Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Guide

Oct 24, 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. Back in the country and back in the saddle here at GOG headquarters, ready to talk about Halloween parties, new restaurants, Fall theatre -- don't miss Steph's Weekend cover story -- and whatever else you'd like to talk about.

Need weekend plans? We have those, too.

A group of fellow runners plan to meet up on Sunday, November 3 for the Run for the Parks 10k in West Potomac Park. We would like to gather somewhere casual for an after-run breakfast. We need somewhere where parking won't be too difficult and something casual for our "glowing" group of 12 or so. Ideas?

The trick with grabbing food after these early-morning races is finding a place that opens before noon. For my last race, I went with Crios, which opens at 10, and it was a crowd-pleaser for our whole big group. I didn't have much trouble finding parking at that hour, either. Other options: Busboys and Poets, Ted's and Matchbox. And if you can wait until 11, you can hit up my current favorite brunch in the city, Sixth Engine.

I have family coming for Thanksgiving and was thinking about taking them out to Mt Vernon. Looks like they have both day and evening activities, but I'm not sure which would be best. The night activities sound fun, but I'm worried about missing out on the more traditional historical/scenic elements.

The evening activites -- candlelight tours of the mansion, caroling, etc. -- are the ones to go for, and, in my opinion, more memorable than the usual tours of Mount Vernon, which are offered year round. Much more likely to impress the family. (You have to move quickly, though: The tours are offered weekends beginning Nov. 29, and the public can buy then starting Oct. 28.)

I have a friend visiting who is just about to turn 30. I'd love to take her out for dancing but she is only going to be here on a Tuesday night. She likes mostly Top 40 and R & B. Alternatively, do you have any suggestions for a place that would cater to her tastes on a Saturday night? I live off U street so anywhere in DC is great.

We don't have a ton of Tuesday night dancing options this time of year. I'd consider the Industry Tuesdays at Heist -- DJs from big weekend clubs spinning in a format-free zone that feels like a Saturday night rager -- or the Hip-Hop Tuesdays at Opera, though the latter can be a little focused on bottle service.

So where can a girl get a good warm (non-alcoholic) drink in Montgomery County? Wanting cider or hot chocolate. Thanks!

This sounds like a job for Max Brenner in Bethesda, which Lavanya wrote about when it opened in July. A veritable ocean of liquid chocolate options. 

If you had a day off in the middle of the week to show your friend around town, where would you take them? (Assuming they've done the typical tourist attractions/museums). I was thinking maybe a day tour of H street or Union Market.

Union Market for sure.

H Street can be dead during the day. While it's great that there are bike shops and a couple of vintage stores, there's still not quite enough retail to occupy a day browsing, and a lot of the cool bars don't open during the day. Depending on their interests, it might be more interesting to pop into the shops on 14th Street -- everything from Palace 5ive to Redeem to GoodWood to Miss Pixie's. If you have time, throw in Adams Morgan (Meeps, Red Onion, Smash, Crooked Beat.) Plenty of restaurants along the way.

I'd also suggest Eastern Market and Barracks Row: Vintage books, pet shops, quirky kids shops, plenty of good coffee, too. 

So you're going to be a big bunch of runners that want to find a place to park your sweaty stench cloud after a race? How about not subjecting other people to that and finding a nice food truck?

Someone is taking advantage of the end of Snark Free Day! Don't worry, when runners go out for breakfast, most other people are usually still in bed.

We are recent empty nesters and go out to dinner monthly with friends who are also recent empty nesters. Any recommendations for unique places to go in Northern Virginia that will fit the budget of couples who are paying numerous college tuitions? We're getting tired of the same places and would like to get suggestions of new place to try.....good hole-in-the-wall recommendations welcome!

What are some of the spots you've enjoyed so far in your preferred price range? That would be helpful in steering you in the right direction. For now, I would be sure to keep tabs on Tim Carman, who writes a weekly (or so) column on dining out for $20 or less. His most recent took him to Thai Pan in Leesburg.

Hey Gogs, any fun new lunch or brunch places in Annapolis? Headed up there tomorrow.

Sietsema was a fan of Vin 909 Winecafe when he gave it two stars in February. Is that new enough?

why is everything happening (neighborhood, kid's fest, costume events) this weekend? What will be left on Halloween/Thursday the 31st?!

Because people like to go out and drink on Halloween, and not everyone feels comfortable getting dressed up and hanging out late when they have to go to work the next day? I covered a bit of this in last week's Halloween column -- it's seasonal creep. 

Five picks from my list of the best on-Halloween events:

The Black Cat's combination of the heavy metal-themed Spirits in Black cocktail party (downstairs), a Misfits cover band (backstage) and a variety show with burlesque, sideshow and live rockabilly (upstairs).

U Street Music Hall's launch of the new DC Brau Ghoul's Night Out beer with a lineup of moombahton, club and drum'n'bass DJs, and a costume contest with free admission to every U Hall show for a year.

Cobalt's $1000 costume contest with DJs and drag queens.

The Rock and Roll Hotel's Brodown Throwdown with 10 bands and DJs over three floors.

Port City Brewing Company's special (free) trivia night and costume contest at the brewery.

Hi Gurus - My sister and brother in law will be in town this weekend for the Marine Corps Marathon. They need to pick up his packet on Saturday, and then we're looking for something to do on Saturday that, per his request, "doesn't require much walking". Any suggestions? DC or VA is fine (we live in Arlington), and we'll have use of a car if need be. They suggested "hanging out in Georgetown", but I feel like we need a slightly better plan than that.

Wow -- that's a tough one. There's always a movie, and if you go that route, I would be sure to check out "Gravity" (although Ann Hornaday has been loving a LOT of movies lately). Theater would be another option, and there's an early 6 p.m. showing of a creepy, scary story kind of play, Klecksography: DC Haunts, that day.

For Thai, try Elephant Jumps (Yorktown Plaza, Falls Church). Great food, reasonable prices.

Oh yes, that's a great one. Thanks!

What's your honest opinion about the "Elliott in the Morning" event going on this Friday at the Clarendon Ballroom? What type of crowd does his show bring?

Lots of suburban 20-somethings who come in from Fairfax. I've been. The costumes make it a great night for people-watching, but it can get crowded and crazy and it gets boozier earlier than the usual Friday in Clarendon. 

Ah don't worry. You don't stink until the sweat dries, and they'll probably be done with breakfast before it really sets in. Jes sayin.

I can't confirm the science behind this claim, but I like the sentiment.

Lines down the street (a la Churchkey's opening week) -- or do you think the size of the space could help with delays getting in?

It's going to be c-r-o-w-d-e-d. As excited as I am to check it out, I can already feel the elbow of the guy next to me jabbing my side. On the plus side, you might actually be able to nab a stool at ChurchKey during peak hour with everyone else at Bluejacket!

A recent favorite was Elephant Jumps off Gallows Road. Also have enjoyed Bombay Bistro (Fairfax) and Coyote Grille (Fairfax)

Another vote for Elephant Jumps, plus a couple other promising places. Thanks!

After a stressful month, my husband and I are looking to go out to dinner near the Cinema and Drafthouse. We are open to all kinds of food-- lately what we have tried around there has been fairly blah. Good food and walking distance is more important than price and ambiance.

Last two meals I really enjoyed around the Drafthouse were at Twisted Vines (more tapas, but good flatbreads and mini-carnitas tacos, hearty mac and cheese) and the fish and chips at Eamonn's during a trip to Bar TNT.

GOG's, help! Every time my girlfriends and I go out in DC or Arlington/Alexandria, we seem to run into no one but people in their mid 20's/early 30's. Where are there fun places where we can meet some people who are more age appropriate?

Funny. I meet a lot of people in their 30s out in D.C. and Arlington while I'm reporting. Can you tell me where you're going, so I get an idea of what you like?

Need a suggestion of a place to take my husband for either a weekend lunch or brunch. Looking for somewhere with a great selection of draft beer and even the opportunity to try a flight or two...

Dogfish Head is an obvious place to start. There's also a branch of the Lost Dog Cafe near the Dunn Loring Metro, and it has a wide selection of drafts, though I'm more familiar with the Arlington location.

In Falls Church, I'm into the Mad Fox brewpub, which will happily pour flights of its award-winning beers.

Any good spots for a first date in Logan Circle area? Looking for late-night drinks spot.

Your first date is late-night boozing? Sounds...dangerous. As for drinks, cocktails are top-notch at Blackjack, and Churchkey would be ideal if you're both beer drinkers.

As a single 40-something I can say there are none. Remember all those weddings you went to about 10-15 years ago? That means at a certain point everyone but you got married. you'll find more people closer to your age if you go to bars in restaurants.

Yeah, I tend to agree with the restaurant bars angle. It's been my experience (personal, talking to people in bars, talking to readers in this chat) that after 30 or so, you're going to meet people in either nicer restaurants (how many 20-somethings are going to listen to jazz with cocktails at the Jefferson, or hanging out at Bourbon Steak?) or your lower-key neighborhood restaurants with good bartenders, not in packed hotspots.

In the words of Hax, Wow. Fritz, not everyone who will attend the Elliott Halloween bash will be a) from Fairfax, or b) 20-somethings. Also, not every "suburban 20-something" from Fairfax will be there. Nor do they deserve to be lumped in with your description, that was dripping with disdain. I grew up in D.C., lived there 'til this summer. I now live in Centreville. Can we please get over this "burbs vs city" nonsense? It is as tired as the "DC vs NYC" debate. UGH already.

I don't think this is a "burbs vs. city" thing when it's at a bar that's in the suburbs. (Also, I didn't say that "every suburban 20-something from Fairfax will be there.") But I've been there in the past. And there were a lot of suburban 20-somethings there.

I've talked to a lot of Arlington bar owners over the years. They're pretty forthright about the fact that weekend crowds come into Clarendon from further out, and Clarendonites split between staying in the neighborhood and going into D.C.

Also, if you look at where the majority of DC-101 events happen -- not sponsored concerts at established venues, but station events -- they're not in the city.

Hi - My bff and I share a birthday in December, and per our tradition, treat ourselves to a fancy dinner in DC - where should we go this year? Previous locations include Founding Farmers, Blue Duck Tavern, Adour, and CityZen. The main problem is that I don't really eat a lot of meat - a little chicken, no beef, pork, or seafood though. Where can we get a fancy (and fun, entertaining, and exciting) meal we will both enjoy on our special day?

Look to Tom Sietsema's recent Dining Guide for inspiration. My two cents: You can't lose with Rasika or Daikaya, both of which have plenty of veg options.

We go out along 14th St (Le Diplomate, Birch and Barley, Pearl Dive, etc.), Shirlington (Carlyle, Copperwood), and Old Town.

Hmm. Yes, Pearl Dive gets 20somethings, but that's not my experience with Le Diplomate or B&B/ChurchKey. (Heck, I've seen guys taking off their wedding rings at ChurchKey.) What about Doi Moi/2 Birds 1 Stone, Ghibellina or Kapnos?

Old Town -- I'd suggest Vermillion, PX or even Light Horse. (Just checked my notes from the story I wrote about Light Horse last year. Four people I talked to: One 28, others all early/mid 30s.)

I still love you.

Me too. And not just because he brought us back boatloads of tea from his recent London adventures...

Ten or fifteen years ago, all those weddings that you went to, you know, the ones where everyone but you got married. At least 1/2 of those couplings are probably (at least if you believe statistics) are heading down the divorce aisle, so there might be some married casualties out there. If there was a particular hot half that you might have liked...that halfdom might be a singledom.

Another suggestion for the 30/40-something singles.

I'm trying to find an Italian, kid friendly restaurant near Rosslyn for Sat night. Any suggestions? Obviously, we're not the only ones looking to carb load so some places are booked up and should I be concerned about Georgetown Halloween street closures if we're at dinner early (5ish)? Thanks!

Piola. Big dishes of pasta, shareable pizzas and no one will bat an eye over the kids.

Up Wilson, Faccia Luna might work too, depending on the time.

I concur on the Mt. Vernon night tours! I take a group there every Sept. for a contracted candlelight tour and it nenver fails to impress.

Have you been to the Congressional Cemetery Halloween Party before? Any advice?

I haven't and I really would like to. (I love wandering around Congressional Cemetery.) If anyone wants to tell us about this Saturday's Ghosts and Goblets, I'm all ears.

Hi! Meeting a friend for a farewell drink tonight before I move overseas. Would love a cozy & warm (brrr is it cold today!) place with cheap(er) drinks and laid back neighborhoody vibe. I'm in Logan but can go anywhere. Thanks!

A&D Bar in Shaw has a cozy neighborhood vibe and a brand-new fall cocktail menu, which I'm hoping to try this weekend. 

Also, there's always a seat at the bar at Hogo for rum drinks if you don't mind going a little further.

My husband and I are celebrating our wedding anniversary this weekend and due to health issues among other family and work travel, we haven't been able to plan anything ahead. We're thinking a Saturday day trip in the area would be a good spontaneous solution. Any recs of where you'd go and what you'd do on short notice?

So sorry for the tough breaks! I would recommend a wine-tasting, orchard-going adventure. Here's a map of some of the closest Virginia wineries, plus the area's best apple-picking. The foliage should be pretty spectacular during the drive, too, so that's a bonus.

The marathon AND run for the parks are both on Sunday? Oye vey!

I believe the marathon is this Sunday and the Run for the Parks is the following.

So a friend took me out to his secret hole in the wall place out in Sterling, VA for his favorite mojitos. I have to admit they were really good. So now I need to take him somewhere for competing mojitos. Any ideas? Ideally, in Bethesda (i know that makes it a lot harder- especially since it doesn't look like jaleo has a mojito on their drink menu).

Oh, don't go to Jaleo for mojitos. I like the fresh, seasonal cocktails at Nest. Then take your friend to Shanghai Village for one of the best Mai Tais around. Seriously. Bland-looking Chinese spot, but Trader Vic-style tropical drinks. 

Okay, we have to run. Thanks for joining us, and have a safe and happy pre-Halloween weekend.

Edit: Today's Post Points code is GG9792. Sorry about that.

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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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