With an approaching weekend where I'll likely be eating or drinking out in the city, the usual debate among friends begins as to where to go, and one thing we're almost in universal agreement about is that no one wants to go anywhere crowded. This is tricky, as the weekend is when the D.C. equivalent of NYC's "bridge and tunnel" folks come swarming in and packing the bars and restaurants. ("Bridge and tunnels" got their name because they are Jersey-ites and Long Islanders who have to take a bridge or tunnel to get into Manhattan. Technically, this should also include Westchesterites, Connecticutters and anyone in the outer borroughs, but the reputation of Jersey-ites and Long Islanders has caused much more trauma for Manhattanites) Full disclosure: Being a Virginia resident, I'd count as a DC equivalent of a "bridge and tunnel" so I can't really blame other suburbanites for overfilling the bars and restaurants on weekends. The options for eating and drinking in Vienna or Bethesda or Annandale are limited.
The trick is how to find a place that's good and yet not yet swamped? After all, any good place will eventually reach the hoi polloi by word of mouth and soon have lines out the door. Short of dressing up as an exterminator and saying to the crowd out front that you're there to deal with "the scorpion situation" (which I don't recommend, since there might actually be a scorpion situation and next thing you know you're trying to kill scorpions in their stock room with nothing but a bucket and a sponge), the best bet is to start eating your dinners at 4 PM like the old folks. (Don't steal sugar packets though, at least not if you're under 70). The plus side? You get your meal early and have a head start at getting a seat at the bar afterwards. The down side? You have to eat at 4 PM.