Got Plans? - bars for the 40 going on 23 set

Sep 30, 2010

The Going Out Guide staff discuss great ideas for local entertainment, dates and family fun on Thursday, September 30, at 1 p.m. ET.

Gurus, I'm turning 40 this week. I don't want suggestions for a classy place to celebrate. I want to be reminded of why I should be glad I'm no longer 23 - where are the crappiest bars 23 year olds hang out these days in the District? No offense to anyone who's 23 - I spent plenty of time at Lulus and Samanthas in the mid 1990s. I just want to be reminded of why it's not so bad to move on.

Hello, everyone. We absolutely love this question, so we've decided to make it this week's GOG contest. Tell us where you'd go to relive your glory days of being 23 and you can score a copy of "The Killer Inside Me" on DVD, starring Kate Hudson/Jessica Alba/Casey Affleck.

Anyway, so places full of 23-year-olds that are full of drunk dudes, drunk girls singing "Don't Stop Believing" and no personal space whatsoever: I'd have McFadden's on that list, for sure. My Brother's Place, which I kinda like for its dirt-cheap 75-cent-beers Friday happy hour but avoid when it gets slammed with 21-year-old Catholic U students. The dance club/bar above the Hawk and Dove on a Friday night. The Front Page at Thursday happy hour (taco bar!) Oh, and Rumors, even though it's full of 23-year-olds and cougars. But that might make it even more enjoyable.


Last year I went to a dog-themed Oktoberfest in Baltimore, which was great fun for my pup! Do you know of any plans for "Barktoberfest" this month in DC or NOVA? Much appreciated!

UPDATE: Strike this -- the dates havent been updated for this year. Sorry about that! Yup, there's an annual festival in Sterling called Barktoberfest, thrown by Friends of Homeless Animals. It's Oct. 24, and it's free.

Hi there Going Out Gurus, Are any of the clubs doing a for-babies matinee these days? Our toddler loves to dance and we'd have a lot of fun. Thanks!

What day are you looking for? On Friday afternoons the Reef has a great kid-friendly happy hour from 5-8 that has fun adult-friendly danceable music and a really fun atmosphere. Wonderland has been doing a weekly happy hour on Wednesdays for kids and parents for years, and its a blast too. Finally, I haven't been there with my boy yet, but Tonic has a kid's happy hour every other Saturday. They are hosting one this week.

Are there any art or music events for breast cancer awareness month? Not huge fundraising galas, but interesting/inspiring shows. Thanks!

"Telling Intimate True Stories, an Exhibit of Breast Castings and Companion Stories" opens Oct. 6 at Busboys and Poets. The exhibit features plaster castings of women's breasts along with stories written by the women. There will be an opening reception/fundraiser on Oct. 6 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Haven't been to the Oktoberfest since ABC nixed the all-you-can-drink. to just 10 tickets/tastes. Considering going this year, but it sounds like a bummer if you can only taste 1/3 of the breweries. Thoughts?

Here's the thing, though: You don't need to try all of the breweries. My friends and I still marvel at the people who wait in line to try Allagash White or Sam Adams Oktoberfest. You can get those beers anywhere. For me, and specifically last year, it was about having beers from Devil's Backbone, Duck Rabbit, Smuttynose -- breweries that don't make it onto every draft list in D.C., plus some of the good local brewpubs, like Mad Fox or Sweetwater Tavern.

Plus, you're outdoors in fall weather, and with a group of friends, that's a real bonus.

Who makes a good one? No Passenger, please.

Proof made a wicked-good version of this classic cognac/creme de cacao/cream cocktail last year. I think the trick is going to be finding a place that grates fresh nutmeg on top, though... maybe the Gibson, Restaurant Eve/PX?

Hi GOG chatters, I'd like to plan a day for me and my friends to take a drive (hopefully with some fall foliage scenery) to a corn maze/ hay ride where we can also pick pumpkins for carving back at home. Our group might get as big as 15-20 people and we're in our early twenties to early thirties. We're an adventurous group and when I'd read about Lawyer's Winterbrook Farm last week, I thought I had the perfect place (does it get much better than a pumpkin launcher?), until reading that they don't sell pumpkins there. Are there other places in Maryland or Virginia that you'd recommend or is Lawyer's our best bet? Really just looking for a fun place to have a quintessential fall day. Thanks for your help!

It's true, they don't sell pumpkins at Lawyer's, but God is that cannon fun. It just so happens we're going to be running lists of the area's best pumpkin patches all October long, but because you were so kind to join us, here they are ahead of time:  Here's Virginia and here's Maryland.

To be reminded of why you're okay with moving on past your mid-20s, I'd say RECESSIONS!

Oh god. Yes. 23-ounce King Kong beers and the weirdest decor of any downtown bar.

Don't forget Mad Hatter in Dupont and Tom Tom in Adams Morgan! FYI: Hawk N Dove is 18 and up, so beware, it's very young. Dan's Cafe is a great dirt cheap starter place.

Madhatter doesn't seem as young to me since they moved off of M Street into the new, more-spacious Connecticut Ave. digs. Tom Tom, definitely, especially when it's overrun by kickballers at happy hour.

Also, confession: I still like Dan's Cafe.

Hey there, We have friends visiting this weekend with their baby and 4-year old. Apple picking/pumpkin patching is out because they did it last weekend. Museums and the zoo are getting old after living here for over 10 years. Any other ideas for kid-friendly fun? I'm feeling stuck but can't stand the thought of another day wandering through the Air and Space Museum - blech. Thanks!!

I hear that. The Building Museum is a good destination for little ones, especially since they have the Lego exhibit on display right now. The Puppet Company Playhouse has a crowd-pleaser this weekend with "Old McDonald's Farm" and the Turkish Festival on Sunday has a designated kids tent, but should prove entertaining for the adults in the group, as well.

The plan every weekend when I was 23 was: Brass Monkey, Dans Cafe and Chief Ikes followed by Jumbo Slice. I can still taste the cheap alcohol and pizza grease...

This sounds vaguely familiar...

My husband's 30th birthday is coming up. My thought was to find a bar in D.C. that a group of 15 - 20 people could meet on a Thursday night, without having to deal with reserving a private room but yet, we do not want to fight for tables. We do not want to go out until around 9:00. Any recommendations?

Trying to get 20 people into a bar -- especially with seats -- on a Thursday night is not an easy task. In fact, it's why private rooms/reserved space exists.

You can try the Iron Horse Tap Room (with the caveat that you should avoid it if the Caps or Wizards are at home that night). The Laughing Man Tavern near Metro Center tends to calm down after 7:30, and it has a nice big downstairs area you could probably stake out.

At 9 p.m., you might be a touch early for the rush at the Reef, so you could take over the ground floor "Lush" bar without reservations. Same with Buffalo Billiards, where you could sneak in between happy hour and late rush to grab some couches and pool tables.

Hey, so I'm new to the area and was looking for a good first date place with this woman I met through an online dating site. We're both in our mid to late 20's. Any ideas?

How about Northside Social? It's a coffeehouse/wine bar. I prefer the coffeehouse downstairs because it's funky,   or the patio -- either way, the place is just quiet enough that you can actually have a discussion, but busy enough that it'll seem like you're cool. Oh, I should say that a coffee/glass of wine date is the one I always hear from experts is best for a first date, especially with someone you met online.

Hands down, Gin and Tonic in Glover Park.

Ha. This is so true, especially when the DJ spins on Friday/Saturday nights.

My vegan friend is visiting this weekend, any and all restaurant suggestions welcome!! Thanks!

There are plenty of options here. Off that list Cafe Green is an obvious answer - its a new-ish sit-down restaurant by the folks behind Java Green. For bar food I would point you in the direction of Science Club, which has lots of good vegetarian and vegan dishes.

Another one that isn't the list but I'm planning on trying: Toscana Grill in Arlington. Lots of vegan and organic dishes, plus dishes for carnivores.  Kanlaya in Chinatown also has a great vegetarian menu, but since it's Thai, a lot of it will be dairy free anyway.

Taking my boyfriend out to BLT for dinner & his last hurrah of being 20something. My question is where to go for a well-made pre-dinner drink? A long walk/short cab ride away is ideal. He doesn't discriminate and enjoys hoppy beer, a good scotch, or well made margarita, I think a good beer or scotch would be fitting though, and thank you SO much!

Fritz and I just talked this over and agree on sending the two of you to the Tabard Inn. Hopefully the weather improves, because you could probably walk it in about 15 minutes.

I'm originally from Chicago. Love DC, but I do miss the "neighborhood bar" that exists in Chicago and other similar larger towns. The sort of bar where I can catch the game, drink a few and be sourrounded by a variety of folks and age groups without gourmet $15 cocktails, roving bands of college students there to ogle the Bud Lite promotions girls, etc. My sense is that this doesn't really exist much here and those places that seem to be defined as neighborhood bars always skew way young, way loud and semi-hipster. Anything suggestions for just a "basic" bar?

How about Stoney's on P Street and Tunnicliff's Tavern in Eastern Market? Both are places I feel comfortable in jeans, can hold a conversation without yelling and don't usually draw the hipsters and the kids.

I like Maddy's for this too -- great servers, and come on, specials on Sundays? Amazing.

Are there any bars/clubs in DC that are 18+? I'm new to the area and I want go out with a group of my new friends. None of us are 21 and we don't want to try and drink underage we just want to go a fun place. The only thing we've gone to so far is Ultrabar but hoping there are other places. Help!

On weekends, you're going to be limited to more of the live music venues and dance clubs rather than bars. Black Cat is always 18+. I spent a lot of time in the Red Room when I was underage, and there are plenty of fun DJ nights ranging from hip-hop to electro. U Street Music Hall is another one for cutting-edge DJs and good times. Shows at the Rock and Roll Hotel are always all ages, though the upstairs bar is 21+. The 9:30 Club, obviously, and sometimes shows at DC9. (That's on a case-by-case basis, and mostly 21+).

We mentioned the dance club above the Hawk and Dove earlier. That's always 18+ and draws plenty of interns.

Oh, and hotel bars usually don't card at the door. Try the Irish Channel Pub at the Red Roof Inn in Chinatown for a change of pace -- good live Irish music, decent food.

Mr. Smiths in Georgetown. I have lots of memories I don't remember from my twenties that I think happened there.

And you can always slide the piano dude $5 to play "Don't Stop Believin'."

What is the best Thai restuarant in DC or Maryland for a date night? Thanks!

Hmmm... you are really cutting out some of your better options by not considering Virginia, but luckily there is a really quality Thai restaurant in Wheaton: Nava Thai. Now, its very tucked away, and the setting is not exactly romantic, but the food is incredibly authentic, and you will be able to share the feeling of sharing a hidden gem.

I'd say Heaven and Hell, which is where my grad-school friends and I went to dance during our first semester (we were new to the area) before we discovered Red and house music. I remember being in Hell trying to get a drink. I ordered a sloe gin fizz, not realizing at that age that most bars don't stock sloe gin. When that was a no-go, I asked for a Tom Collins. The bartender said he didn't know how to make it. I gave up and said, "What CAN you make?" I think I ended up getting a rum and Coke, figuring it wouldn't tax his abilities too much.

I love this story.

Does anyone have a favorite Northern Virginia apple orchard for apple picking with children? I see several when I do a search, but not much commentary.

So, apple-picking is a September thing, really (the things I learn doing this job...). But you might give Cox Farms a call, especially because they're known for fall festivals, which is more exciting than just picking apples; Stribling Orchard is another one I spoke with last month that you might try.

Umm, I'd head to the basement dancefloor of Kelly's Irish Times where the songs are raging and all sorts of creepy men are up in your personal space.

Do they still have the smoke machine? I remember the chemically smell of fog mixed with sweat, spilled beer and cheap cologne. (Probably Polo Sport.)

For anyone that wanted more Unita Brewery beers, the Whole Foods in Clarendon has had a few of theirs, including the amazing barleywine they had at Savor, for months now. See you in Shirlington on Saturday Fritz... hope I get a good beer to pour.

Oh, good lookin' out. I tried all three of the Unita beers at Galaxy Hut on Tuesday, and the Double IPA was like whoa. (Crooked Smile, which I remember from Savor, was even beer on draft than in bottles.)

It pains me to write this, but Millie & Al's... where else can you get jello shots for $1? I used to LOVE that place! McFadden's is another, but even at 23 I hated that place, it felt like everyone there was younger than me even then!

McFadden's gets my vote, too.

Our night out was dinner at San Marco (pasta to soak up the booze), then the Shiner Bock countdown at Asylum, then roll back down the hill to my sister's apartment for Heinekens and Grand Theft Auto. Come to think if it, even ten years later, that sounds like a pretty good night.

Yeah, except the Asylum countdown now features Natty Light instead of Shiner, which makes it even more fratty/craptastic.

Oh, Grand Theft Auto... those were the days.

Mr. Days - downtown - before it closed. Hello Rally in the Alley! NoVa location just isn't the same!

It really isn't at all -- though it is my go-to place for watching blustery drunk dudes in striped button-downs try to fight indifferent bouncers. You don't even have to go inside either, just walking past that place on a Friday or Saturday night gives you a decent chance for a sideshow.

Heading to Vinoteca for brunch on Sunday with a group of friends. Do you recommend any bars along U st where we can watch NFL games/get good drink specials after brunch? Thanks!!!!

Nellie's is always a good one, with $2 beers from 3 to 8. (Just get there after the drag brunch, which is usually very crowded.)

Momo's has some decent specials and plenty of TVs.

I'd also throw Solly's into the mix, since it literally shares a wall with Vinoteca.

Uh, how about Rocketbar? Cheap beer, sticky floors, skeeball, an inexplicable odor, and the ability to bring in your own food - could this BE any more marketed for youngens?

What is with the smell?! Glad I am not the only one who noticed.

So, I just heard that Palace of Wonders is closing, and I never had the chance to go. Will the new venue ever feature sideshows/burlesque and just focus primarily on music, or will it be exclusively a music venue? Will the "museum" of oddities still be on display? Seems like a real loss of a unique aspect of the area to turn the place into just another concerthall.

The owners have assured me that the Red Palace will still have burlesque and sideshows, but I'm curious to see how that's going to play out with the new setup. We're getting plenty of emails already from bands that are playing Red Palace in Oct./Nov., and I'm interested to see how you can have noisy indie rock bands on the same night as burlesque shows. Maybe early/late/alternating set times? We shall see.

Even though the "Grand Finale" was last night, you do have one more chance to see burlesque/fire shows/etc. at Palace -- tonight, actually. Show at 9, $10 cover.

Without a doubt, TT Reynolds in Fairfax is the place to go. Several years ago my 40 year old boss went with a bunch of 23 year old co-workers. He said he used to go during his college days. Then he never went back. At this time of year the place should be filled with Mason students...

I went there a few times when I was dating a girl from GMU. Ah, memories.

I don't think I ever had a dignified evening there. Ever. The closest I ever got was giving my digits to a random dude from Newfoundland, and agreeing to go on a date with him the following weekend. He got roaring drunk and grabbed my posterior while ostensibly teaching me how to play pool. Good times.

Hopefully what happens at Irish Times stays at Irish Times.

Without a doubt, Dan's Cafe in Adam's Morgan has got to be the crapiest joint in town where a 23 year old would hang out. Dive bar, cheap rot gut liquor served by the fifth, no A/C - I mean c'mon this one is a LOCK. Truth be told, I am 37 and go back to Dan's at least a few times a year - I mean crappy dive can also be a blast. Anyway, that’s my vote for this one.

But see, it's also full of plenty of people who *aren't* in their early 20s, which takes a few points off. I mean, 22-year-olds and *cough* older folks get along at the Fox and Hounds, don't we?

Oooh, Fox and Hounds. I haven't been to happy hour there in a hot minute.

Clarendon Ballroom

Gotta disagree. I think Ballroom skews mid-late '20s. Spider Kelly's is a little younger, maybe, or Whitlow's.

Hi Gurus. I am responsible for planning a night out this weekend with my friend who just had a baby (this will be her first time out in a long time), a girl I just met who recently moved here and is dying to go out dancing and her friend who is coming in town. We want to get dressed up, dresses or "jeans and a cute shirt" :) Any ideas of where to go for dinner then dancing. I was thinking Dupont / Georgetown area, maybe ESL? We are all in our late 20's / early 30s. Somewhere without cover charges preferably. Thanks.

I like your thinking with ESL, but you pretty much will have to pay cover ("cute shirts" don't get you anywhere in this town, sadly). It's usually reasonable, especially if you get there on the early side (10ish).  To save the few bucks,  you could try Midtown across the street, where you can squeeze in easily before 11 without paying cover. For dinner options in that area, Tom S. just reviewed Casa Nonna, Luna Grill up the street is popular, Current for  sushi, Madhatter for American,  and Julia's for empanadas, though you'll probably want those after your night of drinking and dancing.

Gurus, I can only guess the reason that people don't want to book private rooms is the expense. Is it fair, though, to expect to overrun a place with 15 or 20 of your "closest" friends at a bar, which is often a smallish space, to be overrun by this party (at prime time) but don't want to call it a "party" so they don't have to pay for the space. Seems rude to me.

I do understand, because some places seem to want you to run a tab of $30/person per hour, which can be a lot if you're not heavy drinkers. Some want a $150 or $300 fee *plus* a minimum. It can be skewed.

But yeah, I think that if you don't go out a lot on Thursday nights and see groups of people trying to shoehorn 20 folks into a bar, then you don't really realize what's involved, especially if you want to sit down and chat with your friends.

Hey Gurus, Thinking of taking out of town friend to PX during the week. 1. Do we need reservations for around 7pm for 3 people during the week? 2. I've been four years ago and was disappointed that we were wearing jackets (as required) but no one else in the bar was, are jackets still required? Thanks. For what it's worth, still think they have the best crafted cocktails though haven't been to Passenger yet.

I've been fairly recently (in the last month) - 1. They are open Wednesday through Saturday, and I would suggest a reservation whenever you decide to go. Though when I have had late reservations I have never had a big problem with showing up on the early side. 2. They still request that gentlemen wear jackets, and I always do, though I am often among the minority. This is especially true when the house invites guests who have just finished dining at Eve or the Majestic. My advice: ignore them and embrace the jacket - its really part of the speakeasy experience.

Don't forget Garrets and Third Edition in Georgetown. It was always a toss up between those two bars or the ones on M Street (incl. LuLus, Mad Hatter, Sign of the Whale, Acme Bar, Samantha's, Rumors and Mr. Days.). Holy crap I sound old. Half of them are no longer in business. Sigh...

I remember Lulu's, kind of think I remember Acme, but what the heck was Samantha's?

Asylum and Meridian Pint both have vegan food options.

Oh, yes, how can we forget? Three words, vegan friend: Chili. "Cheese." Fries.

Seriously, has that place ever not been full of 21 year olds and old men?! Was that way back in the mid-90s when I was in college and recently went back after a few too many beers and it was like nothing had changed. Fun times.

That place never changes. Seriously. I bet they were playing Sweet Home Alabama to bring down the house back in the 1990s.

I think that McFaddens wins by dint of being the location chosen for the Jersey Shore cast party debacle. I mean, isn't that kind of the definition of the type of location (and clientele) that the poster asked for?

Don't forget that Vanilla Ice has hosted parties there!

But I wouldn't include Shadow Room in this contest, and they had Pauly D DJ there.

Does anyone else remember Polly Esther's and Tequila Grill? yipes!

I think we just got around to forgetting. Thanks a lot.

For starters, I think you'd need to go to at least 3-4 places over the course of the night, only drinking cheap beer or rail drink specials. Definitely include McFadden's, somewhere down at the waterfront, and end up in Adam's Morgan at the end of the night. Afterwards, you need to find some cheap, greasy food - Jumbo Slice or Johnny Rocket's. Roll home sometime before dawn and sleep until 1pm the next day. And, if you were really 23 again, you'd do the same thing the next night!

Yeah, and the next night, because you always kick off the weekend on Thursday.

But I don't know about before dawn -- most of those kids drinking rail vodka sodas aren't coherent by 2 a.m.

My flag football teammates and I are looking for a great brunch place for Saturdays/Sundays for 5-10 people where we can have mimosas and bloody marys and watch college and pro football. We prefer Capitol Hill or the Navy Yard area, as we play in Anacostia. Any suggestions?

The Ugly Mug would be #1, closely followed by Trusty's. I like the Pour House, but it gets too overrun by Steelers fans to try to send non-Steelers folks there.

As a 23-year-old, I'd say I go to Lucky Bar more than any other bars. Will also say that it's impossible to find a bar where there are only people in their early 20s because where there are 20-year-old girls, there will be sketchy 50 yr old men.

Very true. Ew.

Do you know of any bars showing the Navy - Air Force game on Saturday (it's on Versus)? In theory there should be a big crowd for it in this area, but I haven't heard about anything. Anywhere metro accessible works. Thanks!

I've seen Air Force alumni groups at Penn Quarter Sports Tavern -- that's where they watch bowl games -- so I'd say that for sure.  The Navy alumni group will be at Crystal City Sports Pub. I think you have to pick a side here, because these are NOT neutral groups.

How about Union Jack's in Bethesda. Once the clock strikes 10PM, they play at least 4 different variations of "Don't Stop Believing"

Oh man... I havent been there since I was, um, 21. This comes in second for me, only behind McFadden's.

Smith Point? Sweaty dancing, redbull vodkas, soco shots, super long lines for nasty bathrooms, waiting in line to get in - what's not to love/hate?

Another strong contender. But also, let's be frank about something. Weekends at Saint-Ex can be off the meter with youthful, out of hand behavior. Some of my selector friends have noted that a bouncer is camped out near the DJ booth to protect them from the fray.

Am looking to organize something for a friend in downtown DC or Arlington. I'd prefer not to have to rent a space or pay a huge tab - but I'm open to it if that's what it will take. Probably about 20 people will show - either Friday or Saturday night in November. Thanks!

You can try Science Club -- they're always amenable to having folks host events, and you can do it on the cheap. I was just there for a Meetup, and they had happy hour specials till well after the usual hours.

Oh yes, definitely. But the downtown one -- I never tried the branch on Rockville Pike. Going back farther -- saving money (in my unpaid intern days) by eating at happy hour at El Torito in Georgetown. I think there was a two-drink minimum, but then free food!

I don't think anyone tried Polly Esther's in Rockville... it wasn't open very long.

Why is it acceptable for a large group to meet, make the bartender deal with 10 tabs, but when it is classified as a "party" and there is one tab, it is now taboo? Sometimes people do not want to be in a private room because of the lack of atmosphere - you might as well meeting at someone's house.

Let's reset for a minute: There's no problem with 20-25 people showing up at a bar with a large capacity, like Iron Horse, Laughing Man, Buffalo, Bar Louie, etc. Those are big places and designed to deal with it. But you can't bring the same number of people to a smaller place *without reservations* and expect to be able to sit with your group, have easy access to the bar, etc.


I think the entirety of Adams Morgan (save a few bars) reminds me of the 21-23ish era of my life. When I interned, I lived in Woodley Park with a building full of interns. I would say every weekend- and a good deal of week nights- involved a walk across the Duke Ellington Bridge, followed by a visit to Angry Inch (in whatever incarnation it was in), followed by jello shots at Milly and Al's, a trip into Heaven and Hell for shots/dancing/harassment by a guy selling roses, Karaoke at Brass Monkey/Peyote ending the night with gut busting jumbo slice or falafel. 23....oh the good old days.

I remember these days, sadly. Including the Angry Inch. But I strongly disliked the sketchiness of Heaven and Hell. Bad college experiences there.

This discussion is making me nostalgic and homesick (I've been stuck in Houston for two years!) I haven't thought about Rally in the Alley in YEARS! Thank you. (and yes, the Mr. Days in Clarendon is nothing like the old one.)

Aww, I went to high school in Houston, and Houston is no D.C. I'm so sorry for you. You could trek the 2h 45 minutes up to Austin for a debaucherous night on Sixth Street. In fact, you should. Tell them I said hello.

Your contest question got me thinking...I never have thought of Dan's cafe as a place for crowds of drunks the way that some other bars/places come to mind for the newly-liberated 20s set, such as rumors, recessions, cafe citron, maybe even big hunt. Don't get me wrong, I think by the night's end, you will find really drunk people (or people who've had a lot to drink) in Dan's cafe, but it isn't the same vibe. To me, it reminds me of a bar for serious drinkers (and, yes, heavy drinkers) that could be in a small town just as easily as on the bar strip in DC. It's a little cave where you could pass the night and days away because you might not even notice that the sun has come up. Way different than sweaty dudes/young females butt up against each other drinking super cheap beer.

Excellent analysis. I think it's like the Tune Inn or Lil Pub, almost -- yes, you get some young people in there, but it's a bar for serious drinkers.

I would add Town Tavern to the list (you might be able to play some beer pong!)

Maybe. But when I was writing about Town, I talked to college students, late 20-somethings in from the burbs, 30-something DC-ites -- I think it skews a little bit older than Heaven and Hell or McFadden's.

My brother is visiting from Georgia this Thursday night until Sunday night. We're both single and in our mid to late 20s. We'd like to do something fun Friday during the day, any recommendations? The rest of the weekend is pretty open except we're checking out the Taste of Bethesda Saturday afternoon. Are there any other fun things going on this weekend? Open to all suggestions...Thanks!

We actually just posted a blog about what we'd do if we had Fridays off. Tomorrow, I'd recommend going to the National Gallery to check out the wacky portraits by Giuseppe Arcimboldo -- think faces made out of flowers, fruits and vegetables. It's pretty cool stuff. On Saturday, Lavanya and I recommend Crafty Bastards.

...sadly closed a little over 2 years ago. One of the owners is now part-owner of Fly in Dupont. Definitely not the same vibe. But if that's the vibe you'd be going for, Fat Tuesday's over in University Mall has kind of taken over the old TT's role.

Ooooh, sorry Fairfax. But Fat Tuesdays ... hey, what about Patriots Cafe?

Hello GoGs, I am entertaining my parents, sister and her family which includes children 5 and under for Columbus Day weekend. Do you know of any VA wineries that we could visit for the picnic dinner that are kid friendly? Thanks for all of the great weekly information you provide!

Sure, Chrysalis in Middleburg has one of the prettiest views, and it even has a kid's area and room for picnicking and, if I recall correctly (so much wine...), grilling. Be aware, some wineries don't want you bringing your own grub. So give any others you're considering a call.

Hi Gurus! You've helped me in my quest for fun in the past, I'm hoping you can lead me in the right direction again. I'm meeting some Philly friends for a girls' weekend in Baltimore. Do you have any recommendations for four ladies in their mid-30's, away from kids and husbands? We're interested in fun (non-sports bar or college) bar scenes to grab cocktails/dance and spa recommendations. I've been to Fell's Point a bunch in my "youth," but not sure if that's the scene we're looking for now. (What was great when you're 25 is not necessarily so at 35.) Or, if you don't have any rec's, do you know of a reliable Baltimore-centric site that could give me some ideas? Thanks so much!

I think B&O American Brasserie fits the bill. It has great food and a classy atmosphere. Afterwards, try Federal Hill for bar hopping.

Our resident Baltimore expert, Brandon Weigel, chimes in:

For your purposes, I'd say stick to either the Mount Vernon or Harbor East neighborhoods. For cocktails you could head to B&O American Brasserie right downtown and get some drinks from their award-winning bartender Brendan Dorr.

You can then head up Charles Street into Mount Vernon, where there are plenty of cool shops and restaurants (that is if you don't decide to check out the menu at the B&O). Specifically, take a look at the menus at Sotto Sopra, Brewer's Art (not just for great beers!), Red Maple, XS  and Donna's. For drinks, check out the Owl Bar, a definite throwback.

If you go the Harbor East route, be sure to check out the highly-regarded Charleston  or Pazo. Little Italy will be just north of you, so you'll have lots of options. It's a pretty tightly-packed area, so you should be able to explore the different shops and restaurants to find what you're looking for.

Spas might be a little bit out of my expertise, but I know About Faces, generally considered one of the best, has a location in the 3rd floor of an office building in Canton, which is just east of Fells.

Enjoy your trip!

Couple of other suggestions: Bangkok Garden in Bethesda has good traditional Thai food & nice atmosphere (a little kitschy with all the knick-knacks, but fun). Sabay Sabay in Germantown has a huge selection of dishes, including some that are more experimental. I love trying the different curries there.

Just got back from Thailand a few weeks ago and have a craving myself. Thank YOU for the tip, kind reader!

I'm getting married in a few months, and our reception will be at Whitlow's. (What? It's affordable and the food is tasty.) Since we have to be out of the room by 10:00, we're thinking of doing a post-wedding Arlington bar crawl in our wedding finery. What bars can handle 15-20 people on short notice? We were going to hit a few pubs, then go back to the hotel for an after-party in a suite.

Look, you aren't going to be able to all mingle together in any of these Clarendon bars, but here some you might be able to cram 20 extra people into on a (presumably) weekend night: the Ballroom, the sports bar upstairs at Hard Times, Jays, Harry's Tap Room, the side room at Four Courts, Rag Time and if you can get downstairs the dance floor at 11th might be able to accommodate you.

Hi Gurus. My brother and sister-in-law are visiting this weekend from a backwater in Arkansas and are eager to soak up some big-city life. They have a list of things they want to do but I'm stumped regarding Friday night drinks/dinner. Here are the constraints: preferably Indian or Thai/Asian cuisine for dinner, brother wants good beer (but his wife doesn't drink), and something that would appear to somewhat conservative people in their late 30s (read- I don't need to worry about some drunk person flashing them). I was originally contemplating Biergarten/Sticky Rice, but they want to go to the free Kennedy Center performance beforehand, so it might make sense to stay more central. I've heard good things about Church Key but am not familiar with restaurants in the Logan Circle area. Any recommendations? Oh, and no Brickskeller. Thanks!

I think Birch & Barley/ChurchKey would be an excellent choice for dinner, especially for good beer, but it's more upscale American cuisine. For Thai, Rice is right there, and it's a pretty dependable choice.

Samantha's was next to Mr. Days with an entrances in the alley and on L Street. I think it is known (or recently known) as the Black (or Red?) Rooster. Good times.

Naw, Black Rooster has been around for 20+ years. I remember going there when I was in my early 20s and thought it was cool because it had darts and Newcastle on tap.

After both being dumped in the last few weeks and going through the requisite stages of tears, denial, and anger, my girl friend and I are finally at the point where we want to go OUT this Saturday night with the sole, unashamed goal of meeting men. We're 23 and looking for fun bars, not too crazy, loud or crowded, with a young-professional crowd where we can mix, mingle and reclaim some self-esteem. Any suggestions for places with a friendly crowd? I told her the Gurus would have all the answers, don't prove me wrong... :-)

I like your attitude! Actually, a lot of the bars that have been mentioned as "great for a 23-year-old" also fit the bill for a manhunt. I'm guessing excessive liquid courage has something to do with it. Other places that seem filled with eager guys (and NOT in Adams Morgan): Eighteenth Street Lounge, Local 16 and Cafe Citron. Have fun!

Good for you for getting past the stages in record time!  If you girls are 23 and friendly (you seem like you're outgoing), you're not going to have a problem at all in this town. But to be honest, I would avoid all the 23-year-old bars mentioned in today's chat. Unless you want VD.  I always met dudes at Pharmacy Bar; Local 16, which Steph suggested, is a good bet too; and don't rule out Marvin. The thing is, crowded actually means more men.

90% of this chat is about the young bars and being 23 again... what is going on in VA that's free and best for people in their 40's. I don't want to spend my afternoon at home cleaning.

How about Art on the Avenue? There are all kinds of fun festivities going on along Mount Vernon Ave. in Alexandria on Saturday.

I'm trapped in Arlington with all Redskins fans and no one supporting my team. The big Ravens vs. Steelers game is coming up this week and I want a good atmosphere to watch the game with some fellow Ravens fans. Is there anywhere that is a Ravens bar? Willing to travel to DC but not MD.

You're not willing to travel to Maryland? You know that's where the Ravens are *from*, right?

I haven't been there for viewing myself, but apropo of the other discussion going on today, McFadden's now bills itself as a D.C. Ravens bar, and they're showing all the games and drink specials.

Hi Gurus! Looking for a great place for a first date tonight (Thursday) in the Mt. Vernon Square/Chinatown area around 7 or 8 p.m. Should be fun and not too expensive or pretentious. Not a fan of Rocket Bar. I'm not opposed to dive bars, just not a fan of that place (always has a weird smell, too crowded). I am pretty shy and I think he's a little shy too, so someplace that facilitates conversation would be great (activities?). Are there places in Penn Quarter that I'm overlooking too? Thanks for your help!!!

 Try the Passenger, you can get a great cocktail, and if you actually like each other, you can order some bar food too and stay awhile. Or PS7s, in the bar area-- great drinks, fairly intimate, and a decent bar menu. Ping Pong Dim Sum is a little too busy (and posh), I think, for a first date. The Passenger has just the right mix of laid-back and cool.

I've had success for this sort of thing at Bar Louie, Gallery Place. The manager there was very accommodating. Although, they may want you to have a single check.

Seems like a small price to pay, and yes, they've been very good in the past with groups going to Caps games.

Any where in Adams Morgan should fit the bill - when I was 23 I spent A LOT of time at Millie & Al's and TomTom. Both of which were crowded, hot, sweaty, and smokey. And gross. Even when I was 23.

Hindsight: Always 20/20. Especially if you have a wingman.

Wow, what an interesting chat and a nice trip down memory lane. Lots of good advice here, but the DVD is going to "Forever Young" and their tales of revelry in Adams Morgan. (But seriously, waxing nostalgic about eating falafel as a 21-year-old? Amsterdam opened in 2005!) Anyway, send your contact info to events [at] washingtonpost [dot] com and we'll hook you up.

Everyone else: Thanks for your great suggestions and question. We'll see you next week, when we'll be giving away some very cool prizes. Until then, take care.

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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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