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

Apr 26, 2012

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

Welcome chatters! In case you missed it, last week the Weekend section did a cover story on area gardens. The weather might be dreary, but you can take comfort in our lovely gallery.


We also have a giveaway today. Tell us your favorite memory that occurred in a garden. We will pick our favorite and send the winner a copy of "Capital Splendor: Gardens and Parks of Washington, DC."


Let's begin!

With Thursday Night being a monumental moment in Redskins history, are there any area bars offering a viewing party or any specials (think MGD for 3)? I know there is a viewing at FedEx, but something for those of us that don't want to make that trek. Thanks gurus!

I made a list of Redskins-centric draft parties for the Going Out Guide earlier this week. At this point, I think most of the buzz is centered around three: ESPN 980 is broadcasting live from Union Pub with beer specials and Redskins cheerleaders; Ivan Carter is hosting a Q&A and viewing party with food and drink specials at BlackFinn in Bethesda, and there's a Hogs Haven/Ball Hogs Radio party at Rocket Bar that gives you all-night drink specials when you donate $5 to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Details on all three of those are in the link at the top.

Hey G.O. come you don't have any Forward Festival events listed on your daily planner?

Ah, but you missed it; Fritz and co. highlighted the festival early this week as one of the best-of-the-best Nightlife Agenda events. I didn't go last year, but I always have fun at FF; the outdoor party set for Sunday is one my favorites, though -- electronic music and chilled-out, creative people in  a park, in the daylight? Yes, please. (Now let's just hope the weather cooperates.)

HI GOGs! Any ideas on the timing for the main acts for Saturday's Sweetlife Festival? Thanks!

David covered all the essentials in a Sweetlife blog post this morning, and even threw in a recommended Spotify playlist. Bottom line: Get there early if you want "We Are Young" stuck in your head all day.

Because the forecast isn't looking so great this weekend, do you have any recommendations for activities indoors for women in their 30s? Can travel to VA or MD if needed.

Sure! How about Maryland Day at UMD? The event is best when it is sunny, but there are a number of indoor events that sound fun. The Playhouse Puppetry Slam is also sounds like a fun, adults-only evening.

I have friends visiting next weekend and i thought we would check out the Designer Showhouse on Sunday. Although nowhere near the place, I was thinking of brunch at either Meridian Pint or Birch and Barley beforehand. Do you have a preference for one over the other? It looks like Birch and Barley website doesn't have much information.

Brunch at Birch and Barley/ChurchKey would be my pick -- the fried chicken and waffles is out of this world, and I hear good things about the amish omelets with homemade hash browns.

I have an art-major friend coming to visit next week and need to plan some museums and galleries for the itinerary. She has done the major permanent collections on her last trip, so what are the current must-see exhibits that I could take her to?

For starters, I would pick a night when the weather looks promising, pack a picnic and take in Song 1, the video isntallation that's projected onto the exterior of the Hirshhorn every night from 8 to midnight. While you're there, you can also check out the creepy zodiac sculptures by Ai Weiwei. Inside the museum, Suprasensorial is also worth a look. Other must-sees: Next at the Corcoran (which is free!), the candid photos of I Spy at National Gallery and, my personal favorite, Hokusai prints of Mount Fuji at the Sackler. If she's going to be here on Thursday, hit up the Textile Museum's after-hours party, PM @ the TM. The galleries will be open so she can get her art fix, but there will also be food from Kushi and an al fresco movie screening.

Michael O'Sullivan adds:

This weekend is the last chance to see the 25 public art installations associated with the 5x5 Project, a citywide public art initiative featuring primarily outdoor works by five contemporary artists chosen by each of five curators. There will be a bus tour of selected sites on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. It starts and ends at Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth Street, SW. Interested participants should RSVP to

Tom's away, so I'm asking you guys. In a city awash with pizza, where can I find the good old fashioned pizza of my youth? Not Neapolitan (authentic or otherwise), not New York or New Haven, not Chicago deep dish, not California, not gourmet. Just a yeasty, puffy crust, with traditional ingredients (pepperoni, etc.), where it's really all about the sauce, and the cheese is mozzarella (shredded, not buffalo). Preferably a mom-and-pop, and if they serve hoagies too, all the better. Interested in either

Our suggestions: Faccia Luna in Clarendon and Alexandria just make good pizza. Not fancy, not trendy. Just good. I'd put Mellow Mushroom in the same category, because the crust is just fantastic and the pies are loaded with toppings.

(We thought about saying Matchbox, too, but the crust isn't exactly what you're looking for.)

For me, though, childhood pizza was Ledo. Still love it for that reason.


Shaking my head, wondering how that was left off our list. No, scratch that. I'm hanging my head in shame. Got pizza there so many times when I lived in Woodley Park. (Lavanya says it's too New York, FWIW.)

I'm kidding, I'm not a ninja, but I am headed back to DC for a wedding this weekend and I have all day on Saturday in the city to myself!! Been a few years since I've stealthfully maneuvered around the city, and I'm curious if there are any new/cool exhibits, galleries or fun events going on in the District on Saturday (4/28)? Thank you!

Welcome back! First give Steph's post above on must-see exhibits a read. She has that area covered. Also, two weeks ago we wrote about the growth around Nats Park, there isn't a game this weekend, but there is still plenty of new things to check out.

My mom will be in town this weekend and I'm trying to brainstorm some restaurants. She's a fun lady who likes big salads and wine. Red Rocks in Columbia Heights and Houston's in Bethesda have worked well in the past...trying to stick to the District, and no Virginia, please. Any ideas? Thanks!

The best option -- Lincoln. They do a popular kale salad (and lots of other vegetable dishes), and they have ambience your mom will like.  Some of the other  good big salads I can think of are at Matchbox (where wine wouldn't be out place), and -- please do not dog me for this, chatters -- Lauriol Plaza/Cactus Cantina has some decent big salads, too (I like the Sunshine).

Hello! I am always impressed with people who can whip out a recommendation on the spot. How do you folks keep track of everything? Excel spreadsheets? I've started keeping a little list of places I like or want to try on my phone sorted by neighborhood. Any tips?

You should use the Go Out Lists on the Going Out Guide to keep track of everything. You can make different lists -- restaurants to try, exhibits to see, gardens to visit, etc. -- and then add different events and locations to each list.

One of us is leaving to go be a mommy and the other is moving across the country. We need a suitable work happy hour near K and 16th that has decent virgin drinks and is cheap enough for the nonprofit crowd but classy enough that we aren't sitting on chewed gum. Any ideas? Thanks!!!!

Have you considered Barcode? Half-price drinks from 3 to 7 every weekday -- that's beer, wine and mixed drinks -- and while I don't know about Virgin drinks there, it should check off every other box on your list. There's not a lot to recommend around here (16th and K) in terms of special virgin cocktails, unless you're talking about Quill, and it's not that cheap.

I got married in a garden;it ended up raining all day, but stopped about an hour before the ceremony, it was beautiful! And no added expense on ceremony decorations because the garden was already perfect!

Thanks for sharing! (Bonus points if you got married at a local, public garden)

Two of my siblings and I would like to meet up on Saturday morning to take our Dad out to brunch for his birthday. We need to meet somewhere half-way between Woodbridge, Wheaton, and Frederick (usually we meet in Tyson's but that's getting old...) Also, there are four tweens and one baby in the family, so nothing too fancy... any ideas? Any cuisine works, but ideally we'd like to meet/eat at 10:30am.

Mosaic in Rockville sounds like a good fit. Not overly fancy, but definitly a step up from IHOP.

Hi there! Headed to Bibiana (1100 NY Ave NW) this weekend for an anniversary dinner. Can you suggest a nice place to grab a drink before or after dinner. Looking for somewhere nearby (walkable) with good cocktails where we won't have trouble securing a seat or hearing ourselves talk. Thanks!

If you hadn't said you were going to be at Bibiana, I would have told you to go to Bibiana -- love the intimate bar there. You might stroll over to Le Bar at the Sofitel -- great little art deco-styled bar with decent drinks, and it's rarely too loud outside of happy hour.

Hi! My husband proposed to me in an amazing garden at Mansion and then we were married at a manor's garden on Oct. 30, 2011 where the earliest snow storm left a beautiful green and lush flowers for our day so gardens have a special place in my heart and memories

Thank you for sharing! I am happy to hear that the fall snowstorm didn't ruin your wedding.

Studying for final exams beside the water lily pond at the Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham, NC. Made a tense time almost relaxing.

Mary's Garden at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception has the same draw for Catholic University students.

I know you've answered this in the past, but I couldn't seem to find it in archives. What are your favorite thrift/secondhand stores for clothing and accessories?

Ahhhh, it took some digging, but I remembered that the admirable Holly Thomas helped write this way back in the day: A story about combing the area's thrift shops in search of designer goods. I like Georgia Avenue Thrift Store for real thrift, and the Value Village in Prince George's County; both take a little digging, but if you wanted to grab a cool blazer or trendy midi-length skirt, that's exactly where I'd go.  I also don't mind paying a bit more  for a really nice, distinctive piece at a vintage store such as Meeps, or Dr. K's Vintage, or one of the Butler & Claypool pop-ups (where I scored mightily last time I went). Mustard Seed in Bethesda has contemporary clothes (nothing heirloom), but the prices are really gentle if you're just looking for a pair of good skinny jeans or, honestly, a designer pair of going-out shoes (they're priced so low, they're one of the best things about the shop). 

When I was an undergrad at GW, Constitution Gardens was fairly new. Walking through there late at night was a wonderful, relaxing thing to do.

That does sound nice. Constitution Gardens are so easily overlooked that I could see how they would be a nice place for an undisturbed evening stroll.

I am new to the dating scene here. Are there any bars within DC city limits that are good for first dates? IE, they are actually quiet bars, not loud thumping noise or 50 television screens. Same goes for restaurants? Thanks Gurus!

The bars that I enjoy most for being quiet, where I can think with a cocktail in hand or meet a friend for an un-raucous evening, also tend to be expensive hotel bars: Quill at the Jefferson, Off the Record at the Hay-Adams, Le Bar at the Sofitel (mentioned up-chat), the Occidental at the Willard. And that's why I don't go to them very often. They just, by nature, attract a more mature crowd that that's not into loud TVs and screaming over a couple rounds of PBRs. The exceptions are probably Room 11, Martin's Tavern (as long as you don't go on a Friday), maybe Sonoma?

I did make this list of the best bars without televisions, but even some of them on there -- the Passenger, the Black Cat's Red Room -- are going to be loud.

Thanks for the tip! Are the lists accessible from my phone when we're on the go? Maybe thru the GOG app?

You can save events/locations on the app -- we call them "Favorites" on the app -- but it's a completely separate list from the Go Out List on our site. A pain, I know.

I heard that it is no longer open 24 hours which makes sense given this isn't NYC. I love DC but it's definitely not a 24/7 town. Any idea as to how The Hamiltion is doing otherwise. How the food is etc? I've been for a happy hour and just remember the beers were fairly pricey with no HH deal. Is it worth it to stop by for a bite?

The concerts there are going over gangbusters, and the new Sunday gospel brunch has been getting pretty good reviews, too. I've been at happy hour, and it's always crowded, but it seems to have a decent dinner crowd, especially if you can get a seat at the bar in the back and go for sushi.

Hi Gurus. Do you still include fashion advice on this chat? I need some help. I'm attending my first Jewish wedding next month, and the dress is "formal but not black-tie." It's a 4 pm wedding outside, with the reception inside. The bride said that a "cocktail dress" is fine, but there are so many variations on those. Any suggestions for length, fabric, color, sleeves vs. sleeveless? Not looking to spend a fortune. Thanks!

 I just checked with Alex, who is Jewish, on this one (chatters, please feel free to pipe in too): There should be no major difference in the way you would dress. Since the wedding is at 4 p.m., I think a springy, even floral dress with some cocktail details (as in cut) could be the way to go.  Prints are big for summer, as are bright colors, so I'm going to lead you in that direction.  I really like Zara for this -- the lengths are a little longer because the clothes are targeted at working women (not 21-year-olds); going a little more conservative than usual might not be a bad idea because 1. it's a wedding and 2. you're not sure about what a Jewish wedding might require.  I'm thinking something along the lines of this pink peplum dress (peplums, very hot); this dress is also really cute and wedding-appropriate -- both are under $100.  Add a bright clutch and some heels and you're good to go. If you want to go even more tame, just to be safe, a bright shift just speaks for itself, and you'll be able to accessorize it with a great bib necklace (maybe something like this?),  not to mention wear it again and again -- even throw a blazer over it come cooler days.

I know this is a tough request because the options are limited, but can you think of any fun/interesting restaurant in the Rockville/Bethesda area for some 30somethings to catch up over dinner? There are so many chains or things too stuffy - would love something a little more casual but cool.

Spice Xing is a nice laid-back spot with yummy Indian food. Yetka supermarket and kabobi specializes in authentic Persian delicacies and might also work. And don't be deterred by the word "supermarket," the restaurant attached to it is upscale.

I know you said "Rockville Bethesda," the header says MoCo -- can I suggest a trio in Silver Spring that would all work? 8407 Kitchen Bar, Jackie's Sidebar or maybe the Adega wine bar?


Round Table pizza from California (it appears to be a chain all over the west coast only). Best "regular" pizza - good sauce, cheese, and pepperoni. I like Neapolitan pizzas with buffalo mozzarella and other fancy ingredients, but when I just want a good regular pizza, there is nothing out here to compare to Round Table. *sigh*

This reminds me of Shakey's somehow. Anyone here remember good old Shakey's -- I think the only good thing was the potatoes, right?

There are a lot of great gardens in the area. But I def think my fav has to be the jazz evenings at the sculpture garden. Great music, awesome place to just go and chill with some friends, really one of the highlights of the summer season. A close second though is the winter display at the botanic gardens, just love going every year.

I knew someone would mention Jazz in the Garden! It is just too cool not to mention. As for the botanic garden, the winter display is pretty grand, but it has special exhibits throughout the year that are worth visiting. In fact, "Orchid Mystique" an exhibit of (you guessed it) orchids, closes Sunday.

Going to see the Punch Brothers at the 9:30 club on Friday. Any good recs for somewhere close by to get dinner and drinks with friends before hand? Preferably not pricey? And we'd be happy to hit up dinner first and then go to a nearby bar....

A couple of options: I like the grilled cheese, steak and cheese and burgers at the Saloon on U Street. Duffy's has great burgers, wings and other barfood staples, and it's right across the street.

You can hit happy hour at Blackbyrd at 14th and U and get a half-dozen oysters and a beer for $12, or just a lobster roll. And I really like the Caribbean food at the Islander, but service. can. be. so. slow., which isn't so great when you've got a show to catch.

Not sure if this counts, but at my previous house, I planted a twilight garden. This is a garden with all white flowering plants and the blooms just glow at twilight. I loved sitting out there amid all the white roses.

I think it most certainly counts. Twilight gardens are so practical for those of us who work during the day and really only get to enjoy gardens in the evening.

Other ideas: Matchbox, Mosaic Cuisine (had a seriously good Boeuf Bourguignon there last spring!), La Limena (although it takes no reservations I believe), Cava Mezze.

Thanks for the suggestions. Matchbox fits the cool/relaxed requirement and Mosaic (as I suggested for the family brunch) is a great spot. I have heard good things about La Limena as well.

Great Urban race 2ish years ago. I had recently gone to a chocolate tasting at the now Cocova and saw a cocoa pod. I had taken my sister to see the blooming tree at the Arboretum as something to do on a rainy day. Then, a good friend and I teamed up for the Great Urban Race and the first clue referenced the cocoa tree at the Arboretum but you had to riddle it out. Rumor has it a few teams went to the Botanical Gardens. We made a beeline for the Arboretum and I knew where the tree was. The guard said we were the third team in but the first team out! We had a blast exploring dc from rose colored glasses that day!

Brilliant. And yes, the Arboretum has a bunch of gardens so I certainly count it.

Not local, but for those who are Chicago-bound, check out the English Walled Garden at the Chicago Botanical Gardens. It's lovely and serene.

Thank you, I am going to add this to my bucket list of gardens to visit. I crossed off Longwood in January!

So, Fritz, been here yet? Any thoughts?

It's a very cool bar. Looks fantastic: Dimly lit, lots of interesting nooks for people watching (or, a friend suggested, making out). The back (second story) porch is a killer hangout spot.

And yet. I feel like they're still settling in. The price point ($7 beers, $12 cocktails) is high for the neighborhood. I haven't eaten there yet -- I need to before a review runs -- but everything I hear is mixed.

The one thing I'm interested in -- they say they're not going to be a DJ-focused joint, and want to be more of a restaurant. We shall see, because I can totally see it becoming Marvin North.

My wife and I enjoy going to the gardens around the Cathedral. One of our favorite times was when we picked up a pizza from Vace and sat on a blanket in the amphitheater below the Bishops garden and relaxed as the sun went down.

That sounds lovely and so very sweet. If anyone else is looking for a date night, this sounds as close to perfect as it gets.

Heads up, Joel Olsteen is bringing his wandering ministry to Nats Park on Saturday. Not sure if that's your scene, or if Nats will be offering tours of the stadium on the 28th.

Oh my, good call. I had forgotten that, thank you for reminding me.

It showed the suntrap requirements of midaeval horticulture--it's on the south facing side of a hill, with higher walls at the back. It also fed the castle at a time when transporting food was time consuming. So, now I notice how the Bishop's Garden at the Cathedral is a suntrap and how so many gardens flourish with human help in creating microclimates.

Add another garden to my bucket list. This sounds absolutely amazing.

I heard a rumor that the Chinatown Jaleo doesn't do happy hour anymore. Can you confirm or deny? Thanks!

You are right; the Seventh Street location of Jaleo no longer does its popular 'Jaleo Hour,' -- i'm trying to track down the reason for this, but haven't been able to get the spokespeople on the phone yet. Sit tight; I'm curious about this one too. 

A couple places I've had good luck at when I need a place to chat are Ceiba, Tosca, Poste, and sometimes Acadiana (can be hit or miss). None of them scream date spot, but they do offer a chance to talk (and good drinks!)

Great suggestions, thank you. I meant to add some good quiet first date-appropriate restaurants, but it seems you've taken care of that, too. There are some first-date ideas in this gallery of Washington's most romantic places, too (like Room 11) -- but I'm posting it also because the chatter is new to D.C., and if all goes well, maybe there will be second, third and fourth dates to think about soon, too.

We're out of time, but can you e-mail me at I'm happy to help, but we're not going to get to it on the chat today.


My mom's always been really into gardening, so some of my favorite memories are of spending hours out in the yard with her planting things. When I was in elementary school, I loved giving visitors tours of the garden and could name almost every plant. I certainly can't now, but it's a great memory! It also meant we visited gardens almost everywhere we went - some of the most impressive were the ones at the Summer Palace in Beijing and the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto.

I'm the daughter of a horticulturist so I understand this completely and it brings back memories of my childhood. Thank you for sharing.

Thanks Fritz. I live a block away. I want to go. But I HATE all their other places (too loud, food too uneven, drinks far too pricey.) So should I check it out?

If you live a block away, you should go to meet your new neighbors. It's a little more mellow than some of the other places, since it's not on the 14th and U nightlife vortex.

I was so excited to see it after the recent remodel, but they also remodeled some of the food, including the previously perfect garlic shrimp. Why Jose? Why???

Just in case he's sitting around reading, plea noted.

Thanks everyone for another great chat. We decided to pick the husband and wife picnic at the Bishop's Garden to win the book. Hopefully they will find inspiration for their next date.


And to the gentleman who sent us the memory, if you email with your address, I'll put the book in the mail.


Thanks everyone. See you guys next Thursday!

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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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