Got Plans?

Video
Visitors and locals enjoy music and good weather at the Jefferson Memorial during the Cherry Blossom Festival on Tuesday.Video by Anna Uhls/washingtonpost.com2009 Cherry Blossom Festival Guide
The Going Out Gurus
of the washingtonpost.com Going Out Guide
Thursday, April 2, 2009; 1:00 PM

On Thursday, April 2, the Going Out Guide staff discussed your ideas for our upcoming happy hours, where to eat after the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run, the controversial practice of double-booking restaurants for the same night, whether a dinner locale can help you "make it" on a date, the integrity (or lack thereof) of Stubhub, where to find crushed ice and Fritz's feelings on being called Casanova.

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washingtonpost.com: Hey there chatters. Welcome to Got Plans? We have a full house here today, and we're ready to take your questions, but first a couple of announcements. Mark your calendars because a week from today -- April 9 -- we'll be hosting another installment of our monthly happy hours. This time, we'll be at Current. The festivities commence at 6 and early birds can take advantage of free sushi and skewers (while supplies last!) that will be passed, so you won't have to spend the evening in line waiting for food. There will also be drink specials: $6 Sapporo, $4 sake bombs and $5 specialty cocktails. But wait, there's more! We'll also be raffling off tickets to the sold out Lily Allen show on April 17 and tickets to Grapes With the Apes at the National Zoo on April 16. Announcement #2: Today during the chat we'll be giving away tickets to a movie screening at the Corcoran next Tuesday. Project Runway fans, this one's for you: the movie gives a behind-the-scenes look at the world of fashion. The chatter who submits the best idea for a theme and location for one of our monthly happy hours wins two tickets. All right, off we go.

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Critter Pants & Whale Dress: So Fritz. Did you fall for the April Fools Joke played by LNS yesterday? They sent out a mass email telling everyone they were opening up a new bar called "Country Club." Turns out it wasn't a new venue at all but the Lebanese Restaurant, Fettoosh in Georgetown. My friends went and said the falafels and baba ganoush were great!

Fritz: Nah, I thought it was pretty obvious that it was a April Fool's Day joke. Wonder how many people fell for it, though, after all the blog press.

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Windsor, CT: Hello.

Jen: And hello to YOU.

The Going Out Gurus: We always say hi back.

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Crystal City: Risky Business (theme) Rumors or McFaddens (enough said)

Mo' Money Mo' Problems at MoMo's on U Street

Stephanie: I'm concerned that the Risky Business theme would be an invitation for people to show up in their skivvies and wayfarers. I'm digging the MoMo's idea though.

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Washington, D.C.: Hello GOG's - Going out w/ group of early 30 yr olds to Penn Quarter on a Friday night for dinner/drinks. For the late night, can you recommend any good lounges in that area? Music wise we like house/techno/rap/rock. Thanks.

Fritz: I'm going out this week to check out Stir, the lounge that's replacing Indebleu. Can't tell you anything about it yet, obviously, but you might want to have that on your radar. For dancing, there's the now-sponsored-by-Hot-99.5 party at Lux Lounge, with an open bar from 9 to 11 and $3 Miller Lites all night. Crowd skews young, but there are three levels of dancing. (Free guest list at lindypromo.com) For the house/hip-hop side, there's Muse Lounge. The intimate three-level club is really at its best on Thursdays, but it's worth a shot, especially if you get the free passes from dcnites.com.

Actually, you could get on the list for both, and then bounce if you don't like the first one you visit. (Word of warning: Muse doesn't really get going until close to midnight.)

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Easter Brunch D.C.: Family is coming to town for Easter, and I have booked a table for brunch at Sequoia, thanks in large part to the view. Looks like they don't have a special Easter menu, and I've never had a meal there (just drinks etc). Am I setting us up for a disappointment? Or will the view be enough to make us forget any mediocre food? Or is the brunch actually pretty good?? Alternate suggestions welcome!

Julia: It's been a while since I've eaten at Sequoia, but I remember it being more in the "mediocre" category, as opposed to the "inedible," "foul" or "I can't even enjoy the view because the food is so bad" categories. So, I think brunch would probably be okay. Because aside from a few notable exceptions -- brunch is just-decent at most places. Anyone with more recent experience care to chime in with a yay or nay for this reader?

Other suggestions? Check out my where to get Easter brunch post. For a view, I might suggest any of the locations on our Best Bets for a View list. Oh, and Indigo Landing -- Tom gave them a not-so-glowing review last year, but I went for brunch and really enjoyed that. Last year, they did a $25 flat fee that included the entree of your choice and then a breakfast and dessert buffet. The entrees weren't so hot, but both spreads were worth the price of admission. And you can't beat the view there.

And now for this week's off-topic thread, I just found out that Anne is one of those people who books two tables at a restaurant and then cancels the reservation she doesn't want. I think that's great that she actually cancels those reservations, but I still don't really understand this practice. Why not decide on the restaurant at which you actually want to eat and then make a reservation...instead of the other way around? Please enlighten me. I find this double-booking practice really annoying.

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U Street: Hey Gurus, Sorry in advance for being unoriginal here, but I've gotta know -- any word on the Lady Gaga shows? I have tickets to tonight's early show and found out from text hidden in the weekly 9:30 email that it's postponed. Heard on gossip on why? When it's going to be? Got something else fun for me to do tonight? Thanks as always...

David: Yep, those Lady Gaga shows are postponed. It's because she had to skip town to be on some TV show last night, "American Idol" or something? No word on a make-up date yet, but info should be posted on the 9:30 Web site if/when it's figured out. As for what to do tonight, all of the options we wrote about in Nightlife Agenda get our stamp of approval. You might want to check out the Civilian Arts Spring Fling; lots of good local DJs, free food and cheap drinks.

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Washington, D.C.: GOG's any recommendations for non-cherry blossom related activities for a 10 year old and his hip aunt this weekend? He's visiting on his own from Iowa and beyond the parade I'm struggling for some special events...

Stephanie: Well the American Art Museum is hosting a Jazz Appreciation Month celebration on Saturday, which seems like I good bet if he's into music. If he's more into marine life (and you're willing to drive a little), the aquarium in Baltimore is also having a family fun day in honor of its new dolphin exhibit. Any chance he's into reptiles? If so, head to the Ripley Center for their Rainforest Alive exhibit with live snakes and iguanas.

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D.C., but not for long :(: Gurus--I am (sadly) leaving DC in about a week, so we're doing my going away Saturday. Plans are to head to Sticky Rice for dinner and crawl through H St. Any word on the opening of H St. Country Club? I reeeeally want to go before I leave and someone said it was opening early April?

Also, any fabulous farewell events for the daytime? I'm not sure if I can convince anyone to do the Cherry Blossom parade or not...

Fritz: I will believe the Country Club is open when I sink my first putt there. (Short answer: No golfing this weekend.)

For the daytime, a couple options that I think sound really interesting:

* The U.S. Naval Observatory's Open House, with tours -- including the atomic clock! -- followed by stargazing. (Okay, that's day AND evening, but still.)

* The Sakura Matsuri street festival, which has food from 20 Japanese restaurants, sake tasting, beer gardens, live music, martial arts demos, etc.

* Akiba, the festival of Japanese pop and rock bands at the University of Maryland, just because I'm curious.

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Happy Hour: Maybe it wouldn't work right away since I don't think it's open yet, but when Patty Boom Boom opens on U Street (possibly Piratz Tavern if you want to wander into Silver Spring), do a "Spring Break" themed happy hour in March/April/May for those of us who wish we got a spring break from work! Regale us with stories of the Gurus' escapades in undergrad and let the Red Stripe and Corona flow.

Less classy, but similar would be an "Old School" college theme at Kelly's Irish Times in the basement.

Can anyone tell I miss college?

Stephanie: Sounds like fun, and I nominate Fritz to tell crazy stories. Then I can keep my (hazy) Mardi Gras memories to myself.

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Dupont Circle: There's a show I want to see at Iota in May-Elvis Perkins. But I've never been and wasn't sure how this no tickets thing usually works. I hate to get out there and find it's sold out.

David: We get this question a lot, but I don't get sick of answering, so keep asking away! I do think that Elvis Perkins show in May will be a popular one and might sell out. So the best advice is to just get there early, around the time listed on the Web site (which is 8:30). Only in the rarest of rare cases -- Iron and Wine a few years ago springs to mind -- will there be a long line before door time. And as I always say, give a call to the venue a few hours before show time to see what kind of crowd they are expecting. They always have a good sense of what the turnout will be.

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Old Town Alexandria: I'm running the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler for the first time on Sunday. What should I expect - is the metro going to be insane? Do they have a bag check? And will all the local brunch places be so packed afterward that I should just go home and cook? Thanks!

Julia: Congrats! Steph and I are running it too! The Metro will not be too bad. Last year was my first time and I saw a bunch of people on my line (Green) with those silly little numbers affixed to their chests, but it wasn't wall-to-wall with people or anything.

They do have a bag check -- when you go to pick up your number on Saturday, the information in there will explain how to check your bags. (Actually, you can find all that info on this page.)

As far as local brunches, that's a tougher call. This came up in last year's chat around this time, as I recall. Most of the downtown/Penn Quarter spots are a little too nice to stroll in all sweaty and gross. After the Army 10 Miler, my man and I tucked into brunch at our neighborhood hangout Tonic, because we knew no one would care what we were wearing. If you'd like to stay in the downtown area, I'd go for a place like Matchbox.

I remember Anne (another runner in the guru group) saying last year she was generally too tired after races to go out to eat. I was for my first 10 miler. But after the second, I really felt like I earned that bloody mary.

Good luck!

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Re: Easter View: If the reader is looking for a good view I'd go to Tabaq although its been a little hit or miss lately.

Julia: Another suggestion.

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Happy Hour Suggestion: Gurus! Take advantage of one of the few months we will have perfect weather for an outdoor happy hour! You guys are popular so you need somewhere spacious... What about the Exchange near the WH?

(I know it gets crazy with softball and kickballers, but usually not until after their games are over - so happy hour timing might work!)

When I think theme I think of costumes, or theme-inspired dress at the very least. Despite being next to the White House, the Exchange has this set-away feel, like you are in a small town somewhere and not in the middle of DC. (I think its all the plastic chairs and tables.) So why not capitalize on that feel and do a regular summer country bbq theme? Food can be dogs, mini-burgers perhaps, potato salad/coleslaw (not sure where would cater that stuff) and people can dress in their jeans, gyms, and checkered shirts if they wanna go all out! We may even see a few braided pigtails or overalls mixed in! :)

Stephanie: Nothing says summer like hot dogs (or soy dogs, in Anne's case).

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Happy Hour location and theme: Happy Hour at the Birchmere. Theme, a bluegrass festival. Invite up and coming bluegrass musicians to play. Serve drinks in moonshine bottles. Snack on Gibbles Potato Chips (cooked, of course, in lard). The Birchmere is such a fun place.

Stephanie: That sounds like it could be an all-day event. I like!

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Bloomingdale: Happy hour theme: GOG's momo's-a-go-go. A gogo themed happy hour at momo's. This can be DC style gogo or laugh-in style gogo. Personally i just want to see fritz wearing thigh high boots while cage dancing or doin' da butt.

Stephanie: Um....wow.

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Arlington, Va.: Tonight is my 51st birthday. I would like a place that's got great chocolate desserts, not too noisy, not too pricey, pretty, and interesting for visiting cousins from Wales who are in D.C. for the first time. Thanks! BlueGreenMom

Julia: Tall order, Arlington. The loungey Co Co. Sala fits most of your criteria, except for the noise issue. If you go on the early side, it shouldn't be too loud. Price can be an issue here if you intend to eat a full dinner -- just because the savory options are *so* good in addition to being *so* small. It's interesting, though. Read the review I linked to above -- that should give you a pretty good sense of whether you think the place would work for you.

I'm completely cribbing this from our best desserts list. but perhaps the Majestic could be another option. Call to see whether chocolate features prominently on the dessert menu this month.

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U St. Playdate; Help Needed!: Hi! I am eagerly anticipating a half day off from work so I can be a kid again and need your help with my plans. I'm meeting up with friends for lunch at Ben's Chili Bowl on Wed, 4/08 and after that we're looking at 6 hours of drinking time to kill on U Street. Fritz, don't let me down! What suggestions do you have for two gals in their late 20s who want to spread out the hooky day in worthwhile bars? We'd like to stay in the area and are ending up at the 9:30 to see Neko Case. When in that area we normally tend to end up at DC9 and Velvet. Any suggestions for bars open during a Wednesday while the sun is out would be very very helpful.

Fritz: Let's see ... places open during the day on U. Cafe Nema for good Somali food and music -- really, you'd be better off going there and getting one of the lamb dishes than going to Ben's. The Saloon for great European beers, and since there's no TV, you and your friends can hang out and chat. And hey, here's your chance to go to Saint-Ex and not have to deal with crowds at the bar, so you can sip one of my favorite beers, the Six Points Toasted Lager, and watch the world go by. (Then pop next door to do some record shopping at Som.)

If the sun is out, I'd go to Nellie's and enjoy the roofdeck. If not, I'd probably head for Solly's for a cheap beer, or maybe the wine happy hour at Vinoteca.

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Anonymous: Hey GOGs! I would like to make a trip with the boyfriend to see the cherry blossoms this weekend but am trying to avoid a majority of the crowds. I've heard viewing them at night is the way to go, plus Saturday is supposed to be pretty decent weather. Thoughts? Any ideas for dinner/drinks at someplace cozy in that area? I know there are few choices, but we're willing to walk or drive for a good bite.

Anne: Oh yeah, definitely go at night to the Tidal Basin. It's a different experience than the daytime, but the blossoms are light-colored against the dark sky -- so pretty. Julia wrote about daytime eats within a mile of the Tidal Basin, but she had some other good ideas for posh weekend dinners. I'll let her recommend those.

Julia: Kaz Sushi Bistro: Not so great for ambiance, but amazing sushi! Could be a cute date spot. Equinox is a pricier but euqally good option (even the Obamas think so). Anyway, I know you're planning on Saturday, but for anyone else who's considering a Friday date, Equinox will be offering cherry cocktails and apps at the bar between 5 and 7. The cocktails are $10; snacks are free.

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Easter Brunch: Actually, you make fun, but McGinty's actually has pretty good food outside of its pub grub food, which is just okay. Seriously.

Julia: Having eaten there, I beg to differ. But hey, to each his own. I still think the restaurant's Easter plans are super cute.

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Fairfax, Va.: The kids are at sleepovers for the night and we are looking for something to do that is not a movie and not real expensive. Are there any good inexpensive shows that we could still get tickets for this Saturday night. Alternative suggestions are welcome.

Thanks a million

Stephanie: I'm totally intrigued by the Japanese style gameshow at the DC Arts Center on Saturday. It's definitely different but also budget-friendly. Another idea, also a bit offbeat, is Taffety Punk's Faithkiller. If you're willing to move away from theater, I also compiled a list of arts events for the weekend, and most of them are free.

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Washington, D.C.: Where can I find electroclash? I want to dress up and dance to fun beats.

David: Um ... at Five in 2003? Actually, you're in luck because the best band of that whole electroclash fad -- Ladytron -- is playing at the 9:30 club on April 14. It's been a while since I rocked "Playgirl" or "Seventeen" but I bet they still sound pretty great.

Fritz: I was just listening to old Ladytron the other day, and it's still great.

For electro, I'd look out for any parties the ladies of Garutachi are throwing at the Rock and Roll Hotel, or the occasional night at Jimmy Valentine's Lonely Hearts Club. Also, some nights at the Wonderland Ballroom.

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Happy hour: People, I'm begging you. Can at least a few groups consider days other than Thursday for happy hours?! I know it's the day most likely to bring people out... but I haven't been able to make it a GOG HH because there is always at least one other event scheduled on that Thursday. My social calendar is NOT that full, so I would love to be able to make it to everything! GOGs, this isn't directed only at you, I just wish more people would consider how booked Thursdays get. People need to drink on Wednesdays too!

Fritz: Thursday is pretty much always the busiest day in the Nightlife Agenda calendar, too. I think it comes down to everyone (promoters, bars, us) thinking that everyone makes plans early for Friday, since it's a big going out/date night, so it's easier to get them to come on Thursdays.

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In search of Romance, D.C.: GOGs - Have any of your ever been to Oya? I am looking for a nice romantic date spot for my new girlfriend, this is a make it or break it weekend...I'd prefer to make it. Thanks!

Julia: Oya is a lovely, totally romantic space. I just much prefer the food at Oya's new sister restaurant, Sei. Nearby, I also like Proof and Acadiana for date spots, but Oya and Sei (architecturally speaking) are, um, I guess I want to say, more intimate-feeling than those two.

Good luck on "making it"!

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Broadway Bou, ND: I'm arranging a theatergoing trip for two to NYC, and am looking for options for performances that are 'sold out' according to the official show sites. Have you bought tickets on Stubhub before? Ebay? Is this kind of thing legit? Any red flags to watch for?

Stephanie: I've never used Stubhub before, but as far as I know it's legit. Have any chatters had experiences with buying tickets on these kinds of sites?

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Re: Double or multiple restaurant bookings: Hi there,

I am camping in the side of I don't like the concept of double or multiple restaurant bookings. I simply don't understand the practice either. Pick one, please, for one night. Also, please please don't forget to cancel your reservation if you can't make the lunch or dinner. No, I don't work for any restaurant but I think it's rude not to; there may be other people who would like your spot. If I use Opentable.com and I have to cancel -- I also call the restaurant to let them know that I have to cancel. I'm not sure how long the lag time is between canceling on Opentable.com and the restaurant being made aware of the cancellation. I just figure it's a good practice.

Thank you

Julia: Thank you! So glad someone understands. For what it's worth, I interviewed some guy from OpenTable not too long ago and, as I recall, the booking/canceling process is instantaneous. Opentable is more than just the Web site. It also provides the computer booking system the restaurants use. That being said, I think your seatbelt+airbag approach is a good one. I mean, it takes a second to call and it's just a small bit of courtesy toward the restaurant and your fellow diners.

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Thanks for the Mammaries!: I know you guys don't appreciate plants but this isn't one, just a good cause!

Cocktail party at Science Club on Saturday from 6 pm - 9 pm - all proceeds go to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

We are going to raffle a number of fantastic prizes including a session with professional photographer Sandra Marr of Synapse Photo, a wine lovers gift basket, and an Ocean City vacation package.

A $10 donation is requested for entry and raffle tickets will each cost $1.

Fritz: People, we're begging you: Please send us events more than two days in advance.

But you know we're suckers for charity bar nights.

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Chocolate Desserts: Buzz in Alexandria has some really good chocolate desserts right now - the chocolate peanut butter bombe is perfect. I also secretly loved their March Madness cupcake - chocolate with peanut butter icing...and bacon.

Just trust me on that one...

Julia: I have to say I am just grossed out enough by your description of the March Madness cupcake to try to rush in there any get one before the season ends. Buzz isn't exactly a dinner spot, but if the Mom in question wants some chocolate to go, definitely give the bakery a try.

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Stubhub : My husband and I used Stubhub last summer to get tickets to a sold out NY Yankees game. It was easy to use and the tickets were great, though on the expensive side (in my opinion, not my husband's).

Stephanie: One vote for the validity (though maybe not the pricing) of Stubhub.

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Arlington, Va.: Hey gurus! Any comments on the closing of Murky Coffee? I avoided going there after reading about what a jerk the owner is to his patrons, but look forward to anything new that's going in there!

Julia: Actually, your question was the first David or I had heard of this. And we both thought it was really weird because we randomly both drove by there today. Anyway, according to Murky's site, Liberty Tavern's people will be carrying on the coffee tradition in the space once Murky relocates to D.C.

And I know Nick got a pretty bad rap for a certain blogorific dustup last year, but I always found service at Murky (all locations) to be pretty typical of coffeeshop culture, not anything particularly egregious.

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Washington, D.C.: Is there a club around here I can go to and feel like I'm in an old movie?

Fritz: Yes -- the swanky art-deco Carlyle Club in Alexandria feels like something out of a 1930s movie, from the sconces to the curved leather booths to the jazz that's usually playing on the stage. Wait until Doc Scantlin and his Imperial Palms Orchestra are on the calendar again, then go check out the show: Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington numbers, dancing cigarette girls, Doc's over-the-top mugging and a fantastic swinging brass section.

Doc just played two weeks ago, and I don't see him on the calendar this month, but seriously: This is worth your time and money.

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Re: this is a make it or break it weekend...I'd prefer to make it. : Your new girlfriend should like you regardless of whether or not you pick the "perfect" romantic place to take her!

This is the problem with relationships, people try too hard to plan everything out and make it perfect, or to force relationships to start (coffee dates). If it will happen it will happen, don't put so much pressure on yourself.

Worry about being yourself and getting to know the person - the make it or break it should be whether you two click or not!

Fritz: My sentiments exactly. People stress too much about dates. If you're just doing something that's not YOU to impress her, well, she's going to find out eventually.

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Washington, D.C.: Ok, might be lame and contrived, but a crazy hat themed happy hour at the Mad Hatter is easy, cheap, and could work.

Stephanie: Don't be so hard on yourself D.C. I like the idea. Though in the spirit of the Mad Hatter, maybe a mad tea party is in order as well?

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Washington, DC: I'm moving to a new place near Mt. Vernon Square, and would like to find a new home at a neighborhood bar. Any suggestions?

Rhome: I'm assuming we both have the same neighborhood bar requirements: Easygoing, friendly atmosphere and good staff. Some place that can be like a second living room when you don't feel like hanging out at home.

The newest Busboys and Poets comes to mind as a first pick, especially since the last time I went there the outdoor patio was perfect for the first warm day of spring and the server was a hoot.

Also check out the happy hours at Vegetate. Old Dominion Brewhouse could be of use if you're looking to get your sports viewing on.

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Manscaping : So I have a "friend" who is heading to the beach. This "friend" has a particularly hairy back. Where would a man go to...resolve this issue?

Fritz: Tell your "friend" to go to the Grooming Lounge (D.C. or Tysons), where they'll take care of all your waxing needs.

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Rockville: Me, my husband, and my one-year-old would like to do the cherry blossom thing on Monday. I assume this means Metro, especially on a work day. But since we'll have a stroller, I don't want to leave during rush hour, but since we'll have to park, we kinda have to, right? What's the best way to do this? Thanks!

Fritz: You can park down on Haines Point, in East Potomac Park, and the Park Service runs free shuttles to the Tidal Basin. That's what I'd do with the stroller.

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Curious: You always talk about the best places to do this or that. I'm curious which places you hear the most complaints about, so I know which places to AVOID.

Fritz: Ooh, this is a good question. I'd say that in terms of reader complaints both in the "write your own review" section of our profiles and in private correspondence to me, I hear more negative feedback about the Park at 14th than most places these days. A lot of it is about door policies and prices -- "they wouldn't let me in, even though I was dressed nice," "the drinks were small for $10," "the bouncers were rude," "they said so-and-so celebrity was hosting the party but I never saw them."

Julia: This is a dangerous question. The places I get the most complaints about in person are Bebo Trattoria and Ray's the Steaks -- both for service. The thing about those places -- at least the latter one -- is that they also have their staunchest defenders. For every Ray's hater you will find at least 2 lovers. Fact.

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Stubhub: It's legit. They have a phone number to call if your ticket isn't valid, so they stand behind the sale. With that said, it's more expensive than most other options.

Now, if there were only good single Frozen Four tickets being offered now...

Stephanie: Thanks for chiming in guys. It looks like everyone has had good (but pricey) experiences on Stubhub.

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Latin Flavor: My parents are taking me out to dinner tonight to celebrate my 30th birthday. My step-dad is from Chile and recommended either Ceiba or Cafe Atlantico. I've never been to either. Which one do you recommend? Or is there something else with a South American flair? I want to do something different than the usual steak dinner.

Julia: I tend toward Cafe Atlantico. I like both the space and the food a little bit better. It'll be a great birthday dinner for sure.

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Iota doesn't sell tickets: You have to show up and pay a cover. If you're worried about it selling out then get there early. They have surprisingly good food for a bar.

Fritz: I'll second the food at Iota. Just call ahead and make sure you know what time they start selling tickets. I almost missed a show once because I was eating when tickets went onsale, and didn't notice people filing into the concert hall. Whoops.

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Reston: Any ideas on a fun brunch place for Easter. Nothing in a hotel please. Thank you!

Julia: Funny -- because the "most fun" Easter brunch I wrote about in the post I linked to above was both a) in Reston and b) at a hotel. But it also had a petting zoo, which is oh-so-cute for kids.

Also in your neck of the woods, Jasmine Cafe could work. It's a small place for sure, but I've always liked the midday meals there.

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Quandry in Arlington : So here it is: I've been planning my husband's 30th birthday celebration for the past year. Its nothing fancy, just dinner a Fogo De Chao (he's always wanted to go) with a semi-large group of close friends who get to roast him, and a fun birthday cake made by the same person who made our wedding cake (delicious!). Here's the problem - all of his friends are turning 30 this year, and with each birthday comes another celebration ranging from dinner at Palm Restaurant or a long night and an expensive bar or club. What is the proper etiquette when you still want to do something extra special (we normally don't celebrate his birthday), but everyone else feels entitled to one as well, and this group of friends is not made of money? Does my husband lose out because everyone else's birthday comes before his?

Fritz: I think you pick a date in the middle and just have a big party for all the birthday boys, then just do a happy hour or go to a concert or something for the individual special days. Ain't no shame in trying to save money when we're in a recession, and this keeps people from having to turn down celebrations that show up later in the year.

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Anonymous: yes! and the specialty drink at the tea party at the mad hatter can be that firefly iced tea flavored vodka...with finger sandwiches and little pastries! Everyone looks hotter in a hat!

Stephanie: I think I can say with complete certainty that I don't look better in a hat. But Fritz approves of the firefly vodka shout-out.

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Woodley Park: I am very curious about Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, since you mentioned it earlier. Is it worth it? Is it PACKED?

Fritz: Thousands of people usually turn out, especially if we have (fingers crossed) nice weather, but since it's spread out over multiple blocks, it's not a mob scene, though you may have to wait for a seat in the Kirin beer garden.

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Fritz = cassanova: I bet you plan the best dates, b/c you know everywhere in the city!!! And you seem to have a wide variety of interests so you'd probably keep it interesting.

Fritz: Well, I ain't much on Casanova, and me and Romeo ain't never been friends.

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Washington D.C.: I'm looking for some dancing lessons where I can learn moves such as the Charleston and the Chattanooga Choo-Choo. Any ideas?

Fritz: Uhhhh .... pardon me, but what the heck is the chattanooga choo-choo?

For old-school Charleston, I'd contact the teachers at the Jam Cellar, the kick-butt Lindy Hop night at the Josephine Butler Center on Tuesday nights. They do month-long classes. (And I'm not just saying that because they occasionally ask me to DJ there.)

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Arlington, Va.: My brother, sister-in-law, 3-year-old niece, and 11-month-old nephew are visiting in a couple of weeks. I'm looking for a couple of good, family friendly outdoor weekend activities that will entertain wee ones and not bore the adults. Could you also suggest a few indoor alternatives in case the weather does not cooperate? Both kids are very well-behaved (and ridiculously cute -- had to throw that in as a completely unbiased aunt!), but I'm gearing more towards the niece since the nephew is too young to articulately express his opposition to any plans. The only stipulation is that my brother doesn't want to drive long distances, which would probably equate to over 25 minutes with traffic. The zoo, a picnic on the mall, and The Awakening are already on my list of outdoor possibilities, but I'm stumped on interesting child-friendly places that aren't Smithsonian museums. Thanks in advance for your brilliant suggestions!

Anne: All swell ideas (and Natural History would be great, too). Remember, though, that the Awakening isn't on Hains Point anymore -- it's at National Harbor now. Just want to make sure that fits within your 25-minute-drive limit, and it probably should. We're getting into the months of lots of outdoor festivals, so tell me which weekend they're coming and I can get more specific picks for you -- for example the last Sunday of April, there's always a festival at the Folger. For places you can go to anytime, I'd put the Clemyjontri playground and a trip to Eastern Market on your list. Indoors, I'd go to the American Art/Portrait Gallery -- the kids can run in the giant indoor courtyard, and portraits are art that appeals to all ages.

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Alexandria: Hi all - I'm looking for a restaurant in the general Alexandria area to take my boyfriend for his birthday. Something nice, doesn't have to be super expensive. We like checking out new restaurants, but lately have been disappointed by places like Jackson 20 and Vermilion (great menus, but the food doesn't really live up to its potential). In case you can't tell, we love Southern food (Evening Star and Rustico are favorites), but are also open to other cuisines. Thanks for your help!

Julia: Not southern, but I really like the informal Brabo Tasting Room. Robert Wiedmaier's tarts and mussels in a casual, but still sort of festive atmosphere. The Brabo by Robert Wiedmaier is probably a better bet for a birthday, but, I just like the vibe at the tasting room better. Fontaine is definitely less formal (and super cheap), but it feels really cozy at dinner time. Once again, maybe not a birthday-dinner place, but definitely worth checking out.

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Hungover, DC: Hi GoGs. Any idea where a guy could score a big fountain soda with crushed ice around town? I'm kind of craving Sonic, but driving to Fredericksburg seems a bit out of the question. Any crushed-ice locales closer to town?

Julia: I can't think of any, but I sure wish I could help just because I think this question is so awesome. 7-11 may be your best bet. Feel better, dude. Oh wait -- maybe Checkers down on NY Ave by Route 50?

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Washington, D.C.: I know you have answered this many times, but for some reason I cannot find the reference on your site. Can you please tell me somewhere that a group of girls in their 30s can go to hear 80s music on Saturday night? Thanks

Fritz: Washington has a dearth of good '80s music DJ nights these days. I'd suggest going out to Leesburg -- look, it's an adventure -- and checking out the Reflex, a pretty good '80s "tribute" band, at Bunker Sports Cafe.

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Washington, D.C.: A suggestion for the 30th birthday crowd. If this is a crowd with a huge amount of overlap, and everyone is attending everyone's else's party, why not agree that the birthday person picks up the tab for their own party? That way if someone decides they want to go all out for something like the Palm, they pay. If everyone chooses reasonably priced places, and everyone attends each party, each person would be paying the same in the long run regardless. But this way, you don't have to deal with splitting the bill and you aren't stuck paying for someone else's choice of a fancy place for their party.

Fritz: Man, that's a good idea. I wish I'd thought of it.

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Northern Virginia: Hey Gurus,

I'm a middle aged guy, and my new girlfriend is visiting in April. She's staying close to 14th and M street NW in DC. Are there any dark sexy spots where we can sit close and not turn too many heads? Thanks!

Julia: For the benefit of the general public, I think I should start by advising you that if you want to sit that kind of close, maybe staying in is your best option.

If not, snag a reservation to the Gibson and enjoy dim lights, conversation and great cocktails.

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Crushed ice: The little cafe at the bottom of the CNN building has crushed ice.

Julia: You guys never cease to amaze me.

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Kid Friendly Eats near Rock & Roll Hotel?: We're going to Baby Loves Disco for the first time in a couple weeks, and while we'd love to have Belgian beer for lunch beforehand at Granville Moore's, it's not exactly a kid-friendly place. Where can 3 adults and 4 kids under age 6 get lunch in the area?

Julia: Bummer. Napa 1015 is probably your best bet in the area and it isn't open Saturdays. Taylor Gourmet is small, but it might work for you guys. I'd call first to see if they can accommodate your party.

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15th and L St: Dinner reservations at Founding Farmers tonight but want to go somewhere for Happy Hour first. Best wine happy hour deal between McPherson and Founding farmers on a Thursday night? Thanks

Fritz: I like the half-priced wine and cocktails at Circle Bistro on Washington Circle. If you can to detour up to Vidalia for the free wine tasting, that's always a good idea, too.

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Fellow crushed ice lover: No fountain soda, but Port City Java in Eastern Market has crushed ice -- it's basically the reason I go there...

Julia: Ha! Another crushed ice locale.

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Happy Hour : Furries party at the Zoo Bar across the street from the zoo!

Stephanie: Just under the wire.

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Washington, DC: Trying to think of something fun and relatively cheap to do tonight with my girlfriend that is not getting drinks or seeing a movie. We live in the Adams Morgan/Dupont area, any suggestions?

Fritz: I like the sound of Civilian Art Projects' fundraiser at Local 16: $10 donation gets you music from six top DJs, free food and happy hour drink prices from 6:30 to 11, and you can check out works by some very cool local artists. There's also an photography exhibit opening at Tryst tonight with the band Laughing Man, who I really enjoyed when I saw them at Comet Ping Pong a few weeks ago -- a melenge of soul, alternative rock and the avant-garde.

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Washington D.C.: OK GOGs -- son is turning 21 this weekend would like to take him out for a nice dinner money not an issue but I don't think BLT $1,500.00 minimum and fixed menu is what I want. Maybe a party of between 8-10 people. Open to what ever you guys can come up with. Thanks.

Julia: Hey, hey, all caps! We didn't see this one before. Whatever you do, make a reservation soon. This weekend is cutting it close. Bistro du Coin, DC Coast or Acadiana could be a good bet if you want to splurge. Fogo de Chao is another pricey option -- but it has the major upside of getting to select your dinner from skewers of meat. If you wanted something a little less expensive (maybe for your son and his peers), what about L'Enfant for Belgian beers and entrees? It's right at the bottom of Adams Morgan, so your son and his friends could go hit the bars afterward. It's not fine dining like the other options, but it's got a cozy feel.

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Murky: Wow - you guys fell for the April Fools joke too! Or you did a good job perpetuating it...

Julia: Sorry folks. According to the manager Travis who I just spoke to they are in fact moving....by the end of this month.

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Palisades: Brunch on Sundays - Afterwords or Perry's?

I've never been to Perry's but I've heard about it for years. Afterwords gives you a mimosa or bloody mary with their brunch (or at least they used to). It's a big decision, especially considering Sunday is supposed to be the nicest day of the weekend.

Thanks!

Julia: Well, you can't see the drag show from Perrys roof, if that's what you're after, but I'd have to go with Perrys on this one. Afterwords is good, but, you know, Perrys has a show!

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washingtonpost.com: Thanks all for your great happy hour suggestions. The lucky winner of the movie screening tickets is Crystal City, who came up with the Risky Business theme at Rumors. The winner should email us at events@washingtonpost.com with the subject line: I Won the Corcoran Tickets. Get excited for our Happy Hour a week from today, and we'll chat with you next week.

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Re: Murky: Okay, you can't just post comments about Murky's owner being a "jerk to his patrons" without posting the other side. I would argue that reacting to a customer who immediately started shouting and swearing because Murky wouldn't make his disgusting off-menu drink is perfectly reasonable. Not to mention that this customer also left a note in the tip jar -- hint, the letter "F" was involved -- and proudly bragged about his jackholiness on his blog.

I'm not affiliated with Murky in any way; I don't even live near the place. I'm just sick of seeing rude, entitled, self-righteous %$&@-off customers treat people like garbage and then have the nerve to play the victim.

Julia: Hold on. I actually posted a link to the Washington Post story that very clearly explained the "other side" of that story. And in my response I acknowledged that the shop got a "bad rap" for the incident, one that I didn't think it deserved. So, before you get mad at me, read my response carefully. Thanks.

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Washington, D.C.: And now I have "Cassanova" in my head. I hope you're happy, Fritz.

Fritz: Oh, I am. I am.

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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. If you're looking for more ideas, see the Going Out Guide or read transcripts of past Got Plans? discussions.

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