Friday, December 14, 2012

What to Do in the District This Weekend

You guys, it's our last weekend before the end of the world.


Just in case the Mayans' apocalyptic prediction is right and the world does indeed implode in one week, you'll want to get in as much fun as you can.  Maybe throw a good deed in there too while you enjoy all the fun holiday festivities.  Need ideas?  We've got you covered.   

Tonight 

If you're in the mood for something festive, stop by The Willard from 5:30-7:30 for some Christmas Caroling.  The Capital Hearings will be singing some a cappella harmonies to get you in the holiday spirit in the lovely lobby of the historic Willard Hotel.  The performance is free and open to the public, and includes traditional carols, classical selections, and holiday favorites.    

Another festive option is offered at Union Market, where the Grinch Holiday Happy Hour runs from 4:30-7:00.  Here you'll find live music by Capital Blend, holiday drink specials from Buffaloo & Bergin and Rappahannock Oyster Bar, and a special appearance from The Grinch himself.  

Afterward, head to George for Jive to Survive, a late-night holiday throwdown to benefit Thrive DC.  Thrive DC serves homeless and vulnerable individuals by providing services like twice daily meals, health screenings, and intensive job training.  $12 in advance and $20 at the door will get you drink specials that include $1 Rail and Red Bull Vodka and $1 Bud Light, and all proceeds go to Thrive DC.  There will also be photographers, raffle items, and Uber voucher cards.  

Finally, there's "The End of an Era Show" at the Red Palace.  Capital Katie is a fan- she wrote about it in her Where to Have an Exotic Date post- and tonight the Cheeky Monkey Sideshow is taking the stage for the last time before the club closes in 2013.  Cheeky Monkey's show includes burlesque, sword swallowing, magic tricks and stunts involving broken glass, flaming batons, and more. So even if you're as anti-holiday as Grumpy Cat, you'll still enjoy this one. 
   
Saturday

From Appealing Kate: While I am heading out of town to make questionable decisions for the weekend in the Big Apple, I need to make the following plug about a great event on Saturday.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love my home state of Maine. And how couldn't you when you come from the most beautiful state in all the country, full of the friendliest, nicest people (me biased? nahhhh).

What- you don't believe me? Well, below is an example of an exceptional Mainer and a chance for you to get involved in one of best activities in the District during the holiday season.

Twenty years ago, Morrill Worcester, owner or Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine, found himself with a surplus of wreaths towards the end of the holiday season. With the help of Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, Worcester was able to work with Arlington National Cemetery to place wreaths in one of the older sections of the cemetery, a section which had been receiving fewer visitors with each passing year. Thus began an annual tradition of trucking wreaths from Maine to Washington. It's turned into an event that attracts thousands upon thousands of volunteers each year, and this year there are a record 37 semi-trucks of wreaths (all from Maine) on their way to Arlington right now.

Still not convinced? Check out this video (but get the tissues ready. It's a tear jerker).


The organizers encourage volunteers of all ages to come and help and all are welcome simply by showing up (no need to sign up in advance).

Below is a basic schedule of events:
0700 – Metro opens system-wide
0800 – Arlington National Cemetery gates and parking lot opens
0830 (approx) – 8 Truck Wreath Convoy arrives
0930 – Opening Ceremony at Memorial Amphitheater
1000 – Wreath laying begins
1100 – Wreath laying ceremony at President Kennedy’s grave
1130 – Wreath laying ceremony at U.S.S. Maine Mast
1200 – Wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

You can find more information about the event by visiting the organization's website or by finding it on facebook or twitter.

After you do your good deed for the day, and get ready for another round of holiday parties to attend, stop by the new Dry Bar in Georgetown for a blow dry.
After, walk around Georgetown and do some shopping while enjoying all of the festive decorations, or stop by the new ice-skating rink at the Georgetown Waterfront. It's adorable.

Sunday

Starting at 11:00 AM, Arlington Cinema 'N' Drafthouse will be running its annual day-long screening of Christmas movies.  For the mere price of $8, you can see "A Christmas Story," "A Charlie Brown Christmas," my personal favorite- "Elf"- and more.  You can come and go as you please, which is helpful in case you've got to step out to make snow angels for two hours, and then go ice skating, and then eat a whole roll of Tollhouse cookie dough as fast as you can, and then snuggle.

There's not too much on the docket for Sunday otherwise, so perhaps this would be an opportune time to head to Old Town to finish (or start!) your holiday shopping.  The historic streets are decorated brightly for the holidays, and entertainers on street corners and colorful shop windows help ring the holiday season in with style. 

You can also head to Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens from 9:00-4:00 for special festivities that include themed decorations, a gingerbread Mount Vernon, historical chocolate-making demonstrations, 18th-century dancing, and even a Christmas camel like George Washington had on the grounds during Christmas of 1787. 
A highlight is the Mount Vernon Candlelight Tour, in which Martha Washington hosts an 18th-century Christmas with candlelit walks, fireside caroling, and festive décor.

Enjoy the weekend!


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Where to Eat Barbecue in D.C.

Perhaps it's because I grew up in Cincinnati. It's a much-ballyhooed fact that in 1835, the city was America's hog-packing headquarters and was affectionately dubbed "Porkopolis" as a result. It's a history the Queen City has taken to heart, holding the swine as divine and decorating downtown with these little ethereal piglets:

The Flying Pig, the unofficial mascot of Cincinnati.
In any case, these pigs have apparently flown across my radar one time too many because I'm obsessed with them. Call it a porcine predilection, a hog hunger, a passion for pork. Whatever words you choose, it is by far the most delicious meat, and I want nothing more than to have it smoked, pulled, slathered in barbecue sauce and lining the insides of my belly.

And even though my hometown is not known for its barbecue, my desire to dig in to a plate of Babe has made me strive to find the best barbecue in D.C. Now, unfortunately, with the forthcoming list, I can't necessarily promise you anything to rival your Texas, St. Louis or North Carolina favorites, or even guarantee very much authenticity. The District hasn't quite caught on to the scrumptious barbecue of the South yet. But, my beloved adopted city definitely tries, and there are a bevy of options for those of you who want to fill your ribs with... well, ribs.



TEXAS

Hill Country Barbecue, 410 7th St. NW



One of the newer dining options in Penn Quarter, the basement level of this barbecue chain feels very much like an Austin honky tonk, according to a Texas-native pal. Upstairs in the dining area, you have to wait in line cafeteria-style to get your meat, which I personally hated doing, but they served my drink in a mason jar and the meat was tasty so all was forgiven.



TENNESSEE

Memphis Barbeque, 320 S. 23rd St., Arlington



The most awesome thing about this place? They serve you hush puppies in the way that most restaurants serve you bread. Can I tell you how much I loved that? I loved that. I loved that so much I nearly kissed our server on the mouth. Oh, and the food was pretty delicious, too.

Red Hot & Blue, 1600 Wilson Blvd., Arlington (among others)

A chain, which automatically knocks it down a peg or two in my opinion, but I liked the sweet potato fries.



INDETERMINATE ORIGIN

Pork Barrel BBQ, 2312 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria



Talk about supporting local businesses -- the founders of Pork Barrel are former Senate staffers who swapped days of dry paperwork for dry rubs. They created various barbecue accoutrements, started selling them at local stores, and eventually partnered with local restauranteurs for this brick-and-mortar establishment in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria. It's definitely worth the trip out to the suburbs!

Smoke and Barrel, 2471 18th St. NW



In the heart of Adams Morgan, this little place serves up a variety of vegan options alongside their meats, proving that vegetarians and carnivores can actually be friends. There's quite a craft beer list here, too.

Old Glory Bar-B-Que, 3139 M St. NW



This was the first barbecue joint I tried when I moved to D.C., so even though it is located amongst the riff raff of Georgetown, it will always hold a special place in my heart. It's one of those places that gives you about six different sauce options splayed out on your table, so you can switch from a North Carolina sauce to a mustard-based sauce to something else with every bite. This place is also known for its extensive bourbon offerings.

Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Company, four locations in Washington, Alexandria, Arlington and Rockville

Pretty standard barbecue from a guy who dropped out of medical school once upon a time. That's quite the turn-around on the whole health situation, huh?



FANCY BBQ

Epic Smokehouse, 1330 S. Fern St., Arlington



This is the only restaurant on this list that you need to dress up for (and even then, only slightly). It's the newest barbecue joint to open in town, in the unfortunate and exceedingly unappetizing location next to the Dumpster/loading dock at CostCo in Crystal City. Still, it serves a maple bacon cupcake for dessert, so just don't look out the window and you'll be fine.



THE UNDISPUTED CHAMPION

Hogs on the Hill, 2003 Bladensburg Road NE



Oh my God, this place should not be delicious but it is. This is a hole-in-the-wall, carry-out only barbecue joint just off New York Avenue on your way out of the city on 295. The sticky, sweet barbecue sauce will coat your insides with happiness. TRUST ME.


In hog we trust!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What to Do in the District on New Year's Eve


A friend posted the above video on facebook last week. I watched it approximately seven times because, well, it's just simply adorable. Around my fourth viewing though, I was suddenly all ohhhh crrraaappppp-- what AM I DOING for New Year's Eve?

Have no fear, dear reader, for I have since solidified my plans. Phew. But I thought I would share some ideas that were generated when my friends and I were contemplating what to do for the big night.

Option #1: The Big Party

D.C. has so many big, over the top, all you can drink, fancy schmancy parties with live bands and tons of people that are 100% guaranteed to result in bad decisions. Here are a few that I recommend:

Big Night DC
Gaylord Hotel, National Harbor
9:00pm-3:00am

This event sounds insane (but in a good way). Last year, 7,000, yes, 7,000 people attended. It takes place at the Gaylord National Resort and will include over a dozen different parties that attendees can roam in and out of. Additionally, there will be numerous open bars and non-stop food. I know, sounds intense. Also sounds super crazy fun, though, amiright?

Masquerade Ball
Howard Theatre, Shaw/ U Street
9:30pm-3:00am

Dress up fancy, wear a masquerade mask, and dance to a mix of house music, top 40 hits, and hip hop tunes at the old historic Howard Theatre. The burlesque themed event will also have various performers, including pop violinists and fire breathers, and there will be a massive balloon drop at midnight.

James Bond Thunderball Gala
Washington Plaza Hotel, Thomas Circle
9:00pm-3:00am

This formal event will feature an open bar all night, internationally themed buffets, mock casino gambling, Bond cars, sexy Bond girls, two huge balloon drops, a champagne toast at midnight, performances by top DC Djs and a seven piece orchestra, and, of course, lots of martinis, shaken not stirred.

Brightest Young Thing's Fancy Schmancy NYE Ball
Former Spanish Ambassador's Residence, Columbia Heights
8:00pm-4:00am

I went to BYT's New Year's Eve party last year. While it was packed to the gills with people, it was a ton of fun. Awesome music, cool people (i.e. not your usual douche-baggy D.C. people), and open bar? All three things pretty much guarantee a great party. This year the event will include a full open bar all night, food stations, a photo booth, and half a dozen different DJs.

Option #2: Fancy Dinner Events

While open bar dance parties can be fun, I'm also a big fan of putting on my favorite LBD and going out to a fancy dinner with a cute man and/ or a group of friends. And that is exactly what I'm doing this year. While researching options, I found a whole host of restaurants offering special prix fixed New Year's Eve menus:

Ristorante Piccolo (Georgetown)- four course Italian menu, strolling musician, cozy fireplaces, and champagne toast.

Zentan (downtown)- five course menu, live DJ, dancing, and a champagne toast at midnight.

Sonoma Restaurant & Wine Bar (Capitol Hill)- "Vintage Vegas" themed decorations, three course tasting menu, and complimentary champagne toast.

Vidalia (Downtown)- A la carte menu or five course tasting menu from 5:30pm-7:00pm, and a six course tasting menu from 8:00pm-11:00pm.

Lincoln (McPherson Square)- Six course tasting menu, live music, casino tables, and a champagne toast at midnight.

Dino (Cleveland Park)- Five course tasting menu and special wine flights.

Co Co Sala (Penn Quarter)- Eight course menu beginning at 8:30pm, dancing, party favors, and champagne toast.

Blue Duck Tavern (West End)- Three course dinner with a champagne toast.

And last but not least, you could have dinner on the Odyssey Boat.  I've gone before, and while the food isn't great, it is romantic and fun.  This year's NYE dinner cruise will feature three courses, live entertainment, dancing, a chocolate fountain, open bar, champagne toast at midnight, and you can't beat the views of the monuments while sailing down the Potomac.

Option #3: Your Local Bar/ Watering Hole

Just about every bar in the District and the surrounding area will have some sort of New Year's Eve special. Give your local bar a call and see what fun they have planned.  Then grab a few of your friends and have a super chill, relaxed NYE.  Oh, but don't forget to flirt with that cutie at the bar so you have someone to kiss at midnight.  Gotta start the year off right, after all.

That's all I've got folks.  Hope this helps you plan your New Year's Eve in the District. Happy Holidays!







Friday, December 7, 2012

What to Do in the District this Weekend (sort of)

Sadly, the Gamma Girls have been too busy drinking spiked eggnog and attending holiday parties this week, so we do not have our weekly weekend post for you.

The Gamma Girls all week long:



The Gamma Girls today:


BUT...that doesn't mean we don't have ideas to share.

Jules and Appealing Kate both love being cozy. Check out Jules post about where to have a cozy date in Cleveland. It provides both indoor and outdoor options, and read Appealing Kate's suggestions for all sorts of cozy spots in and around the District.

Feeling like you want to stay home, turn on your Christmas tree lights, and curl up on the couch? In honor of Repeal Week, check out Thirsty Ivy's book recommendation about prohibition in the District, or read Appealing Kate's reviews of television shows based in the District to get ideas of what to watch On Demand

No weekend is complete without brunch. Check out Capital Katie's recommendations for the best brunch sandwiches in the District. And all you crazy college football fans should read Red, White and Bourbon's game day guide to find the best spots to cheer on your team.

Want to act like a tourist this weekend? Read Jules post about fun museum event to attend.

Since it is the second weekend of December, it's about time you start planning that holiday party or New Years Eve event, and Capital Katie has all kinds of advice on how to host a successful event in the District. You can even go old school and send out paper invitations by reading Thirsty Ivy's recommendations on the best stationery stores in the District.

Lastly, read Appealing Kate's How to Get in the Holiday Spirit post for festive things to do in the District.

Happy Friday and Happy Holidays!

The Gamma Girls

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Where to Buy Running Gear in the District (Plus, Join Our Cherry Blossom Team!)

Want to join the Gamma Girls' Cherry Blossom 10-Miler team? See the end of the post for more info! 


I am not one of those runners who wakes up at 5:00 AM and runs five miles in 20 degree weather because I just love it.  No. 

The truth is, I am a runner who hates running.  I hate it so much.  Because running is terrible.  It is exhausting and difficult and frankly, it's boring.  The best part about running is being finished with running and knowing at least a day or two will pass before I feel compelled to do it again.   

I suspect there are a lot of people out there who secretly hate running but do it anyway.  Why?  Because of what running results in.  It quickly and efficiently burns off Jumbo Slice consumed on a street corner at 3:00 AM.  It doesn't require a gym membership or anything other than a pair of sneakers.  It relieves stress, improves blood pressure, and lessens insomnia.  And it makes you feel pretty damn proud of yourself every time you do it, because it's so. freaking. hard.

Whether you're a newbie trying it out or a seasoned runner training for your tenth marathon because you just can't get enough (PS, I hate you), the biggest favor you can do for yourself is to get a good pair of running shoes that are tailored to your needs.

With that in mind, I recently stopped by Potomac River Running in Cleveland Park on the lookout for a new pair of shoes.  And I was blown away by how helpful and patient the staff was.  They didn't make any judgmental remarks when they saw my current pair were so worn that the size markings had  faded to obscurity (I can't be blamed for this behavior- I learned it from my father, who used to duct tape his running shoes when they became so worn that holes started to appear).

After I explained that my feet are freakishly narrow, the staff brought out all the shoes in my size that come in narrow widths or run on the narrow side.  They encouraged me to try every single pair on the store treadmill, and examined my gait to ensure that I was fitted with a proper shoe.  I left with a rare desire to go on a run just for fun because I was so happy with my new pink-laced kicks.

But several weeks later, I begrudgingly returned to Potomac River Running, pink-laced shoes in tow.  I explained that though my new shoes fit perfectly, the arch of my foot hurt sometimes when I ran, which had never been a problem before.

"Are they Asics?" asked one staff member.

When I confirmed they were, she nodded knowingly.  "They don't have much arch support compared to the other brands.  A brand like Brooks would be better."

Not only did they allow me to exchange a pair of shoes I admitted to wearing a good dozen times, they didn't bat an eye when I told them I'd lost the receipt.  And a few weeks later, I can say confidently that the Brooks fit perfectly and provide the exact level of support that I need.

Both pairs of shoes- the Asics and Brooks- came in right around $90, which, for running shoes, is an extremely reasonable price.  The store also carries a good selection of clothes and accessories and pretty much anything else you can possibly buy that relates to running.

With reasonable prices, a wide selection,  friendly and knowledgeable staff, excellent customer service, and a convenient right-next-to-Metro location, it's hard to imagine a reason to go anywhere else.


Interested in running the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler with some of the Gamma Girls?  Email us at doingthedistrict@gmail.com by Tuesday, December 11 and we'll add your name to our group!  Registration is conducted by lottery, so no guarantees, but our fingers are crossed.  The run is beautiful- just look at the picture- and we're a laid back group that runs at all different speeds, so everyone is welcome.  

For more on running, check out Kate's post, Where to Run in the District  



Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Review of Arena Stage's Pullman Porter Blues

I don't know about all of you readers, but I've had a terrible case of the "I just want to stay home and be cozy in my apartment" lately. It's hard to do that though when I'm also like a moth to a flame when it comes to invitations.

Already home with my yoga pants on, watching jeopardy, about to have my first sip of Pinot Noir, and my phone buzzes with an invitation to meet up and watch Monday night football in Dupont? I want to say no. But. I. Just. Can't. 30 minutes later I'm walking into the bar.

Just finishing a long run after work, looking forward to watching approximately four episodes of West Wing on DVD, baking an apple pie, and going to bed early? All it takes is a call from a girlfriend inviting me out to a random extended happy hour in Chinatown and I'm hopping in that shower faster than it takes President Obama to reject a Republican proposal about the fiscal cliff.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that last Thursday night I wanted nothing more than a night at home after a week full of social events, but I just couldn't turn down the invitation to attend Arena Stage's performance of Pullman Porter Blues. And I'm really, really glad I didn't.

My date and I started off our night at Station 4, conveniently located across the street from the Waterfront metro and less than a block from Arena Stage. You can read my review of it's full dinner service here, but on Thursday we opted to try the happy hour at the bar instead. We both ordered the featured happy hour red wine. It was a delicious Malbec and was the perfect way to warm up after a chilly commute over. We also ordered two flat-bread pizzas (also on happy hour special). One was a meat lovers dream with pork belly, blue cheese, caramelized onions, arugula and a fig balsamic reduction. The other was vegetarian with chick peas, zucchini, roasted eggplant, artichokes, and feta cheese. Both had great flavor and filled us right up.

Then, we simply closed our tab and scooted across the street to Arena Stage to catch the play. The evening started off with a brief welcome from the Arena Stage executive director and then the playwright, Cheryl West. It was a nice way to introduce the play because West gave us a brief history of Pullman porters. I knew virtually nothing about them before this, but, jeez, what a fascinating piece of history that had a profound impact on our country.

Here is what I learned: The Pullman Train Company was founded in 1868 (all you history buffs should recall that this was just three years after the emancipation proclamation). Pullman recruited black men for jobs as porters on its passenger cars. These jobs were extremely attractive to former slaves, because the men could give up harsh jobs in the field for clean uniforms and a chance to travel all over the country. That said, the hours were long, the wages extremely low, and the work was grueling. By the 1920s, the Pullman Company was the largest employer of black men in the country, with over 20,000 full time workers. Porters were very well respected in their communities because they worked hard, saved their money, put their kids through school, and even established the first black labor union. Additionally, porters are credited with directly impacting what is called the Great Migration- the movement of blacks from the South to find jobs in the North. Porters helped achieve this by transporting Northern newspapers to the South allowing blacks to learn about the good jobs offered in the North.

Now that you've had your history lesson for the week (you're welcome), this play centers around three generations of porters on a train traveling from Chicago to New Orleans on a June night in 1937. Monroe, the eldest, is the hardworking, obedient, senior porter. His son, Sylvester, is the opposite. Hot tempered and angry, he is secretly working to help establish the black labor union. And, lastly, is Cephas, the youngest, who has just finished his first year of college at the University of Chicago. While Monroe is complacent and proud to be a porter, Sylvester is resentful and wants more out of life for his son. Cephas, however, is your typical twenty year old, still trying to figure out his place in the world.


Despite the darker themes of racism, class lines, rape, and family conflict and secrets that develop throughout the play, the opening scene begins with an upbeat and captivating blues song. This is the first of 12 blues songs performed throughout the play. Although I enjoyed the acting and the story line, the musical performances were my favorite aspect of this play. Each song seemed to energize the audience.



I also really enjoyed the set. The backdrop is a copper train car, and the various set pieces are wheeled in and out as needed. The set was clean enough so that it wasn't distracting, but intricate enough to feel like the actors are really chugging along on a train.

Remember above when I mentioned how I wanted a couch night? Yeah, the opening scene instantly made me realize I had made the right decision to venture out to the theater. And I was thoroughly entertained and engaged throughout the entire performance.


If you've read any of my past reviews for Arena Stage, you may recall that I just about always recommend seeing the play. But this one? I realllllllyyy recommend it. It's nothing but entertaining.

Pullman Porter Blues will be playing at Arena Stage until January 6th. Ticket and show information can be found here.

Friday, November 30, 2012

What to Do in the District this Weekend


After our mere three days of work last week, we can all agree that this has been the loooonnnnggggest week ever.



In addition, Movember ends tonight, meaning that it's the last night to enjoy all the bearded and mustached men of the District.



Sadness all around.




It's time to cheer up, because Jules and AppealingKate have a whole host of fun things to recommend this weekend in the District.



Appealing Kate says:

Tonight

Fujimar is hosting an extended happy hour called Flirt PartyYup, it got our attention, too. Drinks specials + encouragement to flirt? Sounds like the perfect way to spend a Friday night. Fujimar, which opened last year and is located near McPherson Square, has the perfect ambiance for flirting-- dim lights, modern feel, strong cocktails, and who knows...maybe you'll even score that cutie's number?

Attached or just need a night sans the opposite sex? With all the talk of the fiscal cliff, sequestration, and other D.C. jargon, why not enjoy the more humorous side of politics? The Capitol Steps, a group of former Congressional employees, perform satirical skits and songs about current political affairs every Friday night in the Amphitheater of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. This week's show begins at 7:30 and is bound to provide some enjoyable entertainment after this long week of back-and-forth partisan bickering. After, walk down to Fiola for a glass of malbec at the bar, or travel a bit further to Rasika for drinks and appetizers in the bar area. Both spots are uber cozy.

Saturday

It makes sense that the first Saturday of December offers all kinds of events to welcome the 2012 holiday season.

If you're a huge dork like me, then you'll love this first thing: The National Postal Museum is hosting a free holiday card workshop. Attendees will get to design and decorate their own holiday cards with various holiday stamps from around the world, glitter, sparkles, festive paper, and even an ink stamp station. Best of all? You don't need reservations. You can simply show up and start crafting.  Wow, I just used the word crafting. I swear I'm not 90 years old.

After your hard work of designing that perfect card for Grandma, reward yourself by heading across the street to the Dubliner for a bowl of delicious beef stew (zoh-my-god is their stew good) and a pint of Guinness.

Arts and crafts not really your things? Then head to Dupont Circle at 3 p.m. for the first Santa Bar Crawl of the season! This annual event features food and drink specials at six different bars for anyone in a Santa suit, an elf costume, or any other festive attire (I have one friend who plans to wear an ugly Christmas sweater). The bars include Black Rooster, Lucky Bar, Irish Whiskey, The Mighty Pint, Public Bar and Big Hunt. My biggest dilemma? Do I wear that short red mini dress and freeze my butt off, or just settle on a simple Santa hat?  Oh the tough decisions I'm forced to make on a regular basis.


Parade of Lighted Boats
If drinking cheap beer and flirting with a bunch of Santas doesn't sound like fun, a more low key but equally festive and entertaining event is the Parade of Lighted Boats. Over a dozen boats are decorated with fun Christmas lights and sail from the Old Town waterfront to the Southwest Waterfront. You can either watch them set sail in Old Town (at 5 p.m.) and then grab some cozy hot chocolate while walking around doing Christmas shopping, or you can watch as they arrive at the Southwest Waterfront (at 5:30 p.m.). If you choose the latter, you will also get to enjoy live music, Santa, cookie decorating, aannndddd a bonfire where you can roast marshmallows! After, walk a few blocks to Station 4. It's a super cozy spot right across the street from the Waterfront Metro.

P.S. How many times can I use the word cozy in a post?


Jules says:

Sunday

Fútbol Brunch
Since RGIII and company don't play until Monday, why not spend Sunday watching a different kind of football? The newly opened Drafting Table kicks off its Fútbol Weekend Brunch this month, starting at 8 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday and going until the last game is played. Patrons will be able to watch their favorite European fútbol teams on the restaurant’s three flat screens and choose from an eclectic brunch menu (I myself am curious about the "Sexy Egg Sandwich") that highlights locally sourced, organic ingredients whenever possible. Drafting Table also offers an international wine program, along with 16 beers on draft and 20 by bottle and can, because viewing both football and fútbol is often enhanced by the presence of refreshments.

Afternoon Tea 
'Tis the season for celebration, merriment, and holiday-induced anxiety. What better way to combat the stress than by partaking in an event that doesn't require you to lift a finger? Or only a pinkie finger, anyway. Gather some friends and head to an afternoon tea, which is, in essence, an excuse to dress up and gossip with your nearest and dearest while eating delicate crustless sandwiches and scones heavily loaded with cream (if you haven't already picked up on it, this activity tends to be more of a lady thing). Prices vary across locations but on average run about $40 a person and come with a generous pot of the tea of your choice, light sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, and an assortment of pastries or other desserts. In other words, it's enough food to constitute a legit lunch or dinner. Check out this post for more details on the when and where -- just be sure to make a reservation soon, as spots go quickly. 

Holiday House Tour
Check out the 34th Annual Logan Circle House Tour from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.  More than 10 unique properties that represent historical architecture, modern renovations and new construction will be open to the public for a self-guided tour. Enjoy the architecture, interior designs, holiday décor and art during an afternoon of sights as well as sounds with live music at several of the homes. A reception with refreshments will be held at the Studio Theatre (14th and P Streets) for the duration of the event. Tickets for the House Tour can be purchased in advance from the website for $25 or on the day of the tour at the Studio Theatre for $30.


On behalf of all the Gamma Girls, we hope you have a great weekend in the District!









Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How to get in the Holiday Spirit in the District

I don’t know about you, but I was less than impressed when I woke up Saturday morning to a mere 29 degrees outside when it had been a balmy 60 degrees just the day before. I was all:



Then while I was running (in full winter gear, mind you) I smelled smoke from a wood stove. Only one of the greatest smells in the history of all smells. I then realized that we've been completely spoiled with the very calm, warm fall we've had here in the District, and I was reminded that there is an upside to this colder, winter weather. Fun holiday events! Yippee!

image

Below are my recommendations for activities to do in the District that are bound to put you in the holiday spirit.

Nothing says Christmas time like the National Christmas tree. The official tree lighting is scheduled for Thursday, December 6th at 4:30pm. Skip out of work early and watch as the tree is lit up for the first time. If you aren't lucky enough to have tickets to the event (tickets are distributed on a lottery system) you can always watch/ listen from Constitution Avenue. The National Park Service goes all out with this event—and this year’s tree lighting will feature performances by James Taylor, Colbie Caillet, Phillip Phillips, and…wait for it… Babyface. YUP, true story.

How lucky are we to have this in our city?
That jerkhead boss of yours won't let you leave the office early for the tree lighting? There’s always the Capitol Christmas tree on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Take a stroll around, snap some instagram pics and post them on facebook to make your friends and family jealous. After, walk somewhere cozy to get drinks and dinner. I’d recommend Charlie Palmer (their steaks = amazingness) or Sonoma (so incredibly cozy) if you want do make a date out of it. If you’re with friends? Head to Kelly’s Irish Times or the Dubliner for some pints and fish and chips. Really want to go on the cheap? Check out My Brother’s Place a mere two blocks from the Capitol lawn that holds happy hour every week night until 8pm (included in said happy hour are $2.50 beers).

I might be in the minority here, but I just get excited and happy for Christmas whenever I hear music from the Nutcracker. The Warner Theatre will be showing the Nutcracker November 29-December 23. Tickets start as low as $39.00. The great thing about the Warner Theater is that it’s big enough to put on pretty fantastic shows, but it’s also small enough that there isn't a bad seat in the house. There are also a lot of restaurants within walking distance that offer pre-theater dinners. I recommend Folia701, or Restaurant Tosca. Not looking for a full meal or on a budget?  Both Chef Geoff's and Ceiba offer great happy hour specials on food and drinks. And after the show, you can skip over to the Occidental for cozy cocktails at the bar. 

One of my all time favorite things I've ever done in Washington during the Christmas season was years ago when I went to Ford’s Theater for it’s annual performance of A Christmas Carol. Located right downtown, the famous Ford's Theater is truly a remarkable building and it’s even more stunning when it’s decorated for Christmas. I’d recommend checking out a matinee performance. Not only will it save you a few bucks, but you can walk around downtown after, do some Christmas shopping, and then end the afternoon with hot toddies or hot chocolate at Old Ebbitt. I know, sounds like the perfect day, right?   

This is an old pic of me bursting with pride in front of the Maine tree. 
Another must-do event in Washington, D.C. during the holiday season is to visit the White House lawn where in addition to the National Christmas tree, there are also 56 small Christmas trees--- one for each state, five territories and the District of Columbia. Each tree is lit nightly from dusk until 10pm and is decorated by artists from that state. There are also nightly musical performances from performers across the country. It's fun to walk around and find your home state's tree.  There are always lots of kids and families and it's guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit.  Note: Be sure to wear flat shoes.  Heels will just get stuck in the grass.

There you go. Lots of fun activities to get you in the holiday spirit.

None of these things sound exciting to you (to which I say, Bah! Humbug to you!)?  Well, then there's always the annual Santa Bar Crawl this Saturday in Dupont Circle.  All you need to do is throw on a Santa suit, a reindeer outfit, or elf costume and you can get all kinds of drink specials. Because nothing says Christmas like a bunch of drunk dudes dressed up like Santa stumbling around Connecticut Avenue.


Happy Holidays!





Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What to Do if You're Staying in D.C. for Thanksgiving

According to all of the people on my Facebook feed who have been updating their statuses every day this month with saccharine expressions of gratitude, it's apparently yet again the Thanksgiving holiday, the annual celebration of American gluttony and stretchy pants.



I don't know about you guys, but I fully intend on singing into my turkey leg* after I duke it out with my sister for the bigger half of the Wish Bone. (Fuck her, she's happily married and I got dumped, I deserve the goddamn wish this year!!!)

My current sarcasm/pessimism aside, I'm banking on the fact that most of you are probably fleeing the capital city as fast as your feet/Delta Air Lines with take you. But if you're like I was for the first few years I lived here and have a job that requires your presence on both Wednesday and Friday -- or perhaps even Thursday itself -- don't worry, because there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the holiday while you're stuck here sans the fam.



EXTENDED BAR HOURS

Tonight represents the biggest bar night all year, as everyone knows they will have the next five days to recover from a hangover by stuffing themselves silly and endlessly watching football. And D.C. -- in its infinite wisdom -- decided this year to permit bars to EXTEND BAR HOURS UNTIL 4 A.M. the night before federal and state holidays.

The last time we experienced this was the night before Columbus Day. Here is a list of bars that participated last time, so I'm sure the same ones will again be slinging cocktails until the sun rises over the Potomac.



GROWLER POWER
If you'd like to ensure that this holiday passes quickly by drinking yourself into a beer-laden stupor, perennial District favorite D.C. Brau has a treat for you: The local brewery will be extending their growler-sale hours TONIGHT from noon until 7 p.m.!!!

A growler of delicious beer.
The D.C. Brau brewery is located at 3178-B Bladensburg Rd. NE.


DELICIOUS DINNERS, NO DISHES

My educated guess is that the majority of you have galley-style kitchens, which don't exactly lend themselves to cooking large, multi-course meals.

This is hard to do in an English basement apartment.

So I say, screw cooking. There are plenty of fancy restaurants that will be open on Thanksgiving that can do that for you -- AND save you the hassle of wearing out your biceps through a steel-wool scrubbing of your roasting pan later.

Click this link to go to OpenTable to view the participating restaurants, their specialty menus and make a reservation.



BARGAIN BASEMENT BUFFET

Those fancy restaurants are all well and good, but what if the reason you're not heading back to the homestead is because you can't afford the plane ticket? No fear, because the Black Squirrel has you covered:

The Adams Morgan bar will be playing host to its "The Very Black Squirrel Annual $5 Thanksgiving Buffet," where that's not just a clever name -- you can actually get a very, very hearty meal in exchange for a just a few of the Sacagawea dollar coins in your pocket.



EXHIBITS APLENTY

A personal favorite, the United States Botanical Garden will open its annual Seasons Greenings holiday display on Thanksgiving Day.

Additionally, the American History Museum has just introduced its FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000 exhibit all about the meal options available to Americans.

So, if you're looking for some educational options, those are definitely two to check out.



LAUGH 'TIL YOU CRY

I've recently delved into the magical world of D.C. open-mic stand-up comedy, so stay tuned for a blog post all about my experiences, the people and how awesome it is. But until then, trade the Wish Bone for a Funny Bone at R.F.D. in Chinatown on Saturday night for District Comedy's "STFU Showcase - Thanksgiving Edition."



For $10, you'll get a night full of laughs from some of D.C.'s best stand-up comics!


That's it! Happy Turkey Day!
















*drunk

Friday, November 16, 2012

What to Do in the District This Weekend

It's Friday and you're all probably thinking:



Well, have no fear, Jules and AppealingKate have teamed up to give you all kinds of ideas for weekend fun!


 AppealingKate says:











Tonight
The movie "Lincoln" opens in theaters this weekend, and what better way to fully appreciate it in our great city than to have a little Lincoln themed night?  Grab some friends and go walk around the Lincoln Memorial.  It's beautiful at night, particularly this time of year with the clear, crisp air and sky.  Next head for dinner at Lincoln. I've never been, but I hear it's nothing short of delicious.  Then head to the theater to see a late night viewing of the movie.

Looking to get into a little more trouble?  Tonight the Black Cat kicks off a new weekly dance party where the DJs will be jamming new and underground songs. And and and all absolute drinks? Only $5. All. Night. Long. $5 vodka drinks + dance party = guaranteed bad decisions.

Saturday

The Annual Alexandria Film Festival is this weekend.  This event showcases short and feature length films, documentaries, film maker panels, and arts presentations in and around historic Alexandria.  The first series of films tomorrow start at noon.  After you see a couple of films, do some early Christmas shopping in adorable Old Town. Or, check out one of the many pubs for some college football and beer.

Tomorrow night the Washington Wizards take on the Utah Jazz at the Verizon Center at 7pm and there are (surprise, surprise) still tickets available.  After the game, head over to Poste's winter patio for a nice glass of red wine, because let's face it...when the weather gets chilly, we all are like: 






Jules says:


Sunday

Head to 14th Street for a "Pork Centric Sunday Brunch" at The Pig. The menu is local and seasonal, featuring vegetables from EatWell DC’s own natural farm in La Plata, MD, and Chef Garret Fleming will be serving up traditional brunch dishes with a contemporary spin, including Smoked Ham Benedict, with buttermilk biscuit, duck egg, and poblano hollandaise. Other signature dishes are the Gnocchi & Eggs Bacon Lardon, or Huevos Tomatillos, with eggs, smoked chorizo, lentils, house cheese, on a corn tortilla. Reservations recommended. 

Feeling fancy? Grab your lovah (or a pal) and check out "Sundate: Music at the Phillips".  The SunDate package ($50; $26 for members) will get you two concert tickets along with pre-concert cocktails and dessert for two from Tryst at the Phillips cafe. This week's concert features award-winning pianists Igor Lovchinsky and Jonathan Coombs performing a program that highlights the musical connections between American composers Walter Piston, Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein.

Finally, it's your last day to check out FotoWeekDC, an annual weeklong photography festival featuring professional and amateur photographers and partners such as National Geographic, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, The Smithsonian Institution, and more. In addition to fine art photography and photojournalism, you'll find seminars, lectures, portfolio reviews, photo book displays, special events and more. For a full listing of events, see here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Where to Eat Burgers in the District

Disclaimer: P.S. I may or may not have written this while I was hungry.

Who doesn't love a good burger? A big, juicy, beef patty with lettuce, tomato, cheese, onions, and sauteed mushrooms? Pretty much the definition of deliciousness.

Me = terrible at resisting temptation
In addition, most burgers come with french fries, and anyone who knows me knows that I love french fries. In fact, in an attempt to cure myself of said love, I once tried to give up french fries for a New Year's resolution. 

Want to know how long I lasted? Approximately two weeks.

Below are some great spots to grab a burger in the District. And I should know. I may or may not have participated in a burger tour a few years ago, where we spent an entire Saturday hopping around town trying out different burger joints. And, yes, I ran eight miles the next day and didn't touch anything but veggies and fruit for a week after because I felt so disgusting. But, damn, it was good.

Darlington House's Cantina Pub
Darlington House is one of my go-to spots in Dupont. It's never overly packed, the crowd is always laid back and friendly, and there are lots of big TVs to watch sports. It's a good place for a random Thursday night happy hour, a chill Saturday night out, and to grab a really great burger.

DH offers a variety of burger options with different toppings. Whatever you decide to order, you won't be disappointed. The burgers are huge (don't expect to eat the entire thing unless you're a dude with a bottomless pit stomach) seasoned perfectly, and served on a fresh bun.

Good Stuff Eatery
Who knew ten years ago that reality TV would transform the culinary world? But it did. And one of those now famous celebrity chefs, Spike Mendelsohn, opened up shop right on Capitol Hill. Good Stuff Eatery, located on Pennsylvania Avenue, makes an awesome burger. Again, lots of options. In fact, the menu has 13 different types of burgers to choose from. I usually go for the pretty basic steak burger. But there are more eclectic options, too, including ones named after the President and First Lady. Whatever you choose, you can't go wrong. Keep in mind that GSE is closed on Sundays. I tell you this so that you don't feel like this when you show up hungover on Sunday afternoon only to see a big, bold, CLOSED sign:

Not that I would ever react this way...
There are so many great things about Dino, located in the adorable Cleveland Park neighborhood. Fresh, local produce. Expansive, unique menu. Friendly and knowledgeable staff. Kick ass, homemade cocktails. One more thing to add to the list? The burger. It's a big, juicy burger served on a fresh, crispy Italian bread with a side salad. Think your basic burger dressed up a bit. And Dino's offers a burger and beer special for $15 every night of the week in the bar area.  Great deal + adorable restaurant = what could be better?

Five Guys
Now, in all honesty I've only have a Five Guys burger when I've been sober ONCE. And it was about eight years ago. But there's nothing better than a Five Guys burger at 2am after the bars close. You can choose from about a ba-zillion toppings (I usually just go big and get all of them), and come with a brown paper bag full of fries that my friends and I used to call it the "endless bag of fries" because no matter how many we ate, we could never finish the bag.

The Big Board
Full disclosure? I've never actually eaten a burger sandwich at Big Board. But I have had the burger salad. What's this you ask? A green salad topped with a juicy burger. Sounds healthy right? It's not But I pretend it is because the burger is, hands down, one of the best burgers I've ever had. In addition to the burger salad, Big Board offers eight types of burgers. Oh, and try out the sweet potato fries. Also delicious.


So there you go. My favorite burger places in the District.

As always, I'm sure I'm missing some good spots, so please leave them in the comments section below.

Friday, November 9, 2012

What to Do in the District This Weekend!

I don't know about you guys, but for me, this felt like the longest week ever. I ran out of gas and had to push my brand-new Prius to a gas station, which was one of the more embarrassing moments of my life (seriously, who runs out of gas in a PRIUS?!), I built a fire in my fireplace and burned my glasses because I got too close, and -- like the majority of my fellow Washingtonians, I'm sure -- I stayed up waaaay too late on Tuesday night and still haven't recovered the sleep I lost yet.

So T.G.I.-motherfuckin' F, y'all.

How I feel right now.
But, exhaustion/burnt glasses aside, I am excited. Why? Because we are on the brink of yet another THREE-DAY WEEKEND (woohoo!), and it's chock-full of places to drink and things to do.



SUPPORT LOCAL ARTISTS

This weekend only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, you can check out the Arena Stage Cradle Series production of Into the Dollhouse, a banished? Productions "movement performance that explores girlhood, nostalgia and looking back in order to walk forward."



We've featured Arena Stage productions on this blog several times before, but the really cool thing about their Cradle Series is that it is made up of works from D.C.-area artists! So, you're not only seeing a good show, you're supporting local artists, which is something I can definitely get behind.

For tickets, click this link and use the promo code CRADLE50 for a discount!



WARM UP ON THE INSIDE (WITH ALCOHOL)

Perhaps it's because it's a three-day weekend, or perhaps it's because we're post-election and lame-duck congressional aides have to find a place to drown their sorrows. But either way, there are a ton of places to booze it up this weekend:

Friday

* Swirl and Sip's 2012 Grand Tasting, The Whittemore House, 1526 New Hampshire Ave. NW

This event sounds freaking phenomenal: For $59, you can taste more than 40 of the highest-rated, premium wines out there, as well as tickling your tastebuds with various gourmet food selections.

Saturday

* D.C. Beerathon, various locations across D.C.

Self-billed as "the best day of your life," the D.C. Beerathon guarantees you access to 26 craft and premium beers at 26 different bars across the city for a $65 entrance fee. Tickets can be purchased here.

Let me repeat that for you: 26 DIFFERENT BEERS. FULL BEERS.

You will not just be wasted if you finish this event. You will be comatose. Please drink responsibly.

* Novemberfest, Rustico, 827 Slaters Lane, Alexandria (in the back lot)

Apparently, it's like Oktoberfest, but Novemberier! The restaurant will be celebrating 40 seasonal brews and raising money for Hurricane Sandy recovery. So, you'll be drunk for a good cause.

Sunday

* Guest Appreciation Night, Masa 14, 1825 14th St. NW

Celebrate Masa 14's three-year anniversary with happy hour-priced drinks and free passed appetizers from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Their Korean-Mexican fusion food is DELICIOUS, so this is probably where I'll be.

* Happy Hour Sundays, Slate Wine Bar + Bistro, 2404 Wisconsin Ave. NW

Glover Park's newest wine bar is introducing a special Sunday night happy hour and will serve a variety of craft beers for $3 each as well as specials on wine and other drinks.



FINALLY PUT THAT PINTEREST ADDICTION TO GOOD USE


The Crafty Bastards Arts and Crafts Fair is here again Saturday, this time at Union Market, 1309 5th St. NE. For $5 tickets at the door, you can check out all the handmade goodness your little heart desires.



GROW A CREEPY MUSTACHE


November marks the month in which otherwise completely normal men choose to grow logic-defying facial hair in order to raise money for prostate cancer research. Yeah, I don't get the connection between child molester grooming choices and cancer research either, but hey, at least it's a good cause I guess?

In any case, the indomitable H Street Corridor is celebrating the occasion on Saturday with its H Street Movemberfest, in which pretty much EVERY SINGLE ESTABLISHMENT on H Street is participating and giving various specials to those who buy a wristband here for $12 ($15 at the door).


CZECH THIS OUT

The Embassy of the Czech Republic, located at 3900 Spring of Freedom St. NW, will be officially kicking off the Christmas season with its Christmas Market this weekend.


In addition to beautiful hand-blown Christmas ornaments for purchase, the event will feature traditional Czech wafers and mulled wine -- the perfect way to ring in the holiday season.


On that note, I'm going to go steel my liver, because it looks like I'll be drinking A LOT this weekend.