Got Plans?

The Going Out Gurus
of The Washington Post's Going Out Guide
Thursday, May 28, 2009 1:00 PM

The Going Out Guide staff talked about pool parties, romantic brunches and dating co-workers on Thursday, May 28 at 1 p.m. ET.

____________________ There's a good buzz of energy going in GuruLand today. Fritz is back from the beach, Artomatic is about to kick off, David's been working hard on a guide to summer concerts for you (stick around to see it later today) and summer seems actually here. Ooh, and for you recessionistas, have you seen our new Free and Cheap D.C. guide? (We're psyched about that.) What are you up to this week? And who's watching the spelling bee?


Falls Church, Va.: Hey Gurus. I've read the Cupcake Wars thoroughly. But it's six months old. I am looking for the best Red Velvet cupcakes. What say you? Thanks!!

Julia: Red Velvet is my favorite kind of cupcake, Falls Church. I adore the ones at Georgetown Cupcake, made with dark luscious chocolate. The ones at the aptly named Red Velvet Cupcakery (Fritz hates that word) are good too, but go in the morning for the best results. (Check out our Best Cupcakes Best Bets List for more ideas.)


Adams Morgan: I adored the Omni Shoreman brunch/pool deal last summer. I know they cut it off early because it was so popular (maybe this was 2 summers ago ... I forget). Any chance they are going to do it again this year? Or is there anything else that is similar? I've checked out the list of places you can buy a day pass to the pool, but the brunch and scene at the Omni was quite amusing.

Fritz: The biggest/best replacement right now is the Spike'd Sundays at the Capitol Skyline Hotel near the Navy Yard -- they're hosting a weekly pool party and cookout with burgers made by Spike Mendelsohn of Good Stuff/"Top Chef" fame. The $10 cover includes a burger and unlimited swimming/lounging by the pool, and drinks are going to be a very reasonable $5 or less.

It starts this Sunday, so I'm going on the PR info I got, but it sounds like fun.


Washington, D.C.: All-knowing gurus, please help. I turn 21 two weeks from Saturday, and I would love to celebrate with both my of-age and underage friends. Hawk n Dove is our usual standby for these types of things, but I'm guessing it's going to be packed with interns, and I'd like somewhere different anyway. Is there anywhere else with a similar bar/dancing atmosphere that could accommodate about 35 of us?

Fritz: "Underage" is the hard part. As I noted in the chat two weeks ago, it's hard to find Saturday night options for the under-21 crowd; most 18-and-over nights are on Thursdays. You could try Glow at Fur for the cavernous-club-with-electronic-dance-music scene, or maybe the Black Cat for the ever-popular Mousetrap indie/Britpop dance night. I expect we'll hear from more promoters and venues offering 18-and-over dance nights to capitalize on the intern crowd, but for now, you'll need an ID to go to most places on Saturday nights.


Washington, D.C.: I'm looking for a venue for my rehearsal dinner in October of this year. We'll have about 50 people and would like a private or semi-private area. Our rehearsal will be at St. John's in Lafayette Square, so we're really open to any location in the metro area though we'd prefer Virginia over Maryland because our guests will be staying in Arlington. The wedding is formal, so we'd like a venue where we wouldn't look overdressed coming from the rehearsal. Any ideas?

Thanks in advance!

Julia: Is that the adorable yellow church? If so, what a great venue! I'm a broken record on Eventide in this here chat, but I really think they'll have what you need. The restaurant could easily accommodate a rehearsal dinner crowd behind its lovely long blue curtains. Tallula could be another option, though not easily Metro accessible. Should you choose to stay in Washington, DC Coast is near your venue and might be a good choice. A friend of a friend recently got a GREAT rehearsal dinner deal at Morton's, so you might consider that as well.


Ellicott City, Md.: We're African American, age 45-ish. We're going to visit the National Harbor for the first time. Which restaurants are worth a try? What else is there to do?

Julia: Sadly, the restaurants in National Harbor haven't been bringing in the best reviews. Can't say I've eaten around much there, but my colleague Tom Sietsema thought Old Hickory Steakhouse was worth a try.


Summer Bummer, D.C. : I just wanted to pour one out for 2 of my favorite D.C. summer pastimes that gone - Screen on the Green and Shakespeare in the Park. R.I.P. homies.

Stephanie: Don't get too down, D.C. There are other options (though I admit, I'm a little bummed too). For alternatives to Screen on the Green, check out Fritz's blog post about other outdoor movie series. As for theater, even though Shakespeare in the Park has moved indoors, Olney Theatre still has their free outdoor performances. Catch Much Ado About Nothing in August. And there's one other free Shakespeare performance coming up (though this one's inside): Harman Hall is opening up final rehearsals of King Lear to the public.


22201: The obligatory H St CC question: Did it actually open yesterday? And is it going to be 21-and-up, or will there be times when it is "all ages"?

Fritz: It's open. I haven't been yet -- just got back from the beach and missed the opening festivities -- but apparently it was pretty busy last night.

The plan right now is that the first floor, where you'll find the dining room, pool, skee-ball, etc. -- will be 18-and-over if you're accompanied by a parent or guardian, but the golf course itself will remain 21-and-over only.


Arlington, Va.: Gurus, I'm introducing a co-worker to Jazz in the Sculpture Garden this Friday and wanted an idea on a reasonably priced place to get dinner afterwards, somewhere within walking distance.

Julia: Tough call. As you know, there aren't a lot of reasonably priced eateries very close to the Mall. I'm fond of Harry's Restaurant and Saloon for a cheap burger and a beer. Be forewarned -- they call the divey restaurant a saloon for a reason. Sit outside for a better atmosphere.

Nando's is further away, but another good option.


Red Velvet Cupcakes: By far my favorite type of cupcake...and by far, the best come from Baked and Wired.

Julia: I respectfully disagree, but B and W does a mean strawberry! I'll give you that! Baked and Wired also has the advantage of being right near lovely picnic spots around the canal.


For the Rehersal Dinner Gal: A little out of the way, but maybe Dino's in Cleveland Park? We did a Board of Directors dinner and they bent over backwards to help us out, and everyone raved about the food and service afterwards.

Julia: A rave about Dino!


Too old for clubs, too young for the home, Va.: Hey GOGs!

I am a female in my late 20s that likes to go out and have a good time, but can NOT stand clubs/club scene.

I am looking for suggestions for two things: 1 - a nice relaxed dive-y type bar, where you can get to know the bartenders and other regulars, don't get hit on by skeevy interns (sorry boys, this girl is taken), has decent food but don't have to pay $6 for a Miller Lite. 2 - a fun lounge type of bar/restaurant-with-bar type of establishment that when I want to dress up with my other mid 20's girl pals for good cocktails or wine that is resonably priced.

For the bar, I had enjoyed Finn's, Nick's and Tune Inn in the past - but looking for new places.

For the lounge type place - I have tried Proof, Asia Nine Bistro, and Sonoma's - okay but always wayyy crowded.

Anywhere in Arlington (wilson corridor hopefully) or D.C. that is metro accessible (and not in the more seedy areas). Help???

Fritz: I'm sticking with Arlington for my answers here:

1. I'd go with Jay's Saloon, which is one of the last real non-yuppie neighborhood bars in Clarendon. Very cheap beer and a good crowd of regulars -- I've sat between plumbers and bankers at the small counter. It's a dive, but a fun one, with oldies and classic rock playing and a cool astroturf-covered front patio. Runner up would be the hipper but no-less-laidback Galaxy Hut.

2. Try Yaku, the latest restaurant and lounge from the Chi-Cha/Gua-Rapo empire. Great menu of Chilean/Chinese-influenced cocktails, laden with fresh spices and infused liqueurs. The outdoor patio is large for the Court House area, and there are DJs on weekends if you want a cool, sexy house vibe.


18 and over Nights: Why are you saying that only Thursday nights are 18+? Ultrabar is 18+ for girls the whole weekend, both Friday and Saturday. As a matter of fact, even for the guys, I've seen several with X's on their hands on Fri./Sat. at Ultrabar.

Fritz: I'm going to assume for a second that someone who's turning 21 and wants to invite friends under 21 isn't only inviting women.

I don't know about what you saw, but Ultrabar's official policy, according to owners and managers that I've spoken to, is that guys have to be 21 on Friday-Saturday.

Also, on a personal note, I find the idea of underage girls surrounded by older guys slightly sketchy.


For the Jazz in the Garden Goer: There is the Pavillion Cafe right at the Sculpture Garden. The Teaism at Penn Quarter/Navy Memorial could be another nice but reasonable option.

Julia: Thanks for the suggestions.


Arlington, Va.: Fritz, as a fellow Maryland boy I'm not sure if you grew up an O's fan or not. Will you be heading up to Baltimore for the Wieters debut and hitting the bars around the stadium this weekend? Even if not, what is your favorite Baltimore bar?

Fritz: I had birthday parties at Memorial Stadium as a kid, but I've gotten less enthused with the O's over the years, thanks to Peter Angelos. I still do love Camden Yards, though.

My favorite Baltimore bars: The Brewer's Art in Mt. Vernon, the Wharf Rat in Fells, Mum's in Federal Hill. Near the stadium, I'm dying to check out the Pratt Street Ale House, the former Wharf Rat on Pratt Street.


Oh please: "Just back from the beach" - Fritz, please tell me you weren't in Dewey... ugh.

Fritz: Not really, no. Spent more time going out in Fenwick and Bethany than Dewey.


Hickory, N.C.: Hi: I was thinking about checking out the Artomatic show this weekend. Any ideas about what's worthwhile?

Stephanie: There's so much going on at Artomatic that it would be hard to give recommendations on the art front even after going there (though I'm going to try, so stay tuned for a blog post early next week), much less before I've had a chance to check things out. In the nightlife agenda, David made a few recommendations for music (and "audio-visual-live-electro projects"), including Petworth, 302 Acid and Milkmachine. I'm also pretty stoked about seeing short films from local filmmakers, which you can catch on Friday.


Chevy Chase, Md.: Going to Kinkead's Saturday with a group of six (my parents, sister and husband, and my fiance)-- with a 7:30 reservations. We were looking for any place to have a nightcap nearby after dinner. Parents aren't stuffy so anything not too divey is fine. Live music a bonus. Help?

Julia: The bar at Founding Farmers strikes me that it might work well for your group. Here's a map of some nearby bars. Of these, I'd guess Science Club could be the most parent-friendly, but I'd be interested to hear what Fritz thinks.

Fritz: I love the bar at Founding Farmers, and I find it's easier to get in on weekends than fighting the after-work crowds during the week. Great seasonal cocktails.

Science Club would be an interesting place to go with parents, though you might have to head down to the basement bar if you need to talk. I'd also put the late-night happy hour at Ceiba on your list.


D.C.: Your opinions on "going out" with a coworker? Don't do it where you eat or okay if you're both adults? There's super-cute, super-sweet girl in the cube next to me and I'm dying to ask her for a drink.

Julia: I think it's okay, but tread cautiously. The thing you need to know is not whether you act like adults before going out; it's whether you act like adults *after* going out. And there's no way to know in advance how either of you will react if the drink-date goes awry. I'd start this relationship out on a friendship tip first, but I'd be interested to know what the chatters think.


Proof positive, please: Hi all. Is Proof still really good these days? I've always had a good experience with their wine; however, have always been skeptical of the food (not for any particular reason other than if they do wine well, maybe the food not-so-well). I think it's pretty expensive so I'd prefer not to make a "mistake" if I can avoid doing that. Thanks.

Julia: It's been a few months since I've had a full meal at Proof, but I've never had a bad one. Guru Jen just dined there a week or two ago and had a great experience. My take on Proof is that if you like that seasonal, California-esque food that goes really well with wine, you'll like it.


Pirates: So I feel like dressing up as a pirate and drinking some grog. Would Piratz Tavern or Urban Pirates Cruise be any fun? Or maybe I should just throw my own Pirate party?

Fritz: The Urban Pirates' "BYO Grog" cruises could be fun with the right group of people, or a living RenFest nightmare on the high seas with no means of escape.

As for Piratz -- well, the food is bad, the rum drinks are good, and the clientele is interesting. I mean, there are people who go drink there on Friday nights in full pirate garb. I thought they were staff on break at first, but no -- they were just customers.


Silver Spring, Md.: Are there any outdoor movie festivals in the D.C. metro area that will take place this summer?

What about free concerts?

Jen: There are indeed many outdoor movie festivals. We've got a few listed on the site, with more to be added once we get details. Among your options: I Love the '80s every Friday in Rosslyn, the Crystal Screen series in Crystal City and the Comcast Film Fest in Bethesda in August.

David: Here's a big list of free summer concert series. Honestly, D.C. probably has the worst free summer music offerings of any major city. There are some good ones, like Jazz on the Mall, but it's mostly just a lot of the same old same old. I'm not expecting to compete with New York, but I mean, even Pittsburgh has the Three Rivers Arts Festival.


Bawlmer Bars: Don't forget the Mt. Royal Tavern. In what other neighborhood dive bar can you sit in a rowhouse with a 100 year old bar and the ceiling painted like the Sistine Chapel? It is for locals though, so expect to see neighbors and MICA students only.

Fritz: You are correct. Very cool place, though pretty small.


Maryland: I am looking for a romantic place for brunch on Saturday in DC. I've heard mostly good things about Blue Duck Tavern and Tabard Inn. Any other ideas?

Julia: I think Tabard should fit your needs. Let me ask you something, though: what makes a brunch romantic? Don't think I've ever had a romantic brunch....


Alexandria, Va.: It's my understanding that the gurus get the occasional question about mechanical bull rides in the D.C. area. Tonight is everyone's chance. Whitlow's on Wilson and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society are sponsoring $10 mechanical bull rides and drink specials tonight (Thursday) at Whitlow's from 7:00 to midnight. All proceeds go to LLS. It's not a shameless plug if it benefits a charity, right?

Fritz: Good cause and a mechanical bull -- it's a plug, but definitely not shameless.


Alexandria: What's the story with Birch and Barley - any idea of when it will actually opens?

Fritz: "Mid-to-Late Summer," is as close to exact as I can get, which makes me think September.


Arlington, Va.: Hi Gurus,

My sister is coming into town this weekend, and she's expressed interest in a bike ride around D.C. Where's the best place to rent bikes, if we want to explore on our own and not be part of a tour group?

Stephanie: That's a great way to see the city. I'd recommend Big Wheel Bikes or Thompson's Boat Center. Also, I know you said you don't want to be part of a tour group, but Walkingtown, DC is this weekend with tons of free walking tours, plus a few bike tours that sound pretty interesting.


Logan Circle: RE:Also, on a personal note, I find the idea of underage girls surrounded by older guys slightly sketchy.

It's for comments like these that I wish you guys had a "like" feature similar to the one on facebook.

Fritz: Ha.

But seriously, it always makes me wonder -- why are you cool with 19-year-old girls being in a bar or club and trusting them not to drink, but don't want 20-year-old guys dancing and having a good time.

I know what the "official" answer will be, because I've asked it before from owners/promoters of other bars: guys under 21 don't behave themselves. (Of course, guys who are 22 and 23 don't behave either, as any Adams Morgan bouncer will tell you.)

The real answer is probably as sketchy as you think it is.


Washington, D.C.: Any gurus know of any swimming holes or quarries in the area? I have a car and don't mind driving a significant distance if it means I can take a dip in some spring water.

Julia: Sadly, my swimming hole experiences are limited to a rope swing tucked away off MacArthur Blvd. And given the grimy water down there, I can't believe I ever swam there!

Late last summer, our paper wrote about the creator of a swimming hole site. Hopefully these stories can point you in the right direction.


Washington, D.C.: For the person thinking of asking out their cube neighbor - don't do it. Chances are more likely than not that things won't end up going anywhere. Imagine how awkward it will be if, after a few dates, you decide things aren't going anywhere - and then have to see that person the very next morning at work, and every day thereafter?

Fritz: This is why I wish we had a "Like" button similar to Facebook.


Artomatic: I've looked all over the FAQs on the Artomatic website and can't find an answer... do you know if they'll be selling beer/wine throughout the event like they did last year?


Fritz: Yes, there will be beer and wine at Artomatic. I think it's all under $5, too.


Saturday Night Drinks after Kinkeads: What about the Red Lion? It's a bit divey but still great for casual drinks and good atmosphere. It's one of my favorites! Might see you there!

Fritz: And it might not be as packed with college students with GW out of school.

Another option: The Rookery, the pseudo-private club on Pennsylvania, will open its doors to the public this weekend for live music, usually of the bar-band-with-horns or '80s covers variety.


Also, on a personal note, I find the idea of underage girls surrounded by older guys slightly sketchy.: Only slightly? Ick...I have never heard of this kind of thing. I always thought the 21 and over was to make it easier to enforce underage drinking laws. This sounds like a way to attract young women who can get older men to buy them drinks in exchange for...god only knows.

Fritz: I was being slightly sarcastic, but yes, I agree. Totally.


Re: Beach: What's wrong with going to Dewey beach ? The BEST place for breakfast is there. The 20-somethings in the 1970's are now in their 50's.

Fritz: I absolutely love the Sunday make-your-own Bloody Mary bar at the Starboard, and Friday night Taco Toss at the Lighthouse. Nalu's not a bad place for a frozen tiki drink, either.


Falls Church, Va.: Hi Gurus! I'm in search of a fun, outdoor activity for Saturday. Maybe Roosevelt Island, Great Falls? Or is there anything special happening on Saturday? Thank you!

Anne: Your hiking options sound great, and there are tons of outdoor festivals this weekend, too. For something really active, you could join in the bike rides as part of the Air Force Cycling Classic.


22201: Does ketchup ever go bad? I'm house-sitting for my aunt, and grilled up some burgers yesterday. The only ketchup she had was an unopened bottle of Heinz that looked about 15 years old. I didn't chance it, but I figured the Gurus could answer the question! Should I give it a try?

Stephanie: You have a lot of faith in us, don't you? I mean, isn't ketchup (as long as it's been unopened) good forever? I might search the bottle for an expiration date first though, because 15 years is a pretty long time. Chatters, what say you?


Washington, D.C.: Hey guys, any suggestions for large groups in the Georgetown area? A bunch of buddies (12-15) from college are coming up on Saturday for beers, golf, dinner, and going out. I'm looking for a place that's not too pricey, not too fancy, and preferably one that offers prix fixe since splitting checks is always tough. It's likely that we'll be three sheets to the wind, so the food doesn't even need to be all that awesome, but let's shoot for the best that we can get.

Thanks for all of your suggestions.

Julia: I love this question. If you're willing to venture up from Georgetown to Glover Park, I'd point you in the direction of Surfside. Food's good, cheap and everyone orders at the counter so people pay for themselves.

If you want something a *little* fancier, what about J. Pauls? 789 has a $40 prix-fixe -- a pretty good deal for the Georgetown institution -- but, it doesn't sound like you guys will be in a jacket-required state.


Washington, D.C.: The boyfriend and I have been together for over two years. We used to work back to back in the same cubicle. It isn't easy sometimes, but it can work out, and it can be awesome. If you really like her and have reason to believe she might like you, go for it!

Julia: Good to know!


For Falls Church: My favorite red velvet cupcakes are actually from Larry's Ice Cream in Dupont...a little on the small side, but the icing is creamy and not too sugary.

Julia: I interviewed him before they started selling cupcakes and I have to tell you, it was one of my favorite interviews of '08. There was something about how he'd been perfecting the recipe for 40 days. Super cute.


The U (Street): I've heard bout the Capitol Skyline's parties, but i was wondering if there is anything else like that in the city?

Which party would you rather be at this weekend? BYT or Spike's? I dont want to overkill it.

Fritz: Right now? No, though I'm waiting for official word on whether the Omni Shorham's Code Orange Happy Hour will return. That was my favorite happy hour in the city last year.

As for the Capitol Skyline Pool Party Dilemma, I think it depends what you're looking for. Saturday's Brightest Young Things party will be more of a young, hipster-ish bash with games and DJs, while Spike'd Sundays promise more of a cookout and chill by the pool vibe. (It's nice that a Spike-grilled burger is included in the $10 cover.)


Dating girl in next cube: Seriously, start as friends first, and if THAT works out, you can gauge if she is a type to turn psycho if it goes south. Honestly I would say never poop where you eat, because that always makes for a bad working environment -- especially when the person is in the next cube. BUUUUT if you AND her are mature enough, and you REALLY really liker her (not talking fling here) then go for it.

I know instances where someone had a one night thing with an office pal and it worked out great because both folks were adults. I also know one that went horribly wrong when the guy decided he -didn't- like her that much and they ended up getting moved to different offices.

Oh and if you DO end up going out, make sure its okay with office policy, and you won't get reamed for it.

Julia: Sage advice all around.


Going out at work: I've tried it and it's all about proximity. The next cube is awfully close whether it goes well or badly. Too much affection for the workplace or hostility? That close and people are bound to notice. If it's someone on a different floor or in another division, I'd go for it.

Julia: This is an interesting wrinkle. I know of more than a few office romances that have fizzled, but it's been okay because the parties are in totally different departments.


Cube neighbor: I am probably meaner than most, but if a guy described me as "super-cute and super-sweet" I would ask him when his subscription to Seventeen magazine runs out. Ick.

David: Here's my new crusade -- to get people to stop using "super" before every adjective. It's getting out of control. I'm guilty of it, too. I'm trying to stop. It's super-tough, though. See?

Stephanie: I wouldn't mind being described as super-cute and super-sweet, but I also throw around "super" with abandon. I just think it's a super-fun word!


Washington, D.C.: Hey! This is for any of you: what is your short-list of the best margaritas in the District (preferably downtown, Penn Quarter, that sort of thing)? I'm limiting it to the District because this is for after work activities. Thanks!

Fritz: Here's my list of the area's best margaritas, with some help from Julia and other (female) friends who actually like frozen swirled drinks.

Feel free to agree or disagree, but I have a hard time topping the margaritas at Cafe Atlantico, Oyamel and Ceiba.


Houston, Tex.: Re: Asking out a coworker...Odds are it won't be a "forever" relationship but you never know - my husband and I started dating when we were on the same project team and have been married over 3 years now. Sometimes, it's worth the shot!

Julia: We've got a few cute coworker romances writing in today. Pretty cool! Now, if only we could start some romantic magic at a GOG happy hour. That would really be something.


Dupont: Romantic brunch? Of course...a bottle of champagne, rich French foods, beautiful sunshine. And then a nap.

Julia: Sign me up.


McPherson Square: I'm in charge of planning a happy hour for work for about 20 people. Anyplace in the McPherson Square/Metro Center area you could recommend? We don't need dirt cheap, but we're not looking for super-classy either.

Fritz: The patio at Elephant and Castle would be nice on a sunny day. The downstairs side room at the Laughing Man would be about your size. I'd also look into the small room at Cafe Mozart -- who doesn't love huge mugs of German beer? -- or a reserved space at the Capitol City Brewing Comapny.


Arlington, Va.: "Imagine how awkward it will be if, after a few dates, you decide things aren't going anywhere - and then have to see that person the very next morning at work, and every day thereafter?"

Just imagine if SHE decides things aren't going anywhere, and you have to see her the very next morning at work!! There are a million single women in this city. Go find one who doesn't sit next to you!

Fritz: Amen.


Dating a coworker: Don't do it...I dated a consultant who came to our office from time to time (not someone who was there ALL the time) and when it ended - even though it was mutual and nothing dramatic - it was awkward and weird. Plus, you can never keep those things under wraps -- someone always finds out and the gossiping begins. What's the biggest turn-off in a woman for you? Imagine that's how your cube-mate is....

Julia: A tale from the other side . . . . The office gossip part would be the tough thing, I think.


Margaritas: How could you forget Cactus Cantina?

Fritz: Whatchu talkin' bout, Willis? When you click on the link for my Top 10, it's the second one listed (alphabetically).


Washington D.C.: Re: Pool parties... Do people actually wear their bikinis and get in the water? I'd love to go for a dip, but I don't want to be the only person there in my bathing suit! Thanks.

Fritz: Well, the two I just mentioned don't start until this weekend, so I haven't been there yet (though I plan to hit both).

At the Omni Shoreham's last year, though, there were plenty of people who were happy to shed their work clothes for a dip in the jacuzzi or a refreshing swim before grabbing a frozen orange vodka drink.

Knowing the Brightest Young Things crew, I'm positive there will be many people in bathing suits on Saturday.


D.C.-ite: Have any of you ever been to Hyattsville? Like the Town Center part? Is there anything there? I have a friend who lives up there and claims it's nice and there's stuff to do and wants me to trek out for a visit, but I don't believe her.

Julia: Are you talking about University Town Center? Like over by PG Plaza? I reviewed a restaurant over there -- the sports-bar-esque Hank's Tavern and Eats -- and, to be honest, there didn't look like there was much to do over there except eat or watch a movie. My colleague Bonnie Benwick had great things to say about Wild Onion Cafe for takeout.

I've got nothing against those big pavillion-like town squares -- I spent many a high-school summer loitering at Reston Town Center -- but when I was in University Town Center, I remember feeling like I was in made-up-ville. If they organize some summer concerts or activities, I could see that being cool.


Re: Ketchup and cube dating...: For the ketchup question: Yes, ketchup has an expiration date. It is made with sugars so it can spoil/ferment/explode. If it smells "off" or has a slight fizz or if the bottle was dusty and left a ring on the shelf - toss it!

As for dating a cube neighbor, I agree with starting strictly as friends. I made the mistake of getting my then boyfriend a job at the hotel where I worked. When we broke up it was a disaster.

Stephanie: The idea of "fizzy" ketchup just made my stomach turn a little.


GOG Happy Hours: Is it cool to go solo to one of those? I'm 25 and female, looking to meet interesting people..... I've wanted to go to your happy hours, but have chickened out because I didn't want to show up alone if most people came in groups.

Julia: Come and talk to us! We'll introduce you to people we meet! One of my favorite people to see around town these days is someone I met at a GOG Happy Hour -- looking at you, Step! -- so I think there are plenty of people to meet and mingle with, even though many folks arrive with a crew.


Question for the Fritz: Do you know of anyplace in Bethany (other than Mango Mike's) where a few 30 something women could go when the kids/husbands are at home? Or a place where we could go with them (they are 8, so they can be reasonably well behaved for short periods)?

Fritz: I'd say the Parkway Restaurant (on Garfield Parkway, a few blocks up from the beach) is your best bet -- a selection of wines by the glass and an atmosphere that's a little more upscale than, say, Salsa Loco -- of course, they have a patio bar at the latter, and that may be your scene.


Washington, D.C.: URL link close FAIL

Fritz: Yeah, cheers.


Re: dating a co-worker: It's always risky but sometimes that risk is worth a pot of gold many times over.

Definitely check out your HR policy on dating a co-worker. Some places are a strict no-no, some are OK and other only if the co-workers work in different departments.

Then, so long as one is not in a superior/subordinate position (for lack of a better way to say this) because that will always look questionable.

I'd also add if you're only looking at a fling, then scrap it (if you work in such close quarters). If you see real potential, then proceed cautiously and wisely and I'd throw in discreetly, too.

By the way, good luck with whatever you decide to do. We spend so much time in the office or working, where else do people meet nowadays?

Julia: There's a lot of truth in your last comment. So sad, D.C. So sad.


Arlington: If the 20-something girl is still reading, she should stop by 11th street lounge. A slightly older crowd, no dress code or cover, and people are generally laid back.

Fritz: That's an option, too, for the lounge scene. Good happy hour, but frequently crowded.


Washington, D.C.: Great breaking news from Fritz on the closing of two loved establishments in Adams Morgan. A friend told me that Grand Central was spared the knife yesterday from the ABC Board. Has the ABC Board had a change in heart after seeing the DAMAGE they have done by revoking Bossa and Bobby Lew's? Also, who is on the ABC Board and what was the vote for the closing of these establishments?

Fritz: Meet Your ABC Board.

The votes to revoke the licenses for Bobby Lew's and Bossa were 3-1 (with abstentions) and 5-1, respectively, with Mital Gandhi of Ward 3 as the only "no" vote each time. His dissenting statement was that the death penalty for both bars was excessive.


Spelling bee: I totally want to watch the spelling bee tonight!! Is anywhere showing it on a big screen or something? Those kids are amazing!

Anne: I know, this is some of the best tv of the year. Not sure on bars showing it (maybe some charitable promoters will get on this next year) but ESPNZone has a party with its own spelling bee tonight, starting at 7. You can sign up to spell tough words with a sports theme (say, R-o-e-t-h-l-i-s-b-e-r-g-e-r) in person at the restaurant/bar today.

Anne: p.s. Still checking if the game will be on. We'll update later.


I'd don't have a Facebook page either: What am I? 12?

Julia: Nah, you're cool. I was a late adopter myself. As much as I adore my Facebook page, it's a major time-suck.


Washington, D.C.: Looking for reccomendations for a Saturday night date - looking for something more than just dinner at a good restaurant. Maybe a new hip bar, outdoor eating, music event, you know, some kind of angle to make it different and interesting. I was thinking of Gibson, but was wondering if there is something similar on the Va side of the river, in Alexandria or the Courthouse/Clarendon corridor.


Fritz: If you can get to the rooftop of Eventide early (say, 6-ish), I'd put that at the top of your list. Cool, new, interesting, good cocktails. Consider the patio at Yaku, too.

As far as similar to the Gibson, there's the PX in Alexandria. They're both very good at what they do: Fantastic drinks in a decidedly retro atmosphere. If it doesn't rain, Gibson shades it for me because of their back patio.


Anne: Just heard back -- the spelling bee will be on at ESPNZone.


Arlington: My girlfriend always reads your chats for ideas of things to do for fun, and I just wanted to say I love you to her (aww) and thanks to y'all for keeping us in the know. Keep up the good work!

Anne: Aww, you're super super! (Group hug.) Good luck to everyone hazarding inter-office dates and questionable-ketchup tastings -- here's hoping you'll tell us how you survived them next week. See you then.


The Going Out Gurus write about restaurants, bars, movies, the arts, special events and visitor attractions, and they're out every night to keep you on top of the D.C. entertainment scene. Check in with them throughout the week on the GOG Blog or join their live Q&A every Thursday at 1 p.m.

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