Thursday, February 21, 2008; 1:00 PM
Every Thursday at 1 p.m. ET, washingtonpost.com's City Guide experts share their best bets for local flavor, great dates and family fun. Got plans? Great. Need plans? Just ask. We have the skinny on the bars and clubs, concerts, kitchens, theaters and special events that keep life interesting. We're going out gurus, and we're at your service.
Of course, we're happy to answer questions about local entertainment, but we need to hear from you, too. Introduce us to the coolest DJ or the fastest bartender you've encountered. Sound off on the week's best concert or the city's best burger. Tell us about the best place to amuse little kids or a big art fan. Together we can plan fun ways to spend weekdays, weekends, dates and holidays. The pleasure is ours, and yours.
Each week a different guru will act as host or hostess, but the entire staff is at your service. If you're looking for more ideas, see the City Guide or read transcripts of past Got Plans? discussions.
Submit your questions and comments before or during today's discussion.
washingtonpost.com: Hello there. It's cold outside, but the Going Out Gurus have plenty of ideas for making the most of your weekend. Anne, David, Fritz, Jen and Rhome are here to take your questions. Your time starts now...
Washington, D.C.: The ladies and I want to go dancing at Cafe Citron on Saturday night. What time should we get there to avoid standing in a long line out in the cold? Also, any recommendations for a place close by to grab a cocktail before? BTW, they are all loyal readers of the GOG Blog and I bet they will email me this afternoon asking if I posted this question!
Fritz: In my experience, the line gets exponentially longer between 11 and 11:30, so I'd try to arrive around 11. For cocktails nearby, I have to go with Firefly first, then Topaz.
U2 in 3D: Is "U2 in 3D" worth the hype?
Jen: Um, yes.
Seriously, I have seen it twice now and I am still amazed by the visual detail. If you're not a big U2 fan but just enjoy concert films in general, it's worth seeing, especially in Imax.
Silver Spring, Md.: Hey Gurus!
The only Oscars event I've seen is the Red Cross black-tie event. For those of us who can't quite afford to drop $100, are there any other Oscar parties or viewings going on anywhere in the D.C. area? Thanks!
Jen: There are indeed, Silver Spring. There's the D.C. Film Society's party at the Cinema N Drafthouse and the Goethe-Institut event downtown, both of which will only set you back $15 or $20. And of course, you are welcome to join our online Oscar party of sorts, which is free. I cannot promise you free cocktails, but I can promise lots of smart questions from readers and more than a few inane comments from me.
Washington, D.C.: I am going to a party at Tattoo Saturday night. What's the attire for ladies there? Gracias!
Fritz: Judging by last Saturday, when Adam from Maroon 5 was bartending, it ran the gamut from short skirts and skin-tight tanktops to T-shirts and jeans. Women can get away with so much more than men on this front...
It's a bar that plays loud rock and roll music. Keep that in mind.
McLean, Va.: Hi gurus!
My friend loves mechanical bull riding and she's managed to convince a group of us to go to McFadden's this Saturday to check it out. We're in our early 30's and I am wondering if we're going to feel like geriatrics (aside from the pain we'll feel if we actually try it) and if it's going to be too crowded to even get a chance to try?
You've got to appreciate the chance to doing something different at a bar. Thanks!
Fritz: McLean, I was there last month interviewing people for a story about the mechanical bull that's in tomorrow's Weekend section (plug, plug) and most people I talked to seemed to be in the 27-33 age range. I have to admit that surprised me, since McFadden's has a reputation for drawing a mostly 21-25 crowd. Maybe getting tossed on your butt really can bring us together.
Rockville, Md.: Who is opening for the Spice Girls tonight?
David: I'm pretty sure there is no opening act, so be ready for the Spice Girls to hit the stage as early at 7:30, but probably closer to 8.
Woodley Park: I am planning on checking out "When Harlem Came to Paris" at the Alliance Francaise Saturday night. Do you know the beverage situation there? The website says cocktails provided by 10 Cane Rum but what about wine? Thanks.
Fritz: At most Alliance events I've attended, they have a few French wines (red and white) available. If you have to pay for them, they're generally $4-6 a glass, but they're often included at higher-ticket events.
Washington, D.C.: GOGs -
Men's eyewear? Any recommended places/boutiques in D.C. with a wide selection, that won't break the bank and that aren't Lenscrafters or Hour Eyes? Thanks!
Fritz: A friend of mine just got glasses from SEE in Georgetown. As I browsed through the really hip frames, I became very jealous that they don't take my insurance.
Any other suggestions?
Tattoo: Fritz - back to the Tattoo question earlier. So what do us guys need to wear to get in?
Fritz: The dress code seems to be pretty relaxed -- I've seen guys in vintage-looking track tops, cool T-shirts and sweaters. Jeans are obvious, but I might leave the sneakers at home -- just to be sure.
Annandale, Va.: So I know that you get this question a lot and have actually had a discussion about it but where is a great place in Alexandria or Arlington to meet mature older women? I'm talking about someone who's old enough to say that they saw "Beat Street" in the theater.
Rhome: My response to questions like this is usually a collection of hotel bars, jazz and blues spots but the Virginia and "Beat Street" elements render it void.
Definitely a job for group think. Chatters?
Metro Centro: What have you folks heard about the Food & Wine Expo...is it really worth $85? (Please speak freely despite your "ties" to the event sponsor)
Fritz: I've been a few times. My take on it is that if you like wine -- and I mean really like wine -- but find yourself flummoxed by unfamiliar names and varietals on menus at high-end restaurants, it's a great place to go learn. If you're more of a casual wine-o, then you might want to look elsewhere, because, as you noted, it's expensive.
I wish it was cheaper to get in -- something like the annual Salon des Vins des Vignerons Indépendants in France, where you pay like 5 Euros for unlimited tasting of thousands of wines from producers all over the country. (Ah, the days when you could carry dozens of bottles of wine on the plane with you...)
Washington, D.C.: Are there any decent bars in D.C. or Virginia that serve Paulaner on tap? It's my brother's favorite beer, and he will be visiting for the weekend.
Fritz: Try the cozy, quiet little bar at Cafe Mozart -- okay, it's quiet when the accordion lady isn't wandering around -- or the large selection of German beers at the Saloon.
I haven't seen it on draft during my most recent visits to Rustico, Birreria or the Brick.
McLean, Va.: I'm not looking for a drinking-related injury but the mechanical bull could be fun. The last time I went to McFadden's it was full of 22 year olds and that combined with a $20 all you can drink offer is a little scary.
Thanks for alleviating some of my fears!
Fritz: As I pointed out in my preview last month, no need to worry about drinking and bull ridin' -- GW hospital is right across the street!
Washington, D.C.: Have any of you gurus ever used Goldstar.com to get tickets to events? I came across their site, and while they seem legit, I don't want to buy tickets and then show up to the event and find out that in fact I was scammed.
David: It's not a scam at all, just a sort of middleman/ticket broker thing. There's no need to fear the legitimacy of what they offer. If you buy tickets through them for a play, for example, the theater company will get a little bit less money than if you bought from them directly, y'know?
Washington, D.C.: Speaking of Tattoo, is it primarily a biker bar as the name implies? My strait-laced bf wants to know. We both like rock and roll.
Fritz: The only bikers at Tattoo are the ones with really expensive Ducattis or lawyers with Harleys. This isn't Crow Bar -- it's a rocked-up lounge with optional bottle service and tables you can rent for a $2,000 minimum. Not exactly Hell's Angels-style pricing.
Arlington, Va.: I never really knew what happened to Coyote Ugly and why it closed. Do you guys know?
Is there another bar with that kind of vibe? (Groups of girls just looking for a fun time)
Not to mention the bachelorette crowds.
A total loss for D.C. if you ask me.
Fritz: Coyote Ugly closed because it was only getting business on weekends and game nights, and that's not going to pay the bills when you're right across from the Verizon Center. Plus it could be kind of creepy... I went there with an ex of mine who was curious about it. We walked in on a Wednesday night and it was completely dead, except for like 10-15 guys at the bar. She was the only female in there other than the bartenders, and told me she could feel all the men looking at her, like she was just going to jump up on the bar and have a go.
Anyway, newer/better places for bachelorettes: Play's up there. Tattoo. Josephine might -- they have two, uh, poles adjacent to the dance floor.
Manassas, Va.: Are there any indoor batting cages and/or go-carts in the Virginia or D.C. area? Too cold to visit any of the outside places I know of.
David: The Sunday Source had a good rundown of local batting cages last April. Most of them are outdoors but I think you'll be able to find something that works. Are there really any indoor go-kart places?
McFaddens: It's definitely a college bar. If you have a 401k, it's probably not your scene.
Last time I went there, I felt ANCIENT. I'm 22.
Fritz: I agree with you, but the people who were there for the mechanical bull were definitely not the usual Saturday night crowd. Maybe that's why they put in the back room -- so all the under-23s don't look at us older folks and be like, "what are THEY doing here, and why are they trying to ruin our fun?"
Fairfax, Va.: RE: Goldstar -- used this last weekend to buy tickets to Alonzo Bodden at the Arlington Cinema 'n Drafthouse. They were HALF PRICE through Goldstar, it was easy to use and the show was great.
Fritz: Half-price is always nice.
Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: I want to check out HR - 57. Whats the BYO situation...can I bring a 6 pack? Liquor? Or is this a wine only sort of establishment?
David: Bring whatever you want, just be ready for a $3 corkage fee even if you're just popping open cans of Natty Bo.
Falls Church, Va.: Hi GOG,
I love your blog. I'm looking for a night club or a lounge in D.C. and Virginia where the older crowd would gather (30+). I like dancing but I don't want to be surrounded by drunk college students.
Fritz: Any place that has a somewhat-strict dress code and charges a cover or more than $10 for drinks seems to create a natural self-segregation: I'm thinking Blue Gin, Lima, the Park, Eighteenth Street Lounge, Fly...
Washington, D.C.: I have been wanting to check out the Improv for a while now. Is there a dress code there? Also, do you have to order to get a table, do you have to order dinner, or are just drinks OK? Thank you!
David: There's no real dress code, you can be casual. There's a two-item minimum, but it doesn't have to be food. Although if you reserve a table and eat there you will definitely get a better seat. Some pretty good acts coming through soon -- hypnotist Flip Orley is always a riot, Judah Friedlander is funny on "30 Rock" and I just saw Mike Birbiglia's stand-up special recently and thought it was great.
Northwest, Washington, D.C.: Why would the name "Tattoo" imply a biker bar?
Tattoos are worn by everyone from my nephew to my mother. Or it could be a bar for Russian "lesbian" pop duos.
Actual, Hunter S.-style Hell's Angels are unlikely to be hanging out at 14th & K on a Thursday evening.
Fritz: Well, maybe it's the old motorcycle helmets used to diffuse lights in the seating area, the recycled motorcycle chains used as curtains, or the vintage harley davidson crashing through the wall above the bar. It's more of a biker-inspired bar than a biker bar. And don't forget the Crow Bar -- a real biker bar -- was at 20th and L not that long ago...
Downtown, Washington, D.C.: Hi Gurus, I'm heading to the Kennedy Center tonight for Alvin Ailey. My date and I work at opposite ends of the Red Line, so will probably meet at Farragut North around 6, and make our way towards KC. We hoping to grab appetizers and drinks somewhere between. Suggestions for somewhere nice that wouldn't been overly crowded would be helpful. Also wondering if you may know what time the performance ends. (We're hoping to make it to either the JDilla or Brazilian night events if it not too late.) Thanks! You guys make my Thurs!
Anne: I'm not sure if these fall into your definition of "nice," but I'm thinking Wasabi or Cafe Asia's happy hour would be fun and fast. Science Club could be cool, too, if not the speediest. Then there's my perennial pre-Ken Cen pick, Circle Bistro (if you eat in the lounge). I have a hunch you can still catch some J Dilla tribute.
Arlington, Va.: I'm planning a birthday get together for next Saturday and want my friends to meet up at a D.C. bar for drinks and dancing. We have an uncanny knack, however, for going to the MOST crowded places in the city, and we're not looking for that.
What are your thoughts on Tattoo and Chi-Cha lounge for this type of party? Any other suggestions in the Chinatown area?
Rhome: Chi-Cha has good music but very little space for dancing and it's most crowded on weekends. I only go during the week. Tattoo's style is such that it seems like it would only be fun when it's crowded, which it often is because it's new and popular.
As for Chinatown, if you dig electronic type flavors and want the environmental intensity to come down a few notches you can try Indebleu. It seems like you're trying to avoid the crush of humanity but even though Ultrabar is popular, the multiple rooms help keep the density down.
Washington, D.C.: Hi GRGs! Have you been to The Space at 9th & N St NW? I'm thinking of having my birthday party there. They have a membership option but it doesn't say anywhere the rates of membership. Is it a cool place or too pretentious?
Rhome: Cool, laid back place. More for drinks and conversation, not so much for partying hard. Membership situation isn't clear and currently not enforced. You might want to contact them ahead of time if you're bringing a large group.
Washington, D.C.: Plan on going to Zanzibar on Saturday night, what is the admission to get in? Also, any feedback on Club Ibiza? I am looking for a place where I can dance the night away. Thanks.
Fritz: Ah, going to see Mory Kante, the legendary Guinean griot? That should be a great show. Tickets are $25 at the door or about the same if you buy them in advance through Ticketmaster. The advantage to having advance tickets at Zanzibar is they sometimes set up a separate line for ticketholders, so you can skip the wait.
As for Ibiza, I think it's a great space. Love the expansive main room, and have a good time watching the action from the mezzanine bar (just mind the see-through floor). The front room, though, leaves me a little cold -- especially with the giant sunken pit for VIP seating in the middle of the floor. Can't wait to get back there and chill on the roof when the weather is warmer.
Washington, D.C. : Hey, Gurus -
Is this McFadden's mechanical bull thing a one-time event or an every weekend thing? I didn't see your story on it and can't tell based on the posts today.
Fritz: Once a month, generally the third Saturday.
Chantilly, Va.: For the chatter looking for indoor go-karting...while I've never been, but always wanted to..All Sports out by Dulles offers it. http:/
David: Who's going to go out there and report back?
Open Table: Hey guys, I know I'm posting this very late, but I just booked a dinner on Open Table for the first time. It's for my girlfriend's birthday next week at Central... is open table really reliable or should I also call the restaurant to confirm? Thanks!
Fritz: Open Table is generally very reliable. I've used it here and in other cities without a problem -- including on Valentine's Day, which is often a nightmare. I still might call the day before to confirm, though, and let them know it's her birthday. (Restaurant pros tell me that they generally appreciate a call when it's a special event, because that little box in Open Table can be so easy to miss.)
Alexandria, Va.: Hi Gurus, my boyfriend's parents are coming into town this weekend (not the first time) and have left it open ended as far as what they want to do. We've had a good time before going to the Virginia Wine Festival in Leesburg and the Annapolis Boat Show this past fall, but I can't seem to find something similar that is going on this particular weekend. Any outdoor events that would be nice to peruse (if the weather is good), or indoor non-museum excursions? Thanks!
Anne: If you want something seasonal, my vote would be to sample some fresh maple syrup at either of the festivals this weekend. The Brookside Gardens one wouldn't take so long to get to from your place and it's a neat trick to show off some nature so close to the city.
Birthday Girl: I know the 'rus get this question ALL the time, and I swear I've already looked through archived Got Plans? to search for answers. I'm having a birthday in three weeks, on a Saturday night (I know weeknights are better, but it's not my fault; it's when I was born!), and I'd like to throw a little part-ay with about 30 people. What is a fabulous, metro-accessible bar or lounge where I can reserve a small space for a few hundred dollars? I've already checked with Science Club -- any other ideas? Thanks!!
Fritz: What about Karma, the cool little lounge between downtown and Penn Quarter? That place gets overlooked -- including by me -- but I like the cocktails and it draws an interesting World Bank-y crowd. Eyebar might be another option, or maybe Topaz.
Crow Bar!: I miss that place. Geez I'm getting old.
Fritz: Anyone who went to Crow Bar misses Crow Bar, and I say that as someone who was too young to get in for most of its existence.
K Street, Washington, D.C.: Top 40/Hip Hop/R&B girl meets trance/techno guy--not that unusual a story, right? Here's the thing, I know NOTHING about trance or techno music and, while I like to try new things, am a little concerned/nervous about the "scene." I am not a clubber so much, but think that's where we'd need to go for me to go out where his music is playing? Where would you recommend? What kind of things do I need to wear? What should I be prepared for? I would love to get into his scene and be able to suggest some places to go without feeling totally out of place and confused once we get there. Probably looking at next weekend, since we're kind of booked up this weekend.
Rhome: If he's into techno & trance, does he not already have places he goes to? For that type of music the options are split between mainstream megaclubs (with their attendant dress codes and door policies) that might have one room among several devoted to dance music and places that cater more specifically to fans of the music and the DJs.
Luckily for you it doesn't take much preparation for the latter. Friday nights at Five are a good place to start and they don't have a dress code (for now). All you need to worry about is wearing comfortable shoes and bringing some earplugs. You want to feel the system but not be pummelled by it.
Sterling, Va.: Hi GOG! My boyfriend and I have a standing Saturday night date that I've been trying to fill with "fun new" dates. Last weekend we finally made it out to the Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse, AMAZING! Any suggestions for this weekend? I've been prowling around the City Guide but I have bupkiss. Thanks! xoxo
Anne: This a drive from Sterling, but the craziest thing happening Saturday night in my book is the Inside Outside All-Night party at Heineman Myers Contemporary Art gallery in Bethesda. It starts at 10 p.m. and goes to 10 a.m. (Sunday), and did I mention that it is partly outdoors? I'm saying brrrr. Tunes from DJ Impulse, aura readings, catered omelets and crepes (made-to-order from 7-10 a.m.) are all promised. Graffiti artist Tim Conlon (whose work you can currently see in the Portrait Gallery's Recognize! exhibit) will work through the night on a new piece. Oh, and of course you can see the soon-to-close exhibit of photography and light works by Ivan Toth DePena. And it's free. Wow.
Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C.: Oh Gurus, do I need your help!
A good college friend and her boyfriend are visiting this weekend from Boston. She keeps asking what the plan is and I am having some issues coming up with something fun because her only input is "I want to dress up trendy and get a drunk a lot." That comment immediately elicits thoughts of Georgetown, but I am far from a fan and prefer more cutting edge/cultured spots throughout the city - which is why I turn to you!!
The bare bones plan is:
Friday: grab drinks at a quasi-chill new place (Temperance Hall has been suggested) and then go out dancing somewhere in UStreet/AdMo area with a small group of mid 20s guys and gals.
Saturday is girls' night out: thinking dinner with AdMo/Gtown/Nova/Boston ladies then out to "trendy" (whatever that means) bar afterwards so somewhere central is ideal. Also, were thinking either before/after dinner we could hit up one of the million new wine bars around.
Fritz: Friday: Temperance is a pretty cool space. If you're in the neighborhood, W Domku might be more interesting for drinks, especially if you're dining -- good mix of European beers and the house-made aquavit shots are stellar. Certainly more unusual. For just drinks, I love the Red Derby. Great atmosphere, great staff, great beer-and-a-shot specials. Low-key fun. Dancing... you don't say what kind of music, but I like the scene at Metropolitain (disco/electro in an upscale champagne bar, plus half-price cocktails), Wonderland (anything from hip-hop to electro) or maybe DC9 or the Black Cat.
Saturday: I hate the word "Trendy." Wine bars on Saturday night are generally killer-packed, so I'd go on the early side if you want to all sit together with a group. Veritas is the best of the bunch. Cork is great but waaaaaaay too crowded on weekends, unless you want to leave it late and try to get your name on the list for dinner and wine (not a bad one-two combo) by calling 30 minutes before you want to dine. Vinoteca is the least crowded but, in my experience, the least interesting. (If you really want to combine the dinner/wine idea, Proof is the best, but you might not have a shot since you've left it this last.
On to bar... I think everywhere I've mentioned so far in this chat would work for a group of women looking to cut loose -- the new Josephine, Tattoo, Science Club, Eighteenth Street Lounge, all centrally located and waiting for you.
Arlington, Va.: Heading to Bourbon - Adams Morgan on Saturday night. I haven't been there in awhile on a weekend. What's the vibe like? Differences between first and second floor?
Fritz: Upstairs has a DJ and less of a Bourbon selection. More beer-oriented. Downstairs is where us whiskey-lovers hang out. It's pretty relaxed compared to the chaos nearby.
Washington, D.C.: Do you Gurus know anything about the Hexagon Stars and Gripes show? Is it worth seeing? What's it all about?
Anne: Hello, plant. I'll answer this because 1) I do love community theater and 2) Hexagon's annual show (in which Erin and I were lucky enough to have cameos last year) donates proceeds to charity, and this year charity = the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. I'm always impressed with major staging by an all-volunteer gang, and this has a hefty bit of singing and dancing, too. The show we were in was pretty packed, and the jokes (written for us) actually got laughs. So that says a lot about the writing. Will Hexagon's show be able to match another recent major gift to the school? Hey, it all helps. As someone who's been backstage in the past year, I can say how much the kids deserve in that building.
Washington, D.C.: What's the scene at Josephine's look like? Upscale/casual? Cover charge?
Fritz: Not to pick on you individually, but Josephine is not possessive. I see it misspelled more than correct. Anyway.
Very nice and definitely upscale: flocked wallpaper, huge 19th Century-style sofas, chandeliers over the bar. The lower level is more modern, with banquettes surrounding a dance floor that, as I noted above, has a couple of stripper poles on it. The vibe is well-dressed and monied, though there's room to stand and dance if you didn't reserve one of the couches. Cover, if you not on some promoter's guest list -- and I don't have a list of those yet, other than Thursday belongs to JetSet Mafia (jetsetmafia.com) -- then the cover is around $10-20. (I heard people were getting charged $40 at the door President's Day weekend.)
Petworth, Washington, D.C.: Come ON people, how hard is it to write out (and properly punctuate, or rather, NOT punctuate) Adams Morgan?
There is no such place as "AdMo" and you expose yourself as a trendoid, tacky, wannabe when you call it that.
Fritz: We'll end with a plea for the non-NewYorkification of our fair city's neighborhoods.
Thanks, everyone, for joining us. Have a great weekend, and we'll see you next Thursday.
washingtonpost.com: One last reminder for everyone: Want to go to the Bon Jovi concert next week? Want to get on stage with the band for a few songs? Enter our contest and it could be you.
Washington, D.C.: Fritz - Where can I get an Old Fashioned in this town?
Fritz: Because it's a drink near and dear to my heart, I'll answer one more: 14th Street between R and T. Tom Brown makes an amazing one at Cork, and Adam at Bar Pilar has been coming up with some of the most inventive twists on classic cocktails that I've seen in ages.
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