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Lively Birthday Restaurant Suggestions

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I have a request for two places at which I can celebrate my upcoming mid-30th birthday.

(1) For dinner, I'm looking for a fun place with good food and with lively, upbeat music-- preferably of the salsa genre. In my last city (ATL), there was a wonderful tapas restaurant that was full of energy, music, and good food. The vibe was energetic and sexy, and their sangria's were out of this world. The music through the loud speakers was so infectious that you couldn't sit still in your seat. (the place in ATL is Eclipse di Luna for those curious)

Are there any places like this in DC?

(2) A nice, laid-back, unpretentious bar. I'm originally from the south, so I'd like bar with a casual relaxed feel, preferably with wooden floors...but I think I may have to go out to VA for that?

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  1. 2) Black Squirrel in Adams Morgan?

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    The Black Squirrel
    2427 18th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

    1. 1) I'm not 100% sure about music but maybe check out Jaleo or Cafe Atlantico.

      2) Bar Pilar might be what you are looking for.

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      Cafe Atlantico
      405 8th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

      Bar Pilar
      1833 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

      1. Not sure about a place with music for the first rec. My favorite laid-back, unpretentious bar is Trusty's. Trusty's is on Capitol Hill, near the Potomac Ave. metro stop. The bar is great - they have board games, a ridiculous selection of beer in cans, drafts in mason jars, and an amazing roof-top porch. Not to mention the bar in the upstairs is an old school-bus.

        Happy 30th!

        1. 1) Zaytinya not latiny, but very hip and upbeat, I think it has what you are looking for. SEI might also fit the bill if you want the vibe, but not the latin music.

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          Zaytinya
          701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

          1. There is a place called The Salsa Room in Arlington, VA. They biil the food as being Mexican, but the proprietors are Bolivian and I believe they make Bolivian specialties as well, but you may have to ask about that. Last I was there, there were still serving Bolivian food at lunch. Live music, of course.

            http://thesalsaroom.net/main/

            In Adams Morgan there is this place, but I've never been:

            http://www.habanavillage.com/entertai...

            1. Thanks to everyone for your suggestions! I finally decided on Cuba Libre-- a festive, theme-oriented restaurant near Chinatown.

              Many of you may gasp at the word "theme-oriented", but I don't know-- I'm really looking for an atmospheric restaurant with a great drink menu (they have a HUGE mohito list) and a few friends have gone here and raved about it.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Savannah101

                It's not at all laid-back or unpretentious and the staff has been *really* snotty, but it is at least trying to be festive and the Washington Post did publish an article discussing their intent to water down their drinks and generally suck less in the future.

                If you get a chance, report back and let us know if they were successful. I went for lunch right after they opened and had some fantastic pork belly, so hopefully they can get back on track.

                1. re: Raids

                  Thanks for your response. I'm confused, how can they strive to "suck less" if they intend to water down their drinks (as you wrote).

                  1. re: Savannah101

                    "less" modifies *both* "water down their drinks" and "suck." They apparently intend to do both of these less.

                    Here's one review: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinion...

                    It's completely true to my experience. I walk by this place every day and was really excited for it to open. Then it did, and I had a great lunch there. Then I booked New Year's Eve reservations there. Fun dance floor. But there were other major problems. Anyway, been back several times since trying to convince myself that it's a fluke, and it's not. The atmosphere on a Saturday night is...not good. It's busy, it's just sort of angry, like a club that's too busy. You know how people are friendly at crowded bars some places? Yeah, no. But this shouldn't be a problem for your reservation.

                    The weak drinks comment must have been from a Seitsema chat. I will say that the last drink I had there did not seem that weak, but a lot of people have complained about it.

                    So, seriously, let me know how it goes. I'd love to hear that they've fixed all problems, as I was really hoping to be a regular there. If nothing else, I hope the WP review helps you decide what to order - he's right about the ceviche.

                    You've motivated me to stop by again on my way home tonight and take another survey.