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The Going Out Gurus
of the washingtonpost.com City Guide
Thursday, October 11, 2007; 1:00 PM

Every Thursday at 1 p.m. ET, washingtonpost.com's City Guide experts share their best bets for local flavor, great dates and family fun. Got plans? Great. Need plans? Just ask. We have the skinny on the bars and clubs, concerts, kitchens, theaters and special events that keep life interesting. We're going out gurus, and we're at your service.

Of course, we're happy to answer questions about local entertainment, but we need to hear from you, too. Introduce us to the coolest DJ or the fastest bartender you've encountered. Sound off on the week's best concert or the city's best burger. Tell us about the best place to amuse little kids or a big art fan. Together we can plan fun ways to spend weekdays, weekends, dates and holidays. The pleasure is ours, and yours.

Each week a different guru will act as host or hostess, but the entire staff is at your service. If you're looking for more ideas, see the City Guide or read transcripts of past Got Plans? discussions.

The transcript follows.

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washingtonpost.com: Happy Thursday, everyone. Fall's finally hanging out, so it may be time to store those sun dresses. Does that have you looking for foliage? Craving Oktoberfest beers? Carving pumpkins? Booking a flight somewhere warm? There are lots of questions today. Fortunately, a rock-star Gurus crew of David, Julia, Jen, Janet, Fritz and I (Erin) are assembled and ready to get this show on the road.

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Bethesda, Md.: Does Charlie Palmer still do the weekday lunch special? I heard it was $20 for a three course meal but I didn't find it mentioned on their website.

Erin: That deal does still exist -- I included it in a blog about steakhouse lunch deals a few weeks ago. At Charlie Palmer Steak, you'll have a choice of three appetizers, three entrees (two steaks and a chicken) and two desserts all for $20.07.

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Falls Church, Va.: Help 'Rus, I need someone who can steam or press a thick satin wedding dress in the Chantilly/Vienna/Fairfax area. Thanks!

Janet: Try Imperial Gown Restoration at 703-573-4696.

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Washington, D.C.: This question is for your bar expert, Fritz.

What happened to the Dubliner in the last few years? I used to go there all the time, especially in the 80 and mid 90's; it was a great Irish pub with free music and good pub grub. Well, after moving back to DC recently after living away for 10 years, the place has gone completely downhill. The staff is absolutely rude, the food is usually cold and awful and what used to be an Irish pub that happened to be attached to a hotel has become a full fledged hotel bar.

Any suggestions on a relaxing Irish pub to hangout in where I can listen to music and have a bit of craic? Thanks.

Fritz: I pretty much stopped going to the Dublin a few years ago for reasons you've mentioned: Poor service, attitude from servers and customers, blah food. Shame, because in college, I liked it -- maybe I just didn't know any better? For Irish in D.C., I'm still liking the Irish Channel, which has good music and Irish staff, and the bar at Biddy Mulligan's, which doesn't have music but is lively and has a great location on Dupont Circle. You might also try Nanny O'Brien's, which has a fresh new look in Cleveland Park. The Monday night seisun has returned, too, which is a relief.

It's very early days for James Hoban's, which just took Cloud's old space at 1 Dupont Circle, but I have high hopes: The new pub shares owners with O'Faolain's in Sterling and the Bards, a cozy pub in Philadelphia.

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Washington, D.C.: All-knowing Gurus, please, please, please help me! I'm so over the drunken kickball scene, but I'd love to find some other activity.

I want to take a multi-week cooking class where I could learn some new things and meet some new people. I have a car, so location isn't really a problem.

If there aren't any multi-week cooking classes out there (which is what seems to be the case since I can't find anything longer than a one-class workshop), what other places offer artsy classes where I would learn something and meet some new people?

Thanks!

Erin: You should take a look through this lengthy list of cooking class listings from the Food section. If they don't appeal, check out local continuing education offerings. Arlington offers some compelling classes in Thai food, baking and general cooking skills.

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After Dinner Date Idea: Gurus,

Next weekend I'm taking a date to Central (it will be my first time there and hers). As the reservation is early (530), I was wondering if you could give me any advice on interesting things to do afterwards. I was considering walking down to the mall (she's from out of town) but thats contingent on the weather.

We're both into photography and I had considered the Ansel Adams exhibit, but wasnt sure if its open that late.

Any advice you could pass along would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for doing these chats!

Julia: Unfortunately, the Corcoran closes at 5 p.m. on weekends so you're out of luck there. It's a shame too, because the museum's Annie Leibovitz show is amazing as well.

I like your idea about the Mall -- or perhaps trekking over to the FDR memorial for a nighttime stroll around the Tidal Basin. If it rains, you could check out these two exhibits opening at the Warehouse that night. Neither one focuses on photography, but they meet the after-dark art-viewing part of the criteria.

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Help!!: It's the World Cup all over again but this time, it's not soccer but rugby! The rest of the world (well, OK, Europe) is gripped and I can't find a bar to watch the Rugby World Cup finale next week. Any suggestions for a nice, friendly place in DC? I'll be there by myself (my friends won't have anything to do with rugby).

Fritz: Fado and the Irish Channel are showing the games live, and I heard My Brother's Place was, too. Of those, I think Irish Channel will be the friendliest, though Fado will have the biggest crowd.

Man, I wonder how much you could have gotten for a combination bet on England beating the Aussies and France topping the All Blacks.

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DC United Game: My husband and I are bringing his parents to see a DC United game on Saturday and are looking for some things to do before the 7:30 game. We thought about Eastern Market, but wondered what time everything closed? We are also looking for restaurant suggestions for an early dinner before the game. Thanks!

Erin: Eastern Market would be a fun idea. Things start to slow down around 5, but don't really close until 6. At that point, you can settle in for some food. If you're looking for casual fare, Tunnicliff's is a good patio for a burger and some beer. For good French food, Montmartre would be nice and not too formal if you ate early or you can take your pick of casual bar eats along Pennsylvania.

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DC - High Heel races?: Any news on the 17th Street Annual High Heel Race ( or drag races)? I generally get an update from the JR's answering machine... but no news this year...can't find anything!

help!

Fritz: It's always the Tuesday before Halloween, which would make it the 30th.

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Rugby: Hello?!....Solly's for Rugby... the owner is a rugby coach! they are mad about it there

Fritz: Yeah, I know. I wrote about it in my review of the bar and in a blog post about where to watch the World Cup, but they're not showing the games live, and they're not "officially" supposed to show same-day repeats of the games, so those may or may not happen.

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Eastern Market: Hey Gogs,

Any truth to the rumor that The Pug is going to start serving food? Schaefer and a sandwich sounds pretty tasty to me.

Fritz: I think the rumor started with my article on the Pug two weeks ago, when owner Tony Tomelden told me he's planning to start making paninis on a George Foreman Grill behind the bar.

They've been serving hot dogs for a while, though, and they go great with Schaeffer and Natty Boh.

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Washington, D.C.: I love your chat. Please help. I have a new "friend" coming into town for the first time. Can you suggest some low key things to do this weekend that aren't too touristie.

Thanks any help would be appreciated

Julia: For low-key, I like to spend the morning at Eastern Market and an afternoon lounging on Dupont Circle benches, hiking Rock Creek Park trails or picnicking by the (touristy, but pretty!) Tidal Basin. Something like the U Street Heritage Tour is also cool, because it gets you out into the city -- not the museums and monuments part.

Might be nice to take this out-of-towner to a street festival like the Taste of Georgetown or the Bethesda Artist Market.

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Springfield, Va.: GOGs!

My boyfriend and I are going to the National Zoo this weekend. Any good restaurants we can hit up for lunch/dinner that are nearby and most importantly, cheap? Any other fun suggestions for the area? Also, have you ever heard of Mannoli Cannoli? Is this a real place in DC?

Erin: Open City is down the road in Woodley Park. It's always packed on weekends, but it's affordable and not bad. If your standards are higher than just "not bad," check out Nam Viet or even Spices. The cafe at Palena isn't cheap, but it's the best value you'll find for what you're getting (fabulous burgers, amazing fry platters, desserts that are worth a long long run). If you walk down to Adams Morgan, you'll get ultra-cheap falafels or hot dogs at Amsterdam Falafel and M'Dawgs, respectively. You won't find ambiance, but the food is good and customizable.

I have no idea what Mannoli Cannoli is. Anybody else?

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Brewing: Hi GOGs,

I know you have answered this question before, but I can't find the answer in either the Got Plans archive or the City Guide. Where can I go to brew my own beer? I have brewed in my kitchen before, but I recall a place in Virginia(maybe?) where you can brew at their location. I'd like to go do this for my birthday next week, so please answer if you can. Thanks!

Fritz: Shenandoah Brewing Company in Alexandria. The only thing I don't like about it is coming back six weeks later to put the beer into five cases of bottles -- by hand. I mean, isn't that Laverne and Shirley's job?

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Drag Races: I heard it was on the 23rd, word of mouth... is there anywhere to confirm?

Fritz: That could be. Lemmie make some phone calls riiiiiight now.

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Alexandria, Va.: Any word on when/where Nightmare Before Christmas in 3-D will be playing in the area? I missed it when it was released last year.

(Also, the Upcoming Movie Guide on your site claims that editor's picks are highlighted, but none of the movies appear to be highlighted. Is nothing being released between now and January worth seeing?)

Jen: "Nightmare Before Christmas" opens next Friday, I believe. I don't know all of the places where it will play, but I know that several of the Regals -- Gallery Place, Bowie, Rockville and Potomac Yard -- will show it. There may be more places showing it, too; more showtimes will arrive in the next few days.

Re: the movie guide you reference -- that is from the fall movie guide that was printed in the paper back in early September. For the more updated version, you should visit our online fall movie guide. And for updated critics' picks, check here.

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20001: Gurus,

Where can this gal and her boyfriend go for my birthday dinner next week? Something special but not too pricey. At first glance, we're thinking Filomena in Georgetown. I'd really appreciate your expert thoughts. Oh, he's a vegetarian and I only eat seafood, so no steakhouses.

Thanks kids. You're the best!

Erin: Filomena is fun (and they may have their outlandish Halloween decorations up by next week), but I wouldn't rush there as my top choice. On U Street, Al Crostino has some delicious pasta and I've had memorable fish in the past.

If you like Indian food, Curry Club (up Wisconsin from Filomena) or Rasika near the Verizon Center would be a nice veg-friendly balance.

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Arlington, Va.: Going out Gurus! Kickball season (yes, I'm one of those crazy kids on the mall every week) just ended, and now I'm not sure what to do as a much needed week night activity... I can't go to work Monday looking forward til Friday, I need something mid-week to mix things up. Any suggestions for a hobby or activity to pick up during these fall/winter months? Preferably something fairly social, but more interesting than just happy hour. I'm fairly poor, so nothing too expensive.

David: You can try one of the many trivia nights around town. It's like kickball ... for the mind. It's social, free and sometimes even better than free if you win.

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Washington, D.C.: I've worn flip-flops all summer to walk to work. What relatively comfortable shoes can I wear to get to work in the winter? Especially with skirts?

Janet: Flats with opaque tights could work, depending on the style, length of your skirts. Although I haven't seen a ton of stacked heels in stores, they could also work. And boots are a good -- and relatively comfortable -- look as well.

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Alexandria, Va.: What can you tell me about the route of the Light the Night walk on Saturday? Specifically, will there be road closures? I'm attending a wedding downtown on Saturday evening, and am afraid of a traffic nightmare holding me up. (but, um, best of luck on the fundraising efforts!)

Erin: I participated in the walk two years ago, so I hope it hasn't changed since then. It starts at Freedom Plaza (13th and Penn), continues to the roundabout at 1st and Penn and circles back. Expect not to be able to cross Penn anywhere along there for quite a while. The walk starts at 7, but festivities begin around 5ish, so try to avoid that area if you can.

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Logan Circle, Washington, D.C.: This weekend I am debating between seeing the wax bodies in D.C. or the dead Bodies in Roslynn (I think it ends this week) They both are around $25. Real dead or Fake dead?

Julia: Having been to both, I vote for the wax over the real. The wax museum is campy, cheesy, all of the other things wax museums usually are, but it's fun. Check out some pictures here. The Bodies exhibit is very educational, but I came away being really creeped out. That being said, it is ending this weekend, so this is your last chance to check out gross placticized human remains!

Let me put this another way, if you want a substantive learning-type experience, go to Bodies. If you want to chill out in an underground space for a few hours saying things like "Oh my God! That looks just like her!," "I thought he was taller" or "Mayor For Life Forever," go to Madame Tussauds.

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Washington, D.C.: Manoli Cannoli is an small Italian eatery in upper northwest, Chevy Chase - on Connecticut. In the same shopping center as the Einstein's and Starbucks - across from the Chevy Chase market. Small but cute. I've had their pizza and it was better than anything else I've had around here!

Erin: Good to know. I drove by there last week and didn't notice it, but if the pizza's that good, it's worth a trip. Thanks for the info.

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Arlington, Va.: Not really a question, but I wanted to pay homage to Dr. Dremo's - it's closing for good in January.

This is a shout out to those who remember the good old days of Bardo's in the mid-90's.

Hard to believe the Meridian Mile now has close to two dozen bars.

Fritz: "I will recognize whatever appears as my projection and know it to be a vision of the Bardo."

Ah, back in the days when HFS was cool, and Bardo sponsored the Daily Feed, and Kennedys got punched in the face on Wilson Boulevard.

Sad to see Bardo -- er, Dremo -- go. I was on the patio the other night sipping an Oktoberfest beer and thinking how much I'd miss the place. Then I remembered the leaky roof and the bathrooms. They've done quite a number on those in recent years.

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Olney, Md.: "I mean, isn't that Laverne and Shirley's job? "

Yeah, but they're terrible at it. They day-dream, put rubber gloves on bottles, etc. No, you're better off doing this job yourself, Fritz.

Fritz: It is the most boring job ever. I mean, when you have to roll the barrels to start fermentation, at least you can pretend you're playing life-size Donkey Kong. But filling five dozen bottles, one at a time, is tedious work.

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Washington, D.C.: Where could one go in DC for a couple of drinks and split a cheese plates. The best cheese courses my girlfriend and I have had have been part more elaborate special occasion places (Komi, Cityzen), but we were looking for a more casual place that we could go to instead of having desert?

Erin: I love talking cheese. My vote for top cheese destinations would go to Dino and Sonoma. The enviable problem with Sonoma is that the desserts are pretty fantastic, so I usually end up skimping on entrees and going starter, cheese, dessert.

Vidalia serves some nice cheeses, too. That may cross over into more formal territory, but it's worth investigating.

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Gaithersburg: Can you recommend any gay bars around 17th Street that cater to a younger crowd. A friend always insists on going to Annie's and JRs. They're fine but they seem to be places for the over-40 crowd (I'm being nice). Am I going to have to look some place other than 17th Street?

Fritz: Look outside of the strip, to the packed Be Bar in Shaw, Halo on P Street, Nellies at 9th and U, and the awesome monthly Taint parties at DC9.

If you're sticking to 17th, Cobalt can get a little younger, too, especially when Jason Royce is doing his "flashback" 70s/80s nights. Something about shirtless bartenders and cans of beer, I think.

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Zoo and Dinner: My boyfriend and I did the same thing a few weeks ago and were pleasantly surprised with our experience at Open City. My turkey burger was awesome, his omlette was really tasty and generous fillings. We chose this over the 3 Indian, 2 Italian, one French restaurants, Murphy's and McDonalds.

I second the Open City recommendation.

Erin: That's one well-reasoned vote for Open City.

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Alexandria, Va.: Hey all! Do you know of any haunted hayrides/houses in the area? Seems like a good weekend to trek out to the 'burbs.

Julia: Markoff's is your best bet for all-things-haunted.

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Washington, D.C.: Do you know when Vinoteca, the new wine bar in Dupont Circle opens? I'm headed out for happy hour with a friend tonight and looking for a place in either Dupont or Georgetown that has a good wine selection and plenty of bar stools. Somewhere hip but not totally packed. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Erin: Vinoteca will actually open more in the Shaw neighborhood on 11th.
Do you mean Veritas? (Sidenote: Isn't it kind of thrilling that there are enough new and soon-to-open wine bars that we can start confusing them?)

Veritas is quite nice and would would probably work for you. They have wifi, bar stools, lots of wine choices and a nice vibe.

For the chatter seeking cheese, Veritas has a lovely selection of cheeses and suggested wine pairings for them.

Elsewhere, I like the lounge of Bistro Lepic in upper Georgetown/Glover Park.

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Washington, DC: I know a lot of sports bars are "official college football viewing sites" and as such it is difficult to watch multiple games there. Any thoughts on a location (preferrably downtown on red line) where a smallish (3-7) group of folks could gather on Saturday and be able to see multiple games? And hopefully not ESPNZone...

Fritz: Not in DC, but the best spot for watching multiple games is the new level of Crystal City Sports Pub. One 12-foot HD projection screen flanked by two 10-foot screens, and then 10 more flatscreens in a row underneath them. 10 more on the opposite wall. Eight stacked on top of each other on another. I was going nuts trying to keep up with it all.

Places where you can watch several games at once: I like the bar area at Cleveland Park Bar and Grill for this, or the Pour House. Rhino Bar, too, though you have to deal with "official" Penn State and Ohio groups.

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Washington, D.C.: Submitting a little early because I always forget during the discussion. Going to see Sunset Rubdown tonight at the Black Cat and I'm wondering what time they are likely to come on. Also, as I've never seen them before (they are the boyfriend's choice) what should I expect? Are the other bands (Magic Weapon and Johnny and the Moon) worth seeing? Thanks!!

David: Sunset Rubdown should be on around 10:30, maybe a little later. The Black Cat's been trying to start three-band weeknight shows at 8:30, but that doesn't always happen. Sunset Rubdown is Canadian and plays indie rock and it features one of the dudes from Wolf Parade, although Sunset Rubdown is a bit toned down. Less grandiose, still pretty intense at times, lots of memorable songs. I think the new album is pretty good. First band, Johnny and the Moon is kind of ragged, folky stuff, not bad. Don't much care for Magic Weapon, somewhat annoying, kinda prog-y indie stuff. That's the time to hit the Red Room.

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Logan Circle, Washington DC: Where can I find a bar sure to be playing the Indians/Red Sox game this Friday. I've heard of plenty of Ohio football bars, but none that support the Cleveland Indians. If I'm a fan, where can I go on Friday to not be disappointed?

Fritz: I called sports bars while writing last Friday's blog post, and while some said they'd have the game on, none stepped up and admitted to being a home for Cleveland fans.

Anyone out there know where the Indians fans are going? Anyone want to volunteer to organize a get-together?

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McLean, VA: I have a question about locations for an engagement photo shoot. I picked an outdoor location, but I need a back-up plan in case there's bad weather. Can you suggest a place, preferably in the Tysons/Vienna/McLean - even Reston-ish area that would be a good indoor location?

Thanks!

Julia: What about Meadowlark Gardens? That place is beautiful. Other than that, I'm kind of drawing a blank. I mean, Route 123 is nice and all, but....

Chatters, any thoughts?

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Washington, D.C.: Have y'all checked out the new Bloomingdale's in Chevy Chase? Is it worth a special trip?

Janet: Yes, have checked it out. Whether it's worth a special trip really depends on what you're looking for and what kind of shopper you are. Do you just like to look or are you someone who needs to have a mission? I've browsed the racks in the women's departments and found some designers like Rebecca Taylor who you're not likely to see as much of in other stores. This Bloomie's also carries most of the usual suspects -- Juicy, Laundry, Marc Jacobs. The store seemed to have more and better Diane von Furstenbergs than Barney's. Ritzy housewares dept., especially the linens. But, again, all depends on what you're into.

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Should be working, D.C.: I've missed the last few chats, so sorry if this has been covered, but are there any good places serving punkin ale? I really miss John Harvard's, which had cinnamon and sugar around the rim of the glass.

Fritz: Yeah, that one and a similar one at Sweetwater Tavern (also with a dusted rim) were my favorites. Too many nasty, nasty pumpkin beers out there. (Post Road is just ... the thought makes me ill.) Best I've had is still Dogfish Head's Punkin Ale, which they were pouring at the Cap City Festival last weekend. I also had some at the new Alehouse in Seven Corners and enjoyed it. More allspice, nutmeg, etc. than sweet pumpkin flavor. I think RFD was getting that on.

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My New Office, D.C.: Hey GoGs!

I just started working in the Farragut West/North area and was wondering what your best recommendations were for dinner restaurants in the area that aren't too expensive (i.e., about $15-20 a plate)?

Thanks a bunch!

Erin: Wasabi's sushi is as cheap or expensive as you make it. If you can resist grabbing every different plate that passes by, you can fill up on sushi and be out for about $15.

Nirvana serves vegetarian and vegan Indian food or you could try the happy hour bar specials at Taberna del Alabardero.

A casual -- though often crowded -- suggestion is Vapiano, which does pastas and pizzas.

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Re: watching rugby: Flanagan's Harp and Fiddle on Cordell Av. in Bethesda is showing much, if not all, the coverage of the rugby tourney. Tell Paddy, Steve, and Mac (owners) hello!

Fritz: Will do. Love that place.

The question was asking about venues in D.C. proper, though, so I was geographically limiting my answer.

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Dremo's: Is it REALLY closing in January? I've heard that so many times, I don't know when to believe it!

Fritz: It's true. January 28. Land was purchased. Plan for building condos was approved (because, you know, that's what Arlington needs right now, with the hot housing market). Date has been finalized. They're going to auction off all the fixtures and artwork.

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Dupont, D.C.: Any recommendations for a restaurant in Dupont to take my aunt and uncle? He's a Capital Grille sort of guy, and she's pretty picky about cleanliness, service, etc. I took them to Sette Osteria and it was well received, but am having trouble thinking of another place that is nice but not TOO expensive. Pesce? Cashion's Eat Place? No greek or thai. Thanks!!

Erin: Cashion's would be a great place. My dad loved it when we went last winter. It's a bit of a walk from Dupont, but if walking is no issue, go to Blue Duck Tavern.

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Petworth: OOhhh, there's a new pub at Dupont? Do they have decent live music?

I miss the old Nanny's for the good music. I too can't cope with what the Dubliner has become, and don't really enjoy the music they book at the Times or (usually) at Murphy's DC.

Fritz: Have you tried the Channel? Brian Gaffney, Andy O'Driscoll and lots of the old Nanny's musicians can be found there on weekends.

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Alexandria, Va.: Hey GOGs looking for a baby shower venue on a Sunday near Capitol Hill. Plans are for brunch/mimosas, very casual & low-key. Thanks!

Erin: How about Bistro Bis? It's not pjs-casual, but it's fairly low-key and offers good mimosas.

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Boring Jobs: Dude! At least it's beer. It'd be a helluva lot worse if it was milk. Or water. Or practically anything but beer. And it's yours! Can you cheat and bring in growlers?

Fritz: I don't think you can, but I don't see why not...

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Adams Morgan Brunch: Hey Gurus!

Where is all of your favorite places to get brunch in Adams Morgan?

Erin: My favorite brunch spot is Bardia's New Orleans Bistro. I love the tiny space, the beignets and the coffee. Cashion's would be a close second. A 1-B if you will.

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Arlington, Va.: Hey Gurus! I love the idea of a trivia night and took a look at the list you just posted. Any chance there are any nights like this in the Arlington/Falls Church area? Thank you!

David: Yep, there are plenty: Four Courts (Mon), Ri-Ra (Tues), O'Sullivan's (Wed). No need to trek into the city.

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Virginia: Gogs -

Can you recommend a good place in the Penn Quarter (it still makes me giggle to call it that) for two friends to catch up over drinks/coffee? Ie - not super loud but with decent bar service?

Erin: Teaism has tea and cocktails if you can't decide which liquid vice you're going for.

I enjoy the bar at Cafe Atlantico (particularly if I can have guacamole with my jalapeno passion martini concoction), but the lounge at PS 7's is another place to consider.

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YAY Dogfish...BOO Children : I ventured out of D.C. into Va. to get out to the new Dogfish Head last Saturday night. The food and drinks were great -- I really think they have some of the best microbrew out there. Period.

However -- I'm taking a wild guess and am going to have to say that all of the Virginia Suburbanite Mommy listservs out there sent out a notice something along the lines of "new family restaurant in town!" I swear I was at the only table without a screaming kid under the age of 5.

My question is, do you think this will wear off or do you think it will continue to be a screaming kiddie haunt? I just want to enjoy my $20 120 Minute IPA!

Julia: Fritz and I went over to Dogfish Head one night last week and we had a great time -- and it was pretty quiet. Of course, it was a Monday and we were seated at the bar.

Do I think this will be a "screaming kiddie haunt" for years to come? I don't know, but I do know that it is a restaurant. In a strip mall. I think having a few kids around is something most patrons are going to have to accept. Maybe try sitting at the bar (or in that bar area) next time? The beers are worth it.

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Washington, D.C.: After reading the update on the Charlie Palmer rooftop happy hour yesterday, I called to make reservations. They told me that they were getting full so they were giving preference to people that work in the building and I could try again next week. While I understand the need to control the crowd somewhat, I am guessing that if I want to go next week, I will have to call first thing next Monday. I don't know about most other people, but I do not plan Thursday happy hour on Monday usually.

Fritz: I'm going to vent for a moment here: If your quasi-weekly Thursday happy hour is written about in the Post, and featured everywhere, why do you wait until 11:30 on Wednesday morning to announce that you're changing the format of the event? The mind boggles.

I don't plan my Thursday happy hour on Monday. Hell, I usually don't have a Friday happy hour planned on Thursday, much to the consternation of some of my Type-A friends. But I think this is going to cause more problems than it's worth.

True, it was crowded when I was there, but not so much worse than most Hill happy hours. They just needed an extra bar station or two to ease the crush and improve the flow of the crowd, rather than having one giant mass of people.

If they'd introduced this reservation system before I wrote about it, the review would have had a very different tone, and probably not as positive.

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Engagement photo shoot: Doesn't the photographer have some ideas? Or maybe they don't know the area. In any case, whatever place you choose, give them a call first to make sure the photo equipment is allowed. I tried to take a tripod into Dumbarton Oaks garden once, and had to take it back to my car.

Meadowlark Gardens rules state: "No wedding or portrait photography is allowed without permission. You must schedule 7 days in advance and pay an additional fee."

Julia: Thanks for the heads' up -- I hadn't looked at those rules. Definitely sounds like a good idea to talk to your photographer.

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RE: Photo shoot: Try a hotel...

If you are not glued to NoVa - try the Mayflower Hotel in D.C. on Connecticut Ave. It is gorgeous inside.

Julia: Thanks for the tip!

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The most boring job ever: Doesn't sound so bad to me right now. Better than getting yelled at by attorneys, which is my current profession.

Anyway, what can I do tonight to blow off some steam? Any good happy hours at Dupont Circle? OR anything, really, as long as it's near Dupont metro.

Fritz: Assuming you know about/are tired of the Front Page/Lucky Bar scene...

Play shuffleboard at Buffalo Billiards, have a pint at the new James Hoban (and come back next week and tell us how it is), try a cocktail or glass of wine at Firefly. Gavin Holland, who DJs the Nouveau Riche parties at DC9, is DJing at Eighteenth Street Lounge's happy hour (7-10) and they have drink specials.

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Shaw, Washington, D.C.: Missed the Roots show a couple weeks back at 9:30. Any good hip-hop coming to DC anytime soon? Sonar gets some great acts, but artists seem to be sleeping on DC.

Need something to tide me over till Little Brother at the Black Cat on 12/1.

David: The Ghostface/Brother Ali/Rakim show on 11/18 has the potential to be great, especially since all three acts are scheduled to be backed by the Rhythm Roots All-Stars. A bunch of locals, including Flex Matthews, will be at the Velvet Lounge on Halloween. There should be a whole slew of events next weekend for Howard Homecoming; be sure to check out Nightlife Agenda for the low down.

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SS, MD: We're considering gathering some friends for drinks at Ceviche in Silver Spring on a Friday night. I understand they have (used to have?) a DJ there on Fridays. Does that make it too loud for conversation? Thoughts? Alternate venues (near red line, preferably)? We love Quarry House, but just did a gathering there last month, so are trying to branch out.

Fritz: In this week's Nightlife Agenda column, we talk about a new night at Gallery with an open bar and DJ. They have two patios (front and back) and if the weather holds, that would be a good option. If the music's too loud, you can go to another level.

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Re: Dremo's: Just wanted to say I am EXTREMELY sad about Dremo's closing... where else can I get cheap pitchers of delicious beer?

Fritz: Jay's Saloon. Galaxy Hut. Ummm. Rhodeside?

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Arlington, Va.: Now that its finally cool, where can I go with my wife for a day trip to pick pumpkins, drink cider, and walk around and enjoy the fall?

Julia: I like Homestead Farms -- it's in a very pretty part of Maryland.

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Arlington, VA -- Hair help needed!: Can you give a stylist/salon recommendation to a girl who keeps walking out of salons with an out of date "Washington Bob" even though she tries to show the stylist more interesting pictures? Out of convenience I have been wandering into the little salons walking distance from my place in Ballston and it just hasn't worked out for me. I am willing to spend all the money it takes for a great cut and updated style, but for some reason as I get older (late 30s) I all of a sudden feel intimidated in the more high end places. I guess I just need to get over that?? Help, this bob haircut is just bad and my self esteem is suffering!

Fritz: Well, you know what the problem is, you know what we're going to say. Kiss those "little salons" goodbye and make an appointment at Demian, Bang, PR & Partners, Trim -- something. And do it now.

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Washington DC: Love Shenandoah Brewing Co. How many boring jobs actually let you drink beer as you work?

Fritz: Mine, actually.

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Dremo's 1/28: One of my favorite bars is closing on my birthday? Does that mean I definitely should or should not collect my friends there then?

Fritz: Oh, I think that's the only way to go out.

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Downtown dive bars? : Looking for a fun, casual bar downtown...something akin to the Black Rooster or Mackey's. I want to branch out! We're in our mid-30s and no longer love the Lucky Bar...thanks!

Fritz: Bottom Line? Does that count? Post Pub? Art Gallery Grill? I like Porters, and that's pretty casual to me. Same with 51st State. All places I'd go for a beer. Okay, maybe not Art Gallery Grill. That's more for clandestine meetings.

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Washington, D.C.: My parents are in town this weekend and I want to bring a few of my close friends out for Saturday dinner/drinks to hang out with them. I want it to be very low key, but most of the places that we frequent (Pourhouse, Ugly Mug) are a little too dive-y. Any suggestions? We are all on the Hill, so nearby would be a bonus, but I'll take a great place elsewhere, too. Many thanks for the help!!

Fritz: Hmmm. The patio at Cafe Berlin for giant mugs of Oktoberfest beers? (You knew that was coming.) The upstairs at Finn Mac Cool's would strike a nice balance, and they have pool, darts and shuffleboard if you want something to do.

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Re: Pumpkins, etc: If you chatter from Arlington doesn't want to go as far as Homestead Farms, Miller Farms has hay rides, pumpkins and apple cider doughnuts!

Julia: Another fall-day suggestion.

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Perrys: When is Perry's drag queen brunch? Is it both Saturday and Sunday? Or just one of the days?

Julia: Just Sunday.

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Kids stuff: Hope you can get to this question - I'm a Big Brother to a 13 year old in Arlington, and I'm finding it difficult to find things for us to do. Partly because he has no money to spend on outings (and we're discouraged from helping so as not to create a bad habit) and partly because he only seems interested in video games. Any ideas?

Julia: Is he athletic at all? I used to play a lot of basketball with the kids I mentored.

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Washington, D.C.: I'm looking for a place to go on a date tonight. Not too divey, but not somewhere I have to get dressed up. Preferably in the 18th St. / U St. / Dupont area. A backup idea I have is 18th St. Lounge, but I'm not too hot on that. Any thoughts? Thanks!

Fritz: Is it an early date or an already-comfortable date? For romance, I'd say (early) champagne cocktails in the basement champagne bar at Metropolitain or a few glasses of red wine (with cheese pairings) at Veritas. If you want something funkier, or to combine the two, try going to Metropolitain around 9 or so, have your bubbly cocktails (half-price, no less) and listen to the DJs spin house and lounge music.

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Petworth: I have tried the Channel. It's ok. Not a music-friendly space, too many tourists, but nice to see the musicians.

Fritz: We're lacking a good Irish venue in D.C. right now, so I'm hoping that Nanny's can get going again soon.

In the meantime, I can't get out to the Old Brogue or the Irish Inn to see music often enough.

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washingtonpost.com: Okay, that's going to do it for us for this week. If you're subscribed to the City Guide's e-mail newsletter, watch your inbox this afternoon for a sneak peek at Tom Sietsema's 2007 dining guide.

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