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The Going Out Gurus
of the washingtonpost.com City Guide
Thursday, February 14, 2008; 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.

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

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washingtonpost.com: Hey there, chatters. We hope everyone is having a very happy Valentine's Day, or Thursday, as some of us like to call it. It's a bittersweet day for us here because today marks the final Got Plans? discussion for Erin. I know, can you believe it?! We're majorly bummed but wish her all the best, of course. OK, I'm going to start tearing up if I go on any longer, so let's just get to it. I'm David joined by Fritz, Erin, Julia and we think Jen and Anne will be along very shortly. Here we go.

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U Street, D.C.: Has anyone ever had an "Agent Zero" (half Corona, half Shirley Temple, popularized by Agent Zero himself)? Any ideas on bars where they're mixing them?

Fritz: I gotta say, I saw that on his blog, and it looks gross, but I'd be willing to try it in the name of research. I think I've tried far worse.

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Arlington, Va.: Do you guys know anything about 80's night tomorrow night at the Black Cat? Is it more like Depeche Mode 80's or more like "Come on Eileen" 80's? Or something in between?

Fritz: Well, it's the guys who do the Smiths/Morrissey/Cure/Depeche Mode/New Order vs. the Kitchen Sink nights, so I'd expect the music to be on the alternative end of the spectrum, but I'm sure they'll get a kazillion requests for Madonna and Flock of Seagulls and will have to play those to prevent a riot.

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Washington, D.C.: On Saturday night I have a second date at La Perla in Adams Morgan. Afterwards, I'd like to take my date for dessert and a drink but can't think of any places. Any suggestions? I'd prefer it to be within walking distance.

Erin: My top choice would be Cashion's Eat Place, but nearby Napoleon would be a nice choice for champagne and crepes. For a more casual bite (and a drink of soda), there's Maggie Moo's.

You could always head over to Love Cafe on U Street, which earns rants and raves (see the comments on yesterday's cupcakes post)

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Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C.: I feel like you guys answer some version of this question every week, but...trying to spend some quality time with good friends I haven't seen in a while and we were looking for something different than just going to a bar and yaking it up - possibly something vaguely "cultural" - on Saturday evening. Museums all close at 5 p.m. - are we overlooking some fascinating conversation-stimulators that we could attend sometime after 5 p.m.? Thanks!!

Julia: Okay, I feel like this is a plant, but I am particularly enamored of this event so, um, I'll bite.

The Slideluck Potshow is like a typical potluck for the first hour and a half and then segues into a slideshow, showing off works by -- at last count -- at least 15 artists. Seems pretty cool. There won't be much "catching up" going on after the slideshow begins, but, hey, it's "vagulely cultural."

I should also point out that the National Portrait Gallery's open until 7 p.m. and Fritz and I are both really into the Recgonize show. It's relatively small, but really worth a visit. We'll have a photo gallery from the exhibit up on the washingtonpost.com/museums page later today.

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Single, Want to Mingle: Hi Gurus. Read through the Valentine's Day nightlife column but there are too many choices. If you could only do one of them, which one would it be? I'm a single woman if it helps, and I may have two friends with me. Thanks.

Fritz: If I had an ex I wanted to ... get revenge on, the Voodoo Valentine's is your best bet. I love the voodoo dolls. The *** Valentine's Day Boozer at Asylum is the best of both worlds, with an optional lock-and-key singles mixer PLUS DJ Joshua spinning punk songs and power ballads.

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Capitol Hill, D.C.: Happy Valentines Day GOGs,

Can you recommend some good take-out places in DC for tonight? Preferably in the capitol hill/Chinatown area. Trying to avoid the restaurant crush but don't feel like cooking for 2.

Erin: The mighty takeout debate!

Are you looking for upscale? If so, I'd try to get food to go from Rasika. You've also got Matchbox nearby with tasty pies. On the Hill, La Plaza or even Sonoma would be fun.

Does anyone care to weigh in on local favorites?

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Alexandria, Va.: What is up with the crazy popularity of the 80's tribute/cover band the Legwarmers? I have loved seeing them at the State Theater for years, but nowadays tickets sell out so fast. They're playing this Friday AND Saturday, but tickets have been sold out for some time now. It's insane!

David: The Legwarmers are certainly a local phenomenon. Those State Theatre shows started selling out night-of, then a few days in advance, then a week in advance and now you have to get tickets pretty soon after they go on sale to make sure you get in. Why are they so popular? It's a combination of being good at what they do and appealing to a people who like a good routine, if that makes any sense. There are certainly lots of the same people who go see the band every time they play, just like it's a lot of the same people who go to Mousetrap every month, etc.

Fritz: I agree on the Mousetrap comparison. The Legwarmers are the best in the area -- no, the region -- at what they do: Playing a wide range of '80s music with consummate musicianship. The live dynamic makes it more fun than going to, say, Heaven and Hell's '80s night.

I wrote about them in the paper before the State Theatre phenomenon started, when they were playing at Rock Bottom and such. I thought they were great, but never thought it would get to the point where they'd be selling out whole weekends to fans who show up looking like extras from a Duran Duran video.

Legwarmers fans, what is it about the bad?

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That May 11 concert: Hey David & gang of 'rus! Devoted reader here, kind of wishing you hadn't disclosed Radiohead concert in your GOG blog, but also remembering the past discussion about how a selfish 'ru is a bad 'ru. I will be anxiously watching the clock on my computer Saturday morning, and wondered if you had advice for getting good seats. Assuming online is the way to go (possibly the only option), and it's all just luck?

David: Y'know, I've got a feeling, a hunch, that word about the Radiohead show was going to get out even if I didn't post on the GOG blog. That'll be quite the weekend at Nissan with Kanye/Rihanna/N.E.R.D./Lupe Fiasco on Saturday and Radiohead on Sunday. There was a Radiohead fan club presale this morning, so some seats are already gone. There are no real tips except click fast and even if it seems like tickets are gone, some good ones might pop up a few minutes later, so keep refreshing. Good luck.

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Washington, D.C. : Dear Beer God (aka Mr. Hahn): Do you know the status of Dogfish Head's Burton Baton this year? Their Web site isn't quite up-to-date and no one from the company has returned my email. I've checked in a couple of the city's best beer stores, but I haven't seen it and couldn't get any information from employees. I certainly enjoyed it last year at RFD's Strong Ale tasting and would like to try it again. Thanks for any insight you can provide.

Fritz: It was on draft at the DFH in Seven Corners a while back. I'd certainly call there or the Gaithersburg Ale House to see what they know. If anyone's going to have it, it will be Dogfish Head.

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Alexandria, Va.: My office is going to close for an afternoon so our employees can visit some of the museums on the mall. Where can a group of 30+ people eat cheaply in that area? Is there a decent cafeteria in one of the Smithsonians or a place nearby where we can all fit and eat for about $15/person? Thanks!

Julia: The National Gallery of Art has a big, sprawling underground space where you could all fit (and get gelato!) -- but I'd opt for the Mitsitam Cafe in the National Museum of the American Indian. It's generally known as the best Smithsonian eatery -- and for my money, it's the most interesting.

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Air hockey?: For reasons completely unknown to me, I am craving air hockey. Like on a real air hockey table. I haven't seen one on the DC area in ages. Anyplace I could find one? Preferably in DC or Nova, and metro accessible.

Fritz: I've been on this job for ... years, and I can't recall the last time I saw an air hockey table outside of a college/neighborhood rec center. Anyone got any tips?

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Erin!: Where are you going?!?!

Good luck!

Erin: Awww, guys! Thanks for all the well wishes that are coming in. I am definitely going to miss these chats, but I look forward to finally having my time to write in and find out where the best 2 a.m. pizzas are.

As for where I'm headed, I'll be working in the same general area for a local e-mail that covers food, fashion, beauty and events. So long as I'm a guru, I won't reveal the names of competition!

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Logan, D.C.: Erin! So sad to see you go! Sniffle. I'd better get this question in quick: Can you recommend anywhere in/near the Logan/Dupont area for super petit fours? I'm an addict. Thanks!

Erin: No sniffles! I'm just one of a collective offering incredible information. You won't suffer a day after I'm gone.

As for the petits fours, they're a fantastic addiction.

For the rest of February, I'd recommend hauling over to the Friday night Chocolate Decadence (also hosted tonight) at the Ritz in the West End. The place offers petits fours, eights, dozens. Make a reservation in advance and gorge.

At the bar of Equinox, you can order their petits fours. There's no bar menu there, but if you call ahead to make sure that they can accommodate you, it's worth the walk.

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Arlington, VA: With Dr. Dremos gone, there's a gaping hole in my social life and neighborhood. I'm looking for bars in the area with games and such (anything will do: darts, billiards, Big Buck Hunter, pinball, whatever). I know about The Continental and Whitlow's, but anything at points in between?

Also, what's the scoop on the newish King Street Blues in Courthouse?

Fritz: Lessee... Easy one first: King St. Blues. I wrote about it when it opened, and it wasn't much to write home about. Decent happy hour with half-price wings, atmosphere is kind of stale.

And I had a blog post written about places to go in the neighborhood after Dremo's closed, but we decided we'd written enough about the place at that point.

I'd say Rhodeside Grill for foosball and darts would be a good place to start.

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Washington, D.C.: Okay, so I've exhausted all of my guy friends, all of whom responded with sarcastic answers, with my question of what to get a guy for Valentine's Day. I need your help! I get that in general it's about the gal; I mean really we don't need just one day to express or show love. All that aside, I'm in an awkward position. I've been dating a guy for about three weeks and I don't know if I should or shouldn't get him something. I want to because he's been taking good care of me lately on our dates and I'd like to show my appreciation. (This is when my guy friends decide to give witty inappropriate responses). Any advice? I'd like to stay away from boxers with hearts on them if possible.

Julia: Yeah, I'd avoid the boxers.

I think a good inside joke gift is always good in the early stages. Like if you had oatmeal stout on your first date, buy him a sixer. Shared a really good appetizer? Get a good recipe and make him the same dish. Saw "Juno"? Buy him the soundtrack. (I dig that soundtrack -- I don't care what J. Freedom says.) I think those cute little things are better than, say, an electric shaver or a beer mug you can throw in the freezer.

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Rosslyn, Va.: RE: Air Hockey - that's easy; while not my favorite place, ESPN Zone has plenty 'o tables.

Fritz: That's good to know. So it's more than just big screens, overpriced food and tourbuses full of students playing "virtual reality" games in the basement...

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Waldorf, Md.: Any word on whether the Uptown is going to close? Any word on whether any new movie theaters are going to open in the D.C. area? Waldorf really could use a 2nd theater since the nine screen one that is there isn't that good!

Jen: I have not heard any rumblings about the Uptown lately, not since McLean Bible started doing their meetings there a while back. If anyone else has heard fresh rumors, please let me know. I would hate to see that theater close.

As far as new theaters, there was talk about opening a new one near Montgomery Mall, but I am not sure if that's still in the works. I have no clue about plans in Waldorf. If someone else does, feel free to speak up.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Gurus - I just wanted to warn anybody going to La Tasca tonight that they aren't serving their regular menu and are only having a 3-course menu for $50/person. Why would anyone participate in a 3-course menu from a tapas restaurant? I am now conveniently left high and dry on V Day. Any last minute suggestions for a frugal Arlington couple? Thanks!

Erin: Jaleo in Crystal City is booked tonight, but you can sit at the bar to order tapas off the regular menu. There will be Valentine's specials, but nothing prix fixe.

Sushi and Thai are great go-tos when other restaurants are hiking up the prices.

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new to LNS: Been watching the preppies battle on the LNS forums (and now Wonkette) about which Valentine's day party will be better tonight- Smith Point or the Gryphon Room? As a group of girls not on either list, how hard is it to get in to either place?

Fritz: Smith Point does not have a list tonight. The Gryphon Room does. Smith Point's "anonymous dedications" sounds like a recipe for disaster in the best possible way. "WHY WAS THAT SONG DEDICATED TO YOU AND ANOTHER GIRL?? WHAT AREN'T YOU TELLING ME??"

As for ease of getting in... I think it depends on whether the doorguy thinks you're hot.

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Hill Takeout: I miss living on the hill for lots of reasons, one of them being the dependable takeout options. The best of the bunch is Hunan Dynasty. The Chinese embassy eats there, so that's got to count for something.

Old Siam's is pretty good Thai, especially the green curry

Erin: Hunan Dynasty as a destination for the embassy workers? I'll definitely have to try it. Thanks!

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Cover Band Luvah: Not to be a city snob, but why does Clarendon seem to have the monopoly on good cover bands that play in bars? I like Liquid A and Eleven Eleven, but I've never seen bands like that advertised for DC hangouts. The one exception would be for special events and the usual Gonzo's Nose. Maybe I am just missing the scene?

P.S. Not that I don't local bands with original music, but a good cover band can be a good time.

David: Cover Band Mania in the chat this week. I think the simple answer is that Clarendon is where people who like cover bands live. It's true that D.C. doesn't have as many cover bands, and the ones that do play there are less '80s/top 40. Without stereotyping too much, people who live in Clarendon are fine with going to bar, having some drinks and hearing a bunch of songs they know. It's the suburbs, it's safer. In the city -- certainly not lacking that young professional contingent, to be sure -- there's more pressure to present something a little different. Maybe I'm off. Fritz?

Fritz: I agree... I think it's more of a Dewey Beach thing. Again, without stereotyping too much, I'd guess that Clarendon Ballroom, Clarendon Grill, Whitlow's -- and further out, Ned Divine's, Carpool, etc. -- have a clientele that's more likely to go to the Rusty Rudder or Starboard and hear Kristen and the Noise, Mr. Greengenes, etc. But I could be horribly wrong.

The only cover bands I go see in D.C. aren't playing '80s hits or Red Hot Chili Peppers -- I'm thinking New Vegas Lounge, Saloun, etc.

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Air Hockey: Dave and Busters in White Flint Mall has a few tables, but they fill up fast.

Fritz: Tabletop Ovechkin-wannabes thank you.

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Rockville, Md.: Is it true the East Coast Jazz Festival will be returning to Rockville this weekend? It was canceled last year due to renovations at the Doubletree (now reopened as a Hilton Hotel). I see it listed on some Jazz calendars for the area, but the event itself doesn't seem to have a website.

David: Sorry, no festival again this year. The festival's Web site has been down for ages, so it's hard to know what the future holds for it.

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80s at Black Cat: Any idea how popular/crowded this will be? I've been to two similar dance parties, one with a line 'round the block (prince v. madonna), one with no wait at all. thoughts?

Fritz: DJ Dredd has a dedicated fanbase, and his Prince parties kill. I think these DJs are more of an unknown quantity at this point.

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Desperate in D.C.: HI Erin, sad to see you leave. You were my favorite! (no offense to the other guys). I have one urgent question. My husband is taking me out to dinner tonight. But I wanted to take him to a nice romantic place for dessert and drinks afterwards as my treat so that I can also give him his gift. Anywhere in DC. Please help.

Erin: Chalk one up for me on the board! Thanks, Desperate!

Dessert is my specialty. I would take him to Blue Duck Tavern for home-churned ice cream and apple pie, Palena for...anything, Oval Room, Acadiana, PS 7's...

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Arlington, VA: So is the valentine's party at Tallulah going to be all single girls? I find most match making events like this one are! (Single 27 years old female here)

Fritz: If any guys were looking for a reason to go to the Valentine's Day mixer at Tallulah, I think we just gave you one.

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washingtonpost.com: I have just been reminded -- very robustly -- by a good friend that we've played air hockey at Town Hall in College Park, which is by far the best bar adjacent to my alma mater. My bad.

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LNS????: Why would anyone want to go to one of their parties? How about if I just meet you in a bar and feed you shooters until you pass out?

Fritz: Sounds like you're asking for trouble there.

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Washington, D.C.: I've already taken my wife to the Inn at Little Washington for her birthday, and she's taken me to L'Auberge Chez Francois for my birthday. Where should we go next? And, to throw another kicker in there, is there a place in that category where we could also bring our two children (age 8 and 13 - they're ready for a sophisticated meal).

Erin: L'Auberge would been my choice for dinner with kids. Between the patio garden, the dolls on shelves in random corners and the pouffy souffle desserts, it's a kid's dream.

For the next best thing, how about Citronelle? If they're ok with sitting through a whole meal, they'll be rewarded with the work of a chef who's still a kid at heart. It's a fabulously elegant meal that manages to be fun and playful.

Another thought: Restaurant Eve's Tasting Room is a wonderfully romantic place, but probably not great for the kids.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Hi Gurus - My husband and I want to go out for a drink tonight after the kiddies are in bed - maybe 9ish. We'd like somewhere with a fun/interesting drink menu (or wines by the glass), a nice atmosphere (no dive bars), and not too loud. We want to stay reasonably near Silver Spring. Any thoughts? Thanks!!

Anne: That sounds fabulous, Silver Spring. My first thought was Jackie's for the enormous wine glasses (not enormous pours, but you can feel like you're living large) and John Waters-esque funkiness. But I polled the audience, and Jen likes the mojitos at Cubano's, Fritz votes for Adega and Ceviche's wine-by-the-glass gets Erin's nod.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Hey GOGs,

I know places do wine dinners with tastings and pairings, but I was wondering if any area restaurants do beer dinners with beer pairings for each course? Thanks!

Erin: Pizzeria Paradiso in Georgetown and Rustico in Old Town are two places that plan fun beer pairings. Rustico's beermeister, Greg Engert can pair beer to pretty much anything you eat over there.

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Ella, ella, ella, eh , eh, eh....: WHAT? I din't know RIHANNA was coming to Nissan!!! Why can't I find it at all on Ticketmaster? May 10? Are tickets already on sale?

David: Don't worry, tickets aren't on sale yet. The tour announcement was just made today, I'd expect tickets to go on sale next weekend, maybe even the weekend after that. But yes, Kanye and Rihanna and N.E.R.D. and Lupe will all be at Nissan on May 10.

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20002: Fur's website is absolutely USELESS...

How much will it be at the door for the Biz Markie with E.U. and R.E. show on Sunday night?

Fritz: Agreed. We heard it's going to start at $25 and go up, so get there early... I'm always shocked when I go to a go-go spot and it's like $40 to get in.

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Sex and the City:

Any clue if there will be special events premiering the movie?

Fritz: Oh, I'm sure there will be dozens of them, all with colorful, super-sweet martinis "created" just for the occasion.

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Chevy Chase, Md.: Do you have a recommendation for a nice place to go tonight in Chevy Chase/Bethesda area? Most recommendations are for Dupont Circle/Adams Morgan areas. I could really use your help. Thank you!

Erin: Buck's Fishing & Camping is keeping a little list of interested dining parties tonight in lieu of their "no reservations" policy. You can also try Passage to India, try to get into David Craig or see about Black's.

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Arlington, Va.: Hey GOGs!

Going to the National Theater for a belated Valentine's date on Saturday and was wondering if you had any suggestions for a good sushi restaurant either nearby in DC or Arlington to have dinner after the show. The show ends at 9:45 so preferably one that is open a little later.

Thanks!!

Erin: Sushi-Ko in Georgetown is my favorite sushi, but Kaz Sushi Bistro is closer and will seat you until 10:20ish.

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Rockville, Md.: Hi Gurus! Assuming the weather holds, I want to go do something outdoors this weekend. I've never really explored Rock Creek Park, and I also want to check out The Awakening before it moves across the river. What suggestions do you have for things to do in Rock Creek Park?

Julia: That's right this is your last weekend to check out the super-cool Awakening sculpture before it heads off to PG County on Wednesday. It's truly worth seeing before it goes. I'm sure it'll look great in National Harbor too, but it just won't really be the same.

There are a ton of things to do in the park. If you're not playing golf, there isn't much to do near the sculpture except walk along the shoreline in East Potomac Park. The Tidal Basin and FDR Memorial are also nearby.

The things I like to do in Rock Creek Park are miles away from the Awakening, so if you're willing to travel a little bit, I have a few other ideas. I particularly like the stretch between Tilden and Klingle Streets. Pierce Mill's closed, but it's nice just to wander around up there and cross all of the bridges along the creek. It's really pleasant. A bike ride along Beach Drive is a favorite passtime of cyclists in my neighborhood.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey Guru's-

I am planning a bachelorette party this Saturday. We are going to dinner at Brasserie Beck then a limo is picking us up to head out to a couple bars. Looking for a couple of recommendations for the bars- we want the bachelorette to get attention, but nothing too wild. We want to be able to dance and have fun. What do you think?

Fritz: Bars or clubs?

Big difference in terms of waiting in line, etc. I think Rumors is still the go-to spot for "attention" for the bride. Play would be a good bet, too, and it's right nearby. Maybe stop into Steve's Bar Room while you're right there. In terms of Adams Morgan -- because sooner or later, all bachelorettes end up in Adams Morgan -- I'd say Angry Inch, Grand Central, Chief Ike's are the way to go.

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Vienna, Va.: Just wanted to say Happy Valentines to you all chatters and Gurus... With all the hard work and advice you give us, I'm sure you look forward to some loving and pampering yourselves! You guys are the best! More power to you!

Julia: You're awful cute, Vienna! Valentine's wishes right back at ya.

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Connecticut Ave.: Hi,

My wife and I are dumping the kids with the grandparents and staying at the Mayflower on Saturday. Any nearby restaurant suggestions? We're looking for fun and lively over fancy with maybe a good bar close by for an after dinner drink.

Erin: You'll be near BLT Steak, which is very fun and lively with good meat to boot. DC Coast and Mio are nearby, as is the newly renovated Palm.

If the weather stays chilly, go for a drink at the cozy Tabard Inn.

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chinatown birthday?: hi gurus -

we're celebrating belatedly a friends birthday tomorrow night and i'm supposed to pick a place for 5-7 of us to meet up around 8 for drinks. We're mid-20s, guys and girls, don't need a dive, but don't want to pay 12 dollars for each drink. The birthday boy likes Beck, but the last few times we've been there it's been totally crowded. Is there someplace in Chinatown that might be fun for us all to try out?

Fritz: Well, with Disney on Ice in town, you don't have to worry about sports fans crowding you out of the bars. I wrote on our blog about the delicious new seasonal beer at Gordon Biersch, so that's one idea, especially because the huge space means it's easier for your group to get together. You might also want to check out the "Brewer's Lounge" upstairs at District Chophouse for freshly brewed beers and pool tables.

If you haven't been to Bar Louie, I like the space, though the cocktails can be on the pricey side. Proof will probably be too crowded on a Friday night.

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Falls Church, Va.: Any suggestions for a non-romantic, probably not crowded dinner place tonight? My husband and I are meeting my uncle in VA (in town on business.) Where can we take him to avoid romanticism?

Erin: Would you be up for Chinese food or something like that? I think Mark's Duck House or Peking Gourmet Inn would be fun for three people. They won't be as crowded as usual with most people flooding out two by two to the romantic spots.

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Alexandria, Va.: Beer pairings with dinner are also occassionaly offered at Food Matters in Alexandria. Get on their email, they have a ton of cool events.

Erin: This is true. I was a HUGE fan of their 100-mile dinners. The restaurant often pops up in my blog posts as hosting fun parties for the Super Bowl, Mother's Day and just about any other occasion where you can feed people.

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Happy Bucket of Chicken Day!: ...since this is what boyfriend and I eat every V-Day.

On a seperate note, I am interested in doing some volunteer work--possible with immigrants--but am not sure how to go about finding volunteer opportunities.

Is there any kind of website or something out there that has consolidated volunteer opportunities in the area? Thanks!

Julia: Greater D.C. Cares and this Georgetown Univertisy site are great places to start.

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Rockville, Md.: My Dad wants to visit Arlington National Cemetary when my parents next visit D.C. What is the best way to do this? Is there a parking lot? Would visitors take spaces needed for people attending funerals? My mother is a little anti-Metro because she doesn't like to walk too far, but she can handle a mile or so if it is pretty flat. And how much time will it take? Dad wants to pay his respects at President Kennedy's grave. I'm not sure what else there is to do.

Anne: Wow, that's a great question. I have never parked at Arlington National Cemetery; it's always been Metro for me. There is a parking lot (with a fee), but you will have to walk to get to other parts of the cemetery, like the Eternal Flame, and it is definitely not flat. The cemetery is all on a hillside. So if your mom is not into walking, the other choice (which becomes much more expensive) is to pay to take the Tourmobile, which will take you through other parts of the cemetery. If you Tourmobile, you'll obviously get through quickly, but otherwise I'd leave at least two hours. Other highlights include the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and there are lots of other special memorials. I've always found the amphitheater stunning, myself. I really recommend you go; the cemetery is one of the most touching and powerful places in Washington, I think.

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Drink before Hanks?: Hi GoGs,

The man and I are celebrating at Hanks Oyster Bar (17th st) tonight. Where can we go for a drink beforehand? Thanks!

Erin: The typical drinks spots around there are Townhouse Tavern and DIK, but how about just dropping in for a beer next door at Fox & Hounds. The nearby wines just aren't worth it. If you want a bit of a walk, you could do something at Merkado or Rouge, but that's a distance to travel.

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Clarendon, VA: So we know most of the good stuff is in DC tonight, but where should I go in Clarendon. Its too hard to get back to VA from DC when Metro shuts down at midnight.

Fritz: To revive an old thread on the chat, we were just debating whether this question was a plant, but then Erin said "But there's nothing going on in Clarendon, so maybe that's why they're asking."

Anyway, best we can do Valentine's-wise is the "mystery singles" event at Tallula. In a nutshell: You get a number when you go in. Let's say it's #49. You look around the restaurant. If you see someone you fancy, you can write a note to them -- something like "Hey, #35, that's a nice shirt. Also, you have a piece of spinach in your teeth." This message is displayed on a projection screen so that #35 knows that #49 likes them, and is considerate to boot. If #35 likes your message, they have to hunt around until they find the person wearing #49. Convoluted, I know. But it's that or Mr. Greengenes at Clarendon Grill.

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For the Chinatown birthday: Rocket bar could also work.

Fritz: I was at Rocket Bar for a birthday last Friday and by 9 there was a line out the door. A LINE. It was unbelievably crowded, too.

But they do have shuffleboard.

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McLean, VA: When a restaurant has a wine pairing with each course... is that a full/normal glass or wine or just a sample?

THANKS! Happy Valentines!

Fritz: In my experience, it's a taste or a half-glass, not a full one. That way you can enjoy (and remember) the food.

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Arlington, Va.: I think the big thing with the Legwarmers is that people just find it to be a real fun time - the State is a pretty good venue, there's always a great vibe to the crowd, and it can be a lot of fun both getting into costume and seeing what other costumes are out there.

I had fun the few times I went, but it's always the same show...so I haven't gone in a while.

David: Yeah, it's like an every-other-month Halloween with a bunch of friends. There's something to be said for knowing exactly what you're going to get, I suppose. I made the Mousetrap comparison before, but it's also a bit like lots of the same acts getting booked every single summer at Wolf Trap. People like their comfort zones.

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Grown-up drinks in Silver Spring: I like the bar at Nicaro, too, for a glass of wine or classic cocktail.

Anne: I haven't been to Nicaro for drinks myself, but the low-lit vibe is definitely for grownups.

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Anonymous: What is the Gryphon Room?

Fritz: It's the basement of the Guards in Georgetown. Nothing fancy.

On Thursdays, though, you have to be on a list to get in, or be with someone who's on the list, Smith Point style.

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Washington DC: Any recommendations for a place to do a birthday happy hour with food next Tues, Wed, of Thurs in DC - either Dupont or downtown somewhere? Looking for some fun drinks and food specials!

Fritz: I've done a bunch of happy hours at Heritage India -- half-price Indian street food and beers. Great with a crowd. Cafe Asia is a default, but it's cheap and there's room to spread out, especially early in the week. Topaz has some interesting cocktails, and the high-backed booths are fun with a small group.

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Dupont: I know it's a little early, but any ideas of where to take the parents for Easter dinner. Certainly doesn't need to be the traditional Easter ham. Pretty much anywhere in DC would work. Family is from Napa, CA so sort of food snobs. No idea where to take them

Erin: If you don't need to take the traditional train, hope and pray that Rasika's open! The food would wow anybody regardless of their hometown eat spots. It's fun and the food's delicious.

For another fun D.C. Easter idea, think about 1789.

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Washington, D.C.: I am planning a bachelorette party in May, and I am looking for fun, affordable hotels in or near Adams Morgan, as well as girls-night-out friendly restaurants. Do you have any hotel or restaurant suggestions? (Yes, I did read your wonderful bachelorette party suggestions, but they don't have this info!) Thanks so much!

Julia: I think your best bet for an afforable hotel in the area would be to look over in Woodley Park or upper Dupont. The Hinkley Hilton is not cheap, but word is that the Courtyard Marriot will be open again in March.

Girls night-out-friendly restaurants are a tougher call -- I'm having my bachelorette party this weekend and we're having the same dilemna. We're trying to decide between Matchbox, Logan at the Heights and Zaytinya.

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Rosslyn: I would love to see an opera but tickets are so expensive! Is there any way for a grad student to score some discounted tickets?

Fritz: I'm a member of the Washington Opera's Generation O program, which offers deeply discounted three-opera packages and single tickets to those of us under 35. It's a great deal.

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Rockville, Md.: Hi,

The four of us are planning to see a movie at the E St. Cinema next Thursday evening. We'd like to get drinks near there before or after the movie. Can you give us some places for reasonably priced bevvies?

We're dumpy, middle-aged guys so I don't think we'd fit in at Platinum or Ultrabar, assuming we were even let in.

thanks

Erin: How about nearby Les Halles? You can head up to Ella's Woodfired Pizza or Matchbox. I like the drinks at Poste as well.

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Georgetown Birthday: So a couple of friends and I are trying to plan a birthday party in Georgetown since most of the people invited live in Arlington or Glover Park. The guest of honor loves Mr. Smith's, so we'd like to have it there. But from what I remember, it gets packed. Do you think a birthday there is doable on a Friday night? How crowded does it get in the back? We checked on trying to get a private space, but we're not sure we'd be able to meet the bar minimum. Should we just try to do it at Mr Smith's, or is there a similar place that you can recommend for a birthday party in the Georgetown area. I read these chats every week and they are super informative, so I hope you can help me out! Thanks!

Fritz: Go across the street and reserve the upstairs space at Garrett's. There's no fee or minimum; You just pay the bartender by the hour.

Mr. Smith's is too much of a zoo on Fridays if you don't want to splash out for a private space.

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Washington, D.C.: For the person looking to find more info on volunteer opportunities, please check out either www.volunteermatch.org or www.networkforgood.org - they both allow you to search by zip code for volunteer opportunities in your area.

Julia: Thanks for this, D.C. These are great!

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Downtown, DC: I know you've answered this type of question before, but I need ideas for a large group gathering. I'm turning 30 in a few weeks, and would like to have about 20 people out at a bar. I really like ESL, but I don't know if they'll let me reserve any area. I called Aroma, as you recommended, and no one got back to me. I want something fun, but fairly low-key, and on the Metro. Local 16 would be great, but it's incredibly expensive to reserve an area. After all you only turn 30 once (maybe twice in this town).

Fritz: Bummer about Aroma. In a similar vein, try Science Club -- they'll generally let you reserve a space without a fee or minimum. Same with the basement of Cafe Citron, through in that case you have to agree to open the space to the public after 10, if I remember correctly.

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Arlington Drafthouse: This is sort of a random question, but where is it ok to park at the Drafthouse? I've been there a few times (not recently) and parked in the lot behind the mcdonald's, but the last time we parked there there signs that strictly forbid customers from parking there. But their website lists it as their parking.

Fritz: Funny. The Drafthouse's Web site says that's legal parking. Maybe it's time for an update...

Whenever I go to the Drafthouse or Cecilia's, I wind up parking on the street because I'm never sure of the rules.

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Town Hall (CP) Air Hockey: As a semi-regular (BF used to be a bartender there!), I can tell you that Town Hall in College Park no longer has Air Hockey. They still do have photo hunt, but all the scores get erased at the end of the night! boo!

Fritz: I am very sad.

Wait, does this mean I'm right after all? Awesome.

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washingtonpost.com: OK, that does it for us this week. And it does it for Erin for good! Hope your Valentine's Day dinners are everything you want them to be.

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