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The Going Out Gurus
of the washingtonpost.com City Guide
Thursday, January 19, 2006; 1:00 PM

Every Thursday at 1 p.m. ET, washingtonpost.com's City 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 City Guide or read transcripts of past Got Plans? discussions .

The transcript follows.

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washingtonpost.com: Hey there, chatters. We're a somewhat shorthanded crew today as both Julia and Rhome are on vacation, but they are surely thinking of us, and you all, as well. But we've still got Fritz, Anne, Jen, Janet, Erin and me, David, and we are ready to rock. All of us.

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Someone in Arlington needs threading done: Hi GOGS-

Was wondering if you knew of anyone in Arlington that does threading or close to the Arlington area? Thanks.

Janet: I know for sure that Aveda in Georgetown has someone on staff that does threading. Try calling this one and see if any of Aveda's outposts in Virginia do threading as well. Good luck.

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Sweet Tooth, Washington, D.C.: Hey GOG's

A few of my girlfriends and I want to enjoy our womanly independence and treat ourselves to dessert and champagne for Valentine's Day. Where do you think would be a classy, sweet place to go?

Thanks

Erin: That sounds like a devilishly sweet idea. I think that you could have a very tasty and classy time at Citronelle's bar or at Le Paradou . I might also consider 21 P and Les Halles .

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Arlington, Va.: Hi GOG! I love your advice, and try to tune in every week.

I am in desperate need of advice. This weekend I have 4 girlfriends coming in from NYC to celebrate my birthday. We are all about 25-26.

I am looking for a place downtown that is more of a bar or lounge than a club but still has great music that we can dance to, but isn't so crowded that we can't get a drink. It would be great if the place was metro accessible, and a stylish crowd would be a plus.

Thanks in advance!

Fritz: You are talking about Science Club, my new favorite lounge. It's got everything you need, and you can sneak upstairs to grab a table or down to the basement bar when you need to get away from the dance floor.

I'll also remind you that Eric Hilton of Thievery Corporation is spinning at Eighteenth Street Lounge on Saturday night. ESL isn't the buzz-worthy secret that it was a few years ago, but it's still a reliably good time, and Eric's appearance is something I'm really looking forward to. Just get there early.

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Washington, D.C.: My husband and I are looking for a great restaurant to celebrate our birthdays (they are the same week). We looked through the best bets list and are thinking about Tabard Inn. What is your take on this place? Any better suggestions for a romantic place in the district?

Erin: I think Tabard Inn sounds like a great idea. You can retire to a warm, dark table in the bar area after dinner. If you're looking for more ideas, Le Chaumiere, Layalina, 1789 and 2941 are romantic.

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Fritz: GARRETTS!: Fritz,

What do you think of GARRETTS in Georgetown? How would you compare it to SmithPoint?

Fritz: Garrett's is more of a college student hangout as opposed to the post-college preppiness that is Smith Point. I actually had a good time the last time I was at SP, but I still kind of like Town Hall better.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi GOGs, this is not really a going-out question but I'd love your advice (Erin?) I am looking for a salon in or nearby Georgetown, West End or downtown where a bride and 4 bridesmaids could get a nice manicure without the stress and hype that pervades the Andre Chreky-type salons ... Been there, done that, and it was not relaxing b/c of all the hustle and bustle around us. Also, I heard that there's an Aveda Institute (not salon) in Georgetown now. Is that true? Couldn't find info anywhere about that. Thanks so much!!

Janet: Don't know anything about an Aveda Institute in Gtown. The salon there is the flagship of the company in the D.C. area. How about Ilo for a bridal party group manicure. Andre Chreky is pretty frenzied.

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Georgetown, Washington, D.C.: My friend and I have signed up for a date auction for a charity. We have opted to do a double date and have to come up with a great idea as to what we can do. We're looking for something really fun, but not too couple-ish since we will probably be going with people we don't know. I know a lot of people are taking their dates out to brunch or dinner, but we want to do something really unique so we can raise more money. We're probably not looking to spend more than 50 dollars each and have a car for transportation. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated

Jen: Are you limited time-wise as to when the date has to occur? Because if you can wait until the spring, you could do a drive-in double date and go to Bengie's . It's closed during the colder months but usually reopens in April. You could bill your auction as a traditional, 1950s double date, which would give it a theme and make it stand out.

That's one idea; anyone have others?

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Southeast D.C.: GOG, I need some help! I'm taking my girlfriend, her father, and her friend all out to dinner over the weekend. Problem is, her dad is really craving a good steak, and her friend is vegetarian. Any ideas for a place in DC or NoVa. that serves options to satisfy both people? (I'd much prefer to go to a steak place and earn points with her dad, but I would probably lose major points with her!)

Erin: Wow, that's an interesting quandary. You can probably score points with both by hitting up Charlie Palmer Steak (where they have gnocchi as a side and a variety of good soups and salads), the Palm or Buck's Fishing and Camping .

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Crystal City, Va.: I heard Chloe burned down, is this true? I really like that place and was planning on going there this weekend.

Fritz: There was a fire at Chloe and Saki on Monday -- you can read all about it in the GOGBlog -- but the club sustained more damage from smoke and firemen knocking out the windows than from the actual fire. They've put new glass in, and it will be open as usual this weekend. Saki was actually open last night.

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Washington, D.C.: Thanks for all of the great advice. Can you recommend a shoe repair place in DC or northern VA? I vaguely remember one of you mentioning a good one a while back? Thanks!

Janet: Just called the girls at Sassanova in Gtown; they recommend a place called Old Town Shoe & Luggage in Alexandria. Give it a try.

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Arlington, Va.: I love the Galaxy Hut in Arlington, but haven't been in a while. Anything good happening there this weekend?

Thanks gang!

David: One of my favorite local groups, Alcian Blue , will be making some beautiful noise at Galaxy Hut on Saturday night. Sounds like My Bloody Valentine, Jesus & Mary Chain, other British bands from that era, really good stuff in the psychedelic/shoegaze vein. You can listen to some songs by clicking on the previous link, or listen to the one that made my top 10 songs by local artists for 2005.

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Herndon/Reston, Va.: Hi I live in Herndon/Reston area and am looking for a nice 'date' place to go to listen to some live music. Nothing too loud. A nice jazz/blues thing would be ideal but am flexible. Thanks.

Fritz: I like the Ice House Cafe in Herndon. Nice little restaurant with live jazz on Friday and Saturday nights.

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Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: Hey guys I was wondering if any of you brilliant Gurus could recommend an Indian Food Restaurant in or around Dupont Circle. I'm not looking for anything fancy or expensive, just good, reasonably priced Indian food. I recently tried the Polo Club of India (I think that's the name) on Connecticut Ave and was very disappointed with the quality of their food. Hopefully you guys can point me in the right direction. Thanks!

Erin: I think that Heritage India is my best pick for that area. I like Aditi and Amma in Georgetown also, though.

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Greenbelt, Md.: Any advice on a good place to get petite jeans (and pants in general)? I'd like something with good quality, looks cute and isn't crazy expensive. And if at all possible, preferably not too far from Greenbelt? But I'll settle for anything in MD.

Janet: There's a place called Be Scene in Potomac. Close enough?

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Shaw, Washington, D.C.: For the bride to be: There is an Aveda Institute in Chinatown, but last time I was there, they were not providing manicures just yet.

Janet: Thanks for the update. I will have to check it out for the download.

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Arlington, Va.: There's been a lot of buzz about the new documentary "Why We Fight" about foreign policy and military power that opens with a limited release this weekend. Will it be playing in DC? If not, any word on when it'll reach us? Thanks.

Jen: Yes, it will play in D.C. Given its political themes, I'm surprised it isn't opening here immediately. Right now, it's slated to arrive in our theaters on Feb. 10.

Hope that helps.

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Atlanta, Ga.: Almighty Gurus!

I'm a former DC'er who will be back in town next week for a business/pleasure trip. I'm looking for suggestions for a site for a romantic dinner rendezvous with my SO...preferably near the Convention Center. Just about any type of cuisine is acceptable, but Asian wouldn't be his first choice...

Help, please! And thanks!

Erin: That area is blowing up. You might be interested to try Acadiana , the Southern restaurant from Jeff Tunks of DC Coast. That's the brightest star in the area right near the convention center. I'm not sure when you moved, but Zaytinya is still quite the scene near the Center-formerly-known-as-MCI. Indebleu is also worth a look (or a cocktail).

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Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C.: For the charity auction double date - what about Lucky Strike? That'd be so much fun!

Jen: That's a good idea, too. Either Lucky Strike or Strike Bethesda would make a fine double date. Choosing something that involves an interesting activity should help boost your auction profile.

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Rockville Md.: Hey gurus,

I heard about this event at the 930 club - think I missed it - but sounds fairly regularly held called "blowoff" with legendary Bob Mould. Any info on that? Gays only or is everyone welcome?

Thanks!

Fritz: Blowoff, the brainchild of Bob Mould and Rich Morel, is a monthly DJ night on the mainstage of the 9:30. (It used to be weekly in the downstairs back bar, but that got a little cramped.) I didn't make it last weekend, unfortunately, and the next one is in mid-February.

I love Blowoff for its unpredictability: they might play Ladytron, one of Rich's Madonna remixes, some Missy Elliott, Iggy and the Stooges. The only thing you know is that you'll have a good time.

As for it being a gay event ... everyone is welcome, and folks of all stripes attend and dance their butts off.

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Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C.: Dear GoGs,

I checked out Science Club last Saturday-- well worth the trip (though a little on the pricey side). My only beef: there was -no- crowd to speak of as of 11-3 a (closing). It's great to have low scenester/hipster vibe quotient to endure, and the music was great, but again, there were hardly any people on the lower bar level or main floor.

Fritz: I noticed the variable crowd while I was reviewing Science Club. Sometimes the DJs packed the dance floor. Sometimes I was one of like eight people in the whole place. But that can be a positive thing if you want a low-stress evening out.

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Ledroit Park, Washington, D.C.: GOGs-can you suggest a low-key place for some late thirtysomethings (aka no longer into overly trendy, crowded scenes) to hang out in the District this weekend? I'm thinking drinks and lunch or brunch, looking for something along the lines of Bar Pilar or Busboys & Poets. Thanks!!

Erin: I often think that B&P IS overly crowded (if not necessarily trendy). How about Merkado Kitchen ? They have some tangy Bloody Marys and tasty food choices. Latin American dim sum at Cafe Atlantico and champagne at Firefly appeal to me right now.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Gurus-

Know of a good place in the district for fancy alterations? I have a ball gown I need to get taken in and don't want to bring it to any old cleaners. Any suggestions are most helpful!

Janet: Can you get to upper Connecticut? If so, try Parkway .

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Bravo! Bravo!: GOGS. Please! Help.

Have you been to this bar? What goes on in this vast space between Connecticut and K. It's incredible real estate and incredibly weird. Is it the twilight zone? The place Cheney goes if there's a terrorist threat?

Fritz: I just wrote about Bravo Bravo last year, and though I haven't been through in months, I still see the lines waiting outside on Friday and Saturday nights.

It's really simple: Bravo Bravo a salsa club that attracts huge crowds on weekends, but doesn't seem to have much going on Sunday-Wednesday, unless I'm missing something.

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Fairfax, Va.: I went to 1789 on Sunday evening for Restaurant Week. It is great how they offer the full menu and the food was delicious. However while the maitre'd was removing our first course, he dropped the bowl of mussel shells. The bowl spilled all over, including shells in our wine and water glasses, one landed on my foot, etc. The server came over and actually asked if we wanted a new glass of wine. We had to later request new water glasses. My question is; should something have been done or is it okay because it was restaurant week and we were getting a discount already? The service and way things were handled do not make we want to rush back and pay full price!

Erin: Oh, I'm glad to hear that the food is delicious. I'm headed there this weekend to see for myself. As for your incident, that's a tough one. Were they apologetic? What would you like to have received from them? I generally try to cut a LOT of slack during RW. Knowing the restaurant (and I've had a few pretty funny nights there), they probably would have offered a comped dessert, but you already had that coming your way. As for server/Maitre d' fumbles, I put myself in their shoes and think I'd do a far clumsier job than they do.

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Arlington, Va.: Hi Gurus!

Do you have suggestions where a group of 10 people could go and watch the Super Bowl? We're looking for guaranteed seats at a table.

Thanks!

Fritz: I'm working on this feature now, actually. Places that will guarantee you a seat with a reservation: Mister Days (with Redskins Cheerleaders) and Ventnor Sports Cafe. Of the two, I'd choose Mister Days.

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Mid Town D.C.: Gurus..I have heard about the U ST Shopper Social?? What's the scoop? Where can I get more info on participating stores.. etc. Thanks

Janet: You have good timing given that there is a Shopper Social tonight. Participating stores include Wild Women Wear Red, Meeps, Junction, Carbon, Pink November, Habitat and Nana.

More info, call

Nana

. Have fun. Reportedly, there are discounts to be had.

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Pentagon: Hiya GOGs, I finally found a fantastic stylist I have followed all the way to Capitol Hill, but sometimes I just want a shampoo & blow dry without schlepping all the way across town. Can you recommend an Arlington salon that won't charge me $50 bucks for this convenience like the one across from my office? Somewhere between Rosslyn and Ballston would be a bonus. Gracias!

Janet: How about PRatPartners ?

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Washington, D.C.: Am thinking about taking a date to a show at the Warehouse Next Door but don't know anything about the venue. Is it possible to get tickets before the night of? I know they tend to feature below the radar groups, but I've also heard the place is pretty small...do shows have a tendency to sell out? What's the crowd like? What about the drink situation?

David: Warehouse Next Door doesn't do advance ticket sales, but it's extremely rare that shows sell out. Which is due to the fact that the shows do tend to feature below the radar groups, which can range from experimental noise to heavy sludge metal to regular ol' indie rock to whatever else. And yes, it's rather small, if there are 100 people in there, it gets pretty cozy. They don't have a very big selection of drinks, but there is a little bar, so if you want to get a little drunk, you'll be able to.

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Washington, D.C.: Gurus!

My fella and I are trying to get out of the house and

submerge ourselves in DC culture again, after falling out

of the habit during the winter months.

We're looking for free or inexpensive ideas for week

nights, evening hours....events along the lines of the

Kennedy Center free concerts and First Friday art gallery

shows.

Is there a good web site to reference, or do you have any

suggestions/advice?

I need something creative for next week (it's my turn to

choose the event!)

Thank you so much!

Anne: Which night are you going out? First Friday and Millennium Stage are good ideas, and the latter will hook you up any night. Rhome (in absentia) would vote for Hezekiah and Sparlha Swa ($10) this Tuesday. Thursday at the National Building Museum, you can learn about the art of demolition , like what goes into movie explosions. Ticketplace is a good source for discounted theater tickets. The Goethe Institut is sponsoring a German film festival this week. And as for resources, I say you ought to bookmark this site -- here's a list of 159 free events .

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bound by budget woes: Hey Gurus,

I have an odd question but thought you might be able to help.

I've recently started dating a wonderful fella, and things are going fantastically well. My problem is odd, perhaps, but here goes: after the first few dates, I generally like to start offering to pay, at least for my share, of not alternating paying for a whole from time to time, just to show the guy I care and in no way expect him to financially support me. Unfortunately, at present I am in more of a financial crunch than ever before, meanwhile Mr. Wonderful probably makes no less than twice my income. Are there any places that you could think of for chic dates that wouldn't sound intentionally cheap for me to suggest for an upcoming date or few? Prefer NoVa. just outside the city or inside DC, NW or Cap Hill area.

Erin: That's a great question. Layalina is fairly affordable and cute, Del Merei Grille might work. Also, Thai Square and Bangkok 54 are reasonably priced. The latter is pretty chic. My final suggestion is Oyamel .

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Penn Quarter, Washington, D.C.: I have been trying to find a cooking class in the Washington, DC area for some time now to no avail. I know that restaurants often offer classes, but what I am looking for is a basic 8-12 week cooking course. Something for beginner/intermediate cooks (i.e., something akin to your high school home ec cooking class). Does this exist anywhere in DC?

Erin: Check out this handy list .

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Baltimore, Md.: Great GOGs (and readers)...I am specifically leaving this question vague to get lots of suggestions, so hopefully you get to my question...

Going to the last run of Les Mis on Saturday. Group of younger single women...and we want to go to a great restaurant beforehand, preferably within the area of National Theater. Price not really an issue...so what are your recommendations for the best place to eat pre-show?

Thank you!!!

Erin: Depending on how many women are in your group, I vote Chef Geoff's (for close proximity), Butterfield 9 and Ten Penh .

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Washington, D.C.: Are there any roller derby leagues in the greater DC area? Thanks!

Erin: Fantastic question. I am so fascinated by the roller derby. I wrote a piece about roller derby leagues a while ago. I don't know of any in the greater DC area, but Charm City Roller Girls operate out of Baltimore. You should contact them to find out about any start-ups 'round these parts.

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Silver Spring, Md.: This question is probably for Janet...if you had limited space in a suitcase for a two-week trip to Europe, and could three pairs of shoes with you (including the ones you're wearing), what would you have?

Janet: When are you going? Are you staying in cities or going out to the country? Depending on where and when, I'd say you'd probably need a pair of warm boots that you can also navigate the streets pretty well in. Europe in winter can be pretty messy. I think you also need a good pair of runaround shoes -- not your gym shoes, though. If you want to take sneakers, stick with Pumas or something stylish. Finally, a pair of dressy heels that works either with pants or a skirt or dress. Make sense?

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Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: Hey Erin what are they calling the "former MCI Center now? When did it change? Did I somehow miss this?

Erin: You did miss something , but I guess I jumped the gun in writing that the change already happened. In my heart, it already has. At least it's still gonna be a phone booth.

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Arlington, Va.: Dear Gurus,

I was hoping to rent out a room in a bar on a Saturday for my 1/4 century birthday! Which is about a month from now. But I need help to find the perfect spot.

Here's what I want, if possible 1. A place where we can dance, and I mean hip-hop modern music, no Latin 2. Tables in another room possibly so the non-dancers and people who want a break, can stand and chill 3. Not have to reach a minimum on the bar tab in order to reserve a room or table (I called Hawk and Dove and their min is $125) 4. I'm hoping 50 people show up. 5. The DC or VA area, only please.

P.S. Since I moved here, my goal was to hit 200 different bars before I left the area. I'm at 98 now! Just thought that would make you proud. You guys rock, thanks!

Fritz: My initial thought: If 50 people are going to show up, you're going to have to go to a spot with a minimum. No bar is going to give you that much real estate on a Saturday night without a guaranteed return. (And 50 people and a $125 minimum is what, a beer a person at the Hawk?)

Aroma might give you their back room from 6 to 9, and if you got there early enough, you could stake out enough space that you could keep it all night.

If you're looking for a place that won't bust your budget, what about Chief Ike's and the Cosmo Lounge? It's not fancy, but you can reserve half of the lounge upstairs, and head down to Chief Ike's when you want to dance to retro/hip-hop/whatever.

Other places I've heard about that could fit the bill: Nolan's (the old Crush) lets people have the upstairs to themselves early, and opens it to the public later. Mantis has done similar with its basement.

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Hyattsville, Md.: I'd like to see the Awakening statue before it is gone. Is it safe/reasonable to walk there from a nearby metro station (I do not own a car)? thanks

Anne: Yo, that was a rumor . The Awakening is not moving anywhere fast. If you're the hiking type, Smithsonian (Independence Ave exit) is the closest ... but that's not saying much. Hains Point itself is around a mile long one-way. Put on your sneaks and be prepared for mud. And definitely go in daylight hours. It's not wise to hang out at any park after dusk.

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Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.: Gurus,

Forgive me if this has already been answered, but do you have any information on the Chinese New Year parade on H Street?

Much Thanks!!!!

David: The Chinese New Year Parade is happening on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 5. The five-story firecracker will be lit around 3:30.

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Washington, D.C.: I've been searching for mid-calf flat-soled boots for months now. I'm looking for leather boots that are both comfortable and stylish (not winter boots) and have been to two malls, Georgetown, and Dupont all to no avail. Am I missing somewhere obvious? I don't want to buy boots online without trying them on or seeing them in person. Please help.

Janet: Have you tried Loehmanns ? Last time I looked they still had a good selection on sale, with some flat-soled ones among them.

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Bloody Marys: Hey Fritz, where's the best place in DC a girl can get a Bloody Mary? I'm talking house made mix here. Thanks!

Fritz: My current favorite is the Bacon Bloody Mary at Bar Pilar. It's spicy and arrive with two hot strips of bacon in the glass. Just what I need after a long night.

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The perks of being a GOG: What kind of perks do you all get for being a going out guru?

Jen: You mean aside from the daily goody bags, free Vespas and complimentary spa weekends in Aspen?

Other than that, not much.

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Arlington, Va.: Can I wear (nice) jeans to Ten Penh? Will I be out of place?

Erin: No worries, Arlington. You'll be fine if you sport (nice) jeans. Just don't pair them with (mean or grungy) sneakers.

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Washington, D.C.: For the poster inquiring about petite jeans and pants, I have had great luck with J. Crew and Ann Taylor. Both places offer petite styles that won't break the bank. Also, if you want designer jeans and pants I would go to the closest Nordstrom where alterations are free with full purchase price.

Janet: For the woman in search of petite jeans, here's another suggestion.

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Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.: I hope you get to my question this week! I'm on capitol hill and want to meet a friend for happy hour. What is sonoma like for happy hour? I've never been. If we don't end up there, do you have any suggestions for a fun, business-like happy hour place between Capitol South and Foggy Bottom METRO stops? Think Old Ebbitt, but we want to try somewhere new. Thanks in advance!

Fritz: I like Sonoma for happy hour. The lounge upstairs is less zoo-like than the other spots around. There are a LOT of places between Cap South and GW to choose from... let's open this one up to readers. Readers?

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Anonymous: Do you know of any restaurant that has extended the Restaurant Week offering?

Erin: Butterfield 9, Dino, 21 P and Zengo come to mind.

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U Street: Cafe Saint Ex: overrated. Just a thought.

LOVE the Saloon.

Fritz: Saint-Ex is slammed on the weekends, but I like hanging out at the bar during the week.

But the Saloon is the best bar on U. Period.

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Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C.: All knowing ones,

Do you have any idea what businesses will be moving into that odd shaped structure on the corner of Florida/U street/18th street/California St across from the kickball fields?

Very curious here.

Fritz: Last I heard, the old Kilimanjaro space will be a gym.

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Bowling in/near DC: Since Lucky Strike costs an arm and a leg, where do you suggest I go bowling in or near DC? Thanks.

Fritz: Elsewhere in D.C.: Nowhere. (Sorry, GW.)

Outside: I like duckpin bowling in college park, and, if you have a car, the Bowl America in Falls Church.

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Georgetown to Dupont: Hi Gurus.

No luck googling, so please help!

What's the name of the blue bus that travels from Georgetown to Dupont? Better yet, do you have a link to their schedule? Other public transportation suggestions for this route? How 'bout that new red bus?? Trying to save some $ on cabs!! Gracias.

Erin: That would be the Georgetown Metro Connection . The rides cost a buck and they claim to run every 10-20 minutes, but I'm skeptical. I've waited lots longer than that before. It's only $1, though, so I can't complain too vocally.

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VA: you brilliant Gurus!!!!????

David: you incomprehensible poster!!!!!?????

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Alexandria, Va.: Dear GoGs,

I heard that someplace in Adams Morgan/Mt. Pleasant hosts both 80s Indie Brit music and Latin Rock nights(?), but not sure where? Also, are the only places to check out weekly Latin parties the Paper Moon, Tuscana West, and Aqua Ardiente venues or are there others I'm missing? Not looking only for the salsa, I want to hear other stuff too.

Fritz: That would be Marx Cafe. Indie rock is this Friday night -- Taking the Piss -- and it's one of my favorite DJ nights. Great music, cool people, good beers.

Anzu was doing Latin rock nights for a while.

KontraRuta.com has details of a show tonight in Silver Spring, but I can't say I've ever heard of the place.

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Great Shoe Repair Place in Arlington--: I believe it is called Clarendon Valet. It is right next to the Hard Times Cafe in Clarendon. The man who owns it does wonderful work, and is not expensive!

Janet: Thanks. That's near our office; will give it a try myself.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey GOGs, A group of 6 of us are celebrating a friend's birthday tonight at Georgia Brown's. The b-day girl (turning 28) lived here for 5 years and is back in town for a week visiting from Boston. We want to go get drinks tonight after dinner--any suggestions other than Helix or Rouge? Talk about last minute planning.

Thanks!!!

Fritz: If you're at Georgia Brown's, I might suggest Eyebar, Science Club, or, for something more sedate, Le Bar in the Sofitel.

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Bowling: They also have duckpin (and regular) bowling in Bowie.

Fritz: Oh, right. Must be a mental block.

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RE: Flat soled Brown Boot: My girlfriend and I were at Carbon, and we saw, what I would consider the most unique flat soled brown boot.. ever.. Not sure if it is a match, but was it cool.. pic on the web site - CarbonDC.com

Janet: Flat-soled boot seeker, try Carbon .

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Arlington, Va.: do you know if Continental allows for reservations/renting space for birthday parties? don't want/need the whole place, but enough for 30 or so people. any other ideas of places that could accommodate that number of folks?

thanks GoGs.

ps - snowshoe is expensive!!

Fritz: I've been to parties there. They will reserve an area in the rear (the green/purple areas near the tiki bar), which has its own pool table.

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U Street: All my favorite dives are closing! First Restaurant AV is sold for condos, now Stoney's is no more. Will it open again elsewhere or is it gone for good?

Fritz: Hey, U Street -- you still have the Saloon. As William DeVaughn said, "Be thankful for what you've got."

Stoney's will reopen in a couple of months downtown. I tend to believe the 19th and L rumors.

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Follow up to the blow dry question!: I recently moved here from NYC, and there were numerous beauty shops in Chinatown that would shampoo and blow dry for under $15. I have been looking for something like that here. Does not need to have any element of class....just cheap! Any ideas?

Janet: Other than the Hair Cuttery, I'm at a loss. Anyone know of a cheap but good place for a cut and blow-dry?

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Herndon, Va.: Hey GOG's, my girlfriend is a huge Steelers fan. Any Steelers' bars in NOVA?

Erin: You might want to check out Southside 815. There was a significant contingent of jersey-wearing Steelers fans there last Saturday. Yes, I know, the game wasn't even until Sunday. How's THAT for commitment to the cause?

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Washington, D.C.: Just which stylist did that person follow all the way to the hill? That's where I'm looking.

Janet: Inquiring minds want to know. Whom did you follow?

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Mother and BF meeting...: My mother and bf will be meeting for the first time in the next week or so. Are there any good brunch places (on Sundays and in NOVA) that have an American food style buffet that wouldn't be so expensive, since I imagine my mother will be getting the bill and I don't want to break her? Thanks so much!

Erin: The three NoVa. buffets that come to mind are Whitlow's , Ireland's Four Courts and Royal Restaurant . Of those, I'd probably go with Whitlow's, but we're not talking great culinary experience here. The brunch at Evening Star Cafe is far better and won't cost and arm/leg.

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Columbia Heights, Washington, D.C.: Fritz, I know it's only a week old, but have you had a chance to check out Temperence yet? I'm wondering if I'll ever feel the need to walk a few more blocks when my friendly neighborhood Wonderland is just around the corner.

Fritz: I was there last weekend, actually, and I really like it. (My very brief writeup is being edited now). It's a very laidback saloon with decent beers, large booths, pool and a super-secret basement bar.

Then again, I was at Wonderland the other day and I love that place for very different reasons. (Not among them: Seeing a knife lying on the sidewalk on my walk over.)

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Europe shoes: I just came back from a similar trip - Paris and southern Germany - and Janet hit it dead on - good walking boots (I found a pair of Stonefly that were lined with GoreTex and had a nice, rubbery heel) and Simple sneakers. For nice shoes, I took my heeled boots, which are broken in comfortably and very reliable. My trip was part business, and I wore the boots with my suit. All in all, I always had the right shoes! Have fun!

Janet: For the person heading off to Europe and inquiring about shoes ...

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Re: Latin Parties: Yuca is Latin all the way.

Fritz: Yeah, but is it much more than salsa/merengue? I haven't seen anything else there.

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Suffolk, Va.: I used to be a live in nanny in Upper NW and my favorite low-stimulation thing to do with the kids was to head over to Politics & Prose, buy a new book, and read it together over hot chocolate in the cafe. I am bringing my daughter to visit a friend who lives on the Hill the first weekend in February and am looking for a similar experience-- but near the metro or an easy walk on the Hill. (I don't feel like doing DC driving.) Books do not necessarily have to be involved, but I am looking for something unique and relaxing and low-stimulation to do -after- a jaunt to one of the Smithsonians.

Second question--- is the baby panda playing outside reliably often enough to make the zoo a good idea (yeah, its cold, I -know--- but the big pandas always seemed to go outside when it was cool a lot...)

Thanks!

Anne: There's the Trover Shop and Capitol Hill Books , both near Eastern Market. In February, if you're bringing a kid to the hill, don't miss the exhibit at the Folger -- it's all about Shakespeare for children. For hanging out over a mug of cocoa on the hill, I love Pete's Diner . And as for Mr. Tai Shan, last week the zoo started letting him out from 7:15-7:30 to 8:30 a.m., but after that you have to have a ticket. When I saw him last Saturday, staff were directing everyone to watch from the Panda Cafe, not the outdoor viewing area for some unexplained reason. So I would definitely try to see in him in the morning, but don't be disappointed if you show up to see him one and he's not out, because the zoo could change the plan unexpectedly.

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Washington, D.C.: I am going to see Les Mis tomorrow night at 8. Are there any restaurants near the National Theater that have happy hour food specials on Fridays?

Fritz: Chef Geoff's, though I haven't been there in a loooong time, and with John Harvard's closing ... I'll suggest Elephant and Castle, which has a happy hour menu with small bites of solid pub food for $3 or so.

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Washington Dc: I know this has been discussed in previous chats but can't remember whether anyone had a reliable recommendation... I'm looking for a tailor to hem jeans, keeping the original hemline. Preferably in the Dupont area...

Janet: I can't remember either. I think I would have told you to call Mauro at The Denim Bar .

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U Street: Re: Bowl America in Falls Church.

Fritz, I think the duckpin lanes in Falls Church have been closed for a while. It went the way of Restaurant AV: condos.

Fritz: Oh, sorry. I didn't mean there were duckpin lanes in Falls Church. (That wasn't a Bowl America, anyway.) I was thinking of the place on 50.

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Steelers bar: I know they asked for VA, but if they're a real fan they'll go into DC to hit up the Pour House. Just sayin'...

Fritz: Word. Gimmie my Kielbasa and Iron City!

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Georgetown, Washington, D.C.: One quick thing: The Aveda Institute (training school for Aveda) is in Chinatown and they discount their services quite a lot from the prices at the salon. The Institute starting taking appointments in November.

Janet: Thanks, Georgetown. Their services are provided by their students and according to a spokeswoman there, they are now giving facials and hair services, which are discounted by 50 percent.

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Don't encourage jeans!!!:

TenPenh is a nice restaurant. Show some class and put on some slacks for crying out loud!!!!

Fritz: My jeans cost more than your slacks.

Erin: "You can wear jeans anywhere." - Janet

I think that it's classy to not call out other people for their choice of attire, Don't. I think that many people look better in a nice pair of jeans (and a sexy top or crisp button-down) than in rumpled pants.

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18th/Florida/Vernon Street: I heard the odd shaped building was going to be MINT FITNESS, some sort of upscale fitness joint.

did you see that juanitas is out and da vinos is now in that other space?

Fritz: Yeah, which is curious, but I'd like a place to buy wines in the hood. There's Sherry's, of course, but choice is a good thing.

And there's apparently a spa going into the old Kilimanjaro space as well. I can't believe I used to go to hardcore shows there as an impressionable teen.

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Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: Hi GOG's-

I was hoping you could help me in my search for a fun/friendly/chill bar in DC- after spending the past few weekends in NYC with some friends at Dive 75 (where they have connect 4 and other games!), I realized I don't know of anything other than the standard choices of hipster hang out, overgrown frat party, or meat market. Any places that come to mind as down to earth/low key/friendly/and fun?

Hopefully you can make my long search easier.

Thanks!

Fritz: The Saloon. Bedrock Billiards. Townhouse Tavern. Larry's Lounge. Howzat?

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Rosslyn, Va.: Where will Albert Brooks' "Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World" be playing and when?

Jen: It opens tomorrow and is playing at several local theaters, including Loews Georgetown (not far from Rosslyn), Landmark E Street, Loews Shirlington and the AFI Silver.

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Looking for love in all the wrong places: Howdy. I want to do something fun and romantic w. my girlfriend on Valentine's Day, BUT want to avoid the overcrowded/overpriced same-ol-same-ol restaurant dinner. What are some fun and unusual things that we could do instead? I am willing to spend some cash, if necessary!

Anne: Do you want really unusual ?

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Washington, D.C.: Speaking of Town Hall, have they fixed the problem with their liquor license yet? I heard that they were closing at 11 for a while...

Thanks!

Fritz: They still are. My view is that the community is being completely unreasonable -- a strip club can expand, but a bar can't stay open until last call? Whatever.

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Georgetown, Washington, D.C.: Hey GoG's,

Just like Fritz and New Years Eve, I find myself jaded beyond measure at the prospects of Valentine's Day. There's a tradition in other cities for a "Black valentine's Day" celebration (no it's not a racial thing!). It's just a gathering where it's singles only, the DJ spins nothing but anti-romance songs, and drinks match a similar theme. Being new to DC, I'm wondering is there a similar gig to look forward to in order to get through this annoying day?

Fritz: There's usually one at the Black Cat, but I think Chad said something about moving it this year. I'll let y'all know when I hear it.

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washingtonpost.com: And that wraps things up. Thanks for stopping by, we'll see you all right back here next week.

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