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Got Plans?

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The Going Out Gurus
of the washingtonpost.com City Guide
Thursday, September 11, 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.

The transcript follows:

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washingtonpost.com: Don't ya just love this weather we're having? Perfect for all the festivals coming up this weekend! Anyway, you know the drill. On to the questions.....

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Washington, D.C.: Hey Gurus,

What up with bars thinking that they can get away with charging minimums for credit card transactions? I know of two in the last week that have tried to do this. It's against any merchant's contract with VISA and MasterCard to charge a minimum amount. Please pass this along to the chatters and don't believe their stories about how it's bar policy to charge a minimum. It's a bunch of crud. If they do call VISA and MasterCard and complain.

Fritz: Okay, you have a point.

On the other hand, as someone who's worked in a bar and spends a LOT of time in crowded bars, I agree with bars who don't want people coming in and running up $5 tabs on a card and closing it, meaning the bartenders have to stop serving drinks while they run the card, wait for the receipt, get you to sign it, etc. On a Saturday night, that leads to horrible, horrible congestion and a bad time had by all. From that view, it's better to just ask for cash if you're not going to order a few drinks.

Also, don't forget that bars have to pay thousands of dollars a year in transaction fees to Visa/MC/Amex for the ability to accept credit cards. I remember when Galaxy Hut wanted to stop taking plastic [last year?], owner Lary Hoffman told me how much it would add to his bottom line if fees weren't involved. Of course, since we're a nation that lives and dies by plastic, people complained so hard that he started taking cards again...

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Washington, D.C.: Three words: Ray's Hell-Burger. Please discuss. Thanks.

Julia: Come on! I think I've discussed enough. Seriously, I'm trying to put myself on a burger-and-cupcake free blog diet for at least a week or two. We'll see how I do.

(But if I must, I'll say that while we thoroughly enjoyed lunch on Friday, these burgers just aren't as good when taken to-go.)

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Alexandria, Va.: Hello GoGs: Last weekend my husband and I went to Proof for a champagne flight and then Oya for dinner and dessert. We really enjoyed both places - classy, trendy ambiance and good food/drinks. Can you suggest a similar combo in the Capitol Hill area? Much appreciated!!

Julia: Sonoma for the wine and . . . . here's where it gets tough. I might say Bistro Bis for dinner and dessert. Chatters, l'il help on the Hill?

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Washington, D.C.: Looking for something interesting to do in D.C. with my father (coming down from NY) this Saturday day and night. I've taken him to most of the museums, monuments, etc. so I'm looking for something different.

Stephanie: I checked out Wishful Drinking last night and it was hilarious. It was also heavy on the middle-age set, who all seemed to enjoy hearing about Fisher's parents, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, so maybe your dad would be into that. Also, the Richard Avedon exhibition of photos at the Corcoran just opened and that would be a great way to spend an afternoon.

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Cougars?: 'Rus,

I've got a young male friend who is new to DC and is a big fan of the older ladies--the cougar set, if you will. He's wondering what the best bars (or should I say dens?) are in DC for hunting for cougars. Do you or the other chatters have any advice? I am not a cougar nor cougar chaser, so I don't even know where to begin. Thanks!!!

David: Like I'm going to give away any of my secrets on this topic!

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Silver Spring, Md.: Hi guys. If Fritz is here today this may be a good question for him. Do you know of any bars that will be open early this Saturday for the Liverpool-Manchester United game at 7:45 am? I would prefer the Red Line, though I'll go anywhere in DC (and maybe even out to Virginia) to see it. Any bar serving food that early is a plus too. Thanks, go Reds!

Fritz: Flanagan's Harp and Fiddle (Bethesda) and the Irish Channel (Gallery Place) are both open for early games -- the Channel opens at 7 a.m. -- and I'm pretty sure they both do early-morning breakfast.

Those in Va. can head for Kitty O'Shea's (my choice) or Summers, both of which are open early.

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Springfield. Va.: My mom's birthday is Sunday, and the family (mom, dad, and two twentysomethings) want to do something together to celebrate. Problem is we can't come up with an idea. She's an artist and gardener, so museums, gardens, art fairs are all fair game. She is also up for outdoorsy things if the weather is nice, nothing too strenuous but still fun. We did a wine tasting at a winery in Loudoun County last year and she loved it. The closer to D.C. the better since we've got dinner plans in Old Town that night. Thanks in advance!

Anne: Alexandria Festival of the Arts is the first thing that jumps to mind, but I'm also thinking a trip to Mount Vernon. If you haven't been to the two-year-old visitor center, there's that inside part, and then you can also walk around the grounds for your garden kicks. You can prep with our podcast tour.

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Washington, D.C.: I am looking for a perfect wedding/reception location in D.C. and I seemed to have hit a dead end-- most places are either prohibitively expensive or very cliche and boring (i.e. windowless banquet room in a hotel). Ideally I would like to have the ceremony and reception in the same location, with ceremony in an outdoor area and reception inside. Are there ANY locations in D.C. like this, that would accommodate a small-ish (under 100) wedding?

Julia: Yeah, they're pretty much ridiculous. I haven't looked into specific costs on either of these places, but I have heard from several friends that the Arts Club of Washington and Josephine Butler House are both reasonably priced. As you no doubt know, "reasonably priced" is a relative term in the wedding biz, but you might consider either of these. Josephine Butler is lovely inside, but I can personally vouch for the Arts Club as a fantastic venue. Went to a wedding there last May; the club's Web site doesn't do it justice.

Tregaron's another one that comes to mind. The rental fee is $3,500, which is significantly cheaper than a lot of D.C. venues. You have to use a specific caterer though, 3Citron. Their food is delicious, but they're pretty pricey.

Let me(us) know what you choose some day!

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Washington, D.C.: What's a good bar/lounge/restaurant in NW DC to reserve a (relatively inexpensive) private room for a birthday party? About 20-30 people, crowd about the same age.

Fritz: It really depends on what night you want to do it. During the week, you can snag a room at Science Club, the upstairs of 51st State, the back room of Aroma, or either the balcony or downstairs at Cafe Citron without paying a fee. On the weekends, you start looking at minimums.Bourbon, for example, goes from a $100 flat fee during the week to a guarantee of a $1,500 bar tab, and Citron won't let you reserve space at all on Fridays.

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Winey Apples: It's nearly fall and I am in the mood to pick apples. However, I've recently read that our recent weather has made wine in our region quite good. Any place where we could do both or close to each other?

Thanks.

Julia: I say this like pretty much every chat in the fall, but Tarara is a reliable bet for combining the two. I'm gonna try to talk some girlfriends into scouting out a few other wine + apple-picking daytrips this fall. If I can work it out, I'll report back.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi GOGs!

I'm looking for a nice-ish restaurant somewhere between Holy Cross Hospital (where my husband is working) and the north suburbs of Baltimore (where his father will be). We are open to all types of cuisines, but I need something of father-in-law caliber, and I don't know the Maryland scene well at all.

Julia: Gosh, neither do I.... Tom Sietsema's a fan of Charleston, but I have no idea if that's even near where you're going to be. Any B'more peeps out there care to chime in?

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Dupont Circle: I know you get questions like this a lot but I'm totally blanking. Parents are coming in town this weekend. I've got dinner reservations at 7 in Dupont, which is where they are staying, but what to do afterwards? Anything besides bar hopping (my limited interests are glaringly obvious)? I need your help! thanks!

Stephanie: Sandra Bernhard is performing at Theater J, though I can't promise that will be the most parent-friendly activity (depending on your parents). You could also try POTUS Among Us or The Road to Mecca down on 14th Street.

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Courthouse, Va.: Since you all work in the area I was wondering if any of the ladies had a decent nail salon recommendation. Nothing fancy - I still go to the place by my office but would like to find something closer to home in the Courthouse/Clarendon area. Any ideas?

Julia: Actually, no. I went to a place called Pearl River up in Ballston and it wasn't great. I think there's a place in the movie theater complex...I should check it out. I am like the queen of cheap, skeevy-looking nail salons. (I am SO classy.)

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Wedding Recommendation: Hendry House at Fort C.F. Smith Park in Arlington. Beautiful grounds, inside and out. Trouble is you can't do a huge wedding there (we had under 100 and it went fabulously). We found their rates to be better than anywhere else similar.

Julia: Thanks for the tip!

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Downtown: Is the National Buiding musuem too expensive to rent? I have always thought that is a beautiful space

Julia: Yeah, it's up there. Costs start at $16 grand.

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Kennedy Center: Saw the Kennedy Center Honorees were announced on Tuesday. Is there a way for us lowly general public people to get tickets or is it one of those events that only VIPs get tickets to?

David: Yeah, this is one of those "invitation only" events. There might be a way to get an invitation by paying lots and lots of money for a ticket, I can't say I know exactly how it works except that you don't just go to the KC box office or go online and purchase a couple with your credit card.

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Glover Park, D.C.: I'm planning an anniversary dinner with my wife at Restaurant Eve followed by drinks at PX. While this sounds lovely, I'm worried it may be a little bit more stuffy than fun. Any similarly upscale options you Gurus can recommend that would also help some twenty-somethings have a fun but romantic night out. Also, we live in DC so Old Town is not very convenient anyway.

Am I overthinking the situation? We never go to the super-nice spots like Eve, so maybe we should stick with that.

Fritz: As someone who did the Eve Tasting Room/PX combo for my last birthday, I can tell you that yes, it's going to be more refined and less crazy than if you did, say, Jaleo followed by Tattoo for your anniversary, but I don't think it's stuffy at all. The staff at Eve is mostly in their 20s/30s and they keep things from getting *too* formal -- they read the customers well -- and while PX is swank and fairly quiet, it's also relaxed and casual. (Well, as casual as it can be when guys are wearing jackets and sipping $14 pisco sours.) Clinton and the bartenders aren't dour-faced martini-pouring robots. They crack jokes, they chat and it's quite the experience if you've never experienced the cocktails.

For a dinner/lounge pairing, I really don't think you're going to get any better than Eve and the PX. It's your anniversary. Relax. Treat yourself. It will most likely be a night to remember.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey GOGs. Any thoughts about the Maryland Renaissance Fair, which is going on now? I have fond memories of my local Fair from my childhood, and am thinking about taking my 2-year-old there. I know most of it will be lost on him, but it's for me too, you know?

Anne: I'll throw this out ye olde peanut gallery, as I pretty much OD-ed on the Renaissance circuit after working at the Pennsylvania one in high school. But my general take is that if you love the Renaissance Festival, sure, take your kid and show why it's special to you. The festival has a Scottish theme this weekend, meaning you have two chances to see a caber toss.

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Arlington: Why should I care if they have to pay a transaction fee? I know that if I am in a college town, like say, Blacksburg, I can get a 35oz beer for $3.00, and they remain profitable. Therefore, if they want to charge me $4.50 for a 12oz bottle, which I know the value to be about $1.10, I say, they can afford the cost of my transaction fee.

Fritz: Are you seriously comparing the rents/overhead/taxes/insurance business owners face in Blacksburg with Clarendon?

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20009: My husband is craving hot wings. Anyplace good within walking distance of Adams Morgan? We could always head down to Hooters, but it would be nice to support a local place if the wings are big and spicy. Thanks!

Rhome: Waings (sic) are a staple food, at least among my crew. I'm not so keen on burn just for burn sake but the standard tabasco derivative, slightly vinegary formula (Hooters-like) is popular and widespread. In Adams Morgan you can find those at Ventnor and Adams Mill Expanding the area of your question, I can rep for Hyattsville because we've got a Cluck-U and a Wow on the way. There's also a Wow in the Marvin Center at GW. Too bad the Georgia Ave Cluck-U is closed.

And there's always waings and mumbo. They're like half-smokes, something you can't leave DC without trying at least once. You can find them at any chinese carryout in (less gentrified parts of) the city. And the wings are HUGE. I'm almost scared to know where they get them.

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Stanley Road, Woking: Do you know what time we can expect Paul Weller on stage on Saturday and what the warm-up is like?

Thanks!

David: Expect Paul Weller on stage around 10:30 on Saturday night and expect someone to accidentally get on the wrong Vespa when leaving the show. Opening act the Rifles are pretty standard but enjoyable bouncy Brit-rock, should make for a fun opener while enjoying a pint.

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NW D.C.: Julia, loved your piece on rehearsal dinner options. I think one of my friends is trying Cork for hers. Any recommendations for a rehearsal group of 20-30 people around $1,000? I'm well aware that that is dirt cheap for the area, but got all caught up in the parent financial brokering and said that we would back the dinner. I don't want to go back on this agreement, but don't want to break the bank either. A little help?

Julia: Hey, glad you liked it! I'm kind of bummed I didn't think of Cork for mine in June!

$1,000 is tough in D.C.; you're basically looking at $30-$40 per head. I wouldn't want to go back on the deal either, so I might see if you could do some place like downstairs at Cactus Cantina, which is certainly informal, but has a festive feel.

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Cougar Hunting: I've always noticed them to be on the prowl at the Bottom Line.

Fritz: Bottom Line, Rumors, Sign of the Whale, Cafe Milano -- any place that was popular 10 years ago. Cougars are territorial.

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Washington, D.C.: We are organizing a bachelorette party for a friend, but she doesn't drink and doesn't want strippers, so the only option is to get together and do it at home. Do you have any suggestions of what could we do to make it a bit more fun than just a get-together? Thanks

Stephanie: Even though she doesn't drink and doesn't like strippers, can't you still go out to dinner? Or to a play/concert/comedy show/sporting event/movie/art exhibition? If you must stay home, the first thing that pops into my head is a group cooking class, like The Pampered Chef. Chatters, any other interesting at-home party options?

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Visiting Family Suggestion: For those with family coming into town this weekend, don't forget the Washington Opera's simulcast of "La Traviata" at Nationals stadium - http://www.dc-opera.org/experience/accessinitiatives/simulcasts.asp. Where else can you watch opera and have hot dogs at the same time?

Stephanie: Hot dogs and opera. It's fun for the whole family!

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Washington, D.C.: Where is a live rock music where my sister and I can bang our heads off.. DC please--if not MD will work.. The other thing is I want to go where there is a mature crowd-- I'm in my late 20s and she is just entering her 20s-- But were are both a huge rock music lover-- so if there is any band playing in DC---

David: Go see Stinking Lizaveta at the Velvet Lounge on Saturday. Do it. You will be able to bang your head to your heart's content and there won't be any kids there. Good time guaranteed.

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Dupont Circle: I have taken my parents to the Tabard Inn for dessert after dinner elswhere and they loved it. They aren't nightowls by any means so it was the perfect ending for the day before they went back to their hotel.

Stephanie: And another option for something to do after dinner with your parents in Dupont.

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Bachelorette Party: Try doing a search for a traveling spa...they'll come to your home and give pedicures, etc which can be fun in combination with a lingerie party or something similar!

Stephanie: Now that sounds like an excellent idea.

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Arlington: Given that it's wedding week, I thought I'd try a wedding question. What's a good place for a bridesmaids luncheon? With moms et al we total 13 people. Arlington, Alexandria, or D.C. It's on a Friday during lunch so preferably not some place where we'll be overrun by the work lunch crowd.

Julia: Vermilion comes to mind; I've seen lunching ladies in there. Sette Bello is another good choice.

And thank you for mentioning Wedding Week. Our adorable co-worker Amanda McGrath has done a fantastic job pulling all these wedding resources and features together.

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Columbia Heights, D.C.: So I'm crossing a bridge on Friday evening (gasp!) and going all the way out to Shirlington for a night on the 'burbs. Can you please tell me where I can get some decent, cheap, hip food in Shirlington (or the greater Shirlington area, cough) and perhaps even do another fun activity (not a movie) to make a date of it? Thanks as always!

Fritz: Well, it'll help balance out the traffic coming from Va to Wonderland and CommonWealth!

Carlyle is the go-to option in Shirlington, and though it looks good, it's not really hip (or incredibly cheap). You could try Busboys and Poets, which often has better service than its 14th Street sibling, or the stylish little Ping, a Chinese place that looks more like a lounge than one of its parent restaurants, Charlie Chiang's.

For the activity, I like hanging out at the Bungalow, which is packed with pool tables, flatscreens and the local 20somethings that aren't driving to Clarendon or D.C., or grabbing the latest house-made beer at Cap City Brewing Company.

(Something more highbrow would be "Ace," the musical currently on at Signature Theatre.)

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Washington, D.C.: Almighty Gurus! Need your Guru-ness! My fiance would like to have a tux custom made for the wedding. Do you know of any fabulous tailors? We live in Rockville/Bethesda and work near L'Enfant. THANKS!

Janet: Good question. Anyone out there know of a fab tailor who could custom make a tuxedo?

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Baltimore/Holy Cross: Why not split the difference and go to Victoria's in Columbia? seems to be a good halfway point.

Julia: There's an option. Tom just gave the place a middling review, but the location sounds about right!

Call it a Virginia gal's inability to ever remember anything about Maryland, but Fritz tells me the hospital is in Silver Spring, not near Baltimore (as I had misremembered). If the father in law is willing to come down to SS, Jackie's could be a good choice. As could the Iron Bridge Wine Co. in Columbia.

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Alexandria, Va.: Almighty Gurus,

I have an English friend coming into the country on the 26th -- the night of the first presidential debates. She's never been to DC before. Assuming she's not too terribly jetlagged, I'd love to take her out to a bar, in DC preferably, to watch the debates. I'd especially love to take her somewhere she can get the "full" DC experience (people expressing their opinions, without getting too heated). I work on the hill, and am considering the Hawk & Dove, but any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Stephanie: I went to Pour House last time around and it was...an experience. I think it was exactly what you're looking for: lively and packed to the gills with Hill staffers. I think most of the bars on the Hill will fit the bill though.

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Apples and wine: You could do Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard and Butler's Orchard in the same day.

Julia: Thanks for the suggestion -- that might be my first trip. I love Butler's.

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RE: Winey apples: My BF and I just spent a day picking veggies and fruit at the Great Country Farms out past Dulles and right across the street is a winery owned by them. The view at this small winery is breathtaking, on a clear day you can see to Reston! I highly recommend!

Julia: Another wine+apples tip.

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Alexandria: Re: Wine and apples - just make a trip out to Graves Mountain near Sperryville to pick apples; they also have a festival in October. You'll pass any number of vineyards on the way there and back depending which way you go.

Julia: And another.

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Bachelorette party: I hosted a party for a friend who wanted something on the gentler side, and we had dinner at my place and then rented a limo to tour the monuments at night. Packed desserts and some snack food (we had champagne, too, but it was definitely not a drunk-fest).

Stephanie: Another nice bachelorette party idea.

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Washington, D.C.: Gurus, I am seeking a bar for Saturday night that meets the following requirements:
-laid back (even divey), -good music (DJ, live, or jukebox), -decent beer selection, -things to do (shuffleboard, darts, pool, board games, etc.), -lively but not packed, -Metro-accessible (anywhere in DC is fair game). My worlds are colliding and I want it to go smoothly. My go-to place is Rocket Bar, but I need neutral ground. Thanks!

Fritz: Well, to meet all your requirements, I'd say add Breadsoda and Bedrock Billiards to your list, in that order. Continental and Buffalo Billiards would also work, but they're just not good fits for times when Worlds Collide, I think.

(No mid-'90s D.C. hardcore jokes, please.)

Seriously, though, I'd say Breadsoda. It's relatively new, it's hip, it's a gorgeous space and there's a patio so you can enjoy the next-to-last-weekend-of-summer weather. Fantastic jukebox, too, but get there early to get your tunes on.

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Petworth: "Why should I care if they have to pay a transaction fee? "

Why? Because it affects the cost of doing business, which directly affects the cost of your food/drink.

Fritz: Exactly.

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Washington, D.C.: I'm in charge of choosing a bar to go to with some former co-workers in the Dupont area. There are just a few of us (between three and five people), but most are around 50, and I think somewhere super trendy probably won't work. We would like to catch up, so somewhere that isn't really loud is a plus, although we don't want to go somewhere totally empty either. South of the circle is ideal. Any suggestions?

Fritz: Town and Country at the Mayflower is perfect: Dark, quiet, tinkling piano, and Sam Lek, one of the top bartenders in D.C.

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wine tours?: Hi, Are there wine tours that pick you up from dc and bring you back? I was thinking of doing something different for my birthday.

Stephanie: I'm not sure about tours, but you could always rent a limo/party bus, which actually won't break the bank if you get enough people to split the cost.

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Friendship Heights: Hi Guys,

Love your work. Can you tell me anything about what the scene will be like for the Halfwy to St. patrick's Day pub crawl?My friends are craving a little day drinking and thought this might be fun.

Thanks!

Fritz: Mostly mid-20s, looking to get the beers in and maybe meet someone of the opposite sex. Based on the other, similar bar crawls I've been on that hit the same list of places, it's a lot like a casual college mixer but you get asked what you do instead of what your major is.

I think it's a lot of fun if you go into it with the right mindset.

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Arlington, Va.: Is a rainy day and my roommates want to take me out for dinner and drinks to celebrate birthday. Any suggestions, where they can take me? Low key place, good food, drinks and we can hear our conversations. Three guys and a girl in Clarendon.

Julia: Talulla/Eat Bar would be tops of my list for this sort of thing. Fritz and I were debating the loudness factor at Liberty Tavern, but we think it could be low-key if you ate upstairs.

Faccia Luna is another option.

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Washington, D.C.: Hola Gurus,

I am a woman from Spain working here. I like to go to Park and Marvin and I like the guys that go there. Can you recommend me other places like that? Gracias

Rhome: The Park: kind of swank, more mainstream with popular music and a dressy crowd. Marvin: more laid back with underground and classic music that can turn it from a lounge to a dance party. Local 16 sits between those. Chi Cha too, although the furniture is good for lounging but not so good for mingling. If you're willing to head to Arlington you could try Eleventh Street Lounge. Closer to the park in distance and style, you can also try K Street Lounge.

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Washington, D.C.: We had our wedding reception at St. Francis Hall at the Franciscan Monastery in Brookland (NE D.C.) I'd highly recommend it. It is gorgeous, needs little decoration, and is affordable by DC standards. We had the ceremony at a church, but there's no reason you couldn't set up chairs for the ceremony there first. Then guests can stroll in the monastery gardens while you switch to reception mode.

Julia: Someone wrote in about this place a year or so ago. Neat idea, the photos look lovely.

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Arlington, Va.: Hello, gurus. What are some of the better food options inside the Nationals Stadium? Thank you.

Julia: I've always had the most reliable food at Ben's Chili Bowl and the gelaterias. The Cantina Marina is a definite no-go. Way too expensive for what it is.

Back in April, the Food Section did a pretty comprehensive run-down/taste test of the available options. You can find that here.

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U St's Demise?: Gurus, Remember when U St held retail promise, where did all of that go? Wild Women, Destination U, Pink November, Carbon. What happened? It's getting less worth hitting that area on the weekends?

Rhome: I'm guessing that the price of doing business down there got too high for the independent shop owners.

Sad.

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Reception site: We had our wedding reception at the Arts Club of Washington (Monroe House) in June and it was wonderful. Very helpful staff and great catering. Much better priced than many of the other places we looked.

Julia: Yeah, my friends' wedding there was totally GORGEOUS. And it was neat to have the cocktail hour wind throughout the house.

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Falls Church, Va.: I moved to the DC area in February, and for some reason, DirecTV isn't allowed in my apartment. Now, I have to venture out to the sports bars to watch my Colts and my wife's Steelers. I know the Colts probably aren't well liked in this area, but do you know of any bars where I can find some fellow fans of the Colts and/or Steelers? We would prefer if we could hear the game as well rather than read subtitles. Thanks.

Fritz: Right in your 'hood, Velocity Five is a great new sports bar with 50 screens, couches and good wings. They have every game going simultaneously, so I'm willing to bet some Colts fans would be there.

As for the Stillers, well, you need to go to the Pour House on Capitol Hill. Wall-to-wall black and gold, Iron City beer, pierogis and crowds who turn up to "tailgate" hours before the game.

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Petworth: What happened? Busara is gone? On top of the Grog being gone, this is quite disconcerting. (OK, I haven't been to the Grog since I was 20something, but still....)

Anyhow, what's going in the Busara space, and will they save the garden (my favorite spot anywhere EVER)?

Fritz: I covered this in a blog post a few months ago, well before lifestyle mags started jumping on the story. Glover Park is going through some serious changes.

The Busara space is going to be operated by the guys behind Sonoma and Redwood. They haven't said what, exactly, it's going to be (or when it's going to open), but I'd expect a wine-focused restaurant. Just a guess.

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Gin and Tonic: I walked by Gin and Tonic the other day and it was the first time I've actually seen people in the facility. Most of the people who showed up I'm sure never been to the place before which probably is the reason the place is Gin and Tonic now.

Fritz: Gin and Tonic was almost uncomfortably crowded last Saturday night -- maybe like three months worth of business at the Grog and Tankard in one night.

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Arlington, Va.: I'm thinking of going to the Film Festival at the E street Theatre tonight, are there any good used book stores or tea shops to hit up before hand?

Stephanie: I've got you covered. Tea and books (although I'm not sure about used). Enjoy!

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Columbia, Md.: Hi Gurus,

I'm celebrating my 25th birthday this weekend and need a place to accommodate around 10 people, with a cheap to moderate budget. (Some people want to spend $10 an entree, some want to spend $15-$20.) Ideally, Silver Spring or Bethesda, and ideally something Indian, Thai, Asian, or in a similar vein. Ideas?

Thanks!!

Julia: There's a Tara Thai in Bethesda, which is a cheap and reliable choice. It won't be the best Thai food ever, but your group should find the price range they need. Other options? Bombay Bistro or Rockville's Asia Taste, which just got a good review in Weekend.

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Ugh: Please carry cash people. Swiping your card for everything on earth makes you look like a peasant.

Fritz: Not if it's a Centurion Card! I love using that at CVS.

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Wash, DC: I went to the Pour House a while back, hoping to enjoy a cold, frosty Iron City, and the waitress told me they didn't have it. She had clearly never even heard of it, have they stopped selling it or was I just victim of a server who didn't have a clue what was going on?

Fritz: My understanding (and this is from watching football) is that they only sell Urn City on Sundays for Steelers Games. But I could be wrong. I'll have the right answer next week.

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Vienna, Va.: What are the best outdoor events happening this Saturday? My husband and I are looking for something different to do this weekend. We are in Vienna, but willing to drive/metro.

Stephanie: You have more options than you're going to know what to do with.

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Ah-rn City: Fritz, your yinzer accent is terrible.

Fritz: I'm from Maryland, but I have friends from the Burgh. I'll ask for lessons.

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RE: Gin and Tonic: Wait, the place in GP is open now? I walk by every day and it looks as closed as can be.

Fritz: Gin and Tonic is open Thu-Sat while they remodel. I'm going to have a blog post about this later today...

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Dupont Circle: The rehearsal dinner list was super helpful, but any ideas on venues for that other new trend: Welcome drinks for out of towners? We're planning on having a smallish rehearsal dinner, but want to invite all of the guests (especially ones who've traveled) to something. Ideally, it'd be a private room in a bar that could fit somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 people. And maybe we could bring in a fun dessert (like cupcakes?). And in the Dupont area. Any ideas?

Julia: We should give you some sort of dedicated-reader award! You are fantastic!

Anyway, first step, I'd talk to your rehearsal site. We had our rehearsal dinner at Clyde's in Gallery Place and we just told all the rest of the out of towners to meet us there like 2 hours after the dinner started and we opened up the bar for a few hours. See if you could work out something like that.

Otherwise, assuming you're talking about a Friday rehearsal dinner, that limits you somewhat. Citron and other nearby places that will usually let you reserve a place for minimal costs probably won't on a Friday. We think Buffalo Billiards is probably your best bet -- just because it's big enough and the party organizers there are used to blocking off part of the room for big groups. We think upstairs at Porter's could be a good option if you were willing to go the dive-bar route (and I mean, scuzzy, like, don't invite the parents there). Town and Country at the Mayflower is a nicer option, but it'll be more expensive.

We also think it might be worth giving Panache and Darlington House a call to see if they could work with you.

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dinner on the hill: yes yes yes to Bistro Bis. Had some really wonderful meals there (as long as it's not RW). Had a fabulous lamb shank with white beans and then apple dessert with some puff pastry-type crust and goat milk ice cream. Can't wait to go back!

Julia: Nice.

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Swiping your card for everything on earth makes you look like a peasant. : What does that even mean? Regardless, making a comment like that makes you sound like a snob.

Fritz: We only give people the rope. What they do with it is up to them.

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Dupont Circle, D.C.: For a dinner jacket (aka tuxedo), go to Field English Custom Tailor on Wisconsin in Glover Park.

Fritz: I use Field for all my tailoring, as I think Will's one of the best I've ever seen, but just be warned his bespoke jackets are -- not inexpensive. A suit's going to cost around $2,500.

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Urn City???: Any yinzer will tell you that it's pronounced "Ahrn City"

Fritz: Fine. I'm going to have to go to Kennywood for a weekend.

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Sorry, I should have rephrased that...: Swiping your card for everything makes you look like a kickballer.

Fritz: Zing!

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Washington D.C.: Hello gurus! My friends are getting married in a few weeks, as is the rest of the world, and their reception is at the Congressional Club up on New Hampshire/U Street. We're looking for a suitable bar in the area for the after-party that can accommodate cocktail dresses, suits and a decent range of ages, say 25-50. For a frame of reference, the bride cited the bar at Hotel Helix as being too modern for this crowd. Thanks!

Julia: We're not sure what club you're talking about. Is it the Women's Democratic Club?

Regardless, I think you can go anywhere in a big group after a wedding and not feel out of place. About 50 of us went to Stetson's after my wedding and I was still in my wedding dress. Lots of people wished us congratulations, but by and large, no one cared that that we were all dressed up. Local 16 is another option. Those in dresses might feel most at home at a place like nearby Veritas, but that bar is kind of small for such a big group.

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Washington, D.C.: In the link to this discussion on the homepage, there is a serious error of punctuation.

Got Plans?: Going Out Gurus

A colon following a question mark? This is double punctuation and should be avoided at all costs. Perhaps if you spent less time going out and more time reading you would know this.

Julia: From one of our biggest fans....

Whew! Would you look at the time? That about does it for us today, kids! Get out and play this weekend. We'll catch you next week!

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Washington, D.C.: Let's say you are downtown and have some time to kill at 3:00 one afternoon...where are some good bars to grab a beer?

Fritz: Post Pub comes to mind -- not that I've ever done that, of course.

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Rehearsal Dinner: I had my buffet rehearsal dinner at Elephant & Castle for _significantly_ lower than $1000. (What are you people eating??)

Julia: Ooh, one more! Thanks for the tip -- hope this helps rehearsal dinner girl!

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