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

Jun 21, 2012

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

Hi everyone, and welcome to Got Plans?. No special guest today, just the Going Out Gurus answering your questions about surviving this heat wave ... and whatever else is on your minds, from happy hours to new restaurants to the upcoming Fringe Festival. Here we go.

Please show link to your Going Out Guide for events for July 4th !

You're actually reading our minds on this one. Tomorrow will bring the official  launch of our July Fourth coverage -- in the meantime, searching for "july fourth" should direct you to some of the biggest celebrations around the area, including the bashes on the Mall, in Annapolis, Baltimore, Rockville, etc.   

I was thinking of heading to the Biergarten haus to watch the eurocup on Sunday; should I expect crowds? If so, how soon do you recommend getting there? Any backup location ideas?? Thanks!!

I was at Biergarten Haus to watch Germany last Sunday, and pretty much every table in the courtyard was reserved. There were a few tables for two and four on the roofdeck, but they were gone about an hour before kickoff. Doors open at noon for the 2:45 England-Italy match; I'd be there around 1:30, depending on how many people you've got with you.

On weekends, what time of day is the busiest/least busy at the water park at Six Flags America?

Truthfully, I don't know if there's a correct answer to when it's "least busy" at a huge amusement park on a weekend. Common sense would say very early or very late, which means getting there when the park opens at 10:30 a.m. and high-tailing it over to Hurricane Harbor, which opens at 11; the water park is open until 7 p.m. daily. 

I'm meeting up with a former colleague next Wednesday. We want to talk and enjoy a drink, but prefer to avoid a crowds and interns. Where should we go?

I've stopped back in at a couple of wine bars in town recently, and found them to be exactly what you're looking for (and a bonus this time of year: They seem darker and more air-conditioned than more crowded bars). Veritas in Dupont Circle could be one to hit;  Dickson is another. Both also do bar snacks, and I had great service at both recently. If you're looking for something with cocktails, try Chez Billy, which is massive, so you should be able to find a less-crowded corner.

A few days ago there was something on the main web page about places to eat at the stadium or in the neighborhood. Now that I'm going to the Nats game tonight, it is nowhere to be found. Can you please post a link to it? I need to find the frites stand tonight :) On a related note, the search engine for the Post website is one of the worst I've ever tried to use, hence my desperate plea for a direct link.

Here's our guide to food and drink in and around Nationals Park. The summary: There's lots of good stuff coming to the neighborhood surrounding the stadium, but most of it isn't open yet. 


Having said that, you could do a lot worse than pizza and beer at Justin's Cafe, or a riverside picnic at the  Yards Park. The Fairgrounds is a reliable (but crowded) destination for pre-game food trucks with a fratty vibe. 


That frites place you ask for, Box Frites, is behind section 238. 


Is the big Barbeque Cook-off this coming weekend or in July? Thanks.

The National Capital Barbecue Festival is this Saturday and Sunday on Pennsylvania Avenue, and thank goodness, the temperatures and humidity are supposed to come down just in time. A tip: There are plenty of samples, but it's a while-they-last deal, so try to get there on the early side.

Hi gurus, My friend and I are meeting in Rosslyn for a drink before walking over to another friend's apartment close by for dinner. Any suggestions? It doesn't seem like there are many bars in the Rosslyn area, but hopefully I am mistaken! We would like to stay near the Rossyln metro. Thanks.

There are not many restaurants in Rosslyn, unfortunately. There's Continental, from the team behind Rocket Bar/Iron Horse/Bedrock Billiards, which has skee-ball, pool, darts and a fun '60s JetSet-meets-Tiki decor. Slightly up the hill on Wilson Blvd is Piola, which is good if you're hungry: The Italy-based pizza chain offers free snacks and discounted beer/wine/cocktails until 8. 

I haven't been to the bar at Le Meridian since last fall, but it's right in the middle of Rosslyn -- formerly known as the Hotel Palomar -- but it had a nice little wine bar and a large patio with views of Georgetown -- if, you know, you want to be outside in this weather.

GOGs, I need to plan a moving party, but I'm out of my apartment at the end of this month and couchsurfing till I leave in August. I'd love to do it in one of the parks (Yards Park, ideally), but their No-Booze policy makes that sound less fun than I'd like, so I'm thinking a bar. Any recommendations for an accessible, casual place in the District (or close-by 'burbs) that allows for an outside option while providing amenities? I'm thinking Wonderland Ballroom, or Wonderland-esque...

Wonderland's sister bar Looking Glass Lounge has a nice back patio with picnic tables. (I'd also look into the patio at the Blue Banana, which is right next door.) I was hanging out and drinking beers on the roof of Trusty's the other night, and that's another place you should consider: Hip, a little funky, good selection of both microbrews in cans as well as cheap draft beer, and a large patio. Also: The Rock and Roll Hotel's rooftop deck, just because it's really large, the music's good and the beer's not that expensive.

What are some other bars (maybe in Georgetown) that would be showing the matches this weekend? We have a group of about 8-10. Not looking for specials just a place to watch.

For Spain-France on Saturday, I'd go to the Elephant & Castle at 19th and I, which is where all the Barcelona fans gather to watch FCB games. It'll be packed. 


For England-Italy, there's nowhere better than the Queen Vic -- unless you're cheering hard for Italy. 


If it has to be Georgetown, Rhino Bar is probably the best bet. 

As a follow-up to the late afternoon birthday celebration in DC—If I were to organize a picnic with friends at a park in DC, like the one by the Lincoln Memorial that has beach volleyball courts, how hard is it to reserve a court and how does what get there by public transportation? Do you have any other location suggestions that provide beach volleyball options? Thanks Jenny

On weekends, most of those courts are open on a first-come, first-served basis. There are a few that can be reserved through the DC Department of Parks and Recreation, but you need to apply for permits a month in advance. (See that link for details.)

Getting there: Walk from Foggy Bottom.

Thank you for that suggestion! I've never heard of it, but I'm planning on packing the fam in the car and heading over there on Sun. to search for the waterfalls. Any suggestions/tips about the place? I'm coming from NoVA and never venture into MD either.

Ah I love that place (though it's not that hard to find the falls!). I'd pack bathing suits for the kids, because you can also swim at the (manmade) lake in the park. I've mentioned this before, but Thurmont also has a cool family-run petting zoo, the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve. There is a fee, unlike the National Zoo, but they offer "safari rides" that  are pretty awesome (yes, I rode one, and they had Highland Cattle last time I was there, which are worth the fee all by themselves). If you decide to venture into nearby Frederick, they have a cute main street, and you could stop by Brian Voltaggio's Lunchbox casual restaurant.

First of all many thanks for sponsering the weekend concerts at the Carter Barron Amphitheatre every year, they are a highlight of my summer (especially since I live int he neighborhood!) I just have one question, I was SO bummed to see that you all are not sponsering a Latin Night this summer :o( ...What happened? That was my favorite one of them all & was truly one of the best concert I have attended there. Last year was almost at capacity...why no repeat this summer? Thanks, Trying Not to Seem Ungrateful...

Firstly, thanks for checking out the Carter Barron shows; we love putting them on. Basically, the lineup can change slightly from year to year, and we try to keep things fresh with a variety of genres and bands. I'm sure Latin Night will return next year. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy what's coming up in the next few weeks

Hey Gurus, I might try to take advantage of an early evening and was considering finding a great HH spot with excellent sushi? Are there any good spots that come to mind? Thanks

Well, I put together a list of the best sushi happy hours in town, though it's losing one as of tonight, when Current closes its first-floor sushi restaurant/lounge.

Sei and Kushi are two of my favorites right now. If you're hungry, consider Uni, where you get a bowl of miso and two rolls for $8 before 7 p.m.

Seeing as we're all roasting, what's your go to place for a good, cold, refreshing drink around town? And what do you get there?

Frozen boozy slushies at Estadio -- whatever the two flavors behind the bar are -- are fantastic for beating the heat. A good gin and tonic at New Heights is always refreshing. And for happy hour, $4 frozen margaritas at El Centro DF.


Crystal City has two sand volleyball courts open to the public. Just past 23rd Street.

Oh, good call... And then drinks at Freddie's Beach Bar or Tortoise and the Hare afterwards.

We are thinking about a weekend getaway in Charlottesville this summer, but don't know the area that well. What would be on your don't miss list of restaurants, wineries, etc.?

First, check out our guide to the breweries, wineries and sights around the area. Yup, I said breweries. The area is quickly becoming known as the "Brew Ridge Trail." And it doesn't hurt that it offers a great way to palate-cleanse between all the sips of wine. On the way down, I'd add another winery, Barboursville, not too far from Charlottesville.  But I really loved our list of things to do while you're there -- I picnicked with an amazing view at Skyline Drive, and Fritz picked peaches. Let's say we went native.

The orchard I mentioned in that story has fresh peaches for picking RIGHT NOW. I am planning my next trip out there as we speak.

Hi! Friends going to see Jill Scott this evening at the Verizon Center. Coming from Baltimore and staying at Rouge. They love a good meal for a good price. Her short list includes Zola, Proof and Zengo. Any recommendations out of those three or somewhere else in the vicinity? They will have time before the show to eat.

Well, Zola's shutting down at the end of the month so this might be your very last chance to dine there if that's important. I'd go for Proof over Zengo most of the time (FYI: There's a Living Social deal for Zengo on at the moment). 

What spot would you recommend for post-dinner drinks for a group of 8-12 people, in the downtown/Penn Quarter area? Dinner's early, so drinks will commence between 8 and 9. Places where we could snag a table or two would be best. I know that's a tall order -- that's why I'm turning to you! Thanks.

Y'know, if you're getting there *by 8* you might be able to snag a table at The Passenger, if not immediately then within a reasonable period of time. For something a bit larger and general-interest, there's the ever reliable troika of RFD, Iron Horse and Fado

Thinking of going berry picking this weekend. Do you have a favorite location within an hour of DC. Also, there is supposedly a dog friendly vineyard in VA, what is its name again?

This is almost so perfect I'm wondering if it's not a plug. But I'll bite this time:  Bluemont Vineyard  has perhaps the best view of any winery in our area and is very dog-friendly. And it's berry-picking season  right now at the winery's neighbor, Great Country Farms, just down the path;  Great Country and Bluemont have the same ownership.  Because the weather is so nuts, call ahead to see what's available for picking. The warmth brought strawberries weeks early, so that season is already over.

I'm heading up to Charm City on Saturday for the Nats game, but I'd like to spend a few hours in the afternoon visiting some of Baltimore's finest watering holes. Fritz, I read your review of Of Love and Regret but was wondering if you knew of any other must-try places?

Baltimore's finest watering holes, eh? There are a lot of places that I love in Harm City. On the good beer tip (since you've mentioned Of Love and Regret), Max's in Fells is like Baltimore's own little Brickskeller/ChurchKey, but way more laidback. Fantastic selection. The brewpubs to hit are the Brewer's Art (home of Ozzy and Resurrection, two of the East Coast's finest Belgian-style beers) and the Pratt Street Alehouse, home of the Oliver Breweries. (Oliver makes the British-style cask ales you see at Meridian Pint, ChurchKey, Pizzeria Paradiso, etc.)

For just low-key beer-and-a-shot bars, I like Mount Royal Tavern, Mum's and ... this other corner bar I went to before Love and Regret the other week.  Couple blocks north, up near Bank Street. Blanking. Sorry.

Or burgers and shakes at the new Good Stuff!

Thanks, Spike.

Wow - Zola (and its siblings) and Current are closing doors, too? What is going on in this city? Commercial rents too sky high?

It hasn't been a very good month for some very noteworthy D.C. restaurants: Casa Nonna, Buddha Bar, Zola, Current ... heck, even the original Armand's is closing at the end of the month! My thoroughly non-expert take is if you look at the ridiculous rate of expansion among D.C. restaurants in the past four or five years -- and with a ton more coming -- some contraction was inevitable. Or perhaps some of the restaurants just weren't very good

It wasn't a plug just a girl looking to spend a fun weekend with her bf and her dog

Well, it was kind of perfect, because they are thisclose together, and they're two favorite spots of mine to visit! 

Is this an event I can go to on my own? (i.e. w/o friends) I'm pretty social and haven't recruited friends yet but want to go. Also, is it best to go on time if I want to do the hamster ball?

I wrestle with this question whenever someone asks it. So many of the Brightest Young Things parties attract groups of friends that if you're not good at talking to strangers it can be hard to get in ... but on the other hand, with DJs, museums exhibits to browse through, performance art and, uh, human-sized hamster balls, it should be easy to find *something* to start a conversation about, right?

My single friend is thinking about moving to National Harbor or DC proper from Philadelphia. She loves the walk-to accessibility of grocery stores, coffee shops and retail stores in PHL. Any thoughts on National Harbor or good D.C. neighborhood suggestions for her to rent? She makes a pretty penny but doesn't want her costs to be exorbitant.

I think she's not going to get that kind of walk-to accessibility in National Harbor, but perhaps I'm biased because I've been in D.C. so long.  I can only vouch for my hood -- Kalorama/the northern end of Dupont is a little softer on price than other neighborhoods. I also liked Glover Park when I lived there, for its price point and its walkability to the Whole Foods/gym/Georgetown.  Readers? Any of you live in an awesome neighborhood and aren't paying an arm and a leg to do it? 

I'm heading to the Who's Bad show at the 9:30 Club tomorrow. I'm totally psyched, since it's been awhile since I've gotten to rock out to some live 80s (it's been awhile since I've seen the Legwarmers). Do people dress up for Who's Bad? What time do you think they'll get started? I hear it's an awesome show so I don't want to miss it, but I'd like to avoid 9:30 beer prices as long as possible.

For those who don't know Who's Bad?, they're a Michael Jackson tribute act that rose to fame locally because they happened to be playing the 9:30 club the exact day that Michael Jackson died.  I haven't seen them, but we did shoot this video of one of their shows, if you want to gauge whether people dress up. As for set times, the 9:30 posts them on its site the day of the show and they're pretty firm, so check them tomorrow before you head out for your pre-gaming.

GoGs, Do you think Petworth bars/restaurants/lounges will actually amount to destination spots or will it primarily be destined for locals? When I say locals, I mean local residents/neighborhood residents as opposed to DC residents and the surrounding areas? I am asking because even if there are great places there or in the future, it is a schlep still to get there. What say you?

I don't think Georgia Avenue will turn into H Street, Adams Morgan, U Street etc... but I do think that the neighborhood is setting itself up nicely to have a nucleus of solid neighborhood bars. The only one I can see (right now) becoming a destination is Chez Billy, simply because it's a huge space with a good happy hour, outdoor seating, a cool vibe and -- oh yeah -- name recognition because it's run by the team behind Marvin/BlackByrd/Dickson/the Gibson/etc. People from other neighborhoods will want to check it out. I don't think that's necessarily the case with DC Reynolds, for example, even though I love the spot. If it was more centrally located, a la standard, I could see it being huge. (Yes, I know Georgia Ave is only two stops north of U Street.) 

I don't think enough people realize that it's a short walk from, say, Meridian Pint to DC Reynolds. I also think that Petworth is considered less safe than other areas -- especially by people who don't live in the immediate area. 

But in a few years ... who knows?

I always get confused on this but wouldn't northern Dupont/Kalorama actually be Adams Morgan?

No, Kalorama is a real place, a magical place.  Because the homes are large, and it's packed with embassies and galleries rather than condo buildings, it takes a little more work to find an apartment in the neighborhood, but I've found them to be quite a bit less expensive than the other side of the circle. Wikipedia says the hood is one of the most affluent places in Washington, but I'm doing my best to bring down the average income.

Is it true Riot Act is closing?

I think "reformatting" is a better word. The building will stay open.  They're still going to book comics into the big hall downstairs, as well as other liver entertainment. But they're trying to do something to get more people to come into the street-level bar -- a bland and horribly underused space -- during the week, when things have been sloooooowwwwwwwwww.

Virtually all VA wineries are dog friendly.

Thanks for that; I'd still recommend calling, not just bringing the dogs. Bluemont is particularly great because the owners frequently had their own dogs on premises, and think of them as mascots.

Hosting a meetup for new and expectant mothers in DC. Have any suggestions for a good location where we can talk and get to know each other? The group will probably meet during the week. Thanks

Awesome! Great idea for get-together. Would you mind sharing the name of the Meetup in case some of our readers were interesting in checking it out? We definitely hear from our fair share of bored new moms on maternity leave.  Second-time dad Justin weighed in on a meeting spot for one for us -- he suggested a Le Pain Quotidien, because of their large communal tables, where  you guys should be able to camp out undisturbed. You can order and pay individually, too, which is great for a big group (and the food is generally good too!) In a similar vein, there are Bread and Chocolate locations that could work too.

That National Geographic party sounds great, but the use of the word "young" in the title of the group throwing it leads me to believe there's an age limit.

Well, considering the founders were bright and young when the site was created in the early 2000s ... I think the parties get everyone from interns to late 30-somethings.

I suspect the winery the original poster is thinking of is Barrel Oak Winery in Delaplane, whose initials (BOW) were done on purpose. But yeah, soooo many wineries are dog-friendly. I think Barrel Oak may be the dog-friendliest.

Funny, Barrel Oak is on my re-visit list this summer. I've been before but it didn't make much of an impression; this year, however, Wine Enthusiast named the winery the top family-friendly winery in the country. Definitely warrants another visit, I think. I'll be making the rounds at lots of wineries in the next month, so if any readers have favorites, I'll take them.

It appears (at least from their website) that Tackle Box no longer serves steamed crab legs, which is a d--- shame. Do you gurus have any idea where I can get some, within DC/metro accessible? Thanks for your help!

If you're just talking about big-old Alaskan crab legs, the Quarterdeck in Arlington sells them by the pound, alongside peel-and-eat shrimp, clams, etc.

Its definitely not a "cool" area to live, but east of Logan Circle/near the convention center is cheap, within walking distance to plenty of restaurants/bars, and still pretty cheap. In 3 years, when all the interminable construction in finished, I imagine it will be a pretty desirable area to live.

Thanks! I totally agree that the neighborhood near the Convention Center is one to watch. 

For 31st bday celebration on fri., june 29...after dinner at birch & barley...we want to head out for drinks with good music (we enjoy r&b and hip hop primarily). small group of us. we were considering bohemian caverns as the bday girl is a fan of the usual dj there (2-tone jones). he's off next friday. so where to go? music is more important than the crowd b/c we'll have fun just being together. thought about little miss whiskey's, but haven't been there recently. counting on you to work this out!

I don't know who the DJ at Little Miss Whiskey's will be -- I usually get their weekend schedule on Monday or Tuesday -- but it's hard to go wrong there, because the lineup is usually so good. (Case in point: DJ RBI, who is in the same vein at 2Tone Jones, is spinning this Friday night.) And if you want to bar-hop, you're across the street from Becky, the ultimate pop/hip-hop/R&B top 40 dance party for bachelorettes and birthday girls.

I am planning on going to the Thai Fest in Georgetown on Saturday afternoon with my bf and want to know what to do afterwards. We are 30 somethings interested in outdoors, culture, music, or trying something new.

Definitely check out our neighborhood guide to Georgetown -- I like to think that Georgetown can be like a visit abroad, particularly with all the French shops and Dumbarton Oaks up Wisconsin. Then there's the Chinese tea house Ching Ching Cha (stick with the snacks, rather than the tea meal). But since it's summer, I'd head to Jack's Boathouse and take a kayak or paddleboard out on the Potomac. You could also hit the Capital Bikeshare and go for a ride on the Capital Crescent Trail, which is right past Jack's. And then hit Pizzeria Paradiso's birreria to cool off at the end of the day.

Hi Gurus--I am finally heading to Twilight Polo this weekend (it's been on my summer to-do list for 3 summers running, and I'm finally checking it off). Am I correct that we can bring our own food and drinks? Is there still dancing after the games? Do you have any general tips or wisdom to share? Thanks!

Yes! Love checking things off the Summer Bucket List. (It's on our GOG Summer Bucket List, too!) So, you can bring your own food and drinks (yes, wine), just not your own grill.  I asked our Twilight Polo fan Amy Orndorff, and she offered this: There's no rush getting there, you can come and go as you please; there is still dancing after the matches, but that is pretty late at night. Dress up a little -- sundresses and nice shoes are the norm.

Do you know of any beaches in the Annapolis area? I really need to cool off but Sandy Point fills and closes and I was not impressed with Brownie beach (small and expensive)

Honestly, I'd skip Sandy Point and Brownie and head over to Matapeake Beach in Stevensville, which is couple miles south of the eastern end of the Bay Bridge, near the Narrows. It's a free public beach run by Queen Anne County. Don't expect it to be too fancy -- there are nature trails, a picnic area, a little concession area -- but it's free, sandy and you get great views of the bay. Here's the info from Queen Anne's.

I just wanted to say "thank you" to Fritz for answering my question last week about where to go dancing for mid-30s looking for Jay-z style hip hop.

No problem. How'd I do?

I am interested in taking a flower arranging workshop. Any suggestions? I live and work in NW DC.

A friend of mine who has taken up flower arranging recommended Urban Petals; she suggested checking out the Flower Empowered site for workshops and online tutorials. (I'm a big fan of Web tutorials, by the way, for everything, including learning how to put on makeup.)

I'm rooting for England and Germany! Just saying.

C'mon, son. You cannot support both England and Germany. That's like rooting for the Cowboys and the Redskins.

The name of the meetup group is "1st Time Pregnant Mommies." Thanks for the suggestion!

Thanks! First-time pregnant mommy readers -- now you know where to find your this group on Meetup.

Fritz, thanks for the 31st bday help. That sounds good. I may check back in with you next week for more info on the DJ. And thanks for the tip on Becky. I hadn't heard of that.

Becky is pretty much the most awesome Top 40 '90s and '00s  playlist you've heard, mixed live by two killer DJs. Guilty Pleasure City.

Help (and thanks for taking my question)! I'm depending on you to rescue my frazzled brain. I plan on getting together Saturday evening with a dear friend I haven't seen in months due to grad school commitments on both our parts. Considering our meager budgets (and that I will have spent the entire day studying--during the SUMMER), can you suggest something pleasant for that evening? She's coming from the NOVA area, whereas I'm making my way into the city from NW/MD. No neighborhood restrictions; just looking for a fun, low-key place to wander or grab a bite to eat while catching up. Thank you!

Two thoughts; check out our guide to some of the best rooftops in D.C. -- you might like DC9, which keeps prices low. El Centro does happy hour on Saturday and they've got a nice rooftop. But I also like Breadsoda in Glover Park; it should be laid back, the food is good, and they also do happy hour on Saturday. You can't beat that.

Alright guys, we did this for almost two hours so we could squeeze in as many of your questions as possible. Thanks so much for joining us. See you again next Thursday at 1 p.m.

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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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