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The Going Out Gurus
of the washingtonpost.com City Guide
Thursday, May 1, 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: Afternoon, everyone. Julia is wincing and rubbing her shoulder after David gave her 27 punches ("and one for good luck!") for her birthday. The rest of us are looking forward to one of the busiest weekends of the year: Gold Cup, the Kentucky Derby, the E.U. Open House, Eastern Market Day, the National Cathedral's Flower Mart ... the list goes on and on. Here to help you make plans (or make sense of it all) are the Going Out Gurus: Anne, David, Janet, Jen and Julia. I'm Fritz, and I'm hosting today's discussion. Let's get started.

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Upperville, Va.: Fauquier, Loudoun, Fairfax sheriffs and police department along with the Virginia state troopers will be out in force for the Gold Cup. Sobriety checkpoints and big time radar, lidar and laser traps along with aircraft.

So obey the laws and have a designated driver.

We are sick of the rude behavior of drunken 20- and 30-somethings who pull over to use our farms for toilets, etc. and speeding on the back roads in their Bimmers.

Fritz: Easy solution: Stand on your front lawn and shake your fist at every bus and "bimmer" that drives past on its way to the Plains. Then no one will pull over.

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Washington, D.C.: I came to this city not knowing too much about suits and I just said a nonchalant, "Sure" when the suit guy asked if I wanted pleats. I need those pleats out, I HATE them. Can this be fixed by a tailor or do I just need to get new suit pants? Would it look weird if I just got new pants... is a whole new suit wardrobe in order?

Janet: I personally don't hate pleats, but it really does depend on your body. But if you HATE them, I hate to say it, but I imagine it would be a big, expensive job for a tailor to get rid of them. It will be difficult to buy pants to match your suit jacket, so why not just wear the jacket as a sports jacket. And then, get yourself a new suit -- sans pleats.

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Arlington, Va.: Some friends and I are going to a play at the Church Street Theatre in Dupont on Saturday night. Do you have any suggestions of places in the area where we could get a quick and inexpensive bite to eat before the show?

Julia: Hank's is my usual go-to in that neighborhood, but it's neither quick nor particularly cheap. Delicious, though.

Luna and Sushi Taro are other options.

I suppose my top choice for cheap and quick would be Afterwords. You'd have to walk a little further, though.

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Hair question: Hi, GOGs - Sorry but I don't know who else to go to for a question like this: do you generally tip for an appointment for a bang trim that is supposed to be complimentary? And if so, how much?

Janet: I'd say just tip a nominal amount -- a couple of bucks. Sound okay?

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Washington, D.C.: Say it isn't so!! I haven't been able to see "Shine a Light" yet, and was planning to go tomorrow. Is it leaving?? I only find "Iron Giant" listed and I know the Uptown has only one screen. Wah! What are my alternatives? Do I have to go all the way to Virginia?

Jen: Oh, it be so. "Iron Man" indeed opens at the Uptown tonight. And, from what I see, "Shine a Light" is only playing at University Mall. So you either have to venture there or wait for the good ol' DVD.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Derby Weekend! Good place for a mint julep?

Julia: Here are a couple options, Silver Spring. Bourbon and the Round Robin Bar are probably your best bets.

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Greek festival at St. Sophia's: hey gurus,

I'm interested in hitting up the Greek festival next weekend. I've never been before.

What food should I not miss? It all sounds delicious, but I only have one stomach and so much patience to stand in probably long lines.

Also, what is the best way to get there? Is there parking? The 96 bus from Woodley Park metro? The N6 bus from Farragut North metro?

Fritz: I really, really love the festival at St. Sophia's. Freshly roasted lamb kabobs hot off the spit, dreamy baklava, the best gyros in D.C. -- and plenty of dancing and music. I'd say lamb is the must-do, with baklava to finish and some Greek beer to wash it all down. Lines seem to move pretty quickly if you're not there between, say, noon and 1:30.

As someone who lives nearby, I'll tell you the 96 is infrequent on the weekends, so it depends when you go. Try using Metro's best-guess trip planner at www.wmata.com and see which bus is faster for you.

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Washington, D.C.: So, I'm going to my niece's (wife's brother's daughter) high school graduation next week in the far western part of Nebraska. What do I wear? If it were here, I'd obviously wear a nice suit, but I have no idea what folks in that part of the country would wear to something like this. Am I a latte-drinking, arugula-eating elitist? I don't want to stick out anymore that I already will (the only brother in a 500-mile radius)!

Janet: I'd wear the same nice suit you'd wear if the graduation were taking place in Washington. You may want to pack a raincoat or a light coat, though, depending on the weather forecast. Maybe even some boots. As for your description of yourself, you could be right.

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Downtown Washington, D.C.: Hi Gurus, not to be a downer, but I have had a crappy couple of weeks and really need to get out of the city for the day. I was thinking Annapolis but any other recommendations where I could clear my head and feel further away from D.C. than I actually am? What's your favorite day trip? Thanks.

Jen: I don't know if I have a favorite day trip; my favorite local trips more generally (Bethany Beach, Williamsburg) are a little farther away than what you want.

If you're heading up Annapolis way, you could drive a little further and go somewhere on the Eastern Shore, maybe St. Michaels? I also frequently recommend going to Va. wine country/Shenandoah Valley. You can definitely do that in a day and it's very pretty.

Hope that helps and that things get better for you.

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Happy Hour: Hiya Gurus,

I've been wanting to check out the happy hour at Vidalia for a while, and was wondering how it works. Do I have to make reservations, or do I just show up for free wine?

On a very separate note, I heard Sticky Rice is finally opening. Any truth to this?

Fritz: You just show up and look for the sommelier standing near the bar (far side of the room) with a couple of open bottles. Now, remember you just get free TASTES, which is like a 2- or 3-ounce pour. Then you can go get full glasses at the bar if you like what you taste.

Sticky Rice should be open to the public in the next two weeks, or so my reliable source says. They want to do some friends-and-family dinners to test service before the soft opening.

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Washington, D.C.: I'm looking for the best pedi in the city. I'm happy with my usual speedy, $35 mani/pedi spots, but I'm looking to splurge--something luxe that takes longer than 30 minutes (and is in D.C.). Can you help?

Janet: Splurge, eh? Then I'd hit the Four Seasons or the Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown or the Mandarin Oriental for plenty of pampering. You may just get some attitude, too, though. Just saying.

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Washington, D.C.: I'm going to the Gold Cup this weekend for the first time (have tickets on the North Rail) but I have a little problem. My boyfriend is under the assumption that he can go in a T-shirt and jeans like he would to Belmont or Preakness. I told him every other guy would be wearing khakis and collared shirts and he'll be totally out of place. He doesn't buy it -- who's right and what's the minimum amount of dressing up he can do and still be presentable? Thanks for your help!

Fritz: That's the difference between the Plains (and Churchill Downs) versus Baltimore or Lon Guyland. You need to dress up for Gold Cup -- khakis and a collared button-down shirt would be a fine place to start. Jeans and T-shirts are generally considered to be a fashion faux pas at Gold Cup. Does your bf really want to be that guy?

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Arlington, Va.: Looking forward to the big Wizards game tomorrow night at the Verizon Center. What are some fun happy hours to go to before the game and are there any big post game parties?

Thanks!

David: Yes, tomorrow night should be spectacular as Caron and the Wiz continue their climb back from 3-1 down. Maybe people can bring some tissues or some really tiny violins for LeBron and some duct tape for Damon Jones. Anyway, RFD and Matchbox are good bets for happy hours before the game. As for possible post-game parties, well, I can tell you where they definitely WON'T be -- Love or Park. Go Wiz!

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No outdoor happy hour questions from me!: Hi Julia,

Ouch! I hope you're not in too much pain to take my question. I'm at a loss...of the following three places, which one would you pick for really good food, good wine/beer list, and romantic but fun place: Central, Mio or Westend Bistro?

Thanks so much!

P.S. Just because I didn't list service doesn't mean that I'm looking for anything sub-par; I just assume good service is a given.

Julia: When you're paying that much for dinner, it better be. I don't think you can go wrong with any of the three, to be honest. If I were in your shoes, though, I'd go Central if your emphasis is on food; Mio if you're leaning toward romance.

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Downtown D.C.: Wow. No questions about Cinco de Mayo yet? Am I in the right place or is everyone preoccupied with what bar to celebrate the Wizards' upcoming win on Sunday?

Any how, any ideas on where I can find the best margarita in D.C. come Monday happy hour?

Fritz: We had a ton of suggestions in this week's Nightlife Agenda column -- on Monday, I'd head to Oyamel, where Will Earls is cooking up some very special top-shelf margaritas to go with the bar's $2 Tecates and micheladas, or out to Caribbean Breeze in Ballston for margaritas and mariachis if you want a party vibe.

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Arlington, Va.: Heading to Gold Cup this weekend with a state society group. Will this be as fun as the University Row (i.e. fun younger people?) I'm a former equestrian-type person so horses and "socializing" work for me, but I'm worried about the boyfriend having fun.

Fritz: Honestly, I've never been with a State Society, so I think it depends on the group. Anyone have any stories to share?

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Washington, D.C./Louisville, Ky.: I am a college student from Kentucky interning in D.C. this semester. I am really sad because I will not be celebrating the Kentucky Derby this year at home. Do you know places in D.C. where I can wear a big hat and a sundress and celebrate the Derby like we do in Kentucky?

Julia: The Round Robin Bar's Bonnets and Bowties sounds like the spot for you, but since you're interning, I'd stick with the somewhat cheaper option at Bourbon. Crystal City Sports Pub, if you're really looking for a deal.

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Springfield, Va.: So, the photo on the main page that brought us here, this was taken at a Gurus staff meeting, yes?

Anne: How did you guess? Whenever we can't find a conference room, we hold our weekly check-ins at Great Meadow. And we invite awesome Post photogs to cover them. But seriously, that dude in the blazer is not David.

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Mariachi hook up: Any suggestions where I can find mariachi in the D.C./Virginia area??

Fritz: Going through our Nightlife Agenda column, the Cinco de Mayo parties at Ultrabar (Friday), Caribbean Breeze (Monday) and Austin Grill (Monday) will all have mariachi groups this weekend.

On a happier note, I can't wait to hear mariachis in Mount Pleasant again, now that the neighborhood's draconian voluntary agreements with bars have been revoked. It's like "Footloose" up in Julia's hood, only without Kenny Loggins and a machete-wielding James Ingram.

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Black Cat Web site: Gurus, can you use your interminable influence to get the Black Cat to make its Web site actually provide useful show info?

It can be frustrating trying to find out what time the headliner goes on, etc. It's impossible to get someone on the phone -- so how about a simple daily update with show times for the opening band(s) and headliner?

It's 2008 -- how hard can that be?

David: Nope, sorry. Since the Web site isn't very clear, now you have to write a question into the chat, which gives me one to answer in between all the queries about happy hours and restaurants and haircuts and whatnot. Anyway, the basic rule of thumb is that the first band will go on about half an hour after the door time listed on the Web site, and subsequent bands will go on an hour after that. On the weekends it might run a little later. Like, tomorrow's show might be closer to 9:45/11 than 9:30/10:30. But hey, it's rock-and-roll, sometimes you just don't know exactly what minute the band will hit the stage, y'know?

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Silver Spring, Md.: Hey guys, any additional suggestions for Cinco de Mayo events on Saturday? So far most of them are targeted for Monday (understandably, as it is the 5th...) Thanks!

Fritz: Personally, I think watching Oscar de la Hoya maul Stephen Forbes seems like a good way to spend Cinco de Mayo. The fight's on the giant projection screens at Buffalo Billiards with discounted Mexican beers and tequila shots.

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Arlington, Va.: I'm going to the Nationals/Pirates game this Friday and I understand that there are no bars in that vicinity. We were looking for some suggestions on places to go on the Orange Line that are low-key or relaxed but still fun?!? Thanks

Julia: Fritz and I did a little pre-season scouting and we think Barrack's Row is your best bet. (He's since confirmed this on several baseball trips). Check out our map. For what you're looking for, I'd check out Ugly Mug, Finn MacCool's or Marty's.

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Dupont Circle: For the person looking for a great pedi: go to Joy's Nails in Adams Morgan, above Asylum. Yes, it's hidden and looks a little sketchy, but for $45 you get an hour-long pedi with a hot stone massage! While a bit more than the average pedi, it is heavenly and totally worth the cost. I've been a few times and am planning to go back for a treat as soon as exams are over.

Janet: Totally heavenly, reports this chatter, about Joy's Nails in Adams Morgan. So for the person in search of a luxe pedi, word to the wise.

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Springfield: Hi! I'm hoping to attend the European Embassy Open House this Saturday, but I only have a limited time in the morning to enjoy it. Have any of you ever been? Which embassies/events should I make sure to fit into my schedule? Thanks!

Fritz: The awesome thing about the E.U. Open House is that every offering is different every year. The Italian and French embassies are very impressive, and seriously -- does anything sound cooler than looking at paintings by the Dutch masters that hang inside the residence of the ambassador to the Netherlands, unless it's a wine tasting and flamenco performance at the Spanish embassy? Haven't you ever walked by the Embassy of Luxembourg on your way to the Brickskeller and wondered what was inside?

I listed some highlights here, along with a link to the full schedule.

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Arlington: Going to see Eddie Izzard in DAR tomorrow night.

Any suggestions of bars for afterwards?

Fritz: Is there a less obvious answer than the drag revue at Town?

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Bucs Fan (Arlington): Hey Gurus, We're heading out to the new stadium this weekend to see the Buccos!! Where should we go before to grab a few beers? Is Capitol South Metro stop an option? Can we walk from there?

Thanks!

David: Yes, go Buccos! I'll be making my first trip to the ballpark on Saturday to support Nate McLouth and the boys. You will certainly want to check out the Eat and Drink Near Nationals Park feature. You'll see there that Eastern Market is probably your best bet.

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Do you know places in D.C. where I can wear a big hat and a sundress and celebrate the Derby like we do in Kentucky?: You can go to the racetrack at Laurel... It's not the same as being there, but you can watch on the big screen, place a few bets, and your big hat will not be out of place.

Julia: Funny that you mention this. I almost included Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington in my post on Derby parties because a good gamblin' friend goes there for almost every Derby. There will be happy hour specials at Rosecroft. Laurel Park's got some sort of dinner planned, it seems. Wonder what the food's like at the racetrack??

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U Street: Gurus, I know you answer this question all the time but usually I just skip over them since I thought I would never be in that situation. So now, I'm being that person and asking a very FAQ.

I have a friend coming into town this weekend and he wants to go to Park or somewhere similar. What is the best option for us getting into the Park (he is a guy, I am a girl, we'll have another guy with us). Should I call ahead and put our names on a list? Do we just show up? Thanks.

Fritz: Call ahead and ask if you can put your names on the list without having to drop a few hundred for bottle service. Depending on the night, you may be able to get your names on a guestlist. (Josephine, for example, runs a list on Friday but not Saturday. See josephinedc.com for more info.)

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Alexandria, Va.: Are there any fun Cinco de Mayo events happening tonight, or do we have to wait for the weekend? Anxious, I know...

Fritz: If you go to Costa Verde in Arlington tonight, you can get salsa lessons and hear why I consider Sin Miedo to be one of the area's top Latin bands. Details in the Nightlife Agenda...

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Washington, D.C.: Dear Fritz,

Thank you for your list of dog-friendly happy hours around town! My golden sends his big, fat, slobbery kisses, too.

Fritz: Thanks! (Here's the link for anyone who missed it.) You'll have plenty of choices later in the month, when Helix and Adams Mill get their events up and running -- those are the best in D.C. proper.

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D.C. Native: I need to find a gathering place in D.C. (or nearby) for a sort-of 30th reunion of my high school class. I don't want to rent a hall, get a DJ, get a caterer, etc. I just want to tell people to meet up somewhere that already has food and drinks available, an R&B or jazz vibe, and a reasonable (or free) cover charge. Got any ideas for such a place where maybe 100-200 additional people could be accommodated?

Or is this just wishful thinking on my part?

Fritz: Let me introduce you to the Smithsonian Jazz Cafe, held Fridays at the Natural History museum. $12 tickets, full bar, snacks and some of the best local, regional and national talent around. It doesn't have the atmosphere of, say, Blues Alley, but it's also got a capacity higher than 50...

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Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race: GOGs! A group of us are planning on going to Baltimore Saturday to attend the Kinetic Sculpture race. Will we feel out of place if we don't get dressed up in costumes? Have any of you been, and if so, is it a hoot? Thanks.

Anne: The Kinetic Sculpture Race is basically free-form performance art in the form of a progressive dinner -- if you invited everyone in a small town, but if the only people who knew each other were the artist teams. Calling it "a hoot" is almost as much an understatement as the phrase on the Spectators part of the race site that says "times are approximate." Don't stress over the costume thing. Wear one, don't wear one, whatever. Insisting on anything would be so contrary to the anything-goes aesthetic of this celebration of Baltimore creativity. If you know someone who has never been to Charm City, this is the perfect introduction.

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Birthdays all around!: Happy Birthday, Julia! My birthday is tomorrow and I'm looking for somewhere to go to dinner other than the usual standbys. Any suggestions for new restaurants with good food and a nice atmosphere?

Thanks!

Julia: Happy birthday to you! It's also my little sister's birthday. She's four years younger to the day -- weird, right?

Anyway -- I was really, really hoping the new chocolate restau-lounge CoCo Sala would be open for my birthday, but unfortunately, looks like it might be another week. I like Cork or Vermillion for small, romantic parties (though, I know Vermillion doesn't really count as new). If you've got a bigger group, I don't think you can go wrong with Brasserie Beck.

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Washington, D.C.: Happy Thursday, Gurus! Some friends and I are planning on checking out Flower Mart on Saturday for the first time and want to grab lunch before we go. I'm worried that all the obvious lunch places near the Cathedral (Cactus Cantina, Cafe Deluxe, etc.) will be super mobbed, right? Any good options you can think of? We can either drive or Metro, and we would love to not spend too much time fighting for parking if possible.

Thanks!!

Fritz: Metro, Metro, Metro. The Cathedral is running free shuttle buses from the Tenleytown station, and they're pretty frequent, even if they're just NCS school buses. You can grab something to eat up that way -- maybe get lunch at Guapo's, in the spirit of, er, Tres de Mayo.

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Wonder what the food's like at the racetrack?? : The normal fare at Laurel is not too great (bad food court stuff) except I do enjoy the fried chicken. But on Derby Day I've done the third floor buffet, and I thought it was pretty good. They'll have a roast, a variety of hot side dishes, cheese and fruit and desserts. It may be too late to get a reservation for that, but worth a try. You can get a table with your own personal (very small) TV, and watch on that. But they'll also have larger TVs over by the bar. If you just want to eat drink and be merry with the average joes, don't bother with the buffet and get the fried chicken downstairs. Large screens are all over the place downstairs.

Julia: Thanks for the tip.

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Fairfax, Va.: After looking at prices for tickets to Radiohead on Craigslist and unfortunately checking my credit card account, I find myself wondering about those summer concert series which are either free or cheap. I need something to look forward to so I'm not tempted to blow ridiculous amounts of cash. I remember seeing Sister Hazel for free some years ago in D.C. - what are some good concert series going on in D.C. this summer? Do they still do that series? Thanks in advance, LOVE the chats!

David: I believe you're thinking of Live on Penn, which has been dead for a while. There are plenty of free/cheap summer concert series, but most of them focus on local talent and not big national names. Schedules are starting to trickle in and we should have lots of info on the site in the coming month. Fort Reno, Fort Dupont, Strathmore, Woodrow Wilson Plaza, Baker Park in Frederick, Friday Night Live in Herndon, Carter Barron ... those are all series to keep an eye on over the summer.

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Crowdless on Cinco: Where can I find a fun bar with margaritas on Cinco de Mayo that won't be MISERABLY packed?

Fritz: Seriously, that's like asking for an Irish pub with good Guinness that's not going to be packed on St. Patrick's Day.

Actually, the best margarita-ish cocktail I've had recently wasn't in a Mexican place -- it was at the Westend Bistro. Ripart's Favorite, with aged tequila, pomegranate and tangerine.

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I need those pleats out, I HATE them.: This person has obviously been influenced by the Celebritology chat. It's very anti-pleat over there.

Fritz: That's because pleats be the devil's work.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Hi GoGs! The hubby and I are trying to expand our brunch horizons without breaking the bank, any suggestions for options up our way? We end up at, like, the Cheesecake Factory way too frequently...

Thanks much!

Julia: Have you tried Jackie's?

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Arlington, Va.: Gurus, tell me what mischief I can get myself into for Cinco de Mayo on Monday evening -- preferably in either Arlington or Dupont, or somewhere easily Metro-accessible from Arlington! I'm looking to have a fairly crazy night -- but not spend a lot of money -- and still make it to work just fine Tuesday!

Fritz: As I've said elsewhere, thus dooming it to being packed to the gills: If you can make it to Caribbean Breeze at happy hour, stake out a spot on that awesome patio, grab some discounted drinks and listen to the mariachis. After 10, they've got a DJ spinning a variety of Latin hits, from salsa to reggaeton.

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Shine a Light still playing : Smithsonian Imax at Hazy (Dulles). Well worth renting a zipcar.

Jen: Ooh, good call. Thanks for the reminder. That would be the ideal place to see it.

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Arlington, Va.: My girlfriend and I are going on the Lincoln Assassination Walking Tour Saturday night. Since it's almost Cinco de Mayo, and she loves a good margarita, I figured we would grab one afterward.

Who's got the best margarita around Ford's Theater? It doesn't have to be somewhere with crazy beginning of May festivities, just somewhere with good drinks.

Thanks GoGs

Fritz: At 10th and E, you're just a few blocks from Ground Zero for D.C. margaritas. Cafe Atlantico's is heavenly, and the restaurant has a fantastic cocktail menu right now. Over at Oyamel, Will "Blackbyrd" Earls is doing some really cool tequila drinks, as you'd expect from an Austin native, including delicious takes on the margarita.

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Not a wine snob but...: I keep finding myself in a bind. I love bars like Stetsons or other dives, but since I don't drink beer (and don't really like hard liquor or mixed drinks), there is only really crappy wine and you always get dirty looks for getting it. Help!

Julia: I was in the same bind for a hot minute when I wasn't drinking beer in an attempt to look good in my wedding dress. It didn't last.

Anyway Fritz and I both feel your pain. Most of the best dive-y spots in the area skimp on the wine lists. Tonic's got a low-key vibe and a pretty decent list. Bourbon's a little less divey, but the list is good there as well.

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Washington, D.C.: Went to Granville Moore's last week and had an amazing meal. My whole table fell in love with the beer Saison de Pipaix. Is there any store in town where I can buy it for a gift? Already tried World Market. Sadly not there.

Fritz: Glad you liked the Dr's -- fantastic little spot with wonderful mussels. World Market has always been meh for me for beer selection. My go-to for Belgian beers in the city is Chevy Chase Wine and Spirits up by Chevy Chase Circle. They have everything, and if they don't, they'll get it for you.

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Washington, D.C.: Need some help for a very special birthday, please... is there a pretty park or gardens in the area where you can picnic, maybe hike? Dog-friendly would be ideal. Places like Dumbarton Oaks restrict food. Preferably not the mall or a similarly touristy area. I've thought of Montrose Park by Dumbarton, but it seems like just a small space with a swingset and some grass. Thank you!!

Anne: What ages do you need to please for this birthday? I've seen Montrose Park handle both 20-something and tween birthday parties, including ultimate frisbee games at both, so there's surely plenty of space to roam. But if it doesn't work, I'd pick a park that specializes in what you need, like Cabin John Park's giant playground. You could go to Hains Point for water views, miles of space to walk and an ancient mini-golf course (but kids don't really care how old it is). Or if you need a place to meet every need, travel far enough to Brookside Gardens, which can cover the manicured botanical beauty, acres for walking and the Wheaton park train/nature center to entertain kids.

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Crowdless Margs: I went to RNR before the first Caps playoff game and got a marg (or three) on the roof. It wasn't crowded and they had $5 premium margs that were actually really good (they weren't made with a mixer). My boyfriend says they usually aren't crowded before games and such.. If you're looking for frozen, forget it though (and why bother with frozen anyways)

Fritz: The roof is the only thing to recommend RNR these days, I think. Great space up there, kind of blah and ... empty if it's not a game day.

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Downtown: Hey GOGs:

Here's a quandary: where in D.C, do you take a group of 10 that includes one visitor from England and two visitors from NYC? We're all in our early-to-mid 30s and are looking for an outdoor vibe with nearby (non-techno) dancing on Saturday night. We were thinking of starting at the great rooftop at Eighteenth Street Lounge, but where do we go from there? Would U Street corridor be a better idea?

Thanks so much!

Fritz: ESL sounds like a good start, and they can satisfy both the dancing and outdoor vibes. Maybe Fly, if you want to impress, or a short cab ride over to K Street to hit Josephine or Tattoo afterwards.

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Bachelorette Party question: I promise I read your answers to others who ask about bachelorette parties but I have one specific detail I need help with -- we're going to have about 25 women for the party. Is there some place where she can still wear a veil that we can reserve a table at? I don't want everyone to just get lost wandering around Adams Morgan! Thanks!

Julia: Fritz and I have just talked this one over, hon. We think Chloe and K Street seem like your best bets (Fritz says he's seen veils at K Street, but we both think you need to do it low-key, if you go there. No party favors, no special straws, no T-shirts with lifesavers.)

We'd advise you to call both places when trying to narrow down your plan. With 25 people, they'll have to spread you out among a bunch of tables and that will drive your per-person cost way up. Good luck!

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Arlington, Va.: Hi, gurus, please help! My boyfriend and I have started looking at engagement rings. I keep telling him that he doesn't need to overspend and I'll be happy with whatever he gets me. We've tried to narrow down the style so he has an idea, but when he called to get some quotes, they were much higher than he'd expected. Can you or any chatters recommend jewelers whom you trust that won't make you pay for more than you should? I really appreciate any help you can give.

Janet: First things first. Have you done any research about diamonds and diamond rings? If not, I suggest that you do. Check out a site called wwww.bluenile.com, which sets out some important guidelines for choosing and buying. Boone & Sons (various locations around the metro area) has good prices on their jewelry and offers discounts.

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Cleveland Park: What is the best way to do the Short Cut to the EU tour? Does the shuttle bus stop at each embassy?

Fritz: There are three different shuttle routes, each departing from a different Metro station, and they don't all go to the same places. Check the map at europe-in-dc.com.

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Washington, D.C.: Yo, what's up with (The Sounds of) Kaleidoscope? Are they worth seeing?

David: This smells like a plant, but I'm not sure anyone in that band has a computer, so perhaps not. TSOK were always one of my favorite local bands, then half the band moved to Philly and the other half is (maybe?) no longer in the band. Anyway, the short answer is an easy yes, as long as you go for really loud and heady psych rock. Now that they aren't in D.C. anymore, Monday's show at the Black Cat becomes all the more appealing.

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Washington, D.C.: You mentioned a day trip to Virginia wineries...which ones do you recommend that are more on the one-hour-away distance?

Julia: Tarara and Horton are some of the closest. I suppose I like the Tarara wine better.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey Gurus! I have a tough one for you. My birthday is coming up and I'd love to have my party on a boat this year. Is it possible to rent a boat in D.C. or Maryland?

Fritz: I went to a Christmas party on the Potomac once -- the organizers rented a boat from Potomac Riverboat Co., which is the company that runs the water taxi between Alexandria and Georgetown. You can bring a DJ or set up an iPod, and they have a full bar.

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Re: Belgian Beers: Hi GOGs,

Believe it or not, I have found three liquor stores in Southern Maryland that are well stocked with Belgian beers. Fort Wash has Silisia Liquors, Waldorf has The Wine Shoppe, and Bowie has the liquor store attached to Rips. Also willing to order for you.

Fritz: Ah, Rips. I was just talking to someone about that place the other night. Good to know it's still around.

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Georgetown: Gurus,

If you mean business, what bars should be in your top 8?

Fritz: If you mean business, you shouldn't have to ask the question.

(Seriously, I'm not sure which kind of business you're referring to.)

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Washington, D.C.: What kind of food can be expected from the Flower Market at the Cathedral this weekend? Is it similar to festival food? Or more like Arts on Foot/Taste of Bethesda (small bites for a couple bucks)? And what is some of the can't miss grub?

Anne: Right, Flower Mart has festival food: separate tents and you pay at each one. There's usually an Armand's stand, some ice cream. You'll be able to smell the vanilla almonds from everywhere. I usually go for the sweet potato fries and giant lemonade, myself. The can't-miss part is the tower climb, greenery and inside tours, not the food.

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Washington, D.C.: There's so much going on this weekend, with the Flower Mart, Eastern Market Day (which I've never been to), EU Open House, and others. Mighty Gurus -- which should be my priority or priorities? I'm also just hoping the weather is decent, since most of these activities are outside.

Julia: All the choices are good ones, D.C. I think if you asked each one of us, we'd probably all have a different answer. My two cents, the Flower Mart should top your list. Eastern Market Day is rad, but it's not too much different from other area street festivals.

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Washington, D.C.: This weekend I am throwing a bachelorette party for my sister and we are all staying in Old Town Alexandria. She is pretty classic, always in pearls and does not want anything really inappropriate(a.k.a. no penis candy necklaces) for the evening. What bars are clubs would you recommend going to in Old Town? Thanks!!

Fritz: Murphy's Irish Pub for live music, Daniel O'Connell's for mixing and mingling.

Jackson 20 for cocktails, especially if you can lounge with your drinks in the Hotel Monaco's lovely courtyard.

The bar at Vermilion for small bites and cocktails.

Bookbinder's if you want somewhere quiet to chat, or the piano lounge at Morrison House.

And, if it comes to this, Rock-It Grill for karaoke.

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Lounge help please!!: O wise gurus, please share your wisdom!

I organize a periodic happy hour and want to check out some new locations. I'm a big fan of the Kimpton lounges, Helix and Topaz, in particular, and want to find some similar places to expand our repertoire. Metro-accessible strongly preferred. Any suggestions? Thanks much in advance!!

Fritz: Have you been to Jackson 20 at the Hotel Monaco in Old Town? Small, but I'm enjoying it more than Topaz or Rouge these days.

Okay, non-Kimpton places:

The cozy, laidback library feel of the Tabard Inn; cocktails at Bar Pilar, early in the week; Skye Lounge, for an international crowd and outdoor seating; Science Club; the cool (and often-overlooked) little bar at One Washington Circle.

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washingtonpost.com: Okay, that's going to wrap up this week's Got Plans. Many thanks for all your questions, sorry if we couldn't get to all of them. For all you Cinco de Mayo fans, here's the link to my big rundown of Four Days of Fiestas. Get out of the house this weekend, and join us back here next Thursday to tell us what you did. Take care.

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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