Got Plans? Discuss great ideas for local entertainment, dates and family fun with the Going Out Gurus.

Jul 14, 2011

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

Wow, where did 1 o'clock come from? 

It's time for Got Plans. We're your hosts for the next hour or so, and we'll take your questions on where to have brunch this weekend, bar openings and World Cup viewing questions. Let's a go. 

It's my turn to pick the restaurant, and thanks to Gordon Ramsey, I'm dying to try beef wellington. Any suggestions? Distance/price really isn't a big factor, but within a 30 min drive from DC would be awesome. Thanks!

I would call ahead to make sure you go on a day they are featuring it on their menu, but the version served at L'Auberge Chez Francois is highly regarded.

We had planned a happy hour for tonight in Dupont/Foggy Bottom for a colleague who is getting married. 10 of our co-workers will be there and the company is paying. We'll be drinking and eating, and tend to be a laid back group. We had a location picked out but forgot that our intern is 18, and so many of the places we had thought about card at the door (Public, Madhatter). Any suggestions for an alternate location?

This is an interesting question. Places that do double-duty as restaurants shouldn't blink twice if you want to bring your intern, but those where the bar operations are a priority over food -- especially with a younger crowd -- will probably hesitate.

Also, there are places that, for whatever reason, don't always have someone carding at the door during the week, but try to help the bartenders by carding at the door when it's expected to be busy. Case in point: There have been times when I got carded on the patio at Barcode, but other nights when I had to flash ID to the bartender before they'd give me a drink.

You'd be fine at a hotel bar, which tend to be all ages, but the Palomar or the Rennaisance doesn't quite jibe with the Public/Madhatter vibe mentioned early. I'd try calling Tonic at Quigley's (on the GW campus, but it should be easier with school out of session), the Sign of the Whale or Science Club to start. Scion has a very cool bar area on P Street, but it can get slammed easily.

I know this is only sort of a GOG question but I asked Michelle Singletary and she was no help. Where in the downtown/Dupont area could I buy a fake mustache?

Chocolate Moose, on L just west of Connecticut, is my first stop for awesome jokey/kitschy gifts.

My 18-year-old sister will be visiting me for a week, and wants to experience some of the DC nightlife. Are there any bars you can recommend that allow underage patrons? I feel like I am carded at the door at most establishments.

You are, because (unfortunately) there are 18-year-olds who try to buy drinks, which gets bartenders arrested and causes bars to pay big fines. You can see our list of the best places for under-21s; I'd add shows at the Rock and Roll Hotel or the 9:30 Club and dance parties at the Black Cat to that list, and Tryst if you get early in the night.

Is there any place in the DMV (Virginia or DC preferred) to get a good authentic Maine lobster roll? My SO is from Maine and I wanted to treat them this weekend. Thanks!

Well, you could try and track down Red Hook Lobster Truck, which serves a great version. There is also Luke's Lobster, which I haven't actually tried, but claims to offer authentic Maine lobster rolls. But my favorite lobster roll in the city is still the one offered at Hank's Oyster Bar.

Where is the best place to go see Harry Potter? I mean some place that the fans will really get into the Potter spirit.

That would have to be the Uptown. Not only is it the biggest and best screen in D.C. but the long line to get in will surely be packed with people in Potter paraphernalia to pass the time. And hey, you're bound to see some, uh, spirit before that (sold out!) 3:30 a.m. showtime. 

Hi Gurus! I'm sure you will be flooded with questions about the WWC Final Sunday afternoon, but what would your top 3 or 4 choices be?

We are getting plenty of questions about the WWC final, that's for sure. Fritz and I were talking this through earlier and we put together a list of bars that will surely be packed for the U.S./Japan match -- full sound and everything. You can see the full list here, but if I were to put together a personal list, it would go something like this: 


1) Lucky Bar -- Along with Summers in Arlington, it's the gold standard of D.C. soccer bars, whether it's the World Cup Final or Round 12 of La Liga. 


2) The Laughing Man Tavern -- This is where the D.C. chapter of the American Outlaws are going to be, so you know the crowd will be rowdy and decked out in red, white and blue. 


3) Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse -- You won't find the game shown on a bigger screen anywhere, and it's a good place to take your under-21s. 

Any tips for navigating what appears to be a great event? I don't know Baltimore well but parking near the exhibits seems to be scarce--could one park at the inner harbor and take a cab over? Are there shuttles?

Street parking in midtown and Mount Vernon can be pretty bad on a normal day, so I think your idea of parking in a garage near the harbor is a good one. If you walk to The Gallery, the shopping mall extension of Harborplace, you can catch the Purple Line of the Charm City Circulator for free. The Biddle Street, Preston Street or Penn Station Southbound stops should get you within walking distance of the festival. Have fun!

First year going, but have gone to plenty of brewfests... What kind of crowd should I expect? Not so crowded that it's easy to talk to the reps from the breweries/distributors?

Honestly, Brew at the Zoo is not the place to go if you want to talk to the brewery reps. Lines are really along, many people are there to get a little tipsy and socialize, and you can find bartenders at Churchkey, Paradiso or Meridian Pint (just for starters) who can tell you more about the beers you're serving. I realize that there will be some great brewery reps there, but it's nowhere near as informative as a beer festival (Society for the Preservation of Beers from the Wood in Baltimore) or a good ChurchKey/Pizzeria Paradiso beer dinner could be. (Also, the Brew at the Zoo beer list isn't much better than an average bar in D.C.: Abita, Blue Moon, Yuengling, "MillerCoors," Widmar, Flying Dog...)

I do love the Zoo, but Brew at the Zoo is more of a social event than something for serious beer fans. Try to get something from the Breckenridge, Firestone Walker or Lost Rhino stands -- Dogfish is rarely anything but a 60/90 min and the seasonal -- and enjoy.

Any recommendations for a weekend brunch with bottomless mimosas?

Creme, Red Rocks, Vinoteca, Front Page, 1905, Scion.  

My vote would be for Vinoteca or Scion.  

Last night, there were people camped outside the Uptown with signs that read, "you're a muggle if you have to ask."

Yeah, the Uptown is a no-brainer in this town. Lots of good places in the surrounding area to pick up food while you wait, too. More on that later. 

Happy glorious weather, Guru's! I am taking a random day off on a tuesday and am trying to figure out what to do with my free day. All of my friends will be working so I'm going solo, but wanted to hear your suggestions for how best to enjoy myself. I've thought about maybe going to the Korean spa (would be a first for me!) but outdoor activities are a big plus. Thoughts for a week day solo activity? P.S - it will be my birthday so I don't mind spending a little extra money on me :) Thanks! Jackie

A spa outing sounds like a great way to spend your birthday. But let's see what else we can come up with. Since I have no idea what your interests are or whether you have a car, here are a few varied possibilities: Tour the idyllic gardens at Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown, hike along Billy Goat Trail, try your hand at paddleboarding, take a dip at SplashDown or snag a seat at one of the new outdoor dining/drinking spots (though check the hours; not all of these are open during the day). 

Recommendation in case you guys forgot. I know it is in Baltimore, but I dont think it is too hard to get to. Amtrak/MARC to Penn Station and you can walk from there ( I think). I went last year and it was fun. Interesting street performances. Seemed like a really nice part of Baltimore that people probably don't normally go to. I drove last year, but think I'll public transit it this time in case I want to walk around and drink Natty Bo. I'm not really even an artsy person but there was a lot of cool stuff I wanted to buy. And it wont be too hot out

Artscape is never far off our radar. We featured it in our summer planning calendar and we'll have a bit more on it tomorrow in Weekend. I've heard some gripes about the featured musical talent being a little underwhelming this year (Fantasia, G. Love and Special Sauce, Matisyahu) and I don't disagree. But at the end of the day, it's a totally free weekend of art, music, performances and, I'm sure, Natty Boh. 

Hi, GOGs! Love the chats. I work in Arlington and regularly miss out on food trucks that are only registered in the district. I'm headed to Truckeroo tomorrow. Which DC food trucks are absolutely not to be missed?

The list of participating food trucks is on the Truckeroo site. Takorean, DC Empanadas and Cap Mac would be on my list, as the lines at the Lobster Pound truck can be long. (I got to Truckeroo around 1:30 last time and waited maybe 10 min for a roll.)

I really like the sandwiches at El Floridano, the PORC truck puts out surprisingly good barbecue, and while I think of it more as sold weather cuisine, Eat Wonky is one of your best bets for poutine in this area.

What hotel bars are nice to try on a Thursday night in the city?

I'm going to let Fritz chime in on this one too, but I can give you my favorites:

Quill at the Jefferson, Round Robin at the Willard and the bar at Bourbon Steak at the Four Seasons.

Hands down, my favorite on a Thursday night is the Tabard Inn, because that's one of the few nights you can find head mixologist Chantal Tseng behind the bar. She makes four new drinks every night for her menu ($9-$12 ea.) and is also fantastic at recommending retro cocktails if you tell her about your likes/dislikes. I trust her implictly.

Bourbon Steak's patio is calling my name on a night like tonight, especially with one of the bar's outstanding Pimm's Cups or seasonal cocktails in hand. For something less classic and more funky, I love the cozy, neighborhoody space at Hotel Helix.
I would have Poste on here,  but I haven't been back to the vast courtyard since mixologist Rico Wisner traded Hotel Monaco for the cozy little winebar at Rouge.

Thanks for the list! Do you know of any bars on H St./Capitol Hill that'll definitely be showing the game?

The Queen Vic and the Pug will have the game on for sure.

Hi there. I'm getting close to not being pregnant anymore (!) and want to go out for breakfast Saturday. Any recommendations for a diner-like atmosphere that fulfills this craving? Thanks!

Next time I'm in Rockville for breakfast/brunch, I'm going to Mosaic for a waffle sandwich. Justin can't say enough good things about the place, and who wouldn't love a place run by a man who is so passionate about his craft?


"I was shocked when I came to this country to see how the waffles were made. I didn't like what I saw," said Thierry Jugnet, Mosaic's chef. "I wanted waffles from home. So first it was a desire. Then it became a passion. Then it became an obsession."

I second Mosaic. It is very, very yummy, but it isn't a "diner" atmosphere. It is a bit more upscale. If you are looking for a diner then you can always head to Silver Diner in Rockville or Tastee Diner in Bethesda.

But seriously, go to Mosaic. It's a sit down restaurant, but very casual, very neighborhoody. Really friendly staff. It's no short order greasy spoon, but they do waffles, eggs, French toast, the whole thing. It's well done comfort food with a European accent.

Good Afternoon. thinking about doing the spy museum tomorrow evening for some adventure...what are your thoughts...and what is zola like on a friday evening since its nearby

Sounds like you should check out Spy at Night which includes munchies from Zola's bar menu.

Hi Gurus! On Wednesday, I wandered upon a market selling stuff from Tibet in front of the National Portrait - it seemed like it was set up for a few days, but I can't find anything about it online. Any idea how long it's going on for? Thanks!

Word on the street is that the market is set up in honor of the Dalai Lama, who is delivering the Kalachakra at the Verizon Center through Saturday. I hear it's very much like the holiday festival, but with Tibetan food, crafts and other wares. No official word yet on when it's closing, but it's safe to assume it will at least be up through Saturday.

I agree the brewery list is nothing great and plan to stick in front of Firestone, A'Chouffe, Unibroue the majority of the time.

ie "Get a beer and then move to the back of the next line, because you'll have emptied your mug before you get to the taps."

It's a fun event. It really is. But when there are going to be Heineken/Blue Moon/Bud/MillerCoors tents, you know it's not a serious beer drinker's festival.

Celebrating an anniversary tonight at Againn - anything truly spectacular/can't miss on the menu??

At Againn I'm always drawn to the starters, sides and charcuterie. There are so many great things they do that are hard to find anywhere else. I'm thinking potted pork, house made black pudding, fried Brussels sprouts and welsh rarebit. Oh man. Now I really really want to go to Againn.

Hi Gurus, I'd like to catch one of the outdoor movies in the area but sitting on the ground for 2+ hours isn't my cup of tea. Is there a venue or two where I can bring a lawn chair and not be blocking anyone's view?

Actually, pretty much all of the outdoor film series will allow that, though I would recommend a low chair just to minimize the view blockage. The U Street Movie Series, NoMa Summer Screen, Capitol Riverfront Flicks, and Crystal Screen should all be cool with it.

thanks for those suggestions...also wanted to ask is the mandarin nice, i know they have jazz during the evenings...and the places that you mentioned, is it crowded..i'm in a people watching mood tonite...

My view is that the Mandarin is fine, but its location means it doesn't get the foot traffic that some others might. Speaking of -- I do like the bar at Quill, the classy bar in the Jefferson at 16th and M, and they should have jazz tonight. Good people-watching there, but Bourbon Steak and Helix are a little more interesting.

When do you think I'll need to get in line for tomorrow's 1030p show if I want any hope of getting decent seats?

I'd recommend about 30 minutes before the previous showtime starts, so as soon as that line finishes entering, you'll be ready to start queueing for the 10:30. That's particularly true if you want balcony seats. Of course, you can probably fudge that a bit, but I'd say no later than maybe 8:45 if you're very particular or are in a group larger than 2.  

Hi Holly, I'm in the mood to shop for something summery but am not sure what. If you could buy one summery fashion thing, what would it be? Keep in mind for DC summers (hot and humid) and just an average thing (not necessarily special occasion or splurge-worthy) but something that says summer, could wear all season long and is fun. Soooooo not into the maxi-dress trend, sorry! Thanks for any help you may provide

OK, so I'm dream-buying one summery thing, not too special or too expensive and not a maxi ... hmm. I just bought a pair of hot-orange slim chinos from Zara's summer sale (for $39) and I love them -- pants/jeans in bright colors are a big trend for summer, and you can wear them into fall with a chambray shirt and blazer. (If you hadn't vetoed all things maxi, I'd have said a sheer black chiffon maxi skirt, which I've been hunting for months.) Let us know what you end up with!

Is there a restaurant or bar in or near the Westchester ?

Up in Cathedral Heights? You'll have more fun if you walk or catch a 30-series bus down to Glover Park for Town Hall, Breadsoda or Bourbon, or tacos and margaritas on the roof of Surfside. You can also walk up to 2 Amy's (pizza and wine, lots of families) or Cactus Cantina (average Tex-Mex, good margaritas) in Cathedral Heights.

Hi Gurus - I'm thinking of rounding up a group of friends to spend a day at Great Waves Waterpark in Alexandria. Have any of you been there? Is there enough to entertain a bunch of 20something for an afternoon? Thanks.

Ah, Great Waves. I haven't been there in quite some time, but yes, you can definitely entertain yourselves for an afternoon. As an aside, I got my all-time worst sunburn during an afternoon at Great Waves, so pack your sunscreen, especially if you're a pasty white redhead like me.

Ooh, now I really want a Pimms Cup. Bourbon Steak is a bit far for me (Columbia Heights), any where else Mid-City/Downtown that does them? Or should I make the Georgetown trek?

I think I've said this in recent chats, but I love Pimms Cups. The best in D.C. can be found at Bourbon Steak, PS 7's and the Passenger.

I did Spy at Night with friends a couple years ago and, unless it's changed dramatically, I would not recommend it for adults. It's kind of cheesy.

Hm. I guess we had different experiences. I went when they first started and yes, it was a bit cheesy, but I accepted that going into it and was able to enjoy myself. I also enjoyed the drinks and the experts they bring in.

Thanks for taking my question guys! So, I live off the 14th St corridor, and it seems like lots of the things happen or are announced, only to take years to finally come to fruition. The folks from Local 16 finally opened Lost Society, but weren't they also going to open another place a block down around 14th and T at 1832 14th St? Is this still happening or did they run out of $ on the buildout of Lost Society? Considering how crowded the places on 14th get, we could use more bar-bars (not just restaurants- though we are certainly spoiled :) ).

Yes, the Local 16 guys were the ones who submitted plans for this place -- Local 14? -- a few years ago, but I've heard nothing about it since. Lost Society got held up with a ton of red tape and permits and building disputes, so I wouldn't be surprised if we'll wait a while for anything at 14th and T. Let me see what I can find out.

Hi! Any intel on prices at America Eats Tavern? I booked a reservation, but don't want to drop a ton of money.

I'll know more about the whole thing after I visit Jose Andres's temporary restaurant tonight, but the prices seem to hover around $30 for entrees.

Where is a good place for an Indian buffet/ brunch in DC?

Try the Bombay Club. Sunday brunch buffet, from 11:30 to 2:30, is well worth the $27.95 per person, including unlimited champagne. 

For something a bit more low key, I used to frequent the Delhi Dhaba in Bethesda, but since that's now closed (agony!) I'll recommend the Arlington outpost. It's only on Sunday, it runs from 11 to 3:30 and costs $10.95 for adults. 

Did i read it correctly? $12.00 for a cocktail?

That's on the more expensive end at Tabard, and there likely wouldn't be more than one outside the $9-$10 range. It's still a pretty good deal when so many places downtown will charge you $8 for a bottom-shelf gin and tonic while Tabard is using fantastic imported liqueurs and giving you something that you're not going to try elsewhere. Not that I'd drink them all night at that price.

Holly..please help me out..i don't get why all the women in the area are wearing dresses that show your behind and shorts that show other things..i still believe that you can still be sexy and wear a fitted blazer or even a plain white it me????

You're talking to someone who lives by the "bare above, covered below, or vice versa" rule, so skimpy clothes and the women who love them are two things I don't really understand. I will offer two pieces of advice: If you're wearing a dress or skirt so short that you risk being fined for indecency, at least put on a pair of boyshorts. And your shorts should not be so tight and miniscule that they make your legs look like sausages ... that's the antithesis of cute.

Where's the best place tonight in the DMV (more D) to catch live music free, happy hour and afterhours?

On the music front, there's Fort Reno and the music series at Pentagon Row. In other news, it's Bastille Day, and Fritz and Jess have the details on all the events from French maid races to dance parties to cheese tastings. And if you're feeling charitable, there's a happy hour at Stetson's tonight with proceeds going to Arlington Arts Center.

What does cheesy mean?

You aren't going to feel like James Bond. Sorry. The experience is going to be a bit played up (thus cheesy) but roll with it, don't take it seriously and you will have a good time.

What to wear with them now?

I wore mine yesterday with a vintage tee and cardigan, but you could dress it up a little with an oversized button-up (preferably in a breezy, loose fabric). For night, throw on a sparkly sequin tank in a neutral hue and a black fitted blazer.

I'll second Hank's - I go to the one in Old Town and the lobster roll is awesome. I almost never try anything else b/c I can't resist...

Another vote for Hank's...

Don't go to New York City if $12 for a cocktail sounds steep; I was charged $12 for a Makers Mark and Diet at a restaurant/bar on the Upper East Side, and it was more expensive than most of the specialty cocktails they had on their menu. Big oops on my part.

It really is possible to drink well in D.C. with cocktails for $10 or under -- PS7's, Tabard and the Passenger's daily specials are where I'd start -- but drinks at a lot of cocktail-forward bars and hotel bars start in the double-digits, and have for a while.

Coastal Flats has a great one!

And a rec for Coastal Flats.

Thanks for dropping by, as always. 

Happy Bastille Day. We'll see you back here next Thursday! 

In This Chat
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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