Thursday, January 11, 2007; 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.
washingtonpost.com: Hi everyone. Welcome to the second Got Plans? of 2007. We're facing a long weekend, so what are you planning to do with your extra day off? The Nightlife Agenda and our list of tributes to Martin Luther King Jr. might help you decide. I'm Fritz, and we have a full house of Gurus today: Anne, David, Erin, Janet, Jen, Julia and Rhome. So let's get started...
Herndon, Va.: Aside from the Arlington Drafthouse, are there any other movie theaters in the D.C. area that serve beer/wine and dinner along with the movie?
Jen: Back in the day there used to be a few others: Annapolis Cinema Grill, Bethesda Theatre Cafe and another one in Gaithersburg. Alas, they are all gone, so Arlington is your only option.
I especially miss the Bethesda Theatre Cafe (formerly Cinema and Drafthouse). That place ruled.
Need swim suit stores: I want a new swim suit for my honeymoon. Are there swim suit stores in the area besides the department stores? I'm on the lookout for some in particular so a shop that has great customer service would be great.
Janet: Two suggestions: Sylene's and South Moon Under both have good selections. Customer service is better, in my experience, at Sylene's, but the prices are higher. South Moon Under has more bikinis.
Downtown D.C.: Question about the dress code at Farrah Olivia. I'm going Friday night for Restaurant Week (very excited!). Are nice jeans and a nice top appropriate? Or should I go fancy pants/skirt?
Erin: That's a good question. I think you'd be fine in jeans and the nice top during Restaurant Week, but Farrah Olivia has been attracting an older and slightly more formal clientele since opening, so if you're worried about feeling under-dressed, you might want to jazz it up a bit with shoulder pads, skinny pants or whatever the used-to-be-seen-only-on-90210 suddenly back in style trend is these days.
Washington, D.C.: Dearest Gurus, I just got engaged and received my grandmother's beautiful antique engagement ring. We need to get it appraised and insured ASAP, but I don't want to just walk into a jewelry store off the street. Can you recommend a reputable appraiser or store to take it? Thanks for your help!
beer lovr: Hey Gurus, first order of bidness, you guys are totally badass and have helped me find all the fun in this city (I am now a comet ping pong regular). So my question is where can I go for a great Birreria Paradiso-like happy hour on a Thursday? I love the idea of happy hour discounted craft/belgian beer. I don't know anything about Brickskellar's happy hour either. Anything metro-accessible from Dupont Circle would be best.
p.s. ppl complain about Comet's prices, they have $2.50 PBRs (aka hipster swill)
Fritz: The Brick doesn't have a happy hour.
Most of the happy hours you're looking for are early in the week -- Paradiso on Tue-Wed, the Belgian beer HHs at L'Enfant and Bohemian Caverns -- because that's when bars need customers the most. Thursday is the new Friday, so bars are buzzing without the extra incentives. You'll get a token special here or there, like a buck off at the Reef or Rustico, but that's about it. (The Reef does have a special cask or firkin of something every Thurs, though: last week, it was Duchess de Bourgogne, which is one of my favorite brews ever.
College Park, Md.: Hi Gurus -
My parents are coming to visit me in a few weeks for the first time ever. We're going to spend a Saturday downtown at the monuments and museums, of course. I've never been able to find a restaurant around the Smithsonian area for lunch, that is reasonably priced (say, $12 and under per person - they're farmers and I'm a student), and not fast food. Usually with guests I have to hop on the Metro and go to lunch in another neighborhood.
Any suggestions of somewhere we can walk to from the Smithsonians?
Erin: I know that the weather's supposed to warm up, but I'm a skeptic by nature. If you end up not wanting to walk far, I favor two options in the Mall area. I'm a fan of Mitsitam inside the NM of the American Indian for the affordable fare, but the cafe overlooking the waterfall in the National Gallery is also picturesque and warm where you won't mind getting icy with amazing gelato. If indeed it is warm, stroll up to Chinatown and linger at Teaism.
Washington, D.C.: Why do men's and women's shirts have to be dry cleaned differently?
Janet: I'm not sure it's so much a question of actual cleaning differently, as much as it is a question of different fabric and size. Are you asking this because you're getting charged more for your shirts? There are dry cleaners out there who make it a policy to charge the same for both men and women. Look for one of those if that is your issue.
Fritz, : I sent this question in late last week, so I'm sending in my question again.
Since I think you've had a recent jaunt to a few European cities last year, I'm curious as to which you think should top the list off of our go-to/go-see places - keeping in mind that I would like it to suit my better half, who has a great appreciation for good quality beer and fantastic music. I am thinking of Berlin, but you might have a fresher take.
Fritz: I was just in Berlin in December (for the first time) and fell in love with the city. Wonderful beer, museums that stay open late, clubs that don't kick you out until 7 a.m. It's not the most handsome city I've ever seen, thanks to a combination of war and Soviet architecture, but it's the spot I'm yearning to revisit.
Baltimore, Md.: Hey guys, I have kind of a offbeat question. I recently returned from overseas and have some coins. I am interested in turning them into cufflinks but I'm not sure where to go. I live in Baltimore and my girlfriend lives in DC and I'm down a lot to visit her so anywhere in the area would be great. Thanks.
Janet: I would try I. Gorman. They sell a lot of men's cufflnks and their designs are kind of offbeat. Can't say for sure whether they'll do that kind of thing, but it's worth a try.
Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C.: I find it funny that the smoking ban proponents are now getting all worked up about bar-goers smoking outside in FRONT of bars. Where did they expect the smokers to go? I also find it funny that a bunch of bars I've been to in the past week smell much worse without cigarette smoke. Nanny O'Brien's now smells like a poorly cleaned pet store! It's as if some bars were using the smoke to mask the fact that their places stink.
Fritz: I agree with you 100 percent, though as I've said in blog posts and elsewhere, businesses and neighborhoods need to be proactive and work together to make larger sidewalk areas for smokers to gather (18th Street was a nightmare last weekend) and put ashtrays out front, too.
In the course of my job, I've visited many clubs during the day. Hardly any smell good.
Washington, D.C.: We're going to Acadiana for restaurant week tomorrow night and we're looking to grab a happy hour drink before dinner. Any nearby recommendations?
Erin: There's so much to choose from in that vicinity. Wherever you go, make sure to save room in your budget for a pre-dinner drink at Acadiana. Category Five (hurricane), bourbon fizz, mint julep and on and on. Anyway, if you're just doing drinks, PS 7's, Zengo and Poste would be lovely stopping-off points.
Ballston, Va.: Are there any museums here that have a happy hour social? I went to one in San Diego and it was a great place to meet women. Much classier than the bar scene. I figure with so many museums here there must be a couple that have monthly mixers? Thanks in advance.
Julia: You would think.... Sadly, the museum happy-hour scene isn't quite as well established here as it is in other cities. There's the jazz cafe at the Natural History Museum, but that's got more of a family vibe.
Visiting the Corcoran on Thursdays (when it's open until 8 p.m.) comes close, but it doesn't exactly have the meet-people atmosphere you're looking for. The Hirshhorn has the occasional after-hours event, and when those are announced, we put 'em up on the City Guide and (usually) in the blog.
A good start may be some of the gallery walks, like the one in Logan Circle this weekend (I linked to it above), or First Fridays. I haven't been to the Torpedo Factory's Second Thursday Art Night (there's one tonight) but that may be another one to try. There are a lot of good exhibits there right now.
Annapolis, Md.: Coming into DC for a concert at the Verizon Center in a few weeks on a Friday night - have heard good and marginal things about Zengo. Thoughts? Ideas for a good pre-concert meal? Thanks!
Erin: Marginal on a good day is how I would peg Zengo. It's too big, noisy and frazzled to turn out decent food. I would scamper just down the way for chic Indian at Rasika. If you're eating early enough, you could qualify for the pre-theatre meal.
Washington, D.C.: Hi Gurus, Question for the ladies. I've heard there's great shopping to be found in the boutiques along U Street. I've been to Pink November (got a really cute dress at half price!) but that is as far as I've gotten. Can you suggest some other spots where I might find some cute and casual stuff? Many thanks!
Washington, D.C.: What's your honest opinion on Fur nightclub? I hear so much dirty stuff about it that I just can't take myself to go there but they get some of the best DJ there though!
Fritz: The area around the club is sketchy, the doorstaff is surly, lines outside get WAY too long before crowded events (anytime a really well-known DJ is in the house, or for special nights like Howard Homecoming), and the drinks are often weak. Also, I sometimes have a hard time figuring out which rooms are "open" and which are for VIPs.
All that said, the sound is top-notch, and like you said, they get some of the best DJs around coming in there for Glow. I keep meaning to get to that Rare Essence happy hour, though -- I mean, the Wickedest Band Alive right after work (7-10)? Sounds like a plan to me.
Washington, D.C.: I often visit bars in Dupont Circle around 8-10pm and every time I'm surprised there is no place to leave a coat. Any idea why coat check is so spotty, particularly at 1223, FrontPage, etc.?
Fritz: MCCXXIII usually has a coat check on weekends -- I've used it. In the staircase, up a level, left-hand side.
As for Front Page, etc. -- I'm not sure why they don't. I mean, they have a bathroom attendant, so they're obviously high class.
Baby stores: Where do you suggest looking for a unique gift for a baby shower? I'll get something off of the registry but I'd like to get a little something that you can't find at Target and Babies 'R' Us.
Jen: There are a few baby boutiques around town -- Piccolo Piggies, K Baby in Georgetown, Daisy Too in Bethesda. So you could always check out one of those.
Some of the things at these shops can be a bit pricey, though, and may not be worth it if the mom-to-be gets tons of the same cute item (blanket, bib, outfit) you choose.
Having just been the recipient of a baby shower, here is my advice. Either stick to the registry exclusively because, let's face it, the parents registered for that stuff because they need it. Or give them something that's very personal. It may be a little late to handknit a pair of booties, but anything you can put together yourself -- a baby book, a basket of baby supplies that you've personally chosen, perhaps an item from your childhood that you'd like to pass on to their baby -- is always appreciated.
If you're looking for something fun and the parents are liberal about what music they play their kids, you might get them one of the CDs in the Rockabye Baby! series. These are lullaby versions of alternative and classic rock songs; there's a CD devoted to Radiohead lullabies, Nirvana lullabies and, coming later this month, U2 and The Ramones. Personally, I love the idea of exposing my infant to a treacly version of "Beat on the Brat."
Fairfax, Va.: We have some friends coming into town for the long holiday weekend. Are there any eateries participating in Restaurant Week that can squeeze four in for dinner on Saturday night?
Erin: Though I eat out pretty often, I am still on the waiting list for acceptance into the Restaurant Reservations ESP club. A cursory check of OpenTable's list makes it seem that there's room aplenty. One idea is to try participating venues that don't use OpenTable for reservations. Think Hank's Oyster Bar. Also, don't hesitate to call and check on cancellations or tables that weren't released to OpenTable's system.
Washington, D.C. or NoVa.: A group of early 30s ladies who like to go dancing are looking for a new place to shake our groove things. We've been going to Rumors because we like the music, but we'd like to broaden our horizons. Where you suggest we shake our money makers? DC or Arlington preferred, but if you had a suggestion elsewhere, we'd be willing to try it out.
ISO Bulmer's Irish Cider: I'm nor a big drinker, but just returned from a week in Ireland where I enjoyed many, many Bulmer's Irish Ciders. Is there any place locally where I can find this tasty, refreshing beverage??
A Loyal Reader
Fritz: I feel like I've seen Bulmers in bottles at Biddy Mulligan's or Fado, but not on draft. Can any Irish cider drinkers help?
Oh, and cider lovers -- Axis Bar and Grill has Blackthorn on tap, which is so superior to Strongbow that it isn't even funny.
Washington, D.C.: Any suggestions for inexpensive flights anywhere warm tomorrow thru Monday?
Fritz: I like site59.com myself.
Falls Church, Va.: It's not a resolution, but I'm trying to have a bit more fun this year and do some "out of the ordinary" activities. So I'm going to the Monster Truck show at Verizon Center tomorrow night. Will I be able to walk up and buy a ticket, or should I purchase in advance? I've never been to one of these, so any advice from you or the readers would be appreciated.
David: I was in CD Cellar yesterday and someone came in to buy tickets for one of the shows and I was surprised that the best seats pulled up weren't all that great. You won't get shut out, but you might be sitting in the 400s. Then again, that might be a good place to get the best vantage point, but all those fumes might make their way up there and make you nauseous. Hard to say. It will probably be as loud as a rock concert, too, so keep that in mind. Anyone out there have any Monster Truck advice?
Alexandria, Va. : Hi GOGs, I can't join live but I'm hoping you have time for my question. I'm going to be flying solo this weekend and since I'm fairly new to the area I was wondering if you could suggest something to do on Sunday afternoon that I could do alone. I've done the monuments and museums and stuff so I'm not sure what else there is. Thanks in advance!
Anne: One of the coolest things happening Sunday (I think) is Signature's open house, where there will be free classes and performances, including a preview of "Into the Woods." That's where I'll be, but I think you're asking something broader about what the city has to offer on an ongoing basis, and I bet you'll find ideas on the Gurus' blog, main page features or even the Visitors Guide page -- it's designed for people out of the area and for people who like to play tourist in their hometown. How much have you explored your neighborhood -- browsing at the Torpedo Factory, lingering with coffee at Misha's, stopping in for cupcakes or wandering in Del Ray?
Arlington, Va.: Help GOG! I'm a first-time maid of honor for a fall wedding. The bride wants to go dress shopping this weekend and has asked me to look into finding all the right spots to go. Do you (or anyone else out there) have any suggestions in the MD/DC/VA area? We have a car so location is not a problem, we just don't want to spend a lot of cash! Oh..and she said no David's bridal...Help!
Janet: How about starting with Hitched in Georgetown. I've heard good reports, and I think it might be a good first stop. How late in the fall is the wedding? If it's relatively late, you might be able to wait for Filene's Basement Bridal Sale the first week of August. They get a lot of beautiful gowns, and the prices can't be beat.
Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: One of the theaters at Mazza Gallerie has a bar inside, no?
Jen: Yes, that's true. It doesn't have quite the same ambiance as a drafthouse, though. It's really just a cineplex with nicer seats where they let you drink wine and beer.
However, if that's what you're looking for, the Cinema de Lux in Fairfax is another great option. Their director's hall theaters are supposed to be nice. I've heard very good things about the place, just can never muster the time to haul my cookies out there.
14th Street, Washington, D.C.: Hi Gurus! What's this I hear about some Ducati party at Saint-Ex tonight? Is that open to the public?
Fritz: From what I understand, yes, but beyond "there will be motorcycles and DJs," details seem kind of hazy. They'll be showing off the new Ducati bikes at Saint-Ex and Bar Pilar, with a red carpet running between the two. It's not going to be as big of an event as last year's Ducati party, though, which also had a fashion show at Muleh and a concert at the Black Cat.
McLean, Va.: Hi GOGs! I just got a new job where I am going to be dealing with people who (think they) are very important, and I need a haircut ASAP. I looked through the City Guide, but it didn't really have any specific recommendations or tell me who was good at what. Can you or anyone out there in internet-land recommend where a 26-year-old sweet and sassy lady should go for a sophisticated-but-not-stuffy haircut? Thank you so much!
Julia: I know I'm going to fan the flames out there in chat-land, but I go to Bang on U Street. Cool styles, nice people and it's cheapish ($35 for a haircut/blowdry).
It's definitely not stuffy and can be sophisticated, but you have to be sure to tell the stylist what you want. One day I left that place with my hair pouffed out like I was Deborah Harry or something. With a few brush strokes, it quickly calmed down to a style I really liked, but still, it was out there for a moment. I've been to a bunch of the stylists -- as have some of my girlfriends -- and we all adore the place.
Question for Janet Please!!: Can you please recommend the best place to have my wedding gown cleaned? It is long overdue so I need someone who has the right expertise to care for it. Thanks!!
Janet: Give Imperial Restoration a call. They specialize in preserving wedding gowns.
Alcohol at the movies: I know that the E Street Cinema downtown sells wine, but I'm not sure about beer.
Jen: You're right, and I feel like they have beer, too, what with Landmark's ad partnership with Stella Artois.
If all you want is to sip an adult beverage while watching a flick, this works, too. But if you want to be in a big drafthouse where there's a waitstaff and the movie tickets are cheap, Arlington is really the only place that fits the bill.
RE: Boone & Sons: I highly reccomend this jewler. Very nice people and excellent service.
Janet: A second on Boone & Sons.
L Street, Washington, D.C.: To back up earlier poster - the only reason I could tolerate Nanny O'Vomits before the smoking ban was because the smoke sort of masked whatever has died in their walls. Whatever is going on in there has GOT to be a health code violation!
Fritz: I am praying that when the Bedrock Billiards people take over, the first thing they do is ventilate the pub for a couple of days.
Capital Hill, Washington, D.C.: Sorry for submitting early, but I really need an answer to this. My girlfriend is coming to DC for the weekend and we have reservations at DC Coast Saturday night. Is DC Coast dressy or trendy attire? Also, I have no idea where to go from there. Can you suggest a bar or lounge that would help make the night perfect. Thanks so much!
Erin: I'd peg DC Coast as trendier than it is formal. No need for a tie unless you want to go all-out. In terms of a bar, you'll be right across from Fast Eddie's (I kid, I kid), but really, the trendy Lima's lounge is next door. Another thought is Le Bar. If you're comfortable walking a bit, Helix has a nice drinks menu.
Northwest D.C.: We are thinking of heading to Roosevelt Island this weekend if the weather holds. I looked at various maps and it appears easy enough to walk there from Rosslyn Metro, but I wanted to check to see whether anyone had firsthand experience. My concern is that the directions I read emphasize the fact that you apparently have to be heading in a certain direction along the GW Parkway in order to access the bridge to the island. Can you confirm that Roosevelt island is easily accessible without a car? Thanks!
Anne: Roosevelt Island sure is pedestrian-accessible, and that's one of the coolest things about it. From Rosslyn, you head toward Key Bridge and then keep the river immediately on your left. (This will be easy to do, as the trail is only on one side of the road.) I bet you will see others picking up the path, too. Happy trails.
Washington, D.C.: I've found that a much-appreciated baby gift is those cute hooded animal towels. Pottery Barn Kids (among many others) has some really adorable ones; I sent a monogrammed one and mom keeps telling me how much she and baby like it. Having an extra towel around isn't such a bad thing, and they make for super-cute pictures.
Jen: Very true. And monogramming is a nice touch.
It might be wise just to make sure the mom and dad didn't register for a bunch of specific hooded towels first, though.
When I used to give shower gifts, I always figured it was no big deal if I went off-registry (or, as my friend Jenny calls it, bought a renegade gift). But now that I'm a mom-to-be, I understand the value of the registry gifts much more. Sure, they seem boring to the gift-giver. But the gift-receiver will be relieved that he/she can cross another needed item off his/her list.
Washington, D.C.: Questions #35789234 on football viewing options. Any fun place to watch the Eagles game Saturday night? Even for chicks?
Erin: Obviously the answer is Rhino Bar and Pumphouse. There's no better spot for Eagles mania and accompanying wing/beer specials. My college roommate, a die-hard Patriots fan who often sported a jersey, risked her life working there senior year.
Thank you, Fritz, for answering my question: I went there on a whim just after the wall between East and West Berlin came down; it was a fascinating time to be there. I loved it and I wouldn't mind returning, as I'm sure it wouldn't be the same...
Thanks for your fresh take.
Fritz: I've heard it's not the same at all. I found myself loving the "new" East Berlin, especially all the bars and late-late-night spots in Prenzlauerberg and Kreuzberg. Hopefully you'll be reading about my exploits soon...
re: high class: Meow! That was funny, Fritz. But seriously, I asked why Spaghetti Garden/Roxanne/etc had a bathroom attendant (eating wings no less) and the reply was that the week before they had some dolt tear the urinal off the wall and now need someone to watch the bathroom.
Fritz: Also, it's because idiots (a) fight in bathrooms and (b) do drugs in bathrooms. The hope is that having an attendant will make this less likely. I say it just leaves me $1 short for the "privilege" of having someone hand me a paper towel.
SMOKING BAN: RE: the smoking ban--all these uptight nonsmokers need to take a chill-pill about people smoking in front of bars. If someone wants to smoke, there is no reason to take it personally b/c you walk by them either going into or out of a bar. Save you comments for someone who is actually trying to be offensive (someone such as yourself) and mind your own business.
Fritz: Man, are y'all gonna fight on here, too?
Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: I think the Big Hunt has Blackthorn on tap too.
cheap eats in Clarendon: A rather mundane question, but what are some tasty yet cheap dinnner options in Clarendon these days? It seems like many of my favorite mom 'n pop restaurants (such as Cafe Dulat and Queen Bee) are now gone. No chain restaurants, please! Thanks!
Erin: I've noticed that, too. It's rather sad. Have you tried the Indian spot that took over Queen Bee? I haven't been, but a few people have emailed to say that it's surprisingly good. Between Tandoori Nights, Delhi Club, Delhi Dhaba and the new Curry House, it's quite a Little India these days.
I'm sure you've been to El Pollo Rico, Tallula's less expensive EatBar is now operating and I usually devour my burritos from El Charrito Caminante before I've even started my car.
Anybody have suggestions for where to support the little guys for dinner in Clarendon?
Washington, D.C.: About the Monster Truck rally...I went to one in North Carolina about two years ago, and was able to walk right up and buy a ticket. Gotta figure there's higher demand in a state like NC than here...also, my seats were decently high up, but fumes and stuff weren't a problem. It's just as fun from the higher tiers.
David: For anyone thinking of heading down to the Verizon Center on Friday! Friday! Friday! (Or Saturday.)
McLean Gardens, Washington, D.C.: It's only a matter of time before DC is going to have to close 18th Street in Adams Morgan to traffic on weekends. Someone is going to get hit by a car because of all the smokers on the sidewalks. Heck, it was intolerable even before the ban.
I can't wait to see the bill for that (paying for all the extra police, paying WMATA to re-route bus routes, etc.). It's yet another example of why this smoking ban showed a glaring lack of foresight.
Fritz: I made these same points, oh, last year on WAMU, and after going down 18th last Saturday, I'm sticking to 'em.
Arlington, Va: Hey Gurus! Do ya'll know of anywhere where Saints fans are gathering to watch this once in a lifetime event (i.e, a second round playoff game in New Orleans?)
Fritz: I don't, but I'll throw this out there for anyone who has suggestions.
Arlington, Va.: I'm looking for some good indie record shops. I've found a couple "off-beat" places but they don't usually have some of the bands I'm looking for. Plus the staff usually doesn't know enough to turn me onto some new stuff. Suggestions?
David: This type of question really makes me miss Go! They had a great selection of newer indie stuff and were always helpful to people who wanted recommendations. And good in-store performances, too. Are you looking for new releases? Most of the best stores around here are big vinyl warehouses like Joe's Record Paradise and Orpheus. You've probably tried Crooked Beat in Adams Morgan. I hate to always send people to Baltimore when this question comes up, but Soundgarden in Fells Point is the place to go. The staff there is very helpful and knowledgeable and they have a really great used selection, too.
Crystal City, Va.: Are there any Swedish or Scandinavian restaurants in the area? Metro accessible preferred.
Erin: If you can zip a few blocks from the Petworth stop, W Domku has Scandinavian delicacies.
20009: Gogs, got any recs for a chill stylish/loungy type place near Dupont circle to take friends from NYC on Friday night post-dinner at Firefly? Not up for a club or collegy scene, just a chill place where we can catch up over cocktails without having to shout.
Silver Spring, Md. re: Nanny's: What ever happened about Nanny's closing? I saw a note in the archives. I have some Irish friends visiting soon who remember it fondly. Thanks!
Fritz: It's not closing. It's being purchased by the Bedrock Management Company (the people who own Buffalo Billiards, Carpool, Aroma, Mackey's, Atomic, etc.). They're promising they're going to keep it Irish in terms of music and beer, but they're going to clean it up and improve the menu. One can only hope.
Bears Fans Unite!: We are all the Bears fans going to be watching the game Sunday? Because I support the smoking ban, only places in the District please (prefer Metro accessible).
Fritz: Bears fans seem to like Uptown Tavern in Cleveland Park.
Restaurant Week and Jeans: Okay, I have reservations with a friend at Butterfield 9 for lunch, but alas it's casual Friday in my office. Can I wear my jeans as long as they are accompanied by the appropriate heels and cute sweater?
Erin: This is my third dress code question today. How many minutes until somebody calls me out for dressing down the entire dining population?
You're good to go in jeans at Butterfield 9. I was there for dinner a few weeks ago and noticed many people wearing their play clothes. I think the restaurant's proximity to touristy destinations makes it prone to less-chic attire at times, but it's still nice enough to merit a try. The heels and sweater will redeem you and you'll be fine. The food when I went was excellent, so enjoy and let us know how you liked it.
Washington, D.C.: Jen, perhaps you should check in with Miss Manners on off-registry gifts.
OK, if someone gives you something that just doesn't work, that's sad. But if they give you something that isn't on your list, it's an awful lot better to realize that they got you something they thought was good, that they thought you would appreciate. Gift giving is done because people want to, not to fill a shopping list.
Jen: I'm not saying that off-registry gifts aren't appreciated, too. Slow down there, baby shower police.
I'm simply saying that people shouldn't feel like they're being boring by sticking to the registry. I always felt like I needed to give at least one gift off-registry, when I'm sure the mom-to-be would have been just as happy with something from the registry.
It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to buy some cute, expensive thing that the parents probably won't use or the baby will spit up on in five seconds simply because we feel like we should be creative. That's all I'm saying. If it's something unique that you know the mom will appreciate, then knock yourself out.
Rockville, Md.: For local Ravens fans, and, yes, there are local Ravens fans, if you don't have tickets to the playoff game this Saturday at 4:30 p.m., it would be fun to hit a Baltimore bar to watch the game. Especially in Fells Point, the Inner Harbor or even Little Italy. That should be a fun time. And, sports fans should know that there are tickets available for Saturday's Maryland men's basketball game at 2 p.m. at the Comcast Center. Tickets are available because the students are out on their winter break. So there's two really good sports options for you on Saturday!
Fritz: I'd just head to Federal Hill, myself, an watch the game at Mother's or Ropewalk or something.
Or you can watch the Terps beat up on Clemson after a nice, filling lunch at Ratsie's. Mmmm. Ratsie's pizza.
Logan Circle, D.C.: Hi Gurus, My boyfriend has just lost his job and we're in need of some good, free, feel good fun this weekend. We've already done the free museums on the mall, but love art, jazz and good food. Any free or low cost suggestions? Thanks for helping me help him cheer up!
Erin: So sorry to hear that, Logan. I'm sure other gurus are full of fantastical, frugal ideas, but I wanted to turn your attention to Signature Theatre's open house weekend.
It's a huge celebration to commemorate the opening of the theatre's spacious and sparkling new Shirlington complex. I checked it out last week and it's gorgeous. The company pays homage to the old garage space throughout the venue, so it's a must-see. Saturday and Sunday are packed with musical performances, classes and events. There will be lobby refreshments, but the highlight is a free preview of the theatre's debut production, "Into the Woods." With tickets for this production selling quickly at $37-$63, it's quite a deal.
Julia: This really couldn't be a better weekend for free fun in the art world. Check out my recent post on gallery walks in Bethesda and Logan Circle. In addition to the Bethesda events on Friday night, there will be a free jazz performance in the neighborhood on Saturday afternoon and a "performance" by the assembly-line portraitists known as the 4traits.
The receptions typically come with wine and cheese. That may not count as "good food" -- or at least a full meal -- but hey, it's free!
I feel for your boyfriend, hon. That must be so tough. Do your best to cheer him up this weekend!
Falls Church, Va.: Landmark Theatre on E street also serves beer/wine. Cinema du Lux in Fairfax is pretty nice. Sbarro, Nathan's, etc. plus regular theatre concessions. Plus little cafe areas to sit and eat. I liked it.
Jen: Thanks for the feedback; that seems to be the consensus on Cinema de Lux. Wish they'd open something similar closer to where I live.
Washington, D.C.: Hey GOGs - Just moved here a few months ago from Northern California where there was quite a fun New Wave, Britpop dance scene that I completely miss here. I've asked and searched but besides the occasional new wave song played at an 80s night, I've come up empty so far. Can you help me out?? I'm starting to get tired of attempting to dance to hip-hop.
Fritz: We have a lot of fun new wave/Britpoppy nights in D.C. -- almost TOO many, David would say. The king of straight-up Pulp/Blur/Belle and Sebastian/Oasis nights is Mousetrap, which is this Saturday at the Black Cat. It's been running for years and still packs the club with close to 1,000 people every month.
Petworth, Washington, D.C.: I admit, I'm worried about Bedrock buying Nanny's. Now, understand, I love Nanny's, I love Bedrock, I love Aroma... and I think Bedrock Management may be a bit too corporate for a place like Nanny's.
I hope they realize what a wonderful place a neighborhood dive can be and how important the music is to the regulars. And I really hope that they keep Matt the Bartender/Manager. I would cry if he left.
(I admit, I also hope that they clean up the smell, increase the water pressure to the restrooms, and bring the food back.)
Fritz: I heard that a good number of the staff will be staying, and Bedrock says they're committed to being a neighborhood place, so they won't change the formula too much. I'm a cynic, but I'd like to believe them.
Rockville, Md.: Are any of the bars in Bethesda going to be showing both the Maryland men's AND women's basketball games on Saturday, for those of us who don't want to split our Terp loyalties?
Fritz: If anyone can do that, it's probably Willie and Reed's.
Petworth, Washington, D.C.: For U Street shopping...don't forget Lettie Gooch...
Fritz: I was taken along shopping with a female friend recently, and I have to say that I was more impressed with the merchandise at Lettie Gooch than Pink November or some of the other U Street spots. I can't tell you the names of designers, but I know the clothes looked more interesting.
Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.: We have out of town guests in who want to eat at a "fun" or "interesting" restaurant. Food quality is not too important, but we'd like a full menu. Aside from tourist traps or somewhat corny places like "Gadsby Tavern" in Alexandria, do you have any suggestions?
Erin: If your idea of interesting is a crazy themed adventure supper, then it's probably Toby's Dinner Theater, ESPN Zone or Hard Rock Cafe. Hopefully it's not. You could splurge on an eye-catching view from Indigo Landing. Indulge in tapas and sangria at any Jaleo location, choose your own fish from the icy display at the brand new and tasty (but not exactly fun/interesting) D'Acqua or gear up for a drag queen brunch Sunday at Perry's.
Washington, D.C.: Hey Gurus! I'm posting early so I am not tardy for the chat! My brother (who is 20 years old) is coming from the Midwest next weekend. He just had surgery so he can't walk too much. He was here 10 years ago so there have been some new developments to the city-- any ideas where I should take him to make sure he gets to take it all in without walking for miles?! And-- I checked for a Wizards game and they're away that weekend-- any other suggestions? And finally-- do you know if the Smithsonian museums offer wheelchairs for guests who need them? Thanks in advance for all of your help!
Anne: Many Smithsonian museums have wheelchairs -- for example, the Air and Space Museum (both on the Mall and at Dulles) will let you call ahead to reserve a wheelchair for free. Besides the Smithsonian, the Spy Museum, which your brother might like, also has wheelchairs available, but they're on a first-come, first-served basis. Bonus for the Spy Museum, though, is that once you elevator up, it's all downhill. A Wizards game is a great idea, and actually the team plays the Celtics here in D.C. next Saturday, Jan. 20. The Circulator bus, new since the last time he was here, is a great way to get around and see many of the main sights in the area without spending a bundle, as are several of the 30 Metrobuses.
Alexandria, Va.: What are some fun things to do in DC when its rainy. I've been to all the museums, too many movies and not a huge fan of bowling... there has to be other stuff to do for a marathoner who isn't drinking right now!? DC, VA or MD.. anywhere is fine.
Rhome: One of my favorite daytime things to do when the weather is poor is to hit used book stores or dig for vinyl. Theater and comedy are evening choices that aren't centered around dancing, drinking or music.
No More Bears at Uptown: Fritz, I have been informed that the Bears fans have left the Uptown because the owner wouldn't improve service and started to turn the big-screens to the Skins games. They are now somewhere in Capitol Hill I think. I think the group was organized by some kind of congress "Illinois Club" or whatever. DAAA BEARS!
Okay Bears fans, where are you gathering now?
re coin cufflinks: They are not, technically speaking, in Washington DC but Benson and Clegg in London does gorgeous work on coin cufflinks. I have a ton from there, including some made from coins I gave them myself. They even paint them for you. Much fancier than just soldering on a backing. Web site: www.bensonandclegg.com.
Janet: A suggestion for the chatter who wanted to make some coins into cufflinks.
Bethesda, Md.: American City Diner on Connecticut Ave. shows old movies every night at 8 p.m. I can't remember if they serve beer or not, but I doubt it. In any case, it's a kind of fun and not terribly expensive night out.
Jen: Another option for hungry flick-watchers. Thanks.
Washington, D.C.: If gurus can't answer this, nobody can!
I need help for my fiance's birthday. It's mid-summer, and it's a biggie so I need to start planning. It will probably be about 50 people. Can we charter a boat or party cruise or book a room or a patio at a restaurant? It needs to be pretty fantastic. Got ideas?
Julia: Hey girl, don't you have a wedding to plan too?!? More power to you for all the planning, just don't tire yourself out before the big day. I mean, I, for one, wouldn't even attempt the whole boat cruise thing.
Nevertheless, it can be done: Spirit Elite, Capitol River Cruises and Capital Yacht Charters are good places to start.
If you have a restaurant you particularly like, look into private rooms there. Erin's article about Rehearsal dinners is from several months ago, but it might be helpful to you as well.
D.C.-bound: Hi! Great timing for this chat...a girlfriend and I are heading to D.C. this weekend for a few days of R&R. We already have dinner plans (David Greggory) on Saturday night, but I'd love to know what's open late for fantastic desserts. She's all about chocolate and great flavors while I care about a great meal, so I'd like to balance out our night. Any/all suggestions are welcomed, but esp those in the Dupont Circle area, or even in to Bethesda. Thanks!
Erin: Glad we fit your schedule. Right near David Greggory, Park Hyatt's Blue Duck Tavern makes some of my favorite desserts. The bar/lounge area serves decadent pastries from the open pastry pantry until 1 a.m. The ice creams are absurdly delicious (try the hand-churned flavor) and any chocolate-lover will befriend the bourbon-flamed chocolate cake.
Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.: Hi! I'm looking for a regular foolproof happy hour for two girlfriends. The catch is I'm an early-twenties newcomer to the city, and she is an almost-30 established professional. It seems like everywhere we try fits only one of us, where do you recommend for us to get both scenes in one? Oh, and of course, near a metro is best. Thanks!
Julia: I have the exact same situation with a couple of my around-30 old bosses. I like Helix for this. It's sleek enough that the almost-30s don't hate it and it's got some good deals so it works for early 20s professionals. When I've been there for Happy Hour, the crowd definitely skews a little older, but you wouldn't feel out of place. Doesn't *really* fit the close-to-a-Metro thing, though.
I also think you can't go wrong with a place like Porter's. It's a solid divey bar (we hear it's a little smelly, post-Smoking Ban) with decent specials, but it's near all of those offices so it's good for an after-work crowd.
Fritz: I'll co-sign on Helix, and its sisters Rouge and Topaz. Near you, you might try Tapatinis (amazing happy hour deals, like $1 glasses of wine for ladies on Wednesday) or Lounge 201. Some of the downtown happy hours, like Cafe Asia or Cafe Citron, can drink mixed crowds, too.
Birthday?: I am not a birthday person. I like other people's birthdays just not my own. But my friends are asking me what I am going to do next Saturday to celebrate. Is there a low-key place I can go where people can come and just hang out? Preferably in Georgetown.
Erin: You could probably just take a table at Neyla and have people drop by for a bit. Anywhere decent in Georgetown becomes absurdly popular and decidedly, well, high-key.
Downtown: Re: Bears bars. Pauly, the bartender at Porter's, is a huge Bears fan. It's guaranteed to be Bears-centric this weekend.
Fritz: This is the kind of info we love. Thanks.
Clarendon cheap eats: I realize this isn't a sit-down and order restaurant, which the poster might have wanted, but Earl's serves their awesome sandwiches until about 7. They also usually have a dinner plate each day. Always a good deal, plus they serve breakfast all day!
Erin: Yes, that's a good call. I love the Mona Lisa there and believe that breakfast is available 'round the clock on weekends.
Closing 18th: Closing 18th would be great if we followed the lead of some of the cities to the south and west, and allowed people to wander the closed street with alcoholic beverages (in plastic cups.) Once local street performers discovered the area, it could be a fun place on summer nights without having to deal with small bars containing large numbers of people. Plus people could smoke outside.
Fritz: Go cups: My second favorite thing about Savannah.
The first, of course, is Pinkie Master's.
re: baby shower police : Um ... actually, when the gift is for a birthday or anniversary or for no reason at all, etc. then the gift giving is not to fill a list ... but when gifting for a wedding or baby shower or some other event where people actually register for specific gifts ... I think that's exactly what the gift is supposed to do.
Jen: That's a fair distinction. It may seems a little impolite to have a registry since it presumes that a gift a. must be given and b. must adhere to the specific orders from the couple/mom/whoever. But I think most of us accept registries as part of the natural order of things these days. And we assume that when it's our turn to get married or have a baby, our friends will repay us the favor and give us something on our "shopping lists" -- or at least something that we can use. I think people are generally good about that when it comes to baby gifts, but I've seen some real doozies given to people for weddings.
Friendship Heights, Md.: Do you know if there are any DC bars to go to for Univ. of MD games. I know Cornerstone, Santa Fe, and Bentley's are so close to the DC, but I thought there may be some alumni hanging out in the city.
Fritz: I've been surrounded by MD alums at plenty of bars. Most recently, it was Cleveland Park Bar and Grill, but Porter's, the Exchange and Buffalo Billiards have all worked before.
Old Town, Va.: I am getting married in July and we are planning our rehearsal dinner. Do you know of any crab houses that do catering? Thanks!
Erin: Most places I know do catering. Mike's Crab House in Md. and Capt. Jerry's closer to you both cater. Give a call to your favorite place and see what they can do. With this much time, I'd bet you can work something out.
Washington, D.C.: No more Oh Snap!?! Say it ain't so! Why?
Rhome: They wanted to wrap it up while the event was still at its peak. Dave & Meistro are planning to launch another party together but in the meantime you can catch both of them gigging out a lot by themselves or partnered up with other DJs.
Land of Real Ale deprivation: Hi Gurus,
Your mention of Reef earlier made me wonder: where else in the District (and NoVA.) can one get cask-conditioned British-style ales? I know about Birria; John Harvards used to serve it but they closed. It's been one big real-ale drought for me ever since.
Fritz: Brickskeller has a beer engine, though it's not always on. RFD has a few. District Chophouse has one, and Pete, the brewer at Cap City at Union Station, taps a special cask ale every Thursday.
Da Bears: Bears fans usually gather at the Billy Goat Tavern on the Hill too.
Fritz: Makes sense, seeing how it's from Chicago and all.
Forgotten restaurant name: Cant remember- any idea what the name of the Turkish restaurant in Dupont is with the blue awning. Love that place and wanted to recommend it but forget what its called.
Erin: Only Greek places are coming to mind. Do you mean Zorba's Cafe with the blue umbrellas? Mourayo is just up the road, too.
H Street Washington, D.C.- free options?: Hi Gurus,
I'm finally getting to try out the H Street scene this weekend and want to check out a little bit of everything as long as I'm in the neighborhood. Are there rooms in the Rock&Roll Hotel/Red & Black/and Palace of Wonders that don't charge a cover? Where we can just get a drink and people watch? Or will we be paying a cover to get into all of these venues, regardless of whether we're there to see a show? Thanks!
Fritz: You'll pay to get into the Palace of Wonders if there's a show, because it's just one room, but you can check out the bar at Red and Black and the couch-filled upstairs at Rock and Roll Hotel without paying extra. For people-watching, the hotel is your best bet.
Registry Question: I appreciate that by giving registry gifts, I'm helping out, so I do it sometimes. But I worry that the recipient will never associate the gift with me if it's something they chose for themselves. Do you find that to be true of stuff you got from the registry? One of the things I really like when I get gifts is that, every time I use them, they remind me of the nice person who thought to get them for me. And by the same token, I always make baby gifts for friends, because I want them to think of me. Selfish, perhaps, but there you go. (I realize handmade is different from store-bought and picked out by me, but I'm still curious if you remember who it was that got you the pink registry hooded towel and who got you the green one.)
Jen: Maybe we should change the name of today's chat to Got Registry?
I totally hear what you're saying because I often have the same concern, that I'm giving something too generic, which makes it seem like I made no effort. And, by extension, that the gift won't be memorable.
Since I haven't had the kid yet or started using the stuff I received at my shower, it's hard for me to know whether I'll remember who gave me which receiving blankets, etc. I'm guessing I will in some cases and in others I won't. The clothes will certainly muddle together after a while, especially as I lose more sleep.
I think the thing that people definitely remember is when they get an outright stupid, inappropriate gift. Fortunately, that didn't happen at my shower. Another thought: I also keep the cards I receive and when someone writes something really nice and thoughtful, I definitely remember that. That often means even more than the actual gift itself.
Vienna, Va.: In the past my husband and I have tried to find family-friendly events to attend on Martin Luther King Day. We're trying again this year and all I have been able to find is the Kennedy Center performance at 6PM. We'd like to make this than just a "yahoo" no school today day. Any other suggestions?
Julia: There are a bunch of interesting things going down on Monday -- just check out this list for a run-down. Near you, I'd check out the Alexandria poster contest. If you decide to trek up to Baltimore for the Parade, the exhibit at the Walters looks tempting too.
Arlington, Va.: Hi Gurus,
Do you know of any diners in the northern VA area that are open 24 hours? It seems every other weekend my boyfriend and I are craving a turkey club at 1 am. Thanks!
Fritz: Metro 29 in Arlington is where I used to go with my fellow lindy hoppers for a carb reload after dancing all night. Bob and Edith's is another popular choice, and their sandwiches hit the spot late at night.
Eating in Clarendon: It's not upscale, but for a quick cheap bite Moby Dick's is good. Go with the Chengeh or Lamb and hummus. Don't forget Faccia Luna and Mexicali Blues.
Erin: All good ideas. I don't love the food at Mexicali, but Faccia Luna has a Monday night special (for two people) of 2 salads, a pizza and 2 glasses of wine for $22.
bathroom attendants, Washington, D.C.: Since you brought it up, Fritz... Why do some bars have bathroom attendants, and how do you handle them? I don't want to punish the attendant for just doing his/her job, but I can grab my own paper towel from the dispenser, thank you.
Fritz: There's no rule that says you have to tip them, you know.
And more baby shower police: It is just the expectation part that is rude. Yes, showers are intended for gifts, but people have become so entitled. I was just invited to a baby shower and the invitation actually said that I should ship the gift to the guests of honor (out of state) and attend the party here with a card. How @#$-ing tacky.
Jen: Okay, that's definitely tacky.
Just register, nicely let people know where you're registered and let them do as they wish. Anything more than that does seem a bit demanding, I agree.
Rhino Bar game watching: Get there really, really, really, really, really, really early if you expect to be able to get to the bar and/or see a TV without an obstructed view. If you want to get a seat, seriously plan on being there at least an hour before the bar opens to wait in line. I'm not kidding--Eagles playoff games there are insane. 2 years ago I would get there @ 10:30 am when the bar opened at noon for an afternoon/evening game, and there were still 4-5 groups of people ahead of me already waiting.
Fritz: Read this, Iggles fans, and learn from it.
Washington, D.C.: A follow up question then: Where are good used book stores in D.C.? I know a lot of wonderful new book stores...
Rhome: I like Second Story Books on this list I've also satisfied my vinyl and used book jones in one location at Wheaton Regional Library but haven't been there in a while. Can anyone report on that?
Washington, D.C.: Hi Gurus - I have a group of about 12 friends coming into town in February for an annual get-together. We'll have plenty of time to just hang out and catch up, but I'm looking for an interesting activity or place to visit during the day on Saturday. Most of the group have been to the local monuments and museums, although a new exhibit might merit consideration. It should be something interactive (or at least where we can interact with each other) rather than a performance, etc. Outdoor activities are fine. Thanks!
Anne: Not sure when in February they are coming, but there are a number of special annual events then, like the chocolate lovers festival and Chinese New Year celebrations. If they haven't been here since last February, definitely take them to the reopened Portrait Gallery and American Art museum. If the weather stays as warm as it has been lately, even a hike up Old Rag, probably easiest on the gravel trail side, isn't out of the question.
Turkish w/blue awning in Dupont, Washington, D.C.: Could also be Levante's?
Erin: Oh, definitely could be. Still not sure that it's Turkish, but good call. I would hit the ultra-casual Zorba's before Levante's unless you're killing time before a movie, though.
Patriots and Tom Brady fan: Where can I watch the lovely Pats and the delicious Tom Brady on Sunday?
Julia: I've seen Pats fans at the Uptown Tavern and Crystal City Sports Pub (but really, that place has so many TVs, fans of any team could go there). (And by the way, my roommates and I so had a poster of Tom Brady in our living room senior year.)
Erin: On a semi-related note, one place you CANNOT see them is Qualcomm Stadium without a California zip code. Even having family in the area who qualify to buy tickets, I think that restriction is completely absurd.
Arlington, Va.: So I've recently (and unexpectedly) found myself single again after a couple of years, and I'm hoping you guys can help direct me towards some bars or clubs where I can stick my toes back into the singles water.
I'm 28, my taste in music runs towards indie rock, I can't stand loud joints where I have to scream to be heard, and my dancing is unintentionally humorous. I'm living near Clarendon, so I know the Galaxy Hut/Whitlow's/Iota scene, but I'd love to find some new places.
Fritz: What are you trying to do, Arlington? Bars where you can chat with people? Dance clubs where you can show off your moves? For the former, near you, I like Eleventh Street. Kind of quiet and low key (during the week), good drinks and you'll probably wind up sharing a table with someone and chatting. In D.C., I think Bedrock and Atomic are good for this kind of low-pressure situation, too.
For dancing and music, you could try one of the nights at Rock and Roll Hotel -- I think the upstairs lounging area and those "hotel rooms" make it more conducive to meeting new people than the Black Cat or DC9.
U Street, Washington, D.C.: So I see the Black Cat is one of the 10 best clubs in America, according to Playboy. Do you think this will have any effect on the club?
David: Yep, saw that too. Y'know, because someone sent me a link to the article. Yeah. Anyway, I don't think it will have too much of an impact on the club. Curious folks might check it out a few times, but I'd be surprised if it had a lasting impact like the same "honor" has had on Madams Organ. I also don't see the Black Cat featuring it so prominently in its advertising. People probably won't want to pay a $12 cover to hear bands they've never heard of more than a few times.
Capitol Hill, D.C.: Berliner Weisse at a sidewalk cafe is nice, but beyond Berlin, a beer fan visiting Europe would be much better served by visiting Munich and/or Bamberg in Germany. Also, Prague, and the Czech Republic in general, is not to be missed if they like golden lagers. Prague also has the advantage of being a -relatively] affordable and stunningly beautiful city.
Fritz: True. Prague is one of my favorite cities in the world. It's certain one of the most gorgeous. However, I've found the nightlife wanting outside of the beer bars in Stare Mesto and Nove Mesto. Lots of lame discos.
Also, Berlin has some excellent beer bars selling drinks from all over the country -- and from the Czech Republic, of course.
Bulmers: It's the same thing as Magners! That's what it's called outside of Ireland and it's at virtually every Irish pub. I just had one at Ri-Ra.
Fritz: Cool. Then you can get it at many places, include Fado, the Irish Channel, etc.
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