Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Guide

Dec 12, 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. We're sure your social calendars are packed this month, but there are so many cool things going on this weekend, including holiday bar crawls, a Toys for Tots fundraiser, and the final She-Rex. What are you looking forward to?

Hi Gurus! I'd like to take my dad to see some live jazz music. He plays jazz piano and is in his early 60s - he'd probably prefer a "sit and appreciate the music" environment more than a "standing room only, super loud venue" environment. I'd be interested in either a concert, or a club which has live music. Thanks for the help!

He'd love Blues Alley -- one of the best listening clubs in the country, and a favorite of Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and other heavyweights. Monte Alexander is playing from Dec. 27-31, and he's a fantastic pianist.

Other clubs to consider would include Bohemian Caverns -- especially the standing Monday night gig with the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra -- or Twins Lounge. Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club can be a good bet, depending on the artist on the night.

My husband and I are heading to the Kennedy Center tomorrow night for NSO's Christmas program at 8pm. Where would you go for dinner before? Will the bar at Blue Duck be busy around 6:30 if we wanted to eat there?

If you shifted it to 6, you'd have a better chance, honestly -- Blue Duck's bar can be popular on Fridays, and you want to leave time to eat *and* get to the Kennedy Center. I've also had good luck eating at the bar at Notti Bianche without reservations.

Hi gurus! Where can I go for a cheap, but good breakfast on Saturday at 11am near 14th and R?

"Cheap but good" is how I'd describe the Southern cooking of the Florida Avenue Grill. Think thick-cut hot cakes and French toast, half smokes and eggs over easy, and some of the best buttermilk biscuits and gravy you'll find anywhere in D.C., for just $6.50. The people-watching is tremendous, too -- the Grill really attracts all sorts of folks. 

Great article in last Friday's Weekend Section about using MARC to see Baltimore on the weekend; I’m happy to see The Post provide directions via public transportation for more places and events! The article mentioned Inner Harbor as a possible destination, but from the map provided it seems that Inner Harbor is not really walking distance from Penn Station. Could you GoG Guys go one step farther and provide bus routes for getting from Penn Station to the Inner Harbor?

The Inner Harbor is about a mile and a half from Penn Station. I tend to walk it with pitstops at the Brewer's Art or the Owl Bar, usually. To get there via public transportation, you have two options: You can grab the Light Rail from the lower level of Penn Station and take that to the Convention Center, or you can leave the station and get the free Purple Line Circulator bus down St. Paul Street to the Inner Harbor.

Many of the places we talked about in Lavanya's story and my bar guide are walkable from the station, especially the Station North district, Brewer's Art, Owl Bar, Mount Royal Tavern, etc. But for anything in Canton, Harbor East, Fells Point or Brewer's Hill, a taxi ($10-$14) is still the best bet.

Which reminds me: I may do an online-only update for that story. So many places I really like in Baltimore, from new spots (Chasseur, Smaltimore) to old favorites (Bar, the Brewer's Art) didn't make it into the print version. 

Hi, GOGs - Am very excited to be seeing the Baryshnikov play tonight at the Shakespeare. Will be shlepping in from the burbs...and I'm very much hoping the theater is civilized and has a coat check. Can you confirm or deny? Thanks!

There is a coatcheck, though the theater can be chilly -- some of our in-house theater-goers usually bring their coats with them to their seats, just in case.

Gurus you've never steered me wrong! I'm celebrating my birthday this Sunday evening with a couple of good friends - 5 women total. I'd love to sit down, be in a fun, cozy environment but can talk to each other, drink champagne (or the like), eat a few things (not dinner). I was thinking about checking out Mockingbird Hill or Eat the Rich - thoughts? Or anywhere else is that general area (U St, Logan, Shaw) that would be better? Thanks!

Either one would fit your snacking-and-sipping needs. Eat the Rich has a cool champagne menu (glasses and bottles) to go with oysters, scallops, whelks and other delectable seafood dishes. I'd put that higher on the list, though I do love sipping sherry and snacking on ham at Mockingbird Hill. (Obviously, neither takes reservations, so the earlier you go, the better.) 

My extended family won't be getting together until the 26th to celebrate Christmas, so Christmas day will be just me, my boyfriend and my parents (both over 70). Any suggestions for things to do that day? I would love to take them to Elf at the KenCen, but at $80 a pop that's a bit pricey considering all the other money already spent for the holidays. Anything from Fredericksburg to DC and MoCo or PG would be feasible. Help me out please so we don't spend the whole day just staring at each other or the TV! Thanks a bunch!

My ideal day in D.C. might include checking out the festive train and plant displays at the U.S. Botanic Garden, a visit to the national Christmas tree on the Ellipse, a warming cocktail at the Willard's Round Robin bar -- with a view of their festively decorated lobby -- and then the free All-Star Jazz Jam on the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage. (You could throw in dinner at the Kennedy Center's Roof Terrace if you want; the music starts at 6 p.m.)

Also important to note - Circulator Bus is free and will get directly to the Inner Harbor. Light Rail trains are $1.60 each way and drop you off 4 blocks from Inner Harbor.

Yeah, the free Circulator is nice. I do like the Light Rail, though, especially since you can use your SmarTrip card.

Happy Holidays! Thanks for all your great ideas, I need one more before the year is over :) My mom would like to go to a classic holiday market. Any going on this weekend or next around the area? Thanks again.

The Downtown Holiday Market is probably what she's looking for: Browsing craft vendors outside the American Art Museum while eating hot doughnuts and sipping hot cocoa or locally roasted coffee. There's daily live music, and it's open from noon to 8 p.m.

Another weekend option, depending on your location, is the Sugarloaf Craft Festival out at the Dulles Expo Center. With hundreds of participating artists, it's heavy on fine art and jewelry.

It's a shame that most of the ethnic markets are over, as those can be the most fun.

Hi! I'm pregnant, and miss cocktails. Where can I get a good mocktail? I've had trouble at some places when I've asked if they can whip me up something non alcoholic...the bartender seems confused and can't do this without specific instructions as to what. It is definitely hit and miss on who can make me a good mocktail, and I need more hits!

I write a story about mocktails every year during my twice-annual (or more) detoxes. They're also useful this time of year for people who are getting tired of imbibing during the non-stop holiday parties.

My current list of favorites for non-alcoholic drinks include Firefly, which makes a killer "Manhattan" and "Cosmo"; the house-made seasonal sodas at Hank's on the Hill, which include citrus sage and rich apple; and Room 11, where Jess Woods is always happy to experiment with bitters and sodas. The Passenger can be fun, too, if they're not busy... 

Thanks for the suggestions on public places to end a relationship. I ended up doing it at the metro benches and he finally got that I was being serious. In case you were wonder I was ending it with a MALE. I know mostly everyone thought I was a dude writing it but just the opposite. It's been 1 week already and finally I feel like I can move on. Oh and thanks to the person who posted it on Carolyn Hax - if I would have wanted advice I would have posted there as well.

For those who wanted to follow up on last week's where-to-end-it discussion ...

Chatters may want to try Ancora right next to the KennCen. They have a bar that fills up quickly, but also a fair number of tables. A reservation is a good idea for a Friday night.

An option for the Kennedy Center-goers. You can read Tom Sietsema's take from March here.

Hi, I have chosen to stay home for the holidays instead of driving 8 hours to get stressed out with family events but I would like to go to a restaurant, have a decent meal and hang out. Any place where I wouldn't feel out of place and do you know of already planned get together for holiday "orphans"?

I will have a longer writeup about this closer to Christmas/Christmas Eve, as it's a tradition of mine to go out drinking on Christmas Eve. (If bars open, they usually do so around 8 p.m. to give employees the chance to see their families.)

Taking a look at Open Table, you've got plenty of options, ranging from Bourbon Steak, Plume and Blue Duck Tavern to Le Grenier and Corduroy. The former are hotel restaurants and bars, so you won't be out of place; the latter two are cozy and neighborhood-y enough that it wouldn't be a problem.

Hi Gurus! I'd love to take my hubby to an interesting hotel for a staycation in January (will be giving this to him as a Christmas present). What are your favorite places for this? I would love a hotel with a spa, indoor pool or hot tub. The Four Seasons and the like are a bit out of my price range -- maybe $250 a night and under. The Kimpton hotels look like fun but it looks like only the Palomar has swimming options. Any other ideas or fun staycation experiences? DC and Alexandria are ideal spots. If it helps, we're 30. Thanks!

The Kimptons are fun hotels. I'd suggest the Palomar not for its pool, but for its special "Spa" rooms that come with giant soaking whirlpool/spa tubs (for two people), which you can get for under $250 a night -- plus you've got that indoor pool, the free wine happy hour, the optional in-room spa services -- and you've got Dupont Circle at your front door if you want to go out for dinner or drinks.

Okay, gang. Sorry if we (by which I mean I) didn't get to your question today. We'll have a big holiday chat next week, since it will be the last of the year. Keep an eye on the blog for more on New Year's Eve, Christmas Eve and Christmas brunch options.

Post Points code is GG3614.

In This Chat
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.
Recent Chats
  • Next: