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

May 24, 2012

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

We're happy you can join us for Got Plans? today, but we'd bet that you're not happy that you aren't already on your way to the beach, or wherever else this long Memorial Day weekend may take you. 


Speaking of which, we start today with a bit of news, an update, really: the New York Avenue Beach Bar will open tomorrow at 5 p.m. says Tom Brown of the Passenger. So even if you can't go to the beach this weekend, the beach can come to you ... or at least Northwest DC. 


Back to today, we have D.C. Jazz Festival tickets to award to a pair of lucky chatters. What you need to do is: What are your favorite ways to soak up the hot Washington summer?

For hints, see our guide to the coolest. Summer. Ever

Are there any places I can go to watch and cheer next Saturday?+

Barring a trip to Azerbaijan, your best bet is to head to the Austrian embassy to watch the epic spectacle known as the Eurovision Song Contest. Fritz is rooting for Buranovskiye Babushki, and after seeing some YouTube footage of the little old ladies, I think I'm on board. For what it's worth, he bet on I'll Have Another beating the competition at the Kentucky Derby, so he's pretty good at picking winners...

is there someplace in SW or downtown you recommend for a group Happy hour type of retirement celebration for about 30 people that won't break the bank? BTW the age demographic is 40's to 60's.

For a happy hour send-off, Station 4 is a good bet in Southwest. It's right next to the Arena Stage and practically on the doorstep of the Waterfront Metro. Prices are reasonable, the selection of bottled beers is extensive and the cocktails are of the classic, fruity variety. 


As for the food? Well, Sietsema didn't think as much. But for a happy hour for your size group I think it's about perfect. 

Hi Gurus. My aunt and uncle will be visiting Williamsburg the first week in June. They want to come up to D.C. for a (long) day and see some sites. They've seen all monuments and Smithsonians on previous trips, so where can I send them now? Thanks!

Have they visited the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial yet? Open for less than a year, it's highly worth checking out. 


So they've seen all the Smithsonian museums, but have they gone off the mall? The Dupont-Kalorama Museum Walk on June 2 and 3 means free admission to some of the D.C. museums you usually have to pay for -- yes, we have those here too -- including the Phillips Collection and National Geographic


Hi we are looking for a place with live music, where we can have drinks and dance on Saturday night. Any suggestions?

Many places can fit the bill. What neighborhood are you interested in? DC? Maryland? Virginia? 

Any suggestions for things to check out and places to eat in Annapolis this weekend?

Not sure about specific events happening this weekend, but have you seen our Annapolis neighborhood guide?

Hi everyone! My parents are coming down to visit in June and then will continue on for a road trip of Virginia. Their itinerary is pretty open - heading out to the space museum in Dulles to see the shuttle and then out to Charlottesville but I am looking for things to recommend to them either on the way to Charlottesville or out near that area. They probably only have 3 days but thats not set yet either, if there is a lot to do, they could extend their adventure. Any advice you could give me (to pass on to them) would be much appreciated!! They like outdoor activities, historical places (Monticello is already on the list) and I was thinking maybe one vineyard too. While you guys are being amazing, are there any restaurant recommendations you could make?? Thanks a million!!

Ah, Cville. Love it down there, and you can certainly fill three days. If they're into hiking, then I would steer them toward Humpback Rocks, although if they're up for more of a challenge, Old Rag is always a popular spot. For wineries, I'm a fan of Veritas, which is positively idyllic, and Flying, which has a more laid-back vibe. If they enjoy history, be sure to send them on one of the historical tours at the University of Virginia (they start in the rotunda) and, as for food, well, I could go on and on. Some of my favorites: Hamilton's and Zocalo on the Downtown Mall, Continental Divide (best margs ever) and L'Etoile on Main Street, and Take it Away but UVa for sandwiches (be sure to try the house dressing).

So back in the day, my friends and I used to rent some campsites at the various state parks in Maryland, stay up late drinking around the campfire, and maybe go enjoy some tubing on the a nearby river during the day. But now MD state campgrounds have banned alcohol. We've had a few okay-ish experiences at commercial campgrounds but they're just not the same (less wooded, more crowded, on top of our neighbors, and lots of kids). So! Do you have any recommendations for campgrounds in and around the DC Metro area that allow alcohol, are wooded/private (hiking trails a bonus), and possibly even close to a river with tubing? Thank you!!

If you are able to find a campground that allows alcohol, please let me know because I have yet to find one! And yes, commercial campgrounds don't do much for me either. My suggestion is to rent a cabin, instead, ideally around Harpers Ferry.  Deep Creek Lake might also fit the bill.

Okay, so, you guys have become the de facto Fashion chat. Black tie wedding (outdoor ceremony at noon, black tie reception at night) in June at Blackberry Farms (fancy resort in TN). I've got my summery dress picked out for the ceremony, but am stumped for the reception. I have a black cocktail dress ( that I was hoping I could wear, but now I'm worried about wearing something not full-length and/or black. Help? If I have to get a gown, can I do color and/or patterns? Accessories/shoe thoughts on the dress that I do have (if that's allowed)? All of the etiquette guides are wishy-washy on wearing cocktail dresses to black tie events. Does the mere fact that I'm worried mean I should go for full-length?

I'm going to send this out to the peanut gallery for additional perspective, but I went to a fancy-schmancy black-tie wedding last weekend and I was one of many ladies wearing a cocktail dress.

I second this - also, because I'm short, I hate the way long dresses look on me, so I always go for something shorter than full-length and have never felt out of place at a black-tie function. Accessories also matter a lot. Dress up your black cocktail dress with a pair of killer shoes and jewelry and I think you should be fine.

There will be a group of 6 of us (all ages) getting together for dinner next week and are looking for a place with good happy hour specials but also quiet enough to have a conversation during dinner. Gallery Place works out the best logistically for everyone. We would be getting together on the early side (5:30 or so) if that makes a difference. We don't need a library but It's tough to find a place quiet enough on a Thursday night to not have to shout to be heard.

There's a definite buzz to the dining room at Proof but I'd still put it on the more favorable side of the conversation continuum in a neighborhood of predominantly buzzy, cacophonous eateries.  

Help! Is there any good food that you would recommend in the National Harbor area? I'll be at a hotel there next week, without access to a car. I've been out of the U.S. for the last 6 months or so, and I'm craving red meat, Mexican and Thai food.

Fritz and Lavanya scoured the NH a while back to bring you the National Harbor neighborhood guide, complete with restaurant suggestions.

I was thinking about going to a Nats game with a meetup group since I'm the only Nats addict among my friends and ball games are more fun with a group, but I've never done the meetup thing before so I feel kind of weird. Is it really just a normal thing people do now? Or do people go just to network or (gack!) hook up?

Lavanya actually did a week of Meet-ups for a story last fall, and she had a great time. You should definitely give it a try! And let us know how it goes...

When I went to a friend's "Black Tie Optional" wedding two years ago, I wore a black cocktail dress. Most of my friends (and the other 20s-30s female guests) also wore cocktail dresses, in varying colors.

There ya go...

If you're willing to travel a little farther south than Charlottesville, I highly recommend visiting Natural Bridge. I drove by it for years on I-81 because I figured it was probably just meh, but when I finally went there - WOW. Definitely one of the best nature-y things in the state.

Thanks for the tip!

I was told that black at a wedding was not allowed (as was white). Short length for black tie is fine--it's white tie that requires a long dress. Since you are already aware of Nordstroms, go ask the personal shoppers there for advice.

So many rules -- how does one keep track? Good suggestion on the personal shopper. Thanks!

I want to get some people together to have a 5K race on Rock Creek Trail. Is this something I would need to contact the county for or no? I imagine we'd have a max of 20 or so people running, so it's not like we'd be cramming the trail.

No need to alert anyone for this if it's an unofficial thing. I always see massive groups of people running along the towpath (part of Team in Training, I'd guess), not to mention from Pacer's and Lululemon...

Is this location still open? I have a Groupon voucher for there but seem to recall that Mike Isabella temporarily taking over a space for his Bandolero restaurant. Or did he take over some other space? Can I still get my sustainable fish?

Right. So, it's all a bit confusing. Tackle Box Georgetown is open, as it has been since November. A fire that began at Tackle Box's next door neighbor, Hook, gutted the space in June 2011. Hook is closed, and as of tonight, it's Mike Isabella's Bandolero, which was temporarily doing a pop-up in the Cleveland Park Tackle Box's space. The Cleveland Park Tackle Box is now closed, permanently, and is becoming a tapas bar, Pulpo. Still with me? 


In short: Yes, Tackle Box Georgetown is open. Groupon away. 

I have a friend in from out of town and I'm introducing her to my bf for the first time. Any suggestions on a dinner location downtown that's fun, but not too loud or too quiet and no seafood or sushi? I'd like to go somewhere new-ish, but all my ideas seem too loud or crowded to have an actual conversation.

New-ish. Okay... do you have any location and/or price range? Of the bat, I'd recommend Boundary Road, or perhaps Fiola, though that might be a bit loud. Give us a few more specifics and we can try to find something that will work!

Peeps. Beer tastings. Performances. Noted. Which spaces/exhibits have been getting good buzz otherwise?

Michael O'Sullivan spent lots of time there last week and put together a gallery of some of his faves. But part of the fun of Artomatic is just wandering around and searching for the diamonds in the rough, in my opinion.

My favorite way to get outside during the summer months is to play bocce on the DC Bocce League! It takes minimal skill (so you can play with a cold beverage in hand) and you can enjoy all of the creative team names, with amusing innuendos to sweaty and/or hot balls. After bocce, I either join the other teams at the local bar or head over to my favorite spots with a roof or patio so I can cool off once the sun goes down.

This is a great one -- Fritz and I were both Bocce Leaguers for a while. My always-losing (but fun-loving) team was The Spicy-a-Meatballs.

Who do you think would win in a fight; Officer Mahoney or T-1000?

How is it not T-1000? He's T-1000!


If you're going to claim otherwise, explain your rationale. I'd have a hard time picturing a scenario where T-1000 doesn't win, but I'm open to suggestions. 

Might be a big old mess with Naval Academy graduation being on Tuesday. Be prepared for big crowds.

Yeah, not to mention traffic to and from on Route 50. 

Your National Harbor article mentions a Led Zeppelin event. Do you know when that is? Other details?

Actually, the story was published a while back, so I'm going to have to delete that (oops!). But ZepFest ended up being canceled, so you didn't miss a thing.

hi gogs! i know this is one those repeat questions but i tried searching thru archives & had trouble locating more lowkey ideas. ideally on sat. jun 2, not much into night life, but definitely girl bonding time. maybe u can add this to the editors list (with bachelor party ideas too!) thanks so much! PS is there a fashion expert in house now too?

Okay, girl bonding time. Have you, by any chance, ventured over to Spa World in Centreville before? I'm mildly obsessed with it. Pools of varying temperatures, "poultice" rooms with different minerals, all sorts of spa treatments (hello, cucumber face mask!), killer Korean food, gym, etc. You can go any time of day - I went to a similar place in New York for a bachelorette party and it was a great time. If this is happening close to the wedding, the bride is likely to come away relaxed and refreshed rather than hungover. Only thing I would say though is the dresscode for the pools is sans swimsuit, but you don't have to go there if you don't want to.

Going out on a second/third date...not sure exactly...but meeting up Saturday. Any ideas?

You're going to have to give us a liiiittle more than that. Are we talking day or night? Do you want a food-related thing, or some kind of event? Of course, there's always Eurovision.

It's Commissioning Week at the Naval Academy. Are you sure you want to compete with all the graduates and their families for space?

Hm. Thanks for the word to the wise...

It's after work and I'm downtown near Metro Center. No real price range, just would like to be able to hear each other, without it being super quiet - which rules out most of the new-ish places. Maybe Bistro D'oc or Jaleo?

As a follow-up to the question earlier asking for a quiet-ish restaurant near Penn Quarter, there's certainly no shortage of bustling establishments. Zaytinya, Central, the afforementioned Jaleo, Cuba Libre...the list goes on. 

GOG- Submitting early due to another long day of running around. I need a good date night after a long week and am trying to fight the urge to do the old a movie and passing out on the couch with something in Old Town Friday night. Any suggestions? Thank you!

Does it have to be Old Town? Because a picnic + sangria at Jazz in the Garden sounds like it might fit well. It kicks off Friday, and I'm banking on the fact that it won't be too crowded given the long weekend (wishful thinking?). There's also Artomatic, which is a little closer, in Crystal City.

1) I agree with Jess - I think that your black cocktail dress would be fine for the reception, especailly if you dress it up with the shoes and jewelry. (Based on the website, it looks really nice) 2) I think wearing black to a wedding is okay now. It used to be a "rule" but I think it's out of date now. Especailly for a night-time event, which the reception will be. (I wore a black and white dress to a wedding last month - breaking all the rules)

Alright. Actually, I am young(ish) and have never heard that rule about not wearing black to a wedding (perhaps because of my age, or maybe I just have poor etiquette). Not wearing white of course I could understand, but if the dress code is "black tie" then you should be able to wear black, by golly!

I am interested in learning to kayak. Any ideas on places in the area where I could take lessons

Potomac Paddlesports has you covered. They are pretty great and taught me everything I know.

Do you all have any ideas for fun, outdoor, activities this weekend where you can bring your dog? We live in DC but could drive somewhere too. Thanks!

Try the Maryland DogFest Saturday and Sunday.

The bocce ball comment sparks a question/comment in my head. My husband (early 30s) for the first time joined a kickball league this spring. He thought it would be a fun way to be a little active, meet people, get a few drinks, etc...however, his experience leaves much to be desired. Hardly anyone shows up and when they do, they don't try to play the game, resulting in continual loses. Everyone seems to only want to end the game ASAP so that they can get to the bar and play flip cup. Just this past week, he received an email from the league reprimanding the players for bringing outside alcohol into the bar. I mean, really? The team is just a bunch of immature people with the sole intent of getting wasted on a Wednesday night. We had thought about trying bocce ourselves, but is this behavior something that can be expected from any of these social sport leagues?

Yeah, when I read the first part of your question I could see where this is going. I would not recommend the D.C. kickball league(s) for an early-30s married person if they're looking to meet similarly-minded people. The kickball leagues are a way for fresh out of college, new to D.C. and, often times above all else, single folk to come together to pantomime kickball for an hour before heading to the sponsor bar to start the real games. Such is the reality; it's extremely popular and can be great fun if that's what you're into, but I'd say not at all what your husband is looking for. 


Bocce, in my one season of experience (last season), draws a more grown-up crowd -- think late 20's/early 30's and up to about 40 -- but your experience will have quite a bit to do with your individual team's chemistry. If you can find a few people to join a team with, I think you'll find its easier to integrate rather than being the odd man out on a fully-formed team. Contact the DC Bocce League and let them know what you're looking for. 

I admit, it's been a while since I've been to one at the Capitol, but think this is the weekend to break my drought. Can't find the list of 'do not bring' anywhere, nor where gates will be set up. Any help? Also, thinking the rehearsal will be a better idea for viewing, will the same rules apply?

There is some info here on where the gates are. In terms of what to bring/not to bring, here's a list of prohibited items.

We went to ZooFari last week and the Asian Festival/Newseum on Saturday. We were thinking of visiting the Holocaust Museum, but were mainly interested in the Permanent Exhibition...are tickets tough to get the day of? Something on these lines...she may drive or metro in from MD, but I'm in NW.

Wait -- is this the date person, thinking of going to the Holocaust Museum for your third date? You can definitely get tickets on the day of (they're timed so they may be for a little later in the day), but if you're looking for something a little lighter, you could always check out Miro at the National Gallery or Ai Weiwei at the Sackler. In the history vein, there's also Unbuilt Washington, a look at some of the projects that could have transformed D.C.'s landscape (the National Sofa!) but -- for better or worse -- didn't.

My cousin graduates this year and asked for something from the Nationals as his present. I'm thinking tickets, but not sure which game to buy for anytime this summer....I don't know enough about these teams to pick good tickets.

I would call the Nationals ticket office and ask about buying ticket vouchers for your cousin so that he/she can look at his schedule and choose the game(s) he'd like to attend. 


If you'd rather get him tickets straight-away so the two of you can attend together, I'd recommend tickets against the Phillies, Giants or World Series-champion St. Louis Cardinals, but that's just me. 

What are some cool things to do this weekend for a group of young professionals, ages 23-27? We are looking to stay in the DC area to avoid all of the traveling traffic.

In addition to our list of best weekend events, I'd also add the New York Avenue Beach Bar, which opens Friday.

Hey "Soaking up the Summer by Playing Bocce" -- I have Jazz Fest tickets for you. Email me: 


Our job here is done. Enjoy the long weekend and see you at the beach (bar)!

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.
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