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The Going Out Gurus
of the washingtonpost.com Going Out Guide
Thursday, March 26, 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: Does it feel like spring yet? It better soon, because that Cherry Blossom Festival starts Saturday -- see that link for all kinds of awesome pictures and info about it. And there's starting to be even more going on now that it's supposed to be warming up. What's on your calendar for this week? Tell us, or ask us -- we're all here, except for Rhome who really is living it up in sunshine and warmth (he's in Miami this week). Let's get planning.

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Washington, D.C.: What can you tell me about the selection at CD Cellar in Arlington? Pricing? I haven't been there and I'm looking for a good used CD place since the CD/Game Exchanges closed.

David: Maybe I'm biased because it's in my hood, but I like CD Cellar. For selection -- I'd say it's not the kind of place you go into with a wish list, but you'll always be able to find some worthwhile things, y'know? Pricing isn't super cheap, i think maybe $8.99 for lots of the used stuff, they've got lots of cheaper sections where you can sometimes dig up good tunes. A few handfuls of vinyl, too. It won't change your life, but I dig it.

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Hirshhorn After Hours: Waited in line for two hours the last time and it was totally worth it. But now that everyone has advance tickets, what time do you suggest showing up tomorrow night?

Stephanie: Okay, I hope I'm reading this right and that you already have your tickets (since none will be sold at the door). I think the whole idea of doing advance sales was so that the wait to get in would be pretty negligible, since there won't be any transactions (and everyone won't show up early for fear of tickets selling out). If you want to get there RIGHT when the party is starting, then maybe show up 20 minutes before.

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Soon to be Bethesda: So I'm making the move from Clarendon to Bethesda next month, but I've never really been out in Bethesda. How's the bar scene there? Any favorites? I think I've only been to Rock Bottom, so I need some new places to try. Thanks!

Fritz: Well, at least you've been to one of the few good spots.

I've never understood how Bethesda, with dozens of (admittedly often overhyped) restaurants could have such a blah bar scene. I just wrote a piece about the city's top happy hours, and to that list, I'd add the golf-themed sports bar Caddies on Cordell, which has such a great patio, and the snug little bar at Ri-Ra, with Irish music on Sundays and a great Tuesday night quiz.

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Arlington, Va.: Help GoGs! I am heading up a bachelor party. While we have a plan for the later evening, dinner alludes us. We want to do sushi, and if possible, be in a private room (nothing scandalous, just out of deference to the other dinners who might not want to be seated next to 8-12 dudes). We are heading to H St. afterwords, so a restaurant that has a lot of cabs nearby would be a bonus.

Julia: Hmmm, I was going to say Sei, 'cause it's new and wicked good. But I don't believe it has a private room. You could also look at Asia Nine (which is cheap and has more than just Sushi) or the newly reopened Sushi Taro (which is no longer cheap; set menus are now $65 to $75 a person -- major bummer!). I should also mention that you could also just grab sushi on H Street. Sticky Rice totally rules (though not as fancy as the other places I mentioned).

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Alexandria, Va.: Hi Gurus,

My wife's birthday is coming up next month and I am looking to take her out for dinner and drinks. I'd like to take her out somewhere on either U St or H St. She happens to also be a huge fan of German beer.

Fritz: For German beer, I love the Saloon, which always has a couple on draft. H Street is kind of a beer wasteland outside of Granville Moore's, which is one of the city's best Belgian taverns. However, the food there is SO GOOD that I'd encourage you to take her there. For my money, the best beer-food combo in the city.

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Arlington: Hey Gurus! I'm celebrating a big birthday this year and am looking for the right place. Something with a private or semi-private room, flat screens for the game, with the brick walls and black leather couch kind of vibe. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Fritz: What night of the week and how much do you want to pay?

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Dupont, D.C.: Went into the new "Bar Dupont" in the old Jury's hotel last night - what a disappointment! They took out the bit of charm of the old Biddy Mulligans had and replaced it with the standard hotel bar look-seriously, I could have been at any Marriott in the country. I'm all for updating, but this new bar is definitely catering to only the guests of the hotel, not to anybody in the neighborhood or somebody walking by. And the non-descript thumping music needs to go. One last note: While they light fixtures they put in are pretty cool, they were turned up so bright that this is definitely NOT the place to have a secret meeting or work trip liaison! It was like having drinks in a cafeteria. Sad!

Stephanie: Thanks for your two cents, Dupont. I haven't been back to the bar formerly known as Biddy's yet. When I used to live down the street from there, that place was like my Regal Beagle, so seeing it turn into something so different is a bit of a bummer.

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Brunch: Hi Gurus, Any suggestions of where they offer bottomless mimosas and bloody marys with brunch in Arlington?

Julia: The Ballston Front Page has $1 mimosas and $2 champagne + red bull (which I totally just had for the first time the other day and is as gross as it sounds!). Can't think of a bottomless place off the top of my head...chatters?

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Washington, D.C.: This might be more of a Tom question, but here goes...

I'm finishing up my masters (finally!) and wanted to go out to celebrate with some girlfriends the night I turn in my thesis (a Wednesday). We are looking for good food, good wine, and to not be in Georgetown. With a group of about 5 or 6, I think ethnic food can be difficult to agree on, so we'd probably want to avoid Ethiopian and the like. Also, we're all in our early, mid-20s, so price is a concern. A few suggestions, please?

Julia: I'll do my best to fill Tom's (very big) shoes. Sei (mentioned above) would be my first choice if it wasn't for the price constraint. Yes, I know I just recommended it for a bachelor party, but it definitely strikes me as a Girls Night Out spot (maybe because I went there last with one of my favorite friends -- love ya, Thals!).

Anyway, it can get up there. On the cheaper end of the spectrum, I like the U Street area. Creme, Cork or 1905 could all work. (Cork's food is perhaps the most reliable.) Congrats on the Masters!

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Alexandria, Va.: Any word when Doggie Happy Hour starts in Alexandria? The website does include dates. Thanks.

Fritz: Hotel Monaco told me that they're getting the treats and water bowls ready, because the dogs will be in charge of the large brick patio starting on Thursday, April 2. Really, one of the most enjoyable happy hours around, for both humans and pets. Here's what I wrote about it last year: A Happy Hour for You, and Fido, Too.

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Sushi recs: I tried Sei a few weeks ago -- it's good but really over priced, I thought -- esp. the drinks. The bachelor party should def do Sticky Rice -- although getting a table for 8-12 dudes may take some time, esp. on a weekend. But SR is much better, I think, than Sei. And how can you resist the tater tots???

Julia: Agreed re the wait. I think the sushi is better at Sei, but I think the real question for the bachelor party to answer is: what kind of vibe are you looking for? Want a sophisticated dinner before the shenanigans begin, go to one of the Penn Quarter spots. Want to get rowdy *and* just stay in one general area of town? Do Sticky Rice. I guarantee you no one there will care about the noise you make.

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Bachelor party: Sushi guy might want to check on Kaz Sushi - they have that an area that is separated a bit from the rest of the restaurant that his party might be able to take over. Not a private room, but not super $ and lots of cabs.

Also, sushi before heavy drinking? Yikes.

Julia: Not a bad idea. I love Kaz. So good.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Gurus,

Earlier this week the Chicago Tribune ran an article about local gay bars banning Bachelorette parties (largely because the gay male patrons feel it's a slap in the face since gays and lesbians can't get married). Not that I'm planning a bachelorette party anytime soon, but we've been known to enjoy the drag shows. Any thoughts about how this might be perceived in DC?

Fritz: Some gay bars here don't like bachelorette parties, and I know patrons I've talked to at some bars, especially Cobalt, were very upfront about it. Then again, Cobalt is now making an effort to be more inclusive with their Saturday night parties, so who knows what will happen?

I talked to Ed Bailey of Town Danceboutique about this when it opened, and he said he was fine with women coming to the Friday/Saturday drag shows. I've seen women there, and no one seemed to have a problem with their presence, though most took off pretty much as soon as the shows ended.

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Alexandria, Va.: Here is a story suggestion: How the White House TOTALLY messed up the ticket distribution for the Easter Egg Roll. Points to consider: How the company they chose to handle this task is totally incapable of handeling the demand!! I have been trying to get tickets since the site went live at 8am and get to a point where I 'think' I have tickets, and then get kicked from the system. I would MUCH rather have camped out overnight, in the cold, then have to sit here all day hitting refresh. How there was an overwhelming LACK of information (what time the tix are avaliable, what intervals more will be avaliable)and how you can only get a specific number of tickets - which will lead to unused tickets. For example - I cannot get 2 adult and 1 child ticket - I can only get 2 adult with 2 children.. I only have 1 kid, so one will go to waste... MAKES NO SENSE!!! GGGGGGRRRRRRRRRRRRr

Anne: You're one of three people telling us about it so far. And more people have been telling Post reporters, so I'd keep an eye out for the recap in the Metro section soon. Is there anyone out there who did get tickets for it online? Tell us your secret!

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Richmond: When will be the least crowded time of the year to order tickets to the Chinese soldiers exhibit?

Stephanie: Are you talking about the Terra Cotta Warriors at National Geographic? If so, that should be an amazing show. The exhibit doesn't open until November but tickets go on sale in May, and I'd recommend snapping one up as soon as they go on sale. And for a less crowded experience, visit after the hype has died down a bit (so after the first month) and on a weekday, if you can.

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U Street, DC: What is the expected vibe/clientele of Policy - the new place? Similar to St. Ex across the street? More K-street like? I'm basically wondering what the scene will be and if I will feel comfortable... how pretentious basically... Any ideas what to expect?

Fritz: Well, it's from some of the guys involved with Josephine and formerly of MCCXXIII, so I'd certainly expect it to be more of a K Street vibe than Saint-Ex, which is just crowded hot-and-sweaty dancing on weekends. Policy is the first real bottle service-style joint to move into the 14th Street corridor, so we'll see what develops. I like the photos and I've heard good things about last weekend's soft opening, though I got gripes about the service and the level of crowding.

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Washington, D.C.: Kite festival is this Saturday and rain is expected -- will they cancel/move it?

Anne: I just talked with the Resident Associates group that's organizing the kite festival. They'll wait until tomorrow morning to check out the weather and make the final decision, but you should expect to see an update on their site (and I'll update it on ours) by 6 a.m.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi GOGs. Could you offer some suggestions for a coffee date on a Saturday afternoon in the Dupont/Foggy Bottom area?

Julia: Soho's not bad in Dupont, but not really romantic. Teaism could be cozier, except for the obvious focus on tea instead of coffee. If you could expand just barely into Adams Morgan, L'Enfant strikes me as a cozier option. If the date goes well, stay for a crepe!

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Bottomless Alcohol: I don't think selling bottomless alcohol is legal.

Fritz: Depends on where you live. It's fine in D.C., but illegal in Virginia (according to the Va. Code, "No retail licensee shall engage in any of the following practices: ... Selling an unlimited number of drinks for one price, such as 'all you can drink for $5.00'"

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I've never understood how Bethesda, with dozens of (admittedly often overhyped) restaurants could have such a blah bar scene. : Two words: Montgomery County. It is by far the absolute worst county to live in, they make absolutely no sense when it comes to their nanny laws. From what I've heard it is a hellish experience opening up a bar because of all of the red tape and regulations. It's a shame.

Fritz: Oh, don't get me started on Montgomery County. I've had so many bar owners tell me that they think that the county would be happier if they all moved to D.C. and Montgomery was dry. The tax on live music is just one example.

The real issue is that there are a number of bars in Bethesda, but few GOOD bars.

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Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.: Usually I get free Gold Cup tickets for my work tent, but this year they are not sponsoring a tent. I went to the University Row site but I can't find a link to the ticket sales by alumni association and my alumni association, a 2009 tent sponsor, doesn't have a link. Do you all knowing Gurus know when University Row tickets go on sale? My best friend just moved here and she'd love to go and I want to make sure she experiences it. Thanks!

Fritz: I was told it will be in early April. Coincidentally, I've heard that a number of groups that used to host tents at Gold Cup aren't doing so this year. Lindy Promotions, for example, is just offering a ride down and a ride back -- no partner hosting a tent along the rail, which is where all the fun is.

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Silver Spring: Hey gurus! This may be out of place for your chat, but can anyone recommend a good seamstress/tailor in the metro area (preferably Md. or D.C.)? I need to get a bridesmaid dress altered and am at a loss. I usually just go to the local dry cleaner to get pants hemmed, but don't feel comfortable using them for something this nice (and expensive!). Thanks!

Julia: We haven't had a tailor question in a while -- crazy! For the record, I've been having dresses altered at my local dry cleaners (the one on Mount Pleasant Street, the one closest to Irving) and they've been pretty good. So if you trust your usual tailor, I say just use that one. There is no reason to go out searching for someone you don't know. As a seamstress myself, I can tell you that anyone can mess up a dress, whether they come highly recommended or not.

That being said, I have a few friends who swear by Do's Tailors on top of Nathan's in Georgetown. Also heard good things about London Tailor in Bethesda, 301-656-7595. London altered my friend's wedding dress. And she looked so purdy.

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Dupont Circle, D.C.: Funny that person who mentioned the former Biddy's. I went by on the 42 last night and had a good view in the windows and thought the exact same thing. It looks exactly like an airport lounge.

Speaking of things in Dupont, does anyone know if the top floor of Darlington House is now open for drinks? It seems like it should be - it has been awhile - but I haven't heard anyone mention it.

Thanks.

Fritz: I know there was a plan to open it as a wine bar -- I heard that when the place opened last fall -- but the most recent update was that Darlington House was primarily going to use the upstairs "Library" for private parties (as Childe Harold did).

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Regular reader: not coffee dates again.... i hate them!!!!!

Julia: This sounds funny. Tell us why. Give us your best coffee date rant.

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Teaism: I went to Teaism for the first time about 2 weeks ago and there was a huge group of people in the basement part with lifesize dolls. They were there for the entire 2 hours I was, talking about their dolls and showing each other their various sets of clothes and wigs. I was just wondering if this is a common occurrence at Teaism because I was a little surprised to see so many dolls while I was trying to eat.

Julia: I have never seen this before -- and it sounds, um, interesting.

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Washington, D.C.: Hello GOGs. I am trying to plan a second date which will likely take place on a Monday evening. Any suggestions for something in DC proper that is reasonably priced but creative at the same time?

Stephanie: Maybe something from our recent blog post of cheap date ideas will inspire you. For my April theater preview, I also listed pay-what-you-can performances, and if you're going on the date this coming Monday, then you could check out Antebellum at Woolly Mammoth followed by dessert at Co Co. Sala.

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Washington, D.C.: When I was Internet dating up a storm, Tryst in Adams Morgan was my go-to coffee place for blind dates. Highly recommended. Though most times the coffee turned out to be more of a highlight than the date.

Julia: Yeah, I thought about Tryst -- it seems like it was built for Internet dates (and pretending to work on laptops, as I mentioned a few chats ago). But it was so far from Dupont/Foggy Bottom that I left it out.

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Falls Church, Va.: Hi, it's my sister's 25th birthday and she wants to go dancing to house/trance music. She used to love club 5. Can you suggest something similar (music wise and room to dance) Thanks! Noelia

Fritz: Muse, an intimate little three-story lounge on 6th Street, would be my pick on Thursday or Friday nights, and you could try Fur on Saturday -- Glow is one of the best trance nights going, and bookings have been really strong lately. (Reigning "#1 DJ in the World" Armin van Buuren last week is just one example.) I think Loda at Gallery and the monthly Hometown Heroes at the Trinidad and Tobago Association are two other really good options.

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Policy Patron: So here is the great about Policy (I went this past weekend). The drinks were awesome. $15 for two Grey Goose and Sodas and they were in pint glasses not the usual tumblers. Also no cover. So my girlfriend and I were there for a few hours and our tab was nowhere near what it would be if we were at one of the K Street bars/lounges.

Here is what is not so great. The place has zero identity. Downstairs looks like a diner (where is my fries and chocolate shake) and upstairs looks like a cool U St bar but has an international crowd. And the worst...only 4 bathrooms (2 women and 2 mens rooms) in the whole place. It took FOREVER to go the restrooms. Always a line. Finally the music was too hard for my tastes. Kinda techno. No songs I knew.

For happy hour or early drinks I would go but not for late- night.

Fritz: Here's one review.

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Fairfax, Va.: My wife and her friends are having a girls night out on Saturday but is having a tough time deciding where to go. So I thought I'd ask the Gurus. They're all married and in their late 20's. Any ideas on fun places they can go to have dinner/drinks? I think they just want to re-live being young and single again for a night.

Fritz: Do they want to stick to Fairfax or head into the city? Do they want to get dressed up and go dancing, or just find a lounge where they can grab a couch? There are lots of potential options here, and want to help as much as we can.

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Not coffee dates again.... i hate them!!!!! : too guarded? Implying "I'm not willing to risk ANYTHING" Too business like. Show me what you got and dazzle me in half an hour. (my thoughts. I'm a regular reader, but not the regular reader who said s/he doesn't like them.) Just too cold, businesslike, officious. Doesn't give you any incentive to try or risk anything yourself. If you can't be bothered, then don't bother, really.

Fritz: I don't think I've been on a "coffee date" since college, and honestly don't think I'd go on one now, for the reasons you give. Seems too much like a speed-reading of a resume.

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Blind Dates: Know that if you always use the same place for your internet dates the bar/wait staff is on to you. It gets a little humorous to see you every X day ordering X drink. /p>

Fritz: And they WILL gossip about you, too.

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Falls Church, Va.: Hi, GOGs - a friend of mine will be visiting from out-of-town this weekend, and we're looking for some place fun for dinner in Arlington on Sunday night. I thought of Eventide, but they aren't open on Sunday nights. Any other suggestions? (Not Harry's, Boulevard Woodgrill, or any of the usual suspects in Clarendon, please).

Julia: Okay, so no Tallula or Liberty Tavern, either? (Like how I did that there? Just snuck in a few recommendations without really recommending them?)

Seriously, I think EatBar or Liberty Tavern could be your best bet. Want something a little different? Piola in Rosslyn or 1 Gen Thai in Ballston come to mind. 1 Gen is more subdued than fun. Good food, though.

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Talking about their dolls and showing each other their various sets of clothes and wigs: Was it men with female dolls? or women with female dolls? Were they dolls or blowup dolls, if you know what I mean?

Julia: Yeah, this whole story is really bizarre.

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Washington, D.C.: I have 20 family members coming in from all over the East Coast this weekend. There will be 3 kids under 2, plus an 11 and 9 year old in the bunch. My plans were to head out to the Kite Festival on Saturday, but the weather looks bad. My backup plan would be to head to the National Bldg. Museum, but I'm afraid it'll be packed. Other rainy day options for a large group with restless toddlers? Thanks!

Stephanie: That is quite a crew! The Building Museum will definitely be crowded for the Cherry Blossom Family Day, but it will also probably be a lot of fun for the kids. Other spots to hit would be Air and Space (with the new How Things Fly exhibit) and Natural History, which are always a hit with the kiddies.

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Arlington: Brick walls, black couch here. We're talking a Friday night, so I know costs will be up. So, let's say, give me someplace I would want to go regardless of cost and someplace a little farther down the scale?

Fritz: Julia and I are working this one over. Nothing seems PERFECT, so we're going to throw out a couple of options and you can tell us what works.

Big problem is that lots of the nice, upscale lounges don't have TVs.

Town Tavern in Adams Morgan has a private area you can grab with couches, plenty of flat screens, etc. Exposed brick? Check. Upscale lounge? Not so much. Certainly convenient for barhopping, though.

If the game is the important thing, I'd steer you to one of the private areas at Velocity Five in Falls Church -- you can get your own room, or just a section of the large main bar room.

Bar Louie next to the Verizon Center is a huge space, with plenty of room, a classy wood-and-leather vibe and lots of TVs. Not much on the couches, though.

Both District Chophouse and Rock Bottom Bethesda have "brewer's lounges" with pool tables, couches, TVs, etc. I like the Chophouse's space better, but you can take over the whole thing for a couple hundred bucks of minimum tabs.

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Washington, D.C.: Please help! I missed the Food chat but I need to buy chocolate dessert shells. Any idea where around here I can get them (without a car)? You guys rock!

Julia: Lucky for you, I have a direct line to Ms. Bonnie Benwick of the Food chat! Anyway, we weren't totally sure what you were looking for. If it's dessert shells, like the kind of mini-cakes with the impressions in the top into which you can place food, I feel like they have those at Giant. Bonnie doesn't think those come in chocolate and says you could probably just make your own, by baking a batch of chocolate cupcakes and scooping out some of the top. If you're looking for a shell made of chocolate, we think ACKC might be able to help you. You also may want to call Heller's Bakery; they have all sorts of baked goods. Did this help at all? If not, e-mail me at julia (dot) beizer (at) washingtonpost.com. (I make no promises though! This is a toughie!)

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Washington D.C.: Wine bar dates > coffeehouse dates

Fritz: Or you could just go to the lovely little Sova on H Street and call it a draw.

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Dolls again: It was women with female and male dolls. Maybe a doll club of some sort? And they were like giant American Girl dolls, if anyone remembers them. Perhaps not lifesize, but at LEAST 3 feet tall.

Julia: Oh God, I have a really creepy childhood memory about those things coming back to me right now.

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Alexandria, Va.: Hi guys - Is there a regularly updated list anywhere of free stuff to do in the Washington area? If not, maybe you should start one! Thanks.

Fritz: We do this every Monday, and have for ... a long time. It's called Free and Easy.

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Washington, D.C.: Need a suggestion of where to grab some good food and watch the Missouri basketball game tonight? Preferably downtown, please.

Julia: First, allow me to plug my (awesome) sports bars with better food Go Out List. For downtown, I'd go with Penn Quarter Sports Tavern. Man, that burger's good.

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Why I hate coffee dates: I don't like to think of dating as so... focused. I don't like to think of dates as business transactions - an interview to see if the other person is the person of your dreams. Dating shouldn't be so business-like. I think relationships are formed more naturally. A coffee date is like an interview. I just hate when people take dating so seriously, like wanting to find out in the fastest and most efficient way possible whether the other person is "the one."

People focus too much on relationships and the need to have a sig other. So much so that they plan 3+ hours on a weekend day to the sole plan of going to drink one cup of coffee and have a forced conversation that is completely out of context of the rest of their lives.

The reason coffee irks me more than anything else, there is no experience aspect to it. At least with an activity, or trying a new food spot there is some sort of common shared experience which is a much more natural way to get to really know someone. If you must seek out a relationship, do it that way.

Fritz: Excellent points.

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Washington, D.C.: Sushi taro has reopened - here's my review:

They're doing a "soft open" this week -- in other words, you will not see an "Open" sign on the door, but the restaurant is, in fact, open for business.

As we had heard, prices have increased by about 50 percent. What used to cost $20 now costs $30+. While you probably won't feel comfortable completely stuffing yourself with raw fish anymore, remember that there is a Baskin-Robbins right next door to give you that must-loosen-belt feeling.

The new buildout and decor must have cost them a ton -- the restaurant now resembles an upscale New York Japanese restaurant, projecting a cozy urban vibe.

The sushi bar is history. All the cooking is done out of sight. There is only a 5 seat drink bar now. You won't be seeing the same chefs making your food anymore.

The quality of the fish remains the same, however, the new prices allow them to give you more expensive cuts. For example, my "Sushi B" platter included a piece of fatty tuna and a 6-piece fatty tuna roll. The miso soup is much improved -- its almost a miso-vegetable soup now. You also get a couple of tasty appetizers before they bring out your plate.

I'll miss the old Sushi Taro -- it always had a familiar, family-style vibe to it. This new rendition, while cozier and a lot more upscale, is best suited for special occasions methinks. Great place for a date-night -- as long as you eat ramen the rest of the month to save your pennies.

Julia: Thanks for the report. I gotta say, I really don't think this is going to work for me.

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Dolls: I can't believe no one from the doll group has spoken up. Is it possible that the doll and GOG crews don't overlap?? It can't be.

Julia: Yeah, seriously, doll group. Where you at?!

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Fairfax, Va. - Girls Night Out: I don't think they mind heading out to the city. I do know they want to dress up, not necessarily go dancing, but maybe a lounge type of place? Any suggestions would help. thanks!

Fritz: Ah, cool. Let's suggest Rice or Sei for dinner -- both have a cool, loungey vibe -- and then off to somewhere like Shadow Room, Josephine or the new Policy for the night. Policy may be fun actually, because then they can brag to their friends about how they hit "this cool new hotspot" that just opened.

Also, if they go that route, they may want to see about booking a table at the Gibson for some stylish pre-Policy cocktails.

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Coffee Dates: Had to chime in to defend them. First are they that much different from grabbing a drink? For people who don't drink or are cutting back -- it's a great alternative. Secondly they ARE perfect for Internet dating. If you have never done Internet dating don't knock the coffee date- internet dating can be time consuming, expensive and emotionally draining. Unless you meet the one right away you end up meeting tons of people -- coffee or tea is a good way to get to know someone in a low pressure environment. And isn't all post-college dating about trying to dazzle a person in a short amount of time? Whew! Glad I got that off my chest.

All that said I recommend Teaism too. Kramerbooks is fine. And Circa can be good for that sort of thing- a more intimate vibe.

Julia: You make some good points. I don't know about this: "And isn't all post-college dating about trying to dazzle a person in a short amount of time?" ... but I see what you're saying.

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Oh God, I have a really creepy childhood memory : I KNOW. I always thought that book with the big doll posed was creepy. Dolls, clowns, harlequins, mannequins, mimes, masks -- all very creepy for the same 'dead face' reason.

Julia: Totally.

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Coffee dates: I like them! No stress, no one getting accidentally drunk, no expense. I've had several where I was so thankful to be able to ask for the check after my third sip, and several where we ended up hanging out for hours afterward. It's already hard to meet someone; I'm not going to stress about the details. (This really goes for Internet dating... totally different if you've meet in person already!)

Julia: I think that's the conclusion we can draw from the answers we've gotten on this topic. Coffee dates: good for determining whether or not an Internet date is a potential criminal, not so much for romance.

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Washington D.C.: Hey there, Is there anywhere decent to play pool that doesn't charge more than $10 an hour for a table for two? I tried out Kokopooli's last weekend, but the drinks were so hilariously expensive that I'm never going back.

I'm sure you guys get this question all the time...

Fritz: Weekends = an excuse to raise prices. Best bet may be to find a dive bar with tables that take quarters -- Lil Pub, Hank Dietle's, Townhouse Tavern.

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Woodbridge, Va.: Can anyone recommend some non-chain restaurants in Prince William County? Thanks a bunch!!

Julia: Tom just did! Gave a rave review to Bistro L'Hermitage.

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Washington, DC: The BF's 30th birthday is coming up in about 3 weeks (weekend of April 18th). He's a huge beer fan, I'd like to take him to a tasting, dinner, brewery tour....anything beer related. Any ideas? thanks!

Fritz: Birreria Paradiso is doing a special dinner with the beers of the Stone Brewery on April 27. The 6:30 seating is already sold out, but there are still tickets for 9 p.m. I'd move on that.

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Coffee Date = ...: Ice Queen!

You want caffeine to break the awkwardness of a first date? Eeegads! You NEED alcohol people. Drink fast, take chances!

Anne: And there's the final take on coffee dates today. Ah, we love our chatters -- we raise a glass to you. See you next week.

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