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The Going Out Gurus
of the washingtonpost.com City Guide
Thursday, April 26, 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.

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washingtonpost.com: One day the sun is warm and shining and the next day I'm digging through the closet for sweaters I'd just stashed away. What is up? Fortunately, the weekend forecast is bright and we have our eye on Artomatic, new restaurants and a Deck. I'm Erin and I've got Anne, David, Fritz, Janet, Julia and Rhome here ready to chat about the weekend, so let's do it.

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Columbia, MD: Have any of you been to Bedrock Billiards in Adams Morgan? I see drink specials on their web site but there is no mention of food service. Is this strictly a pool & drinks bar? Also, $3.50 for a pint of PBR as a "special" seems like a joke!

Fritz: I've been a member of Bedrock for six or seven years now. Some of the best bartenders around and a fantastically loyal and chill crowd of regulars. There's no scene, no dancing, no drunken shenanigans (usually).
Bedrock doesn't have a kitchen, but food is allowed. Go next door to Astor, or down the street to Old City, or around the corner to M'Dawg and get carryout, then bring your food to the bar and order a beer to go with it.
It's not a cheap bar -- there's no rail liquor, so a gin and tonic is like $9 or $10, I think -- but it's not pretending to be. It's just a place to play pool and darts, watch sports on the ratty old TVs and hang out with friends.

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Foxfield Races: Please Help! My boyfriend got tickets to Foxfields through work. What should I wear that would be appropriate and not feel out of place.

Julia: It's definitely a sundress affair and since the Charlottesville weather's supposed to be in the 70s, you shouldn't get too cold. There's chance of a thunderstorm in the morning, so a cute trench and umbrella are prudent accessory choices if you plan on getting there when the gates open at 10:30. Stilettos that'll get stuck in the mud aren't a great idea -- I'd opt for a wedge of some sort.

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Arlington, Va.: What's up the Peter Bjorn and John show? The Nightlife Agenda says pay $15 at the door and you won't be sorry. The 9:30 club web site says it is already sold out. Are they holding back some tickets to sell day of?

Fritz: You know, I lost money on this. I had a bet with a friend that the show wouldn't sell out, but it if did, the last tickets would be sold at the door. Oops. There were tickets yesterday at deadline, but the 9:30 club posted the dreaded "Sold Out" notice today. Chuck Brown, too -- when's the last time a Chuck Brown show at the 9:30 sold out in advance? David's blaming the relentless KYS and PGC hype about the new album, and I have to agree.

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Anonymous: Dear Going Out Gurus,

I'm confused, should I go to the Muse/My Chemical Romance show at Merriweather Post in Columbia this Friday night or see X and Dave Alvin as the The Knitters at the Avalon Theatre in Easton on the same night.

Thanks for the help.

David: What an interesting pair of shows to be choosing between. I guess it all depends on what kind of mood you are in. If you want some huge rock spectacle, then go for MCR, who will surely pull out all the stops. Be ready to deal with teenagers in eyeliner, though. If you want solid alt-country with some of the best lead guitar playing you will ever see courtesy of the one and only Dave Alvin, then go with the Knitters. The Knitters are also at the Birchmere on Tuesday, but if you're considering a show in Easton, I'll assume Alexandria is a bit out of the way. Me, I'd choose the Knitters.

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Washington, D.C.: So...where is the best burger in DC? I'm moving and I need to experience it before I do! Thanks

Erin: Excellent. This is a debate for the ages. I've got to say that I love the burger at Palena's cafe. It comes close to perfection, though you'll find a great rival Central. I'm also a fan of the winners at Stoney's and Evening Star Cafe, though Vermilion could give its sister restaurant a run for its money.
For more thoughts, you can also check out the Gurus' picks for best burger.

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Arlington, Va.: Dear GoGs, have you been to the Shakespeare birthday event at Folger? I am planning to go there this week with a few friends but I am worried that it is not worth going and may be more suitable for kids. Any thoughts?

Fritz: Arlington, I went last year -- a friend and I came across the party while we were walking to Eastern Market -- and while kids will enjoy the day, there's plenty to do for adults, though probably not enough to make more than a few hours out of it. I like the idea of reading my favorite lines on the theater's stage (probably Henry V or Richard III) and touring the Elizabethian gardens, and don't miss a guided visit to the reading room -- there are some fascinating old books and pictures in there, even for a non-Bardophile. There was an interactive demo on stage fighting last year that was really enjoyable.
Oh, and last year, at least, they were selling Bass. Which helps.

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Re: Foxfield: As a Wahoo alum (don't hate me, Fritz), I'll verify that sundresses are definitely right for Foxfield. And I have to add this: DO NOT forget your SUNSCREEN! And try to notice the horses at some point.

Fritz: I don't hate Virginia alums. I'm friends with quite a few. And yes, whether you're going to Foxfield or Gold Cup, sundresses and sunscreen are must-wear items.
Oh, speaking of sundresses, Sunday at Wonderland is an indoor/outdoor sundress party with drink specials for anyone wearing a sundress, regardless of sex. So if you had a hot dress for Foxfield and wake up still wearing it, or if you need some hair of the dog, there you go.

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Anytown USA: I'll be visiting DC for the weekend and was wondering about the Chocolate Decadence at the Ritz. Anybody been and has opinions? I'll be solo which is refreshing yet awkward at the same time. Any other ideas on where I can go just so I don't sit in my hotel room watching TV on Friday night? Thanks.

Erin: Good for you for taking a stand and venturing out. I'm going to operate under the assumption that you're staying in that area. First, Chocolate Decadence has come up more than a few times in this chat and rightfully so. It ends this Friday and it is very much worth the money, calories and time. I was dazzled by the many works of culinary art on display at that event and probably ate enough chocolate for a mid-sized family.
For other places to go as a single, consider the wine happy hours at Vidalia and Firefly. You'll find fabulous salty truffle frites and savory meatballs at the latter to balance all of the desserts at CD. For more ideas, check out this compilation of local solo-friendly spots.

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Dismemberment Plan, D.C.: How do you guys not mention two reunion shows by one of the greatest DC bands ever in your nightlife agenda?

David: Wait, the Urban Verbs are playing two reunion shows?? How did I miss that??
As excited as we are about the Dismemberment Plan shows this weekend -- and we are PSYCHED -- we do not write about sold out shows in Nightlife Agenda. And as you well know, these are some SOLD OUT shows. Sometimes we write about a show and then it sells out (hello, Peter Bjorn and John), but we don't really see the point in being all, "Here's something really awesome and guess what -- you can't go, sucka."

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Foxfield: wear flip flops. and be prepared for the most seersucker you've seen in your life.

Fritz: Ha. I was totally going to go buy a seersucker jacket for Gold Cup. Should I reconsider?

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Crystal City, Va.: Any news on when the Sports Pub in Crystal City is opening that much-anticipated third floor? I heard late April, but their web site doesn't offer much in the way of specifics.

Fritz: When I spoke to the owners pre-March Madness, they were hoping for late April or early May. I'll give them a call and see what's up. Thanks for reminding me.

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KY Society Pre-Derby Party - Saturday: Have any of you gone before? Can you give me details on what to expect? I am going for the first time (have my hat, sundress and wedges) but don't know if I need cash for the bar etc. Thanks!

Fritz: I am so not posh enough (or a member of the Kentucky State Society) to have gone in the past. Can anyone out there help?

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Centreville, Va.: Posting my question early so hopefully you'll read it and respond. I'm looking for fun things to do during the day on Friday. My hubby and I have the day off and I want to do something fun and different with him rather than our usual "lunch, a movie, and a little bit of shopping at the mall" before having to pick up the kids from school. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Julia: artDC, the city's first international art fair, is certainly something different. More than 80 galleries from around the world (including several from our area) will be showing their stuff at the Convention Center. Admission is $12. Earlier this week, I blogged about (free) art shows in nearby galleries.
The Georgetown French Market is also going on that day. Most of the participating shops are out-of-my-price range expensive, but with discounts of up to 70 percent, it could be worth a trip.
Closer to home (and if those thunderstorms stay away), I might recommend a trip to Bull Run or a picnic in nearby Burke Lake Park.

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Bethesda, Md.: Gurus, please help. It's my mom's birthday and she's visiting DC for the first time in about 10 years. I'd like to take her out somewhere nice, but she's a very picky eater (no Indian, Thai, seafood or beef. This basically leaves chicken, salad and pasta). I am a vegetarian. Are there any restaurants in the Bethesda/Upper NW area that can accommodate both of us? I was thinking possibly David Craig, but I've never been there and am worried it might be too seafoody for her. Any ideas?

Erin: You would definitely be fine at David Craig on the pasta/vegetarian front, but I think that your concerns are valid about the seafood-heavy options. Rock Creek is very vegetarian-friendly and I enjoyed the chicken last time I was there. The health-conscious restaurant will gladly adjust ingredients that are unappealing to your mom. Lia's and Famoso also come to mind as possibilities.

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Arlington, VA: Hi! I am planning a bachelorette party for my friend and we're trying to do an "international" theme. We want to go to different international bars and try the national drinks of that particular place. Do you have any suggestions for Dupont/Adams Morgan? I know about Cafe Citron, but we go there enough, anyway, and we're looking for something different. Thanks!

Fritz: Fun idea. Here's what I'd include:
Bistrot du Coin: Kir Royale, to start.
Russia House: Vodka shots. They have more than 90 vodkas to choose from, so ask the bartender for guidance. I'm writing about it in tomorrow's Weekend Section, and the girls who came with me for "research" liked a chocolate-flavored vodka and the house-infused vodkas made with mango and pineapple.
Grill From Ipanema: Caipirinhas. Duh.
Habana Village: The mojitos in the first floor bar, with huge stalks of sugarcane as stirrers.
Metropolitain: Champagne cocktails. The Tropicale, with mango nectar, is sweet. Wind up there with the late-night DJs.

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KY Derby Party: Expect LOTS of drinking, some food, country music, and again more Seersucker than you have ever seen in your life. Don't forget the wedge shoes! There is a very large hill that doesn't work with heels. It is really fun, assuming you aren't scared of men in pink pants.

Fritz: Thanks.

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Silver Spring, MD: This question is for Fritz... have you ever been to a bar in Arlington called Rustica? I went there after a party and it was great... had a huge menu of different kind of ales, stouts etc etc. Is that the only location?... and I had a DD that night, but is there a metro anywhere near it? Thanks!

Fritz: Man, do I love Rustico. Great beer program, fun bar atmosphere, good for groups AND if you like a beer, you can generally take it home. Read my ode to the one-and-only Rustico here.
It's fairly close to Braddock Road Station -- maybe a 15 minute walk with a pretty ugly crossing of Route 1 -- but you can get a DASH bus from the station that drops you off across the street.

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Janet: Such a thing does exist. I know for sure the Corcoran offers interior design courses, which you can also use to earn a degree. Marymount University in Arlington offers a B.A. in interior design, too.

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Washington, D.C.: Heading to the Johnnie Walker tasting tomorrow night in DC. Any idea how dressy it is?

Fritz: For the "private tasting" events? Runs the gamut from biz casual to completely casual, though I'd probably leave the T-shirt and flip-flops at home.

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Washington, D.C.: Taking the gang out to Woodbridge this Sunday to check out a barbecue restaurant. Given the distance from D.C., we want to do something else in the area to justify the drive, like wine tasting or hiking, or even canoeing. What does that area have to offer to a group of 30-somethings from D.C.?

Anne: What, you don't want to go to Potomac Mills? I kid. I'm not sure which bbq place you're looking for, but for hiking options, roughly near the Woodbridge area you'll find Leesylvania State Park, Mason Neck State Park (where you could watch for bald eagles), and Prince William Forest Park. On Saturday, you can work in do-gooding at Leesylvania with the Earth Day cleanup project, or cheer on 24-hour adventure runners at Prince William.

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Washington DC: My birthday is coming up and I need a good rooftop bar for a Friday that is still friendly to the pockets of a recent college grad. any suggestions?

Fritz: I'd say Clarendon Ballroom if you get there for happy hour (before 8), or the ever-popular Brass Monkey/Roxanne combo in Adams Morgan if you want to go late.

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Washington, D.C.: I am resubmitting a question I asked a few weeks ago that you didn't get to. Hopefully you will have time for it today.

I am looking for a "dessert bar" in Georgetown, Dupont, West End or Chinatown. I would like a place where you can go later at night, sit down and get a great dessert, but has some ambiance, and maybe serves alcohol as well. I already know about the lounge area at the Blue Duck Tavern. Anything else?

Erin: Sorry if it takes us a while to get to your questions. We do our best.
As I mentioned (well, practically slobbered) in my News to Digest, Heather Chittum's desserts at the spanking new Hook are sublime. The restaurant is open until midnight on the weekends and there's a nice communal table in the bar area that would be conducive to lounging with your sweets. Circle Bistro is another spot with a new pastry chef. Peter Brett used to work at Blue Duck, so he brings a master's touch to the menu there.

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Washington DC: I am looking for an alternative to the long lines and sweaty crowds of the club scene. I am in my lower 20s and prefer to listen to Hip Hop/Neo Soul music and maybe initiate a conversation with someone. Do you have any suggestions?

Rhome: Go to Jin tonight for Soul Overdose. The bands actually perform interspersed through the crowd rather than on a stage. After that head over to Beat Society. Mirrors is big with lots of lounge space so if the beats bang too hard there are areas a good distance from the stage with a lot of couches that people congregate on.

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Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.: What is up with the girls at Smith Point? They have this thing about barreling through the crowd, almost knocking people down, to get from one side of the place to the other, or just from one spot to another spot a few feet away. No excuse me, no can I get through please, etc. So annoying. But the bartenders were surprisingly friendly.

Fritz: They're aggressive. That's just how it is.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi GOGs!

First of all you guys are amazing, I love reading every week. So here's my question. I am looking for a fun league to join. I played kickball with WAKA and had a good time with it but was wondering is there something like that for young professionals in the city or Northern Virginia - for softball or volleyball specifically (other than CAN)?

Any help you can give would be great. Thanks!

Julia: Hopefully this way-too-long list of local co-ed softball leagues will give you some place to start! All the league managers I spoke to for this story were really nice. DC City Ball and Headfirst seemed most accommodating to individuals like yourself.
Many of the leagues mentioned in the story organize teams for other sports so click around on the Web sites I listed and you're bound to find a volleyball team too.

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Washington, D.C., 20010: "Sunday at Wonderland is an indoor/outdoor sundress party with drink specials for anyone wearing a sundress,"

Is this for real? I figured Buffy and Troy might be a bit scared of Columbia Heights with all "those people" (accurate yuppie speak for people who've lived in the neighborhood longer than the yuppies have been alive). You move away for a year and a bar and neighborhood have changed, more so than any other area in DC in recent memory.

Fritz: This is NOT this first time Wonderland's had a sundress party -- I'm pretty sure they had one the spring after they opened. It's not targeted at "Buffy and Troy," either. You think girls who live in the Heights don't have sundresses? Or want to dress up for fun every now and then? You sound kind of bitter.

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Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: Fritz -- I think if you're sending a bachelorette party to the bars you mention, it definitely behooves you to also state that the behavior and "props" common to most bachelorette parties in Adams Morgan won't exactly be appreciated at Bistro Du Coin, Russian House, Metropolitain, etc.

Fritz: Since I generally don't condone dressing up for bachelorette parties AT ALL, I would hope it was implied. If not, well, internationally barhopping bachelorettes: If you're wearing veils, bringing "toys" and going to be overly obnoxious, please disregard everything I said, because almost all of those places will not be happy to see you. Sorry.

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Washington, D.C.: Hiya, I see Air is playing at 9:30 Club May 9th. What are your thoughts on that one? I loved Air in college, but what kind of crowd listens to them nowadays at 9:30 Club? Worth it? Or should I see Wilco? Thanks!

David: My thoughts are that $40 sure is a LOT of money to see Air. I'd imagine that a lot of people who went to see Thievery Corporation would go to see Air, but it's hard to say. The Wilco show might be slightly more rousing, but Air will be the more intimate affair since it's club vs. huge outdoor show. Julia's going to weigh in since she's seen Air fairly recently...

Julia: If I had to choose between the two, I'd probably go to the Wilco show.
That being said, I saw Air last time they were in town and they ROCKED. Before the show, I had considered Air to be mostly chill-out music, but they were really dynamic performers -- just totally ripped it throughout the evening. Good vibes in the audience, too. With Wilco's breadth of material (and a spot at Merriweather), I'd still pick Wilco, but if you do go to Air too, you're in for a treat.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Gurus,

I'm going to The Killers concert tonight, what time would you suggest that I get there? Thanks!

David: The show starts at 8 and there are two opening bands. The first, Red Romance, sounds like, well, the Killers. So you can probably pass on that since you'll get to see the real thing a few hours later. The other opening band, Silver Beats ... a Japanese Beatles cover band. So that could be interesting and entertaining. It's a sold out show and traffic can be a pain, so I'd wait until rush hour is over but try to get there by 830 or so just to be on the safe side.

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Alexandria, Va. : Erin,

I am looking for a restaurant in Alexandria/Arlington that I can still get reservations for tomorrow night. Looking for something special, festive and price isn't a huge concern. Also, we are adventurous on the eating front.

Thanks.

Erin: Last-minute shoppers, are ya? Places where you can still nab a reservation would be Indigo Landing, Vermilion, Del Merei Grille, Farrah Olivia and Ray's the Steaks (which doesn't take reservations).

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Arlington, VA: Hi Gurus!

I need some help.. my cousins are coming to visit this weekend and we're looking for a bar/club that plays Latin/Spanish music on Saturdays. I've heard of Bravo Bravo (near Farragut), do you know what the scene is like there?

And salsa is great and all, but we're looking for a place that doesn't strictly play salsa (maybe a little merengue and some reggaeton?)...

Thanks in advance!

Fritz: On Saturdays, you'll get the mix you want at Caribbean Breeze in Ballston, which has a patio and a nice wooden floor, or Cecilia's in Arlington, which has a live band and a DJ in between sets.
Bravo Bravo is okay -- I really think it's hit or miss on weekends, but I had a good time when I was writing about it. (Experiences since then have been up and down.)

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Washington, D.C.: Where's a good hole in the wall near 9th and U to have a drink and grab a bite?

Fritz: Solly's. Neighborhood joint with New Zealand food and tater tots.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Hello GOGs! My fiance lives in Silver Spring and I was wondering about good restaurants around there. On random nights where we feel like going out to eat or even ordering in, we're always stuck for ideas. We've tried Mandalay (GREAT Burmese food!), Taste of Jerusalem and The Gallery.........any other suggestions?

Thanks!

Erin: You've got a lot of choices in that neighborhood. Jackie's, Taste of Morocco and Samantha's are places I enjoy in that area.

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Gallery Place, Washington, D.C.: Please offer some tips on how to entertain my 15 year-old niece this weekend. I fear I'm just not "cool" enough to pull this off.

Fritz: Tell us what she's into and we'll try to help.

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DC: Pardon my ignorance, but what is go-go music? I have a vague vision of little boots in the 1980's, but my boyfriend tells me it's huge still in DC. I thought he was teasing me until I saw the Chuck Brown article. What is this music? Can I listen online anywhere? Or can you recommend any live shows in DC?

Rhome: Go-Go has been going strong for over 30 years and is the foremost signature sound of Washington, DC. Chuck invented it so a good place to start is by checking out one of his shows. In a nutshell go-go is a funk derived musical style that can only be experienced properly in a live setting as the interplay between the band and the audience is critical. The most recent wave of bands that play to younger folk have replaced the funk chassis with hip-hop but the core of it - the driving, swinging beat and heavy percussion - is still the defining characteristic. Since go-go started out as cabaret music (think bar bands that play primarily covers), it features a lot of go-go'ized cover versions of popular songs, usually hip-hop, R&B and soul classics. With the exception of a handful of hits that made noise nationally and abroad, go-go has never caught on outside of the DC metro area.
If you don't know about go-go music you don't know DC.
Wikipedia earns skepticism but their article on go-go is a decent first stop. You can find classic bands like Rare Essence and Trouble Funk and newer bands like UnCalled 4 and L!SSEN in cd racks around town, or you can just start with this cd and accompanying book.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Gurus! I live in Dupont (25) my dad (mid 50s and bad knee) is coming to visit from Texas and stay with me from Saturday-Saturday, and I'm freaking out. I have a few things planned (Capitol tour, Nats game on Sunday, brunch) on Saturday and Sunday, but I'm lost for activities for the week. I work Monday and Tuesday, but have Wednesday-Friday off, and I need LOTS of help on activities I can send him on while I'm at work. I feel a lot of pressure to entertain him, so anything that I can add to the schedule would be great! Thanks

Anne: Hey, D.C., no worries. It sounds like you have lots of direction for your dad already. If he's into the historical giants of touring, I'd suggest directing him to the Library of Congress to see the American Treasures exhibit or the National Archives. Is the knee a problem if he's standing? Some big D.C. attractions require a bit of waiting in line. If that's cool with him, at the beginning of the week, he could head out early to witness the Supreme Court justices in action. And half of the Washington Monument tour tickets are reserved for same-day visits, so he could fill up lots of time there. Find more ideas in our Visitors Guide.

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Arlington, Va.: Any ideas of when Sticky Rice is opening on H St? I went to the one in Richmond a few months ago and I miss their tater tots (the place had more going on than that, I just think its funny their tots are such a big deal).

Fritz: Mid-summer, sometime after Dr. Granville Moore's (the Belgian place opening next to the Pug). Be nice to have somewhere to get a good dinner over on H, since my go-to place (Ohio) closed and as much as I love, love, love a fish sandwich Horace & Dickey's, it's carry-out only.

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Sopranos: Hey Gurus!

Where can I go to watch the Sopranos out and about in DC on Sunday night? There must be bars and restaurants that show it, no?

Erin: Nathans in Georgetown offers pasta specials during "Sopranos Sundays." You can read more about it in Tom Sietsema's Dish.

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Curious About Wonderland?: I really like wonderland bar, even though I'm not a regular (too far to be my neighborhood bar). It's unpretentious, casual and comfortable. Anyway, do you think it will be jam-packed on Sunday b/c of the sundress theme? It's not uber spacious....

Have you ever had brunch (or any food) there? how is it?

thanks

Fritz: Brush is awesome, especially the bloody marys and pupusas, but service is sooooo sloooooooowwwwww that you wind up drinking more than eating. Not that it's always a problem.
I don't think the place will be slammed, but I think it will be fun. I may have to check it out now.

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Arlington, Va.: Hi Gurus!

I know I'm going to end up working late tomorrow night, so...are there any restaurants in the Ballston-Rosslyn corridor that have tickled your fancy recently? I'm looking for a delicious meal to end the long week. (Nothing too expensive, please.)

Erin: I was very excited by Vapiano in Ballston. It's brand new, but I love the concept and the space. You order pizzas, salads and pastas directly from the chef who cooks it up for you. Pastas are made on the premises and cooked to order in frialators. I ordered my crayfish pasta spicy and couldn't have been happier.

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Curious in D.C. : Gurus: I've heard alot about the Arlington Cinema/Drafthouse. How exactly does it work? Can you sip on a beer while watching movie? Can you have dinner while watching a movie? Any info would be appreciated.

Erin: Yep, you can do all of the above. The theater has a waitstaff that will bring your food right to the table. Last time I was there, we participated in a wine tasting and had our glasses filled throughout the movie.

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Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.: I've heard there is a Journey cover band playing somewhere in Virginia on Saturday night. Do you know where? Four of my friends from college are coming to town and being Notre Dame grads, we would LOVE to catch this show.

David: You heard correctly. Frontiers, one of a shockingly large number of Journey tribute bands in existence, will be at Clarendon Grill on Saturday night. Have fun.

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Arlington, Va.: Hello. I'm trying to plan a low-key afternoon tea for a friend who is getting married next month. Four Seasons, Willard, etc. are too fancy for her tastes. Is Teaism a good choice? Any other suggestions? Thanks!

Julia: Teaism's definitely a low-key spot; it's basically like inviting folks to your neighborhood coffeeshop to celebrate the bride. That sounds divine to me -- and probably to your low-key bride -- but Teaism isn't right for your crew if you want something beyond a cafe experience. Most of the locations are rather small too, so I'd call first to make sure they can fit your party.
The following options aren't tea, but they're somewhere between low-key and high tea. Consider mid-afternoon appetizers and drinks at Indigo Landing or brunch at St. Ex.

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Washington, D.C.: Greetings Gurus,

My parents are visiting this weekend and I'm taking them to see Coriolanus at the Kennedy Center. Do you have favorite restaurants for early, pre-theater dinner in the neighborhood?

Erin: That is such a fabulous show. Anybody who is considering it should hasten to get tickets.
For dinner, Notti Bianche is just up the road and an easy walk, but Marcel's does pre-theater in style with a fixed $48 menu and free car service to the show.

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Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.: When I go out, my group of friends normally default to neighborhoods in NW like Dupont or U Street. As a NE resident and fan of the H Street Bar scene, I'd love to convince them that crossing North Capitol is not like crossing an ocean. How can I convince them to check out my area every once in a while? Should I resort to bribes?

Fritz: Show them the list of bands and DJs coming to Rock and Roll Hotel. Tell them about the fireeaters, burlesque dancers, sword swallowers, hot dog-eating contests and trivia nights at the Palace of Wonders. Hell, I was sold on the Pug because they have Schaeffer in cans, Natty Bo in bottles, Ali photos on the wall and a Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots game.

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Columbia Heights, Washington, D.C.: A quick word about the Wonderland brunch:

It jumped the shark.

They changed their menu a few weeks ago. There are now no pupusas, only one kind of grilled cheese, and no bottomless bloody marys. Plus, the prices all got bumped a dollar or two north (for example, bottomless bacon is now 6 bucks).

I'm still a regular, but it's not the pinnacle of brunching perfection that it once was.

Fritz: Boo!
St. Patrick's Day brunch there was quite simply the Best Thing Ever and the reason I didn't make out as much as planned that night.

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Fairfax, Va.: Going to PX this weekend...we'll be celebrating a birthday and thought it would be fun to get pretty dressed up (all the girls in dresses, guys in jackets and maybe ties)...will we fit in or will we just look really cheesy?

Fritz: Since they require jackets for guys, you'll be fine.
Also, with a large party, CALL AHEAD or risk not everyone getting in. Remember, capacity for the whole place is 45.

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Chinatown, D.C.: What is the cleanest, least sketchy Chinese restaurant in Chinatown?

Erin: My favorite spot is still Chinatown Express. I cannot vouch for the cleanliness of any establishment without being invited into the back for inspections, but the food is amazing and I feel more comfortable eating there than at a few neighboring spots.
Tony Cheng's is generally a good destination as well.

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9th and U Streets: Fritz, are you dissing Duffy's these days? I like Solly's and all, especially to catch some Euro football and rugby, but for food, I think the clear winner in the area is Duffys. Some very good pub food with the best fish and chips in town - my opinion. Plus they have tots.

Fritz: I'm not dissing Duffy's. I like going there for darts and a pint when I'm not running late for 9:30 club shows. I just think Solly's is a more comfortable hole-in-the-wall, and don't see it as a real competition.

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Washington, D.C.: Can you tell me about the crowd that goes to the dance parties at Glen Echo? Will there be some under 40's? Do people dress up or jeans and cute top? Thanks!

Fritz: It really depends on the night. Contra dances have an older crowd, and the dress is pretty relaxed (jeans, hippie dresses, Tevas). Swing dancers are younger. Some go all out in vintage clothes (sadly, not as much as they used to) and others just wear comfortable trackish pants.
Personally, if I'm going lindy hopping, I think jeans don't work as well as something that flows, like slacks.

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the Ville, VA: any insight on the Panacea show at Iota tomorrow nite? heard some of there stuff on myspace so got interested in going, but never been to Iota. how is Iota compared to other music venues around the area?

David: Yeah, this should be a good one. I feel like it's been a pretty long time since Panacea/RPM played around here, and they are on Rawkus now, so they've got a good chance of making some serious noise. And it's always nice to get some hip-hop into Iota; I feel like I say it pretty regularly in these chats, but Iota is my favorite place to catch a show around here. Always very chill.

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Biking in D.C.: Hi Gurus! I'm looking for an men's bicycle at a reasonable price. Any suggestions on where to look? I live in the Rockville/Gaithersburg area, but am willing to travel for a good deal.

Anne: This Saturday, WABA is holding a bike swap at The Bicycle Place near Silver Spring, and if you don't find one there, I bet you will run into a bunch of knowledgeable cyclist who could give you more suggestions. College Park Bicycles sells and rents used bikes, and they have a bigger selection of used road bikes than hybrid/mountain bikes. Big Wheel Bikes in Bethesda sells the rental bikes, starting at $300. I suspect you might find a better deal through a personal seller, though. I'm sort of required to mention the Washington Post classifieds, of course.

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McLean, Va.: Oh, GoGs, I'm bereft that you chose not to answer my question about my wife's 30th birthday. It was going to be special, but now it'll be McD's on the drive-thru for us and all of her friends. Oh the potential it had, 12 good friends, a nice family-style restaurant in the city...

Is the guilt working?

Erin: Ok, ok. Can't you at least splurge on Elevation Burger if you're going to do it right?
There aren't many places that do family-style meals, but you can call around to a few spots to check. Bebo in Crystal City would be my first thought for that, but it's not in D.C. Blue Duck Tavern aims to do family-style, but it's more like family-of-four-style than a 12-er. Viridian, Rasika and D'Acqua are thoughts for you.

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Denver, CO: Several people from our office in Denver will be traveling to DC May 5-10 for a big event. Some of us (including myself) have never had the joy of visiting our nation's capitol and look very forward to seeing some of the sights. We plan to be very busy the entire trip, however look forward to our first night there (Saturday the 5th) to sort of kick-back before the chaos begins. We will be staying at the Washington Court Hotel and would appreciate a suggestion for a fun, rather wild hang-out for the younger of the bunch to let loose. Do you have any suggestions for a place that's close and appropriate to fulfill our needs?? Thanks so much!!

Fritz: Putting on my Visitors Guide Editor hat for a second... The Washington Court Hotel isn't really in the thick of the action. You've got the Penn Quarter district a couple blocks west, where you'll find the clubby Lucky Stike bowling alley, Fado Irish pub, some nice lounges (Indebleu, Zola) and a cool hotel bar with a gorgeous patio (Poste) but nothing really WILD. For that, I'd grab a cab and go over to H Street NE (2 zones from your hotel, don't let the cabbies rip you off) and try the Palace of Wonders or Rock and Roll Hotel, both of which I mentioned higher up in this discussion.
Enjoy your trip, and don't forget about www.washingtonpost.com/visitorsguide.

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Teaism: I was at the Penn Quarter location on a Friday evening, and part of the downstairs had been reserved for a bridal shower. The guest started to arrive as we were finishing dinner and it looked like it was going to be a really fun time.

Julia: Nice! Bridal Tea girl, your instincts were spot on.

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Vienna, Va.: Hey Gurus! Love the chat. The SO and I are hading to Philadelphia for a romantic weekend. Any must-do's? Suggestions?

Thanks!

Erin: Obviously, you must eat dinner at a BYO. Marigold, Django, Fig and Gayle are fabulous restaurants up there. Also, Amada is indescribably amazing in ambiance, cheese selection and wines. Newcomer Ansill is a great spot as well.
I love Reading Terminal Market and breakfast at Dutch Eating Place with cupcakes after at Flying Monkey.

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Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C.: For the tea-party seeking: Hillwood. Lovely tea, also lunch menu, and the grounds and museums are beautiful.

Julia: This is a really good suggestion, too. I've never had the pleasure of tea at Hillwood, but I hear it's divine. Definitely stuffier than Teasism, but the grounds are truly stunning.

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Washington, D.C.: re: 15 year-old niece.

As near as I can tell, she's only into boys. So, you see my dilemma. Just looking for a good mix of cultural, fun, and culinary activities that won't kill her and will shake her out of her suburban sensibilities a bit.

Julia: Spy Museum's always fun and has that kind of amusement park feel to it, so that might be a good option. Weather permitting, you could have lunch on the Portico Cafe at the Smithsonian American Art museum right across the street.
I don't know any 15-year-old girls who aren't into shopping, so Eastern Market's a good spot. Consider taking her by the Georgetown French Market I mentioned above as well. Note that it's open Friday and Saturday (not Saturday and Sunday).

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Washington, D.C.: For the people going to Woodbridge: Just up Route 1 is Gunston Hall (George Mason's house). Beautiful house and grounds, and not crowded like Mount Vernon gets. Plus it's close to several parks. I went last week and really enjoyed it.

Anne: Thanks for the Gunston Hall suggestion. Another Woodbridge expert recommends Lake Ridge Park, which has mini-golf and canoeing.

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A Mindful Tea: If you wants something serene and mindful for your tea try Ching Ching Cha - a Chinese tea house. It's wonderful.

Julia: Another suggestion.

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Washington, DC: Love the chat. Am a Red Sox fan having some MA friends in town for the weekend. Looking for a good place to watch the game. Know a few places like Rhino but am hoping for some place with TVs outside so we can see the game but not miss the good weather. Or just some place new. Thanks for your help.

Fritz: Union Pub on the Hill. TVs on the covered patio and the game will certainly be on because they're one of those "Red Sox Nation" bars I've despised for the last three years or so.

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Alexandria, Va.: Hello GOGs,

Looking for a fun place to go to dinner in Old Town tomorrow. Somewhere not too expensive would be great, any ideas? Thanks!

Erin: How about Overwood? It's fairly new and has a lively vibe and an amazing dessert. Otherwise, I love Taqueria Poblano in Del Ray with some post-dinner Custard from the Dairy Godmother.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Gurus! Any ideas as to where I can have a vintage radio repaired? It's a family heirloom I would love to get restored and working again as a surprise for someone special. I would prefer somewhere in the district but am willing to travel! Thank you so much!

Anne: The first place I'd call is Radio and Television Museum in Bowie. If anyone would know about reliable repairers for vintage equipment, I bet they would.

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15 year old niece: Take her shopping in Georgetown, bring her to to zoo to see Tai Shan (she might think she's too cool to go to the zoo, but she's not!), take her to one or more of the restaurants in your hood - Zola, Zaytinya, Matchbox, maybe a movie at E Street, Eastern Market, Sunday brunch at Colorado Kitchen.

If she's really into the shopping thing, Pentagon City or Tyson's.

Heck, that sounds like a fun weekend for me!

Julia: I'm with ya up until the Mall. Chances are the niece has those exact same stores in her hometown mall. Some of the homegrown shopping areas -- G-town, U Street, Eastern Market -- are better options for getting the suburban girl out of her shell like whe aunt wanted to do.

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Presents: Can you recommend some uniquely cool D.C. presents for a parent who's living vicariously through his district residing children?

Julia: No Taxation Without Representation t-shirts. You can get them on the DC Vote Web site. Parents love those.

Erin: Similarly, Pop used to sell 202 shirts. Panda gear is another way to make District-lovers across the country pea-green with envy.

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Dulles, Va.: I have tickets to My Chemical Romance tomorrow night at Merriweather. It says it's general admission, since it's going rain on and off all day, I was wondering what time I should get there if I was hoping to get seats in the pavilion. Also what time should I leave the Chantilly area to get there by the suggested time? Any suggestions for dealing with the rain if I don't get a covered seat? Thank you!

David: It's questions like this that make me shy away from big outdoor shows. So many things come into play besides the actual music. Gates open at 6pm, and you have to figure that there will be plenty of high schoolers heading down right after school's out to scope a good spot. Getting from Chantilly to Columbia on Friday afternoon ... that could get pretty ugly. Pretty ugly indeed. This "whole show GA" thing is pretty rare, so it's hard to give a definitive answer, but I'd try to get there as close to 6pm as possible, and the earlier you leave the less traffic you might hit. Good luck...

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Washington, DC: Hi Gurus! Can you give me some suggestions for a good place to have a few drinks with about 10 other girls, preferably in DC or Arlington that has parking and is metro accessible? I know its a tall order, but I know you can help!

Fritz: The new Liberty Tavern for something indoors and stylish -- try to grab the large banquettes or five seats on each side of the room-long communal table -- or maybe just the rooftop of Clarendon Ballroom if the weather's nice.
In D.C., I like the Deck, which has the advantage of being new and chic.

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Washington, D.C.: My question might be so incredibly lame that you deleted it when I sent it yesterday, but I'm desperate so I'm going to ask again...

I've been put in charge of a group of late-30 to early-40 somethings who want to go out after a fancy birthday party. I have no idea where to direct them. I'm more of a Bedrock kind of girl. They'll be in cocktail party wear and they'll want to go dancing. Any suggestions? Something fun and a little sophisticated?

Rhome: I really feel you on this one and I'm at the early end of the 30's. Dressed nice, feeling sexy and want to get your groove on. But you don't want to sweat out your nice outfits and you need music and a scene that fits mature tastes. My first instinct is Eighteenth Street Lounge. You won't look out of place, and you have a latin jazz band or eclectic DJ selections to choose from. Metropolitain could also work, and maybe Ozio, although the music there skews more towards the contemporary popular stuff.

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washingtonpost.com: That wraps it up for us this Thursday. Thanks for playing and let's hear it for spring.

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