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

Jul 28, 2011

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

Greetings, all. Thursday is once again upon us, and we're here with you for the next hour. What do you all want to talk about? 


In case you missed it, I wrote about a drink yesterday called the Pelvic Floor Rickey, which is about as oddly-named a drink as I've seen in this city. What are some others? Can anything top that? 

Hi Gurus. I don't know if you can help with this, but thought I'd try. Each year, I hear about the beautiful water lilies blooming at the National Arboretum. The Arboretum's website says they bloom in July and August, but is there an approximate date (hopefully in August!) for peak bloom? Thanks!

According to the good people at the Arboretum, the water lilies are in bloom now, and if you stop by in August, you should still be able to see them. I'd probably go sooner rather than later just to be on the safe side though...

Hi GoGs! DH and I are meeing up downtown after work tomorrow to see a movie at E Street Cinema. We have some time before the show starts, and would like to sit at a bar nearby where we can grab a drink and maybe an appetizer. Not enough time for a full dinner, and we are too old for a crazy bar scene. Otherwise we're open to anything!

I think I say this pretty much every time, but my pre-E St. ritual is going around the corner to Bistro D'Oc for a glass/bottle of wine, some peppery duck liver pate, blood sausage or the gorgeous charcuterie plate. There's an upstairs wine bar as well as the cozy downstairs bar. I love that it's a family-owned/operated spot and the food is outstanding.

My boyfriend is a lifetime Barca fan, but we couldn't afford tickets to the game. What sports bars do you recommend?

The answer, without a doubt, seems to be the Elephant & Castle at 19th and I. I know, it's a bit odd for a Canadian-owned chain of bars named for an area of Southwark to play host to scores of rowdy Catalans, but so it is. This is where the local Barcelona fan club congregates to watch all Barca games; in fact, I hear the Champions League trophy will be making an appearance at the bar later today. 

Just saw a post on FB that New Belgium beers are coming to our area on August 22. Yay!! They have not yet announced where in the area it will be available. Do you have any inside info?

It will be available EVERYWHERE, bar the People's Republic of Montgomery County. I'm looking forward to being sick of the sight of Fat Tire on beer menus. (I'm a much bigger fan of Ranger IPA and the experimental Lips of Faith series.)

Which movie would you recommend I see, "Cowboys and Aliens" or "Captain America" this weekend? Thanks.

The review for Cowboys isn't live yet, so I can't go into detail, but I will say that Ann Hornaday seems to have liked Captain America a bit better. Check back tonight for a full review. Plus, America might  be a bit less crowded since it opened last weekend.

I'm going to the Man U - Barcelona game at Fed Ex on Saturday. I've never been there before, is tailgaiting allowed?

Yes. B.Y.O. porron.

Are their plans for our National Women's Team to be celebrated for the second place for the Women's World Cup?

I don't imagine there's going to be a parade or anything at this point. You can, however, pay tribute to Alex Morgan and Ali Krieger at Sunday's Celebrity Soccer Challenge! Some guy named Kobe is going to be there, too. 

A couple of weeks ago I asked Holly for some at-home remedy treatments for dry and damaged hair and she recommended Bumble & Bumble's Creme de Coco masque. Just wanted to let her know that I tried it and it was everything I dreamed it would be! Thank you for salvaging my lackluster locks!!!

Hooray, glad it was a success!

GoGs, One of of the many things I like about our nightlife is that besides a few notable exceptions, our bars have never (in my 7+ years going out) particularly pretentious in requiring pants and black/brown shoes for guys. Is this changing? I noticed a tweet from Fritz that apparently pants are now required at a lot of bars. What's the reason for this unnecessary pretention? Who really cares what people wear to your bar?! Is it a passive aggressive way for bars to root out perceived d-ebags or prepsters, or to be exclusive?

- Casual in Dupont

It really depends where you go. ChurchKey? Standard? Bar Pilar? No problem. But a large number of lounges and clubs in D.C. have (and have had) dress codes -- no shorts, no sneakers, no hats (as David found out at the Big Boi show on Monday night when he tried to wear his Pirates hat into the Park). I've heard from people who were denied entry to new spots, such as Lost Society, for wearing shorts in the heat, but it's not a new thing -- you couldn't wear shorts to Eighteenth Street Lounge or Marvin years ago.

GoG, I need your expert advice. My in-laws are coming into town Saturday to see my wife, toddler and I. Is there something we can do in Virginia during the day that is family-friendly while not mind-numbingly terrible for us adults? Thank you!

I bet the Bluemont BBQ Bash and Blackberry Bonanza would be a good fit. Fairfax County also offers some free family-friendly concerts on Saturdays that might be of interest. If you are willing to cross the river, head to the National Aquarium's shark weekend.

I'm going to have some free time on Friday, between noon and 5pm. Any suggestions of things to do? I'll be at Farragut at noon and will have to be back in Dupont at 5pm, so something near that area would be perfect.

Grab sushi from Kaz Okochi's brand-new DIY maki roll place, Oh Fish! Then, wander up towards Dupont and spend some time perusing the shelves at Kramerbooks and Melody Record Shop before setting up on the patio at Circa for some people watching (The patio there is always good for that). You could sub out the middle of that itinerary and pop into the Phillips Collection to check out the Kandinsky masterpiece, "Painting with White Border."

Going to see Pop! on Saturday night at Studio Theatre. But first, dinner at Masa 14. Has anyone been recently? What's especially good there right now? Thanks!

I haven't been in many months. Whenever I'm there I get the most excited by the Mezcal list. Maybe one of our chatters has more recent experience with the food portion of the menu.

Fritz can you comment on the crowd that's entertaining this new U St poshspot? What happened to edge on the U? Does a brother have to go to CoHi for some dive? ps would love to snag those barca manu tickets; sent Alex B an email already detailing my enthralling childhood experience at WC94 F

If you want diveyness on U, there's Solly's, Velvet Lounge, maybe Stetson's. The Sunday jazz jams at Dahlak attract cool, low-key crowds.

Lost Society, thanks to its awesome rooftop and steakhouse prices, seems like it's going to attract a Policy/One Lounge kind of crowd -- maybe some spillover from Marvin or BlackByrd, but definitely dressed up and probably a good portion of people in from the 'burbs for a night out. (On the other hand, I was at BlackByrd Warehouse the other night, and just about everyone I talked to or was talking to lived within a short cabride from the place.)

Hi! Any bars or restaurants around FedEx Field that you would recommend? Is there anything walking distance?

Hahahaha, that's funny. I don't intend to mock this question, but once you get to the stadium, you'll see what I mean.

I would really like to have a recommendation for you here, but you'll quickly discover that FedEx Field's location is about as appealing as the surface of the moon. Although I can recommend a solid Wendy's about three-quarters of a mile from the parking lot entrance.

On the plus side: You can tailgate! Parking lot gates open at 3 p.m. Bring a picnic or a small grill and enjoy dinner with your fellow fans in the parking lot! You can bring booze, too. For me, as a Redskins fan, tailgating is usually the most enjoyable part of the FedEx Field experience.

I'm reallly interested in seeing this and apparently the only place it's playing is the West End Theater, where I've never been. Any GOG comments on it?

West End Cinema is a cute little theater with lots of offbeat offerings. I'd venture to say it's not quite as pristine as E Street, but they do get the exclusive on some phenomenal films -- and lots of interesting documentaries -- including Life in a Day, which was one of the most moving films I've seen in a long while. My cubicle neighbor Michael O'Sullivan wrote the review (which will be online later today) and -- again, I can't go into much detail -- had some nice things to say, as well.

I have a question about the two tickets for Saturday's soccer game. How is it going to be announced? Thank you!

We'll contact the winner and then announce it on the blog. 

Thanks for answering my question last week about whether or not to slip my bartender my number. I'm going to go back with friends at a less busy time and see what happens!

Work it. Y0u better update us next week on how it pans out. For chatters that need a refresher, this is from the "awkward question"er from last week.

Yea! Good luck! And good call on going at a less busy time. (Err, and just saying, if you guys end up dating, I'll be here with plenty of date ideas for Sunday-Wednesday, haha.) 

Gurus: For my birthday, I'm having dinner at The Source. Since it's super expensive, I want to find a bar after for all of my friends to meet up with me afterwards. Something low key and not pricey, but still fun and can accommodate a group of 10 or so people. Ideas? Thanks!

Iron Horse Tap Room is always a safe bet if you're rolling deep. You could also lock down some room at the bar at Gordon Biersch

For my birthday (turned 27) my friends and I are going to tour DC Brau. The website mentioned something about growlers? Do I need to bring one to sample the beer? Also, the tours are pretty early 1-4, any suggestions for nearby bars to hit after we finish at the brewery? Thanks

Your tour of DC Brau -- I've done it -- will take about 15 minutes, which doesn't including waiting in line for beer to go. (There's no bar where you can linger after the tour. You get small samples of the beer in cups; growlers are used when you want to purchase something besides the Public Ale, which comes in cans.)

Last time I was there, they were pouring the Public, Corruption IPA and Citizen Pale Ale, and you paid $6 for a growler fill. (Note that if you BYO growler, it has to be a screwtop, not a swing-top, since they seal it for you.)

Tours are early, but there's really nothing around the brewery, which is in an industrial park on Bladensburg Road NE. Instead, I'd have a little after-party with pints of DC Brau at Meridian Pint, which sells more Brau than any other bar in D.C.

What if we submitted early on the chat for the ticket giveaway?

Make sure to submit your email address with any chat submissions! We won't publish it, but you'll hear from us before your entry is posted on the blog if you've won :)

I have a date for this Saturday (July 30th) and I'd like to give both daytime and evening options that are free or cheap.

This week, I posted this list of summer date ideas, and I'll add a few more that qualify as cheap or free: Fort Dupont has an awesome summer concert series for which you should totally pack a romantic picnic.  And you didn't say whether you're irony-loving hipsters or not, but Brightest Young Things pool party Saturday should be a blast (it's themed Hipster Camp) and is pretty inexpensive considering it includes a burger; afterward, you could totally continue the irony-loving at Run for Cover at the Black Cat. There are a lot of free/cheap dates that fall on weekdays or Sundays, including Screen on the Green/other outdoor screenings; and Phillips After 5 next Thursday (at $12), and the parties at Donovan House.   Oh, and I forgot to add: Jazz in the Garden, which is perfect for cheap/romantic date.


Hi Gurus, My boyfriend would like to go get half-smokes for his birthday Friday. Any thoughts on the best place? The only one I know is Ben's. And would you have a suggestion for a nice place to go afterwards for good cocktails or wine? (Near Ben's we have done the Gibson and Vinoteca many times, so are looking to branch out.) Thanks!

For birthday half-smokes you have to do Ben's.  For nearby cocktails and wine have you tried the Dickson Wine Bar? Saint-Ex also has some great cocktails right now.

Restaurant recommendations for a bunch - 27 to be specific - of Michigan summer interns wanting to get together for a group dinner? Oh yeah, we'd like separate checks, booze, and entrees in the $10-$20 range. Thanks!

27? Separate checks? How completely reasonable.

Really only two places spring immediately to mind. Vapianos does two things well: handles separate checks and has booze. The other way I would steer you would be to Hill Country. Once again, their system is designed to handle separate checks, but it is going to be right at the edge of your affordability. And with 27 people you absolutely need to call ahead and make arrangements with the restaurant.

I'd also suggest the upstairs at the Dupont branch of Nando's -- something you really can't get in Michigan. The Portuguese beers go down a treat in warm weather, and the upstairs dining room should be able to hold all of you -- but as Justin said, you really have to call first.

Ooh, and one more: Zorba's in Dupont. Cheap, pay your own way, and they have a large upstairs area for a big party. Call ahead though, for sure.

Hi guys! Hoping you can help me out—I have family in town this weekend. My aunt, 14 year old sports-loving cousin with a broken arm and my 25 year old brother. Although they have very different interests they are all pretty laid back. They have all been to DC before so they aren’t really looking for the traditional touristy stuff. Any ideas for something that will please everyone, perhaps an activity that’s light & fun?

I think both the Legg Mason and the Celebrity Soccer Challenge would be sporty enough for the 14-year-old, but still appeal to the rest of the group. Between the karate, karaoke and crafts, the much-delayed cherry blossom-themed block party in Silver Spring also seems like it might fit the bill.

II have a staying in question. 'm having dinner with friends on Saturday and would like to serve a prosecco-based cocktail. Any suggestions? I'm willing to make a simple syrup, but am not up for muddling, although I would mash berries.

If you'll mash berries, would you chop up and muddle some peaches with mint for a bellini? That's what I would do, then top with prosecco and a bit of club soda, maybe. Shouldn't take too long and it's very seasonal.

The other standby: Get a bottle of St. Germain elderflower liqueur and make St Germain cocktails: 2 oz prosecco, 1.5 oz of St. G and 2 oz club soda, built that way in a glass full of ice. Garnish with lemon peel. Sweet, floral and perfect for a summer afternoon.


You could also make a classic Italian spritz. 3 to 1 Prosecco to Aperol (or Campari if you like bitter) built over ice. Hit it with a bit of club soda and garnish with an orange. Great hot weather drink.

As a first time attendee, when should I try to arrive? Are there coveted seating spots to try and grab? They have food and drinks available for purchase, correct?

Tomorrow should be about 100 degrees, so I'm thinking it's not going to be as crowded as usual; but arriving early -- 5ish -- never hurts. The coveted seats are generally near the band, maybe around the fountain (but I think anywhere will do). Bring a blanket. Food/drink are available to buy. but prepare to stand in long lines for food, especially. They do bag searches now, so don't smuggle in your two-buck Chuck. If this all is changing your mind, Jess wrote this cool story about Jazz and Jackson Place, an alternative with beer, wine and apps included. 

Any plans to tear it down and rebuild? It is no bueno!

RFK is great. Yes, there are rats, feral cats, leaky everything, asbestos and lord knows what else, but there's something that's sorely lacking in most new stadiums, and that's history. I'll shed many tears when they do eventually bulldoze that lopsided spaceship of a stadium. 

I was at the Passenger on the night of the Rapture and they had some great drinks names: "Death's Door Mule" and "Rickey Bobby Baby Jesus" were my favorites

The Passenger's chalkboard cocktail menu is frequently home to some of the best names in town; I'm always really happy to see "Suffering Bastard," "Inglorious Bastard" and "Bahia."

Can you bring beer? I thought I remember hearing that you weren't able to, might be wrong though.

If you can't bring beer to the FedEx parking lot, than the PG cops could make a mint on Sundays during football season.

A few weeks ago you all recommended BG for the Lao menu. It was outstanding. Next challenge, where in Falls Church/Vienna/Tysons for good buffalo wings (cheap would be a plus).

I like the wings at Mad Fox in Falls Church, where the barbecue sauce uses the brewpub's rich porter. Dogfish Head's are okay (the beer is more of the star) and while I know some people who love the wings at the Four Provinces, I've never been blown away. Good buffalo-style, though, which goes with the Guinness.

so is shaw's tavern open? according to yelp they had a soft opening a while ago but anything since? what's the vibe going to like? price range?

I was told yet again that this Friday will be the opening (no! really! this time they mean it!). Peeked in on my way to Thai X-ing one night when they were having one of those private "soft opening" parties and it looks nice, with lots of exposed brick and reclaimed wood, but I haven't seen a menu or anything like that.

Going to the Keith Urban concert at the Verizon Center tonight and looking for someplace to "tailgate" around 5PM. I was thinking happy hour at Ella's or Jaleo but I wanted to try someplace new. Unfortunately, Hill Country is out because two of the three of us are vegetarians.

Both are good options. But if you are looking for someplace new, why not try Graffiato. That early you may be able to find a spot at the bar.

Gurus, thank you for supplying me with a pass to Monday's Big Boi show, it was awesome!!!

Wasn't it fantastic? One of the best hip-hop shows I've seen in ages, and with what, 200 fans there? Really nice and intimate, but those Crown Royal Black cocktails will catch up with you.

I haven't been to Masa 14 recently but it's never disappointed me. I would recommend the pork belly spring rolls. In fact, order two they are so good. I've had other great food there but love the spring rolls.

From a chatter.

Hey Gurus, I'm looking for a cool but great bar that is low-key, has some food (but not a full on menu, just snack stuff) with a great and varied drink list (beer, wine, cocktails). I can't decide amongst The Passenger, Bar Pilar, Estadio, Lost Society or some other place I haven't thought of yet. Thanks.

When are you going? Bar Pilar is one of my favorite bars in the city at 9 p.m. on a Wednesday, but it's anything but lowkey at Friday happy hour. Another question: How many people, or just you? Estadio can be a mess if there are more than two of you, but I love it as a solo drinker because I can almost always find a seat at the bar. (It's the same story at sister bar Proof.)

Other names I'd throw your way that meet your criteria: Jackie's Sidebar, Room 11, The Getaway, Jack Rose, Bourbon, the Tabard Inn...

I'm still hungover

So you had a good time?

I'm coordinating a week-long program for new students at Georgetown University and I am looking to plan something fun for the Saturday evening on August 20th. There will be about fifteen of us; any suggestions for an inexpensive fun night in the city?

Ahh, so are you talking freshmen? Check out this list of ideas for the under-21 set. And add to the possibilities a dance party at the Black Cat, which is hosting US Dept. of Bhangra that night. I'll throw in an extra for Friday night (the 19th) not far from Georgetown: The Rosslyn Outdoor Movies fest. They're showing "Night at the Roxbury." You can grab food from anywhere on M Street and hike across the bridge.

Hi Holly, I have a first date tomorrow but the temperature is supposed to be soaring and humid and maybe top it off with a chance of rain. Any suggestions on what I should wear to rock this first date? Thanks so much!

You can't go wrong with one of the summer's staples -- an airy white, nude or blush dress (either mini or maxi), preferably with some lace detailing. Here are a couple options you can pick up today on the cheap -- I love this maxi from Forever 21, or you can do a shorter lace version; this American Apparel number in peach is pretty cute; and here are some options from Target. Keep a white dress from looking too bridal (eek!) with leather accessories -- a belt, bag and sandals -- that lean to the edgy, rugged side. Good luck on the date!

Alex Baldinger : While I can appreciate nostaglia just as much as the next girl/guy AND I have a huge spot in my heart for RFK, I feel of all the DC teams, DC United gets the short end of the stick. The VZ Center, FedEx Field are all nice establishments - why can't we do that for our soccer team too!? Marketing 101: Build something pretty and they will come. If we want to encourage and market DC United - build a bigger fan base - we have to start from the ground up, yes, pun intended. We need to support these guys by giving them something they can call home AND be proud to call him. Have you seen the Seattle Sounders stadium?! It's awesome. The fans are in it to win it b/c they want to be there too. No reason why DC can't invest in United.

WIN and they will come. The Verizon Center is darned pretty, but nobody was there when the Caps were terrible. Nationals Park is pretty...

Anyway, I hear what you're saying, and nowhere did I say that I was against finding a new stadium for D.C. United. It's easier said than done though, as we've all seen. 

And while I'm sure Seattle's Qwest Field is nice, it should be -- it's an NFL stadium. I'm more impressed by the atmosphere at Portland's Jeld-Wen Field, which opened in 1926! Atmosphere!

Where do you think the players/celebrity viewers (David Beckham?) will be hanging out this weekend?

I dunno, but if anyone spots Alex Morgan around town, I bet the Twitter will implode.

We were pretty overwhelmed by the volume and quality of your responses over the past few days with regard to the Manchester United vs. Barcelona tickets. We sifted through tales of triumph and heartbreak, and decided that win or lose, tradition is the most important element of soccer, and sports in general. Reader Phil from Rockville embodies this: He's taking his Messi-worshiping 9-year-old to see several of his idols play for the first time. Anyone who has ever been 9 years old can surely remember what that experience is like, no matter the sport or the circumstances -- it's a recipe for lifelong devotion. So congratulations to Phil and his son, and a sincere thank you to everyone for sharing your stories with us. Until 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. 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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