Got Plans?

The Going Out Gurus
of the City Guide
Thursday, December 20, 2007; 1:00 PM

Every Thursday at 1 p.m. ET,'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.

____________________ Hey there, chatters. Is everyone in the holiday spirit? There are no chats at all next week, so this is the last Got Plans? of 2007. We've got a full crew here, I'm David joined by Anne, Julia, Fritz, Erin, Janet, Jen and Rhome. Let's get to it.


Arlington, Va.: Merry Christmas Gurus!

My parents are going to be in town on Saturday evening to meet my boyfriend's parents and I wanted to take them all to a low-key, cozy restaurant where we can all get in the Christmas spirit. I can only think of the Tabard Inn - any other ideas? Bonus if they take reservations for 6.

Thanks so much!

Erin: Tabard Inn is a nice bet. I'm also a fan of the very cozy La Chaumiere. It's rich French food, so it'll warm you up on what is predicted to be a chilly night and it's got a roaring fireplace. Another place with a fire going would be Morrison Clark. I like Ardeo as well and if you're in Arlington, Tallula has a nice ambiance.


Gaithersburg, MD: I just moved to the Gaithersburg, MD area (in the Kentlands) and was wondering are there any good bars in the area except for Dogfish Head Alehouse and Growlers (brew place like Dogfish)?

I can't find any crowded bars in the Kentlands or anywhere in Gaithersburg. Can you please help me out?

Fritz: You've already found the two best options.

In the Kentlands itself, there's the Zodiac Grill. They have cover bands, decent beer and a nice second-story patio, but the place just has this bland feeling of mediocrity.

A few months ago, I did a big Weekend section cover story on the bars of Northern Montgomery County and Frederick, which you can read right here. Hope that's somewhat helpful.


Washington, D.C.: All knowing Gurus - family arrives at National tomorrow at 7 PM. I know they will be hungry and won't want to wait forever for a table. Do you think people will be out and about or are they heading out of town? I was thinking either Shirlington or head closer to home around Cleveland Park.

Erin: I wouldn't count on things being too empty tomorrow night, but there are plenty of places to get a quick bite to eat. From the airport, my first choice would be to zip in to Del Ray and eat at Del Merei Grille. For more casual food in that area, there is also Taqueria Poblano for good crispy tacos.

You could also try Crystal City's Jaleo, though I'm guessing there will be many holiday party groups taking up space.


Dragonfly Question: Why did Dragonfly close? I walked by there the other night and was so saddened to see it closed.

Are there any other places like Dragonfly (loved the upstairs music alot) that you can recommend?

Fritz: The owners of Fly are remaking the place as Current, which is going to resemble a futuristic cruise ship, last I heard. I was at Fly a few weeks ago and heard that the owners really wanted to get the place open for New Year's Eve, but I've heard nothing about it.

If you loved the music at Dragonfly, the obvious choice (now) is across the street at Eighteenth Street Lounge, where you can hear Sam "The Man" Burns and DJ Tom B (Thomas Blondet), both of whom spun at Dragonfly. (Personally, I miss the 2Tuff d'n'b massive.)


Washington, D.C.: Hey Gurus! You're the best!

This may be more of a Tom question, but here goes. Going to the Kennedy Center tonight. Currently have reservations both at Dish and the Circle Bistro, but I can't decide. The reviews tend to say that the service is pretty slow bad at CB but the food is good (#31 on Washingtonians best places to eat). On the other side, don't seem to see any raves about the food at Dish but no complaints about slow service either. Wouldn't really mind slow if I didn't have to be somewhere. Do you have an experience with these places? Which would you go to? (or a third option?? please don't say Notti Bianche) Why aren't there more/better choices around KC!?


Erin: Just out of curiosity, why not Notti Bianche? The chef at CB and NB is the same and all three are owned by the same hotel group. I would definitely go for Circle. I haven't had issues with service and think that the desserts are delicious. I haven't been wowed by Dish. It's quite small and not the most inspired menu. To me, it's worth the extra bit of walk to eat at Blue Duck or even Westend Bistro, which is a hop, skip and jump beyond CB.


Belgian Beers: Almighty GOGs (Fritz!), my boyfriend is a HUGE fan of Belgian beers! I've taken him to Brasserie Beck and he absolutely LOVES it. Can you suggest other spots where he can enjoy his beers, while I can indulge on the food? Please HELP!

Fritz: For me, Beck is the best Belgian beer bar on the East Coast, let alone D.C. (and I've spent a LOT of time in Philly). Other places you might want to try, though: Dr. Granville Moore's on H Street, which has great mussels and frites -- I think the frites are better there than at Beck; the taps at Birreria, though they don't overload the Belgians; Rustico, where you can enjoy small plates from Frank Morales while your boy samples the beers; and, if you have time, Belga Cafe on the Hill, which has two beers custom-brewed for the restaurant in Belgium and shipped to the states.


Twinkletoes: Hi Gurus,

Am staying in town for the Christmas and New Years holidays and am trying to come up with some fun ideas. Do you know if the skating rink at the National Galleries will be open on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve and/or New Years Day? Didn't see any special info on their web site about changes to hours of operation on these days. Also remember a previous discussion where you suggested the Willard Hotel for hot winter drinks...I'm assuming their bar would still be open on the various upcoming holidays since it's a hotel, but just wanted to double check.


Julia: Hola, twinkletoes! You're in luck: the National Gallery's Ice Rink is open Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. It is closed on Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Just talked to gallery staffers: there is a possibility that the rink may close early on the Eves, so call 202-289-3360 closer to the date, just to be sure.

The Round Robin Bar at the Willard is open for the upcoming holidays as well.


Ballston, Va.: Hi Gurus! How is 2007 already almost over?!

What do you guys know about the Hosiery? 443 eye st. above the auto shop. My friend went to a concert/party there last weekend and said it was the best party he's been to in DC. I can't find a website or a schedule of bands or artists or anything. I'm hesitant to just show up there some night in hopes of there being an awesome event, but I can't even find a phone number and am feeling quite out of the loop.

David: That "mystery" is what made (see below) the Hosiery so hip. No Web site, all shows advertised by word of mouth so if you're not in the loop, you're out of luck. They've had some excellent bands play there this year, like DMBQ, No Age, etc. But alas...

Fritz: I got the word yesterday from one of the DJs who organized Saturday's party as well as the New Year's Eve event, and it seems that the Gold Leaf Garage/Hosiery is officially dead as a venue. The owners of the building didn't want the occupant to rent it out as a nightspot, so they issued a cease-and-desist order, and that's that.

Real shame, because last Saturday was absolutely the best party I have been to all year. Cool people, amazing vibe, dancing until the wee hours...


Gainesville, Va.: Hi GOG's, love the chats. I am looking for a nice meal for Christmas or Christmas Eve for just me and my well-behaved 5 year old daughter (who loves to dress up). I know some of the hotels closer into the city offer nice stuff but is there anything out in the Centreville, Chantilly, Manassas, Gainesville, Bristow area? Price not as much of a concern as location. Anything is appreciated.

Erin: This is a tough one for me. The first place that popped into my head as being fun and festive for a little girl is L'Auberge Chez Francois. They're open on Christmas Eve, but didn't seem to have any availability. You could call to get onto a waitlist, though. As for nice dress-up places out near you, I am totally stumped. Who can weigh in with ideas?


Silver Spring, Md.: I'm sure you'll get a hundred of these questions - but my friends and I (30+) are looking for a fun but low-key and preferably under $100 pp option for New Year's Eve. Any suggestions? We're open to anywhere in the DC metro area.

Fritz: Can you be a little more specific, Silver Spring? There are so many variables here... what kind of music? Do you need an open bar, or do you want to pay a la carte? How about food? Help me narrow this down a bit.

BTW, I think David mentioned this is the last chat of 2007, but I'm going to be taking people's New Year's Eve questions on the GOG Blog next week, Nightlife Concierge stylee. More info on that in a hot minute.


jazz bar in dc?: Hi GOG Gurus. A friend is visitin from Europe and wants to go to some jazz bar. I heard good thing about HR54. Their web says there is jam session today and some quartet tomorrow. What is the vibe like there? What time does the show start? (the web doesn't say..) Can you tell us anything about the place?

Rhome: HR-57 is a low-key comfortable space with a neighborhood feel. It's a Washington instituation, one of those places that you have to check out if you live here or are just visiting. The jam session starts 8-ish and goes to 'round midnight.


Capitol Hill, D.C.: Gurus, I promise I am a very faithful reader. I am very sad that my question got passed up because you guys are my only hope. I know that the Cali girl in the mix should be able to weigh in on this, right?

I'm the one looking for a wide variety of "roll" options at a sushi restaurant -- like the sushi restaurants in California. Spider rolls...Philly rolls...etc, etc! Anything in DC come close?

Erin: I had some tasty rolls last night at Toro, though I absolutely hate the hosts there. The dragon roll was my favorite, though the eel with scallions was quite good. Kaz Sushi Bistro has some creative rolls and different takes on nigiri combinations as well. Out in Alexandria, there are many many rolls on the menu at Yamazato.


Arlington, Va.: Hi,

Where can I get good info on interior designers: individuals or companies in the metro area, not very expensive though.

Thank you, A

Julia: I wrote about this topic about a year ago -- specifically designers who were good with small spaces (and thus, didn't charge an arm and a leg). I can't find the article right now, but ones that come to mind off the top of my head are Jason and Eric from Vastu (yes, the store) and Lisa from Good luck decorating!


Bar Trends in 2008: Hi Gurus! So in 2007, we saw in influx of wine bars that setup shop in DC. Do you think this trend will continue in 2008 and/or do you see a new trend in new bars/clubs for the new year?

Happy Holidays!

Fritz: Well, (hopefully) coming in 2008, we have Cork, Enology and the wine bar at Sidamo, plus I've heard the restaurant replacing Pharaoh's in Adams Morgan will have some sort of wine focus.

Wine bars are like freaking 30-series buses. You wait forever and then they all arrive at once.


Christmas Day Help!!: Gurus - I need a dinner spot for 3 on Christmas Day. My father will be working and my sister will be celebrating with her new husband. That leaves me, my mom, and my aunt all alone. We were going for Mrs. K's Tollhouse, but they are closed on Christmas Day. Any good recommendations? We'll be coming from Glen Echo, and are looking for something delicious. Would be willing to go prix fix, but are looking for something less expensive, and not so restrictive. I mean, seriously, who wants to cook dinner for 3 on Christmas?!?

Erin: Cafe du Parc has a $55 prix fixe menu of French foods with options like beef consomme, pork in a wine sauce, scallops and roasted squab.

Corduroy will also be open with a three-course $45 prix fixe menu incorporating traditional holiday items into the regular menu.

Indique will also be open for an atypical holiday feast. The restaurant will serve its regular menu a la carte.


Laurel, MD: Hey GOG's!

Long time reader, first time poster.

I'm turning the big 3-0 the 2nd week in January. YEA! It falls on a Wednesday though. BOO! Where can I go with a couple of my girls on a Wednesday night to have some drinks and hear some R&B/hip-hop?

Rhome: You can check out Geometrix at Eyebar.

And there's always Flirt.


Washington, D.C.: Dear Gurus: I very rarely leave the district and all my good bar/restaurant knowledge is some what DC specific. I am meeting an old friend in Arlington tonight (around 6ish) and I have to pick the place ( he visiting from out of town but staying in VA) and I have no ideas??? Need somewhere where a few mid-twenty somethings can grab a laid back beer, talk, and maybe order some bar food.


Fritz: Three choices here:

I just wrote about Liberty Tavern's happy hour, which has $3 beers, half-price wines and $5 margaritas in a space that's less SPORTS BAR than most of Clarendon.

Gua-Rapo's happy hour is a good choice if you want fancy Central/South American cuisine and interesting cocktails. Think $5 Empanadas or yucca fingers to snack on, or light rum drinks for sipping.

David and I love Galaxy Hut, which is a low-key little indie rock bar with video games, a great beer selection and a laid-back crowd.

Oh, and I'll throw Eleventh Street out there, too, because it's a cool little wish-I-was-in-New York lounge.


Hair of the dog: Hey GOGs, my girlfriend and I love the all you can drink champagne brunch special at Chadwick's. Sadly, they aren't offering it on New Year's Day. Can you recommend any brunch places that might have a New Year's Day special like that? Thanks so much for helping with the day after!

Erin: I did a little blog post on special NYD brunches. Hudson offers all-you-can-drink mimosas or bloody Marys and Nage has flights of whichever you prefer.


Washington, D.C.: Happy Holidays Gurus! You've helped me so much already; I imagine this is the last time I'll ask for help.....this year. In any event, I already celebrated my holidays during Hanukkah, so my mom is coming down to visit me from Sunday through Tuesday. I can't find much for us to do, since not much will be open. I already plan on going down to the National Christmas Tree, seeing a movie and eating some Chinese food. What else can we do? One big caveat - we can't spend more than $250 for the whole weekend. Thanks so much for the ongoing guidance!

Anne: Always glad to help, D.C. It's true that Smithsonian museums (and many others) are closed Christmas Day, but that leaves you two whole days to play with. I'd guess that the Hopper exhibit at the NatGal, for example, won't be as crowded on Dec. 24 as a regular weekend would. You don't have much time left to see the Morris Louis show at the Hirshhorn, so if you're down by the Mall, that's another one to catch. Depending on your mom's style, you could hang out at bars open on Christmas Day. Millennum Stage has free programming every day, too.


re: Ken Cen: Tell that poster to make sure he/she cancels the reservation they don't use!

Erin: Yes, good call. Please give somebody else the chance of enjoying your unused reservation.


Del Ray, Arlington, Va.: Gurus, I'm submitting early because I'll be stuck in a meeting during the chat and I need your help! My husband's company is giving us a winter ski weekend, with a value of up to $800. The arrangements are flexible - we need to choose where and when we'd like to go. Based on the Wash Post ski guide, we're leaning towards 7 Springs for a 3 day weekend in January. But it turns out that $800 doesn't actually go that far at a ski resort - it looks like it will just about cover the hotel and lift tickets, -if- we get a good package deal. We're young, in our late 20s, and haven't been skiing in years. We want to do a bit of skiing, but are equally interested in big cozy fires and other fun winter activities. Do you think 7 Springs is the place to go? Any other suggestions, either for where to go or how to make the most of the gift? Thanks in advance!

Julia: My fellow gurus know I'm not one for ice and snow. Broke a wrist the last time I attempted to enjoy the great, icy outdoors.

Even so, anedotally speaking, many of my skier friends rave about 7 Springs. It is supposed to be one of the best in the area. Ski-bunny chatters, please chime in. Let us know if some other resort is a better value for $800.

Wisp is also a good bet, I think. You can't beat Deep Creek Lake in the winter. You could even couple your visit with the Deep Creek Dunk, a winter swimming event I wrote about yesterday.


Keeping my tradition:: So, for the last few years, we have gone to see the light displays at bull run park with the family on Christmas. Not sure if I want to go back this year. What is the best display around the area? We live in Annandale, if that matters.


Oh and thanks for the suggestions through out the year. Happy Holidays!

Julia: Happy holidays to you! I don't think you can go wrong with Bull Run. I think it's the best option for Virginians.


Silver Spring, MD: Thanks for your reply! Sorry I wasn't more specific - maybe this will help: for music we're not looking for a club/rap/hip-hop atmosphere. We're more of a rock/indie group. An open bar would help, but isn't necessary. Food-wise, we're pretty open as well, but would say we'd like to avoid sushi. It'll be a mixed crowd, so something with a broad appeal would be best. Thanks!

Fritz: Hmmm. I'm thinking MoCo here... There's Tommy Joe's, which can be fun, and I heard there was a late 20s/early 30s crowd there last year. It's relatively cheap ($20 in advance) and you get happy hour drink prices all night. The music, when I've been, has been a lot of '80s and '90s rock and alternative.

For straight-up indie this year, there's the Black Cat, with Mark Zimin of Mousetrap on the backstage, or DC9's Liberation Dance Party throwdown.


HELP ME In Wash D.C.: I want to do something different this Xmas for my family outside the traditional dinner. I would like to have a duck or quail and some deer meat for my turkey replacement. However, I do not know who sells it (maybe Whole Foods). Also, I am hearing that duck is not easy to prepare, so I wonder can I buy it cooked already. Please help me.

Erin: Go to the Organic Butcher in McLean for any of your outside-the-box meat needs. They have a fabulous selection that is well-worth a visit or at least a phone call. I arrived unfashionably late to a party last Saturday at which $250 was spent on an Organic Butcher roast. Sadly, it was devoured by the timely guests and not even a morsel was left by the time I strolled in. That'll teach me to be tardy.

If you want somebody to cook your meat for you, I suggest contacting Balducci's or hotels like the Willard which often supply holiday cooks with prepared sides and desserts.


Penn Quarter: I haven't made it over to Brasserie Beck yet... Do they do Happy Hour specials there?

Fritz: I wish. I so wish. Let me tell you about the night I came close to spending three figures on beer alone... or maybe I shouldn't.

It's those Christmas beers what'll do you in.


Arlington, Va.: Are any of the GOGs Jewish? I only ask because I am, and all of my Jewish friends have made "Christmas" plans to be with their families. What's up with that?

Anyway other than Chinese food and movies, what are the options for a single Jewish girl on Christmas? I did attend a Matzo Ball last year by myself. I thought it was the biggest meat market outside of a Jewish Deli. It was like an odd version of every Jewish wedding I've ever been to and everyone looked like a cousin you haven't seen in 6 years.

Is there more than one kind of Matzo Ball? Any non-meat market events for Jews?

David: Janet and I are the gurus representing The Tribe. And it's not that weird that your friends make plans to be with their families, it's probably convenient since everybody has off work, y'know?

Monday night is the big night for Jewish events, even though The Ball has been canceled. That still leave Matzo Ball and Gefilte Fish Gala, but they will be as markety as ever. They aren't really singles events, but you might want to check out Jewmongous that same night at Jammin' Java or Good for the Jews tomorrow and Saturday at the Birchmere.

Janet: Agree with David. Since everyone is off, why not spend it with friends and family? Being Jewish doesn't mean you can't enjoy the holidays


Battle of the Boulevards: Dupont Circle/Conn Ave vs. 14th & Kst. Who wins in the Battle Royale?

In Dupont Area you have the Classics Spank/1223, PLAY, FIVE, 18th St Lounge and the up and coming Current and the still somewhat new FLY.

On 14th & K you have Lima, Lotus, The Park, and now Tattoo.

Who is the Champion???

Fritz: Don't forget kstreet (a block away) and the soon-to-open Josephine, from at least one of the Jet Set Mafia promoters and the ESL guys.

Honestly, I think Five and ESL on their own would be enough to beat the clubs around K, though I do like Lotus and (at times) the Park.

Rhome: Fritz and I are of the same mind

I see a basic matchup of style vs. substance.

The best DJs in the city and from around the world play at Five. Musically, none of these are topping that.

Vibe-wise ESL is the granddaddy of them all for a reason.

If you're not going immediately post-work, you've got to be balling ($$$) or in tiny skirts and stilettos to make the most of the rest of these. Not really my steez.


Foggy Bottom, D.C.: For a GW grad student stuck in the city during the holidays, are there any alternative events going on to mix things up a bit? I'm tired of the same old ice-skating and bad holiday movies being shoved down our throats. I heard about some place that does burlesque-like acts or a show but cannot remember where?

Erin: The DC Gurly show is performing tonight at Chaos on 17th St at Q starting at 10:30. Tinsel and tassels would shake up the routine, right?

Tomorrow night, Palace of Wonders presents the Sexy Santas burlesque show at 10 p.m.


Help! For New Year's EVE: My friends and I are looking for a place in the DC area--either Adams Morgan, Dupot Circle, etc. that will offer a lively atmosphere, dancing, and a admission that also gets you deal for open bar until midnight or something of the like. The qualification? We are trying to keep it on the less-expensive side which is seemingly hard where we are looking?? Any ideas for around $50. We went to Bourbon last year and liked it a lot and would like to try something new. THANKS!!!

Fritz: Try Eyebar, which is doing an open bar and appetizers from 8:30 to 10:30 for $35, and throws in a champagne toast, with DJs on two floors. kstreet and Play are both doing an hour of open bar as part of their $50 general admission tickets, but it's only from 9 to 10, which is WAY too early, if you ask me (and you did). Lucky's doing its open bar all night for $80, which is pretty close.


Washington, DC: What should I do with my parents? They get in tomorrow afternoon and I need a relatively short but family-friendly activity to do with them. Got a suggestion besides dinner?

Julia: If they're not all museum-ed out, Edward Hopper's still on at the National Gallery and it's a great exhibit. Seriously top notch. The National Christmas Tree's always a crowd pleaser as well.


Sidamo wine bar?: From the question about wine bars - "and the wine bar at Sidamo," - is that the Sidamo on H St? I hadn't heard about a wine bar there. Heard that SOVA, also on H, was doing a wine bar, but not at Sidamo.....

Fritz: SOVA. Sorry. Typing faster than my brain's working. But they both start with S!


Petworth, D.C.: The person looking for good meat and good cooking advice was in DC, so Wagshal's in Spring Valley might be closer that the Organic Butcher. Pam the Butcher is there these days, and can help with both getting good meat and learning how to cook said meat.

Erin: Yes, good idea. Pam would be a great resource and Wagshal's is closer. I still maintain that Organic Butcher may have better leads with unconventional meats, though.


Arlington, Va.: Where is a fun place to go dancing on a Sunday night? Thanks! Want to shake it out next Sunday before the NYE bash. Practice my moves. ..

Fritz: For deep and lovely house, you don't beat Sam The Man Burns at Eighteenth Street Lounge on Sunday night. Wonderful crowd, strong drinks. Course, that's late, so you can always try Daylight at Bohemian Caverns, where the DJs rock classic hip-hop, disco, house, '70s funk, early electro and all that pure goodness that will have you on the floor in no time.


Washington, D.C.: Happy Holidays, Gurus!

I've been dating a guy for a while now who lives in Bowie, MD and am depressed about the lack of good restaurants whenever we are in that area. Any suggestions for a fun, good place to eat in the vicinity? Thanks so much!

Fritz: As a Bowie native, I'm gonna agree, though I don't get out to PG County as often as I used to. There's the year-old Grace's, which is a classy Asian restaurant, and I like DuClaw brewing company for their beers, and, uh ... yeah, I don't think I have much more than that.


Laurel: "Wine bars are like 30-series buses"

Good one, Fritz. Dare I ask....what's the DC analogy for women?

Fritz: I'm going to let the chatters get in trouble instead of me. Chatters?

(Ladies, if you want to throw out analogies for men, feel free.)


Petworth (the one, but no longer the only): So Gurus, I've been looking around the neighborhood, thinking about all the changes lately. This brings up some questions.

I like Domku. I like Safari DC. I generally enjoyed Temperance Hall, and am sad to see it being sold. (I have had service issues there, but was more pleased than pissed most times. I do NOT like Wonderland, and so fear for the future.)I like Moroni pizza, Red Rocks is ok pizza (has gone downhill in the last few months though.) I like El Limeno, and the Hitching Post. I love Taqueria that I can't spell over on 14th St

Wow, we have many more options than we used to. Still, I feel like we could support more. So what's coming to Petworth? Who's going to be moving over here or opening up over here? We're waiting!

Fritz: Don't forget about Red Derby (do y'all claim that, or does Columbia Heights?) and the allegedly soon-to-come Warehouse Theatre, which is supposed to open near RedRocks.


Washington, D.C.: Where can a group of friends go for a cheap meal in NW DC? We've hit Haydees in Mt. Pleasant roughly 4,000 times already, and Tonic, every place in Adams Morgan and Bua, Rosemary's Thyme Bistro, and Dupont Italian Kitchen in Dupont. Is anything new opening up next year? Thanks!

Erin: Yes, of course. We will each preview new and exciting things to come -- from restaurants and bars to concerts to museums -- in our blog in the coming weeks.

As for more ideas, have you been to Moroni Pizza in Petworth? Malaysia Kopitiam below Dupont Circle? Great Wall Szechuan House on 14th? Those are some of my picks for affordable eating in your general area.


Washington, D.C.: Hey Gurus! Love the chats! I moved here recently from NYC and have never seen anything like this! I have friends from NYC visiting this weekend and I really want to blow them away with what DC has to offer. I'd love to take them to something holidayish and then to drinks/lite dinner somewhere in the neighborhood. Are any fun events happening in the District this weekend that we could check out?

Anne: I think few New York skating rinks can match the surroundings of the Sculpture Garden -- the darkness and quiet of the Mall at night or the works right around it. And then, what makes it more dramatic, is leaving that space and walking into the bustle and lights of Seventh Street. You could follow Erin's tips and have chocolate caliente and small Mexican plates at Oyamel, or Fritz's recommendation to skate at Pershing Park and follow up at the Round Robin for drinks. The oddest, least-holiday related thing I've heard about this week is the arrival of Bonnie & Clyde's car at the not-yet-open National Museum of Crime and Punishment. But your friends will have to get up early for that one.


Restaurant Week 2008?: Happy holidays! Do you know when are they gonna post the complete list of participating restaurants for RW2008? I'm dying over here!

Erin: Yes, I know. Lots of people are anxious for this list. It should go live tomorrow or Monday at the latest. At that point, you'll find the complete list of restaurants here, on the official RW site and on OpenTable to make your reservations.

I hope that you got a jump on reservations with my blog post of top picks.


Silver Spring: My b-day is coming up. Rather than go out for an expensive dinner, I told my wife that I want to spend a night listening to some great jazz at great clubs in DC (U St. I guess). Any recommendations for groups to look out for on a Saturday night or great venues?

Fritz: Can you make it next weekend for the legendary Ahmad Jamal at Blues Alley? He hasn't really lost a step, and seeing him in a space as intimate as Blues Alley is really a treat.


Washington, D.C.: I think you are off next week (slackers!) so this may be my last chance to ask this. Where can a Patriots fan see the NY Giants game on 12/29? I do not have cable. Somewhere near Clev/Woodley Park and where there's no smoking is best. If there's no place near there, any place metro-accessible would work. Thanks so much and Happy Holidays!

Julia: The NFL Network is really getting me down. In your neck of the woods, the nice but fairly non-descript sports bar Cleveland Bar and Grill offers NFL Network games on a slew of flat screen TVs. The bar food gets a subpar rap in our City Guide, but I think it goes just fine with football.


Chinatown: Any idea when the Restaurant Week list will be officially announced?

Erin: See above response.


7 Springs vs. other ski resorts: If you all are just learning/getting re-acquainted with skiing, then you could probably go somewhere closer to home. I would suggest Wintergreen. For more advanced skiers/boarders, I'd say 7 Springs, but if you're just learning, I'd say stay closer to home... My understanding is that both Wintergreen and 7 Springs have the other stuff they are looking for, sleigh rides, drinks by the fire, etc. You probably won't get that at the resorts closest to home (Liberty, Whitetail, and Roundtop).

Julia: Thank you, experienced skiier!


Ballston, Va.: For ski getaway person: I'd recommend looking into staying at the Lake Pointe Inn on Deep Creek Lake. It's a great B&B in a newly renovated 1800's farmhouse right on the lake. Not only is that area beautiful in general, the Inn is right across the street from Wisp, and there's lots of other winter activities around Deep Creek besides skiing. I grew up in Western PA so I can vouch for 7-Springs, though I always detested weekend crowds and lift-lines and would go mid-week if possible.

Julia: Another tip for the ski trip...ers.


Ever helpful gurus - : I am looking for a rehearsal dinner spot near Halcyon House (Georgetown) that will accommodate 50-60 folks in a private/semi-private setting. Needs to be pretty nice. What jumps to mind? Other than 1789.

Erin: How about Mendocino Grille? The restaurant can accommodate up to 60 people for dinner.

The wine bar of Bistrot Lepic can host 50 people, so that may not work for your party, but it's a nice space with mood lighting.


Arlington, Va.: A futuristic cruise ship? Wow - I mean it might turn out alright, but that sound absolutely horrible.

Fritz: Okay, maybe I was simplifying. Here's a blog post I wrote over the summer about the changes, and what I was hearing at Fly sounds like the concept hasn't changed that much.

Then again, I didn't think Fly's decor could turn out as well as it did.


Washington, DC: Happy holidays! I am...about to turn 30! My birthday falls on Christmas Eve though so my friends and I have designated a day in early January to be my birthday. I am not sure where to go though. I want to celebrate my 20s and then embrace 30. This is going to sound really cheesy (I am from the midwest though where there really isn't that much to do, and I just moved here 2 years ago!) but I spent a good deal of my early twenties...doing karaoke. I kinda want to briefly revisit this on my designated birthday and then move on somewhere else. Any suggestions for either place? The second place I would like to be somewhere not overrun with 22-year-olds (no I'm not hating, but I am about to be 30!) kinda chill, but also where my friends and I can dance. We are a diverse group and tend to like hip hop, soul, R&B etc. I know this question is a little broad and a little weird, but hey, humor a girl who is about to turn 30 and is not quite ready for it! Thanks!

Rhome: Karaoke? Not cheesy at all. It is your birthday after all.

Out of these options, Peyote Cafe is probably the most uh, "quaint" but their song selection is huge, you can be as silly as you want and you'll be centrally located to options for the second portion of the evening. A group of my friends got there early on a Thursday night and took it over before a couple of rowdy drunk groups came through. Timing is everything. By the time you've bid adieu to the atmosphere of cheap beer in a somewhat cruddy spot (which describes a lot of peoples' 20's) you'll be ready to do something a little more grown.

If you want to wild out a bit you're close to Wonderland. If you want some international flavor in a cozy low-key environment there's Bossa (live jazz & Latin bands on 1st floor, DJs on 2nd floor). You've also got a couple of options on that block to fancy it up a bit or head across town to Modern.


Swampland, FL: As an ex-washingtonian, I would KILL to eat at Haydee's every week. Don't go hatin' on the Haydee's. You will miss it sorely one day. Go again for me, even if it is the 4,001 time you've beeen....

And I second Malaysia Kopitiam (for whose magnificently tasty Roti Canai I would also kill and/or strangle small children). Entrees are kinda eh there, or at least used to be, but that roti!!!

Erin: Why did you ever move away?


Northern Va.: Oh, all knowing gurus, I need your help. I have just been given the task of planning New Years Eve. Thing is, I HATE going out on NYE. Or I should say I hate the over priced bars/clubs that are too crowded with people who are too drunk. Any ideas for a mid 30s couple that doesn't cost too much and isn't jam packed with drunk 20 year olds? We both love live music and getting our drink on, just don't want to do it with 1000 others. Hopefully in NoVa?

Fritz: The best live music option for New Year's Eve in Northern Virginia is Last Train Home at Iota. It's gonna be a party with a few hundred people (mostly 30somethings) getting their drink on.


Bowie eats: Isn't Jerry's Seafood in PG County? I've never been but hear lots of good things...

Fritz: Lanham ain't no Bowie. But the crab bomb at Jerry's is what I imagine you can dine on every night in heaven -- and not get fat.


Wash DC: Fritz - Just curious if you've ever been to the beer tasting events at Brickskeller, and if so, your impression of them. I went to the winterfest last night and thought it was really cool, though I'm getting to work 2 hours late this morning. Any other places that do similar or better events?

Fritz: Okay, so I know I've complained before about getting out of date beer menus at the Brickskeller, and some folks gripe about how beers are never in stock, but man, the Brickskeller/RFD tastings are still the best, most informative get-togethers around. Part of that is down to the magnificent Bob Tupper, of course, who's such an interesting host, but Dave Alexander gets all the big guns of local brewing to bring out their best stuff. Sometimes the brewers get a little too inside-baseball when they're talking about their IBUs and such, but I always leave Brickskeller tastings feeling like I learned something new (which is great, because I know those winter tastings kill a few brain cells).

As for other ones -- I did a Bell's tasting at Birreria a few weeks ago, which came with paired dinner, and it was a pleasant evening with some good beer.

I've been really impressed with the offerings at Tuskie's and Magnolia's at the Mill in Leesburg, and the occasional dinner at the Reef, but the Brick is still the best.

_______________________ That wraps up another week and another year of Got Plans? Thanks, as always, for joining us. Fritz will be answering New Year's Eve questions on the blog next week, e-mail nightlife (at) washingtonpost dot com if you have specific queries. We hope you all have a happy and safe holiday season and we will see you back here on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2008.


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