Got Plans? The Going Out Gurus were joined by Chris Jenkins of The Root D.C. talk about Black History Month, nightlife, dining and entertainment.

Feb 02, 2012

Got Plans? The Going Out Gurus were joined by Chris Jenkins of The Root D.C. talk about Black History Month, nightlife, dining and entertainment.

Welcome, chatters, to our Black History Month-themed chat with Chris Jenkins, a reporter for The Root D.C. and general going-out guy (trust us, he's a frequent face at some of our favorite parties). Ask him and us where to head this weekend with your buddies, your gal pals or your families. And feel free to ask us about our nine-pound burger.  Let's go, shall we?

Hi Gurus, submitting early because I have a meeting tomorrow and will miss your chat. I'm planning a date night for Saturday and hope you can help out with some ideas. We've been in a rut of dinner and/or movie nights recently and maybe its the warm weather, but I'm in the mood to spice things up a bit. Was thinking a beer or bourbon/whiskey tasting, an art opening, or other event of some sort would be fun, but my research into things going on this Saturday afternoon and evening has come up fairly empty. We have a vehicle, so anywhere within a 30ish minute drive of DC would work. Thanks in advance for your help!!

We've definitely hit that point of winter fatigue. Luckily this weekend has some really cool things going on: D.C. Shorts is teaming up with Riot Act for two nights of themed comedy shows intercut with short films called DC Shorts Laughs. There are three shows Saturday, so I'd pick the late one, and head first to the art opening for "Next Generation," that starts Saturday at 6 p.m.; the exhibit is in a raw warehouse space, and should be really cool. Afterward, head to the Passenger or even something wackier, like Hill Country, for drinks before the comedy show.   

Hi, I wasn't able to join the chat last week, but saw the question about vegetarian pho. Rice Noodle Bowl in Bethesda has really good vegan pho -- but you have to ask for the VEGAN pho, not the VEGETABLE pho -- the vegetable pho has fish sauce in it.

Thanks for the suggestion! Vegans, add this to your must-try list.

My friend spent some time living in Belgium and misses the great beer she had over there. Do you have any recommendations of happy hours (preferably during the weekend) with Belgian beers? Or, are there metro-accessible places that have them around $10ish?

Hands-down, the best Belgian beer happy around around is Brasserie Beck's, with half-price drafts every weekday from 5 to 7 -- you can get a very good beer for $4-$6 without thinking about it.

Belga Cafe also has good happy hours and a "beer of the week" promotion. And Pizzeria Paradiso has some sweet Belgians on at the moment, including the crisp Dupont Moinette Blonde and De Glazen Toren's funky aged Cuvee Angelique.

Going out gang. Is there anything special that ever goes on on a Monday? I'm looking for ideas for two to kick the week off right next week!

Not sure what your idea of fun is, but if you're into a good DJ mix (hip-hop, R &B, some soul, etc)  and an eclectic, youngish (25-40) crowd, check out Marvin.   Party gets started about 10 but you can grab dinner and drink b4, of course.

What is the best way to get to H Street from NW - cab or metro?

Metro is a tough way to get to H Street unless you want to walk a ways to get to the main drag. Best to cab it. But catching a cab back can be tough, so you may want to grab your driver's  phone number and call him when you're ready to leave so he can pick you up.

Yeah, I would say actually that bus is the best option. The X2 goes all the way down H St. NW to NE, and the 90 and 92 go from U St. to Eighth and H streets NE.

I have tickets to a play at AS on Easter afternoon. Any suggestions for a dinner restaurant? We plan to make reservations. Don't want anything too expensive.

New near Arena Stage is Station 4, which offers a pre-theater package with parking included (not bad, since it's hard around Arena). Fair warning: Tom Seitsema doesn't exactly love it.  Arena also has a full service cafe. I've thought about this before, and my suggestion is actually to dine in Penn Quarter at a place such as Asia 9, Oyamel or Sei, then Metro to Arena on the Green Line. It will give you a lot more options.

you guys are great!!!! thank you thank you THANK YOU for all you do!!!

Oh, my. We're blushing. Thank YOU for reading!

I've been to Hamilton's for $1 beer Friday, any other good $1 places around here?

It's hard to beat the $1 PBRs at Hamilton -- note: not "the" Hamilton -- but you can try the $1 mugs of light beer on Thursdays at the Madhatter.

Note: I saw a girl throwing up in the bathroom sink there once. It was awesome.

Speaking of best way to get there....when will the streetcar be running?

City says the the H Street line will begin running late 2013.

There is a Capital Bikeshare station right around H and 13th, too. I've been meaning to try it, but woo, that hill on the way back to Union Station looks killer.

I love lager Belgian & German beers! I just found out that I'm allergic to gluten. I haven't done research yet because I just found out, but I have seen a ton of people here asking for gluten free suggestions. Any gluten free alcoholic suggestions to replace my beloved beers? :(

The only gluten-free beer I've had and enjoyed (as a beer drinker) is the new Tweason'ale from Dogfish Head, which is on tap at ChurchKey and all the Dogfish Head ale houses. I know some people recommend Lakefront's New Grist, made with sorghum, but it's so light and watery...

A group of 6 of us are going to the Wizards game on Saturday night. As we live far west of DC, we don't get into DC often and wanted to spend the day in the city. Any exciting and unique events that we should check out? Some additional details: We have all done the standard museums and monuments before and are some in the group are not into fine arts (museums, theater, etc).

Okay, I know you just said no museums. But. Saturday is Black History Family Day at the National Portrait Gallery, and while I don't know your ages, there's some cool stuff for all ages in store. A live blues concert and West African dance are among a few of the day's offerings. Other than that, check out DC Shorts Laughs at Riot Act, where they're screening funny shorts interspersed with stand-up comedy. 

So we finally are getting a real date night, almost three months after baby arrived. It's awesome! We were planning to do Kushi, which we love. But there aren't any reservations available. Should we go and try the wait? Should we try somewhere else? What's nearby in case we go and the wait is just too long for us?

So, part of me believes the reservation lock-out might be due to the HUGE Living Social deal they did recently. So maybe it's best to avoid the place for now -- I imagine eating at a restaurant that's packed to the gills isn't a great date night.  I have to say, I'm a big fan of Mandu next door, but I've also finally had more luck at places such as Estadio, if you get there, say, around 6 and sit at the bar (which is romantic, and the bartenders make for fabulous servers). Not sure if you're back on the sauce, but if you are, the cocktails are great. If you want to get really fancy, Fiola is wowing diners, as is Graffiato.

Do all the locations offer the same beer at the same time? I would think the lists would differ, but what do I know?

Sorry -- the beers I mentioned are on tap at Paradiso Dupont. All three have different draft lists (which you can see here.)

I am trying to plan a 40th birthday party for a good dinner and drinks for my husband for a Saturday night in March. It will @ 15 people, so a private room or the like would be best. It will be St. Patrick's day, so avoidance of any groups celebrating that would cool. Our first choice would have been Birch and Barley, but they seem to only have private parties during the week. We are trying to avoid just having a long table in the middle of a restaurant, which is not fun for the group, or the folks around us. Thank you!

HI there- Ulah Bistro on U Street is usually good for this sort of dinner party. They have an upstairs seating area for the modest # of folks you're looking to invite. I've been to two dinner parties there and the service has been good both times.

Do you know what bars in DC serve Great Lakes Brewing Company beer? Are any of those places suitable for a 20-40 person happy hour? Thanks! - An Ohioan

Great Lakes beers are everywhere these days. Everywhere. Can't turn around in a beer bar without bumping into Edwin Fitzgerald this or Conway's Irish that. Start with the Black Squirrel, Meridian Pint, Toldeo Lounge, Dodge City ... even the Pug.

For a party, I'd talk to the Black Squirrel (upstairs room or part of the basement) or Meridian Pint (basement-level sports bar). They might even be able to get some extra special beers on draft for you.

Been dating a girl for three months, and don't have reservations for anything yet. Any suggestions for things to do?

I think if you want to do a dinner, you might try El Centro's price-fixed dinner, since it's a little casual, and no one is going to think you're about to propose. If you want to drop more cash and really wow her, there's the European Ball at the French Embassy.  Here's the whole list of dinners and Valentine's events, in case that doesn't fit the bill. 

So my very wonderful friend is getting married this Spring and I'm in charge of planning a fun mini-weekend for her and a small group of our friends. It can be either Bmore or DC (or surrounding areas). My very vague plan is - get a hotel room (preferably somewhere slightly special) - go windowshopping or sightseeing during the day - nice (but not too adventurous for our picky eaters) dinner - bars at night. She likes: pop music, country music, girly mixed drinks, karaoke, dancing, games, clothes shopping, etc. She does NOT like overpriced bars with bottle service and other guests judging every one else. Please help??

Okay, your mentions of country music and karaoke lead me to recommend Hill Country as a potential bar stop (you may want to look elsewhere for girly drinks though). They do live country on the weekends. On Wednesdays, they do live band karaoke, which is awesome. But you can also find the same live band karaoke at SoBe in Clarendon on Fridays. For other karaoke and girly drinks, you may want to consider renting a room at Muzette, or you can choose from these. Oh, and here are some great places to go dancing.

Does that hit on at least some of your needs?

I hate to be a stinker about them but Brasserie Beck's "belgian" beer happy hour hasn't been good in a while. Last time I was there only two beers were eligible for happy hour and only one of those was a belgian (their house beer).

Yeah, I realize they've been excluding more of the high-end beers these days, though when I was in a few days ago, there were still four or five Belgians for half-price, including the dark and satisfying Ename Cuvee 974.

I should also point out that the Paradiso bars have all beers (Belgian or otherwise) half-price between 5 and 7 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

I've been living outside with this weather, but assuming it eventually gets cold, what is a good place to have an "indoor picnic" in the city? i.e., somewhere nice to sit where you can bring your own food and simply enjoy company

There is indeed: The Kogod courtyard in the American Art Museum -- indoors, full of natural light and trees, and they actually sell bottles of wine for your little picnic too, which you can't do at say, a public park. You can bring your own food in (I like grabbing a pre-made cheeseboard from Cowgirl Creamery.)

Word to the wise though: if you're looking for serenity, don't go there this Saturday. (See Black History Family Day, above).

Fritz - How do you feel about it? You never seem to mention it when people ask beer related questions.

I like the one in Arlington better than the one in Leesburg. (If I'm out there, I go to Tuskie's or Magnolias.) I think the Court House branch gets a good selection of beers, but the service has been hit or miss, and the beer menus/signs aren't always up to date. I still visit, though, but in Arlington, I wouldn't put it above Rustico Ballston or Galaxy Hut.

I saw your blog entry on places to go for the Super Bowl, and they all seemed oriented towards partisans of either team, or Par-tee! Par-tee! I'm looking for a place that would have an older skewing audience (my friend and I are over 50) that would be just as interested in the ads as the game, and accessible by mass transit. We're looking for DC or Bethesda/Rockville or Silver Spring/Takoma Park. Any suggestions?

Here's a link to a party at The Front Page in DC. It'll likely be a mix of ages, ranging from 30 through 55.  Non- partisan and won't be raucous. Part of the proceeds benefit charity, too.


Considering purchasing tickets, but given the prices for even balcony seats, I was wondering about the odds of getting "focused musician" as opposed to "tardy rantyflake."

A quick spin around a few recent reviews of her shows will tell you you're in for a long night. I'd take a "hope the best, expect the worst" approach if you're gonna take the plunge. I've had a bunch of friends who have been to many of her shows over the years and to a person they say she's late and often unapologetic for said tardiness. If you love her that much maybe it's worth it, but you've been warned...

Just wanted to say thanks for being way better planners than I am!

Ha, well, happy to help!

I live off H and wanted to throw my 2 cents in: we now have bikeshare stations at 3rd, 6th, 11th and 13th (and H). However, if biking isn't your thing, I recommend what I used to do before I lived in the hood: bus to H and cab back. Yes, if you stay out till 3am, you may have a tough time getting cabs, but I always wait with my girlfriends until they get one and lately, it hasn't been bad at all. Also, Lavanya - that hill to Union station isn't that bad. You can also go an alternate route and avoid the hill altogether. I've done that many a lazy day. :)

Great suggestions. Thanks.

Hard ciders

Ohhhh yes. There are some fantastic ciders from the U.S. and Britain available now. I keep getting drawn to the funky, not-sweet-at-all scrumpy at the Queen Vic, or the Samuel Smith's Organic, which is on plenty of beer lists around town. And Crispin Cider, when it's on draft.

As long as it stays legal, Uber is another way get home from H Street (just be careful of their VERY expensive "surge pricing" on holidays)

Good thought as a back-up plan.  Getting the phone number of a cabbie and ringing him up probably would save you a few bucks.

Hi GOGs. Husband and I will be going to the Corcoran on Saturday. I would love a couple of suggestions for where we could have lunch nearby. Thanks!

This is a great reminder that there are few opportunities left to see "30 Americans" (it closes Feb. 12), and this week will mark the opening of civil war photographs, too.   If you're headed that way,  Wasabi, the conveyor-belt sushi joint is just up the street, as is the Oval Room and Equinox --  for more casual eateries, there's also a Roti.  Speaking of Equinox, the cafe at the Corcoran, run by the Equinox folks, is pretty good -- healthy food that comes from the farmers market, and much of it prepared in the Equinox kitchen.

Also be sure to see the Tim Hetherington photo exhibit "Sleeping Soldiers," which also opens Saturday.

Where can a group of about 4 to 6 girls go for birthday drinks after dinner at Graffiato on Saturday?

Buddha Bar (455 Massachusetts Ave) and Muse (717 6th Street) are both good closeby options.

Any good ideas for a place to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday (besides my house) that will definitely not be crowded? I like the idea of me and some friends having a place all to ourselves--particularly if it has beer and nachos.

Check out this option, which likely won't be too crowded.

I'm a long-time resident of the area who has now decided to be a tourist in DC and one of the places I'd like to visit is the Eastern Market. My question is, is now a good time to go? Or should I wait until spring when there are more outdoor vendors?

I love Eastern Market any time of year. When it's chilly out, it's fun to wander inside, to the indoor vendors and stock up on handmade mushroom ravioli, fresh fish and even flowers for the apartment. And there are pretty much always outdoor crafts vendors, even if there aren't too many selling produce outside. As long as winter stays mild (fingers crossed), I would say go ahead and get out there! If you're eating brunch, check out Belga or Ted's Bulletin.

Any news about the upcoming Spacebar? I have been waiting patiently since the fall.

Spacebar has hit its share of construction and permitting delays. Owner Lary Hoffman told me last fall that he was going to stop giving out projected opening dates, but I would hope that we'd see something going this month...

Best Bars to hit on Thursday nights in D.C.- I have some friends in town and I would like to take them to a few "cool" places.. Be it nice drink specials- Good looking Patrons- Good music( non top 40) - or good eats

Cool place: Lincoln at  1110 Vermont if you want newish, cool place with good drinks and interesting patrons. Good barkeep as well.

Also, good drink place in Old Town Alexandria: P/X, a speakeasy:

one word: UBER.

My last Uber experience wasn't that hot. A cab ride that I've taken several times before cost $28 instead of the usual $13-14. And my driver missed a turn and had to go a couple blocks out of the way to correct his error, all while the GPS "meter" kept running.

But the car was comfortable, for sure, and they got there fast instead of me having to stand on the corner with my arm in the air, hoping something came by.

I know people always ask about gluten free foods/restaurants, but I never paid attn because it didn't apply to me. Well, I just found out that it does. So, do you have a best bets or top list of gluten free foods/restaurants? The news blew me away & I'm trying to find things to eat.

We are starting to see a lot of restaurants offer dishes sans gluten  and mark them so they're easy to find. We will definitely consider a list, but for now, there's the Gluten Free Registry, where restaurants can list themselves if they have offerings. That includes places like Carmine's, Casa Oaxaca, Z Pizza, Pizzeria Paradiso, Pete's Apizza, and I recently noticed the high-end Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore also notes its gluten-free dishes.

There are one or two OK gluten free beers. Cider works as an alternative MOST of the time. Not all. Most websites say the distilling gets rid of the gluten problem in vodka etc. . My doctor said try it and see how you feel. If a bar has it I will drink Chopin potato vodka. That is the most common non-grain spirit I can find.

Some first-hand advice...

I'm looking for a venue to host a baby shower and I NEED HELP! I was thinking along the lines of a coffee shop or cute little restaurant in the Alexandria/Arlington area for about 10-15 women on a weekend afternoon? Any suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated! Thank you

Why don't you try giving Northside Social a call? They have an upstairs wine bar, great baked goods and amazing cheese and food that you might be able to pull together for your event. And what about an adorable afternoon tea service? Try checking out our Best afternoon tea list -- British Pantry sounds like it would be perfect.

It's been a while since I've been to the Gibson -- is it still pretty tough for a group of 6-8 people to get in without a reservation around 9:00 or 10:00 on a Saturday?

Yeah, a group that large that shows up at the prime hour of 9 or 10? That's an invitation for getting shut down at the door. Make a reservation. Or try someplace else. That early, it  should be a little easier to get into, say, American Ice, which has been great for bigger groups.

I checked out the recommendation you've given *twice* in this chat, and it's a $40 cover charge! Is there *any* other place offering a quiet evening that you folks can recommend?

Ah, that was a recommendation for an older crowd, and a big cover always has a way of shutting out young'uns. How about Bar Dupont's party? No cover, classy environs, drink specials.

Hi GoGs, I'm organizing a night out for 10-15 women. It will probably be on a Friday or Saturday night from 8ish to 11ish, and we are looking for a place where we can order drinks and talk to one another. We are in our early 30's and are looking for a non-raucous, not-too-crowded spot somewhere in the Dupont to Van Ness corridor. Does such a place exist? With a group that size should we call in advance to give a heads up about our plans? Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

Yeah, it would be a good idea to call any place that you're considering a group that large. You should consider Bar Code (which is one stop outside your range, at Farragut North); and you should also consider Urbana, since it's posh, relatively quiet and you can do cocktails or wine, giving your big group options. Also a thought: Bar Dupont.

I was sold when i havent once been told to get out of the car because they dont go to Arlington. i will pay extra to be treated like what i am... a paying customer! lol but yeah its not cheap.

So I guess Uber is good news for Arlington folk.

Thanks for playing today, guys. Join us next Thursday at 1 p.m. when we're bringing in the intrepid On Love reporter Ellen McCarthy to help us tackle your love, dating and Valentine's questions. Because yes, it's almost that time again. See you then!

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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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