Transcript

Got Plans?

The Going Out Gurus
of the washingtonpost.com Going Out Guide
Thursday, January 29, 2009; 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: What's up people! Welcome to Got Plans? We just got out of a two-hour meeting so we are ready to start thinking about happy hour, weekend plans and anything other than Powerpoint. On to the questions...

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Sake, Sake...!!: Where's the best place to get rowdy with some Sake Bombs in DC? We've bombed at Cafe Asia, and are hoping there are other places! THANKS!

Fritz: For me, sake bombs lead to karaoke. Or should. Okay, sometimes they shouldn't, but for some reason, they often do. Anyway, to get rowdy, drop (sake) bombs and have a good time, check out Cafe Japone, which was made for just such evenings. It's possible to get out of there without breaking the bank, and the peoplewatching only gets better throughout the night. (I wish I could say the same about the karaoke.)

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Washington, D.C.: Theater field report: I was at the newly renovated Ford's Theatre earlier this week. I always assess renovated or new theaters on two criteria: 1. seat comfort and 2. bathroom design. Ford's totally fails on seat comfort and does well on bathroom design. 1. The seats are too close together and there is NO leg room. I'm not sure how this happened because there was reasonable comfort with the old seats and the spacing seems the same. I am only 5'8" and I was hardly the only one at Ford's complaining. I do not understand why theaters are willing to make their patrons suffer. I think this costs theaters patrons. I went to Gala (which I think was a new theater design) once and was so miserable in their no-leg-room seats that I have never (and will never--not even if I am given free tickets) return. 2. I find that women's bathrooms are often poorly designed. Issues range from too-small stalls to toilet tissue dispensers that require the hand dexterity of a Thai Knon dancer to access. Ford's bathrooms are well designed. I did not have to climb over the toilet to open the stall door, the toilet paper dispenser was well placed, the toilets were push-flushed (good because the automatic flushers never seem to work right), there were paper towels to dry hands (important for proper hand washing). I hope other theaters that are being designed (I'm talking to you Arena--especially about the bathroom design) think about these issues before wasting money on a poor design.

Stephanie: Thank you for that very thorough report. I haven't checked out the soon-to-reopen Ford's yet, but will certainly keep all this in mind when I go. And for the record, my favorite theater bathrooms in D.C. are at Woolly Mammoth -- so colorful!

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Sunday Brunch in Tysons: Thanks for the chats & info each week! :-) We have plans for bday brunch on Sunday in the Tysons area. Any fab ideas on where the ladies can do a fun, good and festive brunch?

Julia: I keep hearing good things about the food at the Tysons Panache, but alas, not open for brunch.

Bazin's on Church in Vienna might be a good bet for a non-chain. Clyde's or Cafe Deluxe if you're cool with a chain.

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RIP 1223: Now that 1223 has closed, where can I go to drink all I want for $20 for 3 hours on a Friday afternoon?

Okay, so I'm guessing the answer is "nowhere." Anything that comes close?

Fritz: It's not QUITE open bar, but with MCCXXIII out of the way on Fridays and Saturdays, I think My Brother's Place is going to make a strong run as best extremely cheap happy hour spot. Not as "classy" as MCCXXIII, to be sure, but when the deal is draft beers that cost 75 cents at 4 p.m. and rise a quarter in price every hour (Friday) or $15 for all you want to drink between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. (Saturday), I think we can overlook the somewhat-fratty decor for cheap booze.

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Washington, D.C.: There was a mention on Tom Sietsema's chat yesterday about Wagamama opening in the Penn Quarter. I didn't see anything on their Web site. Tell me its true! I always visit them when I'm in London. I even had breakfast there once.

Julia: They were moving into the old Olsson's (hat tip to Ms. Metrocurean), but I heard from someone that the project has been delayed for about a year. I'll poke around and see what I can find.

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Arlington, Va.: It's that time of year again--my birthday! I want to tell a group of friends to meet me at a bar on H St. for drinks, music and dancing. How's Jimmy Valentines?

Also, are there any places on H St., or U St. perhaps, that offer ipod DJ control?

Thanks!

Fritz: Jimmy Valentine's is, with the Pug, my favorite place to kill a night around the H Street corridor when there's not a big event going on. Cool people, excellent decor, Mickey's grenades, bartenders who know their way around a drink, a regular run of DJs that could mean Britpop classics, '80s tunes or bassy dubstep. Not a huge dancefloor at Jimmy's, but what they have gets the job done.

If you want to guarantee dancing, the other option I can give you is upstairs at Rock and Roll Hotel -- at least there's almost never a cover there.

iPod DJing: The Reef (every Wednesday night) and the Red Derby (pretty much anytime, though less so on the weekends) are the places that let you pick your own tunes when you bring your MP3 player.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey gurus, I'm going to Saturday's Thievery concert and was wondering if you had any idea (or an estimate) when they will go on. Any opening acts? (none reported on the 9.30 website) Thanks!!!

David: Lots of questions about Thievery's five-night run of sold out shows at 9:30. Here's a Night 1 review by Mark Jenkins. Pretty positive report, sounds like about what you'd expect: Garza and Hilton + 6-piece band + 8 singers. Heavy focus on the dub-reggae sound, sometimes a tendency to sound a bit samey. There's no official opening act; we know that Christine Moritz, an ESL regular who we write about in Nightlife Agenda sometimes, was the pre-show DJ the first couple nights, not sure if that's the case for the rest of the run. Official start time for TC tonight is 9 p.m., but if it's closer to 9:15 or 9:30 don't be surprised. Move that back an hour for Friday and Saturday. Anyone check out either of the first two shows? Reports?

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D.C.: Hi GOGs! Parents are coming into town for President's Day weekend and I need some suggestions of things to do/places to go. We've done a lot of the typical D.C. attractions (zoos, Smithsonian, monuments). I was thinking maybe the new American History museum? Any other suggestions? Parents are big fans of art and science related stuff! Thanks!

Stephanie: American History is a good bet if only because it's looking so new and spiffy, and the Star-Spangled Banner exhibit is top-notch. For something more sciencey, take them to Ocean Hall, which I'm guessing has opened since their last visit (plus a bonus is the new orchids exhibit in the same place). And on the artier side, head to the National Gallery for the amazing Robert Frank photos or get into the Lincoln Bicentennial hoopla and see the "Mask of Lincoln" at the Portrait Gallery.

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Washington, D.C.: I was very sad to learn that Club 1223 has closed its doors. Do you know if anything's going to get built in its place? Dupont Circle has a couple of other places, like Midtown and Citron, but I always felt like 1223 tended to attract a younger crowd, so it was kind of special in that regard.

Fritz: Here's the thing about 1223: I was talking about the closing to some people who've been "on the scene" for a while, and while none of us were shocked that they left when the rent was raised precipitously, we were surprised that they couldn't work out a deal with the landlords. Negotiations had been going on for some time, from what I was told, but the building owner wanted the "fair price" per square foot, which is several times what it was 10 years ago. What is harder to understand is that, in this economic and real estate climate, why would the landlord want to be sitting on an empty building, especially when the space next door (the former Ben N Mo's) was vacant for YEARS?

As for what's next for the space: Getting a lounge/club owner to pay tens of thousands of dollars a month in the current climate is going to be tough, especially when similar real estate in nearby corridors (like, say, K Street) is a bit more affordable.

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Bowie, Md.: I'm looking for something for a couple to do Valentines weekend in or around the D.C., Md., Va. area. It's our 1st. A hotel package that includes a meal or something. Any ideas?

Julia: At the risk of answering a blatant plant, I'll just tell you about the best hotel package I heard about this week. The Hotel Palomar in Arlington is offering a private chocolate and champagne tasting class and a guide to D.C. chocolate shops. Not a bad date idea.

I think you could also branch out of the hotel mold here and do something like a Chocolate Massage at Sugar House (or really, any of the massages on this slightly old list). Or create your own chocolate shop tour, hitting ACKC, Biagio, Locolat, Artisan Confections, etc.

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Columbia, Md.: Hey GOGs, My birthday is next week and I'm looking for a young/chic lounge or restaurant in the vicinity of the Washington Convention Center since we are headed to the car show. Thx!

Julia: Chocolate haven Co Co. Sala has certainly got you covered on the chic part. The cocktails are really good (especially for a sweet tooth like me). Tom Sietsema gave a big tip o' the hat to Sei, the new sushi-sake-small plates lounge in Penn Quarter. From what I hear, your bar bill will be up there, but the food is good.

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Thievery Corp: I went on Tuesday. Definitely a great concert and it wasn't their fault that my legs got tired from standing for more than three hours. Not sure I'd go again, but it was definitely fun!

David: Thanks for the report. Any others? Anybody who can compare to past performances at the club?

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Ford's Theater: I want to second the previous chatter's comments about the cramped seats at Fords Theater. They are so so so so tight! I'm not even close to tall, 5'4, and I felt so claustrophic that I had to close my eyes and take deep breaths. It's a beautiful theater but there is no way I will go back unless I'm sitting in the very front row. How unfortunate.

Stephanie: If that's the case, I'll be requesting an aisle seat next time I go.

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Radford, Va.: Do you have any suggestions for someone looking for a hole in the wall, fun drinking bar, no need to get dressed up, in Downtown DC (not Chinatown or Adams Morgan)? I just need a real bar, good loud music and good bartenders. Help!!!

Fritz: Downtown D.C. needs more good hole-in-the-wall style bars, as they're few and far between. I'm not talking about intern dives like Recessions -- note the word "good" -- but places like the Black Rooster, or even Mackey's. Both have some pubby character, music and decent happy hours, and I think the Rooster's bartenders are solid on the whole. Depending on your age -- if you're 24/25 or under, probably -- I'd add Rumors to the list, especially on weekends. Sign of the Whale could also fit the bill.

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Arlington Eats: I was hoping you could recommend 2 or 3 restaurants in Arlington (we live in Va. Square) that have great food, a nice (preferably slightly romantic) atmosphere and won't break the budget. Food preferences would probably start at Seafood, Italian, American, French, with Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese all being good options. Any help you can give will be most appreciated. Thanks!

Julia: Wow. I don't think we've ever had a request with so many options! Regular readers know that I heart Tallula. Willow also comes to mind.

I think Legal Sea Food and McCormick and Schmick's are your closest seafood options.

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Silver Spring, Md.: As a Cardinals fan, I would love to watch Sunday's game with other Arizona supporters. Have you heard of any places in the area that will be hosting a Cardinals-centric Super Bowl party?

Fritz: I've been calling around and trying to get some Cardinals-specific events, but as I said in the Where to Watch the Super Bowl blog post, the only one I found was the Arizona State Society's viewing party at Crystal City Sports Pub, and that may be sold out by now. (Ticket info is in the blog.)

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Washington, D.C.: A dear friend of mine is in town, and he is a lovely and proud gay man. I would love to take him out somewhere to a play or performance that contains some gay related subject matter. Is there anything good available this weekend that you know about?

Stephanie: Funny you should ask (hmmm...or is it?), but "The Little Dog Laughed" at Signature is about a gay actor and it's getting great reviews.

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Drink Recipe?: I had a dark and stormy at Creme the other night. Loved it! Do any of you gurus know how to make one and where the ingredients might be found around town?

Fritz: My favorite summer drink is (generally) nothing more than ginger beer poured into a pint glass of Goslings Black Seal rum. I prefer using good ginger beer, since that's what provides much of the flavor, and lean towards Barrit's, Blenheim or Dr. Brown's, which you can find at Whole Foods or (my favorite source) World Market.

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Theivery Corp: Went to the concert on opening night. It wasn't as crowded as I expected it to be but not sure if there were a lot of no-shows because of the weather. It didn't start to get exciting until about 6 songs when the beat got louder and people started to dance. It would have been nice to hear a few words from the two djs, but the rest of the band was great. Very laid back, great show.

David: I would definitely think the weather on Tuesday kept some people from getting to the club. Let me rephrase that -- kept some people from venturing out to the club. A (relatively) slow start isn't surprising, especially given that the show seems to be around two and a half hours long.

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Washington, D.C.: I'm desperately craving a good Samosa. Any suggestions where to pick a few up in D.C. or Alexandria?

Julia: Pick some up, like carryout? Recently I've had great samosas at Himalayan Heritage in Adams Morgan and Cafe Taj in McLean (yes, I know. No where near your geographic parameters).

I think you could also through Heritage India in the mix for something closer to the central business district.

Oh -- I almost forgot Taj of India! One of my favorite delivery spots. (Though they only seem to deliver to my house sometimes.)

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Woodley Park: Gurus:

I'd like to celebrate my birthday next weekend at Bourbon in Adams Morgan. Do you know whether I can reserve that second floor loft space or would I have to get there relatively early to claim it? Thanks!

Fritz: You can reserve the upstairs, but you'll need to hit a very specific minimum tab if you want to close the place to the public, which can range into the $1000s on a weekend, which is why a friend and I threw our Xmas party there on a Wednesday. (Call the bar for more info and ask for Jill.)

You can always just get there by 8 or so and stake out the loft on your own.

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Las Vegas: re: Good hole-in-the-wall:

How about the new Stoney's?

Fritz: I really don't consider the place a hole in the wall. It's too shiny and glossy, and it's across the street from Whole Foods and next to Halo.

Now the old Stoney's -- man, I miss that place.

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Whither the stogie?: Is there any place left in the city where I can go to enjoy a cigar and have a drink?

Fritz: Try cocktails at Aroma or Ozio, or maybe a good Scotch at Shelley's Back Room. That's about it.

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Washington, D.C.: Thanks for all the wonderful advice in the past. I don't have a going out question this week, but I was wondering if anyone has heard anything about what is going to happen to the poor National Mall now that it has lost all its grass. It's like a giant desert!

Stephanie: It is a sad sight, right? Well, there were plans (or hopes, at least) to do some work on the Mall, but those may have to be put on hold.

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Washington D.C.: Hi GOGs! Suggestions of bars for a much needed night out...was thinking either Georgetown or Glover Park. Preferably venues that are laid back and aren't overly expensive. Thanks!

Fritz: Laidback and not overly expensive in the Georgetown/Glover Park axis -- especially without lines at the door, etc. -- for me means Martin's Tavern or, for somewhere hipper, Breadsoda. Town Hall can be good, too, especially if you're doing some snacking, but it gets crowded and louder as the night goes on.

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Sorry another Valentine's Day one: I live in Gaithersburg, Md., and my (hopefully to become after I show her an awesome V-day) girlfriend lives in Westminster, Md. We both live with family, so intimate home-cooked dinners are out of the question. Is there something in Montgomery/Carroll/Frederick that you know about that we could do that would be special for Valentine's Day? Or is our only option to go out in D.C. or Baltimore and get a hotel room?

Julia: I have to admit, Maryland was tough when I was throwing together my Valentine's Day dinner story. Volt, Addie's and other spots were booked pretty solid for the night. I didn't try Jackie's, so you might give them a call.... Or La Canela.

Also, see above about some slightly non-traditional suggestions. Chocolate searching, massages, hikes. Just something different. As much as I was sort of salivating over the V-day menus I read this week, I do feel like Valentine's Day dinner just ends up being expensive and kind of a let down.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi, my friends and I are kinda stuck in a going-out-rut. What can you suggest to do late at night (9-10 p.m.-ish) on a Thursday night that isn't your usual late night movie, bar or club? Thanks!

Anne: So anything in a bar/club is out? If you're just looking for something different you can drop into between 9 and 10, I'd say to check out poetry night or whatever's on tap at Busboys. Otherwise, I think you're looking at something that starts earlier (like theater or a talk) and then keep the conversation going with some friends afterward. Speaking of things happening on a Thursday night, I'm dying to know who is going to Dancing With the Stars. Anyone?

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Arlington, Va.: I got my husband and his best friend tix for the Theivery show tonight. (Christmas gift) Are they better off trying to park or taking a cab to 9:30.

David: You'll find parking within a few blocks, that shouldn't be a problem. If you get there early enough you can snag a space in the club's ($10) lot, but I have a hunch the lot will be filled (or open to pre-paid) quickly. There are certain shows/nights that I'd dread driving down there looking for a space; this doesn't quite qualify as one of them.

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Washington, D.C.: I went to Gazuza last Thursday and the scene was terrible. Can you recommend cool lounges to hit up tonight?

Fritz: What was terrible about it and what time were you there? Let's see, Thursday night: Science Club, the lounge upstairs at Marvin (if you don't go too late), Josephine ... and, of course, Chi-Cha Lounge, which can be hit or miss these days but is always worth a mention, especially if you were disappointed with Gazuza.

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Washington, D.C.: I was so excited about the chocolate buffet at the Ritz that you guys talked about in last week's chat. I convinced my girlfriends that it was worthy of our time, and I called to make reservations and sadly found out its NOT happening every weekend for the month of Feb... only Valentine's weekend. Any idea why they changed this to one weekend only? (Btw, I did check their press release which does state that its for the month too, so I'm not blaming the GOGs for being wrong!!)

Julia: Hey there! I meant to post something about this actually. Real bummer. They just decided to change it this week, so that now Chocolate Decadence is only Valentine's weekend. The folks at the Ritz were really vague about the reason for the switch. On Tuesday, I asked them to get back to me with the official reason . . . still waiting.

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las vegas again: Hole-in-the-wall bars for $500 please...

Irish Times?

Fritz: Does that count as a hole in the wall these days? It's been around so long it's almost a celebrity, given the non-stop love from Catholic students and Hill interns, but yes, unpretentious, cheap, kinda rowdy, singer-songwriters playing guitars, plenty of drink specials.

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Arlington Eats: Bangkok 54 on Columbia Pike, Arlington has great Thai food with a romantic atmosphere, particularly in the pm when they dim the lights and you're seated at one of the booths in the back side.

Julia: Good call.

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Alexandria, VA: Need advice for Saturday night. My friends and I want to dance latin music in a great spot as Rumberos, Rumba Cafe, or Agua Ardiente (closed now). Somebody suggested Cecilia's in Arlington but we want to try something up-scale or at least similar. Your advice will be appreciated...

Rhome: Can't really come up with an upscale option for Saturday night. Closest bet would be Zanzibar on Thursdays.

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RE: Hole-in-the-wall: I'd recommend Bottom Line. Best bartenders and definitely a POS bar.

Fritz: Thought about including it, probably should have, especially given all the Starboard ties and the cheap happy hours (hellllloooooo $2.50 Bud and Bud Light bottles and baskets of tater tots tonight)...

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Washington, D.C. : Is "Ben's" Next Door, of the Washington, D.C. Ben's, a drop in and hang out kind of place or a make a reservation we have a celebrity chef type place. Muchas gracias.

Rhome: Definitely a drop in place. It's still new and figuring out its identity but anywhere that you can order half-smokes at the bar is not focused on the frou-frou. A neighborhood feel has been developing. Lots of friendly folk just kicking it.

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Arlington, Va.: This might be a question for Tom, but it's about the best sushi. I was in Hawaii a while back and somehow my local/favorite haunt here in Arlington just isn't up to those standards. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Julia: Those are some pretty high standards, but here are some of my picks (with Tom's input, by the way!) about the best sushi in town.

Which haunt in Arlington, pray tell? I adore Asahi.

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Anonymous: Hi Gurus,

A dear friend is getting married here in DC in October and wants to throw an after-party at a club in town, for probably about 50 or so people. She's looking for a space she can reserve that won't require a huge deposit, and preferably a place that will do a cash bar. I know you've discussed options for such places before, and I tried searching the archives but nothing came up (maybe I used the wrong search terms). I remember Science Club and Bourbon being on the list -- any other suggestions?

Thanks!

Julia: Those two were definitely on the list. I also added Local 16 and Stetson's. We had my wedding after-party at Stetson's. The bar is decidedly low key for a bunch of people in tuxes, but that made it sort of fun.

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Ballston Dude: Fritz, My adult beverage drinking hero. Now that rum has been mentioned, I've had the most difficult time trying to track down some Dogfishhead Rum.

The Md liquor stores are so inconstant. Makes me actually appreciate the ABC a bit more.

I've tried in and around Baltimore.

Fritz: In Maryland, liquor control is done by county, not by the state. Makes PG a bit more freewheeling than the People's Republic of Montgomery. MoCo should have it, though, since it's for sale at the Gaithersburg Ale House. Wonder if someone there can give you the name of the distributor, and then they can tell you the closest store that stocks it.

Personally, I stock up when I'm in Delaware. The Brown Rum is insanely good.

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Samosas: I love the samosas at Mehak on 7th in Chinatown. The delivery minimum is high ($25), and it can often take a long time, so I'd recommend picking up if feasible.

Julia: Thanks for the tip!

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Downtown: Would the Bottom Line be considered a hole-in-the-wall downtown? At least at happy hour, it seems to be.

Fritz: Interesting question. What about the Madhatter? Similar crowd, similar location, and yet I'm not sure I consider them holes in the wall anymore, possibly because they've been around so long. I think of, say, the bar at Penang or even the bar at Mai Thai as holes in the walls.

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Arlington, Va.: A twist on the normal Valentine's Day questions. I'm having Lasik done the day before Valentine's Day and my mom is kindly coming into town to take care of me. Do you have any suggestions of restaurants in the Arlington / Alexandria area where I could take her to dinner on Valentine's Day without it being totally awkward because we're surrounded by all couples?

Julia: Um, no. It's probably going to be a little awkward unless you do Big Buns. And Big Buns is good, but probably not what you were looking for.

Seriously though, I think if you go to a more casual place, you should be fine. Harry's Tap Room? Los Tios? Tallula is kind of a romantic spot, but what if you ate at Eat Bar instead?

Good luck with the Lasik!

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Dupont with Grandma and toddler: I want to my mom and toddler son to Dupont Circle this week so she can see the shops in the area. Do you have any recommendations on a fun restaurant I can take her to and can also take my toddler? I'm new to the area and the reviews I've read about the restaurants haven't really helped me figure this out.

Anne: The thing about "fun" restaurants is that what makes them fun also makes them densely filled with people, so that doesn't always bode well for the squirming toddler who accidentally tosses some food on the people at the table next to you. But I think Urbana could hit both needs -- I had a good experience with the servers being accomodating of a kid in a high chair (and that kid's mess on the floor, thanks). Yes, it's a low ceilinged-hotel restaurant, but it still feels airy and the designers went to town. And you can count on hotels to be used to dealing with all types. I know Fritz can't stand James Hoban's, but I think it could work for you, too. But we have to ask, where are you shopping in Dupont? Julia wonders if it is Pleasure Place or Ginza.

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Chocolate Decadence: thanks for the answer... they were especially vague to me on the phone too (I spoke to the manager)... I said, "your press release from December states that its every weekend in the MONTH of Feb..." and their response was, "sometimes the press people get it wrong..." Oh well, at least I'm not going to miss out by dragging my husband instead!

Julia: I do know that they did indeed change it. Sorry to hear whoever you spoke to threw the press people under the bus, so to speak!

Nice moves on getting your husband to go!

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Silver Spring, Md.: My wife and I are going to see Avenue Q at the Warner Theatre on February 14 (Valentine's Day). Any recommendations for a somewhat inexpensive (non-prix fixe, less than $40 per person), but interesting restaurant to eat before the show in the downtown area (prefer walking distance of the theatre)? I would prefer not to eat at Potbelly on Valentine's Day. But, all of the restaurants that I have called have selective ($50+ per person) menus for V-Day. Thanks for any advice!

Stephanie: If you're willing to go to Chinatown (less than 3/4 mile -- I checked!), I'd say Matchbox could be a good bet for a delicious yet inexpensive meal.

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Re: Brown Rum: Fritz, you stock up in Delaware? Don't you know you aren't just violating the law, but THE CONSTITUTION? (Check out the XXI amendment). It had better be some good rum.

Fritz: As a resident of the District of Columbia, I'm allowed to "import" up to a gallon of spirits from elsewhere within the United States. (You can look it up.) I guarantee I'm bringing back far less than five bottles of rum. Never more than two, actually. They're not cheap. But they're damn good.

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Arlington, VA: Hi GOGs! My friend and I are planning on celebrating our birthdays by dunking things in melted cheese and chocolate. We're on a budget though - is the half-priced cheese and chocolate fondue happy hour special still on at the Melting Pot in Arlington? Is it worth our while, or will people be 10-deep at the bar trying to take advantage of this deal?

Julia: It is indeed. Just called over to the Arlington location and the 1/2 price special is on from 5 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

Can't say I have ever done the happy hour, much less been to the Melting Pot, but, chatter, if this is what you're into, I say go for it for your birthday. Chatters, any of you been to this happy hour? Write in real fast with a yay or nay for the birthday peeps.

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Dupont Circle: Would the Fourth Estate be a hole-in-the-wall?

Fritz: It might have been, but it's sadly closed.

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Washington, DC: Fritz, I really liked Jimmy Valentine's when I went, but it's almost a stretch to say it is part of the H St. corridor. I didn't feel very comfortable walking there and back from H St., as it is definitely in an isolated (and umarked)spot. What's your preferred method to get there?

Fritz: Walking from H Street.

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Gazuza Thursday: Well basically it was empty and the DJ was horrible. It was this falsely advertised event, saying that he had played in Miami and NYC...me and my friends had never heard of him (or thankfully heard him) before. Thanks for the recs on other spots. I agree about Chi Cha. Personally I miss dancing at the Blue Room on Thursday nights.

Fritz: I miss the Blue Room, too. For that vibe, definitely try Science Club tonight -- it's old-school hip-hop and R&B -- or maybe Jin tomorrow night.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Gurus! Thanks for the chat - can you recommend a place for brunch on a Saturday or Sunday in the Gallery Place-Chinatown area (or close to), preferably that has unlimited mimosas? Thanks!

Julia: I don't think I know of an unlimited mimosa spot down there. I do think Matchbox is one of your best bets for Chinatown brunch. Or Cafe Atlantico, but that's a little fanicer.

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Radford, VA: Do you have any suggestion for someone looking for a hole in the wall bar in Downtown DC (not Adams Morgan or Chinatown)? I'm looking for good, loud music and good bartenders. Not looking to get dressed up. Help me please.

Rhome: It's definitely not downtown but is Mt. Pleasant too close to Adams Morgan? If not, try The Raven. Condo Planet isn't really dive bar territory anyway.

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Hole in the Wall:: The Exchange?

Fritz: Yes. Totally. Its redeeming feature is the extra-wide sidewalk patio. In the winter, total hole in the wall.

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Samosas...: Forget the restaurants, just swing by any desi (read: Pakistani/Indian/Bangladeshi) grocery, like the Arlington Grocery in Virginia Square. Most of them make in-house samosas and have them for sale throughout the day for about $1/piece. Much cheaper and often better than anything you'll get at Heritage India or anywhere else.

Similarly, they offer frozen ones, that are actually quite good that you can take home for $5/bag and heat up whenever you want.

Julia: Thanks for the tip.

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D.C. Bar: Suggestions for a downtown bar where my SO can get a scotch and I can enjoy a nice glass of wine? Thank you!

Fritz: The new Scotch Bar at the Round Robin Bar in the Willard Hotel comes to mind, so does Proof, where the Scotch collection is huge (if I remember) but well-curated.

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Washington, D.C.: In a blog post awhile back, someone mentioned a vodka that tasted like sweet tea? or was good mixed with sweet tea? either way - it was a delicious vodka suggestion that i cant seem to find in the blog archives. ring any bells?

Fritz: You're talking about Firefly Vodka, to which I composed a love letter of sorts on the blog. Too easy to drink. Far too easy. I was on my third pint glass of the stuff before I said "Wait, wait, wait. This is STRAIGHT VODKA with some lemon and soda water." Still, only 70 proof.

Only $5 at Gin and Tonic during the Super Bowl, too.

Oh, and for something more fun, there's an Arnold Palmer variation with the stuff at Breadsoda -- iced tea and lemonade -- that's also a knockout.

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Rockville, Md.: We're in our thirties, married and kids, but still want to hang out and have a good time. Anything you can recommend that is going to serve up good drinks, great food (not chi-chi food, but TASTY food), but in a hang out lounge type atmosphere? Somewhere we can linger, eat well, drink well and enjoy each each others' company. Bonus points if its in Bethesda / Rockville area!

Julia: Maybe Jackie's, mentioned above? Ceviche?

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Social Superbowl: Is there a place to watch where chatting and meeting new people is okay? I know the diehards can be serious about watching, but to me it an excuse to party - and mingle.

Fritz: I'd think somewhere that's not strictly a sports bar would be the best bet -- think Buffalo Billiards, Jimmy's Old Town Taven, Chuck Brown at the Hyatt Regency -- because it won't be the folks who've worn grooves into their barstools watching football every week. Maybe the party at Hudson if you're looking for more of a see-and-be-scene.

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H St: Jimmy V's is really not that far from the Argonaut. It takes some skill to FIND it, I'll give ya that. I've made the Argo/JV's run several times, its really not THAT bad of a walk (surprisingly well lit), just make sure you are smart about it.

Fritz: Agreed. It's like a 5-10 min. walk maximum, but not one I'd do if I was too tipsy. Just be smart, and know where the door is, b/c it sure ain't marked.

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20009: I'd love you help with some dancing plans. I want to go dancing with some girlfriends (late 20s/early 30s) on Saturday night. I used to dance like a maniac at Wonderland, but haven't been there in so long, and am not sure what else is out there. To give you an idea of what type of music, I would LOVE to go to Fatback but this has to happen on Saturday :(

Fritz: Tough one. I wish Fatback was every week (along with Moneytown), but I'll take what I can get. I like the sound of Homo/Sonic and Razzmatazz paired at the Black Cat on Saturday -- mix of glam, Britpop, electro and '80s upstairs and Britpop and new wave classics on the backstage.

Marvin could be a good bet for funk, if you can beat the crowds.

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Hole in the Wall: Fox & Hounds?

Julia: Didn't the fox recently get a little spiffed? Still grubby for sure, though, so I think we can count it.

I haven't really been following this debate throughout the chat, but I must take exception to Fritz's swipe at Recessions. Okay, he's right, it's an intern dive. And the kind of elaborate stone work they've done there probably elevates it out of the hole-in-the-wall status, but man, that place has some sweet karaoke on Friday nights. About a year ago I heard this guy drop a version of J. Holiday's "Bed" a capella that was just ridiculous! Fun vibe: half college kids singing Hall and Oates, half people singing gospel like they were trying out for American Idol. Not so bad.

And with that, we're out. Thanks for playing today, kids. We'll catch you next Thursday.

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Waldorf, Md.: Bad puns, with the GOGs, I do gladly share,

A regular exercise, done with a certain savoir faire;

But today, alas, my thoughts do run blank,

A flinty toughness I do lack, so says Barack!

Julia: Oh, just had to add this one for its newsworthiness -- *not* for its questionable "rhymes."

Gurus out.

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