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

Jul 05, 2012

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

Happy fifth of July everyone! As Fritz tweeted, we at GOG would support any presidential candidate who would make July 5th an official holiday. Until then, we are here to answer your questions. Let's get started!

for the tickets to The Normal Heart last Sunday. The show is stunning. I think the audience was in shock as we left. It was as slow and quiet an exit from a theater as I have ever experienced. -top floor of American Art to beat the heat poster

We're glad you appreciated them!

Okay, gurus, this is your challenge. I just got power back yesterday afternoon, so I have not done anything fun in days. What should I do this weekend? Music, cool new bars/restaurants - what are your faves for this weekend? Many thanks!!

Lucky you! (My power is still out.) We have a list of our top picks right here.

Gurus, Headed to Ocean City this weekend - first time in about 10 years. I've read the beach guides and got some ideas. But - any can't miss things? Restaurants? Bars? Any and all ideas are welcome and appreciated!

So many places to start with this... 

One place that didn't make it into this year's Beach Guide (opened after my deadline) was Galaxy 66's new rooftop Skye Bar. I hear the views are fantastic. 

I always tried to make a point of hitting a bunch of the waterfront bars, especially the tiki bar at Harpoon Hanna's, the little private beach with beer pong tables and adirondack chairs at Macky's, the sandy bar with views of the marina and bay at Fish Tales. You're at the beach to be close to the water, so ...

There are a couple new breweries worth visiting, including Evolution in Salisbury and Burley Oak in Berlin, though those are covered in more depth in the Beach Guide.

Oh, and the short drive or bike ride down to Assateague Island for wild ponies and nature.

Chatters? Anything else you recommend for the beach?

Hey Gurus- Any sightings of Bell's Oarsman Ale? I had it recently on a trip and can't recall ever seeing it out here. Any tips?

The last place I saw that delicious little Berlinweisse-ish beer was either the Hamilton or Meridian Pint. I know I've had it at both.  It definitely comes and goes.

Are there any places that have those last-minute, discount ticket deals. I see that Wolf Trap offers 50% off for students, seniors, and military and the Kennedy Center seems to have something similar. Are there any places that offer discounted tickets to anyone in the general public?

There are actually great options. Goldstar,  is great for getting an excellent deal on shows that haven't yet gained steam -- I've seen Cirque, "Fela!" and lots of other shows on sale there before they're reviewed and tickets become impossible to get (be sure to sign up for the e-mail blast). Ticketplace is another option - you can go in person or go online.   And finally, theaters including Arena Stage (which calls its deal Hottix) Woolly Mammoth (which calls its deal Stampede Seats) and Studio Theatre offer rush tickets for a very good discount, but you might want to try doing it close to the end of the run of a play, when some of the initial buzz has worn off, and more seats might be available. 

Hi GoGs! My husband and I are planning to have dinner at Mannequin Pis in Olney, MD. We have not been there before. We're hoping it's similar to Frederick where there are many quaint shops and a cute downtown. Do you have any suggestions besides the Olney Theatre? Thanks!

Olney is a residential exurb filled with some very nice people but very little in the way of a downtown. And unless you find strip malls and chain stores quaint you are out of luck. It also isn't very walkable. Before I get hate mail from Olneyites, I say all this as someone who deeply loves Olney, Sandy Spring and Brookeville.


With that said, the only shop I think might be what you are looking for is the Backyard Naturalist (think wild bird feeders).

Hello Gurus! We will be heading south to Culpeper and then Scottsville for a B&B mini-vacation. Thinking we'd stop at Horton Vineyards on the way to our second B&B. Scottsville is south of Charlottesville, so we'd likely check in first. Where should we go for dinner in C'ville or in the surrounding area? Do you have favorite wineries in the area and other activities? You guys are the best!

Lavanya can help with the wineries (and she will in a moment, promise!). Steph has you covered on everything else:

For activities, I would say hiking at Humpback Rock, a history tour at UVa and a visit to Monticello. For dinner, there are quite a few delicious options on the Downtown Mall, including Zocalo and Hamiltons. My go-to is always Continental Divide for great Tex-Mex and margaritas.

Any tips for those of us not taking this heat, but stuck in the city? I've done the (shopping) mall, the museums, everything ACed...and would prefer to stay away from extremely crowded pools. Creative suggestions are appreciated!!

How about getting your friends together for a brutal game of broomball at Kettler (which is not just ACed, but downright freeezing)? I'm quite the delicate flower, and I love broomball, but if violence isn't your thing, you could always make this summer you learn to ice-skate. Here's the summer schedule.

I've been in DC for several years and have always wanted to try crabs...where's the best place to go? I'm thinking one of those places with the mallets and the bibs! thanks

Around here, the best crab houses are not in D.C. You need to go out to Maryland for the full monty. Mike's (Riva) and Jimmy Cantler's (Annapolis) set the standards, with bushels of local crabs and homemade sides like corn on the cob, not to mention their waterfront views. Both have their defenders; I'm partial to Mike's. 

In tomorrow's Weekend section, I'm writing about Skipper's Pier in Deale, which is about 45 minutes from D.C. They do great local crabs (about $28 for all you can eat) and have a fun dock bar right on their own private pier.

I vaguely remember you all having a Brunch Guide but I can't find it... any recommendations for a brunch in NoVA?

We are in the midst of compiling the most epic brunch guide ever, so I won't point you to the old one. I'll give you this instead: For something a little nicer, try Liberty Tavern, or better, the brunch at Rustico in Ballston (Italian-style doughnuts, need I say more?); for something silly (including a fun brunch date), you've got to hit the cartoon brunch at EatBar; and if you're in the mood for pancakes, of course, there is the Original Pancake House.   And finally, for ultra-casual, cafe-style Sunday eats, I'd suggest either Cafe Assorti or Northside Social.

I hiked the Billy Goat Trail recently and noticed people rock climbing across the water. I tried google but can't seem to figure out what company that might be. Any idea what companies might offer rock climbing around there?

They might have been folks from Earth Treks. They have great indoor facilities and during the warmer months they head outdoors. As a general rule, indoor rock walls usually have great resources for people looking for outdoor excursions. I also suggest exploring climbing gym in Rockville it doesn't look like they will have another trip until the weather cools a bit, but they are well priced.

Gurus! Where do go for brunch and Wimbeldon finals on Capitol Hill this Sunday? Looking for something more festive than the bars and Queen Vic doesn't start serving until 11.

There aren't a lot of places around the Hill that are open at 9 a.m. Sunday and have the "festive" atmosphere you're looking for. Most places open at 11;  the new Pacifico doesn't open until 10:30.

There's always the Tune Inn, which opens at 8, but I'm not sure that's what you're looking for.

Last weekend, I planned to sit home in the air conditioning for two days. Then it got knocked out Friday night. What do I this weekend if that happens?

Um, what would make the power go out again? The Cap Weather Gang are using words like "sultry" and "painfully warm" but the one word I'm not seeing is "rain." So looks like this weekend will be amazing for sitting home in the air-conditioning, watching the Kardashians (isn't that implied?)

Hi Gurus, I hope you can help a girl out. Next weekend is the bridal shower and a bunch of us are going out (including those that couldn't make it to the bachelorette party). I couldn't find the bachelorette suggestions and saw recommendations on dance bars but it was from 2010 so I hope you can offer some more timely recommendations. The bride likes Graffiato and other bars in the Chinatown area but wants a place we can also dance. There is a place on H street that offers good dance music but we'd rather not go that far. We're looking for a mix of Chief Ike's/Napoleon (good music but a place that isn't a dive or leaves you sweaty and needing air) and is hopefully somewhere metro accessible. We thought of Policy (but it can play house music and we don't want to risk it) or Cafe St. Ex but that gets super crowded. What can we do? We'll be a group of 5-8 30-somethings looking to dance to top 40. Thank you for your help!!

New York Avenue Beach Bar. Place is designed for bachelorettes, from the sand to the frozen margaritas to the all-top 40 playlist. It's not your traditional dance club, but it's a lot of fun.

I've also heard a lot of top 40 at El Centro late-night, whether on the dance floor or on the rooftop deck. 

And if it's on a Saturday, the new party at Capitol Lounge (seriously) is shaping up nicely, with radio-friendly playlists, an ice luge for shots on the back patio ... and lots of people dancing.

(One note I feel compelled to add: from Graffiato, Little Miss Whiskey's at 11th and H NE is closer than going to Cafe Saint-Ex at 14th and T.)

In addition to Kettler hosting broomball pickup games, there are also more organized broomball games being held there (with folks who can show you how to play). These games are being organized by DC Broomball and specific game times can be found on their facebook group and website: A lot of folks who come out for the summer pickups are new to the sport and it's a great way to cool off and have fun at the same time :)

I actually got to hang out with the D.C. Broomball folk a couple of years ago, and it was a cool, mixed group, men and women. Thanks for the extra details.

It's not walkable, but the five (?) miles of Georgia Ave north of the city contains many country-type businesses a boutique lover might like.

Do you have any in mind? I live in Rockville and love Olney but am drawing a blank. Maybe a bit farther out I'd count Cricket Book Shop...

Hey Gurus. My fiance and I are getting married in just a few months back in our hometown. We decided not to invite work friends and some others based in D.C. Instead, we'd like to throw a happy hour on a Wednesday or Thursday with some free drinks and appetizers. We would pick up the tab for food and drink. Part of our problem is our superiors at work will be showing up the spot has to be somewhat respectable. Any thoughts on where we could have a fun, causal, but still appropriate wedding party for about 30 people between the ages of 28 and 65?

I'd say the rooftop at Jack Rose -- which has several little private areas, including one with a great view of downtown -- would work. Classy enough for bosses, spiked snowcones for the more rowdy elements of the crowd. I'd also suggest looking into a room at Buffalo Billiards, the upstairs room at Irish Whiskey Public House (which we've gotten great feedback about, both here and via e-mail), the rooftop bar at Masa 14 -- all would work, I think.

I finally got reservations to go to Bandolero last Friday (before the storm). When we arrived, we noticed that it was fairly warm inside but the hostess assured us that it was just warm in the front of the restaurant becuase of the heat outside. She sat us in the back of the restaurant, by the kitchen. The waiter finally confessed that the AC was not working properly. We were forced to leave partway through our meal because one of my dining companions is pregnant with twins and the heat was intolerable. What is the obligation of the restaurant to tell patrons re: AC issues? Despite the heat, the food was quite good and I was sad to not get to sample more. I'll be back, but not until the weather cools down.

I  think there's no question that they're obligated to tell you there was no AC, but  I'm going to assume that maybe she wasn't fully up on the situation, or that maybe that "not working properly" didn't mean "totally broken," so she didn't think to let you know.

For folks who fought for their Bandolero reservations, many would stick it out, anyway, as you tried to. 

Any thoughts on dog friendly activities to do this weekend? I'm in Arlington and have nothing planned for this weekend, but want to take the dog along so I don't have to worry about him being home alone all day.

Take them on a quick road trip to the beach. Try Downs Park in Pasadena. (FYI Quiet Waters Park closed.) Afterwards, head to Annapolis, the dog-lovers capitol of Maryland.


On average, how long would you say one needs in order to view the Titanic Exhibit at the National Geographic Museum?

This is always a hard question for us to answer, no matter the exhibit. Some people walk faster than others. Some people spend longer lingering over models. Some like to read every word on explanitory captions next to art, while others don't. 

Titanic isn't a huge exhibtion, and many of the items, like the replica lifeboat, come from the film of the same name. I'd definitely give yourself an hour if you move at a good pace.


Hi Gurus, my folks are in town this weekend and I need some entertaining things for them. I've lived here for awhile so they've done all the regular stuff. Would Artomatic be good? Other interesting, metro accessible things to keep cool?

Artomatic is actually done -- I would consider hitting the big Miro show at the National Gallery of Art, then perhaps have an amazing lunch up the street at Fiola or Rasika, or those family faves Jaleo or Zaytinya (see about getting reservations, to save on the wait). Friday night is the Fringe Festival preview, which could be fun and crazy (get there early to get in; the tent opens at 7), and if your parents are adventurous, they can see we're not that buttoned-up of a city.

As soon as you said there was nothing to turn off power, mine turned off. It only lasted a minute, but still. After four days without, I'm not taking any chances.

That is exactly what I told her. It seems like a butterfly flittering about could knock out power. (And no, I am not bitter that I haven't had power in a week. Ok, maybe a little.)

She's so totally bitter. 

Same thing happened to us with the heat at Bandolero! The waitress didn't say anything when I asked if it was hot in there, but the waiter did admit to their AC problems. The food was sooo good, but they really should have said something, it was miserable sitting there sweating...could have offered a fan or something!

Or kept the ice-water (or margaritas) coming...

Has the OP done Politics & Prose, E St Cinema, her local library?

Thanks! We also have this set of suggestions to beat the heat, including a stop at Estadio (perfect on a day like today or tomorrow, when folks are off work; it's open for lunch for a little daytime slushito-drinking). The one that I'm intrigued by right now is Luray Caverns; I almost went last year, while winery hopping, but this year I'll definitely make it.

Thanks for the questions, everyone. Enjoy the weekend, stay cool, and we'll see you back here next Thursday, unless there's, like, a derecho echo.

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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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