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The Going Out Gurus
of the City Guide
Thursday, January 31, 2008; 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.

Submit your questions and comments before or during today's discussion.

____________________ With the Super Bowl and Super Tuesday (especially Super because it is also Mardi Gras) coming up, I'm starting to get a certain South Park movie song in my head. ... But how are you? Where will your going out allegiances fall this week? Let's hear from you, and in advance, let me say, thanks for asking.


Washington, DC: Hey GOGs,

I was wondering where I can catch some of the African Cup of Nations soccer matches? I saw your blog post about Roger Miller's Restaurant in Silver Sprung but I need some other places within the city.

Fritz: Nowhere I called in the city -- African restaurants, sports bars, other places -- said they would be showing the matches. Like I said in my blog post, I've been going to Roger Miller for more than one ACON. You can't beat the atmosphere -- or the groundnut stew and the Guinness Extra Stout. I just wish my French was better.


Dupont Circle, D.C.: Hi Gurus! Mom is coming to town in a few weeks and I'm thinking of taking her to Eastern Market on Saturday--any great brunch spots in the area? Thanks!

Erin: Well, the most happening Saturday morning spot is always Market Lunch for divine pancakes, but that's hardly the leisurely brunch experience you'll probably want with mom. I would recommend nabbing a table at the adorable french bistro Montmartre or heading down to Belga Cafe.


20009 DC: Last Saturday, after catching an early afternoon movie at E Street, my boyfriend and I were left high and dry when searching U St. for a bar with good draft beers around 4pm. All our usual haunts (Saloon, Stetson's, Bar Pilar) were closed. Where can two early birds go for some afternoon beers in NW DC? Thanks!!

Fritz: Places where I day-drink in D.C. when I have Fridays off... Saint-Ex, Elephant and Castle, Tune Inn, Biddy Mulligan's, Post Pub. All open from 11 a.m. on. And Tune Inn, God Bless It, has Keno.

That's a start. Chatters?


Washington, D.C.: Anything new in the D.C. beer world? Any limited releases or new rarities on tap?

Fritz: I loved Brigand, a strong Belgian ale, when I had it at Beck the other day. And as we mentioned in our Nightlife Agenda column, Rustico is having a big party on Tuesday with Eggenberg Sammiclaus (!!!) and Victory's Donnybrook Stout. I'm really looking forward to the latter, as Rustico will be the only place in the DMV that will be carrying it for the foreseeable future.

Hmmmm. A beer you can only find one place in the D.C. area. Why does that sound so familiar?


Washington, D.C.: My friend loaned me this great necklace that had a pepper on it. I want something similar, as in unconventional, but not the same so we don't look like twins. Do you have any suggestions?

Janet: The most unusual jewelry I've seen around town comes from Jewelerswerk. The owner recently opened a store in Cady's Alley, and it's so much fun to go and look through the drawers, where most of the jewelry is kept.


Arlington, Va.: Hi Guys-

I'm looking for a place to escape to this weekend. I'm planning on proposing to my girlfriend and am looking for a winter getaway complete with roaring fireplace, champagne and great dining nearby. Other pluses would be massages and wine tasting. I was thinking about Charlottesville, but will entertain any suggestion at this point!

Jen: Charlottesville is a good option. Shenandoah Valley area is a great idea, too, and I'm sure there are many, many others.

Readers, feel free to offer more suggestions.


Adams Morgan, D.C.: Ok guys heres the rub. For our honeymoon we are going to Turkey, I have been tons but my future wife hasn't, I have taken here to Meza in the neighborhood which is good but was hoping this weekend to take her to a more tradisional Turkish place with lots of great meza do you know of any?

Erin: Hardly a rub! That sounds like a pretty lucky situation. Have you tried out Cafe Divan in Georgetown? I think that they do a nice job with their dishes. I am fond of the meze platter, but most fondly remember the pides. Beyond that, you could try Nizam's in Vienna.


The District: Hey, ya'll:

Can you give some good advice for a hipster Valentine's Day?

Usually it's Amatuer Night Out (like New Year's Eve) - so I

tend to not participate. But this is my first V-Day with my

very cool new wife. And I'd like something better than a

restaurant. She said the best V-Day present she ever got was

tickets to see David Bowie. So I'm counting on you to keep

her from thinking back to past boyfriends who did it better.

Rhome: The O'Jays will be in town. No, it's not cheap, but it's the O'Jays. You could also get cerebral with one of DC's brightest creative minds or get campy widdit.

Don't go to any popular restaurants, but you know that already. Find someplace obscure to avoid The Swarm.

And about past boyfriends, whatever homie, you're married. Focus on making new memories that are awesome.


Alexandria, Va.: Hello Gurus!

I was hoping you could guide me for something fun to plan for Valentine's Day that isn't a restaurant - maybe something cultural, artsy or musical? Any good shows that night? I would like to save the romantic dinner for Friday or Saturday to avoid the special Valentine's menus but still want to take my girlfriend out somewhere and she wants us to do more diverse things.

I know I am being vague, but any tips on cool shows or things to do Thursday night would score me big points!


Julia: Actually, there are a bunch of great artsy ideas for the evening. The Torpedo Factory will be hosting its regular Thursday night arts event that evening and the theme is Heart Art. Visitors get to check out live music in addition to all of the art in the galleries and studios. Admission is free and you'll also be treated to complimentary flowers and candy.

You could also check out the love letter display at the Reynolds Center until 7 p.m. and then head over to Flashpoint for the opening of Anima Mundi, and exhibition that deals with humans and their relationship to nature.

If you want something a little fancier -- that also includes dinner -- check out this option at the Corcoran. Doesn't sound like a bad deal to me!


Washington, D.C.: Not sure if one of you is a beauty guru, but do you know who in the DC area sells Kusco-Murphy hair products? I'm looking for their Beach Hair. Online sellers seem to only be overseas.


Janet: I'm pretty sure that Bluemercury in Gtown used to sell it. I haven't seen it here lately, but you might want to call and ask if they could possibly get it for you. Have you tried Bellacara in Alexandria?


Annandale Dude: My adult beverage drinking hero,

What are your prognostications for Gallardo as United's DP?

Where in RFK do you stand?

Where are you reading that Drogba will move to Spain (La Liga?)


Fritz: 1. I didn't think he was all that hot at PSG, and no one in the supporters group there liked him -- they thought he was lazy and a prima donna. Let's hope they're wrong.

2. Usually with the Screaming Eagles, because I tend to go to work after games, and it's hard to go to bars when you're covered with thrown beer. (No offense to the Barra, who I was with in the playoffs last season.)

3. Everywhere in the English press, and the ACON press, too. He's reportedly told at least one of his teammates he's off to Barca or Real Madrid.


Ballston, Va.: Since you all tend to know this sort of stuff.

I have a wool sweater I got when I was in Scotland a couple years back. It has developed a small hole that I would like to get repaired. Do you know any place around Arlington that might be able to do this type of repair?

Janet: Sorry, I don't know any place around Arlington, but Xenia at Parkway Custom Drycleaning (301.652.3377) in Chevy Chase has experience with fixing holes in sweaters.


Silver Spring, Md.: Hi guys. What good bars are there in Old Town Alexandria to hangout in on friday and saturday nights? Any good deals? I always hear about good restaurants, but not much about bars- please not that speakesy type place, we're beer drinkers and like more casual bars! I want to go there this weekend with some friends to change up the weekend bar routine. A few suggestions would be great so we can bar hop. Thanks!

Fritz: There's not a lot for beer drinkers in Alexandria. I honestly don't think the city doesn't like bars. The few exceptions: The divey Southside 815, a good selection of microbrews at Vermilion, the casual Bayou Room (under 219) and maybe the front room of the Union Pub. Vermilion's my favorite of the lot, but I like that spot when it's not too crowded to move.


Dreamin' of the Beach: Hey Gurus, hope you can help me out! My birthday is coming up and I was thinking of doing a beachy-themed dinner with friends. Because I hate cold and winter, but can't afford to run away to Mexico right now, I thought some fun tropical drinks would be inexpensive escapism and a good way to celebrate turning a year older. Where would you suggest I go for some low-key, beachy fun? A crab house? A tiki bar (are there any in the area)? There will be 8-10 of us in our late 20s. Thanks for your advice!

Erin: Cafe Trope off Dupont (in the old 21P spot) has a great selection of tropical drinks. They have a blue lagoon, a few with Caribbean-themed names...Mango Mike's is a total trip as well. They've got hurricanes, coconut shrimp and the works. I sure wish there was a Trader Vic's around here.


Washington, D.C.: Hi Gurus,

My sister is coming to town and she is dead set on getting a fabulous pair of jeans. We're in search of a place that has excellent customer service - we'll even make an appointment. Price is no option. We've hit the Denim Bar before, but are looking for somewhere new. Oh - and muchos bonus points if they'll serve cocktails, kind of like a spa. Thanks!

Janet: The only place I know where you can buy jeans and get a cocktail is the Denim Bar. Anyone know of another place?


Day-drink: Utopia on U Street, and Matchbox in Chinatown.

Fritz: Good calls. I should have mentioned Matchbox.

Oh, and the Kogod courtyard at American Art/Portrait Gallery. So calming and relaxing.


King Cake: Maybe this is more a Free Range question, but with Mardi Gras coming up, I'm dying for a king cake. Do you know of anyplace that sells them in DC/Alexandria/Rockville?

Erin: As a matter of fact, I am mulling buying my own king cake from Food Matters. They're for 12-14 and made and decorated in-house. I believe they cost $35. Be sure and place your order by 2/3.


Couples?: Hi, Gurus. My boyfriend (of 2 years) and I each have our own friends, but we really don't have couple-friends. Any suggestions on where/how to meet other fun professional couples around here? I'm late 20s, he's early 30s.

And Julia, did you ever find out what was the story with that group of 30-some-odd engaged women a few weeks ago?


Julia: I didn't, but I'm still so curious!

As to your real question, meeting other couples is definitely tough. I think back to the last couple of couples my fiance and I hung out with and it was generally people we met through work or through friends or in our apartment building. I'd imagine the same advice we give to singles would apply to an extent: Take a class! Do something you're interested in! Go wine tasting! But, you're right, it's definitely a different ballgame.

Are there any other regular couples at your favorite neighborhood haunt? Maybe just go over and talk to them next time? It couldn't hurt. Chatters, got any ideas?


Washington, D.C.: GOGs, am I irrational? I think businesses (bars and restaurants) that have many patrons who go outside to smoke on the sidewalk should clean up after those patrons (I don't think this should be mandated by law). Either put out a trash receptacle for the cigarettes or clean up each night. I don't think smokers should litter--and certainly not litter a known toxic substance that is quite harmful to the environment. But I think businesses also have a responsibility to be good neighbors and cleaning up after their patrons is a good way to be a good neighbor. I think it makes good business sense, given that neighbors may be patrons, most people (and potential customers) are not smokers, and neighbors can influence liquor license and other hearings. What do you think?

Fritz: Businesses should put ashtrays outside. But I see just as many butts outside Metro stations and certain downtown office buildings as I do outside bars, if not more. Hmm. Maybe it was better for the environment when smokers put their butts in ashtrays while seated at the bar.


Valentine Picks?: What is romantic to do in the DC/MD/VA area cheap and a little $$$. Best CD for candlelight or romantic drive? Best jazz spot for Valentines?


David: Jerry "The Iceman" Butler at Blues Alley is the longstanding D.C. tradition, but a much cheaper, low-key and probably more enjoyable choice would be Felicia Carter, who is starting to make Valentine's Day at Twins Jazz a tradition of her own. She's got a nice, husky voice that is a perfect fit for romantic standards.


Alexandria, Va.: Hi all,

I missed the Ask Tom chat yesterday, but I bet that you can help me out.

I have family coming into town this weekend and they're into fine dining. We've been to Restaurant Eve a few times and are looking to try something different in Old Town. Someone suggested the Morrison House, but I haven't heard much about it. What do you think?

Erin: Morrison House wouldn't be my top choice for dinner. It's a nice bar, particularly if you're dressed up. Instead, try the Majestic, which continues to excite me. I very much enjoy the swanky takes on classics.


Alexandria, Va.: I'm trying to plan a fun "date" afternoon for my husband and I this coming Saturday. My goal is to go to 2Amy's for lunch (because I've heard so much about it and have never been there), and then do something afterward. I thought about the zoo, but parking can be bad and 2Amy's is far from the Metro. I also thought about touring the Nat'l Cathedral, but their web site says they have "limited touring because of choir practice." Do you know what that means?

Any other suggestions on fun things to do in the Cleveland Park/Woodley Park area? We don't get out of Alexandria much...

Thanks guys!

Anne: That is a first-rate plan, Alexandria, if you're sticking to the Wisconsin side of that neighborhood. You can easily park between 2 Amys and the cathedral and tool around the close after lunch. Some like the Star Wars window in the cathedral, but studying the stone construction in general is pretty amazing. The cathedral has a bunch of choirs, so when there's a big event coming up, there may be practice at different times. But I wouldn't let you dissuade you from going. It's supposed to be warmer on Saturday, so you can even walk through the winding paths of the rose garden and maybe even down into the woods. Very romantic, indeed.


Proposal: Go. To. Clifton.

It's where my now-husband proposed and has everything he wants. The staff have great ideas for proposals too (we ended up by the private lake).

Jen: A reader advocating this specific inn in Charlottesville. Presumably (hopefully) not affiliated with Clifton, just a happy customer ... thanks for the tip.


tend to go to work after games, and it's hard to go to bars when you're covered with thrown beer: ... and you can go to work covered in thrown beers? Man Fritz, can we swap jobs please???

Fritz: I can't go to bars covered in thrown beer, which is why I generally don't sit in La Barra Brava. (Some guys in the Barra celebrate goals by throwing their beer in the air.)

Fact: If you get to the front door of a nice bar/lounge and your clothes reek of stale beer, most bouncers won't let you in.


Bethesda: What do women wear to Tattoo? Are jeans ok?

Fritz: Sure. I've seen plenty of women wearing jeans and slinky/sexy/whatever-the-proper-term-is tops to Tattoo on my visits. I'm really digging that bar.


Old Town: Why not send the chatter to Murphy's?

Fritz: I could, I suppose. It's the best of Old Town's Irish pubs, in my opinion, but it seems like every time I stick my head in, they're playing the Unicorn song. That is a points deduction in my book. (Yes, I'm sure lots of people like it. I'm not one of them.)


Washington, D.C.: Hi GOGs,

Random shopping question: do any of you know of a good lingerie shop in DC? I'm in need of a bra that fits correctly, and have not had good luck at department stores or Victoria's Secret. I'm looking for a place with great service and a good selection.


Janet: Try Coup de Foudre.


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

I am in the mood for some local music this weekend, any suggestions?

And please don't suggest some noisy band at Velvet Lounge or DC9. I am thinking of talented local acts like Telograph, Jukebox the Ghost, and my personal favorite (and now defunct) Cedars. Thoughts?

David: Aw man, but noisy bands at the Velvet Lounge are so much better! We run down a bunch of choices in Nightlife Agenda. My personal choice would be Shortstack/Junior League/Suns of Guns at the Black Cat.


Arlington, Va.: It's not David Bowie, but The Rock & Roll Hotel is hosting "Broke and In Love" on Valentines' Day. Details on their website, but $40 gets you all inclusive meal for two with a Bottle of Champagne, shared Appetizer, choice of individual entree, and a fondue dessert. A DJ will play 80's love songs all night. The 8pm seating is sold out, but there's still room at the 10pm.

Fritz: This is a good option, I think. I was told that they may even add a 6 p.m. seating, though that seems awfully early to me. I mean, would beers and cheese puffs at the Pug and then dinner at Rock and Roll Hotel be a bad date? Not to me!


Super Tuesday: Do you know of any bars or restaurants with Super Tuesday events?

Erin: It's like the perfect storm when Mardi Gras and Super Tuesday come together, isn't it?

You can rest assured that Washington will always have bar events for Super Tuesday.

The Mayflower is always a classic returns destination. Inside the Town & Country, the bar will serve the Super-Tuestini. I know, I know. It's a lively spot, though.

Topaz has cocktails for blue Democrats, red Republicans, those in the middle and then a flight of all three. They're calling it the Red, White and Blue Topaz promotion. If you can't make it, you'll have until elections in November to try them.

The JW Marriott (at 14th and Pennsylvania) will have lunch and dinner specials along with drink specials. They've prepared unnamed red, white and blue cocktails and are hosting a naming contest. The person who chooses the best names will get lunch for 10.


Section 135 @ RFK: Beer Shower For Celebrations

Beer Showers Are Tradition

Beer Showers Keep Beer Man Employed

You can bring a backpack with a change of clothes with you. Stick your head in a sink to wash hair. Then go to your bars.

100 bottles of beer on the wall, 100 bottles of beer...


Fritz: Oh, I know it's a tradition. The beauty of having multiple supporters groups (and multiple supporters' sections) is that we can all find the group that's a good fit, whether that's the Barra, the Eagles or La Norte. I wouldn't argue that any of them are "better" than another.

Besides, I'm unaffiliated.


Petworth: OK, this may not fit the OP's needs but she did say they had seen a movie at E Street. So head across the street to Harry's!

Fritz: Harry's still has a tobacco stench. It's kind of a weird place. I probably would have done what I usually do before E Street: Beer at Gordon Biersch or a glass of wine at Bistro D'Oc.


playing the Unicorn song: yeah, that's when I head out for a smoke... pat garvey loves that song for some reason...

Fritz: Two words: Pat Troy.


Dupont: All knowing gurus. I am totally stuck. I have a big birthday(30)coming up next month. I need a place that I can invite 60 or so people to and would rather not have to put down a lot of my own money. I would like to have the party on a weekend night in Georgetown, U Street, or Dupont. Where or where do I have it?

Fritz: Garrett's in Georgetown won't charge you a room rental fee -- just for the number of bartenders you need.

Seriously, weekend nights are not good nights for large parties if you don't want to pay to reserve space. I know they're more convenient. So do bar owners.


to the guy looking for a getaway to propose: My now-husband proposed to me last year at the Blackthorne Inn in Upperville, Va. It's not a far drive and you can stay in your own private cabin with a fireplace and jacuzzi tub. And it's very close to several wineries.

Jen: Another proposal option.


Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: Hey GOGs! So a plutonic male friend is coming in town this weekend and I'm not sure how to keep him entertained. Normally I'd take my girlfriends shopping in Georgetown or something, but he's definitely not into that. All I can come up with is the Air & Space Museum which I can deal with for a while, but I pretty much max out after one museum. Any other ideas? Thanks!

Julia: Your "plutonic" male friend would absolutely LOVE the Air and Space Museum.

Assuming that you did in fact mean platonic, Air and Space seems like a nice idea, but I think it can get a little grating on a weekend if you're, you know, older than 11. If you're looking for a Smithsonian option, I'd suggest the Nature's Best show instead. The large-scale photographs are really stunning.

You could also hit up Lucky Strike for some mid-day bowling, get your Wii-shuffleboard-pool fix at Bedrock or take up some otherwise mellow bar game. If he's into a little bit of D.C. culture, Eastern Market is a personal fave for out of towners. It's kind of like shopping -- but more like grazing.


Arlington, Va.: Hi Gurus!

I've love to take my girlfriend to a wine tasting class as a gift, but haven't a clue what organizations might offer such a class. Any recommendations?

Fritz: I've done Washington Wine Academy and enjoyed it. They're good for a series. For something more exotic and fun, try the tastings done by the French Wine Society -- they host events at embassies and other only-in-D.C. locales.


weekend getaway: For the weekend getaway, what about Berkley Springs?

Canaan Valley resort is fun too. There are so many cute log cabin rentals right along the drive out that would be soooo perfect! They could explore the caverns out that way too.

Jen: And more proposal options...


Dupont Circle, D.C.: So I'm taking a guy friend out tomorrow night for something "fun" to get his mind off of something bad that's going on in his life. The problem is...I can't think of anything fun! All of my normal fun stuff is warm weather stuff. What's something fun and/or funny that we could do to get his mind off things for a while?

Erin: One thing that's apparently funny to all of my friends is watching me wobble on skates. I love ice skating, though I'm terrible at it. It's a nice, refreshing way to just get out and be active. When you manage not to irreparably damage your tailbone, it's such a blissful activity and the National Gallery is the perfect setting for it.

If you haven't read Jen's incredible blog post on "U2 3D," then you're clueless on how fun the movie is. It's a short show, but it's like being in a best-of concert, except you're closer than you would be if you'd waited in line for 2 days and made it into the first row on the floor. The people around me last weekend were singing, clapping and acting totally giddy.


Washington, D.C.: Dear GOGs,

I am celebrating my 27th birthday in early March on a Saturday night, and I am looking for a lounge in the DC area that could accommodate about 15 to 20 people. Fun atmosphere, def. young professional international crowd, big points for Latin music and awesome drinks! Would you recommend Panache, Park at 14th? Thanks you so much for your suggestions!!!

Fritz: Well, Park doesn't have Latin music on Saturdays (that I've heard) so I'm loathe to recommend that. How about Avenue? Lots of dancing, international crowd and multiple floors so you can mix it up if you want -- and we at Nightlife Agenda HQ are fans of DJ Geometrix, who runs things on the main floor on Saturdays. Lima is another (upscale) lounge-with-dancing option.

Not sure who's DJing at Panache these days, but it's a cool little (relatively hidden) spot with great cocktails.


Arlington, Va.: Any suggestions on where to take an ex for a first date? We're trying things out again and I'm looking for a romantic restaurant (but modern, not romantic in the traditional, 1789 sense) in the DC/NOVA area, for about $100 for the two of us. Any type of food is fine...thank you!

Erin: You could do little plates at the dimly lit EatBar, which is kind of charming in its understated romantic vibes. Sonoma, though noisy, is always cozy. I like the fireplace if the upstairs is open. Cafe Bonaparte in Georgetown could woo you with crepes and Al Crostino on U Street always has nice lighting and good food.


Chinatown, D.C.: A family friend is graduating from Georgetown in May. His parents want to take his roommates and their parents to dinner (15-18 people) on Friday night of the graduation weekend and have put me in charge of finding a place (although I'm not invited to attend!). They want something $35-$50 per person price range, and probably not in Georgetown, but in D.C. They will have cars, and their son is in a wheelchair, so it will need to be accessible. Any suggestions?

Erin: I continue to be impressed with the view from Domaso, which is newly opened inside Rosslyn's Hotel Palomar. Admittedly not in D.C., but it's just over the bridge with gorgeous views of Georgetown's skyline and would likely easily accommodate a party of that size.

Another good party spot would be Fogo de Chao. It would be on the higher end of that price range, but it's a jovial destination for meat-worshipers.

Finally, I'm tempted to recommend 701. If the weather's warm, you might be able to seat people outside and the view is lovely.


Washington, DC: Whatup Gurus,

The Little Bro is turning 18 Feb 3rd...was thinking about taking him to a 18 and over spot on Saturday, Feb 2 at 12 midnight. He's into hip-hop (not top 40), soul, and maybe a little house music. Wasn't able to find much. Any ideas?

Rhome: The Black Cat is all-ages all the time. Saturday night is Emily King who is purty and sings real nice. Opening for her is Franklin Bridge who share members with Eric Roberson's band and made a splash recently on The Next Great American Band.

If I were just turning 18 I think I'd dig it.

If you want to give him that wild dance club experience, there's always Platinum, although if his tastes are non-mainstream it might not be as fun, unless you just focus on the people watching. Glow @ Ibiza will let the youngster in but it's real trance-y and you need to buy tix in advance.


For the guy escaping this weekend to propose: My hubby and I celebrated an anniversary at the Inn at Vaucluse Spring (near Winchester) and really loved it. They serve gourmet meals and have a great wine list. Many of the rooms have fireplaces. Looking at the website, they are having a special wine tasting dinner this weekend, and they still have some rooms left. If you want to eat there during your stay, you do have to make reservations for dinner.

Another place I loved was Jordan Hollow near Luray. It's on a horse farm, and they have romantic private cabins as well as nice B&B rooms, and great dinners on site. But don't go if you don't care for horses because the place is surrounded with them. I thought it was cool.

I would also recommend Middleburg. I don't know any specific B&Bs to stay at, but the town is really cute and has several nearby B&Bs and restaurants.

Most B&Bs will be running specials to try and get people in right now. February is not the most popular time for them.

Good luck!

Jen: Very nice, detailed recommendations. Thanks.

Proposal guy should be covered, I would think.


Silver Spring, MD: We are two 30-something new moms who used to club in DC during the 90s to early 2000s. I'd love to take my friend dancing for her birthday in Feb, but I've been out of the scene so long I have no idea where to go. Type of music is the main consideration, but it also might be nice to be in a neighborhood where we could club hop without long cab rides between venues. We were regulars at Tracks, Fifth Column/Platinum (and various incarnations), Heaven and Hell, and in later years, 18th St. Lounge. We don't like hip hop music. Where should we go on a Saturday in February?

Fritz: I'd say you should head for the new neighborhood near Franklin Square and see what's hot on the D.C. Scene.

Try '80s rock videos and shots at the leather-walled Tattoo Bar, the luxe lounge at the Park (which is run by former Fifth Column manager Dirk Van Stockum) and the sleek, modern Asian feel of Lotus Lounge or kstreet. They're all close enough that you can hop between them, and if you're dressed up, you probably won't have any problems getting in -- though you should call ahead and make reservations for the Park.


Petworth: Baffled. I am baffled by the question about making "couple-friends." It's a concept I have heard in the past - you know, people talking about how now that they're married they need to make couple friends and do everything in pairs. And it makes me nuts.

Why do people want to do this? What am I missing?

(For the record, I am married, and have been for a number of years. Our friends are a mix of couples, singles, and a few poly combinations.)

Jen: Petworth: Excellent question. I understand wanting to go out with other friends who are couples, or have standing arrangements to take turns babysitting for each other so the other pair can go out, etc.

But I don't understand why anyone puts parameters on how they make friends. Like you, I have friends who are married, single, what have you. Sometimes my husband and I hang out with one single friend, or another couple, or multiple people.

It's like me saying, you know, I'll only be friends with people who watch "Lost." Granted, that's a sound policy from a philosophical standpoint, but it is a bit limiting.

Julia: I'm not baffled by it all. I'm currently part of a couple and I spend plenty of time by myself or with my friends sans boyfriend. I I did everything in a pair, I'd go crazy.

I do think there is something nice about meeting people who you both like and you both got to know at the same time. I love my fiance's best friend and we've gotten really tight over the years, but the two boys obviously have the closer relationship. People that we've met since we got together know both of us equally and that's kind of cool.

Question for you, chatters: Do you feel like, when you meet a couple, that you always sort of like one half better than the other?


Washington, D.C.: Do you know of any places in DC that offer cooking classes for the less-than-culinary-inclined? My Cooking for Dummies book is proving too advanced.

Erin: Take a look at this list. You probably want to zoom in on the general section. A lot of community colleges will also offer lessons.

Don't sell yourself too short. You don't want to take a remedial class where the only thing you come away with is a fool-proof recipe for instant oatmeal. It's easier to catch up than to sit around waiting to be inspired. Don't forget how hard it was for Audrey Hepburn to perfect her souffle in "Sabrina," yet she became quite the accomplished chef.


RE: Couples?: For the chatter who wanted to know where to meet other couples, my boyfriend and I have met most of our current couple friends through playing sports. We get some great exercise and have made some awesome friends as well.

And for the chatter looking for stores where you can shop for great jeans and drink cocktails while there, I actually recommend that you go up to Soho in NYC where you will be pampered in most of the high-end stores if you're willing to spend the big bucks (or at least look like you're willing, like I often try to look when I'm there).

Julia: That's good advice re sports! Don't know too much about the high-end NYC shops, but I'll take your word for it.


DC: Hey gurus -- I'm broke as a joke. This weekend I'm planning to go watch the Superbowl with my friends, and I've budgeted a whole $15 for the event. Any advice on where I can go to eat and have a drink and get by with no more than $15? I live in NW. Thanks!

Fritz: Cans of beer at Duffy's sound good to me. And if you're a Giants fan, $3 beers at 51st State.


Weekend Birthday Party: I rented the top floor of Solly's for a Saturday night birthday party. There was no fee - we just had to guarantee $2,000 in food and alcohol sales.

The owner was fantastic and everyone had a great time.

Fritz: Good old Solly's. I went to a birthday party there earlier this month. I can see how you'd hit $2k with those delicious $3 Miller High Life tallboys.


Meeting Other Couples: Sur La Table offers 'date night' cooking classes - I'd imagine that's a good spot for meeting other couples. Also, when my BF and I took ballroom dancing classes last summer, the class was 99.99% couples (mostly engaged, actually).

Julia: Interesting. Good to know!


to the dancing 30 something moms: "Try '80s rock videos and shots at the leather-walled Tattoo Bar, the luxe lounge at the Park (which is run by former Fifth Column manager Dirk Van Stockum) and the sleek, modern Asian feel of Lotus Lounge or kstreet."

Aren't these all table service spots? (except Tattoo)? Doesn't sound like what she is looking for...

how bout Five on a good night or ESL when they bring in an out of town DJ?

Fritz: No. You can get into any of them without table service. I'm been to Tattoo three or four times and the Park about the same number, and I've never had a table at either. My pockets aren't that deep.

But ESL/Five is a good combo. I might throw in Play for some variety, too.


VA: Hi GoGs!!

We're going to Ultra this Saturday for a friend's b'day... What should I expect?

Fritz: It's Carnaval 2008! Head for the third floor for Brazilian beats and Brazilian beers. That's what I'd do.


Washington, D.C.: Do you guys know anything about the Foo Fighters tour and why they aren't coming to DC? (the closest city is Philly). Or is there a secret concert coming up and the general public just doesn't know about it? Any information would be great.

David: This is pure speculation and I have absolutely no info to back this up, but I'd guess it's because they will be one of the headliners at Virgin Festival this summer.


Where will your going out allegiances fall this week?: Patriots! I can't root for the Giants, being in the same division as the Redskins. I would like everyone to know, though, that I have won my pool, as I predicted a Pats/Giants Superbowl and only missed 2 of the playoff teams. Yay me!

Fritz: I could not care less about the Super Bowl this weekend. I'll watch it, but I'm looking forward to Ghana-Nigeria earlier that day and care more about Maryland-Tech on Saturday.

Julia: Me too, me too! As a born-and-raised Redskins fan, I'll be rooting for the Pats this year. Plus, I do have a bit of a New England tie: Belichick went to my college way back in the day.

Jen: Personally, I am rooting for Bud to capture the title in the Bud Bowl. (Am I the only person who kind of misses the Bud Bowl?)

Also, I am rooting for Tom Petty to play "The Waiting" at halftime.

David: Bud Bowl, ha. What about the Butt-Bowl on MTV? Ah, those were the days. I'm more interested in that day's Wizards/Lakers game at Verizon Center (Caron will be back to make Kobe eat it) but I'm definitely pulling for the Giants, due to family rooting interests. The Petty halftime show should be good times, we'll probably talk about it over at Post Rock on Monday if anyone wants to chime in.

Erin: I am excited for ribs, guacamole, Puppy Bowl's Kitty Half-Time Show and the Patriots. I will say that this is one of the most divisive Super Bowls I've seen. It's the football equivalent of Red Sox v. Yankees.

Rhome: Superbowl is just a great opportunity for me to eat food provided by other people. I'm nice enough to bring beer. Unfortunately I can't watch Puppy Bowl at those gatherings because of the ridicule factor. But you can watch it on the website so I still win!


Washington, D.C.: I am looking for a real Brazilian style carnival party. I have tried the ones put on by euronet, and they seem to be the best I have found yet. Do you know of something better? I am ready for it! Bring on the samba beats, axe dancing, pagode rhythms.

Fritz: Best Brazilian party in the city is the monthly Brazilian Rhythms party at Saint-Ex. That place is nuts. Brazilian ex-pats, hipsters, the merely curious, all fueled by $5 caipirinhas and getting down to samba, forro, pagode and other things that I couldn't identify. I just know that the grooves are irresistible. It's the third Thursday of the month.


Couples: I do often think there is one thing I like more about one than the other, but even the "bad" one has their good qualities. It is why that couple's relationship works -- they really balance each other out. And I guess that is how you know they're a good pair! If they don't balance each other out...maybe it is a sign that it isn't going to work.

Julia: Good call.


Chantilly, Va.: Our non-Chinese family would like to attend our first ever Chinese New Year parade. Information is very hard to come by. Do you have any leads on where the best viewing is, what time do we need to stake out our viewing area, where can we go to get traditional Chinese dinner without waiting too long for a table? Finally, where can we park? Any and all insider information would be greatly appreciated. As I mentioned, I've done extensive Web searches and come up short.

Anne: You are quite the planner, and so right that the parade doesn't have a strong Web presence. How big the crowd for the parade is usually depends on the weather, but you can expect hordes 10-people thick and lots and lots and lots of families (read: strollers), all whom want to eat nearby as well, so expect long waits at restaurants. Right at the arch on H Street is where you will see the main dancing action. If you want to commit to being there for a long time, I would go early. Tip: When it's cold, some lucky early birds try to squat on the steamingly hot second floor of the Starbucks at 7th and H, which looks over the street. Parking: you can park on the street if you're willing go a few blocks in any direction but toward the Mall; otherwise, there's an underground lot near the Verizon Center (which is right where you will be) where you can spend a ton of money. I'll pass you on to Erin for food ideas.

Erin: If you're hanging around the D.C. area, my favorite place would probably be Chinatown Express behind the Verizon Center in the ever-dwindling Chinatown.

If you're leaving the crowds to travel for your supper, Hollywood East Cafe is my top bet in Maryland and Mark's Duck House wins for Va.


Washington: Hi Gurus!

I'm looking for ideas on where to hold a birthday gathering in a few Saturdays. Any suggestions on a good spot for 50 or so 20-somethings to stake out some space for the evening? In past years I've done the upstairs at Adams Mill and the downstairs at Stetsons. Low-key is better than tres chic, and it's gotta be in the District. Thanks for any help you can lend!

Fritz: Upstairs at Bourbon, upstairs at Stetson's, upstairs at Solly's, maybe Cue Bar? Aroma's back room if you can start before 9. Buffalo Billiards is so vast that it always works, even if you don't reserve space.


Arlington, Va.: I'm from Philly, and evidently lived under a rock up there. I've never heard of a King's cake. In my family, we ate doughnuts (faschnauts). In honor of this tradition, where are the best doughnuts in the area? Preference for Virginia, but... what the heck... I'll go anywhere.

Erin: Best donuts, bar none are at Miller Farm in Clinton, Md. If you're rooting for Virginia, take heart that Clinton is just over the bridge from Old Town. Otherwise, try Heller's.


Super Bowl: This probably isn't the correct forum for this question, but I'm totally at a loss! Does anyone know where i can buy mini-buns for my mini-burgers I'm making for Super Bowl Sunday?!


Erin: Have you thought about cutting up high-quality bread rolls? That might be the best option. You could even call around to a few bakeries to see if they've got good bread rolls in stock. Otherwise, you might give a call to the bakery at Whole Foods.


Washington, DC: I know you're going to say this is lame, BUT I need a place for a bunch of lobbyist-types in their 20s-40s to have a Super Tuesday happy hour next week. Since Super Tuesday falls on Fat Tuesday, I'm not sure which way the bars are gonna go, and I would hate to be stuck in the awkward situation of watching my co-workers flash for beads. Downtown, Dupont, Chinatown, or Senate side of the Hill would work best -- near a Metro stop. Thanks!!

Fritz: Most of the Hill Bars will be good. I've been to Lounge 201 and Charlie Palmer in the past, and they worked for me (results on, good atmosphere).


Couples: I've heard there are parties where couples can meet other couples. Basically you all throw your car keys in a bowl and then take things from there.

John Updike told me all about it.

Jen: See, I heard about it from the characters in that movie "The Ice Storm." Either way, good times. Especially if you want to get with Kevin Kline (and who doesn't?).


Fact: If you get to the front door of a nice bar/lounge and your clothes reek of stale beer, most bouncers won't let you in. : And the chicks will certainly stay away from you, too.

Fritz: So true. "It's called Speed Stick! It's not expensive!"


Washington, DC: I am getting married this summer in Washington, DC. Although we own a condo in the city, we were hoping to stay at a hotel and host an after-party at the hotel's bar. That being said, since we live here, we typically have no use for hotels in DC. Can anyone suggest a great hotel bar that is also a great hotel for us to stay in on our wedding night? Something with a bridal suite or honeymoon special is preferred. Also, as for the bar, we are looking for something urban, chic and fun for our guests, that is no too pricey--the Mandarian Oriental is probably out on this factor. We also want something that is not too old and stuffy--everyone is in their mid- to late twenties. Lastly, we won't be there until after midnight, so we want some place that has a good late-night scene. Any suggestions? We were originally thinking of Hotel Rouge, Hotel Helix, or Topaz.

Fritz: The sultry red walls at Hotel Rouge might be just the thing for both you and your guests, and the bar does have its own snug little private room.


Seasonal blues: Hi Gurus, the cold has got me down. What are some good weekend activities to cheer me up? I don't mind being outside if there's a fun reason behind it. Are there any new exhibits, concerts, fabulous places for hot chocolate, etc where I can enjoy winter instead of mope around in my apartment? Thanks!

Julia: I hear ya on the seasonal blues. I'm a downer from late December until March.

Your question is begging me to point you to our blog where we have lists of sweet places for spicy hot chocolate and great exhibits coming to town. The post about the best February concerts should be up in the next few days.

For a more specific answer the Orchid exhibit is always a good mid-winter pick me up. It opens Saturday.


Washington, DC: What's the deal with Josephine? I've heard that the soft opening is Friday, but can't find an address, phone number, or details anywhere!

Fritz: I heard the same thing, but I was told that it's invite-only. When I have all the details, I'll put them on the blog.


Georgetown: So, are any of the Gurus on Washington Life's Young and the Guest List list? Fritz?

Fritz: Ha! No. While I'm on a lot of guest lists around town, I don't register on Washington Life's. (Maybe I should spend more time in Georgetown?)


Pennsylvania: I've eaten several times at Dungrat's, and I think they have the best Thai food I've ever eaten. Someone told me they have a sister restaurant that's less expensive, but they couldn't remember the name. Any thoughts? I'd love to try this place the next time I'm in DC. Thanks!

Erin: It's called Rabieng and it's quite tasty. I like the dishes that are just a bit outside the standard Thai menu. Quail, for example.


Capitol Hill: So, I quit my job and I have a 4-day weekend to relax before I start at my new job!! On Friday, I have a massage scheduled at Nusta Spa in the middle of the day, but have the entire afternoon to enjoy the city and have a little Me-time before meeting my friends for happy hour at Rocket Bar. But I am at a complete loss as to what I should do for the afternoon! Any suggestions would be appreciated!

Rhome: Weather's going to be nasty on Friday. Critter pictures maybe?

_______________________ And we're outta here. Have a super week.


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