In the most recent Got Plans? chat, the Going Out Gurus took questions about restaurants that close for parties and ideas for two sisters in search of music and fun in Clarendon. Check out the highlights below, and search the boldface terms at goingoutguide.com for more information.
Last week, someone mentioned Virtue Feed & Grain was closed for a private event. I suppose that’s great for people who need such things, but what about those of us who just want to eat/drink at a popular, well-regarded venue? I feel like this is happening more and more often. I’ve seen it at Jack Rose, Hill Country and Capital City Brewing Company (and not on days or at times when they’d normally be closed anyway). It’s bad enough when the one bar in a restaurant gets reserved for a party or when a place gives half its dining room to an event where the noise and sometimes the guests inevitably spill over, but do owners consider what message they send to potential patrons when they close their doors completely? I hope they make the money they need to survive, but I’m certainly unlikely to go out of my way to try and visit again when I know their willingness to close. I can’t possibly be expected to follow the Twitter feeds of every establishment I might want to visit or call ahead every time I want to go out just to make sure a place is open!
Fritz Hahn: I see your point, but if I’m going out of my way to travel to a place, I do try to make sure they’re going to be open. (And most places are better about updating customers on closures via Twitter.) The fact is, almost every bar will close for the right price, especially during the week, when business is slower and more unpredictable. A private event is guaranteed income.
Hi! Do you have any suggestions for where three girls can go out in D.C. and enjoy some sparkling wine? It would be great if the place wasn’t a romantic, coupley place. Thanks!
Hahn: Firefly at the Hotel Madera would be fun for sparkling cocktails. Same with Hank’s on the Hill. (I think Hank’s might be too datey.) Alternative suggestion: What about posting up at the bar at Bistrot du Coin or Bistro d’Oc with a bottle of bubbly? Obviously avoid wine bars, such as Veritas Wine Bar, Proof or even Estadio.
Gurus, my parents are coming into town this weekend and I was thinking of heading up to the pinball museum with them as something fun and different to do. I have never been to Baltimore. How long do you think the pinball museum will occupy us? Also, is there anything else to do in that area? Can you recommend any restaurants near there? Thanks!
Amy Orndorff: Baltimore is fantastic and has tons of things to do. I visited the National Pinball Museum before it moved from Washington and estimate that it will take you about an hour to 90 minutes to run through the exhibits. You should allow more time if you want to play the games, which you should totally do.
As for nearby attractions, you are really close to Inner Harbor. My favorites there include Top of the World, the National Aquarium, a neat lighthouse and the Maryland Science Center. Walk a little bit farther and you can check out the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum and the Sports Legends Museum.
As for restaurants, if you are looking for a quick bite, there are plenty of options in the Inner Harbor. If you are looking for something a bit more upscale, I suggest B&O American Brasserie.
My younger sister will be in town for her 28th birthday next week. We will be having a family dinner in Arlington early on Friday evening, and I’m planning to take her out afterward. The problem here is that I haven’t been out in that area in approximately three years, since I had a kid and moved to Springfield, where the most happening place is Chili’s. Where can we go to have drinks and fun after dinner? We’ll be in the Clarendon/Court House area, and need to stay reasonably Metro-accessible. Neither of us is much of a dancer, but we like an energetic atmosphere — just not so “energetic” that we can’t still have something of a conversation. We like music — live music, open mike or even just a reliably decent playlist will do. I know finding a not-too-young crowd in that area can be a challenge, but I’d rather not have to deal with too much childish behavior since I’m getting a rare night away from my 2-year-old! We’re not planning to stay in one place all night, but we’re both go-with-the-flow people, so if we don’t at least have a place to start we may just end up standing in the street staring at each other all night. Thanks for your help, Gurus!
Hahn: This could be a great excuse for a sisters-only bar crawl: a glass of wine at Screwtop, great cocktails down the block at the lively bar at Green Pig Bistro, then over to Eventide Restaurant’s first-floor Odd Bar, which skews older than Spider Kelly’s or Clarendon Ballroom, but still has a good vibe and a disc jockey spinning retro tunes.
If you’d rather have live music, I’d head to the revamped O’Sullivan’s. It has basically tripled in size, with a new “whiskey bar” and expanded dining room while keeping the pub feel. They’ve usually got Irish music or a guitar-toting singer-songwriter type on Saturday nights.
Any ideas for a good, not-too-expensive Italian restaurant in Northern Virginia?
Maura Judkis: A few! How about: Faccia Luna, Pizzeria Orso, Pupatella, Ruffino’s Spaghetti House or Dolce Vita.
Hi, Gurus! I will have family in town in a couple of weeks, and we are looking for a place for dinner for about 18 people, including a couple little ones under the age of 8. We will all be attending a memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery on a Friday afternoon. Is there anywhere out that way, or should we trek back to downtown Bethesda (where everyone will be coming from) for dinner? (Side note: Should we Metro or drive to the cemetery?) We will definitely want a place that takes reservations for such a large party and nothing too expensive or exotic in terms of food. Thanks!
Lavanya Ramanathan: Since the funeral is in the afternoon, you have young ones, and it will likely be early evening by the time your services are complete, I’d consider staying in Arlington. Ruffino’s Spaghetti House, mentioned by Maura, is an option; I would check with EatBar, which offers sliders and other fare a big family with diverse tastes might enjoy. You could call Ireland’s Four Courts, which has a private room and serves Irish pub food. In Crystal City, there’s Ted’s Montana Grill, which would be big enough for your group, as well as a Morton’s: The Steakhouse. (Not sure about your budget.) If you do decide to head back to Bethesda, I would make a reservation at Maggiano’s, which is great for big groups, thanks to family-style service. As for driving or taking the Metro, the cemetery provides some detail on this, asking that those attending services drive, because you’ll have to drive “to the grave site or the Columbarium for the services” (find this in their FAQ under “What is needed on the day of the service?”). So sorry for your loss.
Have questions of your own? The Going Out Gurus will be online at 1 p.m. Thursday. Submit questions in advance at goingoutguide.com.