Readers look for large-group and date-night dining

January 1, 2013

In the most recent Got Plans? chat, the Going Out Gurus took questions from readers in search of fun restaurants for big groups and for date nights. Check out the highlights below, and for more information, search the boldface terms at goingoutguide.com.

Good dinner place for large family

We will have a group of 14, ranging in age from 8 to 75, in town this week. We were going to go to Marrakesh for dinner, but just learned that they’ve closed. Do you have a fun, tasty and not-too-expensive dinner suggestion that can accommodate a good-size crowd? (Gluten-free options are a bonus.)

Lavanya Ramanathan: Since you’re pressed for time to find a place, you should give the folks at Matchbox a call, in particular, the Rockville or 14th Street locations. Both definitely have space for large groups and a gluten-free menu. More like Marrakesh is Neyla in Georgetown, which has belly dancing, etc. And I have a soft spot for Mama Ayesha’s. I also think you should consider Indique Heights, which definitely has the space for your big group, and since it’s Indian (and there are plenty of rice-based Southern Indian dishes, too), you should have a number of gluten-free choices.

Movie marathons?

Do any local places ever have movie marathons? Different movies, not the same one over and over. I could do a day of total chillout.

Ramanathan: Arlington Cinema ‘N’ Drafthouse frequently has marathons, particularly around the holidays (they just held an eight-movie marathon of Christmas flicks). And if you can remember to check sometime in late January, the AMC theaters host an Oscars movie marathon in February, right before the awards ceremony. And finally, it’s not a marathon, but if you really wanted to chill out, you might try watching a movie at the AMC Courthouse theater, where you can watch in a cushy recliner with a foot rest.

Movie marathons

Not exactly “local” but not very far either . . . I really like Bengies Drive-In Theatre just outside of Baltimore [and its] “Dusk to Dawn” movie marathon every Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend. They often do double and triple features every weekend in the summer. And besides, it’s a DRIVE-IN theater, how cool is that? [Editor’s note: Bengies is closed for the season but will reopen in the spring].

Restaurant recs between Baltimore and D.C.

[I’m] meeting some college friends for dinner from Baltimore tomorrow night and have been tasked with coming up with something roughly halfway between here and there. Any recommendations for somewhere relatively low-key that we either won’t feel rushed out of or that has an attached or nearby bar where we can hang out after dinner? Thanks!

Fritz Hahn: Can I recommend somewhere that I haven’t been yet? The team behind the Pratt Street Ale House, the Wharf Rat and Oliver Ales in Baltimore has taken over the old Rocky Run pub in Columbia and turned it into Ale House Columbia. It only opened two weeks ago, and holiday duties have kept me from heading up I-295 to visit. But what I’ve heard so far has been very, very positive.

Advice for date

My husband and I have a late afternoon/evening date tomorrow and I was hoping you could give me some advice on where to go. Looking for not stuffy places with good drinks and beer where we could share plates at a bar vs. doing the whole table thing. I was thinking maybe picking a different neighborhood to explore (we work in downtown and Georgetown and live in Arlington). Thoughts? Thanks!

Ramanathan: I can’t help but think ChurchKey will fit the bill. I love getting there early, heading upstairs and finding a spot at the bar or at a table and poring over the beer list while there’s still a little light coming through the windows. (Highly recommend this on a bored Saturday afternoon, too, since it opens at noon.) Sitting at the bar before it gets too crazy also gives you access to a knowledgeable bartender who can help you navigate the list. Some other thoughts: Meridian Pint in Columbia Heights, if you head downstairs, has the laid-back feel you like. Another option in that neighborhood that has been winning raves for the food: Kangaroo Boxing Club. I love to sit at the bar at Estadio and have a gintonic. Their sandwiches and brussels sprouts are made for sharing (and are ridiculously delicious). Finally, if you wanted to check out a newer place, you could head for H Street, where you can absolutely [sit at the bar] at Boundary Road, which also has a good happy hour.

Lunch on the boss

Our boss is going to take us out for lunch, and she wants us to pick the place. Any recommendation for lunch around Silver Spring or Bethesda?

Hahn: Always nice when the boss is paying, eh? In Bethesda, we like Bistro Provence or the new Wildwood Kitchen (both places you want someone else picking up the check). Around Silver Spring, we remain fans of the pies at Pacci’s, especially with a group.

Have questions of your own? The Going Out Gurus will be online at 1 p.m. Thursday. Submit questions in advance at goingoutguide.com.

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