Transcript

Got Plans?

The Going Out Gurus
of the washingtonpost.com City Guide
Thursday, October 2, 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: Hi everyone. Many of you are eager to know where to drink during tonight's debate. (Drinking? During a serious political discussion? How gauche!) We'll attempt to answer that question and many others in today's very special episode of Got Plans? ... starring Julia Beizer, Anne Kenderdine, David Malitz, Stephanie Merry, Janet Bennett, Jen Chaney, Rhome Anderson and Fritz Hahn as The Drinker. Let the wacky shenanigans, accompanied by a laugh track, begin.

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Columbia Heights Day: Hey Gurus, can you tell me where the Columbia Heights Day festival will be? There's no specific street listed on the website. Thanks!

Stephanie: The Columbia Heights Festival had me at "free yoga." Sounds like a good time, and you can check out the festivities at Harriet Tubman Elementary School field as well as along Kenyon St. between 11th and 13th.

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Bethesda, Md.: Hey Gurus... I'm submitting this really really early (Friday night, because I just got done reading your chat from Thursday- so you have a rough idea what my schedule is these days).

In any case, one of my girlfriend and I's big dates was to the Washington Hotel, which will of course be reopening as a W Hotel. We were there for the last New Years Eve and really enjoyed the rooftop deck that they have. Well, roll around 10 months later and I'm thinking of popping the question and that came to mind. Do you know when they will be re-opening the W and if the roofdeck will be open?

Thanks...

Fritz: June 2009 is the [current] projected date.

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Reston, Va.: Howdy Gurus, Second date on Friday. Found out we are both ping pong players. Any suggestions on where you can play ping pong and perhaps get a bite to eat on a Friday night. I had been considering Comet Ping Pong, but I have heard mixed reviews about the pizza. Any other thoughts? Maybe some place out in the country of Reston?

Julia: I think Comet's your best bet for this, actually. So much so that I would have thought this was a plant if not for the second half of your question. It's a cute casual date spot.

If your date doesn't work out, you should ask out David. He loooooooves ping pong.

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Rosslyn, Va.: Gurus, I am going to the Matt Nathanson concert on 10/7 at the Synagogue on 6th & I. I have heard good things about Nathanson and like the songs I've heard, but have never seen him live. Have you seen Nathanson live? I am also curious about the venue. Can you tell me what to expect at 6th&I?

David: I've not seen Nathanson live, but I can give you some info on Sixth & I. It's a really gorgeous place to see a concert, but I recommend getting there early to get a good seat on the lower level. The sight lines from the balcony are mediocre at best. And you will want to do what you can to sit in the middle section on the floor, not on the sides. It really does make a difference. The sound should also be better there. There have been slight problems with the PA for the shows I've seen there but for the most part it's been pretty crisp.

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8th and I: Hey guys--

One of my friends is trying to convince me to go out to the Oktoberfest festivities in Shirlington on Saturday. I heard it was $25 for all you could drink (and a mug you get to keep). Is it going to be worth going to? Thanks!

Fritz: The Cap City Oktoberfest is one of my favorite events of the year, though it can be a hassle getting there from D.C. (Saturday bus schedules) and it can get very crowded. This year, at least 42 different brewers are bringing their beers to sample, there's live German music and dancing, and German societies serving up hot bratwurst.

Don't look at it as "all you can drink," which puts undue emphasis on "getting drunk." It's about visiting stands from Troegs, Lancaster Brewing Co., Williamsburg Ale Works -- trying beers you can't readily find at every bar.

(Also, the "mug" is more like a fluted shot glass. I have a couple at home.)

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Washington, D.C.: You guys had a pretty good listing of area bars/restaurants that were showing the first debate last Friday - anything similar for Thursday's debate? Thanks!

Fritz: Check out my list of VP Debate spots right here.

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Philadelphia, Penn.: Hey Gurus. I'm going to be in town Sun-Mon; anything noteworthy going on? I'll be wandering around alone on Monday so any suggestions other than having a fantastic lunch in Penn Quarter, please let me know.

Also, any recommendations of places for women's clothes? I went to college in DC, but never wore anything but T-shirts and jeans. Got a black tie event coming up, and I don't mind an excuse for some general shopping, too. I like fairly modest, simple clothes, which apparently can be "urban" style. Looking for local boutiquey places, prices for most items under $100, would pay up to around $150 for the dress. Metro accessible/in the District. I checked the City Guide, but any other tips would be great. Thanks!

Janet: I imagine you have a Filene's Basement in Philadelphia, but if not, it's a good place to scour for clothing because you can score some great bargains. There's a branch right downtown at Metro Center. Also, there's Loehmann's in Chevy Chase, which is Metro accessible. Have fun shopping.

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Capitol Hill: Hey Gurus, My brother is coming into town soon, and I'd really like to take him out for a great steak and some good D.C. ambiance. Where do you think offers the best combination of that? Cap Grille? Charlie Palmer? Somewhere that hasn't crossed my mind yet? You guys are the best!

Julia: You should be a guru, Capitol Hill. I think Charlie Palmer is your best bet. The Prime Rib comes to mind as well, but I'd go Charlie.

Both come with a hefty price tag -- District ChopHouse offers a similar ambiance at a slightly cheaper rate.

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Arlington, Va.: What are the food options like at the Shirlington Oktoberfest?

Fritz: Sausage to go along with your Oktoberfest beers, or treats from the various Shirlington restaurants, like Carlyle, Extra Virgin, etc.

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Dupont Circle: I'm hoping to check out Taj Mahal at the Jazz festival on Sunday. Any clue when he will go on?

David: I've been unsuccessful in trying to track down set times for Sunday's Jazz on the Mall, but I'll keep trying. That said, Taj Mahal's MySpace page (that just doesn't seem right to type out) says he's playing at 1:15 p.m., so take that for what it's worth.

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Falls Church, Va.: Any suggestions for places to get jeans hemmed (original hem) in the Tysons/Falls Church/North Arlington area? I know this has been covered for DC but I couldn't find anything on Virginia. Thanks!

Janet: Mauro Farinelli, lately of Denim Bar, suggests Hamza Simrick in Arlington on South Joyce. The phone number is 703-521-6909.

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Alexandria, Va.: Hi Gurus, Since Halloween is a Friday this year, I'd love to go see Rocky Horror. Do you know anywhere around the metro area that will be putting on midnight showings?

Jen: I know there is a group at GW that puts on Rocky Horror each year, and I believe they will do it again this year. But I have not heard dates and times yet.

That's the only one I know of at the moment, but please, chime in if you know of other Rocky Horror goings-on.

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Washington, D.C.: I am a single guy in my late 20s who is taking steps to schedule a second date in the downtown Bethesda area with a woman around the same age. Could you offer any suggestions for a laid back atmosphere that is reasonably priced for drinks/dinner on a weeknight?

Julia: Didn't we answer this question last week? Or did you just ask and we not get to it? If it's the latter, my bad! If it's the former, sorry for the repeat, chatters. Don't have time to look up last week's chat to see.

I'm never wowed by the dining options in Bethesda, but I think Grapeseed, Jaleo or semi-newcomer Redwood would be great options for a second date. If you opt for Redwood, the cozy tables at the bar could be conducive to sharing plates, getting to know each other, etc.

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Happy Hour Girl: Hey Gurus, My coworker and I are looking for a good spot for happy hour today after work. We work in Dupont Circle so anywhere in the area is great for us. We prefer a bar with lots of young professionals and great specials. Thanks!

Fritz: "Great Specials" and "Young Professionals" in Dupont on Thursday generally means the Front Page (cheap beer, tacos, etc.) or Lucky Bar ($2 Buds all night), but I also like some of the less-crowded options like Porter's, the half-price drinks and snacks at Topaz, or, as someone pointed out here last week, Eighteenth Street Lounge.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Hi Gurus,

My boyfriend and I are playing hookie on Monday, and we wanted to do a museum or exhibit in the city. We were thinking the American Indian Museum, but I wanted to know if you have any other suggestions? He likes art and music and I'm a big history buff. We decided against the Newseum and the Spy Museum because they are a little expensive for this outing.

Also we are going to Granville Moore's for the discounted mussels happy hour. I've heard that there can be lines on Mondays, is that still the case? If so, what time should we get there?

Thanks!

Stephanie: Strangely enough, I did the exact same thing a few years ago--played hookie and went to the American Indian Museum. I guess it's a good thing I now go to museums as my job, so I don't have to take "mental health" days anymore. To be honest, I wasn't blown away by the exhibits, but the architecture is definitely cool. Of course, you have all day, so you might want to go there but also hit up a couple other exhibitions, like Hop Hop and Contemporary Portraiture at the Portrait Gallery (since your boyfriend likes music and art) and the Richard Avedon exhibit at the Corcoran. For the second part of your question, I'm turning this over to Fritz.

Fritz: For $10 mussels, you need to get there in the 5-5:30 range, because those suckers fly out the door. (Personally, I might pay the extra $14 and go on a night that's less busy.)

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Gurus,

I'd like to catch a football game at Nellie's on Saturday. I've never been before, and the calendar on their website lists two group "events" around the same time as my game. So I'm a little worried that we'll have trouble finding a place to sit and watch. What do you think? Do they have separate rooms for groups? And how's the view generally?

Thanks!

Fritz: The only "group" event that I see on this Saturday's calendar is the Florida game watch. Nellie's doesn't have that many TVs, but the main room is a large, airy space with screens lined along the walls, so sightlines are generally good.

There's room for private groups upstairs, though.

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On the Virginia Wine Trail: Dearest Great, Going-Out, Grape-Stomping Gurus- I hope you can help me! I've recently been visiting a number of wineries in the Northern Virginia area and really getting excited about them...and now, I would really love to find one where I could participate in stomping the grapes! Any ideas where and when I could get my stomp on? I tried to search for such information, but short of checking every single winery's website (there are about 135), I'm at a loss. Of course, I'd love it if there are options in the nearer, Norther Virginia area...but I'm willing to travel if necessary. Thanks for your help!

Julia: What are you doing tomorrow? Not the Virginia wine trail, but you can get your grape stomp on at the Cafe du Parc between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. And eat lots of yummy food and taste wines . . . but I digress.

If you'd like to grape-stomp in a more pastoral environment, trek out to Linden this weekend. According to its Web site, Fox Meadows will have grape stomping on Saturday.

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Washington, D.C.: Gurus, after experiencing a hammam on a recent trip to Istanbul, I would like to visit one here in the area. Can you recommmend one in the District?

Anne: Well, there's one near Philly. I'll throw this out to you chatters. Any ideas for a Turkish bath? I can say that the poor woman's version could be found at Silver Spring's MLK indoor pool, which was super hot and baked by the sun because it's surrounded by all glass. Good for winter, not good for those really hot September weekends after Labor Day.

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Washington, D.C.: I know this has been asked many times before, but I can't seem to find the answer. Where is the best place to get jeans hemmed and keep the original hem? About how much does this usually cost?

Fritz: Denim Bar has a tailor that does this, and I recall it costing around $15 or so. I'd call Mauro and ask.

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Boutiquey cocktail dresses without high prices:: I'd like to put up my go-to hot spots for this: Nana, Junction, and Caramel all conveniently located steps from each other between 18th and 15th on U Street.

Janet: For the chatter in search of a dress for black-tie, here are some U Street recommendations:

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Lanham, Md.: My boyfriend and I do not drink or go to clubs, but we like to go out and have a good time. Most of our dates consist of eating out and a movie, what are some alternative things we can do in the Washington metropolitan area to change things up a little.

Stephanie: You could always trade in the movie for a play, especially since you can go for free. A lot of the tickets have been snagged already, but there are still some shows remaining, so act fast. Or you could head to Chinatown for some bowling and dessert. You could also check out what's new at the Dupont galleries and then grab some dinner nearby.

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Downtown D.C.: So I've been invited to a club this weekend and since I have yet to explore DC's club scene, I have no idea what to wear. Do you have any suggestions for a 25 year old female? If I can't get away with jeans, I was thinking of some sort of loose fitting dress, but what kind of shoes and purse? Do people wear jackets to these things? Please help!

Fritz: It completely depends on what club and what night. (Sounds like a cop-out, but it's true.)

In general, though, women can generally get away with wearing whatever they want, as long as they dress it up. I'd think a nice top, jeans and heels would get you into any lounge or club in the city.

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Washington, D.C.: What is the newly re-opened Champions in the old Blue Gin space in Georgetown like on a Saturday? Is there a cover?

Fritz: I've only been by once on a Saturday and it seemed like a cross between Blue Gin and a sports bar: Nice decor, bottle service upstairs, an obviously dressed-down crowd with TV playing college football games. I don't believe there's a cover, or didn't encounter one.

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Date Question...: I need to pick a date location in Arlington for Sunday, because that's nowhere near where the other four guys I'm seeing live...where should we go?

Julia: We've got a serial dater on our hands!

I think Tallula makes a darling date spot. Want something more casual? Try a few beers and burgers at Harry's Tap Room or a bottle of wine and French fare at Grand Cru in Ballston (only if the weather's nice -- it's best to sit outside there).

At the risk of sounding Haxian, I salute your desire to play the field . . . . but sooner or later, you've gotta cut some of these guys loose/let them know you're not exclusive/etc.

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Denim in D.C.: Just since my favorite guy Mauro keeps being mentioned (thank you for making me have the cutest butt in DC!) -what hasn't been mentioned is he's opening up a new self-named store and having a launch party tomorrow night at Lotus Lounge. The event is free for anyone wearing denim. He's also giving away 20 percent first purchase when the store opens.

For my fellow readers who can't stand the insane lines at the House of Sweden "Denim after Dark Party" come support Mauro! He's the best!

Fritz: Now now -- House of Sweden hasn't had lines that qualify as "insane" since the grand-opening-with-open-bar opening party. The last couple, which required advance tickets, ran a lot more smoothly.

But this sounds like a great event. Want to tell us what time it starts?

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Rocky Horror: I believe UMD also does Rocky Horror at Midnight in College Park.

Jen: Ah, the good, 'ol Hoff. Thanks for noting that.

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Hey David: What do you think about Brightest Young Things? And which show would you go to this weekend: These United States, Jukebox the Ghost, or head north to Bmore to catch Far From Finished at Ottobar?

David: Thank you for following me over from Freedom Rock. Here's what I said on Tuesday: "Lots of good -- sometimes very good -- original content but largely untrustworthy in terms of taste. They love love love everything. Maybe that's what happens when you drink that many Sparks. Or more likely that's what happens when you rely on unpaid contributors who don't want to write about stuff they don't like. I check it every day, FWIW."

They've got a good number of contributors to help them cover lots of ground. But when you have so many people writing for you, you lose a certain authority, since it ends up reading like a bunch of random people writing about their favorite things. Which is fine, it can still be entertaining (and the comments sections for many of their posts are hilarious) but it does tend to have a hooray-for-everything feel. But you can say that about the blogosphere in general. It's a good site, I read it all the time. Also, sometimes they post really hilarious pictures of Fritz, so that's a big-plus.

As for the shows this weekend, I'd pick TUS out of those three, but I'd pick the Sonic Circuits marathon show at the Velvet or Lou Pride at Comet over either of those, if only because they are more rare.

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Searching, Va.: Do you happen to know which of the galleries in Dupont are participating in the 1st Friday of the month open house? A friend mentioned it to me and i need a backup plan for a 1st date tomorrow. and if so, any seafood or Italian restaurants nearby (honestly, food type isn't too big a deal. just want some non-red meat options for dinner)?

Gracias!!

Stephanie: You can search the City Guide for the participating First Friday galleries. As far as food goes, if you want Italian in Dupont, it's hard to beat Al Tiramisu. For another option, Firefly is one of my favorites, and they always have good non-meat options.

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Washington, D.C.: Posting the Night of Free Theatre was a nice idea, but it was completely "sold" out within a couple hours yesterday (and all but one show was gone after 25 minutes).

See here: http://www.freenightoftheater.net/shows/show_listings.cfm?region=23

I was surprised, since this didn't seem all that well publicized. I have to assume people are taking more than one show.

Fritz: Would you rather we not tell people about it? Doesn't seem like a good idea to me, and I got completely shut out of everything I tried to get at 12:01. Some of my friends -- who found out about it through the City Guide -- did manage to score good tickets, though. I'm jealous.

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RFK Saturday: how will the jam session effect the united tailgate?

will we regular tailgaters have to fend for our prized spots? will the music drown out our converstations?

Fritz: I think the Eagles and the Barra will be fine. Don't think the party is in Lot 8, or wasn't last time.

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Dalmarnock, G40: Everyone should go see Glasvegas at the Rock n' Roll hotel this Friday. They are simply stunning.

David: Fritz likes 'em. Alan McGee loves 'em, but that used to mean a lot more than it currently means. I think they're kinda meh, personally.

Fritz: I don't think they're world-beating or earth-shattering or anything, but they're interesting if you like Jesus and Mary Chain and old Creation Records bands.

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The New Republic: Hi Guru's, I remember Republic Gardens having a fairly upscale, urban, 'mature' (lots of mid-late twenties, early thirties) crowd. Is that still the case at the new Republic? Plan on celebrating my b-day there this weekend and don't want to be unpleasantly surprised.

Thanks!

Fritz: Yeah. I've been twice, and the crowd reminds me of the Gardens, though you won't find it as dressed up -- ie fewer men in suits -- and I think it skews a little closer to college-age than 30s.

Honestly, the crowd at Juste Lounge on Fridays seems to be closer to the old Gardens demographic than the Republic is.

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Frantic again!: I submitted a question earlier this week about finding a happy hour spot that can accommodate about 25 people. Not sure if y'all are going to answer but I did come across a spot that might work...Can you all tell me about about Station 9 on U street. It's supposed to be big but that's all I know. Please advise. Thanks!

Julia: Hey Frantic, we got you. Chatters, for reference, here's Frantic's original ?:

Frantic!: My 31st birthday is coming up next Friday and I thought it would be a great idea to invite my friends to a happy hour in the District to celebrate. My original idea was to go to a wine bar (maybe Cork) but the list is growing and I'm now up to about 25 people! I don't know where we can go that will accommodate all of us. If a wine bar won't work, I would really like to find some place loungey so that people can chat without having to scream. Any ideas Gurus? I really love the U street area but at this point I can't be too picky. Dupont or H street would work too. Please, please help. Thanks!

With Station 9, you could definitely fit 25 people . . . because the place is generally slow, even on Fridays. I have enjoyed the food there and the drinks are fine, but it may not be as festive as you hoped. I'd shoot for the patio at Marvin, if you go early enough and it's nice out, or a personal fave, Stetson's, where you could play pool/darts. Axis might not be a bad call either. Your big group could take over the upstairs (and like Station 9, you'd probably be making your own party....)

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Arlington, Va.: Have you heard of Jete Society and what do you think?

Fritz: The Washington Ballet's social group throws GREAT parties. If you like ballet and you're looking for some new friends who share your passion, it's worth getting involved.

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For the chatter looking for date activities other than clubs, etc..: My fiance and I used to go to several different coffee shops in the area and play Scrabble. It was a lot of fun and got us out of the house at night without spending a ton of money.

Stephanie: Here's another idea for a no-alcohol date night.

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Ballston Dude: Fritz,

My adult beverage drinking hero,

Does the Post allow you to leave work to watch Champions League matches on Tues and Wed?

Fritz: I have a TV with ESPN near my desk. It has to suffice, though there's something about drinking Guinness at Summers while watching Arsenal draw against an Eastern European side they should beat handily.

If I could leave on Wednesday afternoons, I'd totally be at Kitty O'Shea's.

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Denim in D.C.: Sure. It starts at 10 p.m. and goes until last call.

Fritz: Cheers.

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Snarky, but I am feeling the pain: The shopping in D.C. is so bad that the only places to recommend are Filene's and Loehmann's? There are a few cute boutiques, like Proper Topper and Catch Can, but personally, I can't swing the prices. It's chains, malls and bargain bins for D.C. shopping without a trust fund.

Janet: I recommended both these places because they have a large selection of black-tie possibilities.

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On Free Night of Theatre: No, no, I was commenting on Stephanie's decision to mention it in the chat today, after the tix are long gone.

I snagged a spot at Altar Boyz yesterday, and I would never have known to look without the Post. By all means, publicize.

Stephanie: My apologies; I checked this morning and I could have sworn there were still a few tickets left! The site does say that they may be adding shows though, so it wouldn't hurt to stay tuned.

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Trying to Remain Calm, D.C.: I really hope you guys are able to tell me about whether or not the Nick Cave show will be happening both nights... Please help!

David: It is very weird you got a call about Nick Cave being canceled because that's just not the case. Those shows will go on. Maybe it was about parking or something? Or just a tickets.com glitch? I will be there both nights. Incredibly psyched. Even interviewing him on Monday morning, yowza!

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Arlington, Va.: Any word on the Dr. Dremo's relocation that was hinted at several months ago? I am really starting to miss that place!

Fritz: I wish. I miss it, too. As much as I love getting dranks after work at Galaxy Hut -- soon to have 20 taps! and Hump Night is back! -- I enjoyed Dr. Dremo's as another option.

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Heading to Breadsoda to play some Wii!!: for my birthday on Saturday night and wanted to maybe grab some quick, informal (and inexpensive) dinner beforehand. I know Town Hall is around there, Ceviche and there is food at Breadsoda but what would you suggest? Nothing too fancy or pricey but decent.

Thanks!

Julia: Tom Sietsema just gave a lovely review to the Shanghai Tea House for inexpensive Chinese.

Personally, I'd go to Surfside for cheap and delicious SoCal-style munchies.

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Fritz, are you hairy?: Bwa-ha-ha-ha! I looked at the BYT pic of Fritz and before I scrolled down, I thought the picture you were referring to was the hairy man-butt photo. And I was all, "Ah, Fritz, I bet that's fun in the summer, eh? Does Fritz schvitz?"

And then I saw the real picture, which was not nearly as fun.

David: Yes, right after I sent that through I was like, "I hope people scroll down and don't think I was talking about that hairy man-butt picture." BTW, that hairy man-butt picture is the lead singer of Monotonix, the insane Israeli punk band I've written about plenty of times before. They are playing at DC9 on October 16 and if you missed them the last four times they played in D.C. over the past six months, make sure to see them. I mean, there's a strong possibility of seeing hairy man-butt, how can you go wrong? (Yes, we just set the Got Plans? record for most mentions of "hairy man-butt.")

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Alexandria, Va.: So I submitted a question earlier about what to wear to Marvin. Per your earlier answer to the club goer, am I to understand that jeans would in fact be okay attire? Or is Marvin less of a lounge atmosphere? I just want to make sure that I don't stand out like some sore thumb...thanks!

Fritz: People wear jeans to lounges all the time -- Josephine, Current, ESL, etc. You'll find more people in jeans than not these days.

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Washington, D.C.: Any suggestions for a weekend brunch in the Dupont area? Looking for good food, nice but not overly formal atmosphere, and not the Tabard Inn (the Inn is booked up). Thanks.

Julia: Haven't personally brunched at either, but Cafe Trope and Darlington House could both work . . . .

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Arlington, Va.: You all sound like you have fun at your jobs. But where do you go out with your SO and make it not feel like work ?

Julia: It's always work, sweetheart. Seriously, I've actually sent my husband writeups of places we've visited before they get published to see if I've forgotten anything. I also had a friend call me out their other day for mentally taking notes on service when we were out at some bar.

But I digress . . . work is generally the furthest thing from my mind at a few of my neighborhood staples, Bedrock Billiards, the Raven, Tonic, etc.

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Rosslyn: Gurus-My girlfriend and best friend are both taking the LSAT on Saturday and we, along with a few others, want to go out and celebrate it being over. What is your suggestion of a bar to check out that we dont have to scream to hear each other talk but isn't lame. Nothing too fancy, nothing too divey. Thanks!

Rhome: Science Club (multiple floors of small nooks away from the main room), Bar Rouge, deck at Marvin if it's not too cold.

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Union Station: What's the buzz on Hummingbird to Mars, the new speakeasy I keep hearing about? Some have told me it's tricky to get a reservation.

Fritz: Well, after yesterday's food section piece, it's going to be a lot harder, as I understand that Hummingbird to Mars is no more. Shame, because I really, really enjoyed the cocktails there, and Owen, Justin and Derek would certainly be in my list of the top bartenders in D.C.

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Need to Party: Hi GoG's! Im submitting early with hopes that you all will be able to help me. I have a friend coming from NY this weekend and she wants to go to a club. I haven't been to a club in over a year. We both agree that we're tired of the same ol' H20/Love (hip/hop the whole time) scene. Can you recommend any spots to hit Saturday night that plays a mixture of music (similiar to 99.5 range of music)? Thanks so much!

Rhome: Tattoo or Ultrabar.

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"Mature" crowd at Republic: SERIOUSLY??? Did an 18 year old post this? Because mid/late 20s and early 30s is like the demographic all these places are aiming for. We're the ones with money!! Duh!

Fritz: In nightclub circles, the "mature" label is used when people want to imply that there are fewer let's-go-crazy college students, etc.

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Penn Quarter/Verizon Center: A group of girlfriend and I are heading to the District to catch the New Kids on the Block reunion concert tonight (yes, I am a 4th grader circa 1989 trapped in an adult woman's body). We are poor but would like to get a few cocktails and a light meal before the concert. We looked online and thought IndeBleu had an interesting menu and the happy hour specials seemed affordable, but the reviews I read online talked about how spendy it was. Would you reccommend IndeBleu or would you suggest someplace else within walking distance of the Verizon center that would be fairly inexpensive for drinks and apps?

Fritz: I'd say IndeBleu for happy hour, certainly. Afterwards, not if you're on a budget.

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Want to stuff myself on doughnuts!: What is the hands-down best place to get apple cider doughnuts this fall? I don't mind driving out of the way to get it, especially if there is more stuff to do along the way like fruit/pumpkin picking or hayrides. Any suggestions for those of us looking to escape the city?

Anne: Hands down, I can't say. But here's one option: Apple butter donuts (at the Apple House), near a pumpkin patch. Here you go.

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Newport News: What you drankin?

Fritz: Whatever U buyin', T-Pain.


Oh, and the Brother Theolonious Belgian Dubbel, a fresh keg of which was on draft at Galaxy Hut last night.

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Work, D.C.: Heading out for a celebration with my loved one - Blue Duck or Westend?

Julia: Does your date have to be within a one-block radius? Of the two, I'd say Blue Duck -- since Westend just lost its top chefs -- but I really think a place like Proof or Acadiana is your best bet for a celebration.

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Falls Church, VA: Can you recommend a restaurant that has a better burger than Joe's Burgers in McLean? I've tried 5 Guys, Elevation, etc, but they don't even come close. I'm not necessarily looking for fancy, just delicious. The burger quest continues...

Stephanie: Julia covered this topic a while back. I'm personally partial to Good Stuff, but it looks like the general consensus is that Ray's takes the cake.

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This might be Hax question: I just moved to the area and am having a hard time being social. I lean more towards beer-bar stool-watch football or baseball bars, rather than loungy type places. I've tried becoming a regular at places and I've tried just striking up conversation with people, but neither tactic works. For example, every single Wednesday since the first week of August I've gone to the Big Hunt. Still, no one is friendly or open to conversation. The doorguy, who checks my passport every week, doesn't even remember me. I don't mind drinking my pint by myself, but sometimes its nice to talk to people.

Some of the places I've tried made me feel uncomfortable for being a girl who drinks good beer. I just don't want to stick out like a sore thumb. Where can a girl go after work or class to just get a beer and strike up a conversation? I just want to start meeting people (women or men).

(Oh, and I've done the frisbee and softball thing. Its just that powerdrinking isn't my thing)

Julia: We're past our allotted time, but I couldn't let this one wait til next week. Try smaller spots, where conversation is much more free-flowing than it is at the Hunt. We like Bedrock Billiards, Galaxy Hut or Saloon for this sort of thing. Look them up in the City Guide for addresses. Welcome to town!

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Washington, D.C.: Hey Gurus - so I'm in a nightlife slump, especially with the weather getting cooler and having to think about spending more time indoors. I'm getting tired of my usual places (bar scene in U Street/Dupont), and was wondering if you can maybe suggest some new places to check out or old favorites of yours. I prefer a late 20s/30s crowd, beer on tap, music, but no so loud I can't have a conversation (with friends and while meeting new people) - not picky, just looking for some new suggestions. Thanks!

Fritz: Even though it doesn't have beer on tap, the Red Derby is a great place to go. The all-can lineup is stellar, the bartenders are friendly, you'll always meet new people and you can bring your iPod if you want to DJ for a spell.

I'd throw in some of my other favorite small bars: The Pug, Galaxy Hut, Aroma, Bourbon, Vinoteca, the Beyond happy hour on Wednesdays, the Tune Inn, Bedrock Billiards, Science Club...

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Single Guy in D.C.: Is the young lady who is having trouble being social going to be at the Big Hunt next Wednesday? I'd be more than happy to engage in conversation over a pint since I am having difficulty meeting people as well.

Julia: We should be matchmakers . . . .

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washingtonpost.com: Well, that about does it for today. We'll be back again next week with more autumnal delights. Until then, please, have some candy corns on us.

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