Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Guide

Sep 05, 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. If you thought things slowed down in the final weeks of summer, think again: Bar Charley, the new affordable cocktail lounge from the owners of El Chucho and Jackie's, opens tonight. Dacha, a Shaw beer garden that sells $14 boots of German brews, opened last night, as did the giant RedRocks Pizza on H Street. The second branch of El Centro opens tomorrow in the former Third Edition. And Tiki nights are going strong, including half-price drinks at Jack Rose tonight from 5 to 10 p.m. 

We'll talk about these new spots, or whatever else you want, for the next hour. Let's go.

Hi GOGs. What's the real story with the closing of the Reef? Did the city take their liquor license? I thought they won the right to stay open after the stabbing. I really liked their rooftop. Do you know what's going to replace it?

This is a complicated story, honestly. As you note, the Reef won permission to reopen after the stabbing of a patron by beefing up its security. But there were other factors at play, including increased insurance, the cost of the security, and the looming threat of losing a very valuable liquor license.  

What really killed the Reef was not the stabbing, as serious as that incident was, but a pattern of violations. After going from April 2002 to August 2012 with no violations from the police or ABRA, the Reef got busted for serving a minor in August and serving after hours in May, and had pending hearings for an assault in the bar in June, and then the stabbing in August. That's not a good track record. If the Reef would have been found at fault for the stabbing and the assault, they probably would have had their liquor license revoked. The Reef had a Tavern license, which means it didn't have to sell as much food as a restaurant. Tavern licenses are now strictly limited in Adams Morgan, and the building would be worth a lot less without it. It made sense for the owners of the Reef to get out now.

As far as a replacement, it's too early to say. It's a huge space with a great rooftop. I'd expect it won't stay vacant too long.

Any idea which bars in the Old Town area have the Pac-12 channel? Thanks!

In Old Town proper, I'm not sure -- I've watched a bit of college football at Ramparts.  I'd probably just head for Crystal City Sports Pub, which is home to USC, Arizona and Arizona State alumni groups, so they're guaranteed to have it.

Sorry for the fashion question, but I don't know what to do without Holly; really miss the Fashion Chat. Anyhoo, I'm rebooting my wardrobe after 20 years of mistakes. I'm trying to get pieces that all go together so that things are more streamlined and minimal. Do you know of a good source for a list of wardrobe basics? FYI, I'm female, early 40s, and I work at home but get dressed every day (otherwise I'd sit on the couch and read). I live in a university town, so not much night life here. All the lists I've found are for the Bright Young Things in their 20s in NYC. Help...

Ah, so I'm not in my 20s, either, and I like New York Magazine's trend report, which the magazine typically posts on its blog, The Cut, right with each Fashion Week (which is so ON! in New York, but then will continue in Paris, Milan and London). Basically, it synthesizes a couple hundred runway shows into the themes that emerged, like the suddenly shin-length hemlines.  I like the lists because it's really what will trickle down to the D.C. streets in a year and a half, so you can buy some things a little early, and wear them for at least a couple of years before they're passe. Another good one is's Guides, which are fun to look at -- here's a link to the Fall 2013 fashion has one too. (Note: I'm not recommending you invest in $2,000 pants, but rather, use these as the jumping off point.) Off the top of my head, I'd invest in one or two pencil skirts that fall just below your knee. A slouchy, baggy looks-like-it-belongs-to-your-big-brother sweater, even better if it's printed.  A great set of lace-up boots that look ever so slightly  combat-ish. If not that, then a menswear-style shoe, like an oxford.   A wool coat (any color) with a bit of an oversized fit. A chiffon or silk button-down blouse in cream or white, buttoned all the way to the top.  A bold bangle.  Good luck!

A foodie friend from NY wants to try out Indian / Asian small plates in DC. Any recommendations?

Rasika is your best bet for Indian - the servings are small, the flavors very big. I'd do the main location, since it has a few dishes that are staples. Start, of course, with the palak chaat. For "Asian," I'd steer you to  try Daikaya (upstairs); or the shareable/ family-style dishes at Little Serow.  Keep in mind, none of these are particularly easy to get into; definitely make a reservation for the first two, and prepare to line up at 5 p.m. for the last one.

Is Del Campo crazy expensive? Looks like it could hit my wallet pretty hard.

It can be. appetizer/entree/glass of wine with a pre-dinner cocktail can run at least $65-$70 before tax and tip. But I'm happy recommend the place for happy hour, especially on Fridays. "Street Food Friday" features snacks like veggie and skirt steak empanadas ($4-$6 for two), a pork belly sandwich ($7) and a chorizo and pulled pork baguette ($8). Pair those with $4 beers, $5 wines or $7 cocktails, including the sublime Limonada made with grilled lemon juice and smoky simple syrup, or a delicious classic margarita.

Hi GOGs! My mother is coming into the city on Saturday morning and afternoon for some quality museum time. I love the Smithsonians, but I frequently go and have seen most exhibits. Is there an exhibit or museum we can visit together that isn't Dorothy's ruby slippers? I would like to take her to the Mitsitam Cafe for lunch, since she hasn't been there yet. Thanks!

Maybe you and your mom would be interested in some of D.C.'s tinier, private museums instead? If you're history buffs, you could see the house where Lincoln died, or the DAR headquarters. Science options include the Marian Koshland museum, or the National Geographic museum. It's a little far from the Mitsitam Cafe (excellent choice, btw), but the weather could be great for Dumbarton Oaks. The Renwick is a museum that even veteran Smithsonian-goers often miss -- it's near the Art Museum of the Americas, another hidden gem. A few others that might pique you or your mom's interest: The National Bonsai Museum, the Black Fashion museum, and the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Plans for tomorrow night: Bar Charley around 5:15 (will it be insane?) and then Amsterdam Falafel. Sound good? Any other suggestions?

I don't think many of the cocktail bars in D.C. are insane at 5:15 -- I frequently go to bars that early because I know they'll be pretty dead till about 7:30, and I'll be able to find a seat. You should be fine. Ditto on Amsterdam. This all sounds like a bargain night out, so I'm trying to think of something else you can do on the cheap in the neighborhood, and I'm coming up blank - maybe a show at Madam's Organ?

Any advice or suggestions for things to do in the Rehoboth area?

I just got back from a refreshing week at the Delaware beaches. We're in the shoulder season now, as a lot of places scale back their hours immediately after Labor Day.

There's a lot to do outdoors at the moment: I've written in the past about cycling at the beach: I'm a fan of Gordon Pond, the wildlife preserve just north of Rehoboth's main beach, and Cape Henelopen State Park, where you can climb a World War II observation tower and see great views of the ocean, Lewes and even Cape May beyond. (Speaking of Cape May, taking the ferry over to New Jersey and exploring the quaint little town is a great way to spend the day.)

Other things I like to do around there: Exploring the antique shops of Lewes, taking a tour of the Dogfish Head brewery in Milton, or hiking in the Prime Hook Natural Wildlife Refuge, which is on the edge of Lewes.

Happy Thursday, Gurus! Somehow the summer has passed and I haven't yet made it to a fair. I know the VA State Fair is at the end of the month (and I was hoping for something a little more bona fide than what I imagine the DC State Fair to be, tho correct me if I'm wrong on that), but is there anything else in the meantime?

The Prince George's County Fair starts today;  there will be cowgirls, bands, and beautiful baby contests. How's that for a traditional fair?  As for the D.C. State Fair, I wouldn't say it's not "bona fide": It's perfectly representative of a city that doesn't really have farms, isn't that into monster trucks and is a little skittish about carbs, too.

You mean it made sense for the landlord of the Reef to tell the Reef to get out now. I have decided that if I ever were to open a bar, I would HAVE to own the space.

Right. Every bar owner wants to own their space, but you might be surprised how few do.

In any case, even if the Reef did own their space, they'd still want to get out now while the liquor license was still in their hands.

For the chatter whose mother is coming into town, how about The Textile Museum?

Another good suggestion, and in the nick of time, because the Textile Museum will close temporarily next month for its move to Foggy Bottom.

It may be far from the mall, but you're mom would probably enjoy seeing Hillwood Estate and Gardens in NW DC. I took my family this past weekend and we all loved it. You can easily kill 2-3 hours there.

Another great one!

Their website lists the Canstruction event as Can-DE-struction on Saturday. How early would I need to be there to see the sculptures? Also, I'm hoping the destruction involves tiny wrecking balls.

I would get there at 10 sharp, when the museum also opens. As you can imagine, destruction is hardly  the ordeal that can-struction is. Looks like they should be wrapped up by noon. I like the wrecking balls idea; I'd also be so down with letting little kids just pull out cans till the things come crashing down, which I imagine would be satisfying in the same way Jenga is.

Is Suburbia staying open past Labor Day? Is Union Market planning other events like the Drive-In movie?

Suburbia told me they were definitely going to stay open through September, and as long as they could after that, depending on the weather. I'd suspect it will be into October before they close.

The biggest events on Union Market's calendar right now are Crafty Bastards, the City Paper's annual DIY arts and crafts extravaganza on Sept. 28-29, and  Snallygaster, the outdoor beer festival from the team behind ChurchKey/Rustico/Bluejacket/etc. on Oct. 19.

I won't be able to make it home by kick off on Monday, so, I'm looking for a bar that will have the audio on and serves good food. I know there are a ton of sports bars, but very few with good food and healthy options. I will be in the Arlington/Alexandria area. Thanks!

Hmm. Healthy food and football viewing with sound. I am at something of a loss. Arlington Rooftop Bar and Grill has a ton of TVs and a menu of healthy/salad options, but that's about all I've got. Chatters?

I'd like to buy a nice rye whiskey for a friend as a thank-you. Any suggestions for what to buy and where to buy it (preferably in NW)? Thanks.

I'm a big fan of rye, and I like the local Catoctin Creek rye a lot (plus it feels special, because it comes from our area; if he or she likes it, you can take a visit to their tasting room in Purcellville). I was just talking with a bartender about why Bulleit Rye is so ubiquitous, and he was telling me it's because it's very good, particularly for its price. Two others that bartenders frequently will reach for: Knob Creek and ...wait for it... Wild Turkey. Those will be easy to find anywhere, but we like Ace Beverage  near American University. Go there, and you can ask for something really special, and they'll help you find what you're looking for.

Thanks for the info! I will have to try it. I just looked at their website & I couldn't find the HH hours and days.

Happy hour is 5 to 7 p.m. daily. Speaking of, here's my list of some other happy hours at new restaurants that are worth checking out.

I loved Arts on Foot, held the weekend after Labor Day. It got cancelled last year with a promise to return new and improved for 2013. When I checked the website, it had the information for 2011. What happened? Is it gone forever? Any chance of revival? Thanks for any info you can provide.

I just got off the phone with Jo-Ann Neuhaus, the executive director of the Penn Quarter Neighborhood Association, which puts on the festival. In the old days when there wasn't much going on downtown, Arts on Foot brought wine tasting tents to the courtyard at Poste, and tastes of food from Oyamel and other D.C. restaurants for just a buck apiece. It was great.  But Neuhaus told me that the festival won't be returning this year. It is, as you might have guessed, being evaluated to see whether the group can continue to put on the event.  The cost of  the festival, Neuhaus said,  has gotten ever-higher, as the grants available for such events have been going to newer D.C. endeavors. Boo. There are many other festivals now, including H Street Festival, which has gotten bigger than ever, and Columbia Heights Day.

For the poster seeking fairs, the Great Frederick Fair is mid-Sept, and is a pretty big event.

Thank you! I hear excellent things about that fair.

Help! Looking for a fun outdoor activity (ACTIVE activity) for four 9 year olds. Something like white water rafting (but not - one mother against) ...maybe a zip line or obstacle course? Anywhere in area would be great. Thank you!

The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring is a favorite of the staff here; be sure to give them a call to make sure the dates line up with your plans; the summer season is over, and they'll be wrapping up for the season when it gets too cold for all that. Another thought: A King's Dominion trip  -- the fall scare-fests start up a bit later this month, and that might be fun for pre-teens, along with the rides.

Hello GOGs. What are your favorite happy hours on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday? Thank you!

Here are three to start:


Green Pig Bistro's happy hour isn't long -- it only runs from 5 to 6:30 p.m. -- but it's quality. You get $3 local taps, which include Lost Rhino, DC Brau and Port City beers; $5 select cocktails and $5 wines by the glass. For the first hour, before the dinner rush starts, you can choose from $5 appetizers, including pig tacos and fried pimento cheese.


Northside Social runs its awesomely date-friendly happy hour on Fridays and Saturdays: $5 wines by the glass from 5 to 7 p.m. They have a rotating selection of two reds, two whites and one sparkling wine.


I'm a fan of Lyon Hall's happy hour, which runs from 3 to 7 daily, and includes $3.50 draft "session" beers, half-price wines by the glass, $10 bowls of mussels and $6 frankfurters.

Heading to the NASCAR race in Richmond Sat night. Any ideas about good drinking establishments down that way? Thanks.

Fritz worked on this fantastic guide to Richmond eating and drinking pegged to Training Camp  - I used it when I visited this summer (not to watch the Skins), and it was perfect. You might like Legend Brewing, and for eating, Saison, or Don't Look Back, a cheapie taqueria that played Joy Division and offered two kinds of vegan tacos. I was a little bit in heaven, especially when I stopped at Dixie Doughnuts for a key lime doughnut for dessert before making my way back north. 

Crystal City Sports Pub? They have salads and sandwiches that aren't totally unhealthy.

And at a sports bar, "not totally unhealthy" is sometimes the best you can ask for.

Seriously, though, I used to watch Redskins games at Meridian Pint when I lived in Columbia Heights. Go for brunch, grab the tofu scramble and a DC Brau (25 percent off) -- now that was a healthy-ish breakfast.

Is the DC Beer Fest worthwhile this weekend? Thanks!

I didn't go to the last DC Beer Fest beer festival at Nationals Park -- not to be confused with the DC Beer Week beer festival at Nationals Park -- but friends who went said it was fine, but there were issues with long lines and stands running out of beer. It's strong on local breweries (assuming they bring something interesting) but I always hesitate when I see beer festivals that promote Shock Top, Saranac, Blue Moon or Yuengling -- I mean, does anyone need to try those?

If you want to go, I'd try for the 1-4 p.m. session on Saturday, rather than the 6-9 p.m. session, just because I worry about beers running out.

Submitting early b/c I won't be able to participate during the live chat. I have my 11 year old neice visiting with us on Sat and would like to do something fun for her from 11-3pm in DC. She's been to the Holocaust, Natural History and American History Museum. She likes to be outdoors but the activity doesn't have to be. Her mom said she liked Urban Outfitters but that won't take up a lot of time. She likes to bake so I've tried to encourage that by buying her cookbooks. I remember a couple years ago there was an article about Tea at one of the hotels (mayflower?) but don't know if she would be too old for that sort of thing? Any suggestions from the Guru's or chatters on what would be a fun activity? Thank you!

Things are still going strong at Key Bridge Boathouse - you might try making a day of a Georgetown canoe trip and shopping day. You could rent a boat for part of the day and check out the waters, then go grab a bite at Chadwick's,  Old Glory, or, if you must, Serendipity 3.  Roam Georgetown's shops, including Urban Outfitters (and Cusp and Anthropologie, and H&M). Pre-order and pay for cupcakes at Georgetown Cupcake (you can order as few as one). Don't tell her. Then you guys can skip the line and go right in like VIP. (I hear little girls go wild for GC.)  That should definitely fill a day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

I miss it too. Loved the Art Market so much. Wish I could find those artists, because I need to get my holiday shopping done! PS - Don't forget the points code!

I do remember noticing that many of those artists make the rounds. You should be able to find at least a few at this fall's Crafty Bastards festival and, of course, at Eastern Market. I'd also look during the annual Holiday Market downtown, which changes artists regularly.

I love walking in the woods. What are some great walks in DC (not the burbs)?

For me, it's walking the trails in the woods around Fort DeRussy -- the ruins of a Civil War fortification near St. John's College High School in upper Northwest -- before hiking down Rock Creek. Amy Joyce and I wrote a whole guide to Rock Creek Park earlier this year that's full of hiking tips.

Okay, we're wrapping up for the day. Thanks for all the great questions, and sorry about the tech slowness. 

Thanks. see you next Thursday.




PS: Post Points Code is GG4242. 

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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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