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

May 17, 2012

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

Hey y'all. Just went out for lunch and the weather is gorgeous, which has us thinking about happy hour. What are your favorite places for cheap drinks outside? I'll start with mine: The rooftop deck at Red Derby, where you can get a beer and a shot of whiskey for just $4 until 7 p.m. Kind of magic.

Our giveaway today: Two tickets for Sunday's Sound Bites show at the 9:30 Club, with Eric Hilton, Bones Fur Feather, Nappy Riddem and the Archives. All you have to do to win is tell us where you'd take President Obama for lunch. We'll give the passes to the most persuasive argument.

Ready? Let's begin.

Did I do something wrong? I'm not sure I see what all the fuss is about. OK, I picked the embassies I visited (Poland and Lithuania) because they were on the way from the back of the zoo (river otters, elephant pedicures) to my matinee (Metamorphoses), not for intense interest. The buildings are very nice, but there wasn't anyone explaining the features or history. There was an occasional painting. There was some food. There were many tourist pamphlets. Poland had a video running of Polish actors doing Shakespeare but the sound was turned off. Lithuania had some reluctant teenagers doing folk dances. I don't know that it was worth standing in line. And I missed Spain, but their line was about three times as long as the others combined. Are there ways to figure out which ones to visit so I can try again next year (and maybe concentrate on the activity rather than just fit it in among other things)? Metamorphoses was superb. Highly recommended.

Some EU embassies are just better than others on open house days. I went to Poland and Lithuania two years ago, because the embassies were around the corner from my house, and they were pretty much as you say, though Lithuania had a great exhibition of gorgeous photos of the country's natural wonders.

The embassies all publish their agendas on the EU mission site ( right before the event, so bookmark that and check it out next May. (Out of curiousity, did anyone wait in line for the British Embassy's garden tour or the Lego exhibit at the Danish Embassy?)

To respond to a poster last week, I see all kinds of music in DC, and similarly am a fan of new bands of the rock/alternative/indie persuasion (as well as classics!). I'm a woman in my mid-40s and all the local clubs are fine for solo attendance. Places like 9:30, Black Cat, RnR Hotel are about the bands, not the club, so folks are there to see the band. I'm always comfortable and am so glad to live in a city that gets so many tours passing through at stellar live venues. So enjoy and see everything you like (and if you do so often, you'll eventually meet folks and develop your own concert-going posse).

A response to a chatter last week who asked about whether it was cool for 40-something women to go to concerts by themselves.  (I think everyone, Guru and chatter alike, said "of course!")

Any more info on pool parties this year at the Capitol Skyline Hotel? I haven't found much information beyond what was posted in the GoG blog. Are they only having pool parties twice a month this summer?

There are three regular parties (so far) at the Skyline this summer (beginning with Mother Trucker, which kicks off this Saturday). (Check them all out here.) It might not add up to a party every Saturday and Sunday, but there's definitely more than a couple a month.  

If I'm going to a concert at the Black Cat on the Main Stage where doors open at 8:00 and there is an opening act, what time can I generally expect the main act to take the stage?

At the Black Cat, for a weeknight two-band show, you're probably looking at 8:45 for the opener and 10 p.m. for the headliner, but it can vary.

Hi Gurus! I've attended the Mount Vernon Sunset Wine Festival before, but would like to give my poor husband a reprieve from driving (and thus not enjoying the main attraction) during this weekend's festival (Saturday). I seem to recall seeing taxis lined up at the end of the night during previous festivals. Is this true? Any idea if taxis might be available or would be willing to do a pick up there? Thanks for your help!

Don't worry -- whenever Mount Vernon does the wine festival, it lets local cab companies know about the event and when it lets out, so you can safely expect there to be a line of cabs out front, willing to drive you to the Metro, or all the way home if you choose. So you (and Poor Husband) can have a great time!   Personally, I like to leave a few minutes before the end of an event so I don't have to wait in a brutal line for the cabs. Anyone who's been to the Kennedy Center on an icy winter night knows what I mean.

Any recommendations for a semi-upscale happy hour in Georgetown? Doesn't have to have drink specials, but does have to be appropriate for a business type meeting. Normally we go to Poste or Ceiba downtown, but we're changing locations today.

The Degrees bar at the Ritz in Georgetown is quiet and private. That would be my first choice -- and the patio at Bourbon Steak in the Four Seasons would be the runner up. Fantastic cocktails and a large greenery-filled outdoor patio.

Gurus, it is shaping up to be a beautiful weekend. I would like to go to someplace where I can lay out and get some sun (a body of water would be a plus.) Do you have any suggestions? I am based in VA and have gone to Sandy Point before but was looking for something different. I would like to go lay out and relax and have a little picnic lunch. Thank you for your help!

I was going to suggest Lake Anna, which has a small little beach and plenty of trees and quiet, but looks like swimming isn't allowed till Memorial Day weekend (which doesn't mean the beach is isn't open...). Fritz tosses out Chesapeake Beach too; North Beach is another (they're both in Southern Maryland, not so close to you). Might I suggest the Skyline this weekend? We just mentioned the Mother Trucker party above.

Do you know where the UEFA Championship match will be playing in DC (not VA or MD)? Ideally, there won't be a cover charge and there are enough tvs to actually watch the match. Thanks.

The usual soccer suspects -- Fado, Lucky Bar, Public Bar -- will all be showing the Champions League final.

Non-traditional options: Jack Rose will have it on the rooftop deck, though they don't exactly have a surfeit of TVs. Biergarten Haus will be a destination for Munich supporters, I'm sure -- there are more TVs on the rooftop deck, so that should be a great option -- and a popular one, given this weekend's forecast.

Hi Gurus! I know you get this question all the time, but I'm in need of some help. I'm trying to plan a 30th bday party and I'm looking for a bar/restaurant where there would be space for about 15 people to gather on a Saturday evening next month. Somewhere on H St., U St, Barracks Row low key, where 30-somethings can hang out, get a drink and celebrate. Thanks!

On around the Hill, I'd say Trusty's or Lola's would be my first choices. With Lola's, you have those upstairs game rooms (pool, shuffleboard) and a great back patio. Trusty's has a cool vibe and a great front deck.

On H Street, the patio at Little Miss Whiskey's would be ideal, or the Argonaut, for its cool upstairs and (again) a great patio.

I would take him to my favorite food truck at Farragut Square. Hoping we get moved to the front of the line so I won'tt have to waste my entire lunch hour waiting in line....

Which truck?

Virginia is an important swing state where President Obama might want to shore up his support, so I'm going to suggest the BBQ Exchange in Gordonsville. A man who likes burgers as much as he does has got to be partial to barbecue, and there's none better in the Old Dominion. Potential bonus: maybe we'd get to take Marine One to get there!

How about the White House farmers market? I spun through today and there were a lot of vendors - grassfed beef cheeseburgers, the empanada folks, fish burgers, kettle corn, Pleasant Pops (!!!). Bonus for being conveniently located (for him), and promotes the healthy lifestyle and small business agenda. I'm free anytime!

I've already eaten, but you're making me hungry.

Please help...we are trying to gameplan for a Saturday evening to celebrate a birthday. We were thinking of going to Matchbox and then maybe a jazz spot in DC. We need a better plan. Everyone really enjoys the sliders and shrimp and grits at Matchbox. Can you recommend a place with similar fare and a couple nice rooftop spots (similar to POV) for after dinner that might play jazz or jazz fusion. The music isn't a stopping point, just a preference. The crowd is 27-33 years old and the babysitters have been reserved...please help

Okay, we have two options for you, which could both fit the bill -- Bayou in Foggy Bottom has a great patio (not necessarily a rooftop), and I have confirmed there is shrimp and grits on the menu, as well as hurricane cocktails (you know, since you're celebrating). You don't even have to go anywhere afterward, since there's live music there; of course, if you do want to pop into another club, Blues Alley is a very quick ride (or slightly longer walk) away in Georgetown.  Second option: TruOrleans for dinner; it's got a nice patio overlooking H Street NE. Afterward, you can pop down the street to HR-57 for jazz (it's one of the staff's favorites); just don't forget it's BYOB there.

Hi gurus! Do you guys know anything about the DC Crawfish Boil on June 2? I was wondering if it was more of a family event or a rowdy college-type thing. I'd be happy with both but am just curious since I don't know anyone who has been to the event before. Also, do you know of any restaurants in DC doing crawfish boils? Just as another option that is cheaper and easier to get to. I see that Acadiana has them on Fridays but I was wondering if Bayou Bakery is doing it as well...I believe they had crawfish boils on Fridays last summer. Thanks!

The DC Crawfish boil, which is put together by a coalition of alumni from Louisiana universities, is one of those DC events that I always mean to get to but have never done. Maybe this will be the year...

As for local spots, Justin says that he expects Bayou Bakery to host its popular crawfish boils again this summer, but there are no details yet.

I would definitely take Obama either to Taquerio Poblano in Delray or to Eamonn's in Old Town. TP has amazing tacos for this area and the President needs to try them if he hasn't already. Eamonn's has excellent, mouth-watering fish & chips, as well as a good selection of beer.

If I could take the President to lunch, I'd take him to my favorite dive: Stoney's! It's close to the White House, has an awesome BLT and typical grouchy service one expects in a dive bar (although I must say, I went yesterday and there was some new, cheerful staff members). Plus, if the Prez is feeling really crazy he could get the super grilled cheese (which comes with bacon). All my male coworkers are obsessed with it! Yum!

You sound like almost as much of a Stoney's fan as our Stephanie.

Hi gurus, where can a single gal go this Sunday in the District for a nice brunch (preferably outdoor) and won't feel out of place? Thanks so much!

I had a great Sunday at Blind Dog Cafe -- it feels more like a coffeehouse, so it's full of people hanging out, but a lot of laptop types are there too, so you should be just fine solo (in fact, I tempted to do the same this Sunday). Do yourself a favor and order one of the amazing croissant sandwiches. Seriously. They make the croissants fresh. Then they slather them with pimento cheese. As I write this, I am kicking myself for blowing up my new favorite spot....

What should a fellow wear to a play at Studio Theater? Jeans OK or something nicer?

If they're dark and fit well and you dress them up with something nicer (a cool shirt, a blazer) than that's fine. I mean, Studio's not the Kennedy Center, but it's not a Fringe production, either.


I went to my first Nats game the other day, and even though they lost 6-1, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and plan to go back often this summer. I'd heard that bars, restaurants, etc. were planned for the area but when the economic downturn hit, everything cam to a halt, but WOW, there is nothing down there. Now that the economy has picked up, is anything in the works? THe thought of being by the water and the baseball stadium has got me thinking of moving there.

There are a ton of things planned, especially around Yards Park and the old Boilermaker Building. (I'm very, very excited about the Blue Jacket Brewery, from the team behind ChurchKey.)

Check out the excellent JDLand blog for the scoop on the neighborhood.

A couple years ago, I went to this great Embassy Party at the Austrian Embassy (Red Bull Party) Do you know how to find out or get on the list for these type of parties (suit and cocktail dresses)?

The easiest thing to do is to get on an embassy's e-mail list. I'm on the Czech Republic's list, for example, and have been invited to everything from beer tastings to a memorial mass for Vaclav Havel. The Spanish and French embassies have very popular programs with live music, dance, films, etc.

I have been to the LA alumni group crawfish boil and it is a lot of fun. The op asked about the vibe and my experience is that it is more of a family vibe than a rowdy drunken mess. I took my dog last time and I remember people of all ages, dogs and kids. Hope this helps

Very helpful. Thank you.

Hi there-- I've planned work happy hours for our group around many places in Dupont (James Hoban's, Mad Hatter, Sette Osteria, Vapiano's, Science Club, Cafe Citron, Lounge One, Urbana, Public), and am looking for something fresh. My group is strangely hesitant to cross the circle and go north, but I'm hoping to branch out. Thoughts? Private-ish area, open bar beer & wine with a few light apps is the norm. Mid-range budget-wise ($40-45 per person). Thanks!

Have you tried Irish Whiskey Public House? The upstairs bars is ideally suited for something like this.

I'd take Mr. President to Toki Underground because, I mean, can you imagine slurping up noodles with the leader of the free world? Plus, I think the president would appreciate the selection, since Toki's ramen is amazing. Win, win.

Hands down, I'd take Obama to Lost Dog in Arlington. Delicious sandwiches and pizza and tons of beer.

What are some of the best rooftop bar/lounges in DC?

You know, I was just on the Kojo Nnamdi show yesterday talking about this. I've put together a list of my favorites, and I'll have a blog post up soon about the city''s newest rooftop bar at 1905, which made its debut yesterday. (It couldn't have been a more perfect day for a patio with a view of the Washington Monument.)

Coming next month (allegedly): The huge rooftop bar at the Brixton at the corner of 9th and U.

Not that I want my quadrant to blow up any more than it already has, but you could also consider living in Southwest. You're still a ten to fifteen minute walk from the stadium, but living on this side of South Cap puts you in easy range of Safeway, CVS, Station 4, Jenny's Asian Fusion, the fish market, etc.

And easy access to the Marina for sailing, plus dark and stormies at Cantina Marina.

And the poster is right. There's nothing here. Maybe a few food trucks, a subway, a five guys, and a potbelly. We have Justin's too. I can't wait for all the new stuff!

Hello. I know you've answered this question before, but I'm finally going to the game on Saturday! Where can 4 ladies go for drinks before the game? I'm thinking Chinatown for convenience with outdoor seating. So far, I've come up with Coco Sala and Poste. Any other suggestions? Thanks!

Well, you could go closer to the ballpark and get drinks (beer/wine/frozen margaritas) at the Fairgrounds across the street, or Justin's a few blocks away.

There isn't a ton of outdoor seating around Chinatown. Poste is a good as it gets, unless you wander south to Fiola.

What's the scene like at Fatback at Liv? Would it be a good place to go for a group of six girls looking to dance?

Uh, yeah. Fatback is usually *packed* with groups of girls dancing to the most potent mix of old-school funk/soul/R&B around. Just get there early so you don't have to wait in line.

Saw the garden. It's pretty. They had nice British flag bags until they ran out. They were selling yummy looking sausage sandwiches but the line was long, also very long line to taste whisky. Next year I start at 10 a.m.

Thanks for the info. I'm guessing you have to get the British Embassy pretty early to partake of the good stuff.

Hi gurus, What should my boyfriend and I do tonight? Any fun happy hours going on or other events that two people in their mid-twenties would enjoy? We were thinking about attending the Take 5 party at the American Art Museum and then heading over to The Passenger, but we did that a few weeks ago. Maybe we should mix it up. Any other suggestions?

Take 5 followed by the Passenger actually sounds like a great date, so I'm posting this in case our other chatters need a last-minute date idea.  You could always snag last-minute tickets to tonight's Nats game and chill out under the stars (since the weather's so nice); another option is to put together a picnic and head down to Song 1 at the Hirshhorn; it's in the last couple of days, and it's kind of become a scene, particularly on the side on Jefferson Drive. And finally, if you happen to be trust-fund kids, tonight is ZooFari at the Zoo -- tickets are $200 a pop, available at the gate. 

Does it have to be at a restaurant? I make some pretty ridiculous barbecue, and have been thinking about getting a butt on the smoker soon. I drink good beer, and also have a pretty sweet yard (horse shoes, new tree fort in the process of going up)... and Germantown isn't that far from downtown.

Lavanya suggests you serve the beer Texas-style: Cases of beer in a kiddie pool filled with ice.

Hey, thank you! Awesome suggestion.

I bet you could get them to set your group up with a sweet Irish whiskey tasting, too.

Hi GoGs - is there a Chinese restaurant that delivers downtown? (Office at 15th and K, and we want to have Chinese food delivered for a dept lunch. About 10 people, so not just an entree or two.) The ones I've found either don't deliver at all, or only do so in a limted geographical area. Any ideas? Thanks!

Great Wall, which is my favorite Chinese place in the city, delivers to 15th and L pretty regularly. Order from the extra-spice ma-la menu and you're golden.

Also, plenty of variety, for vegetarians, etc., all the dietary needs of a big group.

I would take him somewhere ridiculous like Chili's or SizEx so that it would be crowded for months after and everyone would be disappointed. Love his taste, but he is ruining all of the good restaurants!

Speaking of blowing up spots...   my take: The president and first lady need to check out more ethnic food. I know they've been to Rasika, but I want to see them go to Ethiopic, or some of our pupuserias. (We love Blanca's in Falls Church.) Also, what about Toki or Pho 75?

One needs to remember that smaller country usually also equals smaller staff and budget. Lithuania cannot compete with Germany or the Brits in terms of resources, no matter how you look at it!

Thanks for your take.

So, I've got a friend who's back in DC for a conference this weekend. We're meeting early-ish on Friday to have a drink and catch up, and I'd like to take her to someplace interesting. She'll be in Crystal City, I'm on the Orange line, so somewhere that's easy for both of us would be idea. I'm drawing a total blank... help!

Take the Metro to Foggy Bottom (on both lines) and head for Bayou -- good New Orleans food, hurricanes, Abita beers -- or, for something classier, gorgeous cocktails at Bourbon Steak.

Hey Gurus, happy Thursday! I just got a date for tomorrow night....any last minute suggestions for things to do in DC? I'm thinking dinner (any kind of food) and something fun afterwards, maybe music or art focused? We're both late 20s, laid back, always up to try something new. Only criteria is that it's metro accessible. Thank you!

Did you see our previous chatter's suggestion about hitting Take 5 tonight at the American Art Museum, then heading to the Passenger (where the mac and cheese, hummus platter, kimchi dogs and pork-cheek nachos are GOG-approved)? That may be the best date going tonight.

I'd take President Obama to Roy's Sandwich Place in Gaithersburg (Old Town) for lunch, just to see how well he can display his decision-making abilities when faced with a menu of over 200 delicious sandwiches. (FYI, I can't use the tickets on Sunday, so no need to pick me as the winner)

Amy Orndorff thinks this is a great idea. But I think he should create his own sandwich, and then they can add it to their list. It would be called  "The Barack," naturally.

So I've lived in this area for almost 20 years and I've never experienced what Dewey Beach has to offer (or any of the close beaches folks from here flock to in the summer). Any tips on places to stay (looking for a Saturday - Monday weekend trip) - do we have to rent a house for a week or are there beachfront hotels? Any help would be appreciated as I want to break my non-Dewey Beach streak this year!

You can definitely get a hotel for a few nights -- look for rooms in the Surf Club Hotel, the Best Western, or Sea-Esta 1 or 3; (Sea-Esta 4 is actually on the road outside of town and is a little far from all the bars.) Just be aware that rates are already going up, and peak in July.

In terms of bars, everyone has their favorites. Mine are Saturday afternoons at North Beach, which has a gorgeous bay view and killer frozen drinks, and the Starboard's make-your-own-bloody-mary bar on Sundays. (There's a reason they're called Suicide Sundays.)

Duh - the cafeteria in my federal government building. We need decent lunch options here! I'm sure one day in our cafeteria would persuade him!


I would take him to Hunter's Head Tavern in Upperville. Hopefully, I'd get to take a ride with him in the limo and we'd get to have a nice chat before the yummy pub lunch. Their hot, crusty bread with farm fresh tasting butter is worth the drive alone!

That would be a lot of buttonholing time.

Hello, My husband and I now have a confirmed date night every Wednesday until the end of the summer. We live in Silver Spring and are looking things to do in MD and DC. What events should we put on our list of things to do? Any restaurants with al fresco dining in MD? Are any of the museums open late on Wednesday? Thanks!

Wednesday nights... Well, you've got the American Art Museum, which is open until 7 every night, followed by cocktails at the Passenger or Fiola. There's trivia at Nellie's, the live-band country karaoke at Hill Country, Wednesday night jazz jam sessions at HR-57 ...

I always recommend the social sails at DC Sail, which happen every Wednesday at the Gangplank Marina on the Southwest Waterfront. For $10, you get to go sailing in a six-person sailboat with some more experienced sailors for a few hours, and on the first Wednesday of the month, there's a barbecue after.

It's also worth checking to see if VisArts in Rockville is hosting its cocktails-and-canvas painting classes on any Wednesday when you're free.

Al fresco restaurants in Maryland: Addis Ababa in Silver Spring has a fantastic rooftop deck. Redwood in Bethesda has a nice, somewhat secluded patio. And I'd be remiss not to mention the paper-covered picnic tables outside the Bethesda Crab House if you feel like cracking open a few crustaceans.

I thought it ran through May 11th. Was it extended? Can you park anywhere nearby? THANKS, was sad I had missed it.

Song 1 was extended through the 20th. You can usually find metered parking right on the Mall if you go late.

Dear Gurus - my handicapped mother will be visiting over the Labor Day weekend. I need to keep her as busy as possible to avoid any idleness that could lead to uncomfortable personal questions in the wake of a recent break-up. I need to keep her busy busy busy, and do it without subjecting her to much physical activity. Help me gurus, you're my only hope.

Ooh, I so relate to your predicament. I checked with our gardens/outdoors guru Amy Orndorff on this, and she suggested you go anywhere and everywhere "it's impolite to talk." I think that's an excellent suggestion. The theater is on her list -- Signature Theatre has "God of Carnage" while Arena has the more upbeat "Music Man"'; both also have parking garages adjacent to them, making them a little easier to get to.   If the weather's nice -- Meadowlark Gardens is accessible (check out our full list of best gardens here), and of course, if you were to go sightseeing, the FDR Memorial is famously handicap-accessible, not to mention really beautiful. And of course, you need to get familiar with our Movies page, because a movie clearly must be on your agenda. (May I suggest not "The Dictator.")

Good luck to you, friend.

Hey GOGs, I'm on maternity leave all summer, and am probably going to get some serious cabin-fever. Any ideas on baby-friendly and preferably inexpensive stuff I could do with the little lady? It may be too hot out to do things outside soon, but other than two-hour trips to museums, I'm struggling to come up with ways to keep my sanity. Oh, I also am kinda anti-social, so don't have much interest in Mommy & Me outings. Thanks in advance!

We checked with staff mom/our boss Anne Kenderdine who offered this:  Hi, congratulations on your new arrival, and good for you for getting out and wanting to explore, even with baby in tow. You’re right that air-conditioned places are going to be appealing. What neighborhood are you looking for? American Art/Portrait Gallery has very nice baby-changing facilities because it’s more recently renovated, compared to a bunch of the older museums. The Argonaut on H Street is a particularly kid-friendly, I’ve found. When your lady is still  small enough to do this, try the theaters that show movies just for moms, or grab a friend to go to the first screening of the day for a release that’s been out a while. I know you said you’re anti-social, but if you can find a group of new moms in your neighborhood, they’ll be full of more ideas – and support. And that might be the best of all for curing cabin fever.

D.C. is totally ruined now. We'll never get a table anywhere.

I was planning on doing social sail next week, now I probably won't get a spot. Everytime the Post mentions them, I sail less....sad sailing girl

Hey, I'm a DC Sail member, so I get to sail less every time I mention it, too. (You know about the Monday night member-only sails, right?)

on Rockville Pike fro dumplings. But only if the motorcade that gets to go bashing through all the traffic and stop lights. It is a long trip when you have to deal with that traffic.

Wow, I was expecting there to be a Chuck Brown chat today, but I guess this is an appropriate venue to celebrate his immeasurable contributions to DC. He connected the city like no one else. I'm a white 38-year-old woman, and everyone I know who lived in the District for any length of time---regardless of age, race, politics, etc.---recognized Chuck Brown's music as the soul of DC. He will be greatly missed.

Thanks for this note. We're all feeling the same way today. He was an amazing presence here in our city -- always played at least one free concert in the city every summer; he even attended the D.C. Record Fair back when it was first getting started.

Thanks for a fun chat today. Sorry the two of us couldn't get to more of your questions. We're going to give the Sound Bites tickets to the disgruntled Federal office worker who wants to take the President to see how bad the food is in a government cafeteria. Send your details to and I'll take care of the rest.

Enjoy this beautiful weather, everybody. Be back here next Thursday to talk about Memorial Day Weekend plans.

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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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