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The Going Out Gurus
of the washingtonpost.com Going Out Guide
Thursday, December 18, 2008; 1:00 PM

Every Thursday at 1 p.m. ET, washingtonpost.com's Going Out 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 Going Out Guide or read transcripts of past Got Plans? discussions.

The transcript follows:

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washingtonpost.com: Hiya friends. Welcome to another round of Got Plans? and another opportunity to win free tickets to ZooLights for this Saturday, Dec. 20. This week, we're looking for you to help us do our jobs by sending in ideas for the best way to spend New Year's Eve. The two most original/fun entries get the goods. And off we go...

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Washington, D.C.: Sadly, my dressy black wool coat is coming apart at the lining! There are frays, and some holes in the armpits and such. Is there anywhere I can take it to have these imperfections stiched and/or patched up professionally, but where it won't cost me more than the coat? (It was a GREAT deal when I bought it!). Alternatively, where could I possibly go to have it re-lined, and would that even be cheap enough to be worth it? Thanks so much guys, you're the best!!!

Janet: Don't think about re-lining it -- it definitely won't be cheap, if you can even find someone to do it. If the coat was a good deal to begin with, and you've gotten a lot of mileage out of it, maybe it's time to think about looking for a new one. Now's definitely the time to do it. I snagged a new coat at the admittedly not inexpensive Nanette Lepore for half the original price. As you undoubtedly have noticed, sales are everywhere.

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Falls Church, Va.: Hey GoGs. Looking for some unique NYE dinner recommendations for one half-baked and two very well done prego couples -- preferably in Va. or D.C. Some in the group, needless to say, will be less likely to indulge than others but all want to have some fun. We'll probably return to someone's house after dinner to ring in the New Year, unless somebody decides to show up a couple of weeks early.

Julia: How cute are you guys?! 2941's got my vote for a place close to (your home). Tasting menus for NYE range between $95 and $140. Vermilion, also in Va., strikes me as a cute place at a slightly lower price point. Besides, you'd be in Old Town near all the First Night festivities, which are alcohol-free for the mommies-to-be.

Corduroy, Rasika and Acadiana's menus also looked delish to me. See OpenTable for a full list of New Year's Eve tables.

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Downtown D.C.: This might be a silly question and it might be too late, but is there a list to see which balls there are and how to buy tickets? I don't mind spending money but I feel like I'm going to get cheated on all these websites that I have no way of telling are fake.

Stephanie: Check out our growing list of inaugural balls. Some are sold out, but there will surely be more to come, so keep checking back. To see ticket information, click on the link of the ball's web site.

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Cleavland Park, D.C.: Where can I host a cheap and chilled-vibe birthday party for a 20-something in this town. Emphasis on cheap. Could you suggest places that have a good music vibe and great cocktails on the menu?

Fritz: It's really going to depend on what you want for "cheap" -- do you mean places that won't cost an arm and a leg to let you have a space, or cheap "great" cocktails? It's harder to find the latter. The $5 discounted cocktails at Ceiba's happy hours are a good deal, while The Gibson's $8 cocktails are the best value for money in the city. (Sadly, there are only five or six in the $8 range; the rest go from $10 to $14.)

As for places that will let you reserve some space without laying out too much cash, you need to starting calling around ASAP, thanks to all the holiday parties going on. I'd get on the phone to Garrett's, which will let you have the whole upstairs, Science Club, Aroma (esp if you're doing it on a Friday), the Big Hunt or maybe Union Pub.

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Washington, D.C.: What is the attire at the Corcoran Power Hours? Are jeans and a nice shirt okay? (Sorry - missed the fashion chat...) Thanks!

Fritz: Jeans and a nice shirt are fine. The Corcoran is a museum, not an upscale wine bar....

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Alexandria, Va.: I know this isn't really a going out question (sorry about that!), but I'm clueless about this. My mother recently gave me my 28-year-old christening gown and blanket. The gown yellowing a bit in some spots and just generally should be cleaned. I'm afraid to trust to it any old dry cleaner. Any suggestions on where I can take it, and the very delicate blanket, to be cleaned and preserved? Thanks so much!

Janet: My go-to cleaner for very delicate, special items is Parkway in Chevy Chase. These guys have Phd.'s. Well, maybe not. Still, they're good.

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Amen: It is seriously cheaper to buy a new coat at this point. I got a Tahari coat for less than half the $400 price tag earlier this week. And relining never works right -- something's always a little off and it makes you crazy!

Janet: A chatter chimes in on buying a new coat over re-lining an old one.

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Dear Santa, D.C.: Family members keep asking for suggestions on what I'd like for Christmas. I'm not feeling very material this year, but would enjoy gifts that I could enjoy year round. I'm thinking about asking for memberships to museums or organizations so I could visit and be cultured year round. The Phillips Collection is already on my list. What other museums and organizations would be good additions to my little list? I've lived in the city for 2 years, and I feel like there are so many cultural things I'd love to take advantage of. While I'll definitely be reaping the benefits, I hope a gift like this will also help support the arts in the city!

Stephanie: I love that idea! I'd put the Corcoran and Phillips at the top of my list. What about season tickets to one of the local theaters? Woolly Mammoth or Studio Theatre both come to mind. You could also become one of the Smihtsonian's Young Benefactors or join the Washington Ballet's Jete Society.

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Old Town: Hi GOG's! Thanks for taking my question! What bar would you say has the best holiday atmosphere in D.C.? A large group of friends (20-30 peeps) want to meet for drinks somewhere in the district the weekend after Christmas. And I thought it would be great to go somewhere with really festive decor. Any thoughts?

Fritz: I'd say Martin's Tavern, with its greenery and bows over all that dark wood and brass, but 20-30 people would overwhelm the bar area pretty quickly. I'd say the Willard's Round Robin Bar is pretty festive, especially with the seasonal warming cocktails. The default is the Tabard, of course -- nothing says winter like a hot toddy around the fireplace.

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Capitol Hill: I checked the wmta page and there doesn't seem to be any information about new years eve special hours. Is it true the metro won't be running after midnight?

Fritz: As far as I can remember, Metro doesn't usually make special accommodations for New Year's Eve, even though they really should.

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Cleveland Park: Hi there Going out Gurus, and happy holidays!

Where in the District could I find a place that sells Capitals gear/souvenirs, other than inside the Verizon center during a game?

If you could help, I would greatly appreciate it- it's for a gift for my boyfriend for Christmas! Thanks so much.

Fritz: Modell's generally has a lot of Caps gear -- try the one at the Hechinger Mall, or take the red line up to Bethesda, where there's a shop on Wisconsin Ave.

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Ballston, VA: This year my group of friends and I decided we wanted to stage our own New Year's Eve bar crawl. You might think this is crazy with the exorbitant cover charges, but hear me out. We've done this in the past for a birthday party and it worked out amazingly!

We figured that cover at a bar (for open bar, food, etc.) would be about $100, and possibly more, a person. So each of us kicked in $50 to the cause and 3 of us (who live in the same area) donated our apartments. We are all getting completely decked out like we were going out somewhere fancy. We are having a catered dinner delivered and eating at the first apartment. Then we are traveling to the next apartment for various desserts and wine (also purchsed with our pool of money). Lastly we are heading to the largest home for drinking, games, dancing, music, snack food, and new year's party favors. We plan to watch the ball drop and party until we drop...since our venue never closes! And we are doing it all for $400 for 8 people. Sure it requires a little more preparation, but we are so excited for it!

Fritz: This is the best New Year's Eve party idea I've heard in a while.

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Laurel, Md.: Gurus, help! When I moved to Maryland I complained that none of my Virginia friends wanted to visit me anymore. Now, they are coming and want ME to pick a restaurant. I would like to go somewhere in the Bethesda/Rockville area, that is good but not too expensive (less than $20 entrees, if you can) for three semi-adventurous eaters that will make me look cool, and like I go places and know things. Only you can help me!

Julia: As I mentioned last week, I'm a fan of Tako Grill. It has the advantage of being a sushi place, so it can be as cheap as you want it to be, depending on how your crew orders. If sushi won't fly with you crew, try Jaleo, Cafe Deluxe or the super-casual Mia's Pizzas.

Tom Sietsema is fond of La Canela in Rockville, if Peruvian is more your style.

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Dear Santa, D.C. again...: About the Corcoran's 1869 Society. I feel silly asking, but all of their info says 25- whatever. I'm not quiet 25 yet, (24 next spring) would I be horribly out of place? Is it crowd that leans towards the younger end of the age bracket?

Fritz: I go to several 1869 events over the course of the year, and I'd say that while the membership base seems to be 25-35, there are certainly members who fall outside of that age bracket. I'm not sure where they got the 25 from -- maybe they assume 22-year-olds either don't want to join or can't pony up the annual fee?

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West Side Story: Hi GOG, i'm submitting early with hopes that you can help me. I am going to see West Side Story at the National Theater (I am a huge fan of the movie). My guy friend, probably out of pity, agreed to go with me so I wouldn't go by myself. Has anyone heard any reviews about the show? Is he going to be sitting there pulling his hair out? I would hate for him to feel like he's being tortured. Thanks in advanced!

Stephanie: Well it depends how high his threshold for musicals is. The play has been reworked, so it should be fairly different than the Natalie Wood version you're so fond of, but we aren't reviewing West Side Story until January so unfortunately I can't give you a firsthand account yet. And I'm a fan as well, but whenever I think of West Side Story, I always think of that Cobras Vs. Panthers parody on Saturday Night Live. If you haven't seen it, you must track it down.

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Petworth: For the membership person - I get a LOT of benefit out of my Avalon and AFI Silver memberships, and I love helping to support cool film.

Stephanie: Another possible present idea!

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Rockville, MD: Happy Holidays Gurus! I have a friend coming in from out of town this weekend and staying through the New Year. She wants to hit the town and go dancing. We're in our late 30's, and want someplace without extravagant covers, great music and people. What would you suggest? Happy Holidays!

Rhome: We just got all the info for the Latin Concepts group's events. Gua-Rapo, Ceviche, Chi-Cha and all the rest will have dinner & dancing that skews towards grown-ups. Details in the Going Out Guide by the end of the chat.

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Walkin towards the light: So the only thing that I like about Xmas is all the lights. Not at ALL in the holiday spirit yet so I am going to attempt to kick my own butt into gear before I kill everyone's holiday cheer. Wanted to check it all out Saturday afternoon-night. Can you suggest a plan of action to incorporate the new light exhibit at ???, the ZooLights spectacular, and the Ellipse with all the state trees and performances? Maybe throw in a vegetarian-friendly meal along the way...tall order I know, but I have a feeling you will have something up your sleeves. Love you guys!

Anne: C'mon, you must have some Christmas cheer -- you're already spontaneously rhyming. Now, by "new light exhibit at ???" -- do you mean this? So then we're talking from there and the Ellipse and the zoo. I would start at the NatGal in the early afternoon, and get some food to fuel yourself -- it's not a short trek from the East Building over to the National Christmas Tree, but it sure is a beaut of a walk. The concerts at the Pageant of Peace are from 4-8:30 this Saturday. Just leave yourself enough time to Metro up to ZooLights, which ends at 8:30, too, and by the way, is something we love, giving away tickets and all, but it's not a spectacular in the sense of fireworks and Cirque du Soleil stunts (just to set your expectations). Spices in Cleveland Park or Open City in Woodley would be casual enough for your cold-weather shoes and both have a bustling community feel to go with your increasing holiday spirit.

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New Year's : Although it isn't very exciting. My friends and I are staying in this year, and I am attempting to make appetizers, cocktails, desserts from another time... aka trying my hand at a baked Alaska.

We will continue the evening with entertainment provided by our awesome band, The Come Ons, on Rock Band.

We are dorks, but we love it!

Stephanie: Well you may be dorks, but you're in the lead! And trying to make baked Alaska? You're a brave soul...

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Washington, D.C.: Some of my girlfriends and I want to get dressed up on Friday and go out for fancy holiday cocktails. Any suggestion on fun hotel bars???

Fritz: If you go AFTER the dinner rush -- say, 9-9:30 -- I very much like the Tabard Inn. In-house mixologist Chantal Tseng has some amazing seasonal cocktails on right now. The Willard Hotel is dressed for the holidays, and the old-timey Round Robin Bar pours some wonderful warmed and spiced drinks.

I don't think Poste is decorated much, but man, their cocktails -- especially the eggnog and the mulled rum -- put me in a festive mood.

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Washington, D.C.: Help! This is not a going out question, but I need a creative idea. For a Christmas gift, I got my boyfriend really good tickets to a Caps game. I wanted a unique way to present them....like maybe including some sort of Caps souvenir. Any thoughts? Thank you!!!

David: Lots of Caps merch questions today. Why does nobody want to give Wizards merch as gifts? Oh, right. You should see if you can find a way to get one of the Ovechkin bobbleheads that is a giveaway at tonight's game. More unique than something you can simply buy, maybe? I'm sure there will be plenty on eBay right away.

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Washington, DC: Sorry to disagree with you Fritz, but I've been to Modell's in Bethesda recently, and they have a really poor selection of Capitals stuff. The best bet is to go to the team's official store at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston. Metro-accessible, to boot. Oh, and let's go Caps!

Fritz: I'll take your word for it. I was trying to stick to D.C., but you're right -- should have mentioned Kettler.

Thanks.

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Tonight: Hey guys,

In a happy hour slump. What's on your mind right now for happy hour? Three girls living in Glover and Cleveland but coming from the office in Tysons. Been liking Liberty Tavern lately but it gets so crowded. Very over Town Hall. Any thoughts...

Fritz: Breadsoda?

If you're tired of Liberty, which I also enjoy but dislike for crowds, I'd suggest hopping over to Eatbar for cocktails and/or beers and snacks. More room to spread out. Piola, too, if you want to head down Wilson Blvd. Good mixed drinks and free pizza, plus it's a fairly lively scene and hours run late.

If you want to go into D.C. proper, Vinoteca's $5 wine selection -- like 20 by the glass -- and Ceiba's $5 cocktail-of-the-day get my vote.

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Re: Caps Gear: If you are avoiding the store in the Verizon Center because you think you have to go during a game, they are actually open from 11am-5pm during the week (I'm not sure about the weekend schedule). You can also buy stuff at Kettler Iceplex (where the Caps practice) in Ballston.

Fritz: More Caps advice.

BTW, I heard Fedorov's Maybach was at Russia House again recently...

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Dupont Circle: Julia dear, I wanted to brunch with some people and then check out the display at the Botanic Gardens on Sunday. Any ideas for yummy food that isn't too far away?

Julia: How much cash you got? Cause Cafe Atlantico's dim sum brunch is ridiculously good!

Also nearby is Art and Soul (which serves breakfast) and the soon-to-close Market Inn.

Matchbox is a little further away, but I just had a really good brunch there a couple of weeks ago. Goat cheese and chorizo roll? Amazing. One of the owners was telling Fritz and me a few weeks ago that we had to try the "bloody beer" -- PBR + bloody mix. I'd advise laying off that. It's not gross or anything -- certainly way less foul than I expected -- but the regular bloody mary is just better.

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Bethesda, Md.: Just wanted to write in that my BF and I stopped by Poste this weekend based on your recommendation for some warm winter drinks after walking around the mall. The mulled wine (with mini gingerbread cookies) was GREAT, but we were really disappointed in their hot buttered rum. So far the Tabard Inn is still tops for that in our book. Although some people have made previous comments in the past about poor service at Poste, the bartender graciously tried to "fix" the rum drink and when it was still too strong (undrinkably so), the waitress graciously removed it from our tab.

Fritz: Mulled wine and eggnog are the way to go... Also good for hot buttered rum: Firefly and the Town and Country at the Mayflower.

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Arlington, VA: Do you know of any bars showing the Eagle Bank Bowl on Saturday, preferably ones filled with military men?

Fritz: Try O'Brien's in Annapolis.

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Walkin towards the Light: Perfect NYE: location: anywhere Necessary elements: fireworks, a poofy dress, '80s hip-hop music and a DJ, fingerless gloves, champagne flowing like the Potomac and a 7th grade style make out session. Welcoming 2009 with open arms and a bit of tonsil hockey!!!

Stephanie: You had me at "champagne flowing like the Potomac."

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Any more craft fairs?: Way behind on Christmas shopping. Walked through the craft fair beside Portrait Gallery but I'm looking for less expensive, more homemade. Any craft fairs this weekend?

Anne: There are some way out in the 'burbs this weekend... but not many. Usually these are big in November and early on in December. I think Rock 'N' Shop is your best choice, outside of super-fast shipping on Etsy's shop local option.

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Dupont/Farragut/Metro Center: Every knowing Gurus, a group of 5 of us are getting together tomorrow night. We're looking for a low key place to catch up, possibly eat some food, and have some drinks before we all depart for home. We'd definitely like a place where we know we could sit. Drinks prices and scene don't matter to much as out intent is just to chat. I'm thinking something like PS7s but without the crowds or Teaism, but we'd like drinks (I assume there isn't alcohol, I could be wrong). The area we're thinking is anywhere off the red line between the Gallery Place and Dupont stops. Can you suggest a couple options that might fit the bill?

Fritz: Trying to recommend a place where 5-6 people can sit at Friday happy hour is tough, because, you know, EVERYBODY tries to go out on Friday night for happy hour.

How about ... Darlington House in Dupont, the Town and Country or Off the Record around Farragut, or the upstairs wine bar at Bistro D'Oc near Metro Center?

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Silver Spring, Md.: So, I am looking to pop the big question in the next few weeks, while I am planning something outside, I am looking for a restaurant to go afterwards...and was hoping there is an edgy, hip (but also very nice and classy) restaurant you would recommend? We went to Oya (in Chinatown) for a special occasion a few months ago and she loved it. So that would be the style of place she likes.

Thanks!

Julia: Co Co. Sala's an option in the same neighborhood. It's more about dessert than dinner, but could be really cute for a romantic duo like you. Very cool design. Sonoma is another cozy romantic option. Urbana may be in a hotel, but I wouldn't sleep on that place either.

Proof's design doesn't sparkle in exactly the same way as Oya's. It's more understated. But even still, I think it's one of the best places to eat in town. I had a super romantic meal there -- at the bar! -- not too long ago (and, I think the food's way better than Oya).

Good luck! Let us know what she says!

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New Years Eve: Never under estimate the military -- boyfriend (he's in the National Guard) and I are dining at Ft. Meade and then going back to my place to change, and heading back to Ft. Meade for their bowling party (they have a full-size bowling alley on the base). For the dinner and bowling party, it was way less than $100 for both of us!

Stephanie: I will never underestimate the military. Another ZooLights contender!

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Dupont Circle: I have recently had several bad experiences with Mr. Chen's Organic Chinese. They were my go to but too many bridges burned. Can any of you suggest a new place to get Chinese food delivered in Dupont/U St.?

Also a good noodle shop would be great, I'm jonesing right now for some good noodles. Thanks!

Fritz: Fact: There are no noodles in D.C. better than the cold Ma La noodles from Great Wall on 14th. I've been digging them for years, and they deliver.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey, GOGs! Happy Holidays! What's Indebleu like on a Friday night? Crowded? Chill? Some friends and I (about 6 of us) want to go out tomorrow night for some much-needed unwinding, and one of my guy friends suggested Indebleu. I've never been, and have no idea if it's a good idea or if we should try somewhere else. Also? Can I wear jeans, heels and a nice top or is it dressier? Thanks a bunch!

Fritz: Chill early, kinda crowded after 11/11:30 is my experience. Good DJs, great cocktails, just wish there was more room to sit without having to get a table and drop a couple hundred.

Jeans/heels/nice top is fine for the lounge. Also to note: They've been running "ladies night" promotions where women who are in by midnight get a free glass of champagne and an open bar from 1 to 2. (More info here.

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New Years Eve: Try topping my New Years Eve party, complete with a bacon-centric menu of appetizers (if you wrap anything in bacon, it's better) with gourmet bacon selections and a bacon martini! For the non-bacon lovers, I guess there's beer and champagne waterfall, but I'm generally not friends with non-bacon lovers. ;)

Stephanie: I hope there are no vegetarians on the invite list.

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Washington, D.C.: Any word on the new Lux Lounge that has just opened (where Avenue used to be)?

Fritz: I've been once, and I gotta say, man, Marc Barnes might want to look into some kind of intellectual property copyright -- from the wooden paneled walls to the recessed bars lit by candles, it's pretty obvious where the designers got their ideas for the space.

But the open bar happy hour on Fridays -- 9-11, signup at lindypromo.com -- isn't a bad deal. I just hate it when clubs play the "we're waiting until this room gets way overcrowded before opening the next floor so that crowds don't seem small" game. It's the same reason for artificial lines outside of clubs, and just really ticks me off. Anyway.

Worth going for free drinks, definitely.

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Washington, D.C.: I want to treat a group of about 8-10 friends to a nice dinner out to celebrate starting a new job. What would be a fun place that is a "destination" restaurant, but not as pricey as Inn at Little Washington? We're not really foodies, but like to have good wine and a fun atmosphere. Most live in Va., but we would be willing to travel in any direction from D.C. Would love your suggestions! Thanks.

Julia: Wow. Your friends are lucky.

Restaurant Eve and Cityzen are both considered to be top restaurants in this city -- and therefore destinations, but unless your new job is billionaire, those might be a little pricey too. Besides, they definitely cater to foodies.

Proof (mentioned above), Rasika, Mio and the Source come to mind. Tom's Dining Guide could give you additional ideas.

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Arlington, Va.: Here's a new year's idea for all of the first time voters and the jaded cynics who helped elect Barack Obama: Spend the evening with friends and attempt to eat 2,009 red, blue, and white M & M candies to bring in the new year.

Stephanie: Sounds like fun, as long as you're spending it with a lot of friends. Wait a second, do they make white M&Ms?

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I know, it's lame, but...: I hate NYE so I am turning down all invites to go drop a fortune and going to buy some nice food, cook a great dinner, open a pricier than usual bottle of wine, and watch movies on the couch. Then go for a nice long run the next morning.

Stephanie: Not lame at all! At least you won't start 2009 with a hangover...

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D.C.: My partner and I are marrying in a private ceremony in CT in March, but plan on having a post-wedding reception/celebration here in DC in April. Can you recommend a few restaurants around town with nice private rooms that can accommodate between 30-50 people? Thanks & Happy Holidays!

Julia: Congrats! My rehearsal dinner story (and the one before it) can help point you in the right direction.

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Washington, D.C.: Some friends and I have no New Year's Eve plans, and were thinking about hitting up a bar or two. A lot of places seem to be charging a lot...and we're just looking for a dive bar or something low key. I've heard things about Wonderland Ballroom on New Year's Eve...any other suggestions?

Fritz: Wonderland is $25 a couple, but with Meistro DJing, it will be worth it. I always favor places that do the "business as usual" thing on New Year's Eve instead of having over-the-top open-bar blowouts. It's not easy to run up an $80 tab at, say, the Bottom Line on an average Friday night, so why spend that much on a ticket for NYE?

Places I'd go for no-cover fun, bearing in mind that they're probably going to be crowded: the Black Cat, Marvin, Looking Glass Lounge, Cafe Saint-Ex, Breadsoda, the Tune Inn, Stetson's ...

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Washington, D.C.: What to do with twin 7-year-olds this weekend? Something Christmassy .... I would love to take them to see A Christmas Carol (they've been asking), but think a two-hour show may be too much for them at this point. Ideas?

Anne: How about an abbreviated version of the Nutcracker, for those with shorter attention spans? Other ideas: holiday sing-alongs or cruising on the Potomac with Santa or walking through Brookside Gardens outdoor light display.

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Perfect NYE:: Friend's basement, party held by friend's parents, 70s theme complete with disco ball, Village People costumes and skit, a dance-off (which yes, my bf and I won), maracas and all.

Alternative: walking over the Brooklyn Bridge as the fireworks go off.

Stephanie: Brooklyn Bridge might be tough for us DCers, but the '70s costume party could be fun.

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Zoo Lights Happy Hour Themes: How about Toucans of Beer? Or, for the more upscale feel, Cockatiels by Candlelight?

David: See, if you sent this in last week you might have been a winner. But this week's contest is New Year's Eve ideas. That said, unless we get some really good NYE suggestions in these last few minutes, you might be a winner anyway.

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Washington D.C.: I have a 12yr niece in town on Sat 20 Dec for one day what would you guys plan to insure she has a great time ?

Fritz: Here's our big list of activities on Dec. 20 -- I like the sound of the Christmas movie marathon, roller skating with Santa, or, if she's into dolls, the history of Barbie at Geppi's in Baltimore.

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To the Bacon Partier: If the bacon partier is a single woman, can you please pass on a marriage proposal from me?

The ring will be wrapped in bacon, too.

Stephanie: There's someone for everyone...

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Silver Spring, Md.: Hey there! Four of us are going to see TMLMTBGB at Woolly Mammoth tomorrow, and will be looking for dinner afterward. I'm thinking in the Oyamel-ish price range, but it seems like we've been to all the obvious candidates in Chinatown A LOT (Zaytinya, Rasika, etc). Any place new/different/just a little further away I'm not thinking of? Any kind of food.

Julia: Been to 1905? I've had some hits and misses there, but the last one was a big hit. Posto's another hot-out-of-the-oven well-priced spot. Both kinda far from Chinatown though.

Acadiana and Ceiba are a little further away from the usual suspects. Could be worth investigating if you're not burnt out on those too!

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Petworth: Oooh, send the light craving person to the Botanical Gardens. It's great, I just wish they kept it open late.

Anne: Good one! I totally love the Botanic Garden, too, Pet. (Even though I admit the White House made of stalks and reeds creeps me out.) But I love the train part and all the rest of the greenery.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey Gurus, thanks for your help as always - I am looking to get together with a group of friends after work tomorrow and am in need of a place that would be good for happy hour, but also conducive to people coming and going - meaning if people show up later, there would still be room for them. I was thinking in the Dupont/Downtown area to keep it along the Redline. I know Buffalo Billiards has the space we'd like, but I was looking for someplace with a little more character. We are a group of late 20s/early 30s if that helps. Thanks!

Fritz: If you can take over the downstairs at Science Club or the ground floor of 51st State, those might work. Maybe the back bar at James Hoban's? It tends to be a little less crowded than the front room.

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Speaking of Chinese...: I keep striking out...miserably on take out Chinese in the Ballston area. I'm okay with driving to get it (if its in NOVA) - doesn't necessarily have to be delivery. Can you guys make some recommendations?? A girl needs some decent fried rice!

Julia: We haven't been so lucky ourselves in this area, but check this past discussion transcript. Readers came to our rescue with a lot of suggestions.

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Picture Fra, ME: I have a slightly unusually sized (8" x 12", or 12" x 16" with matte) picture that I need to get framed for X-mas.

Any recommendations on reasonably priced framers or places that offer some DIY options?

I'm in SE near the Marine barracks & don't have a car.

Cheers.

Julia: I've had the best luck with Michael's for weird frame jobs...but without a car, that'll be tough. Try calling the Framer's Workroom in Tenleytown for a quote. We framed an oddly shaped item for my high school basketball coach there and they were very nice and very speedy. I remember thinking the price was astronomical at the time, but you know, I didn't have a job then.

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Washington, D.C.: Is there a young professionals society for classical music lovers?

Fritz: Nope. I wish the National Symphony or the Washington Performing Arts Society would follow the Washington Opera's lead and set up young members groups. It was fantastic to go to La Traviata and see almost all of the audience in their 20s and 30s.

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Alexandria, Va.: Gurus - I finally want to get to Rays the Steaks this weekend. I have heard of a policy where you can put your name on the list earlier in the day to avoid the long waits. Any idea the details on this and how it works? I'd hate to be standing out in the cold for hours!

Julia: You can show up at 4 p.m. the day of and put yourself on the list. Keep in mind that this doesn't mean you'll have an assigned table. It just means you'll be better off than the people who just walk up.

Wait's not too bad though! They have heaters outdoors and will gladly sell you a glass of wine.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey GOGS, love the chats and blog. I'm going to Studio Theater on Saturday by myself to see Blackbird (can't drag my girlfriend to this one) and I"m looking for a restaurant/bar nearby the theater for afterward to grab a drink before meeting friends. In previous visits I've walked by the Logan Tavern, how is it? Is it very dressy or casual? Expensive? Would it be a comfortable place to have a few beers alone? Any other suggestions are welcome, I know I could always walk over to Dupont, but since I'll be in the Logan area I figured I would explore that neighborhood a bit. Thanks!

Fritz: Hmmm. I'd say Stoney's (on P) for a beer. You could try 1409 Playbill if you want to go really low-key to almost divey, or walk up 14th to Cork for a nice cocktail or glass of wine. The Hotel Helix's lounge is another option, since hotel bars never blink at someone hanging out by themselves.

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NYE ideas: How about going out and doing everything that violated your 2008 new years resolutions?

Fritz: That could be the most dangerous and most-likely-to-land-someone-in-jail New Year's Eve party ever.

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Rockville, Md.: Not a typical GoG question but since Christmas is coming up, this guy needs to know if Ugg boots are still "in," and if he should get them for his wife as a Christmas present. Help, please?

Janet: There is a ubiquitous model of Ugg boots that would be better if it fell into the dustbin of history. That would not be the style to get your wife. Since I'm assuming (I could be wrong) that you're not particularly well versed in shoe/boot fashions, it might be better not to surprise her. Take her shopping and let her choose what she likes or ask first about her preferences. I speak from experience.

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Fritz: That could be the most dangerous and most-likely-to-land-someone-in-jail New Year's Eve party ever. : Good heavens what new year's resolutions do you make?

Stephanie: That's what I was thinking!

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Arlington, Va.: Hi Gurus,

Are you sick and tired of inaugration questions yet? I got confirmation last week about an aunt and uncle coming into town for the inauagration. They want to take their niece out for a nice meal, which to them means $20-$30/plate range. (I had to check on that). I'm trying to make reservations already, some places are full, some won't make reservations this far out in advance. Since I needed a placeholder I booked a reservation at Mie N Yu. I was thinking about seeing about Cafe Atlantico or Art and Soul, however I've not tried any of these places. I was hoping for a place with great deserts and maybe good cocktails. Any ideas?

Julia: I've only had drinks and apps at Art and Soul, but I can tell you the cocktails are delish! (Tom also liked the food for what it's worth! Atlantico is also delicious. Personally, I'd choose either over Mie N Yu, but if it doesn't work out, don't sweat it! They might be blessed to be out of downtown during the weekend!

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Washington, D.C.: I'm looking to shell out a little cash for a "ball" during inauguration weekend. (I have no illusions that I can work my way in to one of the official balls.) Any tips for picking one over the other or is it all a crap-shoot/one long line for the bar? I've done this before, but usually as part of a group or with free tickets so never really had to choose. I just can't resist entering the cold, crowded melee.

Fritz: Outside of the established State Society balls or major players like the RIAA, it's going to be a crapshoot with hoping some of these ball organizers deliver what they promise.

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washingtonpost.com: All right guys. Thanks for coming out! The ZooLights tickets go to Ballston who's planning a Bar Crawl and Walkin towards the Light in the poofy dress. E-mail us at events(at)washingtonpost.com and say I Won the ZooLights contest in the subject line to claim your prize.

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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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