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The Going Out Gurus
of the washingtonpost.com City Guide
Thursday, September 13, 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: Happy sunny Thursday. There's so much to do this weekend: Arts on Foot, the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival, the H Street Festival, Wine Festivals ... let's just get right to the chat. I'm Fritz. David, Erin, Julia, Rhome and I are dying to help y'all make the most of your precious free time.

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Gallery Place, Washington, D.C.: Submitting early because of lunch plans. So, tickets to the Police concert go on sale tomorrow. Do you know if there's a limit to the number of tickets a person can buy? I've looked on Ticketmaster, but I can't find any info. Thanks!

David: There's a 4-ticket limit for the Police show. But it's not like your credit card could handle anymore than that, right? I know mine couldn't, at least.

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Cleveland Park, D.C.: Help GOGs! I thought there was a guide or article to pre-theater dining options, but can't find it. Can you link to it? Thanks!

Erin: We have a handy search return of pre-theater dining options, but you may be referring to Tom Sietsema's roundup of pre-theater dining from May.

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Rockville, Md.: With Oktoberfest coming up, I am sure that Fritz is salivating. Suggestions on where to go, what to drink and eat?

Fritz: I have a blog post coming up about this later today. (Forgive me, I've been sick for the last two days.) Rock Bottom Breweries in Bethesda and Ballston are tapping their Oktoberfest beers for the public next Tuesday and Thursday, respectively, while Gordon Biersch is unveiling its Festbier on Wednesday. Cap City Brewing Company's is about two weeks away, the brewer said this morning, so it'll be on tap for the big Oktoberfest block party in Shirlington on Oct. 6, where you can sample beers from 27 different brewers (at last count).

I hear that Birreria Paradiso, the Reef, Boulevard Woodgrill and R.F.D. will have a bunch of different Oktoberfest beers on and off throughout the month.

For a real Oktoberfest experience, I like the oompah bands and old-school beer hall atmosphere at Blob's Park in Jessup, or hoisting a giant liter mug of Hofbrau Oktoberfest beer at Cafe Mozart.

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Dupont Circle, D.C.: Any idea when Veritas opens up -- actually, do you know anything at all about it? Also, where would you suggest a group of 30somethings (mostly women) who like to drink, but also like it low key and not too fancy (we want to be able to hear each other), go in adams morgan, dupont, or 14th/Uish? Thanks!!

Erin: Veritas opens to the world this Monday. It's from Joe Englert and Adam Manson and will serve 68 wines by the glass (including some that are rarely available by the glass like Silver Oak). There are dozens of wine flights. You'll find flights grouped by varietal, traits or things like "French blends made in America" and "Adam's number ones" if you're interested in tasting. Food-wise, there are cheeses and charcuterie. The hours when it opens will be approximately 4 p.m. until about 2 a.m. during the week and 3 on weekends.

Napoleon's champagne bar is a popular girls' night destination and Station 9 is another idea. Soon, you'll have CorkDC to consider. That's the wine bar that will take the old Sparky's space on 14th.

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Ballston, Va.: I saw in the Post this morning that Ozomatli is doing a free concert at the Starbucks Coffee Festival. From the writeup they sound really cool. Have you ever heard them? Do you think it's worth it?

David: Well it's free, so it'd probably be worth it. Kinda weird that Ozomatli is playing a Starbucks Festival but it's also kinda weird that Starbucks is putting out a Sonic Youth CD. First time I saw Ozomatli was back when they played the Warped Tour when I was in high school, I wanna say 1997? That sounds about right. People who just go there for a free cup of coffee will be very pleasantly surprised by Ozomatli. It's a mash-up of Latin rock/hip-hop/reggae, most groove-based genres, very fun stuff. They almost always go into the audience to play at some point during their show, too.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey Gurus! I think this is in Fritz's wheelhouse: friends and I are planning on hitting RFK this weekend for a game. I sat in miserable, partially obstructed seats on the lower level last season, and don't want to repeat that. I recall reading a while back about good inexpensive seats, but can't remember where. Was it the 400 level? On his advice, we are also considering Trusty's for some pre-game food and fun. Thanks for the chats!

Fritz: Well, I have season tickets, so the only game I've bought individual tickets for this year was opening day. I think the Lower View Outfield seats are the way to go for $5.

But honestly, you can probably just move if you don't like your location. Even though my seats and nice and covered behind home plate, I've sat all over the stadium this year -- behind the dugouts, in the boxes behind third base, etc. -- and never had a problem.

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14th St : Hi. Just wondering, will the anti-war protest/march on Saturday affect the art festival? And will both make traffic into/out of DC on 14th street a nightmare? (Also, since three is a magical number, is it worth going to the festival?)

Julia: All of these are good questions. So I just called DDOT and they tell me that there are no street closures planned for the march on Saturday. I can't believe this is true, but that's the official word from the people who make the decisions. According to the march's Web site, the protest will head east from the White House at 12 noon, so if you want to use 14th Street to head into the city, I'd plan on doing so well before noon. Like 11 a.m.

So, yes, downtown will be busy, but I definitely think Arts on Foot is worth it. The food is delicious and the artwork on display is really cool. I got some great jewelry there two years ago. It's not worth sitting in traffic for 2 hours or something, but assuming you leave early enough, you'll have a good time. While you're in the neighborhood, be sure to pop in on the Freedom Place Collection. Very, very cool stuff.

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Washington, D.C.: Where's the Trawick Prize? I read that the winner has been announced but can't find the opening anywhere?

Julia: The reception is tomorrow night at Bethesda's Creative Partners Gallery.

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Washington, D.C.: Any ideas as to where a lot of people will be watching the Yankees-Boston game saturday night? I'm thinking 51st state but that place is really expensive, even with their happy hours. Thanks!

Fritz: Are you watching as a Yankees fan or as a Sox fan? There are Sox bars all over the place, but Yankees fans seem to have to take what they can get. Lots of Sox bars come to mind -- Stetsons, Mr. Days, Union Pub, Muttly's -- but none beyond 51st State that make a point of getting behind the Bronx Bombers.

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Virginia: Here goes...

I'm taking a girl friend out for dinner and drinks. At this point, we are just friends, at dinner, after one or two drinks , I'm hoping I can gain the courage to tell her that I would like to be more.

My question: Where can I take her that's quiet enough for her to hear me but loud enough that no one else can hear me possibly make a fool out of myself.

And yeah, it's time I tell her.

Erin: Good for you. It also has to have drinks strong enough to give you that courage, right? I wish I knew your desired neighborhood for this. If you're in NoVa., how about Tallula or the spanking new Hank's Oyster Bar? The latter doesn't have a full liquor license, but they've got a nice selection of beers and those oysters might have that aphrodisiacal impact...

In the District, Pizzeria Paradiso is buzzing, but audible and if you wander up to Comet Ping Pong, you can always retreat to a friendly game to try to win her over with your athleticism.

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Black Cat: So you guys think Chopteeth Afrofunk Big Band is going to be rocking tonight? If we want to swing by earlier in the evening (say 9pm-11pm) do you think they will be on yet? Or is there some opening band?

Thanks - love the chats.

David: The Rootworkers are opening, they are pretty much straight up reggae, I'd guess they will go on around 9:45 or so. If you are there from 9 to 11, I don't think you'd see more than maybe 15-20 minutes of Chopteeth. Just my guess.

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20036: Hey Gogs,

Was considering heading out to the H Street festival on Satuday. Any idea what all will be going on out there? Anything specific I shouldn't miss?

Fritz: Barbecue from Smokey's Grill, but I'm also curious about Naby's, a new Caribbean joint on the same block at the Pug and Granville Moore's. Not only do I want to try some curried goat, rice and peas and rum punch, but they're giving one customer a Caribbean cruise as part of the grand opening festivities.

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Dunn Loring, Va.: Saw Sondheim's "Merrily We Roll Along" at the new Signature Theater last night. This sow's ear will resolutely never turn into a silk purse. The problem is the way the story goes backward. You get characters waxing nostalgic for the earlier days before you've seen them. And then you see them, which is redundant. And each episode portrays, a little too calculatingly, key moments of choice and, far too often, bad decisions made. Instead I would have shown quieter, more telling moments in these people's lives. Argue all you want, it's a flawed concept. It just doesn't work. The new Signature venue, at the far end of the Shirlington (Arlington, VA) restaurant row, on the other hand, is quite attractive, and the free parking is a wonderful surprise!

Erin: Thanks for writing in about this. I saw it earlier this week and agree that it's got major flaws.

The costumes are fabulous (and I love the way that Gussie's first outfit is very Liza Minelli) and Charley's version of Franklin Shepard Inc. was fantastic, but I agree. There's no major hook anywhere in the plot to make us want to continue the backwards journey.

As for Shirlington, it's come alive AND managed to keep its free parking (which will expand when the new lot opens behind Signature). The new Busboys and Poets space across from Signature is cozy with lots of booths and I am eagerly awaiting all of the other planned openings.

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Yankees Fan: ... I know so 51st state is the only option... anyone want to start up a NY yankees bar in DC? we would make a killing.

Fritz: As long as it's named Puff's (after Gregg Nettles) or something similar, sure. Actually, "Donnie Baseball" would be a great name for a bar. Remind me to get a trademark on that.

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Where to drink?: I have late reservations at Central for my boyfriend's 30th birthday. Where do you recommond we grab a drink beforehand?

Fritz: Why not make it easy on yourself and hit the bar at Central? The cocktails are fantastic. Alternatively, there's always champagne on the patio at Les Halles.

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Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C.: So...where does the older crowd (early to mid 30s) go to hang in Adams Morgan on a Friday or Saturday night? Where won't we get crushed by 22 year olds and go deaf from bad DJ mixes? I love Pharmacy Bar and Bourbon (although that gets packed). Any other suggestions?

Also, what restaurants/bars in AM have late night menus?

Rhome: Word to the 30 and up club card.

Dang.

Being in the "older crowd" myself (blowing up my own spot!), I can say that I try to avoid Adams Morgan on weekends. Even personal faves like Soussi can get rammed. You can still enjoy some civility at Rendezvous on weekends as well as Bossa and Metropolitain.

If the Diner's line is crazy and you don't want to gamble with bubble guts on a jumbo slice (barbaric!) there's always Amsterdam Falafel. I think Bukom serves food late as does Prince Cafe.

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Washington, D.C.: Dear GOG's:

I'm catching up from last week's chat...this is slightly off-topic and you may have gotten this question in the past, so I apologize for duplication.

Are you ever curious about your readers/chatters? Does anyone ever submit a question that makes you really wonder about someone, raise your curiosity so much? For example, do you get restaurant questions with so much detail that you either sense that you would greatly like or dislike this person based on said details in the question? Another example might be if one were to be bachelorette-hungry that you would be so curious about a particular bachelorette party based on said details in the question that one might be so tempted to, er, check it out?

Thanks!

Rhome: I'm usually most curious about what the chat activity says about DC demographics and washingtonpost.com readership. Sometimes the things that people ask (or reveal) in here quickly remind me that many of us live in completely different parallel Washington universes. I definitely feel that people would pose their questions differently (or not pose them at all sometimes) if they knew more about who was answering them.

As for secretly crashing folks' gatherings, that's a bit creepy, no? There's 'nuff creepies and weirdos who submit stuff here, I wouldn't want to join their ranks.

If only you could see the queue of questions that don't get published.

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16th and U: Hi Gurus! Is anyone in town playing the Women's World Cup games? I know that the time difference makes it difficult because I think the games end up being around 5:00am and 8:00am here. I thought The Diner might be an option (but I don't know what channel would carry the games). Of course, I automatically thought of Lucky Bar but I don't think they are opening early for the women... Can you offer any insight? Thanks!! Love your chats.

Fritz: You could try the Diner -- the games coming on at 4:55 makes scheduling a nightmare, I'm sure. Worse than the men's Japorea World Cup. And since you technically can't serve alcohol before 9 or 10 a.m. anyway, most places don't bother opening.

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Boo Yankees: If he/she goes through with the idea, anyone want to join me in egging the Yankees Fans' bar on opening night and every night there after?

Fritz: Funny, I don't recall people in Yankees caps showing up to egg Stetsons the night the Red Sox fans brought the World Series trophy into the bar.

Stay classy, Boston.

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Arlington, Va.: Love the chats and need some help! My friend's birthday is coming up and I have offered to plan it. The problem is a lot of our friends are pretty broke, so it really has to be affordable. I'm looking for something metro-accessible, fun atmosphere, good food, cheap, and will take reservations. (We'll probably have 12 or so people on a Saturday night, and nothing puts a damper on a birthday party like having to wait an hour and a half to eat.)

Does such a place exist?

Erin: How about Jaleo in Crystal City? You can keep costs down to a reasonable amount when you're all sharing tapas (ie: nobody pulls the jerk move and orders the $50 filet) and there's plenty to sample.

You could also do something like Clyde's in Gallery Place, which could easily take 12 and accepts reservations, or a Lebanese Taverna.

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Rockville, Md.: Best place to watch tonight's Maryland game? But not someplace where there's a frat-type crowd. Thanks.

Fritz: Hey Rockville,

In Montgomery County, I like watching the alma mater at Rock Bottom or Caddies in Bethesda. Both will have the game on plenty of screens.

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Truth...?: Where is this Veritas place?!? It sounds wonderful!

Erin: It's on Florida just west of Connecticut on the NW corner (just down from Russia House).

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Vineyards, Va.: Enjoyed the run-down of September and early October wine festival events. Do you know of any events happening at Oasis this time of year? Also, when is the WAPO guide to fall events (not just the music and theater) coming out?

Thanks!

Julia: Thanks, Vineyards! According to the Oasis Web site, they don't have anything specific planned for the coming weeks -- except for some sort of special event during the last weekend in September as part of Blue Ridge WineWay Taste of Virginia weekend (a few details here).

If you're referring to our guide to local pumpkin-picking patches, apple orchards and corn mazes, I'm working on it as we, um, type. It'll be up on the City Guide page tomorrow. The Fall Arts Guide you mentioned can be found here.

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Adams Morgan: Hey all--

Am thinking of going to the Tiesto show at Love on Saturday. But it's from 3-11 and outside. All we really want to see is Tiesto.

Any idea what time he's going on? Thanks

Fritz: Tiesto is on from 7 to 11:30, according to a promoter that I just spoke to. Gates are at 3, and she wasn't sure who else was going to be spinning. (But there has to be somebody for those four hours, right?) Rumor was Ferry Corsten spinning outside before Tiesto, but he's only spinning inside (second floor) from 10 to close.

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Washington D.C.: What's up with Lucky Bar charging $20 to watch the English Euro 2008 games? This is criminal.

Fritz: This has nothing to do with Lucky Bar, Fado or Summers, all of whom are charging $20. You don't like the fee, blame Setanta, the Irish satellite broadcasters that have a monopoly on England and Rugby World Cup games. They're the ones who set the "suggested" fees.

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Farragut North: Hey Gogs-Trying this question again. Anyone know of a good home brew supply store in the area? It's my new favorite hobby, and waiting for supplies ordered online is getting a little old. A bottle of my soon to be completed English Pale Ale to anyone who can help me out!

Fritz: I hear nothing but positive things about MyLocalHomeBrewShop (or MyLHBS for short), which is a storefront in Falls Church. Hours, map, etc at http://www.mylhbs.com/.

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late night food in Adams Morgan: there's also Yazuzu (middle-eastern) as a jumbo slice alternative, they're open really late on weekends...

Fritz: For me, post-bar nourishment usually comes from a kebob at Old City Cafe on Columbia, or sometimes Alberto's.

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West End: Hello my trustworthy, gossipy GoGs!

I have been dying to know - what is happening in the West End scene these days? What can we excpect from the former LuLu's, is Ris Lacoste really opening a restuarant in the Ritz, will they ever convert the Nigerian embassy into usable space? I trust you have all the answers for my future in this neighborhood.

Thanks!

Erin: First, so far as I know, Lulu's is becoming Walgreens.

Ris Lacoste IS planning a restaurant, but it won't be in the Ritz. That space, which is cleverly called Westend, will be the newest baby of New York wonderchef Eric Ripert. That opening is planned for late October.

In the meantime David Greggory becomes Hudson in about 2 weeks and you can expect pizzas, burgers and updated comfort food along with plenty of cocktails.

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Washington, D.C.: I drove past Summers in Courthouse yesterday and they were playing the Sox game on NESN!!! What other bars get NESN... And do you think there is a way I can get it on my cable at home?

Fritz: I'm pretty sure that Union Pub gets it, and maybe Mister Days. No idea if you can get it at home, but I've seen places showing Yankees games on YES.

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Petworth: Forget the Damn Yankees. I just want a Nats bar!

They ARE our team, and I'd love to be able to watch them in bars, but far too often it's the O's and the Yankees on the screens and you can't get it changed.

And let's not even TALK about the stupidity of a place with multiple tvs having them ALL tuned to the Redskins preseason and not putting on the Nats.

Please bars, I'm begging. Please?

Fritz: I'm just throwing this out there.

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Va.: Ooh busboys and poets in Shirlington? Is it open yet?

Erin: Indeed it is! There's a tiny bookstore, performance space, bar and, as I mentioned, lots of booth seating.

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Dancing Question: Okay, GOG's...you're the experts, so here goes. A friend is turning 30, and I've been charged with finding "someplace to dance" for her 30th, which is on a Friday night. So looking for a Friday night dance spot, can be in DC or Virginia, October 5th, where a bunch of goofy white girls can go and have fun dancing -- the only request is not too "techno" (do they even still have techno? I'm getting old...) and at least a FEW songs we would have heard on the radio. Bonus points for 80's or 90's hits!

Fritz: What I love is that "techno" is just one subgenre of electronic dance music, but that it's somehow become synonymous with house, d'n'b, trance, etc.

Right, anyway, the smart money for your dancing friend (especially if you want people closer to their 30th birthday than their 21st) would be someplace like the Clarendon Ballroom, where you're guaranteed to hear current radio hits as well as '80s music.

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Boston Fans: Are the most obnoxious (to use kid friendly language) fans around. When the sox won the world series I was happy for them (although bitter that the yanks fell apart in the playoffs). Main difference between Yankees fans and Boston fans (aside from the number of world series chamnpionships) is that Yankees fans have class.

Fritz: While I'm not agreeing with everything you say here, let me throw this out:

As someone who's been writing about sports bars in D.C. for years, I can safely say that there were not (a) this many bars showing Sox games and (b) this many people wearing Sox hats five years ago. Either half of Cambridge and Brookline moved to D.C. recently, or the bandwagon's getting awfully full.

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Capitol Hill: What's the name of the place in Adams Morgan where you make your own drink (they give you a bottle of liquor and a glass of soda)? I want to bring a friend there this weekend.

Fritz: Dan's Cafe. If you want to get hammered, that's the place to do it.

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Fruit Picking in D.C.: After many fruitless attempts (pun intended) I cannot find a guide on the Post to local fruit picking farms for this fall. Do you guys have a list?? Looking for a fun, cheap way to get out of the city this weekend and I think fruit picking is it. Then I'll come home and make desserts! Thanks!

Julia: We've got you covered. Here's our insanely long list of farms in the area. You can use the facets on left-hand side of the page to refine your search by state or county.

Homestead Farm and Bulter's Orchard are two of my faves in the area. Want more suggestions? Check out the Weekend Section tomorrow for a story on apple picking and the City Guide tomorrow for our full Fall Guide.

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Washington, DC: I need some dancing help Gurus! I'm planning a going-away outing and dancing is on the agenda. Problem is, I haven't been out dancing in over a year! The last time I went dancing, I went to Anzu and we loved it...but it's no more, right? We're a group ranging in age from 23 - 35 and we'd be looking for familiar stuff like Timbaland, JT, pretty mainstream danceable stuff (i.e., no salsa or house). We'd love a place with a low cover and little to no line before 11 pm. I think I'd like to avoid the big clubs like Fur. Any neighborhood is fine. Can you help me out?!?!

Rhome: I thought Anzu was gone but I was by there about a month ago and heard mainstream hits blaring down the staircase. It's called something else now.

Most of the places that play what you want to hear are the big clubs that hit you up at the door. You could try Chloe if you get there early enough. Or you could just open yourself up to a bit of a diversion from the radio hits in exchange for no cover, no dress code and a jumping dance floor at Wonderland.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Hey 'rus! My best friend will be visiting from the Left Coast next weekend (21-23). His parents and brother will be up on Sunday for a late lunch with us, and they want to eat somewhere in Silver Spring since they used to live here. His parents know their way around a nice restaurant and generally have discriminating taste, so I'm looking for a place they would appreciate. My friend is also a vegetarian (but eats seafood), so it'll also have to be somewhere that has those kinds of options. Any ideas? Thanks!!

Erin: How late is this lunch? Jackie's serves a brunch until 2:30 or Taste of Morocco starts service at 4 each day.

I'm partial to Burmese food, so Mandalay, though not "nice" is open from noon on and a good choice.

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Ballston, Va.: So, what is the deal with the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival?

Fritz: Lots of really good jazz all over the city -- there's a list here. The NEA Jazz Masters concert on Saturday at the Lincoln Theatre looks great, as does the screening of '50s and '60s Dizzy Gillespie TV performances tonight at the Library of Congress, but did you see the free Mall concert on Sunday? (We pointed it out on our blog earlier this week.) The Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band with Clark Terry, Slide Hampton, Roy Hargrove and many more, plus Eddie Palmieri opening. That's gonna be amazing.

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VA Winefest: Hey gurus-how are the food offerings at the VA winefest in Leesburg this weekend? The website just says "cafe/bistro offerings." I'm not sure what that means ... any idea of choices and prices? Thanks!

Julia: The food options are above average. I don't remember the names of the restaurants that catered it last year, but the offerings were things like sirloin tip sandwiches, sausage-and-pepper subs and roasted-red pepper wraps. There were a bunch of nice looking salads too. As I recall, the food was in the $7-$10 range. The bottles of water were annoyingly priced at $2 or something like that, but they were oh-so-necessary as the tastings wore on. (Most of the vineyards present give you water to clear your palate in between glasses, but it's really easy to get dehydrated at the fest).

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Great Wall Szechuan House...: ...is awesome! Erin told me to give it a try for good Chinese delivery in the U St. area.

There were a few haters in the chat who said it was no good, but the GOG's advice was sage as ever.

Thanks for the hint!

Erin: Woohoo!!
Let's get this debate up and rolling again. Thanks for writing in. (Fritz, is that you?)

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Washington, D.C.: did you really suggest someone go to Clarendon Ballroom?

Fritz: If a place fits the requirements that a person has, we'll send them anywhere. YOU know of a better place in Arlington for dancing '80s music and popular songs, besides maybe Clarendon Grill (which is always crowded)? I'm happy to post it if you do.

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Washington, D.C.: Arrhrh! Where might be the best place to celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19?

Fritz: As much as it physically pains me to recommend Piratz Tavern, this is the one day of the year that I think it could be enjoyable.

Don't get me wrong: I understand the appeal of a place where one bartender swallows swords, others breathe fire and everyone's dressed up and in character. If only the service was half-decent, the food was better (and not overpriced) and the rum drinks were made consistently, I'd be happy.

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Annandale Dude: oktoberfest party supplies:

1. cafe motzart

2. german deli in falls church

3. the new german place in falls church

these are places i know of that sell german stuff. what should i purchase to have a good time for everyone?

Fritz: Best Oktoberfest beers (so far): Bell's, Penn's and Stoudts. I have some Hacker-Pschorr at home that I need to break out. I had it on draft at Zum Schneider in New York a few weeks ago, but you can't find the stuff on draft in D.C. ever. (Grumble.) My favorite Munich brewery right now.

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To the homebrewer:: My husband and I really like Maryland Homebrew (http://www.mdhb.com/) in Columbia, if you're up for a little drive. If not, we've been ordering from Northern Brewer lately and been really happy with what we've gotten so far. http://www.northernbrewer.com/

Happy Brewing!

Also Gurus, any advice on where a gal can get a suede purse cleaned around town? Thanks!!

Fritz: I'll throw this out to the crowd.

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Kingstowne, VA: Rhino has NESN.

Fritz: There's another one...

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Columbus, OH: Hey GOGs!

I lived in D.C. for 15 years before being exiled to the Midwest due to work. I'm coming to D.C. this weekend with my boyfriend who has never been to D.C. We're hitting Blues Alley for their 10pm show and I need a good dinner/drinks recommendation for before the show.

Here's my conundrum (wishlist):

-Somewhere with a nice view;

-Doesn't have to be in Georgetown, although it would be convenient; and,

-Vegetarian-friendly menu-We're lazy vegetarians and eat meat from time to time, but something other than a salad on the menu is nice.

Price isn't an issue, I'd just like to take him somewhere nice yet unique. In other words, somewhere that you wouldn't find anything like it in the Midwest.

Erin: Will you have a car? If so, I love the view from Indigo Landing. It's low-country food on the Potomac with a gorgeous view of D.C.

If the view can be secondary, you could go for quality Ethiopian on 9th St. at Etete or on U at Dukem. It might be fun for you to check out that area, which has totally expanded since you left.

Cafe MoZU at the Mandarin Oriental has a Tidal Basin view and a nice array of vegetarian-friendly food.

Within Georgetown, you could try Cabanas, Sequoia or Agraria, all within Georgetown down on the waterfront, but the food will not be thrilling at all. Bangkok Joe's up the steps might be a bit better and somewhat unique.

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Washington, D.C.: Just so everyone knows, Alberto's on P Street was the victim of a fire about a week and a half ago. I don't know when/if it'll be reopening.

It's a bad time to be a food establishment on P Street between the fires and all of the construction.

Erin: Thanks for bringing this up. You're right that things are not looking good.

Mark and Orlando's, which has a nice, affordable upstairs lounge for a casual dinner, was pretty empty when I stopped by the other night. Pesce, Urbana and even my little Sakana all looked pretty low-key. Pizzeria Paradiso and Obelisk stand strong, but the scene is not bright.

The pessimist estimate I heard for Alberto's is a year due to all the damage. Let's hope that's way off.

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Washington, D.C.: Fritz, you get this question all the time but...party in October, 20-25 peeps, looking for a bar with a dance floor, possiblity of going outside, not too off the beaten path, not too many college students around, good music, good selection of beers/drinks...

Can you help?

Fritz: Do you need it to be private or not? In any case, I'm going to trot out the reliable answers, though "outside" and "dance floor" is becoming a tougher proposition these days: Bourbon, Chief Ike's, Five (if you like house music), BeBar, maybe Current (the former Dragonfly) if that ever gets open.

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The Ballroom: But isn't it sort of the younger crowd?

Fritz: Last time I was through, it seemed to be solidly more 25-35 than 21-25. Then again, I might be bad at guessing ages.

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Wonderland: Can you be more specific about "bit of a diversion from the radio hits in exchange for no cover, no dress code and a jumping dance floor at Wonderland?" What kind of tunes do they play? What kind of crowd is it?

Fritz: Really depends on the night you go, but it's more likely you'll hear reggae, underground hip-hop and house than JT, though I know some DJs there love to bust him out. Crowd is your 21-30 year-old group-house hipsters, but it can be a lot of fun.

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Fairfax, Va.: I am trying to plan my wedding rehearsal dinner. I need a place in close vicinity to the white house that has enough room to host 40 people and a very tasty menu with good vegetarian options. Any ideas?

Erin: What price range? The first place that leaps to mind is the Occidental. There are several options for space there. You could always reserve a private room at Old Ebbitt Grill, but also look into Ten Penh, Butterfield 9 or the Bombay Club. That gives you a variety of prices and cuisines and all can host parties.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey GOGs!

Since it will be a wonderful weekend to be outside, we thought of cruising down to the vineyards. The catch? Will have a 5 year old little girl. Do you have any vineyards that are kid-friendly?

Thanks!

Julia: You'd be surprised; most of them are kid-friendly. Pretty much every nearby vineyard will be doing their thing at the Virginia Wine Festival this weekend, so that's where most of the wine-action will be this weekend. It doesn't have the same intimate feel as a vineyard, but kids always rock out in front of the main stage.

If you're looking for that intimate experience, Tarara will be open this weekend and I think that's a great place to bring kids. The vineyard dog is a real sweetheart and they also have pick-your-own apples.

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Chevy Chase, Md.: Hi GOGs! I'm wondering whether to go to Arts on Foot or the H Street Festival on Saturday. Both look the have lots to recommend them. How do I choose? Is there a way to do both?

Thanks.

Julia: I've never been to the H Street Fest, but, as I mentioned above, I love Arts on Foot. They're not that far away from each other (especially if you're driving down from Chevy Chase, so I say check out both of them. They'll both be up and running all day.

Fritz: H Street is more of a block party of the neighborhood's restaurants, cultural institutions, bars and music, while Arts on Foot is a huge cultural undertaking, especially with the opening of the Shakespeare Theatre's new hall. If you like wine tastings and galleries, I'd got AoF. If you'd rather try Caribbean food, watch belly dancers and listen to rock bands, I'd do H Street.

If you want to do both, I'd start at Arts on Foot and work east. The X2 bus can get you there from the Gallery Place Metro.

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Washington, D.C.: I'm late to the chat but wanted to comment on Oasis winery - last time I went was the worst winery experience I've had. Few wines to taste and the ones they did have were awful. Cheesy decor inside (big screen over bar and the pepsi wine cooler) was the icing on the cake. Not sure what is going on with them, but I do not recommend going out there - except if you are really into the scenery, which they can't screw up.

Julia: Words to the wise about Oasis Winery.

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Busboys and Poets in Shirlington: So, a friend of mine and I decided to check out the busboys and poets location in Shirlington. It made me realize how much of the atmosphere of the original is created by the clientele and the location. The new place is fine for some interesting drinks and decent food, but its nowhere near the same.

Fritz: I was wondering how much of the poetry, indie energy and activism that define the U Street Busboys would make it to the burbs.

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Mount Pleasant, Washington, D.C.: Hey fabulous Gurus! My girlfriend's birthday is coming up and she loves pool. I know nothing about pool and would love your help. Where would you recommend going that has a relaxed vibe, and won't be too crowded on a Tuesday night? I'm bringing along 3 or 4 friends and we're all in our 30s.

Thanks!

Julia: I like Bedrock Billards in Adams Morgan and Atomic Billiards in Cleveland Park. Both are super mellow.

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Renn Fest: Hi GOGs,

Last week you mentioned the renn fest, and it raised a question. When we leave the renn fest, we would like to go out to dinner where they don't serve turkey legs. What is around the Crownsville/Crofton/Bowie area that would suffice? We aren't picky, just want flush toilets, running water, A/C, and decent food and beer. Thanks!

Fritz: I haven't eaten in Crofton in years, sad to say. There's the Irish Channel on Route 3, which is supposed to be nice, and an offshoot of the Chinatown pub. Since I'm biased towards Bowie, I like the Duclaw Brewing Company's quasi-brewpub (the beer is made elsewhere) and the modern American food (with live jazz) at Strawberry's Bistro, both in Bowie Town Center. But I think everyone who goes to my hometown should experience the landmark Rip's Country Inn on 301, which has good crabcakes and hearty old-fashioned food. (The stable-like dining areas are a trip, too.)

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washingtonpost.com: Whew. We need to get back to work, so thanks for joining our 75-minute discussion, and we hope you found something cool to do with your weekend. Don't forget to check the Going Out Gurus blog for information on three outdoor happy hours taking place tonight and Julia's tips on upcoming wine festivals.

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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