs for 2 hours. Also, what would be good for a pre or post theatre dinner(we might hit a Sunday matinee)? We eat just about anything, and price isn't much of a consideration. (Or is that a question for Tom?)

The good people at Arena Stage tell me the show will be directed so that all sides will get their fair share of face time. The one person I spoke to, though, said she was particularly fond of the South and West tiers for that particular show.

There isn't a lot near there, but if money is really not an option, I suggest getting reservations at Cityzen. Its certainly a worthy 25th anniversary destination.

This is probably a better question for Tom, but I missed his chat yesterday- and the gurus know all- so here goes! My boyfriend's birthday is this weekend and I'm planning to take him out for a nice dinner. Here's where I'm stumped- I generally take him out for meat-y meals whenever I treat because I'm a non-red meat person (translation- I never cook steak) so he really only gets his meat fix when we're out. But we've visited most of the good steak joints in DC (Ray's, Prime Rib, Mortons, Palm, etc)- so I'm trying something new. Male gurus- what would you prefer- Fogo de Chao (even though its a chain), or Proof or Tosca? Or is there somewhere awesome that I'm missing? Prefer to stay in DC proper for this one and save the Inn, Komi etc for another time. Thanks gurus! You're the best!

I would avoid Fogo myself, though I am very much a meat-in-balance kind of guy, and I find that place a little overwhelming. Between Proof and Tosca its really a tossup, you can't go wrong there. Lets say Tosca though for balance, since I've talked up Proof each of the last two weeks I think. I notice your steakhouse list doesn't include Bourbon Steak or J&G, have you guys hit those? Both are exceptional, and both work magic even when they aren't cooking beef.

Fogo is great for a group birthday party, but maybe not so great for a birthday date. At least one of you will overeat and feel bloated and miserable for the rest of the night, which, as we all know,  is a great way to say Happy Birthday!

Okay, so I'm not a male guru but I'm totally more qualified to answer this than Malitz (who subsists mainly on pizza bagels and popcorn). Acqua al 2 in Eastern Market has an amazing steak topped with blueberry sauce (which sounds weird, but just trust me). The nearby Montmartre also does up a delicious hanger steak.

Sorry, Fritz, to single you out. I think you go to the Delaware shore/beach at least once per year (Rehobeth, Dewey and what-not). I have no idea; I've never been. Do you go because you like these places a lot or do you have to go for work to survey how things are from year-to-year. The reason I'm asking is because I've never found any appeal but prove me that I am wrong! Thanks

I go because I really enjoy hanging out with the friends I go with, honestly.

I do survey bars and restaurants for our annual beach guide, which comes out every May, but I'm happier just lying around on the beach, getting drinks with friends at Dogfish Head or going out for crabs. It's lazy, and that's the best part.

Is the Jazz in the sculpture garden finished for this year? If it is still going on, can you remind me about hwo it works exactly? Do they sell wine there, if so what are the prices like etc? Thanks!

Friday night is the last one for the season (I'm writing this through tears), so you do have one last shot. Bring a blanket, come early-ish (it starts at 5), because I suspect it's going to be mobbed. They do sell wine; I always get a pitcher of sangria, which rings in at a reasonable $17. They also sell beer and food in the cafe, but picnicking is the best part.

Anything to check out that I might normally miss while working?

I would head to the Kettler Center in Ballston around 11 to watch the Caps rookies fight for a roster spot, then head downstairs and across the street to check out the crepes cart I can never get to because I'm always at work. My Food section pals tell me its worth the trip.

You can wait in line for the TaKorean and/or Lobster Roll trucks without your boss wondering why lunch took 75 minutes.

You can browse Edvard Munch and other exhibits at the National Gallery without having to battle weekend crowds.

And you can be one of the first people to grab a seat at the bar for half-price beer happy hours at Birreria Paradiso or Beck, so you don't have to battle the crowds that arrive at 5:30 or 6.

This is non-obvious, but go Belgian. Tom loves Et Voila! and I've tried their steaks - excellent. Plus there are oysters and other fun food for you and it's in a great neighborhood. The only downside is that the tables are packed a bit tight.

For steak and atmosphere, I really love Bistrot du Coin. Is the meat what you're going to get at Ray's? No. Nowhere near the cowboy cut. But the onglet with shallots and wine sauce is usually fantastic, the wine list is great and the place is just plain fun. Loud, raucous, enjoyable even when the service takes forever.

Oh, and speaking of Belgian -- Beck has pretty good steak, too.

My wife and I have a 2 year old son, we are looking for something different to do this weekend in NOVA...any suggestions?

Another chatter asked about this, so I will use the opportunity to kill two questions with one stone:

How about the Burke Festival?

Its on Saturday and SUnday from 10 to 5. There are pony rides, live music and dancing, a wildlife show and face painting. Some of that is over the head of your two-year old (or it would be over the head of mine, at any rate), but it seems like a decent mix of things for little, big and grown-up kids.

Gurus, My brother is coming home from Afghanistan for his R&R break next weekend. I'm looking for a bar in the Arlington area that can have a group of 20-30 of our friends to drink. His apt. is in Crystal City but we are open to anything in Arlington or even DC for that matter if it is easily accessible to the metro. Good beers on tap are a definite plus. It doesn't have to be a private room but it would be great not to have the group separated and not be packed in like Sardines. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Most of the good beer bars in D.C. turn into absolute zoos on the weekends. (Ex: ChurchKey.)

R.F.D. might be able to help -- their back bar is open on weekends, and while it gets full, it usually isn't packed. Big Hunt also might be able to save you some space, maybe on the second level. (Again, call and ask, don't just show up.) I took a friend who was just back from Iraq there a few years ago. (He found a piece of broken glass in his beer, but hey, the place has gotten much better since then.)

Closer to your bro, I'd call the Tortoise and Hare in Crystal City and see if they can save you some room. Good bands, plenty of room, decent crowd.

The poster doesn't see the appeal but has never been? What a weird question...

Eh, I hear people who've never been to Delaware beaches talk trash about them, usually comparing them to something in California or the Outer Banks. Reminds me of the people who think that the streets of New York are paved with gold.

We're trying to decide between two wine festivals this weekend: Great Grapes at Reston Town Center or Wine Festival at the Plains in Great Meadow. Any suggestions?

I'd head to Great Meadow. Not only will the atmosphere be better (come on, it is wine country!) but they are also going to have polo!

There are a lot of tent kiosks on F St. NW between 8th and 9th. Any idea what this is?

That's Arts on Foot. It runs through Saturday, culminating with the Arts on Foot Street Festival, which combines the art market, which you've already noticed, with a whole slew of theatrical previews at Sidney Harman Hall.

I visited Biergarten Haus on Saturday (9/4) with 5 friends. 3 of us ordered $10.50 1-liter mugs of Paulaner at the bar while we waited to be seated outside. Upon being seated, the remaining people asked our waitress for the same 1-liter mugs. She told us its a better deal to order the 2 liter boots (b/c you get to keep the glass boot, and refills are discounted). 3 times during her "sales pitch" for the boots someone from our party asked her the cost. After the 3rd time, she said it cost $40. We decided to order 3 boots for the table, content that this would be more than enough beer for the rest of the night.

However, after receiving the check, we found we were actually being charged $75/boot (the total check was $225 for 3 boots). The $40 she originally quoted only represented the cost of the beer. The boot cost an extra $35. She refused to take the boots back. Not only did she misrepresent the cost ($40 vs $75), but we were also being charged $40 for 2 liters. Yet 1 liter only cost $10.50 at the bar. We got the manager, but he said all sales were final. I told him I was calling the police. He immediately rescinded, telling us we only owed $40/boot for beer (if we returned the boots). When I noted the discrepancy between 1 liter at the bar ($10.50), and 2 liters for the boot ($40), he lowered the price to $25/boot. Despite still being overcharged $4/boot for the beer, we paid the $75 total (3 boots), and returned the boots. So shady.

Wow. This sounds messed up from start to finish. Communication is the key. When I talked to the owner about Oktoberfest plans, they said that they were going to make people buy the 2-liter boots for the simple reason that they're expensive and breakable, and you know some people are going to walk off with them.

The plan, he said, was that customers would pay $40 or $50 for the boot, which they could take home in a box later that night, and then pay whatever the usual liter price is to fill them. (Don't forget that Biergarten beer prices range from $10 to $20 a liter.)

It sounds like you got overcharged, and that sucks, but did you really threaten to call the police? Seriously? Over a bar tab? I was with you up until I read that -- it sounds like overreaction theater to me.

OK, my friend would love Kushi, but me...not so much. Please any suggestions?

As an alternate I also really like Zaytinya, and it might be more towards your tastes. Unfussy but sophisticated Mediterranean deliciousness. Happy hour menu at the bar 4:30-6:30 Sun-Fri.

To the good GF, I think most dudes I know would love a meal at the Captiol Grille, noted its a little pricey.

This is true. I certainly wouldn't say no to dinner at the Grille.

Right now, which neighborhood is your favorite in DC to be in for eating, drinking and generally merriment. Thanks

With Caps season right around the corner I am going to go with China Town. I like to visit the American Art Museum before games and then head to Rocket Bar afterwards.

I think mine has to be 14th Street lately. It's just a place that makes me feel like I'm in a great neighborhood. Midcity is a great coffee shop; I am obsessed with old mirrors at Ruff and Ready; and Cork, Posto, Churchkey, Estadio etc., are all places I like. That almost never happens.

I'm with Lavanya (though I'll admit I'm a little biased since that's where I live), but I'm going to also have to throw in Bar Pilar, which is dishing up some amazing food recently, and Stoney's. Between the awesome grilled cheese and the friendly staff, that place is becoming my Regal Beagle.

I'm going to preface this by saying that I completely agree Lavanya and Stephanie. But just to add something slightly different, I have to say that the U Street trio of dining at Marvin, drinking at Dodge City and dancing at UHall is about as good an entertainment combo as the city has. Throw in all the other neighborhood favorites (the Gibson, Velvet, etc.) and I still think its right up there with the admittedly very nearby 14th St. hot spots.

I'm a bit late to the party but I'm a new Columbia Heights resident, so I'm currently preoccupied with the 11th Street strip. Start with dinner at Meridian Pint or Red Rocks, after-dinner cocktails at Room 11 and a tried-and-true evening of PBR-swilling merriment at -- you guessed it -- Wonderland.

I'm going to copy Justin -- I'd say beers at Dodge City, dinner at Etete (or burgers from Desperados), dancing at U Hall and late-night cocktails at the Gibson is an ideal evening. And you have cheesesteaks from JJ's, Med  combo madness from 24/7 or pizza from the D.C. Slices truck to round it all off.

Is it still in business?

Roy did die recently, but his spirit lives on in his yummy sandwiches. The last time I went was in July and I just called to confirm, they are still open.

So Tom a few months ago said that the Resturant Eve people were opening a new place along the water frount in Old Town that will be serving the above mentioned treat. Do you, oh knowers of all relating to going out, know when it will be opening?

I believe you are talking about Virtue Feed and Grain. Its still very much in the development stage, so I have nothing new to add to Tom's earlier reporting on it.

Who sells the cheapest beer? Quality is not a concern. My idiot college roomate is coming into town and he's a big fan of $0.25 draft night. I'd like the experience to be as negative as possible so he doesn't come back.

Let's see -- 50-cent pints of Natty Light at Asylum every Saturday from 5 to 6 with the price going up 50 cents an hour...  75-cent domestic drafts at My Brothers Place's every Friday from 4 to 5, with the price going up 50 cents an hour, and $15 for all-you-can-drink beers from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Saturday...

My girlfriends and I are turning 40 next month and want to throw a party at a hip, age appropriate bar/club in DC. We want drinks and dancing and to have the event in a private room or floor of the bar. Any recommendations?

We're out of time, but I'd like to help. Can you send me the day of the week/times you're trying to have this party? fritz dot hahn at washingtonpost dot com. Thanks.

Thanks for the lively chat folks! See you next week at the same time.

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.
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