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Got Plans?

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The Going Out Gurus
of the washingtonpost.com City Guide
Thursday, August 16, 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: Hey there, D.C. Welcome to Got Plans? We've got a pretty full crew here today. Janet, Jen, Erin, David, Rhome, Fritz and me (Julia) are ready to answer your questions. Away we go.

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Washington, D.C. : Hey GOGs!

My friend's 30th birthday this weekend. What place do you think would be a better venue for a group of about 20 individuals (30+ age group) for Happy Hour on Friday -- Lima or Poste? Both places serve good wine and food.

Thanks for your opinion.

Fritz: Lima would be cramped for such a large group. I'd say you should head for the courtyard at Poste if the weather cooperates -- nice-looking, secluded and plenty of room to move around. And now there's a bar outside, which makes getting drinks that much easier.

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Washington D.C. : Hi Guys,

OK. Decent inexpensive Mexican in DC. Is there any? Preferrably fresh, spicy and authentic - and not a chain? Restaurants that do not qualify: Lauriol Plaza, Rio Grande, Aleros and Rosa Mexicana. I thought Case Oaxaca was pretty good - but that definitely wasn't a budget place!

Many thanks,

-Craving Good Guac

Erin: Fully agree that none of those count. I was unimpressed by Casa, but I seem to be in the minority on that one.

Unfortunately, there aren't many places that suit your specifications within the District. Taqueria Distrito Federal has some mighty good tacos as does Tacos Pepito's Mexican Bakery. Las Placitas, La Plaza, La Loma and Tortilla Coast have their followers on the Hill, but I would venture out to Virginia or Maryland for better food.

Taqueria Poblano has the best crispy tacos. La Sirenita is another favorite for fabulous mole and some good tacos and amazing guacamole. El Charrito Caminante is my place for burritos. For a sit-down Mexican restaurant, you might give the Tex-Mex El Paso Cafe in Arlington a try, though it won't blow you away with its authenticity.

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Fairfax, Va.: Hey, what's going on Gurus? I am not sure if this has been brought up recently but I have a team that's looking to play fall adult rec softball in D.C. and I'm wondering if you know any leagues out there that have a fall season. I did see your segment on this but it came from a couple years ago so I'm wondering if there's been any update on this. Any suggestions would help greatly, thanks!

Julia: Hey Fairfax, don't know which article you looked at, but I wrote this post about softball back in March. I know, I know: March isn't exactly yesterday, but the leagues I mentioned should point you in the right direction. Of all the people I interviewed, I was most impressed with DC City Ball and Sportsleagues, so I'd start your softball searching there. Both those leagues offer a fall season. Fairfax organizes a pretty good league as well. My dad's been playing in Fairfax on and off since like 1972.

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Fairfax, Va.: My husband have been thinking about going away for a weekend, away from the kids. Do you have any good ideas for a day or overnight trip somewhere within driving distance? With so much delays at the airport these days, we want to avoid flying.

Jen: There are tons of options on this front. The Eastern Shore, Williamsburg, Charlottesville, Shenandoah Valley to tour some wineries ... all of those are great options for an overnight.

For more ideas, check out the Escapes columns here.

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Bethesda, Md.: Hi Gurus!Enjoying a birthday weekend extravaganza -MoCo fair tonight, out dancing tomorrow, Six Flags on Sunday] before the big day on Aug 19. I want to recover from Friday night's debauchery with shopping and brunch in Georgetown on Saturday morning. Any suggestions for places serving breakfast and a bloody mary that day of the week?

Erin: Happy birthday. That sounds like quite the celebration. Clyde's and the Tombs come to mind as mellow places to recuperate with a drink in hand on a Saturday morning. For a brighter atmosphere, Paolo's now serves brunch and spicy Bloody Mary's and the Daily Grill is a good standby.

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What's the dish on "David & Layla"?: I have an open Friday evening and would like to indulge in a good movie. Is this worth my $10?

Jen: I have not seen this one, but Ann Hornaday gave it a middling review. I'd say opt for a matinee if you go see it.

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Alexandria, VA: My family is going sailing from the South River sunday for a few hours. What's a fun spot to grab a beer and lunch (maybe hear music?) in the early afternoon (2-ish) after some time on the water? I don't know if we'll want to be in Annapolis or down in Edgewater. What do the all-knowing gurus recommend?

Fritz: Don't know how far you're going, but let's start down by Edgewater: There's the old-fashioned, family-style Edgewater Restaurant, which has been around since the '40s and still serves up crab soup, crab dip, crab cakes and oysters. Pretty much a local landmark in Mayo. I also like the Old Stein Inn in Edgewater, which is a German restaurant with live music in the biergarten, good draft beers and a memorable schnitzel.

In Annapolis, I'm going to sound like a broken record and say that I love Davis' Pub and Boatyard Bar and Grill, both in Eastport, both funky and not the least "Historic Annapolis," which I mean in the best possible way.

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Capitol Hill: Where's a good place to get a few drinks after a baseball game?

Fritz: If you're going this weekend, hop on the party bus that runs to bars in Eastern Market and Capitol Hill. Just hit one of the designated stops before the game (Pour House, Trusty's, Ugly Mug, 18th Amendment) to get a wristband and you'll get free shuttle to the stadium and back.

I like to walk after games instead of getting trampled on the Metro -- down East Capitol Street towards Union Station for a beer at Cafe Berlin or Union Pub, or over to Trusty's for a mason jar full of hefeweizen.

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Whew!: Everyone stay away from Poste this Friday, it's going to be way crowded. I heard a rumor that someone's having a bday get together and bringing 20 friends!

Fritz: I was there after dinner on Tuesday with some friends, and there was a huge gathering going on -- I think you could probably fit 150 people outside in that courtyard.

Not that I'm encouraging a happy hour of 150 people to take over the space, mind.

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Washington, D.C.: My boyfriend and I have been invited to a party at Rain Lounge & Ballroom, which we never been to. What is the dress code for this place? Also, what kind of music do they play; the party is on Thursday? Thanks!

Rhome: It's the usual routine: no athletic wear, no boots, no t-shirts, make sure your shirt has a collar.

I haven't checked out this spot yet but I've seen a few things promoters are sending out and you should expect mainstream popular dance tunes (what folks call Top 40) and some retro.

Does anyone have a first-person account of this venue to share?

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Eastern Market, Washington, D.C.: Best local music this weekend: four awesome D.C. bands are playing at the 9:30 Club this Saturday. (Juniper Lane, No Second Troy, The Reserves, The Dreamscapes Project) I usually trek out to VA to see these guys at Iota, but it looks like they're getting together to storm the 9:30 Club. The tix are cheap at $12 a pop, and I'm pretty sure Juniper Lane is releasing an album at this show. No Second Troy has a new-ish record, too. (Although I already have that on heavy rotation...)

David: Yep, it's always good to see some locals on the 9:30 club stage. All of those bands have a very accessible sound, should have wide appeal. Other local options this weekend include the farewell show for indie rockers Let's French at the Black Cat and the rootsy sounds of Junior League at the Rock and Roll Hotel, both on Friday night.

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Dinner Plans: Hey GoGs! The mother-in-law is coming into town for dinner tonight and we would like to take her somewhere in Bethesda. We were thinking about going to Mon Ami Gabi--do you have any thoughts on the place? Any recommendations for a moderately priced Bethesda restaurant perfect for a parent dinner? Thanks!

Erin: That could be fun and it's in a prime location. The restaurant's in the midst of a corn festival with bisque, a soft shell crab with succotash, veal and a grilled corn salad and even a corn ice cream if you dare.

I would also suggest Jaleo and Raku if you're interested in food that's a bit more flavorful and fun. There's also Tavira for good Portuguese.

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1789: I've planned a romantic dinner for Friday night at 1789, never been. Are there some places in Georgetown to go for drinks before dinner? Bars, restaurants, whatever. These places don't need to be fancy, though we will be looking fab for our dinner!

Fritz: My list of dressy-pre-dinner-cocktail-spots in Georgetown hasn't changed in a while. Degrees in the Ritz Carlton is classy, with cocktails that are pricey but usually spot on. Love the rich colors in the decor.

Blue Gin makes great drinks, but it's usually empty and atmosphere-less early. Mie N Yu has an attractive bar, and though my favorite reasons to go -- people watching, a funky DJ -- aren't there early, they still make some fine drinks. The Tunisian, with ginger-infused vodka and cointreau, the blood-orange Valencia and the Snow Queen-and-pomegranate Pom Queen are what I like to order.

Oh, you could also wander down to the harbor if the weather cooperates and have cocktails at Agraria. The drink list and the outdoor seating remain the only reasons to recommend the place.

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Washington D.C.: Gurus, when going to a nightclub, do most guys wear jeans or nice pants/slacks? What's the standard? thanks

Fritz: Depends on the nightclub, but even at Love, Lima and Lotus, I see plenty of guys in nice jeans. I think H2O and Zanzibar are different stories -- more slacks there.

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Bowie, Md.: Where can I find good, authentic Chicago deep dish pizza in D.C. and/or Annapolis?

Erin: This is a fun debate. It's generally pretty tough to find authentic deep dish pizza around here. The two takeout locations of Alberto's do a fine pie. Back in the day, my dad used to swear by Armand's, but I haven't had it in years, so I don't know about the current state.

Pizza fiends: Where do you satisfy deep dish cravings?

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Washington, D.C.: Submitting early about an event that is still ages away but I'm hoping you might get to anyway. What do y'all think about the Tiesto concert in September? Are you planning on going? What do you think of the venue/timing/set up?

Fritz: I've seen plans of the setup, and ... Tiesto is a fantastic DJ, but in the street outside of Love? A giant block party? With 8,000 people? As a friend of mine said, "This is an event that would have been perfect at the Armory," and I have to agree.

It could be amazing, but what happens if it rains for 8 hours? Ain't no 8,000 people going to fit into the club.

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Washington, D.C.: Where is the best cupcake in the metro area? Please don't say Cake Love. I love their cupcakes, but I want real cupcake, not buttercream.

-Missing Reeves

Erin: I won't say CakeLove. I still don't get the appeal, but I come from the frosting-covered cupcake wonderland of LA, so my tastes could be different.

Baked and Wired easily wins the D.C. contest for me, though you'll have to get creative with when you go in order to find the best selection. In the greater metro area, Buzz tops my list. Now I'm in the mood for one of those classic cheap bakery cupcakes with the clown stuck in the top.

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Washington, D.C.: Are the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks pretty good this time of year? I've never been before.

Julia: Dumbarton Oaks is a pretty place to walk around any time of year, but with the big drought we've been having, I don't expect that the Dumbarton gardens will be looking their best -- or worth the $8 admission. I haven't been, though, so I can't say for sure. If they've been watering 24-hours-a-day like the National Arboretum, the flowers might look lovely.

Your best shot for pretty gardens is probably the Botanic Garden. Our colleague Katie Aberbach just wrote about its new exhibit on public gardens across America. She said it's a pretty cool show.

Anyone been to Dumbarton lately?

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Washington, D.C.: Hey gurus, I am probably last to go, but we're headed to the Bodies exhibit. Where should we grab a quick bite (probably beforehand, right?!) near the (old) Newseum? Somewhere funky preferably and around $25/person. Thanks!

Erin: Piola for pizza could be fun up the road in Arlington. It's right next to Cafe Asia, which is good for groups, though I am never impressed with the food. Guajillo has some delicious sangria and ceviche or you could head a bit further up to Gua-Rapo for mojitos.

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Capitol Hill Too: Although I'm loath to give away one of my neighborhood secrets, for the person looking for Good and Inexpensive Mexican in the District, I recommend La Lomita (at 15th and Pennsylvania SE), and La Lomita II (at 3rd and Pennsylvania SE). Good food, great margaritas, and decent prices.

Erin: Yes, La Lomita Dos is definitely one to know about. It slipped my mind. Haven't tried the original, though.

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Inexpensive Mexican? : Oooooh! -- try Samantha's in Long Branch/Silver Spring.

Erin: Samantha's is the closest I've found to the Mexican coffee shops that I liked in LA, though I wasn't blown away by the food. It is a good casual spot, though.

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Logan Circle: Dear Fritz -

Question for you. I'm looking for a sketchy and edgy neighborhood to go out drinking in so that I can assuage my white, liberal guilt by proving I'm not afraid of black people. It would help if the distances between the bars were filled with boarded up buildings and there was no metro close by. Any ideas?

Fritz: It's too bad you weren't around a few years ago.. I remember when my friends and I used to go to Metro Cafe, the Saint and Diversite, right around 14th and Church, and then walk the sketchy deserted blocks between R and the old Black Cat. Know quite a few people who got mugged or had their cars broken into there.

Or back when the 9:30 Club was on F, around the corner from d.c. space, and you had to walk between all the prostitutes and dealers and sex shops and squats to get from your car to the club(s). A real adventure when you were in high school, and one you didn't tell your parents about.

Ah, those were the days.

Right now, though, I'd probably steer you up Georgia Avenue. You have the delights of the bootylicious strip club the House, then walk past the abandoned pizza places to find good food and drink and one of the best jukeboxes in the city at Temperance Hall (now with a back patio!). Then make the looong walk to to Upshur St. to Domku for pool and shots. Just ignore the "condos coming soon" signs and guys hanging outside the gas station.

There's a cool little Caribbean place with a deck and tropical drinks along the way, but damn if I can remember the name at the moment.

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Dating In DC???: What happened to it? It seems like with the recent popularity of all the online social networking sites (Myspace, Facebook, LNS) and text messaging and e-mail that people in this city no longer go on dates. They seem to just meet up at bars or clubs or parties and either hook up or don't. It seems most people these days are dating their Blackberry. Am I the only one noticing this trend in the last year or so?

Julia: I'd be interested to know what our chatters think about this. I've never been a big dater -- I'm engaged to a guy I met in college -- but just polling my small sample of unattached friends, it seems like it's always been hard to get a real date in D.C. -- even before social networking sites and all that. And I'm interested in why that is. Some people say that people here are so career focused, but I don't think that's the case. (I also think the D.C. reputation as being a home for only the crazy-ambitious is a bit trumped up, but that's a discussion for another time.) I feel like D.C. is full of pretty heavily programmed people, though. Late nights at work + yoga + drinks with friends + that masters program don't often leave a lot of time for dating on the side.

What do y'all think? Is dating in D.C. getting more difficult lately? Has it always been this way?

Rhome: The 2nd most frequent complaint I hear is that folks set up dates and then serially fumble or cancel them. People are so busy that they end up not finding the time to follow through on their date plans.

But I see folks on dates all the time when I'm out and about and my circle of male friends regularly take ladies out on dates.

As for my female friends, I mostly hear from them that they can't find suitable date candidates. That would be the #1 complaint.

Fritz: Because people are crazy. They don't talk to people of the opposite sex, they spend the whole night looking around and waiting for someone else to make the first move, then they get drunk and desperate at the end of the night so they decide to hook up.

As for there being no good men in this city, that's because people don't take the time to get to know anyone. They make too many snap judgments after asking "so what do you do?"

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Vienna, Va.: Hey GOGs!

Went to see The Decemberists with BSO at Merriweather last month and was blown away. Is there anything else coming up that will even compare?

Thanks!

David: Well, sure. I don't think there are any band-with-orchestra shows like that one on the horizon but there's always plenty of good stuff to look out for. Bob Dylan -- with opening act Elvis Costello -- should make for a fun night at Merriweather next month. Revitalized soul singer Bettye LaVette just announced a show at Wolf Trap on Halloween. Much more under the radar show that I'm looking forward to is country-rockers Oakley Hall at the Rock and Roll Hotel on September 6. And there are rumblings about Bruce and the E Street Band coming to the Verizon Center in November...

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Silver Spring, Md.: Hi Gurus,

I know you get asked this all the time. But, I need to plan a date with a guy that I just started dating. Do you have any suggestions?

Julia: Depends on when you're going. I think the free, outdoor movie fests are a perfect date night. With a nice picnic, it can turn into a romantic night under the stars. Strathmore's winds down this weekend, but Columbia's festival might work for you if the date's a little later in the month.

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Social Disaster, MD: I know this isn't about going out, but I need emergency advice about a social event. I sent out about 60 invitations to a seated banquet. RSVP was by email or phone. I haven't received a single phone call, and only two email responses. I've been checking the spam filter but haven't seen anything that looked like an rsvp there. Two phone calls to guests have revealed that they sent email rsvps. I never got them. Most of these people are older and not very internet savvy. Do I send out new invites? Disaster!

Julia: You're right, this isn't a going-out question, but since I kind of want to be the next Miss Manners, I'll take it. I think you have to call your invites. Yes, all 60 of them. Bottom line -- you have to tell the caterer how many people will attend, so even if it means rambling off an embarrassing speech at the beginning of each phone call about how you think your spam filter ate the RSVPs, I think that's the only way you can go.

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RE: Rain: Is this the place down by George Mason Univ? If so, it's obviously going to be packed with college kids, even during this time of year. It might even be MORE packed because school will be starting soon. It's a decent place though. The music is top 40's with some old school thrown in. Since it's VA, and we all know VA is Tobacco Country, there will be plenty of smoking. All in all it's a pretty good place to hang out if you don't mind the college crowd. Dress to impress = no athletic gear.

Rhome: Helpful field report.

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Washington, D.C.: O Might Gurus,

Me and about 5 fellow government workers want to have a happy hour on friday after work. We are down by 17 & C NW. We have been to Cafe Asia, Karma, and Eyebar. Any suggestions? Some will be drinking a lot, others just a drink or two. Relatively cheap and preferably food. We are fine walking or even taking metro to a great place. Thanks.

Fritz: Hey there. First, did you like Karma? I enjoy the cocktails, but few people I know have actually tried it.

Anyway, it sounds like you're looking for more upscale happy hour destinations -- at least ones with cocktails. If I'm looking around Foggy Bottom, I really like Circle Bistro, which has daily food and drink specials, plus seats out by the hotel's pool. Friendly bartenders, too.

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Oklahoma, USA: My girlfriend just moved to DC to start law school in the fall. I'm coming to visit her this weekend, and have something very important to ask her. I'd like to take her out on Saturday night and I figure the more fun she has, the more likely she is to say yes. Where can I take her for a great dinner? She's a vegetarian, but she likes fish and loves good wine. Also, do you have any suggestions for something romantic yet not hokey that we can do afterwards?

Erin: If you can score a reservation, Georgetown's Hook has some inspired fish dishes with a nice wine selection. I think 1789 is very special. The restaurant oozes Washington charm and history. It's formal (jacket required) and pretty expensive, but there's a special of 3 courses for $36 through Sept. 11, so you can take advantage of a fabulous deal. If you do either of those, just walking up to Georgetown's campus could be a nice way to work off some dinner.

Elsewhere around town, Tabard Inn and 701 are places with great food near nice walking areas.

What are you going to ask her?
(Just kidding.)

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re: Georgian Avenue: The Caribbean place with the deck...do you mean Sweet Mango Cafe? Hey...and don't steer all these scared folks to my hood...it will ruin it's cred...shout out to my homies in the cul de sac!

Fritz: Yes!I've only been once, but I had a good time. I'll try to get that in the database so I don't forget again.

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Petworth: The gardens at the Franciscan Monastery looked pretty good a few weeks ago - and they don't charge admission.

Julia: Nice choice, Petworth. I don't think I've ever been to these gardens. The pictures on their Web site are lovely.

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Columbia, Md.: Talking of Mexican and/or Central American, do you have any places to recommend in that strip of places in Hyattsville? While the taco trucks on US1 in Laurel are good, sometimes I get the hankering for someplace with more variety. And, you know, a menu. Especially a menu in English.

Erin: The place I mentioned above, La Sirenita, is my favorite. It's pretty exceptional. You'll find menus in English, but you might need to order in Spanish. The soups, mole, tacos and guac are all first rate.

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Washington, D.C.: Where can I get some decent Eastern European food, bonus points if it's Metro-accessible? Alton Brown showed how to make goulash on "Good Eats" this week, and I'm craving that or dumplings and sauerkraut. It might seem too heavy for the weather, but it's my heritage!

Erin: How about Domku in Petworth?

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Dating in DC: "I also think the D.C. reputation as being a home for only the crazy-ambitious is a bit trumped up, but that's a discussion for another time."

Thank you for saying this!

I lived in NYC for years - it's much worse in that regard but people don't feel the need to go around talking about it. I love DC but I really don't understand why people keep saying stuff like that.

Anyway, for me, dating in DC has been so much better than NYC. Guys are less shallow and more down-to-earth and relationship-minded. I've dated a guy who works in the White House and a Hill senior staffer - really driven and ambitious, yet all around good guys.

Julia: Thank you for agreeing!Maybe it's because I don't have a ton of friends who work on the Hill, but I know way more friendly, laid-back, BBQ-on-the-weekends people than I do hyper-ambitious ones. I think D.C.'s kind of a work-hard, play-hard kind of town. That's one of the things I like about it.

Interesting about your experiences in NYC vs. D.C.

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Capitol Hill: Fancy beer. The new Belgian places on H and 8th, sell beer upwards to $10 a glass. Is it possible that the beer is that good!? I'm having a hard time swallowing the price. Help me justify the expense...

Fritz: If you like really good beer, then yes, it is. Belgian beers are a lot more complex and worth savoring than generic American lagers -- more like wines, almost. You just have to do what I do when I'm confronted with beers I haven't had: Trust your bartender. Chris from Dr. Granville Moore's used to work at Rustico and Eve. He knows his beer. Second, don't be afraid to fail. You're not going to like every beer you try. Lord knows I don't. But you have to take chances sometimes.

And if you're drinking at the Granville Moore or Brasserie Beck -- still my favorite Belgian beer spot in town -- stick to draft beers. Most places will give you a little splash to sample. That way you can decide if you really want to pay $7 or more for a chalice (not a pint) of the beer.

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Silver Spring, Md.: I need a good, inexpensive place to have a rehearsal dinner for 10-15 people. The rehearsal will be in the Logan Circle area, so we'd like something relatively walkable. I'm stumped.

Erin: Viridian would be a perfect place for a party of that size and the food's pretty impressive. You could also try Mio below the circle on Vermont.

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Re: Dating in DC: Fritz - you're so right about everyone waiting for everyone else to step up. So, let's say I see a cute boy sitting at a table (in a bar) with other people... what do you recommend as a good opener? My girlfriends and I are always at a loss on this...

Fritz: "Hi."

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Alexandria, Va.: Is Logan Circle serious? Sounds like he's not happy about Fritz encouraging folks to go to H Street. What gives? No need to be a jerk.

Fritz: There's a contingent of people out there who are loudly and vehemently anti-H Street, kind of how hipsters are anti-Georgetown or anti-Glover Park. I don't get it at all, and answered the question to be a smart-***. Sorry.

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20010: What have yall heard about the Warehouse Theater moving up to 11th and Park?

David: That's the hot rumor these days, but nothing at all is set in stone. If that were to happen, don't be surprised if that space focused almost solely on theater/performances, not music.

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Columbia, MD: One problem with DC is that there's so many diverse and outstanding people around here is that many people won't "settle". That's both true for women and men.

Fritz: If you hit it off with someone, where does "settling" come in? I don't get it.

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Washington, D.C.: What's a good place in the District for a tasty brunch (but not super expensive) to celebrate a birthday? Outdoor seating would make it even better. Thanks!

Erin: I like the brunch at Zaytinya on the little patio since you can enjoy everything else on the menu if you're looking beyond breakfast fare.

There's also Perry's, Grill form Ipanema and Cafe du Parc.

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Dating in D.C.: D.C. is high school with a trillion-dollar budget. Very few people want to meet, much less date, individuals outside their pre-existing social network. And yes, the bar/club scene resembles a high school dance with girls on one side and guys on the other.

Julia: I'll buy what you're saying about the bar/club scene and dating. It's like all or nothing. Either you go to a bar where people are all sitting with the friends they came with or you go to a place like Chief Ike's and get slobbered on by random strangers -- not my idea of a great intro to a relationship.

Last night, I was supposed to meet a friend for drinks at Bourbon and something happened and we didn't end up meeting up, but spending that first 20 minutes by myself alone at the bar was so refreshing. I ended up talkiing to this really great dude for a couple of hours only because we just happened to be sitting near each other.

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Dating in DC: The problem is people are relatively unattractive, but I tend to get suit goggles and think a guy in a great suit in hot. Unfortunately, he's socially inept and I'd have a better chance of carrying on a conversation with a styrofoam cup. All they do is talk about themselves, who they work for, what they do, how important they -think- they are. . .

Been here 4 years and am, quite frankly, over it. Once in a blue moon you find a diamond in the rough, but that's cause he's either gay or married.

Julia: Another take on dating in D.C....

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Washington, D.C.: Most guys love it when a girl makes the first move - "Hi" definitely works 90% of the time.

Fritz: Seriously, girls. We're speaking the truth here. But do us one favor, okay? Let's say you're out with a group of girlfriends. You see me and a male friend hanging at the bar and you decide to come over to talk to one of us. Please only come over with one of your friends, or walk over alone. Don't bring three other girls over. It's weird and intimidating.

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re: Good Mexican: Haven't been, but have heard that the restaurant (forget the name), right next to MINT gym, at Florida and 18th that also does Salvadorian food as well is delicious and well priced. GoGs- do you agree?

Also, heading to Mackey's tonight. Is there any healthy grub I can get there?

Thanks!

Erin: El Tamarindo, I believe. It's hit or miss, but I'm glad to have it in that Adams Morgan neighborhood. I don't know that it's delicious, but it's easy to get a table and it's pretty reliable.

As for Mackey's, I think they have a roasted or grilled chicken and a salmon dish, but I could be mixing that up with every other bar menu in town.

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Lincoln Park, D.C.: Regarding "Doc G's" rumor has it that they are going to have more pub-grub and less refined/fancy foods. NO NO NO!!WE WANT THE GOOD STUFF. My god the mushroom rissoto (sp) was yummy. It is worth going back over and over and over again for.

Fritz: Lincoln Park, as I said in my review, it's not a rumor. Dr. Granville Moore's menu has been scaled back to five or six types of mussels, some sandwiches and the frites, plus two "special entrees" every day, which may include some of the fish or risotto dishes. I'm disappointed, too, since the chef did work at the French Laundry, but for now, that's what they're doing.

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DC=Hyper-Ambitious: Hate to throw cold water on anybody, but I have to agree with the assessment. Please don't throw me under the Metro, I love it here and have met a lot of really good people, but after living in the Carolinas and Alabama for 20+ years before coming here, I was amazed by the sheer number of Type-As in the area. I'm just sayin'

Julia: I won't throw you under the Metro!You're certainly not alone in your assessment -- I think more people in this town agree with you than with me. I just think there are a lot of nice, mellow people here. I don't really hang out with anyone who isn't and I seem to get by around here just fine. Most of my friends are Type As, too, I guess. They just all kind of turn it off once they leave work for the day -- and that's awesome.

I've spent some time in North Carolina myself -- ages and ages ago -- and so I really see your point. The pace is way crazier up here. I suppose if I hadn't grown up here, I wouldn't be as used to it as I am now, so that may be why it doesn't bother me as much.

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The problem is people are relatively unattractive: Um, no, the problem is your take on people. Really.

Julia: Well said.

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Taking out the man: My man is starting med school in a week or so and I'd really like to take him to a nice, romantic dinner sometime next week. I'm thinking something along the lines of Bistro Lepic, Montmartre, Pesce or al Tiramisu, but would like to try something new. I like eating healthy and he'll eat anything. Any thoughts?

Erin: How about the brand new Rock Creek in the Mazza Gallerie? It's health-minded fare that was designed by Ris Lacoste (formerly of 1789).

Ardeo is another place that comes to mind as fairly romantic and not too much of a production.

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Alexandria, VA: Thanks for the Annapolis suggestions. Now, to answer some poster queries: best Mexican no question is Los Tios in Del Ray. And best cupcakes believe it or not are the ones at Harris Teeter. BY FAR.

Fritz: Harris Teeter???

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Alexandria, VA: My girlfriends and I are looking for a trendy lounge spot where we can meet 24-31 year old professional males either on a Friday or Saturday night but we don't know where to go!!! We like places that play jazz, neo soul and a lil bit of hip hop. We are willing to travel to DC but it would be nice to find someplace in Northern VA or even MD.

Rhome: No hip-hop at Gua-Rapo or Eleventh Street but you can stay in Virginia.

Cafe Peju will give you hip-hop on Fridays and latin on Saturdays although the age range might not be as narrowly focused as you specified.

For jazz, international music and chill electronica in the District try ESL or Chi-Cha.

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20010: Fritz,

Its called Sweet Mango Cafe. I can see it from my front porch.

And, to be honest, the neighborhood isnt exactly "sketchy". I see more white yuppies walking around after work than regular working class folks.

Fritz: I know. Though the House is kinda sketchy, my response was firmly tongue-in-cheek. Sort of.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Gurus,

I love this chat!Do you know where someone could get introductory guitar lessons? The Northwest area would be best.

Thanks

Julia: Call the Guitar Shop in Dupont Circle. If those guys won't teach you, they can surely point you in the direction of someone who can.

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What do you recommend as a good opener?: The best time I ever had in a bar was when my friend just walked up to a group of people and said Hi, what's up? We ended up hanging with them all night, and over the years got to be good friends. I even dated a guy from that night for awhile.

Fritz: I like your style.

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RE: Dating in D.C.: Sorry, me again. After typing I realized my post didn't come out quite right. What I meant to say was - The real problem is that I am stunningly gorgeous as well as whip smart, and really, what chance is there that I'll meet anyone who comes within a solar system of my astonishing me-ness?

Hope that clears it up. Thanks!

Julia: That *does* clear it up, thanks.

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Washington, D.C.: When, oh when is the West Elm downtown at the old Woodie's opening? The website says "august 2007" but we are already halfway through! Thanks!

Fritz: I think the sign outside has now been pushed back to the more vague "Fall 2007." Too bad -- I was in Philly last weekend and liked the fall line they had in the window.

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Hippieville: Fritz - In your Doc GM's review it says, regarding Wednesday nights:

"I'm a Deadhead," Surrusco admits. "We're going to be playing the best live recordings we can find" from 7 to midnight. "I'm surprised there aren't more hippie nights in this town," he adds.

That is so fun -- and it is so true. Are there any hippie-type nights around at local chill bars? I am excited to check this out soon!

Fritz: No, not really -- outside of the bars in College Park, and maybe Patriot's Cafe in Fairfax, which I remember thinking was a perfect spot for wearing that tie-dyed Dead shirt.

I think the night is going to take off. BYO tapes to trade!

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Last Minute!!: what would you get for my brother's 30th bday gift - he likes beer and wine if that helps! thanks for the last minute gift idea (and last minute question)!

Julia: I've given my brother and his wife a subscription to the California Wine Club before. Then, that same year, my brother gave my boyfriend a subscription to Ale in the Mail. We're a really creative family.

Want something more personal? Check in with Franco at Grapelegs. Dude knows his wine, so he can definitely point you to a good (under $20) bottle and maybe some good foods or chocolates you can buy to pair it with.

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Fritz: Seriously, girls. We're speaking the truth here. But do us one favor, okay? Let's say you're out with a group of girlfriends. You see me and a male friend hanging at the bar and you decide to come over to talk to one of us. Please only come over with one of your friends, or walk over alone. Don't bring three other girls over. It's weird and intimidating.: awwwww. Fritz is shy. how cute.

Fritz: Let's flip the script. If you were at a bar with your best girlfriend and a group of five guys came over and surrounded you, wouldn't you think that was weird?

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Unfortunately, he's socially inept and I'd have a better chance of carrying on a conversation with a styrofoam cup: fortunately that cup has better things to do.

Seriously, step back and pretend like you're a potential date absorbing your attitude. What vibes are you sending out?

Julia: I really, really want to stop beating up on that original poster, but this comment was too funny not to share.

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West Elm: Got an email from them this week that said they open on August 20

Fritz: Rad!Maybe I'll get my coffee table after all.

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Washington, D.C.: I have a feeling that most people who think DC is full of people obsessed with social climbing and always ask "so who do you work for?" don't get out to the places that I do. Like Fort Reno....which is ending for the summer tonight, with Edie Sedgwick and Sentai. If you missed Georgie James on Monday, you are kicking yourself.

David: I don't know, I bet a lot of those Bethesda high school kids at Fort Reno are the next generation of social climbing D.C. residents. But I could be wrong. In any case, hopefully the weather holds out for the Fort Reno finale tonight, which also features Eyeball Skeleton in addition to Edie and Sentai. A commenter on our blog said "Isn't Eyeball Skeleton becoming a bit like baby panda Tai Shan: a wee bit too big to be cute?" and he may be right, but "Smokey Turtle" is still a rad tune.

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Washingtonian: Julia, Fritz, Rhome...that might be the best response I've seen in a Post chat before.

Julia: Hey thanks!You just made my day.

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Arlington, Va.: I just saw that my celebrity crush, Jenna Bush, is engaged. Where can I go to meet someone to replace her?

Erin: The shrubbery outside Cafe Saint-Ex, perhaps?

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Washington, D.C.: I recently moved out of Adams Morgan after 4.5 years. While I don't miss the 3 AM crazy street throngs, I do miss access to so many bars in such close proximity. I am living in Columbia Heights now, and was hoping you could recommend fun, crowded bars in the area. I've already done the Mt Pleasant thing -- Tonic, Marx Cafe, etc -- but the only bar I know in my new area is Wonderland. Thanks!

Fritz: Well, Columbia Heights may have Ruby Tuesdays, and it may be getting a Target, but it's really lacking any sort of a bar scene. You've got the small bar at RedRocks, which has Allagash but is usually crowded with diners enjoying the pizza. (Which is pretty good.) I like the fancy two-story bar at Mayorga, which is the Tivoli's old entrance hall and mezzanine. Good wines by the glass, and you feel like you're at intermission in an old English playhouse.

Maybe when the Red Derby finally opens, you'll have a cool new spot on your doorstep. Let's hope.

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A Note to Fritz: Fritz, about a year ago I was out for a night with my girlfriends and saw a cute guy at the bar. Well, my girlz are my wing-men, so they came with me when I walked over to say hi. The minute we approached the guy, he started sweating profusely, and shaking so badly he spilled his beer all over the bar. We hung in, trying to strike up a conversation until he crawled under his stool. Fritz, I am really sorry that we put you through so much ¿ it'll never happen again!

Fritz: I'm still having nightmares and cold sweats.

Thanks. Thanks a lot.

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Conversation openers for women: Ask a guy you're interested in for the time. If he's not interested, he'll give you the time and leave it at that. If he is interested, he'll recognize the question for what it is (an opener) and continue the conversation.

Julia: A nice idea, but I wonder how well it really works. I think he's probably likely to just tell you the time, continue doing whatever he's doing and then three hours later, think "Whoa!I think that chick wanted to talk to me."

Some guys'll pick up on it, sure, so if it's the easiest way to muster up the nerve to start a conversation, I say go for it. I do think that a more direct approach of just talking to someone in a bar is probably a better bet. I know, I know, easier said than done.

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Petworth: I think the difference between 5 girls coming up to a group of guys, and 5 guys coming up to a group of girls is: you aren't socialized to be afraid of us. We're not likely to attack you. We are taught that a group of men is dangerous.

Fritz: Okay, fine.

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Softball: Alexandria has an active adult league. Lots of on-Alexandrians play. http://alexandriava.gov/recreation/sports/adult_sports.html

Julia: Another tip for the softball seeker.

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Adams Morgan, D.C.: Hi Gurus and Audience,

I have to plan a fundraiser for my very worthy nonprofit and I'm in seach of venues to are open to hosting such events. Austin Grill has a "First Monday" series where they provide a share of one evening's profits with an organization, and I'm wondering if there are other places (bars, restaurants) that are open to such an arrangement. It seems like you need an insider connection to make such a thing happen and unfortunately I'm connection-challenged. Any suggestions or guidance would be greatly appreciated!!

p.s. our nonprofit provides scholarships for students participating in international service learning programs, if that helps with ideas....

Fritz: There are a lot of bars that will do this if you ask. I've attended fundraising happy hours and the like across the city. Most recently, I've seen them at Madam's Organ, Capitol Lounge, the Argonaut and ... was it R.F.D.? Temperance Hall would probably be down with something like this.

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Washington, D.C.: Harris-Teeter for good cupcakes? It's true. We shouldn't be so snooty

Erin: Yeah, Fritz jumped on that one before I could ask more about it. Never tried the cupcakes, but I wouldn't be surprised if they're good.

In this here office, I am not ashamed to say that we all stampede for the free monthly birthday sheet cakes from Safeway. Harris Teeter far surpasses Safeway in all other things, so why not baked goods?

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Hey that was my comment on the blog! D.C.: I know what the problem with the dating scene in DC is: too many snarky and condescending people like myself. Plus now that I'm in my 30s I'm not so cute anymore . . .

David: Too snarky, too condescending, too self-involved, too career-oriented, too shy, too mean ... this town has it all. We should all go to that hippie night at Doc GM's and just let loose, man.

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Meet the next Jenna Bush: In the shrubbery outside of Smith Point. I once picked a girl who did a faceplant in the dirt right there. Dating ever since.

Fritz: Bonus: If she's on the list, she can probably get you in.

Honestly, I think I saw Jenna more often at Town Hall than Smith Point.

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Dupont Circle, D.C.: "In this here office, I am not ashamed to say that we all stampede for the free monthly birthday sheet cakes from Safeway.."

I am picturing a YouTube post, takend with a video phone - "GOGs Slap-Fight over Sheet Cake!"

Erin: Things can get pretty interesting. Usually David and I bust out to get to the sugar before Julia and Fritz even know it's out there. Things are harsh here when cakes arrive.

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Dating in D.C.: Julia, which Bourbon was that? And as for dating in DC, try LA - DC is heaven compared to LA!!!

Julia: Adams Morgan Bourbon and it was lovely. I usually go with friends, so it was nice to notice that the sort of neighborhood bar feel from the Glover Park location carried over to Adams Morgan. Lots of the folks at the bar appeared to be regulars.

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Re: Fritz is shy: Unfortunately there is sexism and stereotypes out there, and flipping the script is impossible to consider. If all the guys approaching me plus one were good looking, I would feel ok. But if some or all of them were skeevy looking, I'd be scared for myself. But I just can't believe a Going Out Guru would prefer to not initiate conversation with a girl. aren't you like, a professional, or something?

Julia: Oh, don't let him fool you, ladies. Behind all that "it's intimidating," he's quite gregarious when he wants to be. Especially around the office....

But yeah, I totally feel you on the skeevy thing. This one night my girlfriends and I kept getting grinded on by random strangers. Like they'd get all up on you from behind before you've even seen their faces. It's not that I think every guy who wants to talk to me should be fabulous looking. I don't. It's just that it feels almost like you're being attacked. As a previous poster said, we are trained as women to be wary of leering men and frankly, the bar scene is full of them. I say, bring as many girlfriends as you want to talk to strangers.

Erin: Fritz likes to let the ladies flock to him. With his "Local Celebrity" t-shirt on, he can be hard to resist.

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Chevy Chase, D.C.: I'm in my mid-30s and have friends coming into town this weekend. Where can I take them in the city to go swing dancing or something along those lines? Nobody wants to go clubbing.

Fritz: Thing that I am ashamed -- ASHAMED -- that I left out of the Nightlife Agenda this weekend: The Deep Sea Ball at Glen Echo's historic Spanish Ballroom. Hawaiian shirts, beach-themed decorations and the amazing Boilermaker Jazz Band, who play hot jazz and swing from the '30s. I've had a lot of fun dancing to them. You will too.

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weekend getaways: Dear Gurus, Can you please suggest a few places that's within a few hours of drive to DC that's nice and romantic and affordable and have a lot of things to do?

Fritz: Philadelphia. I'm always surprised how cheap it is to get an amazing four-course meal, then go out barhopping and find cheap drinks (well, by D.C. standards, at least). And I never run out of things to do.

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More Dating in D.C.: And as for dating in D.C., try LA - D.C. is heaven compared to LA!!!

Lady, try dating in Stuber Forks, Iowa. If I couldn't drive a combine, I'd still be single.

Julia: And I think we're going to end on that note. Good chat today, folks. Thanks so much for all your insight into dating in D.C. We'll catch you next week!

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