Got Plans?: Bars With Patios, the Bar at the W Hotel, Fringe Fest and Beignets

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The Going Out Gurus
of The Washington Post's Going Out Guide
Thursday, July 16, 2009; 5:10 PM

The Going Out Guide staff dished about patios and roofdecks, the bar at the new W hotel, Fringe Fest and beignets on Thursday, July 16 at 1 p.m. ET.

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washingtonpost.com: Our famous humidity's making a late appearance to remind us that summer isn't gone yet although it seems to be flying by. Hope you've been hanging out on rooftops, there have been a lot of opportunities. I'm your host, Rhome, and we've got a full squad. What's the haps for this weekend?

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Big Band style: Hey Gurus, I know Fritz mentions the Carlyle Club in Alexandria for big band style and swing dancing, and ive always wanted to go. We're celebrating an anniversary next month, is the place dressy? Like suits for guys and formal for ladies? Or is a summer dress for gals, and khakis for guys okay? Who do you recommend we hear? And what's the vibe? I'm hoping not snooty or uptight :) Tired of the RnB/HipHop, looking for something new :) thanks so much!

Fritz: It's dressy without being over the top. I usually go the nice shirt/slacks route, but you'll see suits as well as khakis on men, and summer dresses on women.

As always, my rec is to go see the always-swinging Doc Scantlin and his Imperial Palms Orchestra, maybe Daryl Davis if you like 50s R&B and jump blues.

And I'm totally in the tank for Martha Reeves, who will be at the club in August. I saw her last time through, and while she can't hit all the notes in "Dancin' in the Streets" anymore -- and neither will you, when you're her age -- she still is a vibrant, wonderful lady who loves singing and loves her audience. She posed for pictures and signed autographs for everyone in the lobby after the show. (I got the councilwoman's John Hancock on my original "Wild One" single, and she was so happy someone brought her original Motown vinyl.)

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Arlington, Va.: My buddy just told me that the Laughing Man is having a toga party this Saturday. Any truth to this? Looking for something worthwhile to merit leaving VA for a change of pace. If this is happening, are Otis Day and the Knights going to make an appearance?

Fritz: (I'm pretty sure this is a plug, but since I left this out of Nightlife Agenda ...)

The Laughing Man does some pretty cool theme parties on the weekend to drum up business -- the area around Metro Center is a ghost town on Saturdays. There is a DIY Toga Party on Saturday, and it will be amusing to see people walking around downtown in sheets if nothing else.

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Germantown, Md.: We recently visited New Orleans and I became addicted to Cafe Du Monde in the French Quarters. Is there any similar coffee shop/restaurant in the D.C. metro that serves cafe' au lait and beignets (N.O. style coffee and donuts) ?

Rhome: I've had beignets at Bardia's but I can't speak to their authenticity as my New Orleans experience is nil. Tasted good to me! Some crowdsourcing help, folks?

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Kennedy Center: How do the $25 seats work? I really would like to get down to see a performance, but $75 is a little out of my price range. Do you know of any other way to get the less expensive seats? It seems as though anything less than $75 is sold out. (I'm looking at the Color Purple right now, but I've noticed the same thing for most of the performances) How early does one need to get the less expensive seats? Please give me all of the Kennedy Center advice you have.

Stephanie: The $25 tix for "the Color Purple" sold out almost immediately, I'm told, while the last of the Spring Awakening $25ers were snapped up yesterday. The Kennedy Center's recommendation is: "as soon as they go on sale, buy them." So you might want to start planning now for performances in the fall. Personally, I'd probably show up at the Kennedy Center on August 12, the day tix for "A Streetcar Named Desire" go on sale (starring my girl-crush, Cate Blanchett). You can also check out my run-down of free and cheap theater. If you're a young'un and haven't hit the 25 mark yet, then you can also join the Attend program.

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Another Wedding Question: Hello Gurus! I've been tasked with finding somewhere to go out for a post-wedding celebration on a Saturday night. The bride's asked for a restaurant, preferably in Rockville (though I'm assuming the Montgomery County general vicinity will work). We're looking at 20+ people. Thoughts?

Julia: A restaurant? What time does the reception end? I assume it's not a dinner reception and she wants to eat afterward?

Jackie's in Silver Spring seems like it could be a cool, quirky pick. Maybe Baci for its kiss theme (if you can overlook the strip-mall setting). Cava is another idea. You could look at Black's or Addie's as well.

If I'm reading your question correctly, you should call around really soon. Reservations for 20 people for THIS Saturday won't be super easy to come by. I think, anyway. Write back if you're looking for more of a bar. . . .

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Fringe Festival: Hi Gurus! So, about this Fringe button required for all festival shows... I bought tix to the Sin Show per GOG recommendation and then on my receipt noticed the button disclaimer, ok fine, whatever - but will I really be able to buy when I show up for the show (as it indicates on the receipt)? I don't feel like buying and then picking up at the box office at some point before the show.

Thanks!

Stephanie: Yes, they will have buttons for sale at the same place you pick up your ticket, so have your $5 ready. I hope you enjoy the Sin Show as much as I did! I've seen a bunch of other performances since then, and it's still at the top of my list.

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Bethesda, Md.: I'm throwing a tea party for my mom's 60th birthday. I love cupcakes but Mom has not warmed up to the idea. I need 3-4 cakes that would be adorably decorated without fondant. Any bakeries come to mind besides Cakelove?

Julia: Love your use of "adorably" here. Try Just Cakes in your neck of the woods. They were too pricey for our wedding budget, sadly, but I think little ones won't be that expensive. The cake menu at Praline looks divine, but I haven't had any experience there. Happy Birthday, Mom!

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Fairfax: Going to U Street tonight. What are the good places to sit outdoors/on patios/rooftops?

Fritz: Well, it's Thursday, which means everywhere is going to be busy. I like the rooftops at Local 16, which gets crowded later, and Nellie's, which has plenty of room (and really loud music). Closer to the ground, Stetson's has a nice back patio, as does the Gibson.

I'm really about to give up on Marvin's rooftop, because it takes so long to fight through the crowds to get a drink at the bar, and then so long again to find room in which to stand with your drink. I appreciate that they don't want the dining room to get overcrowded. I wish they'd take the same tack with the deck.

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Post-Wedding Restaurant Again: Wedding is not this Saturday -- not until early August. It's an afternoon dessert reception, maybe over around 5ish, so I'm assuming she'll want dinner as part of the package.

Julia: Ah okay -- cool. I was worried about you guys for a sec. Yeah, give some of those a try. See what you think. I tried to give you a range of formal vs. not formal, types of food and prices. Have fun!

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Chevy Chase, Md.: From a swing dancer: if she really wants to dance, Carlyle is not the place to go -- check out one of the other venues around that has a better scene, be it Glen Echo on Saturdays, Chevy Chase Ballroom on Fridays, Clarendon Ballroom on Tuesdays, etc. There's a huge dance community, but it's not at Carlyle.

Carlyle is a bit dead in terms of dancing most of the time.

Personally, I'd recommend hitting the Irish Inn at Glen Echo for a drink, then the beginner lesson at the Spanish Ballroom if you've never danced. Much more fun, as there are tons of people to dance with.

Or if you're more experienced, maybe hit up one of the restaurants in friendship heights or clarendon & hit the ballroom there, depending on the choice of bands.

Fritz: My top swing dancing venues for dancing are Glen Echo, Jam Cellar and Chevy Chase, but I wouldn't describe any of them as dressy, you know? I know exactly what you mean about dancing, but for a nice supper club atmosphere, Carlyle is as close as we have.

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Washington, D.C. re cafe au lait: As a New Orleans native, I can tell you that the beignets at Bardia are not very authentic. They're not terrible, but once was enough for me. I actually can't suggest any place around here for doughnuts -- while I love the food at Acadiana, all the desserts I've had there, including beignets, have been lacking the taste I was looking for.

I get my fix by flying home a few times a year. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news!

Julia: Wait, can we talk about this for a sec? What are you looking for in a good beignet? I feel like fluffiness and a slight sweetness is key and all the rest is just noise/window dressing/insert-cliche-here. As a NO native, what makes a beignet good for you?

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Reggae and Wine Weekend: Once again, Linganore Winery is putting on a live reggae show and wine tasting this weekend in Mount Airy, MD. Those who know about these events know to come very early, stake their spot and pitch a tent--to keep cool, because I hear the temps are supposed to reach into the 90's. I can't wait to rock, wine, wine (caribbean dance) and have a good time!

Rhome: A plug worth plugging, particularly because lots of my friends have been trying to get me to go but I have DC United tailgating to handle, and that's SERIOUS.

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Washington, D.C.: I get tired of the same old rooftop/outdoor spots Local 16, Waterfront and so forth. I would love to find some cool low-key rooftop spots for drinking in the heat, any ideas?

Fritz: Is Cantina Marina one of your go-tos? If not, that's a good one. Yaku's happy hour -- $2 beers, $3 sangria, $5 cocktails until 7:30 -- is a good fit for its large front patio. Cleveland Park Bar and Grill's rooftop sports bar is fun, thanks to the outdoor TVs. Cafe Berlin on the Hill is one of my favorite spots to chill out with a tall glass of hefeweizen on a summer afternoon.

More low-key: Galaxy Hut has a fun little alley-sized patio with covered seats. The Red and the Black now has a cozy back patio on H Street. Wonderland's beer garden is good if they're not crowded and enforcing capacity limits. Lola's on Barracks Row has a small back patio that's rarely used enough on my visits.

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Rockvile, Md.: The Fringe Festival has limited the venues for the shows this year, right? How long would it take to walk between the two venues that are furthest apart?

Oh, and if you get a multi-performance card, do you get preference over people who just show up to buy a ticket? Do you have to call them in advance to reserve each one?

Stephanie: Almost all of the performances are within a three-block radius, and you can walk between them in anywhere from two to 10 minutes. There are a few exceptions though, so if you are going to see something at the Trading Post near Mt. Vernon Square followed by a show at Source on 14th Street, for example, you may want to bus/cab/bike/metro if there's a time crunch. As for booking tickets, you still have to reserve your seats. If you bought your pass online, you can book seats online (first come, first serve) by signing into the account you created.

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From the South...: I've asked this like 5 weeks in a row, can you guys please recommend a place in the area for beach music?

Rhome: What's beach music? I'm not even being flippant. You mean like, surf guitar with Gidget dancing on a towel next to a transistor radio?

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Birthday bonanza: Going out saturday for the big...Uh we'll say 23. Want to check out a new neighborhood in the city. Don't have much experience with any so pretty much everything is an option (minus Georgetown) oh and Adams Morgan (for fear of run ins with Real World cast). The group will be about 20 or more and we are more bar crowd. It's a plus if there are bar games and multiple bars within walking distance and close to a metro. Ready?.....GO!

Fritz: 20 people is a big group for bar-hopping, so I'm planning for places that could take a 20-person hit and not blink. Let's start with the area around Gallery Place: Rocket Bar (skee-ball, shuffleboard, darts) was made for a group your size, even if it can smell kinda funny at times. From there, you've got the huge patio at Poste, Bar Louie across the the street, R.F.D. for all kinds of beers and two Irish pub options: Fado for the crowded scene, Irish Channel for the more low-key option.

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Downtown, D.C.: What is the deal with the W Hotel's rooftop bar? Can I just drop by for happy hour or is it not for the common folk?

Fritz: If you don't call ahead, you run the risk of waiting in a long line that snakes through the hotel lobby. There's one elevator that goes to the rooftop, and it's controlled by polite (but sometimes snippy) people with clipboards, like you're trying to get into Love's VIP room or something. But the capacity is just over 100, and a number of tables are permanently reserved for hotel guests. (If they're playing $300 a night for a room, they don't want to wait for the rest of us to leave.)

Once you're up there, I love the views of the Mall and downtown, I really like the new furniture and elevated ceiling. Cocktails are pricey -- everything on the menu is a flat $15 -- but they're really good. The menu was designed by Sasha Petraske, the legendary bartender behind New York's Milk and Honey and Little Branch, and Justin Guthrie, formerly of Central Michel Richard, is running the day-to-day show.

Are you going to go here every day? Probably not. But it's a cool place to stop by -- NOT on a weekend -- and have a drink and enjoy the view.

Julia: I went on Tuesday without a reservation and made it up to the top after about a 40-minute wait, which doesn't seem too bad to me considering it's new and all. (I have a feeling that our wait was cut short thanks to the fact that one of the male clipboard-keepers seemed to want to do my super-cute friend a favor. These older gentlemen lobbyists with whom we were talking at the lobby bar had to wait much longer.)

Fritz's characterization of the place as having the same VIP room vibe you get a big clubs is pretty dead on. Even once we got upstairs, we were told we couldn't go out on the balcony, we had to stay at the inside bar. In my opinion, the view from inside is far superior to the one from the balcony, but still, why all the static?

Our cocktails were fine and the chicken samosas were *really* good, but after two hours, we had each had one cocktail, and split two apps. We were hungry, not buzzed and had spent $50 (not to mention $20 for parking). The view was spectacular and totally worth seeing, but it didn't really seem worth all the trouble.

Oh, and a note about dress code. Look nice, boys and girls. It was a Tuesday and there were girls in full-on cocktail dresses up there.

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Petworth: I haven't found any decent beignets either.

The loukamades (I know that must be spelled incorrectly) at Cashion's are very nice, and kinda related.

Julia: Thanks for the tip.

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Herndon, Va.: Is John Legend in town?

Rhome: Yup.

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Re: Reggae and Wine: If you have the Maryland 2009 Entertainment Book, there's a 2-for-1 coupon for Linganore Wine Festivals. (I know a lot of people who don't know its contents other than restaurants.)

Fritz: Does that include two-for-one bottles of wine? I've still never had a Linganore that I'd buy at full price.

Open to suggestions, though.

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Alexandria: Just wanted to update, girlfriend's parents are coming to Va. this weekend, so can't use the breakup spots yet, but thanks again for the advice.

Stephanie: Pull the plug, man. Maybe she'd appreciate the parental support. Well this narrows it down for all the Alexandria girls who were worried their boyfriend was writing in looking for break-up spots.

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Happy Hour Downtown: Hi Gurus, I'm bored with my office's HH places so taking it upon myself to find new places. We're by McPhearson and wouldn't mind leaving downtown but not too far. Somewhere where we can sit down but maybe migrating to dancing as the night progresses? Not super duper fancy but doesnt need to be a dive. Thoughts?

Fritz: Where are your go-tos now?

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NOLA native: fluffiness is definitely key, not too greasy or flat (the ones I had at Bardia were a bit flat) and the sugar could go two ways -- I prefer them with heaps of sugar on top that I can brush off (a la Cafe du Monde) but my dad prefers do it yourself (a la Morning Call).

I've tried making them myself; that was a disaster!

Julia: Cool, thanks for all the intel. I like heaps of sugar too. But, you know, not just on beignets, on everything.

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Petworth: There's no beach music here. There just isn't. Why? Because there's no beach here!

Seriously, it's a very S.C. thing, IMO.

Rhome: I still don't know what it is!

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Wish I was in New Orleans: To the fellow lover of the Big Easy, you can go online and buy the benignet mix and a tin of chicory coffee from the Cafe Du Monde Web site and make them at home. Of course the coffee is easy to make at home but it is fun to make the benignets for yourself and friends on a Sunday.

Rhome: I think I need to do this.

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U Street Solution: Don't give up yet on the best bar on U Street when they have a solution for over-crowding. It's called Gibson. That's where I always head down to when Marvin's deck is beyond max capacity. Or of course rooftop of Local 16 is always a good standby.

Fritz: Yeah, but Gibson on weekends can be crazy. They're often not even taking solos at the door until after 12:30. (Hence why I go Sun-Wed.)

And the line for Local two Saturdays ago was ridiculous around 10:30-11. At least a couple dozen people waiting. It's great if you can get there around 8 or 9.

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Washington, D.C.: I don't know the correct place to share my comments, but I just had to write and let you Gurus know our feelings about the monthly happy gour last night. Although I read your column every week, yesterday was the first chance I have had to attend one of your happy hours. I was very excited to get the chance to check out BLT, as I am a huge steak aficionado. We arrived around 6 pm. Had to wait in a very long line snaking into the street. By the time we reached the rooftop, the cheese and popovers were gone. Had to wait in more unnecessarily long lines to get a drink. The food was ridiculous. There was no cheese in the grilled cheese sandwich. The mushroom caps were Lilliputian -- seriously they were smaller than my pinky fingernail. The "steak" was a minuscule sliver on an equally small piece of toast. And, unless you were camped out directly in front of the service door, forget about actually getting any food. A single tray with about a dozen items would come out at a time. The restaurant seemed completely unprepared. Not enough bars. Not enough food. (I am sure there was more steak in their kitchen.) It ran out so quickly, that while we would have preferred to stay and enjoy the lovely rooftop weather, we had to leave in search of actual sustenance. Not worth the wait. And I will definitely think twice about going to BLT. Portions at a steak restaurant should be hearty. Service should be plentiful. Very disappointing.

Anne: Thanks for the feedback, D.C., and to those who commented on the blog, too. We're glad to hear it, because we're learning from each event we do. I have to say, though, that I don't know if that's fair to extrapolate everything about BLT from the food on the roof, because everything was served in appetizer/happy hour size portions. Anyway, we're really glad you came to check it out. We have them every second Thursday of the month, and they're all at different venues and all very different. At our Solly's happy hour, for example, we had incredible food from Oohhs and Aahhs, but there was still plenty left when the night was over. But like I said on the blog, when tons of people come, the food definitely goes fast. Add up the amazing views and one of the summer's most beautiful nights, and you have an event with lots of people who all want the same thing. So naturally, there will be lines. We had many colleagues working to keep the lines moving, but as at other events we recommend, very early arrival works best.

Now, I have a question for you all: where should we go for our happy hours this fall?

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NoVa: Howdy Folks,

I was wondering what is the format and which of the pub quizes you you guys find to be the most fun. We have enjoyed the trivia at our local pub, but were wondering what was further afield.

Thanks.

And seriously, who played the green slave girl in Episode 69 of Star Trek?

Fritz: They're all different. I like the fast pace and A/V clues of Smart Ass at Nellie's. I enjoy the sometimes grueling (and very challenging) 7-round throwdown on Mondays at Fado. Not too keen on the "Here's a list of 70+ questions. Now sit down and answer them all" that you find at Duffy's or Four Fields -- I like the Q&A interaction. Wonderland's is epic -- like 9 or 10 rounds -- but fun with the right group of people.

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Arlington, Va.: What ever happened to that Southern-style bakery that was supposed to open in the Arlington Murky Coffee space?

Julia: The latest word on Bayou Bakery's debut is sometime in late summer. In the meantime, feast on Ms. Bonnie Benwick's early look (and seriously, you should hear her talk about those snowballs; they sound AMAZING!).

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Washington, D.C.: The Fringe listings and reviews are very overwhelming! If you could suggest a top pick (or two) for an evening or late night show this weekend (Sat or Sun night), what would you choose? Any genre, I just want to see a great show!

Stephanie: All right, if you don't want to sift through all our reviews, I'll throw you a bone. Looking at the schedule, I'd say GS-14 if you work for the government, Skywriter for a feel-good dramedy, Diamond Dead (Continued) for a zombie rock musical or Soup for flat-out silliness.

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Chinatown, D.C.: Hey Guys, Just wanted to see if you had heard anything about an August Restaurant Week. Is it happening this year? In August?

Julia: Called around a bit on this yesterday, doll, but sadly, nothing official yet. It *is* happening this year and August is a safe bet. As for the list, don't expect to see the official one until the end of the month....

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Silver Spring, Md.: Hello gurus, need your help! I'm planning a bachelorette party in August and I haven't been out to club/lounge scene in D.C. much yet. I was looking for a fun place, top 40s, good dance space (but not warehouse style), classier -- we are looking at doing bottle service. We are not the penis hat group -- something a little more classy but it is a bachelorette and don't want to be around people who will dumping on our fun either. Prob a group of 12 or so in our late 20s/early 30s. I had been looking at Midtown lounge, Josephine (told small dance floor?) -- what are your thoughts? Oh and I was thinking of starting at a bar first and going on to a lounge if you have any suggestions for that combo. Thanks!!

Fritz: Josephine does indeed have a small dance floor, and they're not too Top 40s on the weekend. Actually, most bottle service places aren't set in the Top 40 scene. I found myself at Fly last Saturday after checking out the Spot, and it was probably just what you're looking for: Lots of dancing, DJ Oz spinning Michael Jackson/Bel Biv Devoe/Madonna tunes that everybody knows the words to, everybody with their hands in the air. Great environment. I think Shadow Room could be a good backup, too -- also they have more tables and more room to dance.

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Silver Spring, Md.: I recall seeing in the Post Weekend section of the paper a write up on a new outdoor obstacle course kind of thing that was geared more for adults (had to be 12 or older). I think it was located near Severna Park, Md. I have searched the archives and Google many different ways and even called REI, but I can't seem to find the name of the place again. Can you help?! Thanks

Anne: Terrapin Adventures, Savage, Md. -- here you go!

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Re: beach Music: I think Beach Music is like "shag" music (get your mind out of the gutter). Its a '50 and '60s sound primarily in the South. I think there is a lot of twist dancing etc, but I could be wrong.

Fritz: Carolina Shag is lots of fun -- designed to be done with a drink in your hand, or so I was taught. But I don't know too many places that specialize in it around here. Maybe you could get your fix with the oldies band at New Vegas Lounge on Friday/Saturday?

David: When I think of "beach music" I think of Love Seed Mama Jump. That's my association. Am I wrong?

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Pre-Wedding Brunch: Hi Gurus!

Sorry for another wedding question, but 'tis the season! A friend of mine is looking for a restaurant in D.C. to have brunch before her wedding. She is having a tough time finding a place that does brunch a) early enough (probably 10 a.m. or earlier) and b) on a Saturday. Any recommendations for somewhere that can host a larger (10) group? Thank you!

Julia: That's a tough call. I might look into doing a more breakfast-y type thing at one of the hotels -- Monaco, maybe? Like, I know Leopold's opens early (8 a.m.), but you can't make a reservation and so it'd been kind of stressful to wait in the hopes of getting a table soon.

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Bakeries: A bit of a hike from Bethesda, but Desserts by Gerard in Oxon Hill does awesome cakes with butter cream icing in every flavor imaginable. Their carrot cake is practically sinful, and OMG, the red velvet. I don't work there, just a huge fan.

Julia: I'm a sucker for red velvet.

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Washington, D.C.: Does the Gibson have a deck/rooftop?

Fritz: Back patio, 40 seats, first-come, first-served. Best part is that they have blender-made tiki drinks that aren't served inside.

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Need Ideas for Dad's 60th..: Hi GOG's.. I am in need of some serious help. My Dad is turning 60 on Aug. 9 and I have no idea what to do. My sister and mom are being no help leaving any and all planning to me. I had thought of a car/limo ride for the family (small family) and a friend or two to go to Kent Narrows for crabs and drinks for the day or a chartered fishing trip, but those are really coming out to be pricey. Any ideas for a small family to do for a Dad who does not get out much but really needs to?? Thanks in advance!

Anne: Hey, I think you have some good ideas already. Maybe just streamline a bit -- how about just the dinner/drinks or just the fishing trip to save on cash, and see if a friend could volunteer as designated driver. Or, give us some more background -- where are you located and what does Dad like? An outdoor concert? An airplane ride?

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Farragut Square: Submitting early just so I can be one of those people who can blather about my meetings and other important whereabouts. I have a 1:00 meeting, aren't I awesome?

I'm trying to think of a place to gather 5-10 friends, mostly in their 30s, late afternoon/early evening Saturday for drinks and snacks. We were thinking roof deck, but it's supposed to rain. Metro-accessible and within D.C. strongly preferred, and we've done Cantina Marina to death and I will scream and cry if you suggest it.

Thank you for your help and for not making me scream and/or cry!

Fritz: So get out of D.C.

Eventide in Clarendon is a great new restaurant with a large rooftop (and separate rooftop bar) where I'd be happy to kill a Saturday evening with friends. If it rains, move down to the funky bar and lounge. (I'm not as keen on the dining room as I am on the cool booths in the lounge.)

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HH Downtown part 2: We've done Bar 15, Potenza, Art Club, Cafe Asia, Public, Lucky, Science Club, the Irish bar on L whose name I forgot...?

Fritz: Mackey's.

Wow, you guys get around. Pretty cool.

You're by McPherson Square, right? Let's throw the old-man-ish-it's-cool Cafe Mozart bar into the mix, especially for huge liter glasses of beer.

How about the Laughing Man for deeply discounted food and drinks until 8 p.m.?

The Park at 14th is dressy, but their Thu-Fri happy hours, which start with an open bar from 5 to 6 tonight, are worth considering.

And just down from Mackey's is the Black Rooster, which has a very tight group of regulars for darts and drinks, but offers pints starting at $2.50 and wine for around $3.50 until 8 on weekdays.

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Capitol Hill: What is a good first date place somewhere between Dupont and Penn Quarter? I'm thinking something on the casual side, with great drinks, fun atmosphere.

Julia: Well, the W has good drinks and is like *the* hotspot/curiosity right now. For me, as you can see above, it just felt a little too pretentious right now. Like, it would probably be an awkward first date if you had to wait around to get into an elevator.

The drinks are fab at Poste and the outdoor courtyard is sweet when it's not too hot. The bar at Potenza could be cool -- split a pizza, drink wine.

Closer to Dupont, I've always liked ESL and Science Club in the afternoon.

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Cleveland Park, D.C.: Rhome -- For starters, you can google/wikipedia beach music and find out what you need to know. But, think Myrtle Beach, circa 1950s and 60s. General Johnson and the Chairmen of the Board, The Drifters, The O'kaysions, etc. Check it out. Then, go rent the movie "Shag" and enjoy!

Rhome: And there it is.

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Washington, D.C.: I'm getting married, Sunday, Sept. 6, of Labor Day weekend. The reception should wrap up around 11 p.m. Many friends are traveling to support us so we want to make it a fun celebration. We are thinking about moving the party (8-12 people) somewhere else after the festivities end. Any suggestions of a low-key bar (we are in our 30s) in the Dupont circle area where we could continue celebrating?

Anne: Fritz wrote this originally as pre-party ideas, but it works as afterparty ideas, too.

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New to Bethesda: My boyfriend just took a job in Bethesda and I would like to meet him after work today -- where do you think is the best place for happy hour? And dinner suggestions would be great too!

Fritz: Tonight? If he's a beer guy, try the $1.50 beers at Rock Bottom from 5:30 to 7. Black's has great food and drink specials, though it can be hard to get a good seat at the bar unless you arrive close to 5 or close to 7. I'm also a fan of the special happy hour eats-and-drinks menu at Gaffney's, which often gets overlooked.

You can also check out my Best Bethesda Happy Hours story from earlier this year.

Julia: Louisiana Kitchen is a good one to know about in the cheap-but-good department. (And I like their beignets!)

For a nicer sit-down place, I'd look at Black's and Jaleo.

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Love Seed: Ugh, if only a meteor would have hit the Bottle and Cork when they were playing it would have removed every drunken fratboy idiot within a 50 mile radius from the gene pool.

David: And a Happy Thursday to you, too.

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Beer and better food?: So RFD and Brickskellar have great beer selections, but their food is just meh. I would settle for a smaller selection of good beers on draft (international and/or domestic, not so much Belgian personally speaking), decent snacks or mains, and a more or less informal atmosphere.

Thoughts?

Fritz: I think the Saloon has really, really good bar food (sandwiches, etc.) -- just don't order your food and drinks at the same time. Dunno way, but it's one of the owner's rules.

Bourbon has some excellent pints from Brooklyn, Green Flash, Lagunitas, Bear Republic, etc., on draft, and the Old Bay-covered curly fries and waffle fries are pretty much to die for.

Other good places for pairing beers and apps in D.C.: The Black Squirrel, the Reef and maybe Axis. Haven't had snacks there in a while, but what I have had was decent.

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Beignet solution: I am from France and I am perfectly happy reaching for funnel cake when I have a hankering for beignets. You're a better off with good funnel cake than a bad beignet.

Julia: I like the way you think.

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Charlottesville ideas?: I'm going to Charlottesville for a couple weeks - any suggestions on must dos? I was thinking of going to antique stores and a winery. Maybe a nice place to eat too?

Stephanie: A couple weeks is a lot of time to see Charlottesville! I'd definitely do some antiquing and wine visits and also add a historical tour of UVa (starting at the rotunda), a trip to Monticello, a hike around Ragged Mountain, lunch at Take It Away and dinner at Continental Divide and L'Etoile. Have fun!

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Freakin the Beacon: GOGs - does the Beacon Hotel have its rooftop bar open on Friday and Saturday nights?

Rhome: Based on their Web site, I would say that it's only open to hotel guests but I've gotten info for Saturday events there. Seems to be unclear. I just go to The Coolout and I'm good.

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Food excursion?: Hi Gurus, thank you for all that you do for my social life. I have a question that might be more Tom, but you are all so good! I'm hoping for a day food excursion out of the city maybe to get BBQ or go to some cute delicious place that's a nice day trip. I did the crab Chesapeake thing a few weeks ago and loved it (thank you for your suggestion!) and am looking for something similar. Thank you!

Julia: Give this place a try. Never been, but my Food section friends speak longingly about how wonderful it is.

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Bethesda, Md.: Hi GOGs-

I deperately need your help! I'm staying at the Washington Hilton tomorrow and heading to the Nats/Cubs game for husband's birthday (watch the big screen for his name!).

I am trying to find a good happy hour in the Dupont area or in route to the ballpark for a pre-game snack/cocktails, but for the life of me I can't come up with anything! It has been a while since I went out in the Dupont are, alas.

Fritz: My favorite pre-game spots for happy hour: The Bullpen (it's right across the street from the park, and has live music); the upscale pubby Molly Malone's on Barracks Row, which is steps from the Circulator bus that drops you off at the stadium; Cantina Marina for the waterfront view;

In Dupont, if you're looking for cocktails instead of cheap beer, there's Current, Gazuza, Science Club ... I'd save Russia House for after the game. Current's sushi-and-cocktails happy hour is a go-to for me.

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Arlington, Va.: The roof at the new W hotel.....we were there on Tuesday as well (perhaps we saw you?) and I was surprised that I also thought the view from the inside was better than the outside. I ordered two appetizers (the watermelon salad and the beef satay) and both were good but I would definitely warn people that the beef satay is prepared very rare, which didn't bother me but I can see where it would skeeve some people out. The clipboard guys down in the lobby by the elevators were a bit much. I mean, this isn't the VIP lounge, folks. That said, they weren't too snobby. All in all, a fun place to go for the view, for sure, but not a place to go every night. Oh, and we got there at 5:15 and couldn't get on the outside patio (unless we were willing to stand at the bar), but we were given the option of going to the inside lounge and had no wait to go up for that section.

Julia: I seriously think you were sitting at the table right behind me. (I was at the corner of the bar, by the right side, in one of the zebra chairs.) I looked longingly at someone's beef satay.....

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Washington, D.C.: What's the scene like at Cantina Marina? Can you take metro to/fro and feel safe?

Fritz: It's a block and a half from the Waterfront Metro, in a marina. It's lots of late 20s/30s folks sipping cans of Tecate (and micheladas) and margaritas on a dock over the water.

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D.C.: I used to work in Bethesda and loved the HH at Mon Ami Gabi -- I think its $5 wine and a bunch of yummy food for $5.

Julia: A suggestion for the new Bethesda worker.

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Clarendon: I'm looking for a non-dinner date suggestion. Preferably something low key for tomorrow...originally I wanted to hit up H St. for some mini golf but given the preferences of the other person it seems a little loud.

Fritz: "given the preferences of the other person" means what? Something much lower key on a Friday night?

I'd say go to the Argonaut and get a board game and settle in to a booth. Then if it's going well, you're close to mini-golf.

Actually, I like board-game-in-a-bar dates. As long as they don't involve Connect Four, which brings out an ultra-competitive streak in girls I go on dates with.

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Silver Spring, Md.: I purchased my wedding dress online (got it for a steal). I'm finding is tough to find someone not affiliated with one of the bridal salons. Is there an awesome seamstress in the metro area who won't break the bank?

Julia: My friend loved London Tailor in Bethesda, 301-656-7595. Her alterations cost $60! I hear good things about Do's, too.... above Nathans in Georgetown.

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Springfield, Va.: Hey all, I've got a friend coming back from Kuwait soon and she wants to celebrate with a group of friends (10- 20), I've been tasked with planning but I'm at a loss. She likes the club scene but most of the friends are a little past that (late 20s/early 30s for ages). I was thinking getting a couple of rooms at National Harbor would be fun with a lot of options, but I've never been so I'm not sure. Other options that have been broached are Georgetown and/or Old Town. Thoughts? Essentially we want some place she can dance if she wants, but that others won't feel left out not dancing. We're also open to a neighborhood/area that has a bunch of places that we can hop between as we need a change (aka doesn't have to fit the dancing and no dancing at one place)...hopefully some of that made sense!

Fritz: National Harbor's club options are kinda wack, unless you like mechanical bulls or dueling pianos. The lounge at the Gaylord looks fancy, and the DJs are good, but it's expensive and not a ton of fun.

Old Town's a good place to go bar hopping, but not much dancing goes on there. (Hey, there's karaoke, too.) I'm honestly thinking that, for a concentration of bar hopping and dancing that doesn't require ridiculous cover charges, it's going to be hard to beat Adams Morgan -- Grand Central, Chief Ike's, the Angry Inch/True Story/Draft Pix place, upstairs at Bourbon for fun hip-hop DJs, the downstairs lounge of Napoleon for something a little fancier. And you can always leave and move on if you get tired of a place or feel too old.

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Native Washingtonian - W Hotel: As a native DC'er and having lived briefly in NYC I am super happy to have a uber-hip W Hotel in the District. That being said everyone should just relax a little and wait until the hype dies down or the newness wears off and I bet by early Fall it will turn back to what Hotel Washington was. A crappy brunch place to take your parents and a great after-work date spot during the week -- that will be easy to get into!

Rhome: I'm always one to avoid the initial rush & hype. Yup.

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Arlington, Va.: That was us! My friend just said "maybe the girl from the Post was in one of those zebra chairs at the bar." We had just come from our "government lawyer" jobs and felt a bit underdressed, but then again, there was a group of tourists in shorts and sneakers than came in at some point. And my friend seconds the recommendations on the chicken samosas. For future reference, the "clipboard people" told us you can make a reservation for seating on the outdoor patio.

Fritz: Reservations are key, people. It's the way to assure you won't be waiting for TOO long -- though I just heard from people who went last weekend and had to wait for 30 minutes after they were supposed to be seated.

And the samosas are great. I could live on those and the Mai Tais.

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Woodley Park: OH PLEASE OH PLEASE. It is my last weekend in D.C. -- I am off to the Midwest for business school. I've loved reading the various postings of the Going Out Gurus and OF COURSE tuning in on Thursday afternoons. Do you have any suggestions for a group of girls to listen to fun music -- preferably in D.C. but I'm okay with Clarendon. I am looking for a low key let your hair down type of bar. I've been searching for four years! Just kidding! We like Fado and Lucky... I tend to avoid Columbia Heights.

Thanks for being great gurus! I will miss you. Especially on Thursdays :)

Julia: We'll miss you too, WP. I was thinking about Lucky as I read your question! More places like that... I guess I'd go with Local 16, Clarendon Ballroom or Wonderland (if you can do Columbia Heights). Adams Morgan's a pretty safe bet too -- maybe some place like Adams Mill for cheap beer and juke box music or the Reef? Oh -- or Rocket Bar. Not so good for music, but definitely a good time.

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Eastern Market: Hi Gurus! I hope you can help me - I was thinking of heading out to a u-pick place this weekend for berries, peaches, whatever's in season, but I've never been to any of the u-pick places in the area and I was wondering if you (or the peanuts) could recommend one? I've found Web sites for a few, but I'd rather have a recommendation from you guys (who I trust absolutely!) than blindly picking one since getting there is kind of a time commitment and all. I'm willing to drive an hour, hour and a half from D.C. Thanks!

Julia: I like Butler's Orchard.

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washingtonpost.com: That's a wrap! Go out and have some fun! Tell us about it next week!

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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.

Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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