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

Jul 12, 2012

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

Welcome. everyone, to this week's sure-to-be-epic chat. We're already flooded with Bastille Day questions, and I'm here to take questions about our brand-new take on 40 Dishes Every Washingtonian Must Try -- this time, totally meat-free. Check it out here, and ask us about it, should you want to know more.

So in honor of Rickey month where would the gurus recommend getting the best Rickeys? I had an amazing one at Tabard Inn recently- where else should I go? Also, a quick plug for a great free event this weekend. Arize Fitnez is giving two free demos of its bootcamp classes this saturday. At 9:30 am at the fountain in Georgetown and at 4:30 pm in Rock Creek park in Bethesda. These classes are an exceptional workout!

The two best Rickeys I've had during Rickey Month 2012 are from the Columbia Room, which gets its zing from bitter lemon soda and Flying Dog beer, and at Estadio, which mixes gin with a celery/cucumber soda, white pepper, grapefruit peel and a sprig of rosemary. So refreshing and delightful.

But there's still plenty of time to try Rickeys -- and I have to admit I haven't tried any of the Tabard's three entries yet.

I got a Vegetarian Restaurant Guide from Compassion Over Killing at Pride and we tried the Fried "Chicken" Sandwich from Everlasting Life on the way home. That should DEFINITELY be included here.

Dude, totally agree. I love that they batter it and fry it to order, and the bread is awesome (I even keep a photo of it on my iPhone to show non-believers). I wrote about that sandwich and a few other vegan comfort foods way back when, and I was planning on giving it some love tomorrow - look out for a post of our staff faves. Thanks for reading.

Why no vegan food trucks? The Big Cheese is all-vegetarian and makes an AMAZING vegan grilled cheese with pesto.

The short answer is that everything in this story was nominated by readers -- and a few celebrity chefs. If anyone would have nominated a vegan or vegetarian dish from a food truck, we certainly would have considered it. (After all, we gave plenty of well-deserved props to Pedro and Vinny's Burrito Cart.)

So what do they mean when they say: "STANDING ROOM ONLY -- Limited Seats Available" - is that a 30/70 shot at a table, or one three-legged stool near the back? And assuming that we end up seatless. What do you like for pre-show dining? (I see a Jerry's and a lot of Ethiopian; which I should try to appreciate (the Ethiopian, not the Jerry's), but not tonight; 'cause tonight its time to get wild and loose (but not in a dietary sense)).

Ah, there are some seats in the Howard - cushy booths, in fact. You have a good shot of getting one if you get there early, and eat at the Howard. For dining, we're starting to see a lot more offerings in the area -- including the new Bistro Bohem and Shaw's Tavern. I would almost head to Boundary Stone first, then drive or cab it the (very) short distance to the Howard.  Check out this list here of options near the Howard.

Just read on the Post's "All we can eat" blog that Sam Lek, formerly of Town and Country bar at the Mayflower is leaving. Before it closed, I'd enjoyed a few cocktails at that place over the years. It's nice every now and then to go to a old school place and get a big, well-made cocktail (one usually cheaper than at more modern, trendy places.) Is the Round Robin Bar at the Willard the only hotel of that ilk still left (Library Bar at St. Regis is closed, too). If so, is a sat or sunday afternoon a good time to stop by. Doesn't need to be crowded, just some mixed nuts and background music playing. If not, are there any other bars that have that same feeling or come close to re-creating it? Thanks.

I was a HUGE fan of the old Town and Country bar, even though I was much younger than just about everyone else there, and I'm sorry to hear Sam is going back to Cambodia, where he's done so much great charity work over the years.

The Round Robin is one of the last of its ilk, along with the clubby Off the Record in the basement of the Willard. For "modern" hotel bars, I really like the Jefferson's Quill bar -- nice cocktails, relaxed-yet-upscale setting. And for that same T&C vibe, I've been recommending the Black Fox Lounge in Dupont. 

Do you have any suggestions for bars that will be kind enough to play the Crossfit Finals on Sunday?... it's on ESPN3. That bar will be rewarded with a bunch of crossfitters who will make the bartenders very happy/busy.

I have no idea, but I will post this in case any Crossfit fanatics have arranged viewing parties. 


Our 12 y.o. niece is visiting this weekend, and we're going to go see a Fringe show late Saturday afternoon/early evening. Any suggestions for dinner afterward? I was thinking Oyamel, but would be happy to hear other ideas in the general vicinity (we haven't picked a specific Fringe show yet). She's not a picky eater, but Ethiopian might be pushing it.

Jaleo is always a good option in Chinatown. Depending on your budget and appetite for walking, I personally love bringing out-of-town visitors to sit outside at Cafe du Parc. It's such an historic hotel, and it can be fun to sit right on Penn and people watch. Plus, the food is great.

Is there a good time to go to the H St Country Club on Saturday where it wouldn't be so crowded? I'm thinking that maybe earlier in the evening (like 5 or 6pm) would be a possible time to play some mini-golf without long lines. Thank you! Love you guys!

I would definitely recommend going on the earlier side. Thanks for the love!

I'm looking at the forecast and trying to hedge my bets: What are your picks for the best Bastille Day plans rain and shine?

I've been looking at the forecast anxiously because I'm supposed to take an outdoor daytrip on Saturday for an upcoming story. Don't like the idea of thunderstorms.

Looking at our list of Bastille Day parties ... the Hillwood party is mostly outdoors, so I might wait on that until the forecast is more clear. The block party at L'Enfant is always a good time, but if it's raining, well, you can't fit everyone inside the tiny cafe.

The Bistrot du Coin party will go on rain or shine. Always look forward to it. (Pro tip: Because it's so crowded, order full bottles of champagne or wine, not individual drinks. You'll also make your bartender happy.)

I was excited to see the link on the WP site, but I really hate the gallery format. Is there an option just to load it as a list? I know I'm missing out on good content, but I hate clicking through the galleries.

Ask, and you shall receive.

Hi! I will be going to Charlottesville on Saturday to check out a couple wedding venues on Saturday. My fiance and I should be alone....usually have 5 or more teenagers with us. Do you guys know a nice place...not too fancy for the 2 of us to have lunch? We will probably be dressed very casual...shorts. We are going to look at the Boar's Head Inn...and maybe Keswick Hall. I love reading all your recommendations every Thursday!

When I was in Charlottesville last summer, everywhere we went, people were suggesting we try Mas, which is the town's tapas joint. The wait, they told us, would be horrendous. So here are a few other options: Zocalo, and Local.  Charlottesville gets pretty busy because of all the winery tourists this time of year, so try to make reservations.

I'm thinking about going there tomorrow night for the first time (what better place on Friday the 13th!) and am wondering about the best way to get there. I can't leave Woodbridge, VA until 8:00, the doors open at 9:00, and I want to get there in time to see Ha Ha Tonka, the opening act. If I metro, I could park in my office building near Metro Center to save time, but what is the parking situation near the Black Cat? Do the lots around there fill up on weekend nights?

There aren't really "lots" around the Black Cat -- most people just park on the street, which has gotten harder since so many restaurants have opened on that stretch of 14th. I'd park your car downtown and take the Circulator -- which stops a block-and-a-half from the Cat -- or Metro. Otherwise, you might miss the openers (who should go on around 9:30) while you're circling.

What is the best dish on the list for my boyfriend who is a huge MEATEATER?

I am not a vegetarian, but I *really* enjoy the vegan wings at Smoke and Barrel. They're smoked for hours in a whiskey barrel, then served up "muddy" with dry rub and sauce. (In fact, I sometimes order them instead of meat, with a side of fried okra.) It's a good advertisement for saitan -- and for Smoke and Barrel.

What a great veg-friendly eating guide! I especially like the veggie burgers at BGR, I think it might be molasses that makes them so great?! A recent find for me is the vegetarian soy chicken sandwich at Caphe Banh Mi in Old Town, def worth a try.

I agree -- the molasses all the way.  Thanks for the suggestion - we'll be compiling these new suggestions in an upcoming post.

That vegan Tofu Curry Pie they make is amazing. I would add that!

Thanks for the suggestion! Lavanya says she loves that one. Sounds yummy. Really yummy. I'm just realizing I haven't eaten yet...

hi gurus! any thoughts on when is the best time to partake in the mini golf at the building museum? would a weekend morning likely be crazy?

I wouldn't go to the National Build Museum's new mini-golf course on a weekend UNLESS you got there right at 10. It was crazy when I went at 2 p.m. on a Friday; friends of mine who've gone around lunch report it being a zoo as well.

Wish they had some adults-only hours, to be honest, other than the two late-night events coming up.

Those Smoked Vegan Wings are so good. Also the best vegan brunch in town, hands down. Though I haven't been to the new once-a-month all-vegan brunch at Muse yet. That's on the 22nd this month. Might have to go.

I don't know what it is about Smoke and Barrel and Meridian Pint, but they make meatless meals that carnivores love. Case in point: When I watch soccer/football on weekends at the Pint, I scarf down the tofu scramble like there's no tomorrow.

Going to The Refused/Off show in Silver Spring on Monday. No question, just want to let you know that I am awesome!


My niece and I will be exploring the Mall area next week. Any suggestions for places to take her to lunch that aren't McDonalds but would suit a picky 5-year-old? Already have Mitsitam Cafe on our list. (Also any hints for which exhibits would be best for her would be much appreciated. We'll be checking out the usual suspects, of course: dinosaur bones and airplanes and Dorothy's ruby slippers, and I am excited to see how she likes Suprasensorial at the Hirshhorn.) Thanks! -Aunt with very little kid-experience

Suprasensorial is a GREAT idea for kids - when else do you get to touch things, play in colored light, lay down in beds, and listen to Jimi Hendrix? Mitsitam is really your best bet once you're out on the Mall. Or, it's a bit of a walk from the Mall,  but there's a Paul Bakery (hello desserts) that utterly French. Another option is to stop and grab sandwiches on your way -- maybe at Cowgirl Creamery in Chinatown?


Pho 14 is amazing. I just heard there's an all-vegan Vietnamese restaurant in Falls Church, Thanh Van? Anyone been?

I have not, but sounds delicious. Readers?

Totally agree with all the items I've tried on the list, and I'm so excited to try all of the ones I haven't yet! Seriously thought there wasn't a vegan dish anywhere in DC that I hadn't tried, but I was definitely wrong. The only one on this list that I kinda disagree with is Ren's Ramen. It's not even vegetarian the way it comes on the menu, and it doesn't have any protein. And, I love me some salt, but their ramen is WAY too salty to even be edible. If I'm gonna drop $10 on a bowl of noodles, I'd go for the vegetarian ramen (with tofu added) at Toki Underground ANY day.

Thanks for your thoughts! And it's not $10, but $13 dollars a bowl for Ren's, which left me a little salty myself. We didn't get a nomination  for Toki this time - isn't it funny how it hits us after something has run? --  but there's always next time (yes, we'll do it again, we promise). We did have another great nomination come in, too, for People's Ramen's three-mushroom veggie ramen, but it was a pop-up and closed before the story came out!

Recommendation for brunch near the Georgetown movie theater for a group of 20-something girls? We're definitely looking for more "fun" than "nice"; price is a factor, but booze is a plus! Is Chadwick's any good? Thanks!

Chadwick's is serviceable, but not great quality. Our quick office poll mentions the patio at Peacock Cafe, the New Orleans-themed Bayou, and the European dishes at Kafe Leopold.

Do you know of any screenings of Lawrence of Arabia scheduled for this year around the DC area, in honor of its newly restored 50th anniversary edition? The Academy of Motion Pictures is holding a showing next week in LA, but I haven't been able to find anything in the DC area. AFI in Silver Spring doesn't have anything listed either.

I do the repertory film listings for Weekend, and I haven't seen anything yet. Sorry!

Hi! it's my husband's birthday in a couple weeks. I'm looking for a place that can take a group of around 10 people, not too loud, fun (we're all in our 30s) but not too trendy (he's not into dancing) where we can all get a seat... price isn't an issue, though nowhere overly fancy. (H Street Country Club sort of vibe, if it didn't get so crowded...) DC or Maryland are fine. Ideas?

So ... somewhere with games that isn't too crowded? If that's the vibe you want, try Iron Horse, Continental (it's in Rosslyn, but has a fun tiki-jetset decor and pool/shuffleboard/etc.

Hi-- Please help!! My husband is turning the big 5-0 on July 20. He wants to have a nice dinner (for about 5-7 people) at an area restaurant with a "good view." I'm willing to spend the money, but can't find anything with a view. Any ideas? THANKS!

We're a little stumped here, but unanimously agree that Sou'Wester is one good bet for sure.

Please stop mentioning it in your chats or I'll never be able to get a seat at the bar! :)

I was going to Boundary Stone when the place was three days old and it was impossible to get a seat at the bar! Seriously. It's just an area that starved for places to get drinks. This is why I only go to Boundary on off-nights these days.

Take him to Bond 45 at the National Harbor. They're right on the water and the service/food is great. Although it's a NY-based chain, my husband and I had one of our more memorable DC meals there.


Group of 12 need to lunch after an 11AM service at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday July 16. Any suggestions for a moderately priced restaurant near the Cemetery? We will have cars, but will all go separate ways after the meal. None are from DC.

We'd suggest heading into Arlington -- perhaps up Wilson Boulevard to Village Bistro, or perhaps the Jaleo in Pentagon City.

You can't beat the view from the rooftop bar/restaurant at the W Hotel. Haven't eaten there but the view is amazing.

Thanks - I've eaten there. It's decent, but still hotel food to me. Downstairs, of course, is a great steakhouse, J&G -- you could always go there, and then head upstairs for drinks. Ask about that when you make your reservation.

Only Ethiopian in the area with veggie meat! Plus they have a bakery next door that has all kinds of vegan desserts, too.

Yes, thank you -- all from a woman chef who once helped make pastries for the White House.

Hi Gurus - First, thank you for the new guide to top veggie eats. As a vegetarian, it is hard sometimes to find decent options outside of the same few places. My in-laws are visiting this weekend and we are looking for ideas as to what to do with them. They love old, historical buildings and neighborhoods, so we've previously taken been to Old Town, Mount Vernon, and Georgetown. Are there other neighborhoods or buildings we should visit? They aren't interested in the Mall and museums as they've done that before. Help!

Well, there's Captiol Hill and Eastern Market, for a start; follow the Cultural Tourism walking tour around the Hill and Barracks Row. Lots of great old buildings to look at. 

I'd also obviously suggest getting out to Annapolis, which has lovely old historic buildings, winding side streets lined with colonial homes and great waterfront views. One of my favorite day trips. Our Annapolis Neighborhood Guide is a start.

There is a Czech restaurant a block east of the Theater that has awesome food and beer calle Bistro Bohem. It's address is 600 Florida Ave. Nw . Great homemade chips and very good pierogi!

I've come around on Bistro Bohem; early visits weren't great, but good pierogis and happy hour cocktails won me over.

I haven't had it yet, but I'm dying to try the Un-crabcake at this place. Just heard about it.

tofu with celery and onion and fried with Old Bay? This sounds too weird.

A 12 year old is going to fringe. I think I've seen maybe 2 shows in the 7 years, and some 12 year old is now cooler than me - I'm such a loser. I read your reviews and twits and postings, but I never manage to make it down. Nor do I see us as the type of people who would buy an all access button and just jump from show-to-show; night-to-night. Do you have a recommended approach for someone who wants to be more into it, but doesn't have a job writing for a paper

Even we have a strategy for figuring out what we will see! We start with looking at who's back -- what are the awesome performers from previous years doing this year? Stephanie wrote this great guide to a few of those. Then we see what the Post's critics are featuring, because those are shows that are interesting; you'll find three productions like that here. Then  there's what I'll call the Fringe Effect:  A show opens, and suddenly all the Fringe-goers and everyone at Fort Fringe is buzzing about it, or groaning about it. Word-of-mouth is the best part of Fringe, actually. This year, we're trying to encourage folks to tweet their own reviews using the hashtag #fringereviews. So if you're on twitter, I'd search for that hashtag and then start making your choices. And be sure to check back on the GOG beginning Friday, because we'll be posting reviews, so you can decide after you hear what our reviewers have to say.

Hey Gurus: So we have 2 mid-30s women looking to do a joint birthday celebration on a Saturday in August with a group of about 40 people. I have an email in to Jack Rose about what it takes to get their roof but can you think of any other places that have private space to accomodate such a group, without breaking the bank? Thanks!

Jack Rose is a great idea; we've had luck with a big party at Barcode, which has been very helpful organizing parties on their patio, so you still get that outdoorsy vibe;  You could try Bistro Lepic in Georgetown for something more sophisticated.

I'd also throw in the basement Boot Bar at Hill Country, the lower level of Laughing Man Tavern near Metro Center, Biergarten Haus (depending on the time), Iron Horse Tap Room and the back patio at Little Miss Whiskey's.

Have you guys tried it yet? Wondering whether it's worth the trek to H St.

I wrote about Khepra's in March -- he's a really interesting guy, and being in the kitchen of a raw-food restaurant is really interesting (it's stacked up with fruits, coconuts, dried berries, plantains, and more). I enjoyed my dish -- my friends and I loved the "crab cake" of coconut, and the "fried" plantain. It does get pricey, though. So I'd look for a deal (I think someone has one today - Capitol Deal, The WaPo's deal site, looks like)

Hey Gurus! What are the best happy hour specials near the Verizon Center on a Friday?

District Chophouse remains one of my favorites in the neighborhood: $3 house-brewed beers and $5 wine and cocktails until 7. RFD has pretty good deals -- $4 microbrews from a rotating selection, plus $5 red or white sangria. Iron Horse does $2 off all beers until 8, too.

All right, guys, looks like we're done for the day - we'll have more on veggie eats in the coming days, so check back.  Thanks so much for playing.

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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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