Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Guide

Nov 21, 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. Big news in the office today is that Vice President Biden beat us to Capriotti's for subs. (Yes, they're as good as you get in Delaware. Now, can we get Grotto in D.C.?)

Meanwhile, have you seen our list of The Things You Have To Do This Weekend?

We're here and ready to talk about anything related to food, drinks and going out.

So today's the day: the Beaujolais Nouveau is here! I always like to go out for a glass and celebrate its arrival, mostly out of nostalgia to my study abroad days when I thought I was way more chic than I actually was. Anyhoo, any ideas for best places to go grab a glass (or more likely, a bottle)? I've usually gone to Bistro du Coin in the past.

I got my start at midnight, and man, I don't think it's particularly good this year. (The George Deboeuf, at least.) A number of places will be celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau today -- Central and Bistrot Lepic have live jazz, while Le Grenier will give you a free glass of wine. I have to admit I like the idea of not paying for the stuff.

Hey Gurus, I am planning my first visit to bluejacket this weekend and am looking for tips for the best way to experience it. I couldn't get a reservation (but read something saying the bar was better anyway), and planned to get there pretty close to open. Or maybe the crowds have died down? Any must try beers? Thanks!

When were you planning on going? Friday and Saturday are the worst times to visit the new brewery. I was there for a friend's birthday on Sunday evening and it was fine -- there were barstools and booths to be had. I asked the bartender how the bar crowds had been, and I think the word "insane" was used to describe Saturdays. They open at noon, so if you can get there mid-afternoon (post-brunch, pre-dinner) you'll be in better shape than if you're going after 6. Or just go on Sunday.

As for must-try beers, Alex and I wrote this primer to eight of the 25 beers that Bluejacket launched with. (20 draft, 5 cask.) My flight of choice remains Bitterschön Rhineish bitter, Bird of Prey (cask) and Panther schwarzbier. I think small pours of those three will set you back around $7.

Help! I couldn't get tickets to the live simulcast of the 50th Anniversary Doctor Who episode on Saturday. It's also playing on BBC America, but I don't have cable. Are there any bars or venues with watching parties? Like any self-respecting Whovian, I don't want to wait until Monday to see the re-broadcast. Thanks!

The Queen Vic's owner Ryan Gordon says "There's a bunch of Whovians who come to the bar, so we're going to show it on the big-screen upstairs with the sound on." The soccer viewing will go on as usual on Saturday morning, so don't expect to get there early and see the pre-show broadcasts.

BTW, if you haven't watched the "The Night of the Doctor" mini-episode, you should do that now. So, so good. Wish it was its own full episode.

My 50-year old coworker just sent me an email (literally!) asking about Jack Rose. He and his wife are very lively and love to hang out with crowds in the early 30s range. So - still have fun, but definitely not down for Adams Morgan crowds. What is the scene there recently? I haven't been in a few years, but have heard that it is starting to skew younger. They live down in Fredericksburg, and would come up on a weekend, not weekday.

The rooftop bar skews younger for sure, but the downstairs bar and the basement speakeasy are definitely late 20s-early 40s on weekends.

Submitting early since it's going to be a crazy day! My morning started off with an email from a friend about New Years - yep, before Thanksgiving. He's suggesting Rock and Roll hotel's NYE all you can drink event. I hate to bring this up so early, but the ticket price jumps on Dec. 2 so I wanted to get your thoughts. Have you been? Is it worth the $50? What's the scene? The website says something about a "silent disco" on the roof? If it helps, we're all mid-20's and will most likely have a group of 10+ people for NYE. Again, I really do apologize for starting the New Years planning so early, thanks!!

First, I haven't been to Rock and Roll Hotel's NYE for a few years, so if anyone wants to chime in ... 

The scene is much like the crowd that hangs out at the Hotel during the rest of the year: Lots of jeans/t-shirts/sneakers, not really dressy, skewing indie rock/electro fans and people who are down to take advantage of the open bar. Think of the crowd at one of the weekend DJ nights and you'll have an idea.

The Silent Disco, says owner Fritz Wood, means that there will be 200 multi-channel headsets available on the roof, with two DJs spinning different sets. You use the channel selector on the headphones to pick which DJ or style of music you want to dance to, as the music won't be pumped out through the usual speaker system.

As for the DJ lineup, that should be announced next week. Kinda sucks that you won't know who's spinning before you get your tickets, but I guess that's why it's only $50 instead of $80.

Hi- my boss (Sr. Exec) and his family (wife and 2 teenagers) will be in town over New Years Eve and wanted to know where they should go to dinner and what goes on here worth doing. Are the fireworks in Alexandria worth the traffic? Is there somewhere fun but casual and great food (the kids are "foodies" too like their parents), somewhere with out a fixed menu and high price that they should try? I always go to friends houses or have them over to mine so I'm not sure what to tell him! Help!

Hi there. For the fireworks, it depends on how old the kids are. It's a very family-friendly activity, so if they're older teens they might be bored. However, they're the only fireworks nearby, so if you're into ringing in the New Year with a bang, they're your best shot.

For restaurants - If you're looking for a spot in Alexandria, you could direct the family towards Pizzeria Paradiso, Hank's Oyster Bar, or the Majestic. If they decide to come into DC, you could direct them to Rose's Luxury, Daikaya, or Doi Moi, which would be very sophisticated and cool for foodie teens. Though, they should probably call ahead to make sure any of those restaurants aren't doing anything special/exclusive that night, if they want to avoid prixe fixe menus.

So I like to get out and about for art, live music, restaurants, baseball games, street festivals, you name it. But after seeing so many chatters specifying they're in their mid-20s or mid-30s, presumably so they can hang with people their own age, and getting regularly stared at if my age comes up in conversation (mid-40s) makes me feel like I'm making people uncomfortable in my dotage. I'm not hanging out at the Clarendon Ballroom or Whitlow's, I just like a smart cocktail and the 9:30 Club, but is there an age limit for partaking in the hipster social scene?

Nah. Everyone enjoys a great concert or a solid drink. But if you're looking for a new boyfriend/girlfriend, you probably want to go where you can meet someone your own age, or a place that will be playing today's popular music, etc.

This is my first Thanksgiving in DC in a long time and my family is visiting me. We are having Thanksgiving dinner at Art and Soul (hopefully a good choice). My parents would like to go out for drinks after dinner, are there any bars on Capitol Hill/Barracks Row/Navy Yard (I am hoping Bluejacket will be open) open Thanksgiving evening?

I'm actually working on that list, though I can tell you that a good number of places -- including Bluejacket -- will be closed. (All of Bluejacket's sister restaurants, including ChurchKey, GBD and Iron Gate, also take the day off.) I don't have any positive responses from anywhere on the Hill yet, with the exception of the Tune Inn -- bur they're open every day anyway.

I won't be able to get to New England over Thanksgiving so I will miss my long beach walks. Where can I go in this area? I would like someplace on the Chesapeake Bay but since so much of the land is private I wonder if there is any public place for a lbeach walk.

Point Lookout is great for this -- nice long beach, completely deserted in the winter. So many of the other state parks, such as Sandy Point State Park, right at the foot of the Bay Bridge, or Matapeake, right across the Bay, just aren't big enough for long strolls. 

My mom will be in town Tue night through next weekend for the holiday. I have to go to work for at least some part of the day on both Wednesday and Friday, and my mom said she would like to come down town with me and wander while I work, and possibly meet me for lunch. I work at judiciary square, so anywhere on the mall or penn quarter area works. I can figure out the food part of it, but I would love some suggestions on any special events, collections, cool things to see or do down town. She likes art, music, history, and all things "DC", although she has already done the basics. Any thoughts that will make me look like a super cool daughter while I slave away over the holiday week?

Not sure if the National Building Museum is included in the basics for you guys, but the show about futuristic architecture in Los Angeles looks really cool to me, and could be a very proximate choice for your mom. There's also the new Yousuf Karsh show at the National Portrait Gallery. If your mom likes theater, you could send her to the wednesday matinee of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at the Shakespeare Theatre -- matinee tickets can be a great bargain!

Happy Thanksgiving to all you Gurus! A couple of years ago, you wrote about a bar that had a free Thanksgiving Dinner. I think it was in Adams Morgan. Which bar was it, and is it still doing that?

Hmmm. Trying to remember who does a free Thanksgiving buffet. The Black Squirrel, which I've written about in the past, offers a $5 Thanksgiving dinner for all customers again this year. It's served buffet-style with all the trimmings, and they'll have a heap of pumpkin beers, including my favorite Evolution Jacques Au Lantern and the exquisitely named Saucony Creek Captain Pumpkin's Maple Mistress. Best of all, they open at noon.

I'm from northern Virginia and I've heard about Eastern Market but have never visited. What should I know before I go?

Eastern Market is more than just the market building -- as you'll see, vendors set up stalls all the way down the street, and sell everything from fresh vegetables to handmade furniture. Sunday is the biggest day to go. It is a GREAT place to cross off a few gifts on your holiday list -- you can buy jewelry, art, vintage maps, canned jams and jellies, and so much more. Inside the market building, the blueberry pancakes at Market Lunch have attracted a cult following. It's a pleasure to aimlessly stroll the market and check out the various vendors, snacking along the way. Bring cash and an extra bag for the groceries you'll buy.

This has been touched on before, but I need some food advice for National Harbor. My 50 somethings Mom and Aunt are coming to town and we're going to see ICE, then I think they'd enjoy the dueling piano show at Bobby McKeys. But where to eat in between? Everything looks expensive and mediocre, but these aren't terribly adventurous ladies when it comes to food.

Dining options at National Harbor are chain-y and same-y. Last time I was there, I just thought, "Whatever. I'm going to Nando's."

Tom Sietsema usually recommends Bond 45, which is really a steak-and-lobster kind of place, if that sounds like something your mom and aunt would like. McLoone's Pier House, which has the advantage of being right on the water, has an unchallenging menu -- chicken carbonara! spinich salad! jumbo shrimp scampi! -- and everything I've had has been "fine." It's not the kind of place you go out of your way for, but when you're there, it's good.

The Newseum!! And not in the area you requested but the Van Gogh at the Phillips Collection sounds right up her alley.

Does your mom like Ron Burgundy, chatter? (yes, there are other things at the Newseum too, but the Anchorman exhibit is their big show right now).

My boyfriend and I are staying in DC for Christmas. Does anything special go on between Christmas and New Years around here? I know the zoo has the lights...

Oh man, there's so much. Free holiday concerts at the Kennedy Center, the dueling Christmas trees at the Capitol and White House, Zoolights, the seasonal displays and trains at the U.S. Botanic Gardens ...

Plus, I really like to play tourist that week. The crowds seem lighter at the Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery, for example.

I like to meet with a group of girlfriends every few months to catch up over drinks and light fare. We typically go to Oyamel, but snagging a seat is near impossible (and yet a requirement for the pregnant one in or group), and the volume level makes it a bit hard to actually have a conversation. Any recommendations for an alternative? Prefer to be in the relative vicinity of Gallery Place/Metro Center/Convention Center.

Oooh, this is a good question -- and one we're getting a lot more of, frankly. The bar at Fiola isn't bad if you go at happy hour (4-6) for discount drinks. The lounge area of 701's bar is another. It's also easier to snag seats at Daikaya's comfy Izakaya if you go early.

I'm a fan of meeting friends at the bar at Proof, and it's perfect for conversation, but getting one of the two lounge tables for groups can be challenging.

Have you tried Hogo? It's quieter and easier to snag a seat there early. 

Also not sure if the Nat'l Portrait Gallery is one of the basics, but it has really nice interpretative blurbs about portraits and paintings, and is a very nice outing. The interior courtyard is a great place for a break, or to get a snack in the snack bar. Another neat place -- I can't believe I'm writing this -- is the Wax Museum. I'd always avoided it as too touristy, but was very pleasantly surprised at both the lifelikeness of the figures, and also the excellent interpretive info.

Agreed about the courtyard. The wax museum is not my favorite, and it tends to be something more often enjoyed by huge groups of pre-teens rather than solo adult travelers, but I can pass along this chatter's suggestion nevertheless.

About 8 years ago the owner of the Grotto Pizza chain told me he was thinking of opening one in Bethesda and that got me all excited. I've been pouting ever since. Now just talking about it I'll have to make a special trip to the beach for a slice.

There are times, usually in winter, when I seriously consider renting a Zipcar for the night just to drive to Seaford Del. and get a couple of pies to go. I mean, I know it's not the best pizza in the world, but it always tastes like vacation to me.

I suppose if they opened one in D.C., it'd be a little less special.

The Anchorman exhibit is getting aTON of press but I wouldn't call it their big show. The Kennedy exhibit is the biggest physically by far and also the biggest draw. Full disclosure - I volunteer there.

Ah, thanks for the clarification. And also, good info for any holiday visitors who are looking for something a little more serious!

Hi there, looking to go out to watch football on Sunday so need a bar with the NFL Ticket. Looking for something on red line, dupont, metro center, farragut north, gallery place area. Any good suggestions??

If you want to watch every game at once, Public Bar is good for that -- literally a dizzying wall of TVs in the main bar. Buffalo Billiards is a great spot for wings and beer and TVs. Other places I've had good food/drinks and NFL viewing in that general area include Hill Country, R.F.D. and BlackFinn.

I tend to shy away from Arlington due to my perceived notion that parking is lacking and/or expensive. I'd like to go with my husband for dinner and would like to try something uniquely Arlington. Any ideas?

Dinner and drinks at Green Pig Bistro (though not on Tuesday, when they're closed) or Lyon Hall would be my first choice, preceded by a glass of the daily red at Northside Social's lovely wine happy hour.

I would say Liberty Tavern for sure or Me Jana!

Man, I haven't been to Me Jana in years. Thanks for the reminder.

Also, I forgot to mention it, but for a truly unique Arlington dining experience, I really like Rus Uz. Reminded me of being back in Moscow, down to the bring-your-own-bottle-of-vodka policy.

Is only meant to be eaten drunk...eww.

Maybe the one in Dewey.

Hi Gurus! Planning a bachelorette weekend for a friend and she'd like a resort with spa, that's also possibly close to a winery or 2. She's already mentioned the Homestead and I've also looked into the Salamander. Any other recommendations? Those 2 are pretty pricey, so something not as expensive would be nice. Thanks!

Hmm. Something cheaper might be the Lansdowne Resort, which is close to the Corcoran and Breaux vineyards. (Also, they're going to be announcing deals on Cyber Monday, Dec. 2, if you can wait that long to book.)


On Saturday, the spouse and I have a few hours starting at 3 p.m. without our kids and are suddenly going blank. A few hours doing things grown ups do ... how to narrow it down. We're in Arlington but would be happy going into DC. Something that will allow us to have a conversation (no theater/concerts please) ... maybe stop for a few drinks and snacks ... need to be home by 8. We don't mind dress-up activities or dress down. Any thoughts greatly appreciated.

Maybe you'd be interested in doing a progressive happy hour/meal at different places on 14th Street? There are so many restaurants there, and many of them are not child-friendly, so you'll get a very grown-up day. Some great picks for food and drink would include Etto, Le Diplomate (if you go at a weird time in the middle of the afternoon, you'll be able to get in without any trouble), Kapnos, Doi Moi, 2 Birds 1 Stone, or that great fireplace patio at Barcelona. You could do the same thing in Shaw, if you'd prefer those restaurants instead -- Baby Wale, Eat the Rich, Mockingbird Hill, Table. Get a snack and maybe a drink at each place, and you'll get a real taste of all of the new places that have moved into these neighborhoods -- and there's great people-watching for conversation.

Okay, we have to run -- that review of Capriotti's isn't going to write itself -- but we hope you have a great weekend and a wonderful Thanksgiving.

In the spirit of the holiday, we're not going to be here next week, so we'll see you on Dec. 5, when (just a guess here) we'll be talking all things holidays and New Year's Eve.

Today's Post Points code is GG7682.

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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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