Catch up on the whole chat here, and be sure to join us Jan. 5 at 1 p.m. for a Got Plans? devoted to this week’s big topic: the 40 essential D.C. dishes. It only made sense to bring in Amy McKeever, the editor of Eater DC, which happens to be one of our most essential reads for everything restaurant-related in the capital. Submit your dining-related and bars-related questions early.
Highlights from this week’s chat:
Best concert: Without a doubt, the best concert I saw in 2011 was Mumford & Sons. They had a breakout year, but I was really impressed with how great they sounded live.
Chris Richards: Let’s start this chat off on a contentious note! I thought this concert was the second most irritating I saw this year. Here’s my review.
Mumford & Sons are the epitome of what David has called “fake into it” -- when you get the impression that a performer’s physical reaction to his or her own music is overblown and insincere. And don’t get me wrong. I love, love, love a sweaty, phsyical performance (See: Jackson, Janet. DAR in March). But does excessive banjo noodling call for all that hip-thrusting? Dubious.
Last note: I am hopeful that the next Mumford & Sons album won’t be dreck after reading that the band has welcomed Black Sabbath into their life.
Vegetarian-friendly cheap eats in Northern Virginia? I have a dear friend who is flying into town from Chicago to visit a week after her birthday and I want to treat her to a meal. She is a vegetarian who occasionally eats fish, and my budget would be around $15 for the main courses. We’re both (!) pregnant. Any suggestions? Northern Virginia is preferred over D.C. Fairfax, Alexandria or Arlington would all be good. In the past, Indian was a hit.
Lavanya Ramanathan: Okay, a few options and a few different cuisines: How about The Counter for great veggie burgers in a cool, stylish place? I like it because the toppings are so varied, and they’re really sensitive to the needs of vegetarians and vegans. For Thai, I’d have to say Duangrat’s in Falls Church, which always comes through, thanks to the vegetarian menu it offers (which means way more options than you’ll get elsewhere). And for Ethiopian, Dama Restaurant in Arlington is a good option; they actually do faux-meat versions of standards such as tibs. You could do well at Pizzeria Orso, which has quite a few veggie offerings. And finally, I am not a big fan of the all-veg places in Virginia (Sunflower’s food feels dated and overrated to me), but I’ll throw out the newish Loving Hut. It’s being renovated, but they’re open for business.
Worst performance: Bright Eyes at Wolf Trap. Can Conor please just go back to acoustic guitar and leave it at that?
David Malitz: This didn’t make my top 40, but it was nowhere near the worst show I saw this year, either. I do kind of miss acoustic Conor from the “Fevers & Mirrors” days, but you gotta keep moving forward, right?
I’ll use this space to list the three worst gigs I saw in 2011: John Maus at the Black Cat, Salem at Rock & Roll Hotel and the Pretty Reckless (featuring Taylor Momsen) at Jammin’ Java. All of those were aggressively stupid.
Best/worst venues: What are your picks for best and worst places to see shows in DC? Personally, I love the 9:30 and despise the atmosphere at DAR.
David Malitz: This is a question that gets tossed around a lot and those answers are fairly standard. The 9:30 Club absolutely deserves its reputation as one of the best venues in the country. One of the funniest blog posts we did on Click Track this year (I think) was digging up a 1967 Donovan concert review written by Carl Bernstein where he spends 80 percent of the review complaining about DAR. Some things never change...
U Street Music Hall has quickly established itself as a truly special club. And the Black Cat will always feel like a second home for me.
Chris Richards: A quick tour... The soundsystem at U Street Music Hall is beyond excellent. Red Palace is my favorite room to see music on H Street. The 9:30 and Black Cat are always reliable. I’m still feeling out the new Fillmore. Merriweather felt really comfortable this year, even in lousy weather. And there are so many good shows happening at restaurants on U Street, 18th, 14th, Ninth... And I’m so happy that the D.C. Armory is hosting concerts again. What a great, old room to hear loud, new music.
Your mission if you choose to accept it... I want to hit a happy hour tonight. Where should a 40-something woman who doesn’t look or feel it go to possibly meet people? I was thinking happy hour because I am off work and don’t usually get to go, but if there is something else you think is better, that is fine. I am more comfortable in a casual place than a fancy place. D.C. or Arlington best.
Lavanya Ramanathan: I like Brasserie Beck for this. Besides the great deals on beers that would otherwise be pricey, it’s such a mix of people, and the bartenders are great. Get there a little early to score a seat at the bar. Some other good options: Vinoteca and the bar at Lincoln. Yes, all of these aren’t quite “casual” but they’re not velvet-rope places, either. But they do attract crowds that are a little more sophisticated than the taco-happy-hour crowds, and yet are still conducive to meeting people.