Westover Beer Garden, Arlington, VAMy husband and I make a point of going out one evening during the week. We tuck the kids in bed, bid adieu to the babysitter, and head on out. Because our date night falls during the week, when we’ve typically already had dinner with our  kids, we’ve can’t rely on the typical dinner date for entertainment. Instead, we’ve been checking out restaurants where we can grab light eats, and maybe hear some tunes at the same time. We don’t want to be out late, so our basic criteria is that the place needs to be within a few miles of our home near Ballston. I also don’t want to break the bank, so we don’t often hang out at the many upscale restaurant bars in the area. Here are some places my husband and I have found that fit the bill.

Our all-time favorite Wednesday hang-out is Iota in Clarendon. Every Wednesday is open mic night, and there’s no cover charge – which means no feeling like we wasted money if we can only stay for a couple of hours. We’ve heard some great acoustic musicians play their hearts out, and a few not-so-good ones as well. But, on balance, the music provides a great backdrop for our evening. Iota serves salads and appetizers that go beyond the typical fried bar food.

Next up on our list is Grand Cru, located in Ballston. This wine bar allows you to select a bottle from the wine store, pay a small corking fee, and enjoy the bottle on their outdoor courtyard or inside bar. Plenty of yummy treats can be enjoyed with that bottle of wine, including a seasonal tapas menu. We head here when we want to walk and aren’t in the mood to listen to music.

More recently, we’ve added the Westover Beer Garden to our list of places to frequent. Also host to an open mic night on Wednesdays, this beer garden features crowds from families with young children to seniors. The sidewalk chalk that often sits on the tables means we can head here when the babysitter isn’t available. The beer garden recently underwent several improvements – including new bathrooms and the addition of an indoor café, and I can only imagine that this place will keep getting better.

I am always looking for new places to hang out. Have a favorite? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments! If not, come check these out and say hello if you see me.

Elaine writes about her kids and all the reasons she needs a date night over at Connor and Helen Grow Up.