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Transcript

Got Plans?

The Going Out Gurus
of the washingtonpost.com Entertainment Guide
Thursday, January 13, 2005; 1:00 PM

Every Thursday at 1 p.m. ET, washingtonpost.com's Entertainment Guide experts share their best bets for local flavor, great dates and family fun. Got plans? Great. Need plans? Just ask. We have the skinny on the bars and clubs, concerts, kitchens, theaters and special events that keep life interesting. We're going out gurus, and we're at your service.

Of course, we're happy to answer questions about local entertainment, but we need to hear from you, too. Introduce us to the coolest DJ or the fastest bartender you've encountered. Sound off on the week's best concert or the city's best burger. Tell us about the best place to amuse little kids or a big art fan. Together we can plan fun ways to spend weekdays, weekends, dates and holidays. The pleasure is ours, and yours.

Each week a different guru will act as host or hostess, but the entire staff is at your service. If you're looking for more ideas, see the Entertainment Guide.

The transcript follows.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.

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The Going Out Gurus: Greetings all. Lots of you are looking at two days off next week and are trying to find entertaining ways to spend them. We'll help you out there. We also have the latest on Tsunami Benefits and whatever else is on your mind. I'm David, the entire crew is here, and off we go.

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Washington, D.C.: I have a friend in from out of town that spins in London's great, small DJ bars. Where can I take him in DC that is similar? Thanks.

Fritz: Here's a few to start: The basement lounge at Cafe Saint-Ex; tonight's Push Off open-turntables night at the Blue Room; Aroma; Andalu; and, for house DJs with a kitschy retro vibe, Cafe Japone on Saturday night,

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Washington, D.C.: Posting early. Parents coming to town tomorrow. Any thoughts on a fun restaurant I could take them to for dinner? Looking for American/seafood, not too pricey and fun atmosphere. Thanks!!

Alexa: I might suggest DC Coast or its Latin cousin, Ceiba. Both are fun and colorful and both do a grand job with ceviche.

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Washington, D.C.: Anyone tried Etete (new restaurant at 9th & U)?

Alexa: No. You?

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Washington, D.C.: I'm a big fan of the Chinatown/MCI Center area but was looking for a good lounge in the neighborhood. Seems like everything is a restaurant (ala Zaytinya, Poste, Zola) with a small bar area or is a sports bar/pub. Suggestions?

Fritz: It's all about Indebleu right now, with a huge cocktail menu (about 50 martinis, and the "guide" is a takeoff on the Metro map), plenty of lounge seating and some great DJs who've either been affiliated with Eighteenth Street Lounge or on its label in the past. I think it's exactly what you're looking for, and what the neighborhood needed. Double bonus: It's not a chain.

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Arlington, VA: I have a friend who had a rough break-up this week and I would like to offer some fun evening activities like book readings or museum nights to help keep her mind off of it. Can the great gurus think of anything particularly appropriate? Thanks!;

Maura: Aren't you a sweet friend. Post-work, you might try Tuesday night's book reading "My Life As a Spy" at the Corcoran -- a memoir of a young female spy that includes the havoc spying wrecked on her love life. For something more lively, that same night, you could see Scythian at Iota. There are plenty of museums that stay open late during the week -- the Phillips and the Corcoran next Thursday).

I have to add that any post-break up outing should also include a mani-pedi. The pampering never hurts.

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Silver Spring, MD: Oh my god! What happened to my all-time favorite place (at least since the demise of the Crowbar), Kingpin? And will it reopen? (But don't tell anyone how great it is/was. I don't want anyone else clued into this best-kept secret.)

Fritz: Kingpin was (and will be) one of my favorite bars in the city. To make a long story short, a fire started after everyone had left on Christmas morning, and there was extensive damage to the bar. Thankfully, no one was hurt. Kingpin is currently closed -- and will be for a while -- but the owners tell me they're going to rebuild and reopen, so don't worry about that.

In the meantime, owners/bartenders Joel and Veen are going to be doing guest bartending shifts around town to keep busy -- I believe Joel will be at the Reef next Wednesday night. A couple of fundraisers are in the works.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey Gogs, I plan on going to see the Kings of Convenience at Iota in Arlington on Feb. 5. I expect it to sell out, but what's the deal with their tickets? They don't sell them in advance. Does this mean I'd have to get there before 5, when doors open, then sit around for a few hours before the show starts? Or can you go in, get tickets, and leave and come back in time for the show? Have you guys had any experience with a sold out show there?

Joe: Hello DC. Iota doesn't actually sell tickets, they stamp hands. So you can go early, pay for admission, get your hand stamped and leave. At least, that has been their policy in the past. I don't know that you'll need to get there at 5 and I'm not even sure they would start stamping hands that early. Probably best to call them the day before the show and ask them directly. The staff there is the best and I'm sure they'll be helpful.

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Clinton, MD: Hey Gurus:

You guys are great. I have a question for you. I want to try out one of those murder mystery dinners, but have no idea where one is except The Blair Mansion in Silver Spring. Are there other places in the area that u would recommend? If so, where, price range, etc. Also, have you been to the Blair Mansion. If so what are your thought?

Thanks for your help Gurus!

Jen: The Blair Mansion is the only place I know that hosts murder mystery theater on a regular basis; I think some hotels do it from time to time, too, but the Mansion is the most reliable place to see it near D.C. Readers, if you have other suggestions, please share.
I went to the Blair Mansion once, but it was almost 10 years ago. From what I remember, the food was so-so but the show was pretty fun. In March, the theme of the Blair Mansion performances is "The Night Disco Died," which might be kind of a kick. Maybe they should do another theme: "The Day WHFS Died." That doesn't make for much of a mystery, though...

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Washington, D.C.: I'm not sure if this is the right chat for this question, but I thought I'd give it a shot. Are there any good, free, independent/underground hip-hop radio stations on the internet?

Rhome: Definitely outside of our subject area but not outside of our areas of expertise. I'm partial to the Ill Vibe Collective from Philly. Great group of dj's.

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Washington, DC: Help! I'm a New Englander transplanted to D.C. Do you know of a sports bar popular with Patriots fans where I can watch the game on Sunday? Thanks, and go Pats!

Fritz: There's only one place to go: Murphy's Irish Pub in Old Town Alexandria. The second floor bar is packed to the rafters with Patriots fans every time they play, and chanting and yelling at the screen is pretty much encouraged.

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Rosslyn, VA: A question & a review about the infamous Restaurant Week dining experiences.

Because entertaining and being entertained in D.C. really are my avocation, I have scoured some restaurant prospects for a Saturday or Sunday dinner date & booked reservations at all (good use of aliases on opentable, sorry fellow diners!;) Which would yield the best dining experience: Ritz-Carlton Grill, Tony & Joes, 1789, or Andale? Yeah, I know 1789 is the top gourmet table, but I've been told Kinkead's is better and my reservation is at 8:45 p.m. on Sunday. If my date & I eat that late I fear we'll both fall asleep in foie gras and never make out w/ each other!;

I'm partial to visiting the more chi chi gourmet tables, since it is the one time I can afford it, but if my experience at the Caucus Room this past Monday night is any indication, the service tends to be impeccable while the food selection & prep is not the best that these upscale kitchens can provide (hence the prix fix of $30.04 plus tax & tip). I swear I ate candied pork loins at the Caucus Room b/c the pork was too dry (do they use heat lamps like McD's?) and slathered in saccharine, ginger teriyaki sauce. Both mine and my date's entrees were heavy handed with their seasoning (he ordered from the regular menu & his fish was too salty). I was suspicious when the soup & my date's salad appeared five minutes after ordering, but at least the soup, main dish's vegetables & the grand finale, a chocolate mousse were inventive & satiating. The old adage, you get what you pay for comes to mind.

Alexa: I do tend to agree with you about getting what you pay for. You seem to have a lot going on, but I'm not quite sure what you're doing. Are you going to Kinkead's and looking for a second place from the list of four? If so I think I'd pick Andale. It's more youthful.

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Indebleu: Another plus for Indebleu - they lured cute and fabulous bartender Tim from Johnny's Half Shell to come over to their turf. A former Post Bartender of the Month, who makes a killer gimlet and sidecar, is worth a trip to their bar alone!;

Fritz: Awesome. I'm a fan of Tim's work, that's good to know.

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Fairfax, Va: A few of us are going to see Carlos Mencia at The Improv at the end of the month which leads me to ask...

- Have any of you wonderous guru's ever seen him? What's your take?

- What of the fare at The Improv? Should we eat before we go? It's an 8pm show so eating dinner there is an option... we just don't want to not eat beforehand and have sub-par food to contend with.

David: Can't say I've ever seen Mencia, but from what I saw of his Comedy Central special he seemed pretty funny. And stand-up is almost always funnier in person, anyway. As for the food at the Improv, California Tortilla handles the menu. So if that sounds enticing, go for it. You'll get a better seat if you get there early and eat, but it's not like there are really any terrible seats at the Improv.

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Arlington, VA: Hi GOG's!; I love your chat, and I hope this isn't an inappropriate use of this forum.
To Clinton MD from last week -
I have the same problem!; There's lots I want to see and do in DC, but it's like pulling teeth to get my friends out with me. At the things I've done on my own, I usually just end up meeting cheeseball or sleezeball guys. I'm planning on going ice-skating at the National Sculpture Garden Wednesday next week at 7pm. If you can make it, if we happen to meet and want to hang out, then great!;

Joe: OK, we're happy to post this, but it seems like a longshot. I mean how will Clinton identify you? Good luck.

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Fairfax, VA: I'm relatively new to the area and living near the Vienna metro. Can anyone recommend a good place to get my hair cut / highlighted and also a decent bikini waxist?

Janet: Our readers like PR & Partners. There are lots of locations. Skin Beauty Lounge offers very good bikini waxes.

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Furnishing a new house: Sometime last year there was an article in the post about a store called C-Mart (or something like that). If I remember corrently, they sold furniture for very reasonable prices. I can't seem to find the article, can you post it for me. I'm moving into a new house in a few weeks and will soon need to shop for furniture. Also, are there any flea markets around the Baltimore/Washington area that would be a good place to look for furniture?

Thanks!;

Janet: Here's the story on C Mart. Have you been to the Georgetown Flea Market on Wisconsin Ave. NW?

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Washington, D.C.: For a wedding present, my husband and I got a gift certificate to the Studio Theater (thoughtful gift, huh?). We're going to the 8pm show of "Black Milk" on Friday night there. Can you suggest a good restaurant for a pre-theater meal?

Thanks!

Jen: What a nice, creative wedding gift. Logan Tavern and Rice are both in easy walking distance. If you don't mind a longer walk, there's Cafe Saint-Ex. I've heard good things about "Milk" so I hope you enjoy it.

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Arlington, VA: Since Monday is Mr. Luther King Jr. Day and we have off from work, my friends and I would like to venture out to a bar/club on Sunday night.....not a night we are used to going out. Can you tell me what's happening on Sunday nights in DC or VA? Thanks!

Rhome: We've got the best of the best Sunday options in our weekly TWIN column. Would be nice if there were a shuttle back and forth between Modern and Local 16. Both of those parties will be hot to death. If that isn't enough, peruse these.

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Maryland: This is a strange question for you GOG's, but can you recommend a good hairstylist? My long-haired husband just turned 40 and wants to cut his hair short. We have different hairtypes (his straight, mine kinky/curly) so I'm not sure who might do a good job on him. The main thing is that we want something stylish and youthful--not the unfortunate "stiff, part-on-the-side-white-man hairdo" most guys have. Basically, he doesn't want the drone look. Any help will be mucho appreciated.
Thanks!!!!

Janet: I have it on good authority that Trim and Demian do good jobs on guys.

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Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: I've just arrived in DC and am now completely hooked on your great advice (maybe I'll actually make it outside one day =)
I don't know if this falls within your area of expertise but I need some pampering, i.e. a recommendation on where to get a great haircut and facial.
Do you also know the name of a good tailoring service in the DC area?
Thanks!!!

Janet: Welcome to town. Since you're in Dupont, you may want to try Demian> He and his salon get raves from people. Try it. For a facial downtown, Celadon has a good rep, with a wide variety of facials from which to choose. And last, but not least, here's a list of tailors. Happy shopping.

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Georgetown, Washington, D.C.: I know this question comes up intermittently in these chats, but anyone have recommendations for reasonably priced salons in the georgetown area? A girl cant spend her life savings everytime she needs a trim ...

Janet: You want reasonably priced, and who doesn't. Just by virtue of its location, a Georgetown salon is probably not going to be cheap. And I agree, it's terrible to spend so much on a mere trim. Anyway, it's not Georgetown, but there's a Bubbles on K Street. In general, the salon has a good reputation. As is always true no matter where you get your hair cut, you have to find the person who does the best job for your hair.

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Arlington, VA: What is Cafe Lautrec like these days? Do they still have the blues trio playing and the guy dancing on the bar? I have a date night with my wife and want to go someplace like that - authentic live low key blues in a Lautrec type setting. Any advice? Fritz: I haven't been in to Cafe Lautrec (now Cafe Toulouse again, I believe) since it was taken over by the owners of Cafe Sofia a few weeks ago, but I know it hase live blues and jazz again, and the owners were trying to clean the place up and make it more of a sit-down establishment.

For low-key blues, I'd hit U-Topia on U Street. No matter what night you go in, you're sure to find someone you like. New Vegas lounge is bigger, but still a no-hassle vibe. Rhome says Jo-Jo's (also on U) is a nice middle ground, with a band playing blues and oldies on the weekends.

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Philadelphia, PA: Submitting early 'coz maybe it makes the weekend come sooner? I'm driving from PA to take a special guy (from DC) out on the town. We have Sat. eve plans wrapped up--dinner and dancing. Any ideas for Sunday? We are (gasp!) mid 40's but still like to have FUN! We like movies, comedy (Capitol Steps were great!), fine dining and are open to suggestions from you guys! You're awesome! Please help! I want to impress!

Anne: Speaking from personal experience only, going ice skating can have an unintentional comic effect. For professional comedians, Christian Finnegan performs standup at the Improv on Sunday night. Among the nearby restaurants, Bombay Club would be a treat. If you want dining to be a bigger centerpiece of your day, Restaurant Week ends on Sunday, so if you hurry, you could book a lunch reservation and have a splendid meal for $20.05.

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Fairfax, VA: Is it too late to get tickets to see John Legend this Saturday? I know he was at UMD a couple weeks ago, do you know when he'll be in the area again?

Rhome: John Legend has become a hot property in record time it seems. I heard he crushed it at UMCP. I called a lot of folks yesterday trying to get more info about Saturday. I looked at several uninformative advertisements. The promoter eventually called me back though. All I know now is that advance tickets are sold out and some will be available at the door. How many? I dunno. How much will they cost? I dunno. Still waiting on a return phone call. I wouldn't hurt to just roll up as soon as the place opens and check in person. If you can't get tickets, head around the corner to the 9:30 Club to catch Raheem, Fertile Grould & Donnie.

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Alexandria, VA: I am submitting early in hopes that you can help. I am meeting my cousin from North Dakota in NYC this weekend, and we are looking for a fun, casual place, either with Mexican, Italian or American fare, to have lunch around Times Square and the Theater District. Any suggestions on a great place to treat a North Dakota boy who hasn't been to the Big Apple before?

Maura: Hi there Alexandria. The consensus here is shoot for the theater district. Nearby I've dined at Rue 57 a couple of times and it's been terrific. Post theater critic Peter Marks had more than a few dining recommendations in his recent Escapes column on Visiting NYC theater.

Jen: I also recently had dinner at Angus McIndoe's, which is mentioned in the Escapes piece. It's located next to the theater where "The Producers" is playing and is co-owned by Nathan Lane. The food's quite good, too. We actually saw Matthew Broderick when we ate there; my husband dared me to walk over to his table and say, "Excuse me, but aren't you Abe Froman, the sausage king of Chicago?" Needless to say, I refrained.

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Indeblue? Chinatown, D.C.: I heart martinis. This Indeblue lounge in Chinatown with over 50 of them sounds great. Why hasn't it been reviewed yet, Fritz? If you need help dissecting the anatomy of a martini or why calling everything in a v-shaped glass a "martini" is a misnomer, I'm there!

Fritz: I haven't written a review yet because my sense is that they're still trying to settle on a DJ schedule and crowd, among other things. Tom Sietsema has written a preview of the restaurant. I'm pretty sure I'll have something up next week.

BTW, I hate calling anything but gin and vermouth a martini, but you have to roll with the nomenclature, and they're calling their menu at martini list, so.....

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Washington, D.C. NW: Hi, any suggestions for fun things to do on Inauguration Day off, besides attending the inauguration?! Any plays or art exhibits on that are not downtown? My kids are in school that day so I want to make the most of my day off! Thank you.

Maura: If the Phillips isn't too downtown for you, you could catch Calder Miro in its final days. Otherwise, it might be the perfect opportunity to visit a museum where you wouldn't take the kids. The Kreeger and Hillwood museums are open next Thursday, but reservations are required at each. Enjoy your day.

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DC showing off to SF: My first time with a question after a few months of reading you all, great advice thus far I must say.
During Washington's Restaraunt Week, what three restaraunts would you reccommend hitting for their $30.05 price fixed dinners.
I have a friend from SF visiting and we're looking for great non-asian, non-pasta meal for Friday night.
Thanks!;!;!;

Alexa: Oooh dear, so many tables have been snapped up already. But these sound good to me: Bistro Bis (they have a 6:30 table), of the others that still have openings I'd pick Chef Geoff's or the Circle Bistro. Check here.

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For Restaurant Week Eater--Kinkeads: I don't think KinKeads is participating for dinner---only lunch.

Alexa: Yes, you're right. Lunch only at Kinkead's.

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Washington, D.C.: I know there are a number of "clubs" that offer salsa lessons, which is the best one out there? Is taking a class at a dance studio a better option?

Fritz: I like the classes at Habana Village and Zanzibar more than others, but if you want to get serious about your dancing, take a set of "progressive" classes that build on what you learned the week before -- there's way too much repetition in the Monday night classes at Lucky Bar, for example (though that's always helpful). I (and Rhome) would steer you to Jeri Dembrak at www.thesalsanews.com, as she's got a pretty good list of instructors and is a good teacher herself.

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Washington, D.C.: When will The Merchant of Venice be showing in D.C. area movie theatres?

Jen: It opens Jan. 28, D.C., so you only have to wait a little longer.

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Silver Spring, MD: Are there any Martin Luther King Day events going on this weekend? Is there a place where they are all listed? Thanks!;

Anne: Thanks for asking, Silver Spring. There is another special day next week and it shouldn't be forgotten amid the inaugural hoopla. Here's our list of Martin Luther King Jr. events so far. You can find this by typing in those keywords in our search box. The Metro section will probably run a big list daily starting Saturday, I bet, so you can look there too. And we'll be continually updating our list to include, for example, the D.C. parade, which starts Monday at 1 near Ballou High School.

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Arlington, VA: Damn, but I love me some C-Mart. I understand that the poster before was looking for furniture, but she should also take a gander at the clothes and especially the shoes!; Really great, random bargins to be had. You can't go in looking for anything particular. You have to be sort of Zen about it. Last time I was there, I came out with a Jones New York dress coat (>$100), a ABS cocktail dress ($37), and a pair of designer jeans that were about $10, because they'd been marked down a million times, and b/c the store was having a %15 off all things demin sale. Good times.

Janet: This, from a big C-Mart fan!

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Springfield, VA: I hear that David Halberstam and Ben Bradley are going to do a talk in the Metro area within the next month. Can you track that down for me and let me know the particulars? Thanks!! Maura: Indeed, Ben Bradlee and David Halberstam will be speaking at a Washington Post Book Club event on Tuesday, Jan. 25 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. Tix are $10-15 and it looks like they're still available. All the details are right here.

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Arlington, VA: I spent New Year's Eve in NYC and fell in love with non-smoking bars. It was amazing to leave a bar and not feel like the floor of a cab. Do you think it will ever happen here?

Joe: I'm with you Arlington. Bars in NYC and California are smoke free. And smoking is restricted in bars in Ireland and Italy too. I think it'd be fantastic if they did it here. But I'd say it's not likely any time soon in Virginia, a big tobacco state. There's a chance in DC and Montgomery county in Maryland has already done it. So, hopefully this trend will continue.

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Hyattsville, MD: Who is the best terp basketball player right now?

Jen: I'm not sure if you're in the right chat, but we'll answer this nonetheless. I'm tempted to say Sterling Ledbetter just because I think that's one of the best basketball player names ever, but the truth is it's probably James Gist. Caner-Medley, Gilchrist and some of the others are off their game these days. But let's see what Fritz and David have to say...

David: Yeah, you probably wanted to go to this chat, but now us gurus get to show how well-rounded we are. Gilchrist is obviously the most talented, but he needs to focus. I'm an Ekene Ibekwe fan, but he needs to stop with the 18-foot jumpers. So I'll agree with Jen in saying that right now, Gist is the man.

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Rosslyn, VA: I was hoping to get GoG & chatters feedback on which of the four restaurants would provide the most epicurean bang for your buck this last weekend of Restaurant Week. Andale, Ritz-Grill in G-town, Tony & Joes (seafood, "romantic view" of muddy Potomac), or 1789? I've got one date and four restaurants, surely, I over plan, but if I didn't would I even be reading your chats...I think not, so neurotic pre-date behavior aside, surely, I'm not the only marketing lemming of Restaurant Week. Anyone else have a rave or rant about their dining out this week?

Alexa: Is this you again, Rosslyn? I think I said Andale, but sounds like you want other opinions, so I'll toss this out to the hounds... 1789, Andale, Tony & Joe, Ritz?

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Flamenco Scene: Any tips on good places to see flamenco dancing in the area? My wife really likes Flamenco, but there don't seem to be a lot of places/events nearby to see it. I was hoping to take her to a performance sometime around Valentine's Day. Thanks a lot!;

Fritz: You're in luck -- there's a big Flamenco Festival at GW's Lisner Auditorium from Feb. 2 to Feb. 12, with a number of concert performances. If your wife wants to get involved, there's a workshop on the basics (taught on the stage, no less) on Feb. 3.

In terms of places to see it, Cafe Citron has a show on Mondays, and Las Tapas has performances on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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Another Pats bar ...: The New England transplant could also head out to Sullys in Chantilly, which is packed with, well, more local types cheering on the men in red, white and blue. Depends on whether you want to drink Guiness or Bud Light, really...

Fritz: Thanks.

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Alexandria, VA: Very new to the area and can't seem to find a good Record/CD store. One that has a great selection of popular and indie music, and maybe also have used CD's for sale. Any suggestions?

Rhome: Let me say first that CROOKED BEAT IS AWESOME. Big ups to former Postie Neal Becton, to whom I have been giving large chunks of my disposable income in exchange for *types of records that I will not reveal so folks don't bogard what I'm looking for*. You can also satisfy your jones at Revolution Records.

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Union Station, Washington, D.C.: Have any of you ever been to Red River Grill? What do you think?

Fritz: Doesn't matter what I think, Union Station, because the bar closed around New Year's Day. It's reopening with a new name and cleaner interior -- but similar drink prices and specials, I'm told -- in a few months, when frozen swirled margaritas on the patio will sound like a good idea.

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Springfield, VA: Non-smoking bar states also include Delaware and Massachusetts.

Joe: Good to know Springfield. Thanks.

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Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: Going to see a movie at Landmark E street this weekend. Any good sushi places nearby? Pan asian works as well. Thanks!

Alexa: Sushi Aoi? Teaism?

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Silver Spring, MD: Fritz, given that we both love Kingpin so dearly, I've probably bumped into you there/spilled a drink on you/stepped on your foot. So, sorry 'bout that.

Will you announce fundraisers somewhere? I'd be all over that. Oh, the fond memories I have of that place! Some of which I don't actually remember.

Fritz: We'll probably have them in the This Week in Nightlife column or in the Bars and Clubs section.

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Tysons Corner, VA: Hi Gogs,

I recently started working in the McPherson square area and was wondering if there were any cool happy hour places. The only one I have seen is Post Pub but wondering if I might be missing some others.

Fritz: Stoney's for grilled cheese or Stoney burgers with a draft beer. Also, I like happy hour at Cafe Mozart if you're into steins and liters of German beer.

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Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C.: Hello gurus--

long-time fan. quick question--i need to find a specific chocolate--The guylian seashell chocolates, that come in a white gift box. Any ideas where they have them? i've tried Dean & Deluca, Whole Foods, Sutton place gourmet...no luck. any gourmet chocolate fans who can help?
thanks.

Janet: There's a Belgian chocolate store in the middle of Gtown. Have you tried that? Also, what about Chocolate, Chocolate on L?

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Potomac Falls, VA: I'm looking to rent beach front property for a weekend sometime before the summer. I'm looking for anywhere between MD and NC. I'm not sure how to go about looking for a reputable property without feeling like I'm being taken for a ride. Do you have any suggestions how I can go about looking into this?

Jen: You have a couple of options. You can go through rental agencies in the various resort towns that interest you, but you might end up paying more. Try Web sites like 10kvacationrentals.com or www.vrbo.com, where owners post info about properties, when they're available and how much they cost. Because these sites rent directly from owners to renters, rates tend to be a little cheaper. I've rented after finding a place on vrbo, and it worked out fine. Good luck.

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Arlington, VA: Can anyone suggest a company to contact for a night time monuments tour? I'd like to treat my parents. I tried really basic searches, and I just turned up that company with the orange trolleys that promotes hop on/hop off tours, all of which stop at the monuments, but there are all sorts of other stops too, which might be less interesting.

PS -- I know there's a whole separate chat devoted to this, but HFS--waaaaaaaaaaaaah!;

Maura: Hmmm...I'm only familiar with the Old Town trolley's night tour, but it seems that an outfit called Capital City Sights offers one as well (800-954-1853). Can't vouch for it, but you could give them a call. Have you thought about just doing an evening tour on your own. It's easy enough to park in one spot and walk from the Vietnam Veteran's, WWII, Lincoln and Korean War memorials. Maybe you could study up a little and impress the 'rents. Any readers have nighttime tour ideas/outfits?

And don't worry, we gurus were whining about 'HFS yesterday.

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Alexandria, VA: to Roslyn -- How (blanking) selfish!; I hope you plan to cancel the reservations you DON'T plan to use so (1) the servers don't get screwed out of whatever small tip you would probably leave and (2) other diners have a chance to dine out. This really infuriates me. Stay home next time.

Alexa: I have to say there's nothing like Restaurant Week to get the fish jumping. Simmer down all. Let's be kind in 2005.

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Arlington, VA: How's the new Tallula place in Arlington? Worth checking out?

Fritz: If you like wine (70 by the glass) and cocktails and don't mind fighting crowds, I think Tallula is an excellent way to spend an evening.

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Cool Happy Hours: For McPherson. If you're into the dressed up/martini lounge-type cool happy hour, might I suggest the uber-hip Le Bar at the Sofitel Hotel?

Fritz: Do they have happy hours? Last time I was in after work, it was $10 or so per drink. They were good, but that's not exactly happy hour pricing ...

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Washington, D.C.: Can you recommend any good bars/lounges for those of us who are beginning to realize we aren't 23 anymore, places with a little more class and maturity, but not too much? Thanks.

Fritz: I think good "in-between" steps include the bars at Helix and Rouge, Aroma, the Reef, Mantis, Tonic and Cafe Citron, but I'm open to suggestions from the crowd.

Crowd?

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Alexandria, VA: Last week you mentioned a blood drive in Maryland so I am hoping you can mention one this weekend in VA. The Single Volunteers of DC and the Red Cross are hosting a blood drive at the Springfield Mall in front of Bennigans from 10:00 am - 3:00 pm. Mix 107.3 will be on hand and Bennigans has donated coupon books worth $30 to all who give blood. More information is available on the SVDC website - www.singlevolunteers.org/dc.

THANKS!;

Maura: O.K., we'll plug this one too. Give a little folks and you might meet someone over juice and cookies. The blood drive is THIS Saturday.

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Washington, D.C.: Can you please remind those folks with multiple reservations for restaurant week to cancel the ones they can't make? It would open some slots up for us late-reservers.

Alexa: Yes, indeed. I meant to say this. And not just during Restaurant Week. Always. It's considerate.

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Arlington, VA: I've heard from several people that there is good location in the area to watch aircraft from National airport take off and land.....up close. Have you heard of such a place...if so, do you know where it is?

Maura: You must be thinking Gravelly Point Park.

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Washington, D.C.: I just moved to Columbia Heights. Aside from Wonderland, what does my new 'hood have to offer me for fun?

Rhome: Here's a long shot, but since Gurus are all about sharing I'll put it out there. I use a recording studio on Park Road and eventually got into the habit of stopping by this Salvadoran spot that's in the lower level of a row house, also on Park Road between 11th & 12th (I think). I started going there because it made a convenient fueling station as I walked from Columbia Heights Metro before a long night in the lab. I go there, get a beer and a pupusa platter and watch latin american soccer with the very local (and friendly) customers. Any other Columbia Heights suggestions, or can anyone help me remember the name of this spot?

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On the Mall: Hi Gurus!; The ipodjukebox at Saint-Ex was pretty fun last night, although the crowd was not quite what I expected, but then again, I didn't really know what to expect. At any rate, its a new day, and a friend and I are looking for someplace to grab happy hour drinks before we amble over to Ten Penh for Restaurant Week. Any suggestions?

Fritz: Hmm. Try Cafe Atlantico for a summery mojito or margarita, Les Halles for a glass of wine, or 701 for one of Mo's specialty cocktails. I do like the drinks at Ten Pehn, though, especially their Singapore Sling.

Just curious -- what were you expecting last night?

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Kings of Convenience @ Iota: The KoC show at Iota is also billed as a "Ralph's world kids show" on Iota's website... Anyone know what the deal is??

-Frustrated in Maryland

Joe: These are two separate shows. The Kings of Convenience show is at 9:30 p.m. The Ralph's World kids show is at 3 in the afternoon. Don't worry. They'll be no crossover.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Gurus,

I keep asking this question, and hopefully this week you'll get to it! What ever happened to the old talk about having a wedding chat? I'd love for the Post to host a wedding chat! Please?!?! We DC area brides need you as a resource!

Maura: We haven't forgotten you brides out there. I expect we'll have one by spring. First, we've got to take on Valentine's Day (prepare for a Love Week of Live Onlines).

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No name!;: Is it true that Bar-Nun is a swinger's club on Saturday nights?

Rhome: Yes.

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Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C.: Hey gurus,
I know you've had this question before, but I can't track down the answer. Pub Quizzes - where and when are they and which one is the best? Any on the weekends? Thanks!

Fritz: No weekend pub quizzes, sorry. Most take place early in the week when there's plenty of seating for everyone, and you can, you know, actually hear the questions being asked. The "best" is either at Fado on Mondays (7 rounds of 10 questions, mix of pop, sports and history) or the Pour House on Tuesdays (2 games of 3 rounds, mix of pop culture and obscure trivia). Other games I've liked includ Brain Freeze on Mondays at the Flying Scotsman and the quiz on Tuesdays at Ri-Ra in Bethesda.

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Washington, D.C.: What are some events, sponsoring tsunami aid, that feature good places to go out for a casual drink with coworkers?

Fritz: I like the event this Saturday at the Ugly Mug, but you can also hit the upstairs bar at the Brickskeller or happy hour at R.F.D. Both places will give 10 percent of this month's proceeds to relief efforts.

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Rosslyn is Annoying: Rosslyn is annoying!; Of his 4 restaurants, clearly Andale or 1789 is the best choice. But the real problem is that he has made 4 reservations when he only intends to keep one of them - making it all that much more difficult for the rest of us to get reservations!; And you reward him by posting his question twice. Shame on him and you!;

Joe: We agree. Rosslyn is showing bad form. He/she should be ashamed. Decide where you want to go and make a reservation for one place and go there.

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RE: John Legend: Tour schedule and ticket information are available at www.johnlegend.com or http://kiliskafe.com/JohnLegend.html for this weekend's show

Rhome: Been there, done that. Flyer lists Groovetickets.com for advance purchase... those are sold out. Still waiting on price and availability info to get tix at the door.

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A group of us: Hey gurus!; About 12 of us are planning to go out on Inauguration Eve since we'll be able to sleep it off the next day (no work). We're looking for a bar where drinks aren't outrageously priced and is within walking distance of a place we can dance later in the evening. As a reference, I love places with a cool vibe, like Eyebar. I'm starting to fear that "reasonably priced" and "cool vibe" are mutually exclusive, though. Thanks a lot - your advice is always spot-on!;

Fritz: "Reasonably Priced" and places with a "cool vibe" in the Eyebar vein are pretty much mutually exclusive, I'm sad to say, unless you hit one of the Kimpton hotel bars at happy hour, when a $5 martini is much more palatable.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey GOGs, you're an invaluable source, thanks for all your help! I have 22~24 yr old friends (2 couples, 3 single girls) coming into town for MLK weekend and I'm looking for fun things to do/see during the day Sunday and Monday. We can't last long at museums. Outdoor festivals, live music, inaguration prep, etc., would be great.

Anne: To take in the pre-inauguration scene, you can walk along the Mall for the prep at the Capitol or walk by the White House to see all the bleachers blocking your view. A must-do, I say, is get your picture taken at the faux-Oval Office setup. There aren't many outdoor festivals in January -- the closest thing I'd suggest is the Baltimore or D.C. Martin Luther King Jr. parades.

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20 Year C-Marter: C-Mart cannot get enough praise, and the quality never ceases to amaze. My mom has been down with C-Mart for over 20 years (I grew up not four miles away). If you want to make the trip, you will find some amazing deals there. And across the street is a great liquor store with Maryland prices (much cheaper on cost and tax) called Ronnies. Go Harford County!;

Janet: More on C Mart ...

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Re: Muder Mystery: I went to Blair last year for Valentine's Day and it was a ton of fun. It's more of a comedy than mystery. It's very funny (prepare to get picked on) but they don't give you clues to solve it really. The clues don't lead to anybody in particular. So if you want to try and solve a mystery, I would pass but if you want to have a good time, Blair's the place. The food is okay but not great.

Jen: Sounds pretty similar to my experience. Thanks for the feedback.

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Fairfax, VA: Thanks so much for the feedback on the bikini wax at Skin Beauty Lounge, but I was hoping for an option closer to home...anyone know of anything in the Fairfax / Vienna area?

Janet: Want to spring for Elizabeth Arden Red Door?

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Arlington, VA: I'm hosting a happy hour for about a dozen to twenty people somewhere in DC. Can you recommend a good venue? I'm looking for some place with space, but not a separate back room that costs money.

Rhome: Hit The Reef when happy hour starts at 6pm. Space for days and great beer options, even some nibbles on the menu.

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Happy?Hour Land: Dear Gurus,
I'm in charge of picking a happy hour spot for my departing boss. I'm in a common predicament: small group of people who are comfortable (or not) in very different scenes. Plus we're relatively poor. I want something classy and nice because he deserves a good send off - but not a place specifically designed to make people feel awkward and uncomfortable. I've come up with 'Sign of the Whale' which I've been to but think may be just a tad on the casual side or the Bottom Line which I've never been to. The best areas would be downtown/Dupont. Any thoughts? suggestions?
Thanks!;

Fritz: How about Karma at 19th and L? It's pretty nice, decent specials and a bunch of seating.

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Reasonably Priced & Cool Vibe Query: Go to Ozio's Martini Bar & Cigar Lounge on Wednesday for half price martinis. We're talking French martinis for $3.84. It's in the Farraguts area like your Eyebar. Have fun!;

Fritz: Ah, martini night at Ozio. Slipped my mind. Good suggestion. Thanks.

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Rosslyn, VA: People. Today is Thursday. My reservations are for Saturday & Sunday. I've got more than 48 hrs notice to cancel. I thought I could solicit friendly feedback not get flamed with hatred. You act like you've never double booked yourself to impress a date. Make an effort.

Alexa: Rosslyn, we believe in happy endings and wish you well with your date. Thanks for chiming in.

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The Going Out Gurus: That does it for us, thanks for all the questions. You'll have to make do without us next Thursday -- be strong. We'll be back here in two weeks, on Jan. 27, for more chatting adventures. Talk to you then.

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