Got Plans?: Christmas and New Year's Eve plans

The Going Out Gurus
of The Washington Post's Going Out Guide
Wednesday, December 23, 2009; 1:00 PM

The Going Out Guide staff discussed the "Terra Cotta Warriors" exhibit, wedding bands, New Year's Eve parties and restaurant and bar options for Christmas on Wednesday, Dec. 23, at 1 p.m. ET.

____________________ Hola, chatters. Welcome to Got Plans? We've got David, Fritz, Steph and me (Julia) here to answer all your holiday queries. Bring it.


Hyattsville, Md.: My brother and his girlfriend are coming to town for New Year's Eve. One problem -- she's not 21, yet. Any suggestions for places that will let her in with us, even if it means sporting a big X on her hand and staying away from the bar? Thanks!

Fritz Hahn: Most of the bars I've talked to are going 21-and-over for New Year's Eve. It's a crowd-control issue -- it's easier for bartenders to know who they can and can't serve if everyone is of drinking age.

Places that I know are 18-and-over include the Brightest Young Things party ($45 for an open bar for you and your brother, $30 for the gf), the dynamic soul of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings at the 9:30 club, the Black Cat's party with Peaches O'Dell playing swing on the main stage and DJ Mark Zimin of Mousetrap spinning Britpop and indie downstairs, and the giant no-alcohol-allowed swing dance at Glen Echo with Lady Luck and the Suicide Kings.


Washington, D.C.: I love your chats. I'm interested in the Three Kings Day celebration at Gala Hispanic Theatre on 1/3, but I can't find a lot of logistical information about it. I know it's free, but are tickets necessary? Is it mostly a show inside, or a parade outside, or is it both? Thanks!

Stephanie Merry: We've got all the details on the parade and performances for Three Kings Day here.


Wedding Band?: Hi Gurus! This is a random question, but I hope you can help. My fiance and I are looking for a band (but not your typical wedding band!) for our wedding next October. We want something young and energetic with a big enough setlist to play the motown/oldies older guests want to hear and the 80s stuff people our age will like. Any suggestions for great cover or party bands in the D.C. area? Thanks for any help you can give!

David Malitz: I wrote this article about non-traditional wedding bands a few years ago but it might still be relevant.


Post-Christmas Brunch?: Hello there GOGs & Happy Holidays to you!

My good friend is not going home for the Holidays and I'd like to take him to brunch on Saturday (can't do Sunday). Any suggestions for not-too-pricey-but-tasty locales in the District (proper) where we can enjoy some holiday cheer? Hopefully not someplace terribly loud and proximity to green line is a plus.


Julia Beizer: I've got reservations at the Tabard Inn on Saturday. Maybe I'll see you there! For something closer to the Green line, I like Creme Cafe. Logan at the Heights could do in a pinch. It's not a holiday, so these places *should* be open, but it would be prudent to call first.


Chinatown: Hey there Gurus, Um, yeah, I'm working today and a half day tomorrow - awesome reading my friends Facebook updates of holiday merriment already in effect...

Anyway, the minute I clock out tomorrow, I want to overload my Ode to Joy receptors by leading my family on a tour of the D.C. Christmas hot spots. I've been trolling the last two months of discussions which cover this topic and I think I might finally have my D.C. Christmas tour schedule finalized. Any additions I need to add in?

Thinking in this order: the Ellipse for Christmas Trees, Old Ebbitt for beverage/app, the Willard for another beverage, Botanic Garden for the trains, Capitol Christmas tree, Union Station for more decor (another drink?) and then off to the parents for dinner.

Thanks and have a very happy holiday!

Stephanie Merry: You've done your research! After all that, if you still have energy for more holiday cheer, you could also check out these Christmas exhibits that Michael O'Sullivan wrote about last week.


Alexandria, Va.: I'm a fan of brewery tours, where for $5 you get a souvenir glass to drink some beer. So far I've done Flying Dog and Clipper City. Do you know of any other local breweries?

Fritz Hahn: Those are the biggest (and really only) breweries within a short driving distance of D.C.

Further afield, there's Dogfish Head in Milton, Del., which is well worth the trip. You might want to think about spending a weekend in Philadelphia, where you can visit Yards and Victory -- the latter of which is right outside the city in Downingtown.

Heading down towards Charlottesville, you can check out Blue Mountain (in Afton) and Starr Hill in Crozet.


The Rock, Md.: Hey GOGs --

What are the best bets for January Restaurant Week? I have reservations at Vidalia, but have seen some mixed reviews of restaurant week experiences. Any other places you'd recommend?


Julia Beizer: I didn't have a great Restaurant Week experience at Vidalia, sad to say. But Vidalia is the kind of place I like to try on RW because it's pricey enough that $35.10 feels like a deal. I enjoyed a meal at Adour during a recent RW. That's another one I'd keep in mind. Volt is on the list this year, which I think is pretty interesting. $35.10 would certainly be a deal there. But I live in D.C., so if I'm going to trek all the way up to Frederick, I want to make sure I'm getting the real-deal experience, not a Restaurant Week one.

And now, for Beizer's unoriginal Restaurant Week rule #2: Snag as many lunch reservations as you can; much better deal than dinner. And fun, too! Who doesn't like to get out of the office at lunchtime?


Anonymous: What is good on Capitol Hill, post-Christmas Eve church service? Any place with live music?

Fritz Hahn: Ah, a chance to plug my list of bars open and closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas night.

I haven't heard of any places with live music on or around the Hill on the 24th -- even on H Street, the Rock and Roll Hotel, Red and the Black and Sova are all closed. It seems like it's going to be more of a neighborhood bar scene -- places like the Tune Inn, Lil' Pub, the Pug and Lola's will be open.


New York: I'm going with friends and family to D.C. for Christmas. Arriving the night of Christmas Eve and staying until Saturday night. I hear the hop-on-and-off tour buses are not operating on Christmas day. What is there to do on that day in D.C.? Especially given the weather. Thanks!

Stephanie Merry: There aren't too many places open on Christmas, but you can head to the Botanic Garden and Union Station to get into the holiday spirit, and then check out the trees at the Ellipse and Capitol.


In D.C.: Hi, my birthday is right after Christmas (merry birthday to me!). I'm looking to go out and dance it up, probably Friday night to catch people while they are still around. Where are some good spots for Christmas day night?

Fritz Hahn: My picks would be the James Brown dance party at the Black Cat -- you really don't get much better when it comes to dance music. Fly Lounge is open on Christmas with no cover, dress code or required RSVP. The Liberation Dance Party has Andy Rourke of the Smiths, and the Rock and Roll Hotel has DJs, too. Check the Nightlife Agenda for Friday or my post about bars open on Christmas night.


Washington: Am I missing something, or is it really true that here in the capital of the most powerful and important city in the world, there is a grand total of three (3) restaurants where one can order premium quality roast prime rib of beef? I count the following: (1) The Prime Rib, of course; (2) Smith & Wollensky's. There is also (3) Morton's of Chicago, but only on Friday and Saturday nights, but I'll list them as a third since they have at least four locations in the area. The other prime steakhouses don't seem to feature PR as a regular menu item. Please help me out ... are there others we should try?

Julia Beizer: Not much of a prime-rib diner myself, but my quickie Internet research informs me that Woodmont Grill and Martin's Tavern both have the entree regularly. (Tom Sietsema had good things to say about the dish at Woodmont Grill).


Richmond: Coming up to see the Chinese Terra Cotta Warriors. Hints from the local? Where to park, where to eat dinner Saturday night, where to have breakfast and lunch Sunday (all preferred near the exhibit)? tia!

Stephanie Merry: Fun! It's a great show. You shouldn't have a problem finding street parking, because D.C. is like a ghost town around the holidays. And I know that meters on Connecticut Avenue -- a couple blocks from the National Geographic -- only require change on the weekdays. That might be the case for meters right outside the exhibit, too, but I can't say for sure. Handing off to Julia for food recs...

Julia Beizer: Hit up Nando's for a quickie lunch. For breakfast, you could try the Tabard Inn. For dinner, Kellari Taverna, perhaps? Check out this handy map for more ideas.


Limo for New Years: Hi Gurus! For New Years Eve my friends and I are doing a dinner in then we have a limo rented for 6 hours for the night. Where would be your recommendation on where to go? Perhaps some of the "low key" bars you mentioned last week. One of our friends suggested we go to Annapolis since we have the limo for so long. We may want to do some dancing too, and hopefully go to places that aren't booked with ticket-only events.

Thanks and Happy Holidays!

Fritz Hahn: Here are some ideas for free parties on New Year's Eve, most of which won't have lines. (I'm willing to be there will be lines at Saint-Ex and ChurchKey, though.)

I'd think about doing Social, CommonWealth, Saint-Ex, Science Club, and maybe get down at the Disconaut party on H Street, perhaps paired with a beer and a shot at the Pug. Most of the DJ/dance parties I've seen do have covers.

Annapolis could be fun -- more pub-hopping than going dancing. I think Acme has DJs. If you do that, Galway Bar, the new Levels cocktail lounge, Stan and Joe's and Pusser's would all be on my list.


Burke, Va.: Sweet mother of mercy, if the brew-tour fan wants to tour a SMALL local brewery/brewpub/on-premises brewing establishment, just head down to Shenandoah Brewing Company on Pickett Street in Alexandria, between Duke and Van Dorn. GREAT beer (generally five or six taps of their own beer going); beer to go (including growlers); make your own beer, too. And it's closer than Charlottesville or Delaware.

Fritz Hahn: Oh come on. I've done that (brewed there, gone in for beer/chili/foosball, gotten beer to go, etc.) and there isn't much to tour. You can watch people (almost always not professionals) making their own beer. It doesn't compare in the least to the tours -- and, more importantly, free samples -- at the much larger commercial breweries.

It would far more interesting to go to, say, District Chophouse and talk to brewmaster Barrett Lauer about how he makes his beer, but again, it's not much of a tour experience.


Penn Quarter: Happy Christmas Eve Eve!

My parents are in town this weekend and they looove going for dessert and coffee after dinner -- any suggesions on places in the Chinatown/Metro Center area? Bonus points if the place is open on Christmas Day so that we can go after our traditional Christmas movie - Up In the Air is the front runner for this year - ah, George Clooney!!

Thanks and have a great weekend!

Julia Beizer: Well, the obvious choice would, of course, be Co Co. Sala, since it specializes in dessert. Don't think it's open Christmas Day though. I made a few calls before I left town last week. It seemed like there were fewer places open on Christmas Day than usual. (Just called to ask Co Co., no one picked up.)

Anyway, the place is kind of loungey, so it might not be quite the right vibe for your parents. You could inquire at Poste, Proof and The Source to see what their holiday plans are. Good desserts can be found at all three.


Washington, D.C.: When did the D'Aqua Italian Seafood restaurant close and why? We loved to eat there. After not going for a couple of months we went back yesterday and it was closed. We were shocked and disappointed.

Julia Beizer: Here's the scoop on D'Acqua, courtesy of Ms. Missy Frederick.


Washington, D.C.: So what bars/restaurants will be open on Thursday night for those of us not celebrating Christmas? Looking for something in the downtown DC or Bethesda area. Thanks.

Fritz Hahn: This kinda sounds like a plant but I'll bite.

There's actually a lot less going on Thursday than Friday -- more places closing early, at like 5 or so. The annual dueling Matzoball and Gefilte Fish Gala parties are probably the biggest attractions. The Matzoball will be at Ultrabar nightclub, with three levels of dancing (Top 40/hip-hop, retro '80s and house), while Gefilte Fish (at kstreet downtown and Union Jack's in Bethesda, hence my thoughts of a planted question) has DJs and dancing.

Oh, and Town Tavern has an all-night happy hour with DJs and $3 drinks.


Bethesda, Md.: O all knowing GOGs, other than renting a movie or going to a Matzo Ball, are there any date activity options for Christmas Eve? Thanks!

Stephanie Merry: Sure! There's the Gefilte Fish Gala, a performance of the hilarious Santaland Diaries, Keegan Theatre's rendition of Rent and Good for the Jews at Jammin' Java, for starters.


Wedding band: We had the Harry Traynham Band play at our wedding (we were in our late 20s at the time). Everyone had a blast- young and old. You can hear them live around the area- they often play at Clydes in Chevy Chase.

Stephanie Merry: Another wedding band suggestion...


Fairfax: This might be a bit off your radar...I'm not a regular churchgoer but I've always loved Christmas Eve church services (the ones that start around 10-11 PM - everyone calls them "Midnight Mass" but technically that's only for Catholics). Is there anywhere I can find a listing of Christmas Eve services in the area? I live in NOVA but would be OK going to DC or MD. Thanks!

Fritz Hahn: This isn't exactly in my wheelhouse -- I know the National Cathedral's services are full, and the Archbishop of Washington will give the homily at the Cathedral of St. Matthew at midnight.

But I wanted to share, on a related note, that the Passenger will be hosting a midnight Catholic mass, with priest and a choir and everything. Seriously. They'll be holding it in the Warehouse Theatre, which is connected to the bar. There will be drinks before and after.

It actually sounds kind of awesome.


Gaithersburg, Md.: Hey GOG! I'm thinking of doing a show at the Kennedy Center for New Years. Is it worth the higher prices to also get to enjoy the New Years Eve Festivities at the center afterward?

Fritz Hahn: Not sure what you mean by the "higher prices" -- admission to the KC party, with dancing to multiple bands and a very large midnight celebration -- is included in all tickets.


Arlington, Va.: Not sure if this is really your area, but do you know what stores (like, department stores and such) will be open late-ish on Christmas Eve? It's sort of a tradition for my family to go to Walgreen's at midnight on Christmas, but anyplace else that might be open before then??

Julia: This is fascinating to me. This is really a tradition? This is indeed outside our area of expertise. I'd love to know, though. They way my Christmas shopping is shaping up, I may need to join you.


Capitol Hill: Merry Christmas, gurus. Celebrating special occasion at Bourbon Steak next week and hoping for suggestions for pre- and post-dinner drinks. We're into hoppy beer, cask ales, American wines. We'll be dressed up for the occasion, if that's a consideration. Thanks!

Julia: I'm partial to the drinks at Bourbon Steak, so I might have pre- or post- drinks in the lounge there. You could get your beer fix at Birreria Paradiso or ChurchKey, but your outfits might stand out a bit.


Non-traditional wedding bands : Titanium is hot now

Stephanie Merry: I'm sending this through as my Christmas gift to you, easily amused readers.


Washington, D.C.: What restaurants will be open Christmas Day?

Julia Beizer: Hotel and Chinese food restaurants are your best bets. Some non-hotel restaurants (Corduroy, for example) are serving Christmas dinner, but I imagine reservations aren't easy to come by at this stage of the game.


Cleveland Park: Holiday shopping has emptied my bank account, but I still want to take a special girl out for a good time on New Year's Eve. I can't spend alot but I'd like it to be nicer than just taking her to Nanny's again. Any suggestions?

Fritz Hahn: Hmmm. You don't say what, exactly, you'd like to do, but I'd toss these out there: Multiple midnight toasts at Social (free) followed by the Tarts and Vicars party at CommonWealth (free, with drink specials). And Wonderland has dancing with a special price ($15) for couples.

I like the sound of the $50 dinner-and-mini-golf-for-two special at H Street Country Club. Do that, then maybe have a drink at the Pug or go dancing at the Disconaut party (free) at the Argonaunt.

Here's our full list of free and cheap New Year's Eve events, and I'll have a much bigger New Year's Eve FAQ blog post going up in a few.


Gaithersburg (again): About the KC, the prices for the shows seemed bumped up a bit for NYE Shear Madness is $50 instead of $42, Young Frankenstein prices go up to $150, compared to $90 the night before).

Fritz Hahn: Ah. I wouldn't say it's worth an extra $60, no.


Birthday help: Hey Gurus! Happy Holidays! It's my birthday this weekend & not sure where to hang out after dinner at Tysons Galleria. Would like some dancing, more lounging and not too young, hopefully no further than Arlington (dont want to head into DC). Cant really drink, so hopefully good mocktails! Help make my birthday memorable :) Thanks!

Fritz Hahn: There's not much I'd recommend for lounging around Tysons -- try Alexandria (lounging at PX, dancing down the street at Flying Fish), or Arlington (lounging/dancing at Gua-Rapo or Eighteenth).

_______________________ That's all from us. We'll catch you next Wednesday at 1p.m.


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