Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Gurus

Sep 13, 2012

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

Welcome chatters, to this week's edition of Got Plans? This weekend, we've got tons of amazing stuff happening, including the H Street Festival on Saturday. And, if you're headed to Friday's sold-out Springsteen show, David Malitz has a cool guide to what he might play, and how you should get there. 

So, this week we have two sets of four tickets to Sunday night's performance of "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" at Signature Theatre in Shirlington. All you have to do to win them is offer the poor Pug some just-shy-of-offensive, but still D.C.-centric ideas for renaming their "Dirty Asian" summer punch. Best two cocktail names (remember, just-shy-of-offensive...) win the pot.

Not sure if this is really going out related, but hope you or the chatters can weigh in. I am looking for suggestions for an easy to moderate hike (so no Billy Goat Trail or Old Rag) this weekend to break in some new hiking boots. Given the nice weather, I'm thinking it will be very busy. Any ideas for less popular trails I should check out?

I totally have you covered. Are you looking for MD or VA? Great mountain vistas or would you just be happy to get out outside? Mileage? I have a bunch of ideas and need a little help narrowing it down.

Hi gurus! Trying to think of something fun my boyfriend and I can do to celebrate our 1st anniversary (on an upcoming Friday). He suggested a nighttime Potomac cruise, but I'm having a hard time finding ones that don't include dinner - we don't really want the Odyssey dinner and dancing experience. That said, we're not set on a cruise idea - anything else a little different and fun we could do to commemorate the occasion? Thanks!

My standby suggestion for folks who want to take a Potomac cruise is the Potomac Riverboat Company. I have written a handful of stories about their special cruises, but I think my favorite was riding aboard the Skipjack Minnie V. It is so beautiful and riding in it is such a unique experience. Plus, with depart times as late as 7:30 p.m.  you can enjoy the twilight on the water.

Hi GOGs, I'm looking to plan a happy hour somewhere in NW DC where guests can get a drink and a good bite to eat (maybe dinner) but not have to have a set reservation. Any good spots come to mind? It is for a 30th birthday, so somewhere a little special would be nice.

I'm tempted to say the Passenger. It's pretty chilled out around happy hour on a Friday and while the drinks get top billing, the food is also amazing, like duck carnitas tacos amazing.


If it's more than 10, this becomes a bit trickier. I think the current king of happy hour + a la carte food + no reservations is Hill Country, but whether that's "nice" in this case depends on your liking of BBQ and live music. 

We are two "hip" single ladies, late 50s. One is coming from abroad to visit the other in Washington and Annapolis for two weeks in late November. What restaurants/bars in both places can you suggest where we could have a fun, typical-Washington and/or Annapolis, experience. I'd like to give my visitor a fabulous time. Please suggest places/activities where there would be other patrons (especially men) in our age group. Thank you.

Though I think it's hard right now to pin down a "typical" Washington experience, I'd recommend making reservations now for a place such as Fiola or Rasika in Penn Quarter, two fine restaurants with lively bars and excellent reviews.  Another thought is Proof. With any of these, I might try to hit the American Art Museum/Portrait Gallery first (since they stay open till 7), then head over to a lovely dinner.  (On 14th Street, I'd suggest dinner at Churchkey or Estadio, and I'd recommend getting to Estadio around 6 to ensure you get a table.) Two thoughts for Annapolis: Fritz is a big fan of Level, a small-plates restaurant with a great cocktails and a mature scene. I like Metropolitan Kitchen and Lounge, a farm-to-table restaurant which has such a cute look, is away from the boozy waterfront bars, and has pretty good food. The good news is they're next to each other, so you can do one for dinner and the other for drinks.  What all of these have in common is that they're hip and sophisticated enough -- and have hopping bars -- so you'll feel right in your element.

Heading to the Springsteen concert at Nats Stadium tomorrow- do you know if the Fairgrounds will be open? What other places would you recommend for a pre concert drink and snack? Thanks!!!

The Fairgrounds will definitely be open. As for nearby food and drink outside the stadium, it's still (still!) Justin's or bust, unless you're willing to trek over from Barracks Row or Pennsylvania Ave. A year from now, this should all be very different with the opening of the Boilermaker Shops and a few other projects in the stadium vicinity. Here are a few more hints for inside the stadium, where concessions will be served as if it were a sold-out Nats game. 

Do you have any info as to the set times for the bands at the Fairgrounds on Saturday? Or even what time the event goes until? I haven't been able to find anything on their Website. Thanks!

Nothing confirmed yet, other than doors open at 1 and music starts at 2. As soon as we know anything, we'll tweet and/or blog it. 

Hey Gurus! When making preparations for my wedding, my mom was most excited to dance at the reception. She started taking lessons and fell in love with ballroom and latin dance. Unfortunately, a couple of weeks before the big event, she fell and broke her ankle. Five years later, she still talks about how heartbroken she is that she never had the opportunity to dance at our wedding. My parents (who are in their 60's) will be in town to celebrate our anniversary and my husband and I are looking for an appropriate place to go dancing to try to make up for it. Any thoughts?

That's such a cool idea. I think spending time with family can be an awesome way to celebrate an anniversary, as well! For ballroom dancing, I'd have to recommend the Carlyle Club in Alexandria. Check out the upcoming schedule of music here. And of course, legendary around here is Glen Echo's fun swing nights (see the schedule here). Both have a historic quality about them, and you won't go wrong with either.

Or Marion Barry's Pipe Punch

Oh, my. I'm blushing, and yet...

A couple friends and I were considering heading out to St. Michaels on Saturday for lunch and a stroll, and then stopping at whatever wineries or other attractions seem interesting on the way home. Is traffic going to be terrible coming from DC on Saturday morning? If so, what time should we hit the road to avoid the worst of it?

That sounds like a wonderful way to spend a Saturday! St. Michaels is such a fantastic area. I did a quick look through Dr. Gridlock's blog and weekly outlook I think you are in the clear about encountering any unusual delays with the Bay Bridge this weekend. That said, his answer during the summer is Saturdays before 7 a.m. and after 5 p.m. With the calendar flipping to September, you should be able to leave a bit later than that.  And if you want to do a little bit of planning, check out what we have on the GOG about St. Michaels.

Sorry for the somewhat girly question, but this does affect my ability/desire to "go out." I'm currently going through chemo for breast cancer and have, of course, lost all my hair, including my eyebrows. I've tried several different brow pencils, but can't seem to find the right color (I'm/was blonde with light eyebrows, but they were nicely shaped). Any recommendations of a line I could try? I'd have to purchase online as I live in central Pennsylvania and my shopping options are limited (no Sephora, for example). Thanks much!

Hi, please, you should never apologize for being girly around here -- The GOGs all know I live for questions about shoes and nailpolish. The most raved about eyebrow line (yes, eyebrow line!) of all time has to be  Anastasia  -- readers on Makeup Alley, which I always check for makeup reviews before I lay down fifty bucks on something, give it crazy love, in part because the line does taupey-ash shades, because not all of us have warm hair tones (and this sounds like this might be your issue). Since you're not sure which might work, I'd definitely buy from Sephora or Nordstrom -- they have very forgiving return policies if they don't work out. (Um, why is it $85 for the brow kit!? Yikes.)

Thanks Amy - the Skipjack Minnie looks great - but unfortunately they're only doing Sat and Sun now and we were looking for Friday.

You did say that. Darn my quick reading. In that case, they do have a number of monument cruises on Friday nights.

Perhps a little boring, but what about Peking Punch? It retains some very, very vague relation to the orignal name. It is no long the proper anglicized verion of the capital city of China which makes it a little obnoxious, but not offensive. And, according to google, it is also the name of several local grocery stores and retaurants, a university and a "steel-hulled four-masted barque." Anything related to ships and students and food has to be a good name for a drink.

Okay, extra points for copious research!

Punch set me up!

Now we're talking... Love it.

Just as I've steeled myself to the normality of two-digit glasses of wine, now beer is headed the same direction? I went to The Brixton on U & 9th last weekend before a show at the 9:30 Club. A shot (in a shot glass of exactly 1 oz -- no 'generous pours' allowed) and a beer were $16. I thought there had to be a mistake, but no, a pint of Stella is $9. NINE DOLLARS. And, this trend verges in to choice as well, as I can no longer hope to find Heineken on the menu at many new restaurants or watering holes; it's all microbrews of some sort or another (even at a place like American Ice Co.). The one drawback to big city living may be having to endure these hipster trends. I can afford these prices, but they still bother me. Am I alone? What do the Gurus think, and do you have recommendations for getting back to basics, even in the neighborhoods I frequent (U Street, 14th Street, Gallery Place/Penn Quarter)?

The short answer is: No, you are not alone. But if you look at the crowds drawn by the places you mentioned (all of which are owned by the same folks, which might have something to do with the pricing/selection trends you observed), there's no shortage of people willing to pay for the $9 Stella, either. If you're looking for a shot-and-a-beer in the nightlife-driven neighborhoods you frequent -- where again, there's no shortage of demand for $9 Stellas, apparently  -- try Solly's, DC9, Duffy's, Stetson's, Touchdown ($6 for a can of Natty Bo and a shot of Old Overholt!), Fado...

Is there a NON-cheesy club in DC for 30-something moms to go dancing? Somewhere that we could blend in and not look like the "moms"? Thanks!!

I'm not sure what your definition of cheesy is -- my list of things that are corny could take a year to write --so I'm just going to toss off some ideas. So new you'll probably still get a whiff of the paint smell is Capitale, where they're promising a  non-pretentious, open-to-all environment that's just for folks who want to dance. I really want that to be true, since so many readers tell us they just want to dance, but no one wants bottle service or attitude anymore. And I'm always going to recommend Eighteenth Street Lounge -- now listen carefully, do not go to MIA just because the line is shorter -- because it's just a diverse, moody place, and hasn't really varied from that in all these years. And I swear, so long as you don't wear mom jeans, you shouldn't feel too out of place in this town.  Readers? Any other non-cheesy places for dancing?

Hi GOGs... Im attending the Springsteen concert at Nats park tomorrow. Where should I park???!!?!!

You should park at the garage of your nearest Metro station. Otherwise, you can buy a Lot K parking permit, which is at South Capitol and K streets, for $40 or try your luck at the cash lots near Nats Park, like the one on 1st Street, that will also set you back the cost of five stadium beers.  

So excited for suggestions! Ideally would be no more than an hour drive from NW DC,but can be MD or VA. Mostly just happy to get outside, and particularly not just getting scenic vistas of crowds of people. I have no idea about mileage, but something that would take between 1-3 hours to complete at an easy pace.

This helps so much. You should have a number of options, but I am going to go ahead and scratch anything along the Appalachian Trail or in Shenandoah National Park. So here is what I have for you: Patuxent is so big you can find a quiet place without a problem.  Great Falls (avoid the crowds by heading to the Gold Mine Trail, a lovely, flat trail that once was trolly track.) Rock Creek Park, particularly in Montgomery County (think Lake Frank and Lake Needwood. The farther from the city you get, the less crowded it is, promise!). The Potomac Heritage Trail is the best trail close into the city, but it can get a little crowded. Avoid the hoards of bikers by doing a variation on the hike suggested here.


Apparently I need to be answering other chat questions... if none of these suggestions help you out, feel free to email me at

We're going to the Fairfax symphony next week and actually have the baby sitter earlier enough to grab a quick bite before the show. I've never been thrilled by the moderate priced restaurants around Burke or GMU (including old town Fairfax), but maybe I haven't been looking in the right places. My only qualification is no Italian.

You might check out the new Curry Mantra, which seems to do lots right when it comes to service, if you check out the reviews.  Here's a full list of restaurants near GMU -- but Curry Mantra really looks promising.

Going to the Bruce concert at Nationals stadium on Friday and looking for a good place to get dinner before and drinks after the concert. OR drinks and a late night bite after the concert; preferably in D.C.

Touched on this already, but for post-show eats and drinks, your best bet is probably to take the train up to Gallery Place/Chinatown, though it'll probably be after midnight by the time you get up there. The Hamilton is always an option. If you want to let the herd thin a bit before you trying to get back downtown, you might be better off venturing over to 8th Street SE and stopping in at Molly Malone's or Lola's. 

6:30 gates open for the show on Saturday at Merriweather. Any word on set times? Cheers!

Best guess would be between 8 and 8:30 for Bon Iver, but you can get the most definite answer by checking out on Saturday. 

What's up with the former Fruit Bat? It morphed into "Church and State" (with some just shy of offensive advertising) for about two weeks; now it seems to be The Arcade. I can get that Fruit Bat failed and someone else took over the space, but why the whiplash change in themes?

Actually, Atlas Arcade wasn't taken over by someone else. It was the same owner of Fruit Bat, re-thinking the space. Frozen Tropics posted his e-mail to folks about his thinking, and it's worth a read.

As Fritz suggested in his first look at Atlas Arcade in July, there may be good reason to keep on re-thinking: "There are things that are undeniably corny about the place -- the idea of paying $3 for Pop Tarts or $1.50 for a bowl of sugary kids cereal, a Boardwalk-style claw game filled with stuffed animals, some of which have bar tabs attached to them. The video game selection feels like a work in progess, especially for those looking for more widely popular titles — Pac Man, Missle Command, Tapper, even, dare we hope, Paperboy...."

Check out Riverbend Park in VA: It's just past Great Falls and it doesn't cost anything to park. There's a trail along the river that goes to Great Falls or you can walk upriver if you'd prefer to avoid the crowds.

I second that. Let the crowds have Great Falls, I will take Riverbend.

For the hip 50 y.o women coming to Annapolis, be sure to the just re-opened restaurant in the Loews Hotel. We ate there last weekend, great drinks, friendly bartenders and flatbread pizzas were delicious. It's located in between Level and Metropolitan, just on the opposite side of the West St.

Perfect additional option. I probably should have added Pusser's Landing to the Annapolis list, by the way, but I worried that in November, it has to lose all its summertime charms.

Hi GOGs, I'm going to the Renaissance Festival this weekend with some friends. Besides people watching and enjoying the beautiful weather, is there anything we shouldn't miss? Thanks!

I hear Dornish wine is rather excellent. Would they serve that at Renn Fest? 

My hubby and I are celebrating our first anniversary over Columbus Day weekend(!) Since Monday is a federal holiday, we were thinking about a little weekend getaway. Do you all have any ideas? We'd like something within driving distance - quiet, relaxing, delicious food, plenty of wine, and maybe a golf course or hiking nearby. Any suggestions?

It might be because of the earlier question, but I am thinking that St. Michaels would be a good fit. It is a great upscale town with unique B&Bs, wineries, restaurants and it is very walkable.

OK, here are my two--how about "Marionberry" Prison Punch (I swear there really is such a thing as a marion berry--what are the odds?) or the John Jagerbomb, in honor of John Jay (and the reason why DC has no J street, according to popular legend?)

Let's at least do a bit of service journalism today and point out that John Jay is not the reason why there's no J Street in D.C. 

Going to an event at the Mansion on O tonight - is there anywhere right there to grab a quickish din before?

I would have suggested Firefly, but it's under renovation. Of course, there are other options including grabbing a seat at the bar and noshing at Tabard Inn, or  Boqueria. And for something superquick and more casual, you could try Taylor Gourmet on 19th Street -- it closes at 7, though.

Hi GOGS - I love checking out new restaurants in the late afternoons on the weekends. I'm usually by myself, so do you have any favorite solo dining spots in the District? Thanks!

Any place at the bar! I see it all the time at Estadio, and the Passenger. Of the restaurants in our New and Notable list, I think Izakaya Seki would work, because I've seen the crowd gathered around the "bar" and you can watch your food being prepared. Tacos el Chilango, notsomuch -- I've seen a lot of date nights there.  

We're going to give the "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" tickets to the creators of "Peking Punch" and "Punch Set Me Up." Please kindly email Lavanya [] and she'll ... set you up ... for the show. Thanks for joining us today, and we'll holler at you next week. 

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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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