Got Plans? The Going Out Gurus and Prince of Petworth blogger Dan Silverman discussed nightlife, weekend outings and more.

Apr 05, 2012

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

Welcome chatters, to this week's Got Plans? Today, we've got Dan Silverman, the fella behind Prince of Petworth, joining us to take your questions. And the big news of the day are the Howard Theatre re-opening, and Nationals happy hours.  Shall we get started?

Question for Dan - I'm thinking about starting a blog. What tips would you recommend? It seems like your success comes from having a large umbrella under which you can post about several topics (rather than the too-broad "random musings" or the potentially myopic "hyper-focus") - is that accurate? How do you spread the word to get more readers? Do you recommend owning your own domain or starting on, say, Blogspot and going from there? I read PoP every day - keep up the great work!

Thanks very much.  The number one piece of advice I can give is to do something that you are passionate about.  People place artificial thresholds on what makes their blog a success.  You just gotta go for it.  If you do something that is not already being covered even better!  I started with blogspot then moved to wordpress.  Good luck!


I'm moving from DC and want to throw a big, blow out party. I'm thinking 90s prom with a DJ and drinks. Do you know of anywhere in the region that I could rent a room or gym that allows booze, for under 2k on a Saturday night? My crowd is grown up and won't be trashing the place.

I've seen parties like this in the upstairs "Library Room" at Darlington House in Dupont Circle. I think it's a case where you and your guests need to promise to spend $3000 or so on drinks over the course of the night. It's pretty well set up, with room to dance, a bar, etc.

Another place that comes to mind -- and definitely won't break the bank -- is the downstairs at the Laughing Man Tavern in Metro Center. They have a small minimum per person guarantee, maybe $10 to $20, that needs to be spent on food or drink, but that's it.

Hi Gurus and Dan. I'm turning 30 soon and I'm looking for a way to celebrate by getting outdoors. But I'm not just talking about going for a hike or a weekend away. I'm looking for a club or a group that I can go out with all summer long - a hiking club, a cycling group, something like that. The more local the better! The only catch is that I don't have a car. Any advice or suggestions appreciated.

You should check out the Capital Hiking Club and for bike rides you should check out Bicyclespace that just moved to 7th st, nw next to the Passenger, I know they have regular rides as well that folks love.

Last year, I went to the Kennedy Center on a Friday afternoon, not for a performance, but just to check out the building and see the rooftop. When I exited the elevator at the rooftop, there was a cash bar set up, but no event going on. It was great to be able to buy a drink and explore the rooftop without having to go to the actual restaurant. Do you know if the cash bar is something that's always there? or was this just a fluke? Thanks!

I love this idea -- I  don't know if it's a regular thing, but it sounds really cool. Maybe it was open early for Millennium Stage.  Anyone know if this is a regular thing at the Kennedy Center?

Family is coming to town, for a total party of 7. I didn't expect it to be so hard to find a reservation around 6:30 for that many. Would prefer nothing too expensive. Will be meeting near Foggy Bottom metro (and probably parking cars there), and would like to end evening seeing the outdoor video at the Hirshhorn. Would LOVE any suggestions. Thank you!

District Commons which recently opened on Washington Circle has been getting great reviews.  If you head over to Chinatown you can also try Carmine's or Hill Country BBQ both on 7th St. Bonus is you'll be able to walk off dinner on your way to the Hirshhorn.

Hi there! I am hoping Holly or one of the other ladies can help me out here- my mom is visiting this weekend and wants to go shopping in "the big city" for a mother-of-the-bride dress for my sister's wedding next fall. She claims to want to go to independent, boutique-type places (although I know her budget is probably more like Macy's). Any ideas for where to take her? DC or MD locations preferred. Thanks!

How does your mom feel about consignment? If you don't mind a little hunting, places such as Secondi, Ella Rue, Annie Creamcheese and Encore Resale Dress Shop are great for finding unique, designer dresses at seriously wallet-friendly prices. And they offer that kind of boutique-y feel your mom is looking for.

What the hell happened with tickets this year? I've gone the last four years but got utterly shut out today as did everyone else I usually go with. And they added a night so there should be more available. Clearly, we need more classy beer festivals around here.

Savor is getting more and more and more popular. I remember last year (also a two-night affair) went in like 10 minutes. I also wonder if more people are joining the Homebrewers' Association or other groups that get to buy tickets a day early.

Another reason it could be harder to get tix: The beer scene gets better and better every year, and more people are getting exposed to micros and small producers. That means more people will be clamouring for Savor's available spots.

In your neighborhood, what would your ideal bar crawl look like?

Now we're talking.  I'd start at the Hitching Post near the Old Soldier's Home, walk west on Upshur to Domku, then to Island Cafe (if it has reopened...) down Georgia Ave to Sweet Mango and while crossing borders I'd hit Looking Glass Lounge, Blue Banana and cap it off at the recently opened DC Reynolds.  At which point I might say I love you to whomever I'm drinking with.

I have family visiting me in the middle of May. A group of 3 girls ages 22-24. They are here for a week and are looking to party. They like to dance, drink & mingle. Can you recommend some good, loud happy hours, bars & clubs in the DMV area? Any place that is unique to our area? We have cars, so we are not restricted to metro. Thanks!

Without knowing exactly what they're into, some of the happy hours that we like best include the one at BarcodeCurrent in Dupont, Hamilton, Vinoteca.  But in case, here's the whole list.  As for dancing and getting out at night, sounds like these ladies are due for a trip to 14th Street. I'd send them to Policy first, then perhaps the upstairs bar at Pearl Dive, and if they really want to dance, U Street Music Hall at the very end of the night, when it really gets crazy. Or better, how about the debaucherous salsa nights Fritz just wrote about at El Centro D.F. -- Thursday nights from 11 to midnight, drinks are free. I'd call that  a happy hour.

Dan, I realize that you aren't a journalist, but don't you think it's lazy to print rumors that could easily be proven/disproven with a couple minutes effort online? I find a number of your posts unnecessarily inflammatory because you print unconfirmed rumors.

Why thank you, I have been going to the gym recently.

To follow up from last week - Fritz, it's true that Free State Brewing Company has a limited distribution area (i.e. mostly Kansas and a little bit in Missouri), but I wasn't going to let you talk up Kentucky and Manhattan, KS (ugh two Wildcat teams) without mentioning Lawrence. Hopefully Free State will eventually expand their distribution area!

Word. If Tallgrass can find a market at Galaxy Hut, of all places, then Free State would be welcomed in D.C./Virginia/Maryland.

Hi Guru's! Might you know of a good place to go for drinks in Arlington on a 2nd date? The thing is, I am 34, and she is 22, so preferably a place that doesn't skew too old or young, and is in the Courthouse/Clarendon/Ballston area. Of course if there is a particular place in DC you have in mind - I'm all ears. Music wise - anything electronic/house would be great . Thank you!

I'd say the recently made-over bar at Eventide is a good middle ground -- cocktails and wine at happy hour, small plates, but not as crazy as Clarendon Ballroom. You might also try Screwtop. Wine bars are good for dates, and the customer base there is all over the place, age-wise.

Daily reader of POP too. Dan provides a great forum for DC to ask questions, share information, etc. The blog was one of the reasons we moved to Petworth a while back. Speaking of which, when is Chez Billy's going to open? We're really excited about all of the growth in the GA corridor.

Thanks very much.  I'm also really excited about Chez Billy.  You can peek in the window and see how great the space is looking.  If I were betting man, I'd say they'll be open by April 12th!

Gurus! I'm fortunate enough to have the day off tomorrow but all of my friends will be at work. If you had a free day tomorrow, what would you do? I live in Clarendon but don't mind driving or metro-ing. Thanks!

Normally I'd say take advantage of the museums which would be less crowded than on the weekends but we've got spring break this week.  And since the weather has been beautiful I'd try to do something outside.  Golf at Haines Point.  Or just a stroll around Haines Point.  I hear the flowers are blooming at the Fransiscan Monestary in Brookland.  A trip out to the Arboreteum is always fun too.

Hello Gurus, I'm about to throw in the towel, and you're my last hope. My bf and I have Fri-Sun off, and all of our plans for a sweet 3 day weekend have fallen through. We were initially thinking of staying somewhere in the Shenandoah area, and going hiking/wine tasting/bbqing/canoeing/swimming(???), but can't find anywhere to stay this late in the game that isn't super pricey. We're open to going anywhere within a 3 hour drive from the DC area, and receptive to all kinds of experiences (just not so much dinero). THANK YOU SO MUCH, love you guys!

Hmm, let's see. This might be a little pricey, but there's this lovely little Shenandoah wine tasting deal on Living Social right now. Otherwise, I might try, which has all kinds of accomodations, including rented apartments and small bed and breakfasts, for relatively inexpensive. If that doesn't work, I've had some luck with Hotwire. Sometimes great rooms come available on there late in the game because they haven't been booked yet through the hotel. Good luck!!

hey gurus! fashion question: (since dc's weather changes minute to minute) any stocking/tights ideas for days when it's too cool in the a.m. for bare legs, but warmer in the afternoon? is it a fashion faux pas to wear black stockings in spring? also, any idea where i can find sheer stockings (not too pricey) for african american skin? i like sheer black tights, but i'm looking for a more bare skin look too.

I am dark skinned, and wearing black tights today --  I'm the first to admit, however, we're getting to the point of retiring them for the season.  Sheer black stockings and cute designs (such as hearts, polka dots and lacy patterns woven into sheer stockings)  are pretty hip right now, so you shouldn't have a hard time finding some stockings that have a little something different going on. Try a department store such as Macy's, or even Target, for something a little more affordable, but still quality. You could also try online -- Topshop and perhaps Asos should have all kinds of fun hosiery, since they're based out of the U.K., where the weather requires tights more often. As for color, I'd stick to black. Bare-skin, flesh-toned hose just aren't fashionable at the moment, and colored tights saw their heyday a few years ago too.

Going to see DC United on Saturday - what are our options for meeting up with friends beforehand?

Anywhere along the Orange/Blue lines. The only bars within walking distance of RFK these days are Trusty's (slightly divey, great upstairs deck, good beer in cans) and Wisdom (a loungey cocktail den) at 14th and Pennsylvania, near Potomac Avenue Metro. It's a 15 minute walk, or a bit longer to your actual seats.

Of course, there's always tailgating in Lot 8 with the Screaming Eagles or Barra Brava, which might be your better option. The Eagles are charging $12 for burgers/dogs/etc and unlimited beer.

I have relatives coming to town in a few weeks and they are offering to take me out to dinner. They will be staying at the Hotel Sofitel. Any recommendations on nearby restaurants? We'd prefer non-Asian places and price is not really an issue. Thanks!

I would definitely hit Equinox. Their new Executive Chef, Karen Nicolas,  was just named one of Food & Wine Magazine's best new chefs of 2012.

GOGs -- Please help! My boss left for the day and I can sneak out to watch Strasburg kick off the 2012 season. I'm in Merrifield now, but can travel as far as the edge of the Potomac to watch the game (sadly, I have to be back in Fairfax at 7 so I don't want to venture across any bridges. But trust, the bridges on any other day do not scare me.) Any suggestions?

I have to admit I haven't watched the Nats in Northern Virginia in a while. Going just based on beers and food and TVs around Merrifield, though, I'd love to be on the patio at Grevey's. And they have free wi-fi in case you need to pretend to be working.

Can we talk local coffee for a minute? As good as Counter Culture is, I'm interested in finding places that roast their coffee locally. Which DMV roasteries are the best?

Yeah, I defnitely feel the same way sometimes -- I prefer places that do their own roasting. You've got M.E. Swing downtown, of course (the roasting takes place in Alexandria), Mayorga (Rockville), Ceremony (formerly Annapolis' Cafe Pronto) ... I've also been digging the coffees from Vigilante Coffee, two guys who roast in Silver Spring and sell coffee by the cup or beans at Eastern Market on Sundays.

You should also check out Qualia coffee where they're constantly cycling in new beans.

Dan's right; Qualia roasts their own; and Filter offers Ceremony if you're looking for it, and we hear it soon is going to be roasting its own at its new location (because we are gossipmongers like that). Two other places to know: Dolcezza will brew all kinds of espresso that's not Counter Culture (sometimes Stumptown, sometimes Heart, I've seen Ritual there as well). Baked and Wired serves Stumptown, too. Chinatown Coffee does Intelligentsia.  So you have lots of options -- many of them detailed here.

Hi Gurus! LOVE your weekly chats. Now that spring is in the air, I want to do a day trip to the VA vineyards . Am looking for a good, affordable van company to hire for the day to drive a group of 12 ladies from the NoVa area to a few vineyards and back. Any idea what this would run me and who I should call? Thanks so much!

I really like Reston Limousine for this; they've been around forever and come recommended. The Charlottesville wine tour in particular looks like a steal, at $40 bucks a person. Once you get to Charlottesville, you're on the hook for the tasting fees, but that's never more than $5 down there, and the wine is really wonderful.

My in-laws are in town this weekend and we were thinking of taking them up to Mt. Vernon. Should we get tickets ahead of time or will we be fine just showing up?

It depends how long you plan to stay there. I've never had a problem getting same-day tickets, but if you want to take a tour of the mansion, you might want to look into buying advance tickets on the Mt. Vernon Web site. That allows you to pick a time for your tour; otherwise, you just wait in line until space is available.

I've got tickets to a Sunday night showing of "Come Fly Away" at the Kennedy Center and am wondering if you have any suggestions for a pre-show dinner. The only catch is that I need a gluten-free meal ... and I've already exhausted my gluten-free options at Founding Farmers (which I love, I just need something different). Any ideas?

One of my personal favorite sushi restaurants in the city is a block away from Founding Farmers: Kaz Sushi Bistro. They have your typical nigiri as well as more inventive pieces such as tuna with tapenade or foie gras (wait - is foie gras gluten free?)

I'm pretty sure they are on their way back into fashion. Especially since Kate Middleton/Duchess Catherine wears them, looks awesome, and has her photo splashed everywhere.

Dear God, no. When I moved to Washington, pantyhose was required attire for professionals, and I've been so happy that we women have been liberated to go bare-legged in the 90-degree heat. I'm hoping that in wearing them, Duchess Catherine is just fulfilling one of her royal duties.

Hi Gurus! My parents are in town this weekend and I'm looking for some low-key ideas for Friday night. Can you recommend a good event or venue where we could have a drink or two, do some people watching, and catch up with one another? They're semi-adventurous but will likely be a bit burned out from traveling. Avoiding cherry blossom crowds is probably a plus. Thanks!

I guess it depends on what your definition of semi-adventurous is but I find Poste is always a fun spot to grab a drink with the folks.  Of course the W Hotel roof deck is always a good time too.

Hey gurus! A group of girlfriends and I are getting together on Monday in DC and want to find somewhere with either 1/2 bottles of wine or discounted champagne/prosecco. Really open to anywhere as long as its in DC and metro accessible. Thanks !

Are you getting dinner or just sipping? Dino has a great deal on Mondays with a selection $18 bottles *or* a 33 percent discount on all wines over $50, but everyone in the group has to order an entree to participate.

In Silver Spring, 8407 has half-price bottles at the bar on Mondays. I'm a fan of that one.

Thanks Fritz! We will just be drinking (maybe light apps) but want to stay in DC. Had forgotten about Dino's Monday deal. Any other good Monday night wine deals?

Wracking brain and checking my notes, but not coming up with too many good ideas.  Chatters?

Hey Gurus, I'm trying to put together a work kickball or similar sport activity for the summer. It's hard to tell which leagues are more "work appropriate." We're looking to have a good time but it looks like some of them are 95% focused on flip cup. We're downtown DC if it matters.

How 'bout Bocce Ball - I know they like their drinking too but I'm afraid all leagues except the super competitive ones do. 

SAVOR Beer/Food Fest sold out in about, oh, thirty seconds today. Great event; hard to get ticket.

Yeah. The one thing I will say is that a number of friends found tickets a few days before last year's SAVOR by checking Craigslist or talking to people at beer dinners. Two months is a ways away, and plans can change before the first tap opens.

Dan - you are somehow managing to update your blog while in this chat. Your multi-tasking abilities deserve kudos!

Hahaha, the magic of scheduling posts.  Shh, don't tell anyone else!

Dan, the temporary library space is coming open soon on Mt. Pleasant Street. I feel like this is a pivotal moment for the neighborhood. Any scuttle on what may be going in there?

I've been hearing tons of scuttlebutt for that space.  Sadly nothing seems to have come through.  The most promising rumor I heard was that a wine bar was interested in the space but that was a few months ago.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed though.

Hi Dan - I check your blog several times a day. I just recently moved to the Petworth area and am loving it. Thanks for all the info and tips. I'm just curious about your background and how you got started, etc.

Thanks so much!  I always laugh when I'm asked this question because my background is completely different from what I do now.  I got my master's degree in International Affairs and have worked as a Congressional Liason.  The five years prior to switching over to the blog fulltime I was consultant to DHS. 

Have to disagree--I wear the Wolford Neon 40 tights in cooler weather and they are perfect for women 1) whose office or environment is not casual enough to bare legs and/or 2) who don't feel comfortable at their age going bare legged with a suit or nice dress. They finish off the leg without looking cheesy.

Cool, thanks for the suggestion!  I like 'em (in black). I'm still anti flesh-toned. To be honest though, that could be because "flesh-toned" has never been right for us super-tan ladies. 

My wife and I are bored with Corona and Stella. It has to come in a 12 pack or case.

Schlafly Kolsch, DC Brau Citizen (the Belgian pale), Victory Whirlwind Wit ... all come in cases.

For 12-pack cans, I'm boring and drink Natty Boh.

I used to often roll with Heineken.  But now anything by Bell's Brewery.  I also love the 60 Minute IPA from Dogfish head.

I had my first Oberon of the year at Dodge City last night. I still feel dirty drinking a classic summer beer during the first week of April.

Yeah, there's a bunch already on Craigslist, at $300 a pop. I hope scalpers die painfully in a fire.

Me too. Me too.

So I'm a frequent patron of Miss Whiskeys and Rock n Roll when I make it out to H. St from Arlington. I know there are a bunch of new bars/clubs out there, can you recommend a few others in the same vein as those two?

You should check out Smith Commons and Fruit Bat across the street though they have very different feels from Rock and Roll and Miss Whiskey's

Boundary Road is my favorite thing to open on H Street in years, but while the cocktails and late-night happy hours are awesome, it's not quite as raucous as Miss Whiskey's or the Hotel. In fact, there's really nothing else like those two in terms of dancing and late-night throwing down. (Well, other than Jimmy Valentine's, which isn't quite on H and shares an owner with LMW.)

You can try Red Palace for bands and the occasional DJ. And if you like  the upstairs bar at the Hotel, check out the Pug, which is still a killer dive.

Fritz, I need a Pimm's cup. Who has a good one on their menu? Or just has the necessary fruit to make one?

The funny thing is -- we're all kind of in the mood for Pimm's Cups and trips to the beach, thanks to the unbelievably warm sunny weather.  But bars haven't quite caught up -- we haven't seen much in the way of spring/summer drinks yet. Your best bet for now: Make your own, in a pitcher, invite your pals and sit out on your front porch. I've done this before, and it was a blast. Pimm's Cups are super-easy to make, and you should be able to find Pimm's at any liquor store. You can find a bunch of recipes here.

Bell's Oberon - perfect summer beer, especially with an orange. But only if you can't get Kansas City's Boulevard Wheat with a lemon (and you can't because they also have a limited distribution area).

Like I said previously, I love Oberon.

But I'm also steadfastly against adding fruit to my beer, unless it's an awful macrobrewed Mexican lager and needs something -- anything -- to give it some flavor.

I love the Dogfish Head seasonal Aprihop.  I got one in Baltimore a couple of weeks ago but I don't think it's hit DC yet.  It's also a bit pricey.  But delicious.

Aprihop is on tap at all the local Dogfish Alehouses (Falls Church, Fairfax, Gaithersburg) but it seems to be sold out everywhere in D.C. at the moment.

Hi Gurus, What's your opinion of the tastemakers story? While I agree with some of the people included, others (Thrillist) just seem to recycle press releases.

Thanks for the feedback. The problem is probably that term "tastemaker," isn't it -- what really constitutes one? A blogger covering events and openings? Or someone whose actually really is out there creating events? It's tough. I think if nothing else, that story really allowed folks to see the regular people behind the blogs that so many of us read. (Also why it's so cool to have Dan in GOGpod today.) 

the Southwest Waterfront festival? It is worth a few hours? Most of the day? Just get there for the fireworks?

I think the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks festival  probably going to be more fun to get there early in the day -- last year I arrived only in time for the fireworks and it had pretty much cleared out. To catch the food trucks and the performers and just hang out by the water on a sunny day, I'd get there earlier. And for folks who want to also do something a little different next weekend,  don't miss Lumen8Anacostia next Saturday. That should be really cool to see.

Craft brewers don't design their beers to put fruit in them..and this would include Oberon(but excluse mexican macro lagers)

Here's a non beer related drinking tip for those that like gin and tonics.  Next time you have one try putting a splash of campari in it.  So good.

Total plug: SpiderMusical is opening tonight! Landless Theatre Company's ridiculous send-up of the Spiderman musical, at DCAC in Adams Morgan, is sure to be a hoot. (But everything Landless does is a hoot! True story!) Okay, plug over. Thanks.

We're only going to plug it if it's six hours long and five actors lose their lives in the name of art.

Hello Gurus, first time poster, faithful chat reader here. On Sunday April 15, we are celebrating my daughter's **one-year-old** Birthday. We are looking for an exciting and affordable prix fixe brunch/buffet type restaurant for about 15 people. Many kids included, so the food and atmosphere should be varied and kid friendly. DC or MD is fine. Thanks and we appreciate all the great work, Gurus.

Are you interested in checking out the Howard Theatre's new gospel brunches? The first one is next week, and could be great, with a buffet-style brunch and music for $35 a person (I believe children under 12 are free, but check me on that!) Check out the menu and details here.

I went to a rooftop DJ show at the House of Sweden a few years ago... do you know of any other places that have rooftop concerts like that? Thanks!

If you're talking about the Adam Tensta show, that was an incredible night. I don't know too many places that have rooftop concerts, primarily due to potential noise complaints. You might see some performers as "special guests" during summer rooftop parties, a la the Beacon Hotel or Donovan House, but they don't do real concerts on the regular.

Okay, that's going to be it for us today. Thanks for all the great questions, and thanks to Dan Silverman -- the Prince of Petworth -- for joining us.

We'll catch you here next Thursday.

In This Chat
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.
Dan Silverman
Google a new restaurant/store/bar opening, and you'll likely find a post from Dan Silverman's Web site, The neighborhood blog he began in November 2006 became his full-time gig last September. Silverman is known for being first to announce news -- such as the upcoming Tryst Diner in Columbia Heights -- and he does it by walking five miles a day checking out the D.C. streets.
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