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

May 03, 2012

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

Hello chatters. Thanks for joining us on this sunny Thursday. Of course, the big topics this weekend are Cinco de Mayo, Kentucky Derby, and oh right, the half-dozen other things happening on Saturday.  But the Kennedy Center's big street arts festival, "Look Both Ways: Street Arts Across America", is kicking off Sunday. So there's plenty to do - just ask us.

Maybe the travel chat is a better place for this, but the Gurus have such good ideas - any recommendations for Chincoteague Island? There are a lot of cruises to choose from, a lot of different restaurants, etc. - does anyone know which ones are the best? Thanks!!

Amy Joyce has you covered. She wrote a pretty comprehensive article in 2009 that has some good tips.

How did Black & Orange not make your list? Best burger in the city, in my opinion.

Reasonable minds are free to disagree, but I think you're right. Black & Orange should be on there, for sure -- I said almost as much when I wrote about them back in February. The Curried Away burger is in that "no toppings required" category for me. 

It's likely that when it was actually written, the place was closed -- it was shuttered longer than it was open, I think, haha.

I have to attend a wedding on Saturday, so I can't celebrate Cinco de Mayo. What events do you recommend for Friday? Happy hour and late evening events are best. I work in Herndon, but will commute to DC after work if the events are worth it. Thank you!

We really aren't seeing a lot on Friday for Cinco de Mayo (that's what happens when a holiday actually falls on a Saturday -- most people choose to celebrate on that day). But Ceiba is kicking off celebrations on Thursday, continuing through Saturday. And I'm betting that the Hispanic Bar Association/National Association of Hispanic MBAs party on Friday at Eden should keep it real; there will be a mariachi and drink specials.

This coming weekend is the only weekend I have nothing planned. The last 2 weekends I was on vacation in the caribean next weekend I have a wedding. This is the only weekend to do as I would want but help me since I don't know what that is. I would like low key and I need to give my liver a break!! My requirements are that it's free (or VERY inexpensive), fun, and not touristy.

A vacation in the Caribbean? Lucky you! If you want some more international experience, check out Passport DC (free!) or the Cinco De Mayo Festival on the Mall (free!).  If you want something more silly try the Kinetic Sculpture Race in Baltimore (also free!).

I am looking for a bar where I can watch the Mayweather-Cotto fight on Saturday night. I am looking for a place within walking distance of the metro (red line preferred, but I'm flexible). I am female and will be with a friend who is visiting from out of town, and we are well past college age. Any suggestions?

Bar 7 and Barcode are both showing the fight and are Red Line accessible, though you should expect more of a lounge feel than a sports bar at either of those, especially Bar 7, where you can book a table if that's what you're into. For something a bit more low-key, Public Bar's Cinco de Mayo Fight Night means $4 Coronas and Jose Cuervo and $5 Margaritas.  

Hi gurus, I'll be in the Dupont area with my bf this Saturday night, and don't know where to go out! We need to keep it cheap, both love music, but not so much looking to dance. We're mid-thirties. Thanks!

Cheap, music, no room to dance. Sounds like a job for Sign of the Whale! You might also stop in at Cafe Citron, where the Citron de Mayo party means Corona and domestic beers are $4, while margaritas and shots are $5. And if you change your mind about the whole dancing thing, the bar promises prizes to those willing to cut a rug ... on the bar itself. 

This is probably an oh so typical question (where can a group of about a dozen adults gather for a casual birthday celebration), but there's a complication. My birthday is on Mother's Day this year, and it is the only day I can celebrate that week due to commitments the rest of the week/weekend. In order to stay casual and fun, I've celebrated at DC United games, Nats games, etc. But there are no games in town Sunday the 13th, and restaurants that might normally accommodate are likely doing Mother's Day meals (I was thinking Two Amys, rooftop of El Centro DF -- that sort of thing). I thought late afternoon/early evening Sunday might make it easier. I've been racking my brain for weeks. Any ideas from the masters?

I actually think you can get away with El Centro -- they're doing the big Cinco de Mayo party/1st anniversary on Saturday, and I haven't heard a peep about a Mother's Day event, so I think you'll be in the clear there. (I would avoid Two Amy's since it's such a families magnet, and these places that are definitely doing Mother's Day).  Other options are the ones that you might not take your moms to -- Passenger has its late brunch, with great cocktails (and I'm a sucker for the food). You might try the roof at Surfside for margaritas and Tex-mex - it can accommodate a bigger crowd. And why not grab a bunch of folks and go to Standard -- outdoors, picnic tables, always a scene. I have a theory that if you get there in the middle of the day, you can get a table, though I've never had a dozen people with me.

Is there a "best way" or any recommendation as viewing/experienceing the Song 1 exhibit at the Hirshhorn? There are surprisingly few art events like this in DC, so I'd love to make a bit of an event out of it. Is there a place you can view with a night-time picnic (I think wine is not allowed on the mall?), etc. Thanks (alas, I can't make the May 11th event related to the exhibit).

I have heard that Song 1 is best experienced in some solitude, so while the May 11 "Happening" should be fun, it probably isn't the best way to really see it anyway.  Part of that is because the film actually has audio, including music, so you want to be able to hear that. It opens at 8, but to really wait out the street noise, I'd head over at 7. Yes, you can absolutely picnic, and the sculpture garden also has some new Ai Weiwei sculptures to check out - but do not bring alcohol (it's not allowed on the Mall or any national park).

I want to BBQ! Now that it's nice out, I really want to grill. Unfortunately I live in a studio with no yard. What parks in the area allow grill or have grills installed?

This is one of life's great conundrums for apartment dwellers, and one of the main reasons why I don't think I could ever live in an apartment again (if I'm lucky). Many of Rock Creek Park's picnic areas are equipped with fire grates, though expect those to be locked down early on nice weekend afternoons. You can also bring your own grill (Smokey Joe FTW) and set it up in designated "picnic groves" (see map) -- just be sure to douse your charcoal in water when you're finished cooking. 

More downtown, a good alternative that gets you about 70 percent of the way there are events like Helix Lounge's Backyard Bash, where from 5 to 7 every Wednesday, the lounge fires up the grill for a bit of a communal cookout. $7 gets you a beef, chicken, turkey or veggie burger, chips and fixins. 


Apartment-dwelling chatters: Where do you do your outdoor grilling these days?  

As someone about to graduate from college and moving back to the city, I'm really interested in getting involved and meeting new people. What are some of the best social groups/ organizations/ clubs to join in the city to meet fellow young adults and get involved with the DC community?

Because so many people are like you, there are a ton of groups around here, whatever your interest. I'd honestly start with Meetup -- we have a thriving community here (one of the biggest Meetup markets in the country, not far behind New York's). If you're trying to suss out the going-out scene, there's the 20 and 30-something Going Out Group; I really loved this running group I tried. I wrote about some of the most popular local Meetups for this story. I'd also add to that volunteer clearinghouses  such as One Brick DC and DC Cares -- more ideas in this story on volunteering from last year

The Avengers is a must see for my boyfriend and me. He's new to town and has never been to the Uptown. He wants to see it in IMAX. As a long time resident and a veteran of many long waits in line, I can't imagine going to see a blockbuster at anything besides the Uptown. I've never been to any of the IMAX theaters in the city that are showing the film though. Do any of the IMAX screens in the city live up to the Uptown? Thanks.

Two things to consider:

For atmosphere, Uptown can't be beat. It truly a Washington gem for its historic value and its uber large screen. The people excited about a big film's opening weekend go there and that sense of comradery is unique.

On the other hand IMAX has more technical mumbo jumbo.

Obviously, my vote is for Uptown.


Dear GOGs! Thanks so much for all your advice over the years! Fritz, I have a question especially for you--my friend and I were reminiscing about real Dark and Stormies the other night, consumed during business trips to Bermuda. We were thinking it was about time to go back as tourists....but until we get that together, is there any place in DC that serves a real Gosling's Dark and Stormy? We have made this our summer project! Thanks mon!

Fritz ducked out to do some "reporting" down at the beach this week, but I know he stands by the dark and stormies at The Islander on U Street. Gosling's is pretty much everwhere these days, particularly in that neighborhood. I've downed plenty of Gosling's at Dodge City within the past year, and the Jamaican-themed Patty Boom Boom offers them as one of their "special cocktails." 

Where in DC do you suggest a Liverpool fan watch the final this weekend?

The Queen Vic, and there's no doubt about it. 

Hi there. I'm leaving my husband with our two young sons on Saturday morning. Anything fun going on in Montgomery County that I can suggest he do with the boys? Thanks!

"Five Little Monkeys" at Adventure Theatre MTC in Glen Echo got a pretty good review and afterwards your boys can take a ride on the recently-opened carousel. (Follow that link for some other fun parks to visit.) The Puppet Co. is also presenting "Pinocchio."

I need an idea for Sunday brunch....meeting a friend who is a picky eater so basic brunch food is probably easiest. She wants to be able to sit outside and I want to make sure we have good food. Her suggestion was Sequoia so I need better ideas to shoot that option down. Anywhere in DC or Arlington would work. Thoughts?

I love it. We're actually seeing a number of new brunches around town. Here are a few ideas -- Bourbon in Adams Morgan is a staff fave; consistently great food, and a patio in back to catch a little sun. Of course, Tabard Inn is a good option (though maybe not the best for picky eaters?), if you can snare a reservation; and Justin recommends Kafe Leopold in Georgetown, too.

I'm hearing both really good and REALLY bad things about the "new" Jaleo. Never been, so I have no basis for comparison. I like La Tasca; should I give Jaleo a try, or just stick with what I know is good?

I haven't been inside Jaleo's redesigned space, but I would feel confident recommending it to you ahead of La Tasca. It's Jose Andres -- he's a brand unto himself these days, but he still keeps close watch on what's happening in his kitchens. Jaleo got a three-star rating in Tom Sietsema's most recent dining guide, and that was for the food rather than the decor, which hadn't been updated yet. So I say give it a try.


Of course, D.C.'s just crawling with tapas these days, so those are far from your only options. Estadio gets high marks, while it's too early to tell for Boqueria. Tom also reported on the opening of yet another tapas bar, Pulpo, coming to Cleveland Park. 

With strawberry season fast approaching, what are some area farms with good pick your own selections? I usually go to Butlers Orchard up 270 but now that I live in the District (as opposed to Maryland) it's a bit of a trek. Thanks!

Butlers is great and it is also pretty darn hard to beat in terms of closeness. Larriland Farm also came to mind, but that is probably just as far as Butlers. I am also drawing a blank on pick-your-owns in NoVa that would be any closer. Chatters, any ideas?

One of my best friends is turning 30 and we want to go dancing Saturday night for her birthday...our favorites have included Napoleon and St. Ex but we wanted to something else for her birthday. Any help would be awesome! Thanks.

There are a lot of ideas these days -- both Cuba Libre and El Centro have been shedding the whole restaurant thing at night, and have been bringing in DJs for a more Latin-inspired dance night (Fritz is really high on El Centro's parties lately) ; Eden is a more conventional dance club that could be a fun way to celebrate ... You might also have a blast at Eighteenth Street Lounge, which has just the right amount of sophistication for ringing in 30.

I looked over the Best Bets brunches list, but I have a specific question. Friends and I are running/volunteering at Sunday's Race for Hope at Freedom Plaza. It should be over around 11, but it can vary. What places are serving brunch nearby that will take people in race gear without a reservation since we don't know exactly when we'll be done? Bonus if not too loud, since some of us will be going to the benefit concert at the State the night before and may have a cocktail or two. Does such a creature even exist?

(Brunch + Cocktails) + (Plenty of Room + Near Freedom Plaza) - Dress Code = The Hamilton

Any suggestions on any other intriguing places I could catch the fight on saturday in the area other than Buffalo Billiards or Barcode? MD or DC would work fine...

I guess that depends on what your definition of "intriguing" is. I've never gone out to watch a fight, but if I was going to, my main preoccupation would be finding a bar showing the fight with sound. Drink specials would probably be the second most important factor in my decision. What's your most important factor, other than MD or DC? 

Where is the best place in DC proper to watch the Derby and drink Mint Juleps? Requirement: They must use proper julep cups.

Fritz has you covered, he made a pretty comprehensive list of all the places to check out. No surprise, Bourbon earned a nod for its frosted metal cups.

Hi GOGs, I am planning a birthday dinner for me and my husband and another couple to celebrate our May birthdays. We're looking for a new place to try out on a Sunday night. We're open to location, either in DC or NoVa but want something that's a little more on the "special" side without being too pricey. Any suggestions? Thanks!

I'd start with Green Pig Bistro, which just received a warm welcome from Tom Sietsema;  those who still miss Roberta Donna might like the Italian at La Forchetta. Been around a little longer but worth a try -- Mintwood Place or Graffiato, which on a Sunday night, might be a little less crowded.  Actually, the latter might be my top choice -- the cocktails are great too. 

Any suggestions for lodging, food and must sees for Toronto? Am thinking of making this trip a long weekend over the 4th, what is a reasonable RT fare between DCA and Toronto? Thanks!

This wouldn't normally be something we'd answer, but it just so happens I'm a regular visitor to Toronto so let me try to be of some assistance. If you must fly direct, you might want to hurry with your booking: Air Canada and Porter Airlines both have sales on right now out of Dulles (DCA is going to be way more expensive). But if you're looking to save $ and have some flexibility, the way to go is to fly BWI to Buffalo and then hop the Megabus, which goes from the Buffalo Airport to downtown Toronto in about 3 hours. If you're renting a car for the week, it's an even faster trip. 

Great Country Farm in Bluemont, Va., has a great U-pick program.

Not arguing, but Bluemont isn't any closer to the district.

As a fellow apartment dweller I gave up trying to grill with all the options in DC. You have American Ice Co, The Standard (a.k.a. The Hipster Jail), The PORC Mobile Food Truck, The Blue Banana "Eat Meat Girls" on Friday Nights, the new meat store 3 Little Pigs, plus all the old school places like Kenny's and Rocklands, So many options!

Laughing out loud at "The Hipster Jail." The food is pretty excellent though, IMO. 

GOGs, where is the closest place to the D.C. area to (legally) bet on the Kentucky Derby? I was thinking Laurel Park or Pimlico, perhaps Charlestown Hollywood Casino. Anywhere else?

With no OTBs in the area, Laurel Park is your best bet if you don't feel like making the drive to West Virginia. They're opening early on Saturday, FWIW. 

I haven't been out in Georgetown in a while as I always attribute it to being a college party scene. I'm meeting up with someone for possibly dinner or post-dinner drinks and it will probably be Friday or Saturday. Any suggestions for places where two 30-ish people can enjoy a vibe that isn't too crazy?

I might steer you a little further down M Street, closer to Foggy Bottom; Bayou, with its live music and New Orleans-inspired food and cocktails (which aren't so easy to come by in Georgetown), sounds like it's totally right for you. There's also the Ritz Carlton's bar at Farenheit for drinks; and better, Bourbon Steak. Honestly, a very short walk from the Wisconsin and M madness, but totally worth it.

What do you mean, "it opens at 8"? According to Hirshhorn's website, it's from sunset to midnight. (And thanks to OP for reminding me of this; it closes soon and I've not yet checked it out!)

Sorry, I could use a coffee right now -- sunset is around 8, hence, it turns on at around 8.  Sorry for the confusion.

My liver does not need a break...whats the best "bang for your buck" in dc/arlington this coming Saturday? Good food is always a plus!

Again, Fritz has you covered with Cinco de Mayo specials.

Greetings GoGs! I'm a veteran Bayern fan and faced with the possibility of watching this whopper in a bar this year - any soccer/sports bars out there that are especially Bayern-friendly? Cheers!

More on this as the match -- which isn't until May 19 --approaches, but any of D.C.'s soccer bars will have you covered. Biergarten Haus was an understandably popular viewing spot for Germany matches during the 2010 World Cup and I'd imagine they'll wrap themselves in Bayern colors for this one, too. 

I'm planning to celebrate my birthday and Cinco de Mayo Saturday. Do you have any suggestions for doing both in the District mid-afternoon for a group of about 6?

You didn't say how debaucherous of a birthday you were hoping for, so I'm choosing an extreme: Nothing could be crazier than what H Street Country Club is doing -- cockfighting. Not real cockfighting, but wrestlers dressed up like roosters, well...fighting. There are also $2 tacos and margarita specials; it sounds like a good way to start a memorable birthday, plus you can head to any number of other bars afterward to keep it going (like heading to Fruit Bat for birthday shots of their de-cocainized coca liquor?)

What are some infant friendly restaurants in Virginia? My husband and I would like to take our 2 month old and ourselves to dinner around 5:30 this Saturday somewhere where it wouldn't be a horrible thing if I had to step out because she was fussing. I promise I wouldn't stay inside with a crying baby!

I asked Justin Rude, staff dad (with an infant himself), and he says you can get away with a little one at several  places, particularly at 5:30 p.m., before they get too busy. He recommends Columbia Firehouse, the Majestic, Lyon Hall in Arlington, and even the new Green Pig (though they don't  reservations, so that just sounds punishing with a baby).   

That does it for us today, folks. If we didn't get to yours, remember you can always tweet us your questions, either @goingoutguide or using #gotplans, or submit them by email to Enjoy the weekend, and happy Cinco de Derby Day!

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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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