Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Gurus

Aug 30, 2012

The Going Out Gurus discussed concerts, rooftop happy hours, weekend getaways and other ideas for summer fun.

Welcome back, chatters, to this week's installment of Got Plans? This week, we're looking at ohhhh, about a hundred football-related questions. So let's get thing started.

College football starts back up this weekend. Notre Dame and Navy start early Saturday, at 9am. Where can we go to watch the game? Any Sports Bars opening early with specials to celebrate?

I'll admit to being thoroughly flummoxed by this when I saw yesterday on my ScoreCenter app that Navy's opener kicks off at 9 a.m. "Awful early for Annapolis," I thought to myself. But aha! The game is being played in the college football hotbed of Dublin, Ireland, as part of the Emerald Isle Classic. The Mids are playing the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, which is why this whole thing makes sense, but as David Malitz points out: If we were ever planning to invade Ireland, this would be an ideal ruse to do so. 


Anyway, getting back to your question: Most of the larger sports bars will be open by 9 a.m. Saturday to show the other kind of football, so you won't have trouble finding a TV with a game on (just consult this list).


But what you want is atmosphere, which means, I think, a trip to Annapolis. The Acme Bar & Grill comes to mind, but if any chatters out there have a favorite bar in the Maryland capital to watch Navy football, do share. 

Hello GOGs. Do you know if there are any places that will be serving brunch this Monday since it is a holiday? I'm looking for a place in Old Town Alexandria or Arlington. Thanks!

If I'm off on Monday and I'm in Arlington, I'm making a beeline for Bayou Bakery and not really thinking twice about it. 

So, we're in town this weekend and going to visit some wineries on Saturday. Yay! What are some (overlooked) happy hours we could hit on Sunday and/or Monday? Some of our favorites are Lyon Hall and Willow...somewhat understated places. We haven't been to Cava for HH or Guarapo in ages. Are they worthwhile and not crazy busy? Please help us think of a fun and tasty place! Thank you.

First, check out our roundup of awesome things happening over Labor Day weekend! Herndon's annual festival is a wine and beer fest, so that should be on radar for something to do Monday (rather than a happy hour). Friday, btw, will also be the last Jazz in the Garden, so for folks in town, that should be a bittersweet affair. As for happy hours, check out Fritz's list of places that do happy hours on weekends -- Mad Fox is an option (you'll have to hop on the metro and then a bus to get there), and Lyon Hall, which is on your list, does a weekend happy hour. Check with the Eventide and  Green Pig too, they may have something going this weekend too (Eventide should).

Hiya gurus--Going to the Ashby Inn for dinner on Sunday evening. Any suggestions for things to do during the day in that area? Thanks!

Sure - you're in the middle of hunt country, so I might be inclined to check out a winery. You'd be really very close to Delaplane Cellars and Barrel Oak Winery (you could do their John Marshall Tasting, which I loved.) And if you have time after that (you probably won't), you can easily get over to Naked Mountain Winery from there. If you don't want to do another winery - The trees at Hartland Orchard are literally drooping with sweet peaches right now. It's so beautiful.

What looks good at Page to Stage this weekend? I've never managed to get out there for this event. Is it crowded to the point of absurdity, or does the holiday weekend make it managable?

It's definitely popular, but not crowded to the point of absurdity. Events are spread all throughout the Kennedy Center so there's plenty of room to move around and see stuff, but you'll want to formulate a plan so you don't end up on the wrong side of the grand foyer when an event or workshop you want to check out is starting wayyy across the building. Check out the full schedule


A few highlights: 

  • The creative geniuses from Synetic Theater are showing off some of their training techniques before a workshop performance of "THe Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" Monday at 6 p.m.


  • Ever-edgy Taffety Punk presents "Somersaulting," which is about two high schoolers who come of age in the 'burbs (the promo materials promise death, love and sex, which are always rich topics for the stage) Monday at 1 p.m. 


  • The Essential Theatre performs "The War Against Tupac Shakur," a fictionalized accounting of the hip-hop legend's final hours Saturday at 4 p.m.

My weekend starts tomorrow at noon. Work has been hectic and school is about to get into full swing. This is my last free weekend, the weather is going to be beautiful & I don't know what to do. I want good food, entertainment & drinks. I have a car and I'm willing to go to different places/areas. If this were your last free weekend what would the GOG do?

We've been talking about this all week - there's actually a lot going on this weekend that all the folks who are going out of town are going to miss. There's Jazz in the Garden tomorrow night, then go to the Michael Jackson party. (Or one of the 10 other dance parties...) And I'm not sure if you have a sense of humor, but you could always check out the Maryland Renn Fest or  hit  a waterpark like Splash Down with a few friends, just to be silly.    And finally,  on Sunday, I'd schedule a trip to the beach. We finally have a guide to all the beaches within an hour of so from D.C. -- thanks to all the readers who kept asking us this summer. Colonial Beach looks like the closes thing to a real beach - it's the second biggest public beach in Virginia.

Is there anywhere in the city where Texans fans watch football? Although we have had no trouble finding bars to watch the Longhorns with other fans, my wife and I aren't seeing Houston on any game-watch bar list. Help please...or are we doomed to Sundays in our apartment with the NFL network?

It's tough for Texans fans, since any "Texas" bars would probably give first kick at the can to Dallas Cowboys fans, which I still think is unconscionable in this town.

(Readers, if you know of a bar that unabashedly shows Dallas Cowboys games, please tell us so we can put them in a special file for purposes down the road!)


I called around to a few places including the Rhodeside Grill, which draws big crowds of Texas Longhorns fans, but they wouldn't consider themselves a Houston Texans bar. But with the beauty of the NFL Sunday Ticket, they, along with many of the larger bars in town, will show every game, including your beloved Texans. 


I have a hunch, though, that if you showed up at Hill Country wearing your finest Owen Daniels jersey, you would be welcomed with open arms. 

Love the chats and advice...Looking for a good place for a first date.

So, part of the advice I have to dole out is that dinners are supposed to not make great first dates, though I think that avoiding anything too fancy or too expensive is probably for the best. The options really depend on the person: If you're a little older, want to put the emphasis on good food, or don't want a scene, how about a nice little dinner on the patio at Cafe Saint-Ex; their food has really perked up (and will reveal instantly if you have a picky eater on your hands). The patio will be good because you'll be able to hear each other. For adventurous we-used-to-be-in-the-Peace-Corps types, I'd suggest the new Izakaya Seki, which has a nice intimate little crowd around the bar as well; or Ethiopic.  And if you're laid back, like a little action and love barbecue, you can't beat the Standard. Oh, the nicer take on the Standard has to be Smoke and Barrel - get the gritcakes. Seriously.

Are any Capitol Skyline pool parties this weekend?

Yes, the final Adult Swim of the season is Sunday from 11 to 6. 

Do you have a list of late happy hours? Not late night HH, but HH that go beyond 7pm on Fridays. Thanks!

Ahh, that is a hard one - I rarely see bars doing happy hour after 7, and on a Friday.... Ceiba seems the closest; they do a special all night long on one drink. For those who DO want to know about late-night happy hours, here ya go.

Fado in Annapolis is having a big thing.

Thanks for pointing this out. For the OP who asked about Navy viewing parties: Fado Annapolis. Doors open at 8 a.m.  and they'll be serving a special tailgate brunch, televisions showing the game indoor and outdoor and live music post-game. That's where I'd want to be if I was a Mids fan. 

The Exchange will be open with drink specials for the game. It is an ND bar, so be warned :) Go Irish!!

And here's a more local Navy-ND viewing party, if you're feeling brave. 

Dear Gurus, This is a bit off topic, but I'm hoping you can help a loyal reader. My wife and I are thinking of visiting Philly this weekend. Prob leaving Sat morning and returning on Sunday night. Do you have any suggestions on 1) what neighborhood to stay in 2) must do sights and 3) cool bars/lounges? We'll prob drive there, but would like to stay close to the nightlife so we don't have to take the car around. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks so much!!!

I am a huge Philly fan. I can't tell you what neighborhood to stay in, but I can tell you where to drink and eat. First, make a stop at The Philadelphia Museum of Art, which is really really incredible.  For dinner, you could hit Continental (which is near the water, so that's a fun walk), which is a kind of crazy 50s diner meets Asian food joint, or Standard Tap (the food's great, too, but you can also just grab beers, in true Philly fashion).  For a good grimy little bar with crazy dance parties (not unlike the cat) - I'd check out the Barbary, or slightly more tame, Johnny Brenda's.   And before you leave, head to Honey's for brunch. It's not that out of the ordinary (and they only take cash), but it's like a weird Philly tradition - full of people-watching.

I have heard that some pools have a dog swim on the last day of their season. Do you know of any in the DC area?

This is true! It's going to happen next weekend, and we just were planning on getting a list together.  I promise, we'll have a list next week (I think the D.C. pools will be on it). Till then, here's a tease - the Northern Virginia Regional Parks will be doing it at the waterparks. Why do I  love the idea of dogs on waterslides?

I'm originally from LA and it is always awesome to find a good restaurant with a low corkage fee. I've never seen anyone take wine to a restaurant in DC - is it done here? Any good places with a low fee out there?

It's actually pretty common around here, I would say, with most corkage fees in the $15-$25 range (be sure to call ahead if you're wondering about a specific place). Lots of places do it for free though, and the first one to come to mind is BYOB Thai X-ing

Oh, Open Table also maintains a list of places where you can BYOB -- at Charlie Palmer Steak, I think there's no corkage so long as you're drinking the American stuff.

Annual Labor Day trip to the beach this weekend...Friday night always includes dinner out. Any top picks that have good food and drinks in Rehoboth or Bethany?

In Bethany, there's the casual Matt's Fish Camp, the bakery Cake Bar for desserts, both of which which we showered with love last summer. Salt Air Farm and Table opened fairly recently, and newer still is (a)Muse. Also put on your agenda a visit to Evolution Brewing. Check out this year's beach guide (with where to kayak, etc) here.

Love the chats and advice...Looking for a good place for a first date dinner in the city Friday evening. Any type of food is fine, just want an environment that is fun and easy to talk to someone and perhaps has either a good beer or wine list.

I want to suggest Cork, but that might actually be more second-date speed. Food, service and drinks are all great though, and it's a fun, lively dining room. 


What about the new Izakaya Seki? I'm checking it out for the first time tonight but from what I've heard, it's a gem (and there's always sake). Trendy but not showy, exotic but not off-puttingly so.  This gets my vote. 

Helloo! We are staying in a hotel in Alexandria for a wedding this Saturday so I'm looking for an *amazing* place to have brunch on Sunday. We are staying off of Mill Road and ideally would like to stay close to there...what Im looking for: brunch or breakfast focused (wtih mimosas), an indulgent,sumptious affair (we are middle age parents that live in the burbs with a toddler-we dont get out much so looking for romantic lot of pressure as I have a picky eater but want to be satisfied as well :) THANK YOUU!

Hi, I consulted with Justin Rude on this one, and he had a great idea: Vermillion in Old Town. Their food has won considerable attention lately (three stars, no small feat). And I have always liked their decor.   Second thought: Virtue Feed and Grain - not at all as luxe, but certainly has environment and a broad menu (for said picky eater). One word of caution - they do a pajama brunch, and i THINK this might be the weekend, so leave the wedding pearls at home.

Hi folks. The GF's birthday is tonight and she doesn't know where she wants to go for dinner, so it is up to me to figure it out. I'm looking for something inexpensive (gotta pay for the impending vacation somehow) and we are getting over colds (hot/abrasive stuff is out). We live in Columbia Heights. Thinking about Surfside followed by FroZenYo but we've done that a lot, and we just ate at Maple last week. Any ideas?

Why not do El Chucho - it's in Columbia Heights and frankly their happy hour is KILLER. It's not so spicy you can't enjoy it. Whatever you do, get the corn. And maybe instead of FroYo, you head across the street to Room 11 and splurge on a coffee and goat-cheese cheesecake (or any of their other awesome desserts?) Oh, by the way, hit El Chucho before 7 p.m., and you'll have a far easier time getting a table.

We're going to wrap things up there. Thanks to all for joining us today for a skeleton crew edition of the chat. We'll see you on the other side of the long weekend. Enjoy Labor Day, everyone. 

Spot on advice for the couple driving to Philly. I would give exactly the same advice. My only addition - Honey's Sit N Eat does get crowded for brunch and Standard Tap does a fantastic bruch. There have been times I've walked out of the Tap at 3 or 4 in the morning only to return a few hours later on Sunday for brunch.

Aww, more love for Standard Tap. So then it's definitely a must.

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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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