Got Plans? The Going Out Gurus and performer Paige Herndandez discussed nightlife, weekend outings and more.

Mar 29, 2012

Got Plans? The Going Out Gurus discussed fashion, nightlife, weekend outings and more.

Welcome to this week's installment of Got Plans?, in which we'll be tackling all your questions except for those pertaining to what the heck is going on with the weather. (For that, try these guys.) Joining us today is Paige Hernandez, an actress and performer who's everything we like in a guru -- cool, into jazz and hip-hop, and down to tackle dilemmas. Let's get this started, shall we?

My in-laws are in town for the (not) cherry blossoms and Dad has requested crabcakes for dinner tonight. I've done some checking online of menus for places on Barrack's Row, Capitol Hill, and Penn Quarter that I thought might be options but have been surprised at the ones that don't serve them. I'm also running into the problem that he's not an adventurous eater and so won't appreciate inventive "interpretations" of crabcakes. Other than Clyde's, is there any place I might have overlooked? Thank you.

The Maryland native in me wants to say, "Well, it's because crab season isn't here yet." You can't legally start crabbing in the Bay until April 1. So there's that.

In the neighborhoods you're looking at, you can get a great traditional and tasty crabcake at Johnny's Half Shell, right by Union Station.

You can also peruse Food Section's picks for top crabcakes.

My guy and I need a romantic night out and I want to surprise him. I was thinking drinks somewhere cozy and hip maybe Birch and Barley or Churckey, suggestions??? with possibly a patio if it's nice out, dinner at a great place, I was thinking Tabard Inn, 1789, Central, Tabaq, ??, Maybe late night drinks at any of the places or Zentan or Coco Sala, Thoughts? What is your ideal romantic evening for two 27 year olds on a random Friday night who love all food and drinks and just need a great evening together? I really am horrible at this because I don't go out much. PLEASE HELP PLAN A PERFECT EVENING!!

We actually love Pizza Paradiso in Georgetown (M street). There's a bar scene downstairs and a romantic atmosphere upstairs. Great Italian food and lots of beer options. After that we walk the canal...maybe even paddle boating. You can beat that view on the Potomac!

Birch and Barley is also pretty fabulous and the burger at Central...outstanding!

Going to go all forward planning because I have to sell some people on everything... and they're the one visiting me!!! (but thats really a Hax issue). Is there any big kid friendly activities going on not this weekend but the one after? I have my three year old niece in town and somehow have to come up with the perfect weekend... grrr.... I appreciate the help.

I'm a huge advocate for children's theatre in this area. I would take them out to a show! Maybe at the Kennedy Center, Imagination stage or Adventure Theatre. The nice thing about both venues is that they have classes and activities all day long on the weekend. Other than that the weather is perfect for a day on the National mall!

Have any of you attended/heard reviews about the This is a game show event at Artisphere?

I haven't been but it definitley sounds interesting.  It sounds like a great date night! Maybe some other readers/chatters can chime in.

I missed last week's chat live but so glad I read the transcript! I have plans to see the video game exhibit with a few friends next Saturday and then grab dinner and a few good beers afterwards. Any recommendations? We don't mind traveling a bit from the museum, but we'll be taking the Orange line back to VA so don't want to stray too far in the opposite direction. Thanks!

There are a ton of options in the area; you should consider Brasserie Beck, which is a short hike. Fun for groups such as yours (hello, barbecue) is Hill Country; Carmine's will fit the bill for a big really hungry crowd, but don't expect to necessarily drink great craft beers there;  last but not least is the Passenger,  another option for beers and food (which are both great, if you can grab a table or don't mind eating the amazing truffled mac and cheese and pork-cheek nachos standing up). It's a few blocks further from the Orange Line than  BB, but really, it's a few short blocks; I walk it all the time (in crazy heels).

So where do you go for a good jazz show?

Bohemian Caverns: Reasonable admission, great food and nationally acclaimed artists. I also really enjoy the DC Jazz loft who has a show once a month.

There's also the jazz series currently at the Atlas Performing Arts Center.  The Atlas is  nice because you can see a show and then eat at one of several new hip restaurants on H  Street.

My husband and I just back from Ireland, and we already miss hanging out in all of the great pubs. In an effort to recreate some of the experience, where could we go to find good cider on tap in DC or Northern Virginia (bonus points if its of the Irish Bullmers/Magners variety!). Thanks!!

Sadly, most of the cider I've come across in Northern Virginia is Strongbow instead of Magner's. But there are some good pubs with the good stuff on tap, including Ireland's Four Courts in Arlington, Samuel Beckett's in Shirlington and Daniel O'Connell's in Alexandria.

Hi GOG's -- I have family coming in for the Easter weekend, including a four year old and a one year old. I live in Dupont Circle, and was curious if there are any Easter Egg hunts in DC or the area, or any other kid-friendly easter celebrations that weekend or during the week ahead? Thanks!

Adorable. There are a lot of fun ones around, including one that's in the water (!),   one involving flashlights and one at Hillwood in the District,  which is just a gorgeous estate that the adults can enjoy on a nice day, too. Check out the list of Easter egg hunts we've got here.

I don't have a rooting interest in this year's Final Four (Hoya Saxa!), but is there either a good Lousiville or Kentucky bar to go to witness Armageddon?

I was just saying last night that I would love to be at Grevey's for the final four. Owned by Kevin Grevey -- a two-time All-American at Kentucky who went to the 1975 national title game -- it's crazy during March Madness. There's a great vibe on the bar's patio. And, you know, because it's Kentucky, there are Maker's Mark specials.

Louisville alumni meet at McFadden's.

Hey there, I'll be celebrating my 25th birthday next month, and I'm looking for a great place to bring on my quarter-life crisis. I went to Rock & Roll Hotel last year and loved it, but I'm hoping to switch up the location. I want to go somewhere with a 20-something crowd, no dress code, laid-back atmosphere and dancing--but nothing too overcrowded. Something on the red line is preferred, but not required. Any ideas?

U. Street Music Hall (all genres of music), Habana Village (to get your latin dance on) but I really enjoy the dance parties at Black Cat.

DJ Dredd does these outstanding Prince vs Madonna vs Michael Jackson dance parties and I lose my mind!! My husband and I actually made one of their dance parties our engagement party! Good times.

Good day GOG's! Quick question. Got a friend who is in town for the week and I am looking to take him to a good happy hour/cheap bar after work today. What would you recommend? As reference, we are looking to go somewhere in the Capitol Hill/Atlas District because that is where we will be originating at! Thanks!

My column in tomorrow's Weekend section is about Boundary Road at Fifth and H NE. Great scene, and a happy hour that includes $4 beer and wines of the day. (And I bumped into Mark Warner there on a recent visit.) The other solid happy hour on H these days is H Street Country Club: $5 margaritas and $3 beers from 5 to 8.

Closer to the Capitol, Lounge 201 has half-price martinis, wines and beer until 8 tonight.

Hi, my family will be coming to town, and we have all these "interesting" food choices to respect: one meat-eater, one very picky teenager, one person who thinks the view is more important than the food, and lastly one vegan. Any ideas? Farmers and Fishers was almost perfect, Founding Farmers is too noisy (did I tell you that one of the group does not like loud places?!), please help! Thanks so much!

For view, there's one great option, pricey, but that's typical for any kind of view: Sou'wester at the Mandarin Oriental. Nice restaurants are frequently happy to accommodate vegans, if you just give them some notice when making the reservation. I'd also put Ris on the list; since it's in the neighborhood of Founding Farmers, and has some pretty picture windows that let a lot of light in. Blue Duck Tavern is another possibility; their menu is laden with veggie-friendly dishes (but again, I'd call ahead to make a reservation, and let them know there's a vegan diner.)

I know similar questions have been answered in previous chats, but I can't find anything when going through the old chats. What bars around DC have the best selection of bourbons? I am looking to throw a low-key birthday party for a friend (about 4-6 people) who enjoys bourbon, but isn't too into the bar scene. Is there anyplace in DC/NoVa that has a good selection and wouldn't be too crazy/packed on a Saturday?

My favorite bourbon destinations: Jack Rose, Bourbon (Glover Park and Adams Morgan), Old Glory. They're all popular and get crowded on weekends. Jack Rose, with hundreds of bourbons to choose from, could be ideal -- make reservations for a table, then order a bunch of 1- or 2-ounce pours to sample. The staff really knows their stuff, and the owner and the in-house whiskey expert are usually around to share their knowledge.

Coming to the concert Sunday night by Metro to Gallery Place. Suggestions on a good place to grab a bite beforehand? Just 2 of us, early 40's, not looking for loud / bar type place. Thanks!

If you don't want the fine-dining Rasika experience, Hill Country's still tops in the neighborhood for me. Great Texas barbecue. Oyamel's good for inventive Mexican, and the freshly reopened Jaleo is famous for its Spanish tapas.


I'd like to plan a few "uniquely DC" activities with my 8 and 9 y.o. kids next week during their spring break. A friend suggested a segway tour, but unfortunately, the age requirement is 16. Any other suggestions? Thanks!

There is  a lot to do at the Cherry Blossom Festival this coming week. They have many family friendly activities planned including kite flying and orgami lessons.

There are also many bike paths (bike share?) if you want to explore the mouments or the Potomac on bikes instead of segways. Hope this helps!


Hi! My mom is coming to town this weekend. We're set tomorrow with 6pm reservations at Rasika, but then stumped what to do afterward (since it's such an early reservation). She doesn't drink, so going to a bar closeby isn't ideal. Any suggestions? We're probably going to walk around Georgetown on Saturday and Old Town on Sunday. THANKS!

I'm frequently in this boat, because my mom doesn't drink, either. Since you have an early-ish 6 p.m. reservation --and you're awfully close to the Warner, I can't help but think you should book some theater tickets, pronto. Savion Glover is at the Warner (8 p.m. show, and tickets are available.)

There's also Shear Madness (and a host of other shows) at the Kennedy Center. Shear Madness is hilarious and perfect for all ages. You will also be close to Woolly Mammoth and Shakespeare Theatre too.

A walk in Old Town on Sunday also sounds great. There are alots of open air markets and vendors on the weekend.

What's the easiest and/or cheapest way for a group of people to get to and from Merriweather for a show? Rent a party bus? Towncar? Metro/Bus?

You can't Metro to Columbia, and the only buses that serve it from D.C. (that I'm aware of) are the commuter buses that leave Columbia in the morning and come back in the evening. Not very condusive to concert-going.

I tend to look at some of the party bus web sites -- try the Boomerang Bus, to start -- because they frequently run a shuttle service from D.C. or Arlington to Merriweather and back.

Hi lady gurus... have any of you had experience getting a gel manicure in Northern VA? Any suggestions greatly appreciated as I've never had these types of nails done before! Thanks!

Yeah. On one hand, I love a gel mani because they don't chip, look shiny and amazing for days, and your nails grow. Then there's the fallout: You typically have to pay to get the gel removed (anywhere from $5-$10!), because regular nail polish remover will not work on it. Then, once it's off, your nails look like they've been in some epic battle...and lost. They're thin, fragile, and peely.  

Honestly, I'd get a good manicure that uses a high-quality nail polish like OPI, and take good care of your hands -- your manicure is likely to last just as long. Save the gel for when you're headed out on a 10-day beach vacation and don't want to have to look at any chips.

My fiance and I will be Metroing to the National Building Museum tomorrow to pick up my Cherry Blossom race packet and afterward plan to walk to dinner at Kushi. I'm not familiar with the neighborhood. Is it safe? The walk to isn't so much a concern as it'll still be light out, but it's the after I'm worried about. Thanks!

Given all the new development around Mt Vernon Square -- ie Kushi -- that area is fine for walking around.

Hello! I would appreciate a restaurant suggestion for dinner near the GW campus. There will be 10 of us, ranging in age 10 to 50. Many thanks!

District Commons or Burger Tap and Shake are all-ages crowd-pleasers.

Hi Gurus! My 30th is coming up on April 20 and I'd like to plan something with friends that weekend. Maybe 10 people, mid-20s to late 30s. I prefer events/activities over bars and clubs - I was thinking maybe a private cooking class party - any other suggestions? I can always default to nice dinner and drinks but was hoping for something a little different this year.

A private cooking class sounds like a great idea.  I've also gathered a group of friends to take a dance class on special occassions. We've taken hip hop, salsa, belly dancing... pole dancing ;-) Check out Joy of Motion and make an event out of  one of their drop-in classes. Your friends won't forget it!

Math Alive at the Smithsonian

Oooo...good one! This presents Math in a fun and interactive way. Great find!

Thanks for the insight on crabcakes. It's not a dish I'm familiar with, so it's useful to understand why some restaurants treat it as seasonal.

Some places do care about seasonal/local crabs. Some don't mind and use crabs from Venezuela and Mexico year-round. That Food story I linked to earlier mentions where the crustaceans are from, in most cases.

Do you know if this is a kid (under 12) friendly event? It starts at 7 so I am hoping we could bring the kids for early part of the event.

Bhangra Blowout is a lot of fun, and I love the idea of exposing them to culture, but it really attracts a college-age crowd (though some parents do attend), and it's loud and there's some drinking. If the kid is closer to 12, they might have a good time; any younger, I'd probably stay away. There are other things happening that week -- the video game exhibition at American Art, Green Springs Gardens' cherry blossom event, the kite festival this weekend and there's the Kennedy Center's awesome street festival coming up in May too.

I'm curious to know what's on the GOGs agenda for this weekend? I am just looking to have some fun for a (finally) free weekend, and thought I might be able to steal some of your plans!

My husband Kris Funn (jazz bassist) will be playing at the Bohemian Caverns Friday and Saturday night with the Tim Green quartet.

I'm heading to Baltimore to catch two shows: Brothers Size at Everyman and Blood Bound and Tounge Tied (BBTT) at the Strand Theatre. BBTT is written by DC's own Jacqueline Lawton!

On Sunday, I'll be attending Monologue Madness at the Writer's center in Bethesda. Think March Madness with actors. Head to head  actor competition using brackets, audience and panelist input. Should be a lot of fun!

I've had the same experience as Lavanya with gel manicures and only get them when I'm going to be gone for a while and don't want to deal with chips. If you are going to get one - I always get mine from Pleasant Nails in Falls Church. They have a lot of color and brand options and all of the techs are really good.

Thanks for the feedback!

Thank you for your response! I was considering them for my wedding in Mexico in a couple of weeks... I guess that counts as a beach vacation. Probably worth the nail damage then?

Yes, totally. I rocked gels in India for three weeks - they served two purposes, kept my hands looking nice while the rest of me was looking a little "Survivor," and kept them from breaking while I was lugging suitcases around and traveling.

Unless your kids are HUGE math fans, the last thing I wanted to see during spring break was anything that looked even a little bit like school.

Haha, good point.

I am trying to plan a bach party in mid april and I need help. I don't live in DC, but the majority of the girls that I am planning for do. However, apparently none of them are helpful at giving me good places to take the bride. The majority of us are in our late 20's. We are having dinner at Founding Farmers (the bride would prefer oya, but half of the girls refuse to pay the fixed menu price...i hate planning parties), but we aren't eating till 8:45 bc there are 14 of us, and they wouldn't seat us earlier than that. Where can we go afterward that will be fun, but relaxed (not crammed with young college age kids wanting to grind up on each other)...maybe a lounge feel, with some dancing. We are OK with bottle service. (also since dinner is so late...we are worried about getting in somewhere without bottle service, bc lines might be long by 10:30, 11pm). Thank you in advance!

So everyone here has read this question, and there are warning signs all over the place. Big, blinking, neon-lit signs that spell trouble, from the restaurant choice to the maids of dishonor who don't want to help the bride have a night to remember.

But we're here to help. Fourteen people anywhere is a stretch without bottle service or reservations. You don't say what night this is, but how about trying Lost Society at 14th and U? Ask for a table on the patio. The DJs are solid -- good mix of house, disco, familiar songs remixed -- and it's not quite a mob scene. There's the advantage of being on 14th if you decide you want to head to El Centro/Policy/Marvin afterwards.

Eighteenth Street Lounge will also do reservations for groups of 6 to 20 -- there's a minimum of a few hundred dollars, but it's worth it for seats and a place to stash your coats/purses/etc.

I recently moved to Del Ray and am wondering what you think some of the best bars to go out in those areas are? I prefer music/dancing but don't know if there are any options like that in the area. Thanks!

Evening Star Cafe is the best bar in Del Ray, period. They have music on Wednesdays nights in the upstairs No. 9 Lounge, frequently of the singer-songwriter variety. But the cozy little back bar is a neighborhood gem -- one of Alexandria's best.

Any good places for a KU fan to check out the game saturday night that are metro accessible? My husband is a rabid fan and would love to be surrounding by other Jayhawks.

Grevey's, which I mentioned earlier, is the best Kentucky bar around, but it isn't quite Metro accessible -- it's about a mile from Dunn Loring station, so he'd need to get a bus or cab.

In D.C. proper, the UK alumni group has organized a gamewatch party at the Touchdown sports bar on U Street.

Hi, any recommendations on a restaurant with a spectacular view? POV is superb and a favorite, any other ideas? We're looking for the perfect place for graduation celebration - thanks for your help!

We posted this already today, but Sou'Wester should fit the bill.

I want to get out of town next weekend but am drawing a blank on where I want to go. I want to go somewhere within 3 hours away. Any ideas?

How about Philly?! The food is great: Continental on Market Street is fun (it has cheesesteak eggrolls I hear are to die for, and i'm kind of obsessed with the stack of french fries with Chinese mustard); Standard Tap is another must for dining. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has a major Van Gogh show right now, and there's just a ton of history and pretty views of the water, walking distance from Market Street. Easily a day trip.

I'd head south -- Richmond is a fun city with good museums, restaurants and vintage shopping. (Garden and Gun magazine had a really nice spread on the city a few months back.)

I also like to head down to the Shenendoah Valley -- Staunton and Charlottesville are great small towns with lots to do, both indoors and out, and you can plan daytrips based around the awesome breweries and wineries in the area.

Poster was looking for Kansas fans, not Kentucky.

Whoa -- really sorry about that. We've got a lot of Kentucky-centric questions in the queue and I just read too quickly/reversed letters. My apologies.

The Jayhawks usually pack the Bottom Line, which is steps from the Farragut West Metro station.

Where are some good places close to DC where you can pack a hearty picnic with wine and sit outside all day?

I wrote this post last SUMMER about where/how to  picnic in D.C. , and if you skip down to point No. 4, you'll see that booze is going to be the sticking point. Public parks -- including the Mall -- don't allow it. There's ONE loophole at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden: If you pack that hearty picnic, you can buy wine from the pavilion cafe and consume it in the garden. Done.

What are the odds? You guys literally listed the only place I've been...I agree that it's great...but are there other options too?

The only other place I know of that has booze and live music in Del Ray is Fireflies, where you can catch Big Hillbilly Bluegrass at Sunday brunch and catch singer/songwriters at 8 p.m. on Thursdays and 9 on Friday and Saturday.

Happy hour isn't bad -- $2 off all beers and cocktails 'til 6:30 p.m. -- but I haven't been to a show there, honestly.

They're in the Midwest somewhere?

Kentucky makes great bourbon. Kansas ... well, there's the great Tallgrass brewery in Manhattan. Had their lovely unfiltered wheat beer at Galaxy Hut last night on my whirlwind tour of Clarendon.

Philly's a great idea! Any music venue suggestions?

I personally like Johnny Brenda's, and I'm not just saying that because my boo's brother works there :) It's kind of the closest thing to the Black Cat, and the crowd is just always cool, and warm. For some good old rock and roll dance parties, the Barbary. The Trocadero is kind of their equivalent of the 9:30 club, and so cool because it's such an old-style theater.

Thanks for everyone for joining us today, especially special guest Paige Hernandez. We'll be back here at 1 p.m. next Thursday with Dan Silverman, the Prince of Petworth. Until then, get out and enjoy the sunshine.

Lawrence - HOME OF THE JAYHAWKS - is also home to Free State Brewing Company, which makes some pretty awesome beer, too!

Strangely enough, I've had Free State beers -- they were at the Savor beer festival a few years ago. But I don't think they distribute outside Kansas, do they?

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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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