washingtonpost.com
Got Plans?

The Going Out Gurus
of the washingtonpost.com City Guide
Thursday, September 27, 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: What's up, people? Welcome to Got Plans? We've got a full Guru crew here today: Rhome, Fritz, Erin, David, Janet, Jen and me (Julia). This weekend couldn't be more packed with fun stuff to do, so let's get to chatting.

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Washington, D.C. : I'm getting married in less than two weeks (yay!) and need to find somewhere to have my silk rehearsal dinner dress steamed, since it's been getting smushed in my closet for months. Anyone have a recommendation? Thank you so much!!

Janet: You're not too far from Parkway on upper Connecticut. I would try them!

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Washington, D.C. : I am hoping to find an antique fireplace mantel, you know, the kind that gets salvaged from old houses. Apart from the Eastern Market, are there any good places in and around DC to look? Not just any antique stores, but ones specializing in architectural pieces and woodwork?

Janet: Your best bet is Brass Knob in Adams-Morgan. I would wager they have plenty examples of what you're looking for.

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Adams Morgan, D.C.: Gurus, I'm interested to hear your thoughts on the Times Magazine article about DC this weekend. While I'm glad to see our town discussed as someplace "buzzing with energy," I would say that they didn't really capture what DC is to the people that live here. I would love to know if they consulted any of you and your expert advice for the article.

Rhome: No way they would consult us. Don't you know that The Post and The NY Times are like the two dudes in Spy vs. Spy? All jokes aside, the article was a bit paternalistic. They lazily painted the city with that same overachiever and politico brush that everyone uses who doesn't do more thorough research. They highlighted some basic positives but act like the little bit of cool they're willing to acknowledge is brand new.

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Silver Spring, Md. : Hello Gurus, I'm hoping you can help me out. I have a couple of celebrations coming up in a row and have decided to treat myself to a significant piece of jewelry. The problem is aside from Tiffany's, I don't know where in the DC area to go. Most of my nice jewelry was either purchased on vacation or came in the form of gifts from people not living in the DC area. I want to avoid mall-type places like Kay. Any recommendations?

Janet: There are several options besides Tiffany. Tiny Jewel Box on Connecticut Ave. in the District offers a terrific selection of both designer (very well known and not so well known) and estate jewelry. Go to I. Gorman, also in the District, if you want a more modern take on your jewels. Boone & Sons (in the District, McLean and Chevy Chase) favors more traditional pieces, and Mineral Kingdom in Georgetown (mostly by appt.) has fabulous turquoise, citrine and pearl necklaces, as well as rings, bracelets and diamond earrings.

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Indian restaurant help!: Hello Gurus! My husband and I are taking a bunch of family friends (ages 30's-60's crowd)out for a thank you dinner (helping out at our wedding) to an Indian restaurant in the next few weeks. Where can we go where we can have a nice private space, it does not need to be a private room altogether but just so we can have good conversation, good food and where we don't end up spending a lot of $$$. I think our group will be about 12-15 people and anywhere in DC, VA and MD is fine! Thanks for your help GOGs!!!

Erin: Congrats on the wedding. Indian food sounds like a pretty fantastic way to celebrate.

My favorite place for a group dinner would be the back room of Indique Heights. It's a nice ambiance and the food is good (particularly that peppery chettinad chicken). Tandoori Nights is another idea and Bethesda's Passage to India. would probably work.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi there!

My boyfriend and I want to go away for the weekend to see the fall foilage. We're looking for somewhere drivable or easy to get to via train. We're young and would love to go somewhere where there are things going on (good restaurants, wineries etc). Also, would like to not spend $500 a night on a room. Do you have any recommendations?

Thanks!

Julia: I'd try to find a nice bed and breakfast in Charlottesville. In my opinion, the vineyards down there offer the best wines in the state (be sure to check out DelFosse -- just 20 minutes away). C-ville definitely has the college-town vibe, but good food can be found around the area. If you take Route 29, pretty fall foliage lines your way on the trip down. Since that road's also a haven for Virginia cops, you'll have the oppotunity to drive by it all really slowly. (On that note, it's probably best to make the trip down on a weekend when the Cavaliers have an away game.) The always-busy, but always-beautiful Skyline Drive isn't too far away either. For more fall drives, check out this article.

Chatters, what do you think?

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Beer Lovers in the City, D.C.: Hi guys. So my boyfriend is a new beer enthusiast (well, if you don't count four years of college drunkeness) and we were looking to go visit some local microbreweries. We've already done Dogfish Head up in Delaware which was great. Every other great brewery cant POSSIBLY be out west...right?

Fritz: I haven't heard what Old Dominion is doing since the "reorganization" that cut most of their beers loose. If you want to make day trips to breweries with products worth tasting, try Clipper City in Baltimore (next tours: Oct. 13 and 27) or Starr Hill, in Crozet, Va., near Charlottesville. I believe their tours are every Saturday.

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Rockville, Md.: Are there going to be any second hand booksellers on the mall for the National Book Fair this weekend? Thanks!

Fritz: Sorry, Rockville. The National Book Festival, which features more than 70 authors discussing and signing their books, only sells new copies. I love browsing through old books, but this is a can go listen to chefs, historians, poets and science-fiction writers talk about their works, and it's all free.

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Union Station: Where oh where can a Happy Hour crew find some pumpkin beer?

Fritz: Let me preface this by saying that, almost without exception, I hate pumpkin beer. But you can usually find some to sample at RFD or Rustico. The Dogfish Head Alehouses in Gaithersburg and Seven Corners should have Punkin Ale, which was the best pumpkin beer I tried last year. (BTW, anyone make it to the grand opening last night?)

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Gurus! My mom is in town this weekend and she's already done the monuments. A lot. I want to take her to Old Town to give her a different experience, but I've admittedly never been myself. What are some things that we HAVE to check out? I'm thinking of spending an entire day/afternoon, so please feel free to suggest several restaurants, stores, venues, etc. We'll have a car, but will probably do a lot of walking. Thanks, Gurus, you rock!

Erin: Old Town is a perfect mom-friendly area. You'll find nice antique shops and boutiques. My mom always has a ball when she wanders. I like to look in Hysteria and Shoe Hive, but take a look at this list of editors' picks.

As for other things to do, check out the artists at the Torpedo Factory, walk around and look at the houses (particularly the skinny house on Queen St. around Royal). Captains' Row is also an impressive block of houses. Food-wise, check out Vermilion, Majestic Cafe or the new Hank's Oyster Bar, all along King above Washington St.

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Washington, D.C.: Hello fabulous GOGs!

I was hoping you could post this fundraising event to your readers. Alzheimer's is a devastating disease that millions of Americans are battling today, including my father. The fundraiser is tomorrow, and every dollar will go to the Alzheimer's Association!

thanks a ton,

-Claudia Fabiano

Drink to Remember:

Support the Alzheimer's Association this Friday night @ Be Bar. Your $10 suggested donation goes entirely to the Alzheimer's Association and also gets you a bracelet good for $2 Miller Lights and rail drinks from 10 pm to close. Pete Glow and chaMARTIN will be tag-teaming on the turntables, throwing down a night of dancefloor classics. Be Bar is located at 1318 9th St. NW (between N and O). Come support a great cause and have a good time doing it!

flyer: http://members.aol.com/peteglowatsky/drinktoremember.jpg

Fritz: I'll post this since it's for a good cause, and it also gives me a chance to remind everyone that if you're hosting a charity event or fundraiser, send an announcement to nightlife@washingtonpost.com at least one week in advance so we can consider it for the Nightlife Agenda column.

Thanks.

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Roller boogie, DC: Hail, great and knowing gurus: Where can a group of crazy belly dancers go rollerskating? Any rinks in the area?

Jen: Here is the rundown on rinks in the area, though I can't say which of these is "the best." I have said it before and I will say it again: Someone needs to open a killer, centrally located rink for adults and call it Xanadu. If it has to be me, well, so be it.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey, Gurus, happy Thursday! I'm thinking of taking my GF to see the "Wack" exhibit this weekend. The Post recommends giving yourself a lot of time to fully appreciate the exhibit. Can you recommend a good time to go to avoid huge crowds? Also, any place nice in the area to grab a bite to eat after? Thanks, gurus!

Julia: You know, I love that museum, but I don't think you're in danger of ever encountering huge crowds there. The National Museum of Women in the Arts is often overshaddowed by some of the larger (and free) museums on the Mall.

There are lots of really nice places to grab a bite to eat in the area. For something casual (and pretty much next door), Cafe Mozart offers cheap German fare. Zaytinya offers delicious small plates. For something cozy and not too, too expensive, I'd check out Bistro D'Oc. Ella's is always a good standby if you have picky eaters in your group. Brasserie Beck is another nearby option.

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Washington, D.C.: I am looking for a good football bar in DC or VA burbs (Arlington/Alexandria) that you can watch a lot of various games, not just the Redskins, and that has GREAT FOOD! After 2 tries at Bailey's in Ballston mall my friend and I are over that place (not the best food). Any suggestions??

Fritz: Rustico in Alexandria has good food and a couple of large flat-screen TVs in the bar. I think Nellie's has good wings and empanadas. Bourbon, too, has better-than-average food and a couple of flatscreens.

Readers, I'm throwing this question out to you. (PS: I like the wings at Crystal City Sports Pub, but most of the menu is distinctly average.)

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Richmond, Va.: I recommend Horton Vineyards near C'ville highly.

Julia: I've been to Horton. I didn't love their wines, but the staff was really fantastic.

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Washington, D.C.: I am looking for a delicious, but affordable and casual, place to chow down before a show at the 9:30 Club...anything nearby (within walking distance is preferable)? Thanks!

Erin: My choice would be some quality Ethiopian food at Etete or Dukem, but I know that mounds of injera might not be the lightest thing to chow on before getting into the show, so Oohhs and Aahhs has cheap soul food, Islander is good and Ben's Chili Bowl is obviously the old reliable. If you want food right near the show, Duffy's serves burgers and standard pub fare.

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Re: Brass Knob: Brass Knob also has that Back Doors Warehouse place, and I've seen tons of mantles there. I did not find them as cheap as I thought they'd be, but they did have a huge and very cool selection. They're at 57 N Street NW.

Janet: Thanks for that add. The warehouse is a great resource.

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Microbrews: It's a bit of a trek, but if you're looking for a long weekend, there are lots of breweries in Philadelphia and most give tours and tastings, etc.

Fritz: If you decide to go farther afield, I'd say Victory, Stoudts and Yards are all worth a visit. Stoudts is in Adamstown, in the heart of Amish country, so that could be a nice romantic weekend getaway.

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re: fall foliage: Harpers Ferry is a cool area for that too. Right on the Potomac. Lots of great colors.

Julia: Yeah, I love Harper's Ferry. The leaves get all pretty and yellow up there in a few weeks.

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Fall Folliage: Columbus Day weekend in Blackwater Falls State Park, W.Va. Look for a B and B in Davis, W.Va.

Julia: Another tip for the fall-getaway couple.

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Arlington, Va.: I'm bummed now that Nation's gone and all the clubs relocating to the NE. What's going on with 2K:9's old space near the 9:30 Club?

Fritz: That, as I think we've mentioned on here before, is going to be Town, a new nightclub from former Halo owners (and Velvet Nation promoters) Ed Bailey and John Guggenmos. They're expecting to be open by the end of the year. It's going to be the largest gay nightclub in the area, and the buzz I hear about the interior is pretty cool.

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Washington, D.C.: Frederick Brewing Co/Flying Dog also has tours on Saturday, it's free and worth the hike.

Fritz: Right, right. Frederick. How could I forget their In Heat Wheat and Old Scratch?

Thanks.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Gurus! I am a lovely niece who is taking my aunt to see Tim Gunn at the Corcoran this evening. I am also trying to take her to a nice, but not insanely expensive dinner before (around 5 or 5:30 before the 7 p.m. "lecture") but I seem to be completely unable to find a place to eat around there. Am I out of luck? Headed to Potbelly? Can you suggest anything nearby?

Erin: We wouldn't leave you with no options. Cafe Asia is probably the closest to you, but it's only worth it if you really want to stay close. If it's Japanese you're into, Wasabi is just a few blocks away. Old Ebbitt Grill is close enough and fairly affordable or you could go for burgers/pizza at the new Tonic at Quigley's Pharmacy.

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Book Festival: Will the authors sign any of their books that you bring with you to the festival, or do you think you have to buy it there? I want to bring a new copy of my little sister's favorite book to get it signed for her but I'm concerned that, since it's an older book, they might not have it for sale there. I tried emailing the information address listed on the website, but haven't heard back.

Fritz: You can bring your own books.

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Van Ness, D.C.: GOGs - anyone know of a Cleveland Indians bar in DC? How about a Browns bar? My sports fan roommate will love you forever if you can find us one!!!

Fritz: I'm feeling the love, Van Ness, because Lucky Bar is an "official" Browns Backers viewing location. Dawg mask optional.

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Northwest, Washington, D.C.: Thanks for taking my question! I am wondering if there are any dance studios in the area that offer lessons to help soon-to-be newlyweds not look completely incompetent during their first dance (the less expensive, the better). Thanks!

Julia: I've heard good things about the Bethesda Dance Center, but I've never taken a class there myself. I know they're have got to be some newlyweds out there who can suggest a good class!

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Charlottesville, Va.: I took a fall trip to Cville 2 years ago. I stayed at a place called 200 South Street Inn, a block away from the downtown outdoor mall. Continental breakfast and early evening wine tasting for free. You can get a room for about $180-$250. The nicest rooms are suites that have fireplaces and small sitting areas. www.southstreetinn.com

From there, you can walk to the C&O restaurant, also on the downtown mall. They've got a casual downstairs dining area where you don't need a reservation. Or spend a little more and get a reservation upstairs. www.candorestaurant.com. There's also plenty of other restaurants nearby on the mall.

Wineries - I liked Jefferson Vineyards and Barboursville.

I love Cville!

Julia: You are awesome! Thanks! I love Barboursville too.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey GOG's

I am three weeks into my Beginning Salsa class and looking for a place to practice. I would prefer metro DC, but could do NOVA.

My girlfriends and I want somewhere fun, lighthearted, but also with some serious salsa going on. I have heard Chi Cha has a Latin/Salsa night- have you been? Do people dance?

Any other suggestions?

Thanks so much!

Fritz: Chi-Cha doesn't have much room to dance at all. A better bet might be Lucky Bar on Mondays, where there are plenty of beginners working on their steps, but also some dancers who REALLY know what they're doing.

Also, women who can dance (or are willing to try) never have a problem finding a partner at Habana Village on the weekends.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey gurus, I'm thinking of checking out Yo Majesty and the Red & the Black this weekend. I've never been-- what kind of crowd can I expect? What time do you suggest that I get there to get good seats (are there seats?!) Any advice would be much appreciated. Also, where can I grab eats around there? Thanks!

David: It's really hard to say what kind of crowd to expect since Yo Majesty is still pretty unknown, although there's some definite buzz on the blogs. (If you're curious, you can hear some of YM's music on the most recent Nightlife Agenda Podcast.) I've often thought shows would be packed and they end up being empty. There are definitely no seats in the performance area at the R&B, that room comfortably holds about 60 people, although they can squeeze 100 or so, at least. As for food, you can always get some red beans and rice at the Red & Black, or try one of the places on this list. My friends swear by the fish fry place right around the corner.

Fritz: I have a feeling it's going to be crowded, given all the Yo Majesty buzz, but I'm not sure it will sell out. (Still, with no advance tickets, it's better to be safe than sorry.)

Horace and Dickey's is my jont on H Street, but it's takeout only. For food, you can get Belgian mussels and frites down the block at Dr. Granville Moore's, or try the better-than-usual bar food at the Argonaut. (Don't miss the sweet potato fries.)

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Rosslyn, Va.: I'm looking for a moderatley priced placed where my girlfriends and I can go for dinner. It'll likely be a group of 10-12, Sunday evening, preferrably in DC. It'd be nice to go someplace where we can get a lil dressed-up, eat some good food, and drink a lot of wine. Oh - and we're not particularly interested in having the NFL interrupt our dinner either...that's why we're escaping our significant others in the first place!

Erin: That's quite a group of sig others who'll be home alone! 701 would probably be able to accommodate that size. You could also try Teatro Goldoni, Perry's, Bistrot du Coin, Mai Thai and Zaytinya. Definitely call to talk to them about your size and time preference.

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VA Football Watching: Southside 815 in Old Town has great food (burgers and wings on special) plus brunch, and has the NFL Ticket. Although you do have to deal with Steelers fans all day...

Fritz: And there's the rub.

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Washington, DC: Hi gurus!

Hoping you can help. Do any of you know of any hayrides in the area? I'm thinking at night and geared more for adults than kids, with maybe a bonfire before or after.

Thanks!

Julia: If you can wait a week, I'd mosey over to Markoff's -- easily the best haunted spot in the area. It opens on Oct. 5.

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Arlington, Va.: What's up with the new restaurant opening up in Clarendon where Mama Quan's was last year? I don't think it is open yet, but there was plenty of staff there last night scurrying around.

Erin: That restaurant, called Restaurant 3, is owned by the Whitlow's on Wilson people. It'll serve American food (with plenty of Southern influences) cooked up by Brian Robinson, who worked for quite a while at WoW and also at Georgia Brown's. There will be grits, hashes and bacon on the menu. It was supposed to open mid-summer, but the new opening date is next Wednesday, Oct. 3. Think they planned to have Restaurant 3 open on the third? hmmm.

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Falls Church, VA: I moved with a friend to Falls Church last month after growing up in MD, and he says it's boring and derogatorily refers to it as "the Wheaton of Fairfax County."

There's got to be SOMETHING to do around here and some interesting places to check out without going down into Ballston or Clarendon, but I'm really not sure what they are. What are some decent bars/restaurants/other places to hit up in the area?

Fritz: My picks:

The brand-new Dogfish Head Alehouse, which has some amazing beers right now (get a sampler) and will have live music in a month or so.

The Four Provinces delivers everything you could want from an Irish pub: Good Guinness, chatty bartenders, live music, hearty food, weekly pub quiz.

Babylon Futbol Cafe for all your sports needs, and it's packed with soccer fans.

The State Theatre, which welcomes everything from '80s cover bands to Rock en Espanol.

Bangkok Blues for live blues and rock bands and really good Thai food.

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Good Wine Store?: I live in Arlington, but work in DC, so location is not a problem.

I need a recommendation for a good, no GREAT, wine shop. A place where I can tell them what I'm having for dinner and they can recommend a wine.

Erin: I love Arrowine, the Curious Grape and Schneider's on the Hill. The Wine Specialist in the West End is also a good bet.

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For mom in town this weekend: Another Old Town option is Gadsby's Tavern. I don't know how the food rates these days, but it's definitely different. The wait staff dress in colonial outfits. George Washington ate there once. They also have a museum with colonial stuff. Moms seem to like it.

Erin: Yes, that's a very classic Old Town venue. Thanks for chiming in.

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Arlington, VA: Hey Guru's, long-time reader/some-time poster here. I moved down here from Baltimore last year. My favorite bar food in Baltimore was "Old Bay" chicken wings. Do you know of any places in the area that serve "Old Bay" wings? Thanks guys!

Fritz: Bourbon does their wings (and curly fries) with Old Bay on request, and this Maryland boy would love to hear from readers who know where to get their wings with Old Bay.

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U Street, Washington, D.C.: I know the Post just wrote an article on apple picking, but are there other places you recommend? Anything that's closer to the city? Thanks!

Julia: The story in the Weekend section was pretty comprehensive -- suburbs and apple farms just don't mix. I'm fond of Homestead Farm for a relatively close farm. You still have to drive to get there, though.

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Russie House: Hey GOGs! What's Russia House like earlier in the evening? I was thinking about taking some out of town guests (who are on the older end of the spectrum) there after dinner on Friday (8:30-9) hoping that by going early the vibe will be more relaxed/chill and less the trendy/party that occurs there late night. What do you think?

Fritz: In my experience, Russia House is chill until 10 or so, when more people start drifting in. You might want to try to hang out upstairs instead of down -- the tables and large bar up there make it more conducive to conversation than the first-floor lounge.

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Washington, D.C.: So does Tonic have its liquor license now?

Erin: The Quigley's Pharmacy location doesn't, but they're hoping to have it sometime this fall.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Gurus!

Love your chats, thanks a bunch. Have been wanting to get some wheels and been debating between Zipcar and Flexcar. Do you have any recommendations? Thanks!!

Fritz: I have both. It really depends where you live. Near me, there are more Zipcars than Flexcars, but the Zips also seem to be reserved more often than the Flexs. You might want to get a friend who has one or the other log in for you and see how many vehicles are located near your home/work address, and see what's more convenient.

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Washignton, DC: My sister-in-law is on her own during the day tomorrow with my baby niece. She used to live here, so getting around isn't much of an issue. She wants to know what the best exhibits are right now. I already recommended the Renwick since the glass exhibit is awsome and it seems pretty child friendly since it is quiet. I don't know if they allow strollers.

My niece is amazingly well-behaved at 7 months, but she doesn't seem to like loud echoey spaces (and really, who does?).

Other ideas? Thanks for the help.

Julia: I'd be scared to take a baby to the Renwick -- what with all the delicate crafts hanging around. That being said, it is really quiet.

Other exhibits I'd reccomend: Hopper at the NGA, Morris Louis at the Hirshhorn and Ansel Adams at the Corcoran. Hopper's been pretty busy, but I think she'd find some quiet time on a Friday morning.

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Buffalo Wing Factory: The Buffalo Wing Factory has wings with Old Bay. Order either the Eastern Shore or Spicy Crab variety. I'm partial to the Teriyaki wings myself.

Fritz: Thanks. I've been to the one in Sterling/Ashburn, and they have a rack of TVs for Sunday football watching, too.

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Washington DC: I hope you can help me! My boyfriend's 32nd birthday is this weekend, and on Saturday I wanted to take him out. I was thinking about hearing some jazz on U St, but I have no idea where to go. I would like to have a few tapas while there, but not necessary a whole meal so we can stop by Ben's later. Also, a low-to-no cover charge would be fantastic and not super expensive drinks. Does such a place exist? Thank you for your help!

Rhome: They have tapas at Chi-Cha and although there is no cover charge the music is more on the latin side and it gets rammed on weekends. You could just order appetizers at Cafe Nema or U-topia and even with drinks it won't be too spendy. I'm partial to the gumbo at the latter.

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Seven Corners, VA: I live just a couple blocks from the new Dogfish Head in Falls Church; I drove by last night at about 8:30pm and it looked PACKED. The parking lot was pretty darn full and there were people standing outside the front door. I can't wait to try it (we've vowed it will be our new hangout, since it's the only decent place walking distance from our house).

Fritz: I figured that was going to be the case. I'm just so glad the place is open. Hopefully I'll have a full report next week.

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Markoff's: Is Markoff's a good place to bring a group of 15-20 people?

I want to dress-up for Halloween and have a party, but I don't just want to bar hop.

Thanks!!

Julia: Yeah definitely! The place is huge.

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Alexandria, Va.: My fiancee and I are looking for a good breakfast place in DC/VA. On Saturdays and Sundays, we usually make waffles or pancakes and bacon, but we also would like a good alternative. Not a brunch spot, but a true breakfast place. Waffles, french toast, pancakes, etc. Any thoughts?

Erin: In Alexandria, I love the divey Jack's Place on Lee Street. Everything's served in the little plastic baskets and it's quite good.

Florida Avenue Grill is fantastic and you can add scrapple to your plate. It's not going to be brioche French toast with a berry reduction and whipped organic butter, but it's delicious.

The Va. diners are good best, too. Bob and Edith's, 29 and even Adams Morgan's Diner (and its sister Open City) are breakfast places. You can try Luna Grill as well.

Hotels are a good place to look for breakfast foods. They have their captive audience, so you can take advantage of their offerings. I like Morrison House's breakfast.

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U Street, Washington, D.C.: I'm wondering if you know of any fun wine tastings this weekend?

Julia: There's one out in the Shenandoah region, but it's more of a family festival with wine tasting on the side (there will only be five vineyards there).

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Ballston, Va.: I have to give a different opinion of Horton's wines for people that might be discouraged. I think their Cabernet Franc is divine, and they have one called Norton that is also good and made from a grape variety that is native to this area.

Julia: Another take on Horton's wines.

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Washington, D.C.: GOGS! Help me convince my friends that the POTUS at Lotus thing is a terrible way to spend our happy hour today! I can't imagine that overpriced drinks in a place where the VIP area is larger than the normal space is worth it? What crowd goes there? What is this supposed to be like? However, if you think it's a good idea (but didn't make the NL agenda!) lemme know. Don't tell me I'm on my own!

Thanks!!

Fritz: I don't think the VIP area -- the back room -- is larger than the front room at Lotus, and it's not as crowded at happy hour. (You can even sit down if you like.) That said, the drinks are more expensive than most happy hours. I might go tomorrow, when it's open bar from 7-9 for $25, which is usually about the price of two martinis.

Lotus draws a well-dressed international crowd on the weekends -- lots of striped shirts and dresses -- but the happy hour crowds tend to come more from nearby offices, so it's a little more casual.

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Washington, D.C.: Re: Weekend looking at leaves. Last week I looked for available Charlottesville-area bed and breakfasts for a weekend in October, and most are booked for the weekends due to the foiliage (and football on some of the weekends). There are a few here and there that have availability, but rare is the place that doesn't require a two-night stay on the weekend. So start looking now (and that counts for anywhere in the Shenandoahs/Blue Ridge). If you want to be in the Charlottesville area, be willing to stay in places 20-40 minutes away from Charlottesville to expand your options. Finally, if you can take time off during the week or do a Sunday/Monday trip, your options for places to stay increase and the number-of-night restrictions decrease. I'm happy to say I found a place (two nights instead of one) but it took some phone calls and googling.

Julia: Good advice. Get to planning those weekend getaways now, folks.

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Birthday Town: Heh, heh. Birthday Town.

Anyway, it's my birthday on Saturday. I have plans for the evening, but it's supposed to be a beautiful day and I would like to have brunch or lunch outside. Or maybe even go to an outdoor event. I don't want to stray too far from Alexandria and I don't want to spend a lot of money. Old Town doesn't seem to have a lot of outdoor dining options. Any ideas?

Erin: Happy Birthday. There are plenty of outdoor patios in Old Town, but many of them are behind the restaurants, so they're not visible from the street. How about Taverna Cretekou or Le Gaulois? In S. Old Town, Southside 815 and its neighbor Faccia Luna both have patios and Farrah Olivia across the street has a nice one. Don't forget about Evening Star Cafe, Taqueria Poblano or Los Tios in Del Ray?

As an FYI, Hank's on King Street hopes to have its tiny patio (probably around 10 seats) open by Tuesday.

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Glover Park, D.C.: Hi GOGs!

I'm submitting Wednesday because I'm a dork and really hoping for an answer.

A few of my friends were talking about 'Bartoberfest' on Saturday and I was wondering what you can tell me about it? I can't seem to find much information but heard it's been going on for a few years...

Fritz: I can't remember seeing "Bartoberfest" before, but this event has been running for over a decade as the Cap City Fall Bar Tour. It's fairly established and reputable. You hop between a dozen-or-so bars offering $2 beers. It can be fun with a group, I think.

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Good Wine Store: Have you ever tried Best Cellars? Locations in Dupont Circle and Clarendon. I like how they've got the wines organized by flavor (bold, smooth, sweet...). The Dupont one has wine tastings every Friday night, and you can sign up for notices about what the tastings will be.

Erin: Yes, Best Cellars has fantastic deals, but not the extensive variety. So if you have specific dishes in mind and are looking for ideal pairings, your choices might be more limited than a conventional store.

BC does good tastings, though.

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Washington, D.C.: Any recommendations for good tours this Saturday as part of the Walking Town DC Tours?

Julia: Fritz and I were just talking about this the other day. We both like the U Street tour and he raves about the Congressional Cemetary Tour. He's had his eye on the Embassy tour for a while too. The tour in the Barracks Row area would pair up nicely with a trip to Barracks Row Fest.

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Fairfax, VA: I was at the Dogfish Head Alehouse in Seven Corners last night for the big opening. Yes it was busy but the staff were friendly and efficient, the appetizers were good, and the beer...well, it's DFH awesomeness. The big official grand opening will be in a month or so.

Fritz: Glad to hear it. Grand opening is scheduled for Nov. 6, as per my blog post yesterday. By that point, they hope to be offering live music.

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Washington, D.C.: I tried pumpkin beer at EatBar in Arlington last night. Eh. I've never been a fan, but the girls I was with couldn't stop raving about it. I prefer my pumpkins in pie.

Fritz: I wasn't going to say pumpkin beer was a girl thing, but you seem to have made my point.

I dunno. Except Dogfish, every pumpkin beer I've tried has been to sweet, and not even the good kind of sweet, like Belgian tripels.

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Pumpkin Beer!: the Food Section had an article on it and where to get it yesterday.

Fritz: Yep. They mentioned Mike McCarthy's over at Cap City Shirlington. I think highly of him as a brewer, but Cap City's release dates always confuse me. Their Oktoberfest beer is going on tap about two weeks after every other brewpub in the area, and the pumpkin beer won't be out until Oct. 24.

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few of my friends were talking about 'Bartoberfest' on Saturday and I was wondering what you can tell me about it? I can't seem to find much information but heard it's been going on for a few years... : sounds like a plant question. If his freinds were talking about it, he could just ask them...

Fritz: You should see the plant questions we don't answer.

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Falls Church, Va.: I've never been to the Holocaust Museum and I am thinking about going on 10/13. Any tips? Does one still need to get tickets in advance, like back when it opened?

Julia: You can usually get tickets to the permanent exhibit on the day of, but it's probably easier just to get them in advance so you don't have to get the timed tickets and then come back when it's your time. Find more information on the museum's official site.

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Alexandria, Va.: For the person looking for breakfast places in DC/VA -- try the "Original Pancake House" on W. Broad in Falls Church. I think it's a chain, but the pumpkin pancakes are seriously to die for. And real whipped cream. Mmmmm.

Erin: Ooh, I've never been, but I love pumpkin pancakes. We need some of the great LA/NY/SF breakfast places to open here.

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Arlington, Va.: Fritz,

What's the deal with Dr. Dremo's? How late do they plan to keep its outside bar open Thurs-Sat? I've heard the rumors it is closing in 2008, and I want to make sure to get some more Purple Haze before it's gone!

Fritz: The patio at Dremo's is open until midnight or so, I think. Could be later, since time seems to stand still when I'm under that cement overhang, playing darts or sitting with friends on some plastic patio furniture. I was over last week, and they have four Oktoberfest beers on right now, including Brooklyn's.

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Re: Pumpkin Beer: So Fritz, as a dude you are telling me I can't enjoy a good Pumpkin Ale? What's next, I can't order Zima or White Zin without having my man card revoked?!

Fritz: REVOKED!

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Charlottesville, VA: Despite having worked in Alexandria during the early 90s, we haven't been back to Old Town since mocing to central VA in 1995 as our trips have been DC-centric. This weekend we are remedying that by staying in Old Town. Where you would suggest be the best place to enjoy drinks near the river late afternoon/early evening Saturday?

Fritz: Right in Old Town, you should try Mai Thai, which has a patio right on the Potomac River at the base of King Street. If you have a car, though, I'd go for a cocktail at Indigo Landing, a restaurant/bar that's right on the Potomac River on Dangerfield Island. It's closing for the season on Sunday, so you'll just have time to visit.

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Re: Zima and White Sin: For the record, women shouldn't order those either!

Fritz: No. That would bring my Date Lab to a screeching halt.

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Hillcrest, D.C.: Any recommendations for relatively close by pumpkin patch to take the kiddies? Preferably one with, well, pumpkins, and games/activites for small kids? Thanks.

Julia: Don't know how close you want, but Cox's Farms is one of my faves. I went there every year on field trips when I was a kid.

Krop's Crops is another option. Better yet, it's right down the road from Great Falls Park.

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Arlington, Va.: I have an eclectic group of friends coming into town this weekend (range from shy to wild child; hippie to prep) and am in charge of planning Saturday night's outing. We're all in our early to mid twenties, and I'm looking for a lounge type place that has some class, but isn't too expensive -- quiet enough that we can hang out and talk but lively enough that we could mingle -- perhaps some dancing but definitely not a clubby scene. We were hoping to either go out in Arlington, Georgetown, or Capitol Hill. I know Eleventh might be a good choice, or maybe the Waterfront. What is Irish Times like on the weekends? Other suggestions? Please help!

Fritz: "Lounge type place" rules out the crowded waterfront and the college-dive atmosphere of the Irish Times, which is full of staffers and students getting their drink on on Saturday nights. (They do have a dance floor, though.) For lounge-with-dancing, I'd say Eleventh (get down in the basement, get there early to get a table and mingle in the main room), maybe Gua-Rapo. The problem here is that most lounges -- class with some couches and seating -- are going to be crowded on weekends.

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Washington, DC: Gurus- LOVE the chat!

Two dancing related questions:

First, my group of friends likes to go dancing to top 40/80's, etc. Where are some places I can convince them to go on Friday and Saturday nights beside Angry Inch, Brass Monkey, Tom-Tom's and Nolan's? Doesn't have to be in Adams Morgan.

Also, where can I find a dance party with international music? Anything from Alabina, to Wyclef Jean, to A.R. Rahman, etc. The more chill, the better!

P.S.- I hate cover charges!

Rhome: You pretty much nailed all the weekend options. Try Heaven & Hell if you're willing to party on Thursday. There's always Rumors too. No booing from the peanut gallery on that one.

Lots of good African music at Ghana Cafe and you'll get DJs at ESL who dip into North Africa and South America.

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Dupont Circle: Hi GOGs! Is the Visions Cafe and Cinema still open for business? My boyfriend's always raving about it and I wanted to take him for his upcoming b-day. (I work across the street, and IMHO, the place always looks dark and deserted.)

Julia: No, it definitely closed like four years ago. Bummer too -- your boyfriend's right; it was a great place to catch a movie.

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washingtonpost.com: That's all for us today, kiddos! Have a great weekend! And if you're still looking for something to do on Sunday, please make your way over to Crafty Bastards -- easily my favorite outdoor shopping fest.

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