Got Plans?

Mar 03, 2011

The Going Out Guide staff discuss great ideas for local entertainment, dates and family fun.

Hey GOG chatters! The big news today is the National Park Service's proclamation that the cherry blossooms will be in peak bloom between March 29 and April 3. You can familiarize yourself with our special Cherry Blossoms section here. But that's still a good three weeks off, and there are many plans to be made between now and then. We're yours for the next hour or so. Let's go.

My parents are visiting soon, and they'll be staying in Dupont. We want to go out for brunch on Sunday. My mom loooooooovvvveeeesssssss crepes, and is pretty discerning about good ones. We'd prefer to stay in Dupont, not metro to another neighborhood. Got any suggestions?

I'd suggest Point Chaud over on 14th Street, which is a short walk from Dupont. It's more of a takeaway sort of place than a long-and-leisurely brunch spot, and if it's not quite what you're looking for, 14th Street is basically D.C.'s brunch capital at the moment, so there will surely be something to satisfy Mom.

Hi gurus, where would you recommend on H St to have a decent sized group (say 20) people meet up for a night out and the option to dance on a Saturday night? It's for a birthday party. I'm hearing Biergarten, H St Country Club, or Little Miss Whiskeys...we're a group that tends to go for places like Marvin or Bourbon. Thoughts on those 3 or others?

"Option to dance" rules out HstCC, since there's no room for it. Biergarten's patio is spacious enough that I'd recommend it, but I never feel like dancing there. (Maybe it's the Euro techno?) How about liters of beer on the patio if the weather cooperates, and then off to the upstairs of Little Miss Whiskey's? Only caution is that Saturday night DJs there tend to be more on the house/electro/dubstep end of things rather than the more popular choons you'd hear at Marvin. (Can I throw in a plug for the Moneytown soul night this Friday at LMW? It's always a great time for dancing.)

So my favorite Aunt is coming for a (surprise!) visit next weekend. She lives almost-close and has been to DC quite often, so has done all of the mainstream DC-stuff. I'd like to take the opportunity next weekend to show her some new sights and challenge her notion of what DC is. That is to say, more than Smithsonians, politicians, and bad traffic. She's a planner - so I'd like to pull together some good ideas for her. She's in her early fifties, into religious art and history, not good at relaxing and extremely active, but can't hear out of one ear so loud venues can be tough. Any good ideas or events on the horizon for next week? As always, your help is very much appreciated. We're from a big family and I'm trying hard to be the favorite niece. :)

It's a surprise, but you know about it...? I think either the Intersections art festival at Atlas or the Kennedy Center's Maximum India festival could be fun options. If you're looking for religious art, then there's always the new high-tech Sackler exhibition of Buddhist sculpture. And while it's not religious art, the ikat exhibit at the Textile Museum is spectacular, and it's the last weekend to see it.

I tried for 20 minutes to get tickets to the Savor Craft Beer event and failed :( Do they ever release more tickets or know any other ways to get some?

Here I thought that expanding the annual Savor beer festival to two nights might make it easier to get tickets. Whoops.

Savor doesn't traditionally release more, or hasn't in the past. Your best chance may following one of the local beer listservs (say, to see if anyone offers extras, or watching Craigslist. If there is news on the ticket front, I'll try to post it.

I moved to Eastern Market this week and am looking for a place to watch the Caps tonight and other games in the future. So, where can a single (both unattached and going out alone), 30 yr old woman get a seat a the bar, watch the game and chat up some people? I'm familiar with the Hawk & Dove as I spent too much time (though very little money) there in college and right out of school, and am looking for something a bit more grown up. So, where's my best bet? Pour House? Ugly Mug? Someplace I haven't thought of yet? I already miss Nanny O'Briens :( Thanks!

If you read our neighborhood guide on Eastern Market and Barracks Row, you know our thoughts on the Ugly Mug. Because of the ample bar seating, above-average food and general conviviality of the place, the Mug gets my nod of approval for Caps viewing tonight and going forward. Plus, the Mug wears D.C. on its sleeve,  whereas (and I don't mean to disparage the place, honest!) the Pour House is a well-known Steelers bar, which could mean lots of black and yellow Penguins jerseys (unless they're all at the Mighty Pint). 

I'll also add that Molly Malone's offers $5 Smithwicks and $4 Molson bottles during all Caps games.

Hanging out in Arlington with the girlfriend on Friday. Any decent, laid-back hookah bars? eg not Guarapo

There's the two-month-old Adams Corner near the corner of Wilson Blvd. and N. Adams, a pint-sized spot with hookahs and cocktails. I'd stick your head in and see if that works. Virginia's anti-smoking laws make it *really* hard to open a new hookah bar.

If she likes religious art and history the catacombs at the monastery downtown might be a big hit, and very unexpected - many locals don't know about them.

That's a great idea. The Franciscan Monastery is definitely a hidden gem.

If you were going somewhere with a dress code of "smart casual" or "upscale casual" (both describe the place) would you wear jeans? Khakis? Black pants? A skirt? Heels? Button down? What exactly are a man and a woman supposed to wear in this situation?

Generally, I'd skip the jeans for anything "smart casual." For men, try some nice trousers and a button-up; for the ladies, a skirt, pants or a dress should do, and take your pick of heels or flats. If you're a man and insist on wearing jeans, make sure they fit you well and don't look like ones you'd wear to clean the garage -- and add a jacket for good measure. If you're a lady, opt for straight-leg or trouser-style jeans, and wear a nice top and some accessories to balance the look.

I've been trying to get through to get tickets since noon and they seem to be having some serious web issues. Any idea if anyone has gotten through to get tickets? Thanks!

Evidently, plenty of folk did, because it's already sold out. Yep, that quickly. Sorry!

Are they any unusual paces to get sangria in the District? We've done La Tasca and Jaleo, even Rosa Mexicana and of course the sculpture garden in the summer. Would love a new place to chill and share a pitcher (or two) with friends.

Have you tried the mezcal-based sangria at Oyamel? Nice smoky flavor balanced by cherry liqueur.

Estadio's sangrias are probably my favorites in D.C., though -- try the red version with fiery cachaca liqueur from Brazil, mint and fresh-squeezed lime.

The National Cathedral always has all kinds of interesting things going on, including a labyrinth, art, lectures, music, and a tower climb.

More options for the visiting aunt. Thanks!

Shisha Palace next to Kabob Palace in Crystal City is a good one to try. Hookah=good. Food=good. Win-win.

Sounds like a winner all around -- and I do love me some Kabob Palace.

So I've been a GOG follower long enough to know that Mexican a la California-quality is pretty tough to come by in the DMV, but do you know anywhere that a girl can get menudo in the area? Not the band the soup/hangover cure that's served at breakfast? Muchas Gracias!

Yes -- Taqueria D.F. serves menudo on weekends, along with all of their other deliciousness.

Hi Gurus! I love you guys! My 20 year old cousin is coming to visit from the West Coast. He grew up in Asia and loves soccer. I'd love to go somewhere that broadcasts any European Soccer matches. Do you have any recommendations? Thanks so much!

Lucky Bar in Dupont Circle, Summers in Arlington, Fado in Chinatown and  are three that immediately come to mind. They'll even open early on weekends to show the 7:45 Premier League kickoffs, most of the time.

And the good things about early kickoffs is that none of those places card in the mornings, so you don't have to worry about your cousin getting turned away for being under 21.

Headed to H Street Country Club on Saturday and we're hoping to play a putt putt. What the best time to start out? Waiting for a little while is ok but not all night. Any suggestions where a small group could head after that won't be totally packed? Thanks!

Don't know how you feel about this, but I would start out on the early-ish side. Maybe 8? That way, you'll be done golfing and ski-balling at a decent hour and just about have your pick of where to settle in for the night. The past two weekends I've had serious trouble getting into Rock 'n Roll Hotel, so wouldn't recommend that. Try the Pug for a dive feel, or go a bit more upscale with the lounge at the recently opened Smith Commons. Alternatively,  see above answer on Biergarden Haus.

We have cousins coming into town for the weekend and they will be staying in Alexandria. I haven't been to Old Town in years - is there much to do there for families, or should I recommend that they head downtown to the museums?

No need to head into the city. This week Alexandria will have plenty of family-friendly things to do. Friday there will be a Louisiana Dance Party at Torpedo Factory, then Saturday there will be St. Patrick's day parade through Old Town. Alexandria also has a bunch of interesting museums; find a list at Historic Alexandria. If they just want to explore the city a scavenger hunt would be perfect.


And if they do want to head into the city, make sure they consider heading to the Corcoran for their free family day!

Hi gurus! So I am planning to meet up with two dear friends from high is in Frederick MD, the other Fredericksburg VA, and I am in DC. We'd like to meet for lunch, and maybe do something fun afterwards, but are lacking for ideas....please help!!!

How about a trip to Leesburg? There are lots of dining options in the charming little downtown area, and you'll have outlet shopping and Virginia wine country to explore once you're done.

According to Google Maps, that's an hour-and-thirty-five minute trip for your Fredericksburg friend (sorry Fredericksburg friend), a 37 minute trip for your Frederick friend and a 51 minute trip for you. Hopefully that's close enough to the middle!

The sangria person should also try the sangria at Churreria Madrid and at Mixtec.

Any particular reason for those two? Haven't been to Churreria Madrid for sangria (so I'm curious for myself), and I've never thought the Mixtec version was anything special.

My dad is coming in for business and is taking me and my bf out for a nice dinner. We are looking for somewhere really delicious, with some good wine choices, and high end (my dad is paying and we're all kind of food snobs). Also, I am a vegetarian and my father doesn't eat red meat. We were deciding between Proof and The Oval Room. I think we're going to go with Proof in the that a good choice?

In a word, yes. For a vegetarian option, try their pumpkin gnocchi. So good!

When I read those they translate to me as "no jeans." Jeans are casual even with a blazer.

My first response was no jeans, but "casual" is still part of "upscale casual," and to me that seems like jeans -- nice jeans with a dark rinse and a proper fit -- are probably OK. Again, not my first choice, but if the organizers didn't want anyone in jeans, they should have said "business attire" or "cocktail."

Hi! My husband and I are going to dinner at Citronelle to celebrate a birthday. Our catch is that there is a basketball game we would like to watch right before our reservations. Can you recommend a bar that would have a TV (game is on ESPN) near Citronelle that we can go to? (If possible, could you recommend a bar that we won't feel out of place dressed up for dinner?) Thanks!

Old Glory and Garrett's are nearby, though you'll probably be the nicest dressed (by far) at either place. Who's playing?

Hi Gurus - My birthday is on March 12 and I wanted to go to Proof but they're booked. Do you have a recommendation for something similar? I am looking for good wine, yummy cheese, & small plates with the intimate atmosphere of Proof. Masa & Cork just don't fit the bill in terms of atmosphere! NW preferred. Bonus if it has good champagne to toast another year! Thank you!

Proof is a tough act to follow up in terms of atmosphere.  Now I know you said Northwest, but I am going to start by ignoring that and steering you towards the Atlas Room off H Street. Its a romantic spot with a great menu of shareable plates. In Northwest I will keep it in the same restaurant group as Proof and suggest Estadio for Spanish small plates and a great beverage program that is also lead by Adam Bernbach of Proof.

Moroni and Brother's also has tripe soup on weekends only.

Shh -- you're not supposed to tell anyone what's actually in the soup.

Gurus- Any suggestions on good rainy day activities/neighborhoods to hang out in during this rainy weekend. Want to get out of the house but need a destination worth getting wet for. Many thanks!

Some of the Oscar flicks are still playing. Here's a list of what you can still catch up on.

My boyfriend's birthday is coming up, and I would love to take him to a multi-course dinner with beer pairings- I've heard of some restaurants doing this as special events, but are there any that schedule them regularly, or might be coming up in the beginning of April? Doesn't have to be in the district, but I am on a bit of a budget, so I'm hoping to spend around $100 for two people. Thanks so much for your help!

Birch and Barley has one on APril 11th with Bill Covaleski of the Victory Brewing company, but it runs $76 a head before tax and tip. To be honest, under $100 for two is a tall order for a multi-course meal with pairings.

I have to agree with Justin on this one. The cheapest place for top-quality pairing dinners is usually Birreria Paradiso, and even then, you're not going to get out for less than $55-$60 per person. A five-course meal earlier this week with beers from Stoudts of Lancaster, Pa. was $65 per person. That's really low end.

I mean, I love the sound of the five-course Ommegang dinner at Tuskie's on April 6 -- it's a well-regarded Belgian-style brewery from Cooperstown, N.Y. -- but it's $85 pp including tax and tip.

If you book a non-weekend dinner at Birch and Barley, you could ask whether beer supremo Greg Engert will be in the building that night. The man can turn any dinner into a full-on pairing.

Churerria and Mixtec both make the kind of sangria I like - light, fruity, tastes more of wine and fruit than of anything else, and you can drink some without having it hit you over the head (ala the white sangria that La Fonda used to make!)

Ah, got it. Firefly used to make a fantastic sparkling sangria along those lines.

Looking to plan a surprise night out for my husband for his 40th birthday. We'll be celebrating with his friends on his actual birthday, so something just for the 2 of us would be nice the night before. It's more than 2 months away so I've got a little time to plan. One thing I'm considering is the tasting room at Restaurant Eve, but I'm looking for other suggestions. We're not fond of Korean, Ethiopian or Thai, but any other cuisine would be fine. Prefer something in Fairfax County so it's close to home. Do you have any ideas?

Well, let me start by throwing my full weight behind the tasting room at Eve. There are only a handful of dining experiences in the city that compare. That having been said, Annandale is home to some great Korean restaurants, and Han Gang might be the best of them, so I would consider that. If you are willing to travel to the city, Ethiopic is the place to be for sophisticated and stylish Ethiopian.

These are still popular? I can't think of anything more gross than sitting in a bar where every single person is smoking. But maybe that's because I used to smoke and now have chronic bronchitis.

Some people hate being in sports bars. Some people hate clubs with loud thumping dance music. Some people hate hookah bars.

And yet there are people who love having the option to go to them.

I am struggling to find a nice white button-front shirt that is thick enough to wear without layering. I had my eye on this one but looked at it in the store and it was too sheer to wear alone. I'd like something without a collar. Help!

For what it's worth, sometimes white shirts become less sheer after you've washed/dried them a few times ... These are just off the top of my head, but you might want to try this option from local brand The Shirt or this adorable option from Asos. More importantly, invest in a great nude bra and you'll worry less about layering.

My boyfriend is coming into town next weekend to help celebrate my birthday early since it is St. Patrick's day. I've had mixed reviews from some coworkers and friends on going to Shamrock fest. Is it worth it, and if so, normal or VIP tickets? Anything else (good shows, exhibits, events) to check out during the day on Sunday and/or perhaps Saturday night? Thanks!

Shamrock fest has always been something that seems fun to me in theory, but then I remember that it is March and the weather can be pretty ugly. Getting drunk while it is cold and drizzly? Not for me. Still, this year might be the year that changes because the headliner is Dropkick Murphys.


As for the normal vs. VIP, I'd go for normal. It looks like the biggest difference is you get a mug and more beer. Whichever you decide, make sure you buy tickets asap, they can (and will) go up in price.

You confirmed what I thought (not a fan of Pittsburgh fans even if I have two for in-laws) but hadn't considered Molly Malones as well. Bonus: realized I can take the dog to their patio seating. You guys are the best!

Just be warned that there's no TV on the front patio, so if you're hoping to watch the Caps *with* your pooches, you're out of luck.

Hi! I'm interested in seeing the literature panel including Salman Rushdie at the Kennedy Center on Fri. 3/18 at 8 pm, part of Maximum India. What time do you recommend that I (and any friends meeting me there) arrive to ensure that we get in? Thanks!

Tough to say -- It's in the concert hall, which seats almost 2,500, but I'm sure it's still going to be packed. I'd recommend arriving at 6 p.m. and I say that because you'll be able to see how the line is looking, and if it's not too long, you can check out the Taal India Percussion Ensemble at the Millennium Stage or grab a bite at the Roof Terrace or KC Cafe. Better safe than sorry.

So I never get to explore the bounty of food trucks during lunch as I work in Old Town. However, I will have a random day off in a couple of weeks and would like to visit as many as I can in one gut-busting afternoon. What are are your recommendations for best food trucks (I don't eat shellfish, so Red Hook is out)? Thanks!

I haven't tried it yet, but Tim Carman is enthusiastic about the PORC Mobile barbecue truck, and its at the top of my list to visit. And right now I am really digging the DC Empanadas truck. Here is a lit of my other favorites.

I'm interested in going to the India festival at the Kennedy Center, and I read about how they're bringing in chefs from all over India and serving cuisines from different parts of the country. What I can't find much is a meal going to cost? Is it going to be similar to a meal at a local Indian restaurant (low-end or high-end), or is it going to cost more? Or is the food only going to be available if you pay for one of those $100-a-seat chef lectures?

As far as I know, the Roof Terrace Restaurant is offering three-course meals for $65. The food in the KC cafe will be a la carte and a little less expensive.

Hi Gurus, My closest friend is preggo and has an upcoming birthday, so the usual going out for sushi and drinks isn't an option. What activity would you recommend in the DMV area for a small group of 30-somethings? I could only come up with bowling, skeet-shooting and horseback riding, which she vetoed! Help!!

Horseback riding with a pregnant lady? Yeah, I can see why she would veto it. Why don't you all go to a spa, relax and get pampered a bit?

Why are there no Indian fast food restaurants, say with a drive through? We tried to come up with one during lunch - Gandhi's. No burgers, or course, but it could offer meals from a price of Untouchable to Brahmin.

If you want to give me the startup cash, I'll happily open a drive-through Indian takeaway restaurant.

But I would call it The Sacred Chow.

Landless Theatre Company is opening a stage production of "Dr Horrible's Singalong Blog" starting this evening. Definitely worth heading to Adams Morgan to see.

This is a worthy plug -- I'm definitely looking forward to this show.

Hey GoGs, very excited to see cherry blossoms are coming soon! I know the Tidal Basin area will be busy, but what's the best way to get to Hains Point with car, coming from VA (Tysons area). I know we can rely on GPS but would like to get tips on best way to get there esp in the morning. Thanks!

Leave your car at a Metro station in Virginia. Seriously. Having done Cherry Blossom Time my whole life, I can tell you that you'll wind up circling Haines Point, circling the Tidal Basin, circling West Potomac Park, circling the Mall -- and then all the fun goes out the window, and by the time you get to see the trees, you're cranky and tired and running late, which is totally not what you want.

Take the Orange line to Smithsonian and get the Circulator shuttle, which drops you off two blocks from the Tidal Basin.

If you can walk from Farragut West (a straight shot down 17th -- maybe 15 minutes or so), so much the better.

Can you suggest a good place to grab beers (not Duffy's) before the Pogue's concert on Tuesday?

Solly's. The dive atmosphere you want, just a few blocks further away.

Hey Gurus! You're always recommending bars, restaurants and shops in Columbia Heights. Do you have a neighborhood guide or a post that complies all of these recs?

You know, it's probably time we did one of those. A few of us live up that way, anyway. And now that the NYT thinks 11th Street is the neighborhood's hippest, we really should try to see what all of the fuss is about! Just hype, I'm sure.

Okay, thanks. But my husband really does not like Korean or Ethiopian. Not one bit.

Oh sorry. I misread the original question. But really, are you sure your not even a bit fond of it? Who doesn't like sweet barbecued short ribs?

But in that case let me add Trummer's on Main to the your list of considerations. Chef Clay Miller is a real talent, and I still pull up the image of his mulligatawny soup from the Fall Dining guide when I want to torture myself.  And 2941 is another great option. I'm a big of the kitchen there, but it was sommelier Matthew Carroll that made my last meal there a really memorable one -- and I think it's that kind of service that you are probably looking for on a big birthday.

Gurus, where, oh where, can I find these fried bits of Polish goodness for Fat Tuesday? You'd think this would be easy in such a melting pot of a town, but apparently not. I'm DC-based and without a car, so please don't suggest going to Baltimore, but I'm happy to metro/bus (or even cab) closer in, if necessary.

Eastern European food is NOT something that D.C. does well, unfortunately. You probably want to call Domku in Petworth, but if they're not  doing it, I have to suggest the MARC up to Baltimore, where there are awesome Polish and Ukrainian delis that can satisfy your pre-Lenten needs.

Alex, sorry to tell you but there is already a Sacred Chow in the West Village in NYC.

Way to ruin my day right there.

Apparently, the Keilbasa Factory (specializing in all things Polish) is on Rockville Pike. Not sure about proximity to metro.

Wow -- this place looks awesome. I need to check it out (and they have Paczk). Doesn't look like it's anywhere near Metrorail, but I suppose that's what the WMATA Ride Planner is for.

I'm a fan myself and have searched long and hard for these locally. There is the Kielbasa factory in Rockville and woodmoor pastry in silver spring. I live in Alexandria so am hoping that someday something comes closer to me!

Another vote for Kielbasa Factory. Someone needs to open the Ukrainian version of this in D.C. Please?

Holly, Something you said in the Oscar chat on Monday got me thinking. When giving fashion advice, people generally say not to worry about trends and just wear what suits and flatters you. This, "they" say, will result in looking classically stylish rather than trendy. You said that Reese Witherspoon's Oscars hair looked "so dated." I don't disagree, but I and many others thought it looked really pretty and not like everyone else. So how does one balance this? I'm not asking about Reese specifically, it just got me thinking, as I am a fit 38-year old who is trying not to look like an old lady but also not too young/trendy/mutton dressed as lamb. Thanks!

Good question! It can be tricky to make classic touches, like a big bouffant hairdo or a wide-legged pantsuit, feel modern, but I think the key is balance -- making sure the rest of your look feels current and fresh. To me, Reese looked like she just stepped out a Barbie dreamhouse -- there's definitely a difference between aiming for retro flair and landing in throwback territory, which is what I think she did. I think as long as you don't look like you're in costume, you're probably doing it right.

I have a few vintage dresses I need to have taken in and/or shortened. Any suggestions as to where to take them? Local drycleaner's not an option, methinks, due to nature of the pieces.

Try Ginger Root Design on U Street.

Hi Gurus! My 25th Birthday is coming up and I am sort of new to the area, so I'd love some help with plans. It falls on a Friday, which is great, so I was thinking happy hour near my office in Dupont with co-workers, then dinner, then more drinking after that. I need help with the dinner part, I would like to find a restaurant in or near Dupont that would be casual with good food and not too pricey. It would be great to find one where you don't need reservations, since I don't know how many will be there for dinner, could be 4 or could be 12. anything but Lauriol plaza. Thanks!

I really think Vapiano might be just what you're looking for. My reasoning: Since you don't know how big your group will be and when people will arrive, you want the flexibity to A) Order at staggered intervals and B) Keep everyone on separate checks. Vapiano's dining method gives you that option. Plus, happy hour beer (Peroni, Pilsner Urquell) and wine are a bargain at $3.95 from 5 to 8.

Runner up: Nando's.

My husband is going to the Caps game tonight and I'm left at home to make sure our son is okay. I'd like to cuddle up and watch something on netflix instant queue. Suggestions?

Anything with Charlie Sheen in it ("Wall Street" and "Platoon" are streaming). #Winning.

Any idea when it is going to open? I had heard today, but doesn't seem like that is the case. Do the owners own any other spots in DC? I hear they are also taking over the former Commonwealth space, when is that due to open?

Lou's -- which is moving in next to the former Commonwealth at 14th and Irving -- is not going to be open this week. The bar, which is full of TV screens and bottled beer, is now shooting for next Thursday or Friday, though they warn that "nothing is written in stone."

Here's the info about the former Commonwealth space via Tom Sietsema.

Hi Gurus! I promised a group of people that I'd plan a pub quiz night out for next Wednesday. The quiz I tend to go to is on Monday in Bethesda. No idea which bars have good quizzes on Wednesdays. I think more interactive than less, and competitive but not so competitive that it won't be fun. Looks like it'll be a group of 6. Can you help me out?

Meridian Pint hosts team trivia on Wednesday. Good luck!

[Ed--It's actually every other Wednesday, so give a ring before you head over]

That's it for us this week guys. Thanks for stopping by. In the meantime, follow us on Twitter (@goingoutguide). Until next Thursday...

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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. Join the thousands of readers who have followed us on Twitter and Facebook. And for nightlife news delivered twice-weekly to your inbox, make sure to sign up for the Going Out Guide newsletter.
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