Got Plans?: Warrenton Nightlife, Day Trips and Date Nights

The Going Out Gurus
of The Washington Post's Going Out Guide
Thursday, August 13, 2009; 1:00 PM

In the live discussion on Thursday, Aug. 13 at 1 p.m. ET, the Going Out Guide staff talked about nightlife in Warrenton, day-tripping to Frederick and Charlottesville, where to find sweet potato pie, unique date-night ideas and rock clubs that 15-year-olds can go to.

____________________ Hi everyone. As I said on the blog earlier, it's a busy day for us -- our monthly happy hour is this afternoon at Clarendon Ballroom, where we'll be celebrating the birthdays of Jen, Rhome, David and Stephanie with Georgetown Cupcakes, free food, prizes and other excitement. (We may or may not have drink specials; if we did, Virgina law would prevent us from telling you about them. But hey, it never hurts to ask your bartender, right?) But first, we chat. Everyone's here. Let's go.


Chantilly, Va.: Hello GOG! Was wondering if you could fork over the skinny on when the new Dogfish Head Alehouse is opening in Chantilly? I've heard rumors that its sometime in the next two weeks but was hoping that you guys could nail down a specific date?! Thanks!

Fritz: If all goes well, the new Dogfish Head -- located in the Greenbrier Town Center on Route 50 -- will open on Tuesday at 4 p.m. Fingers crossed.


Arlington, Va.: Any info on the new place opening up on Prospect from the K Street Lounge guys?

Fritz: George? I'm actually checking the place out tonight. I'm interested to see what it's like, especially if it's going to draw a Late Night Shots-style crowd.


Washington, D.C.: It's 8:30 on a weeknight, you're walking from Florida and Connecticut to 14th and U, and you're starving. But you only have a half hour to grab something to eat. Where do you go?

Julia: Steph says this sounds like something out of MacGyver! Anyway, I'll play. I guess, I'd go with DC Noodles at 14th and U Streets. I've waited for carryout at the bar before and it didn't take that long. Of course, you could always get a piece of pie from this guy.


Dupont: I was thinking about stopping by the Ursula 1000 show at 9:30 club tomorrow night. How big is the downstairs bar and what kind of crowd can I expect?

Fritz: The 9:30's downstairs bar -- aka the Back Bar -- is tiny. I remember when they used to do Blowoff down there. Having 50 people in the room was bad, 75 was worse. But Ursula 1000, a band I really enjoy on ESL Records, and DJ-about-town Will Eastman could make it worth the crush, especially for a scant $5. (Doors at 10.)


Gallery Place, D.C.: Husband and I have finished our Mad Men marathon and want to go out to a bar/restaurant and possibly dancing. If Don and Betty Draper were going out tonight where'd they go?

Julia: Alright, well, let's just get our stories straight here. Don and Betty Draper would not being going out tonight in quite the same way that you and your presumably happy husband would be. There's ice in the Don-Betty relationship. Ice that's so completely incredible to watch.

But to get back to the spirit of your fantastic question, The Gibson strikes me as a particularly Mad Men-appropriate locale. Ditto PX. Mostly just because of the nature of the cocktails. Bourbon Steak strikes me as another option.

I've never been to The Carlyle Club, but perhaps that could fit your dancing needs.

Who's psyched for the premiere on Sunday?!


SW DC: Where are the best places for Jazz in the District?

Fritz: I like the basement of Nema when the Young Lions are playing, late-night weekend shows at Twins, and the energetic jam sessions at HR-57. Blues Alley is great when you've got a big name, like Arturo Sandoval (this weekend) or Roy Hargrove (Oct.), but I find the food/drink/surcharge prices exorbanent for regular visits.


Washington, D.C.;: My friend and I stumbled upon the Club theater at Mazza Gallerie and loved it. Yeah, it could use a few upgrades, but we really liked having a bar there and an older crowd. Are there any other places in D.C. that does something similar? We know about the Arlington Drafthouse, but it's not metro accessible and the movies are pretty old by the time they get there.

Jen: Another great option for that sort of thing: the Cinema DeLux in Fairfax. It has director's hall auditoriums that are similar to Mazza's club theater: nicer seats, alcohol service, etc. If it's just the "adult beverage" you crave with your movie, several other local theaters offer beer and wine, including the AFI Silver, Landmark E Street and the Kentlands Theater in Gaithersburg.


Washington, D.C.: Re: George. I had a tour a few weeks back. They are definitely shooting for the Georgetown crowd rather than clubgoers, though I'm sure all are welcome. Reed told me there will be a Smith Point-esque list, but the interior was a lot nicer than SP (they actually have air conditioning and none of the creepy, American Psycho plastic curtains). Not sure that it will succeed, but it looks like they put a lot of work into it. I'm disappointed that they're only serving bottled beer, instead of draft, but at least they aren't doing bottle service.

Fritz: We'll see. I'm going straight there from our happy hour, so expect a report on this site soon.


H-E-Double Hockey Stix: Hi Gurus!

I am in absolute hate with my job now (thsi after trying to stick it out for the past 6 months) and am thinking of quitting. To prepare for that, I need to get my interview suit ready (have one I bought in NYC last summer but have never worn). Any suggestions on where to take (via Metro) a lady's suit between Farragut North and Clarendon? And how much should I be spending on this anyhow?


Julia: Hey, so do you need it taken in? It's a bit out of your way, but I hear good things about Do's Tailor on top of the old Nathans in Georgetown. Never had a suit altered, but I had a dress taken in for $40. So worth it.... Good luck with the job search.


EPL: Hey Fritz, it's about that time again, the REAL Football season starts this weekend. Where would you say is the best place to watch early morning games in DC, preferably Liverpool friendly bars/restaurants. I usually go to Lucky Bar, is that still my best bet? Thanks!

Fritz: The bartenders at Irish Channel (5th and H) are Liverbird supporters, or were last season, and I like it better than the cramped quarters at Fado. Lucky is good for the banter and the social aspects of watching football.

You should also try Kitty O'Shea's in Arlington. Lots of Liverpool fans when I went last year.



That's all.

Julia: There's the spirit.


Washington, D.C.: I wanted to know more about the SOR woodstock festival that is on the mall on saturday 8/15. THANKS.

David: What do you want to know? It's 10 am - 6 pm on the National Mall (Sylvan Theater), it's free, those School of Rock kids (ages 8 to 18) will be paying tribute to the bands that played at Woodstock 40 years ago. So you get to hear the youngsters jam on Jimi, Janis, the Dead, Santana, Joe Cocker, etc.


Silver Spring, Md.: I am going to a wedding in Warrenton and because it is so far away, we decided to get a hotel room. Is there any nightlife out there or bars that you can recommend? Help is much appreciated, otherwise I will be stuck watching cable on a Saturday night in a Hampton Inn.

Fritz: Two recommendations for you, both downtown:

Iron Bridge Wine Company is a bright combination wine bar/restaurant/shop with a number of wines by the glass (obvs) and a focus on Va. wines.

McMahon's is a traditional-style upscale Irish pub -- dark wood, Guinness, big stone fireplace -- with live music.

One of those should save you from the terrors of the Hampton Inn Hotel Bar and/or Minibar.


Silver Spring: Fritz - I've heard some small progress has finally been made in the development of a Hook & Ladder Tap Room in Silver Spring. What have you heard? Thanks.

Fritz: I've heard the same thing, and when I called, I was told it's not going to open until next year. Let's hope the delays have finally ended.


Washington, D.C.: Hey Gurus -- I need to get out of the city this weekend. I don't want to necessarily drive for too long, but would like to see something not more than an hour away by car. Open to almost anything -- nature is good, but I've already seen Great Falls a billion times. Museums are too much. I want to relax, so I'd even drive out to a great restaurant, eat, and then return. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Julia: This is kind of random, but I've spent a lot of time in Clifton lately for a story I'm doing. Old Town Historic Clifton may just be the cutest place on Earth within an hour of the city. After you leave 7100, you drive through pretty green neighborhoods with huge houses and then the main part of the town is really adorable. It's about two blocks long, but you can walk through the side streets and learn all sorts of things about the historic houses. Trummer's on Main just opened there, and the high-end food may be worth a look (can't say, haven't been). But if you want a tasty sandwich, just stop by the pub in the General Store (stay tuned: I'm writing about it later this month for the Weekend section).

Anyone else care to add to the list of getaways?


Cleveland Park: My boyfriend and I are thinking of going to Charlottesville for Labor Day. I really know nothing about the place other than it is home to UVA and Monticello. Would you recommend it as a weekend getaway? Can you recommend things to do, places to eat and places to drink. Thanks

Stephanie: Yes, it's perfect for a getaway since it's not too far of a drive and there's a ton to do. If you're into history, take a tour of Monticello or UVa. If you're more outdoorsy, there's hiking (check out Humpback Rock) and rafting on the James River. You can also just wander around the pedestrian-only downtown mall. For food, grab sandwiches for lunch at Take it Away, and then hit up Continental Divide for dinner. And definitely try the margaritas.


Sweet p pie: I clicked that link to the story about Henry's Soul Cafe's sweet potato pie but can't seem to find a location on U I missing something?

Julia: 1704 U Street. That story about the sweet potato pie is pretty amazing, though.


Adams Morgan: I'm moving away from DC to go back to school and I'm planning on throwing a send-off party next Saturday, Aug. 22nd. I'm looking for suggestions as to where to have it. I'm planning for may be 10-15 people to show up, I'd like a central location in DC (e.g., U Street, Dupont, Gallery Place, Logan, Mt. Vernon Square all possible locations) with decent drinks/food, not uber-uber-crowded on a Saturday afternoon, and where I can have people drop by over several hours. Since I'm in the process of packing, I unfortunately can't throw this at home. Suggestions? Much appreciated!

Fritz: Wow. That's a vast area where you could have the party. What time are you looking at starting? I ask because some places don't open until 5, some are open at 3, etc. If you want an early start, I'd guide you to someplace like Buffalo Billiards, Nellie's, the Old Dominion Brewhouse or Stoney's. Rocket Bar wouldn't be a bad idea if you wanted to get carryout from Matchbox or something like that.


Arlington, Va.: Hi Gurus! I need your expert opinons on this: I already planned and put together my birthday outing for this Saturday, and I have around 25 people meeting up at Poste (hopefully the outdoor area if it's not too muggy). The question is-- based on my past experiences throwing my own parties, I have always called ahead and worked out some type of space to be held (whether I ordered food or drinks ahead of time to meet a minimum differed depending on the location). This year, because of my tighter pursestrings, I am not paying for anythign ahead of time-- should I stil call them to ask about a group of this size on a saturday night? Do you think it will be too crowded to comfortably enjoy myself there with that many people? It's kind of late to change my plans now, but I wanted to see if there were any last minute tweaks I could make :) Thank you!!!!

Fritz: Years of experience in this job have taught me to be a firm believer in the rule of 10 -- that is, if you're planning on having a gathering of 10 or more people at a bar/restaurant, you need to make reservations or at least let the place know you're coming. With 25 people, yes, you should call the bar and explain the situation. You may not be reserving/paying for the space, but you should probably make sure than no one else is, because you can't fit 25 people in Poste's bar.


Arlington, Va.: For the wedding guest in Warrenton, don't forget Molly's, across the street from Iron Bridge.

Fritz: Haven't been myself, but I'll add your advice.

So ... what's it like?


Falls Church, Va.: Planning in advance, but mostly because I'm feeling clueless...My fiance's Muslim parents and my Redneck parents are coming to D.C. in late September to meet for the first time. I thought we could get away with a single dinner and a little chatter about the joining of two cultures but the fiance thinks we should do more...GOGs, READERS, HELP! Suggestions? Thanks!

Julia: First, I think you should all know that guru consensus is that I should answer all questions with "redneck" in them.

Secondly, you're in luck. September is pretty much the best month of the year in terms of free parent-friendly events. Not sure what date your parents are in town, but there's pretty much a festival every weekend, including Adams Morgan Day on Sept. 13, the Takoma Park Folk Festival and the National Book Fest. Check out our boy Justin Rude's calendar of great summer events for other ideas. There's also polo on the Mall on Sept. 19.

You could keep some old standbys in mind too. Eastern Market, the FDR memorial and the Dupont Circle farmers market are other good options.


Arlington, Va.: FYI - for the person looking to go down to Charlottesville for Labor Day the first football game is that weekend.

Stephanie: Good call. I meant to mention that a game might be going on! So be warned, C-ville inquirer, the town will be inundated with people.


Getaways...: Annapolis? Charlottesville? Williamsburg?

Julia: I think that reader wanted to be pretty close to town, but these are all good ideas.


Washington, D.C.: Hi GOGs! Two things - (1) I need suggestions for a family activity this weekend, pretty much anywhere in the area (including Baltimore), ages 6-65, and preferably indoors; (2) I'd love to hear if anyone has first-hand experience with the tailor Hamza Simrick. Thanks!

Anne: Can't help you on 2. Anyone else? But on 1 -- you're probably looking a museum-related things, then. There is the obvious Newseum kids day all about Woodstock, which teaches kids about the '60s through a "rockumentary" and a tie-dye craft project, among other things. If you haven't been to the Newseum before, then you should go anyway, especially if most of your gang is middle-school age or older -- I think younger kids probably won't get into it as much, but maybe they will if they're Jimi Hendrix fans or budding journalists. Other museumy options, also on the pricey side: The Maryland Science Center, up in Baltimore, is having a day of hands-on science activities. There will be a bat demonstration, a chance to meet sled dogs, rocket launching, sun art and something called "Alka-Seltzer magic." You could head to Udvar-Hazy, also always worth a visit to see aircraft up close and maybe catch an Imax film. To spend nothing at all, hit the Anacostia Museum (*much* smaller than the other ones) for its family day of storytelling and crafts to mark its current exhibit.


Re: Do Tailor: I highly recommend him, but he is no longer above Nathan's because of the lease situation in that building. He recently moved up Wisconsin close to Thomas Sweet, sorry I don't know the exact address.

Julia: Oh excellent, thanks for the correction! I think the address (or at least the phone number) was on the site I linked to above.


Sweet p pie: No way! I walk by there all the time and think it looks shady but I will have to give it a try!

Julia: I always thought it was shady too and then a friend (love ya, Graham!) sent me that story and I just had to go for pie.


Upper NW DC: Hey Gurus,

I am planning a momentous birthday for my honey. I want to do a bar crawl (3-4 places) and end up dancing at the end of the night. What are the rules on such things? Do I need to call ahead and let them know we are coming? Also do you have suggestions on where to go? I have a multi ethnic group of about 15-20 people, in their 20s and 30s. Adams Morgan is out. That places is just too overwhelming. You guys rock.

Fritz: Let me just add on to my earlier answer about groups... when it's a birthday bar crawl, I think it depends on the place and the night. Will 15 people dropping into Buffalo Billiards make a dent on a Friday night? Probably not. The Reef on a Wednesday? Not unless you're heading for the roof. But if you take that crowd to a busy club on a late Saturday, and you all want to get in at the same time, then you may be asking for problems if it's a velvet rope kind of place instead of the Black Cat or Tom Tom.

(Marvin or Local 16, for example, might mean that four of you get in, then four more 5 minutes later, and the rest 10 minutes after that.)

So, sample itineraries:

H Street: Palace of Wonders, H Street Country Club, the Argonaut, Rock and Roll Hotel (for DJ bar/dancing).

Dupont Circle: Cafe Citron, Public Bar, The Spot (call ahead/hit for free guest list on Saturdays) or Eighteenth Street Lounge


Frederick, MD: Will be out in Frederick, MD this weekend. Any good eateries or must-see places?

Rhome: Brewer's Alley has had some decent house brews when I've been there and Volt gets good reviews. As for must-see places, I'm not into antiquing, which a lot of folks ride up 270 for. If I'm not visiting my Mom, the other draw for me is the good hiking and biking. I need some history buffs to detail what I recall to be some interesting Civil War sites in Frederick County. Chatters?


Yummy Sunday Brunch: Hi GOGs, I feel like this question is asked all the time, but I wanted to check if you have any suggestions for brunch on Sunday? Either D.C. or NoVa would work, preferable metro friendly.


Julia: Depends on what you're looking for. Tabard and Creme come to mind. Both great brunch options, but very different. Creme is boisterous and fun (and doesn't allow reservations). The Tabard's a touch more formal. Food is good at both. I also like Fontaine in Old Town. It's casual and cheap, but delicious. Oh, and Vermilion is another brunch fave.


An hour out of town: Heck - some days it can take an hour just to get across town. Start counting your time when you leave the city and you give yourself a lot more opportunities.

Julia: You make a good point.


Arlington, Va.: Not so much a "going out" question, but since you guys know everything: I'm looking for an oversized piece of art for my new apartment, but (like everyone but our federal government) I'm on a budget. Do you have any suggestions in DC/VA where I could start looking? Bonus points if it is a local artist.

Stephanie: What kind of budget are we talking here? Artomatic would have been the perfect time to check out work from local artists, but since that's over, I might steer your toward the Mid City Artists or the Torpedo Factory. Maybe one of those local artists will strike your fancy, and if not, I'm sure they could put you in touch with other locals whose work is more up your alley. Or maybe the chatters know of some other good places to start...?


Re: Dogfish: What do you all think about Dogfish? I have yet to try any of their products, partial reason being, I heard it taste like [edited for taste]

Fritz: I love Dogfish beers. They can be esoteric, and sometime more interesting in concept than actual taste, but when they hit it -- Raison D'Etre, World Wide Stout, the 60/90/120 minutes IPAs, Burton Baton Ale -- then it's out of the park.


Anonymous: Taking my college bound 17 yr old cousin out and about this afternoon. She love Georgetown-I haven't frequented that area since my college days, which were a "few" years ago. After some shopping I want to take her out to dinner. Any suggestions on a moderately priced place with great food and a more laid back quiet atmosphere so we can chit chat? We are both open cuisine wise so no worries there. Oh and a place with a good wine list or bar would be a plus, I have a feeling I may need a drink when it's all said and done.

Fritz: You know, I have a feeling you'd love the cafe at Rugby. She can do all her shopping, then you can duck through a doorway into a cool college hangout-meets-prep-school-rec-room restaurant with good burgers and salads, decent drinks and a lively atmosphere. Not too loud for conversations, either.

Julia: I think Fritz has pretty much got you covered. Cafe La Ruche is another option -- a cute, French bistro.


Alexandria, Va.: Date night rut. Can we have a theme today of 'best date night' ideas? My hubby and I are in a date night rut. I'll contribute my favorite if others will contribute theirs. This is out of season, but last year we had a blast ice skating at the national sculpture garden then taking our tired and slightly sore behinds to Jaleo for tapas. It was such a fun date. We're just looking for things that are fun and things that it's awfully hard to do with kids. Thanks!!

Stephanie: I like it. I vote for packing a picnic and taking in some classic 80s movies.

Fritz: I'd say a day at the pool at the Capitol Skyline on Sunday, with burgers grilled by "Top Chef" Spike Mendelsohn, a couple hours of tanning/reading/soaking, followed by a screening of "Anchorman" that starts at dusk.

Or Sunday night dinner at Marvin followed by tiki drinks on the patio at the Gibson.


Washington, D.C.: I just walked by Olives and the windows are papered up. Did it close or is it just remodeling?

Julia: Olives has closed, despite what the sign on the door says.


Washington, D.C.: I'm looking for a place to celebrate my birthday in DC on August 22nd. Only requirements are relaxed, fun atmosphere, good music, and no snooty bouncers or 2 hour limits on tables. Burlesque at Palace of Wonders would have been ideal but it's not going on that evening. Any thoughts?

Fritz: Sticking on H Street ...

If you can go early -- like around 8 -- I'd say the H St. Country Club for some mini-golf, skee-ball, snacks and margaritas. (Lines don't get huge until 9:30 or so.)

Also dig Sticky Rice on weekends, with the late-night video DJs, buckets of tater tots, crazy-lively atmosphere.


Frederick: Why not a Keys game, if they are home? And I'd like to note that people all the time ask for family friendly, and date friendly for that matter, activities, and no one has even mentioned the three minor league teams we have around here. PotNats games are totally fun, and cheap, as are the Keys and Baysox.

Julia: An excellent suggestion, Frederick. My niece and nephew love the Baysox games.


Ooh, oversized art: This site is worth checking out. Museum and show banners. Extremely cool.

Stephanie: An option for the art-seeker.


mom of a 15 year old: My budding rock star/guitar playing 15 year old is interested in music and seeing it performed live. He's ready to go beyond my 80s taste and experience indie/local bands. How does he go about doing that and where can I take him and his friends that won't cost a fortune, give them room not to have to hang with me, or give me a place near by to hand out at so they have their space? We're mid-40s and still remember how to have a good time and how we did without are parents as teenagers. PS. my first rock concert at a community college was the Ramones...

David: The 9:30 Club is probably your best bet and can be very accommodating in situations like this. It's all ages, a great venue and if you get in touch with them, they might let you just hang out downstairs in the Backbar during the show without paying to get in. No guarantees on that, but I know they've done it before. The Black Cat also has the Red Room and Food For Thought where you can chill (for free) while your son enjoys the music. I saw tons of shows at both of those places when I was in high school and never had a problem.


Columbia, MD: For Frederick, stay around on Sunday night for a free concert at the Baker Park Bandshell. It's in the middle of a nice park where people play frisbee waiting for the band to play. It's a great activity on a nice summer night. A few food vendors and Brewers Alley isn't that far away either. It was better when Railroad Earth was part of the series and drew a great mosh pit of rednecks and hippies. Alas, they got too popular and moved on.

Rhome: I totally failed by not mentioning Baker Park.


Bon appetit!: I've been inspired by Julia Child! Where is the best French lunch to be found on a Friday afternoon? D.C. and metro accessible preferred...thanks!

Julia: I like your style. Montmartre, Central and Bistrot Lepic come to mind. La Ruche (mentioned above) is less glamorous, but still one of my favorite places to grab a hanger steak and some French onion soup.


Washington, D.C.: I have the day off tomorrow. A friend and I were thinking of doing something fun and different. We tossed out some ideas like going out near Charles Town to bet on ponies and do some wine tasting. I also thought about the pool at the Capitol Skyline Hotel but not sure if it's open Fridays to the public. Any other suggestions for some end of summer fun on a Friday for two 30's females? Prefer something fairly close.

Fritz: I *LOVE* the idea of taking a summer Friday off to go gamble in West Virginia, though I'd probably go play the greyhounds instead of the ponies.

I don't think Capitol Skyline is doing the Friday pool parties anymore -- from what I understood, the attendance wasn't as good as Friday or Saturday.

How about a daytrip to Annapolis, where you could find yourself sitting at the waterside bar at Pusser's, sipping a rum cocktail and watching boats tie up at the dock, maybe take a boat trip to St. Michael's?

You could drive down to North Beach in Calvert County -- it's a cute old town, and on Fridays, they have a local farmers' market and wine tasting right off the beach.

Or you could take a trip to Vera's White Sands, in Lusby, down in St. Mary's County, for seafood and Polynesian drinks.


D.C.: Cafe La Ruche? Really? Though a cute atmopshere, this is one of the worst meals I've had in DC.

Julia: No way! Really? When I go to the movies by myself in Georgetown, La Ruche is my favorite treat. My ties run deep there, though, to be sure. My mom used to work a few doors down so I went there all the time as a kid.


Aug 22 group: I'm a bit ashamed to admit that my go-to central gathering spot for a group that size is Bar Louie. If their awesome happy hour is available on the weekends, then I would suggest going there and snagging one of their big long tables that can comfortably seat a group. Food is decent as well.

Fritz: Another option for large groups. Oh, and Clyde's too. Not kidding.


Date Night Rut: How about a Nats game? Drinks first at Sonoma for a shift in culture? Or hey, how about the Potomac Nats? You can get ultra box seats for $12. Fireworks on Sat nights, too.

Stephanie: Love it! Another date idea...


Local Art: The Eastern Market flea market (i think thats what its called - the area with the tents across the street) is a good place for local art. I dont know about oversized pieces but its a great place to start!

Stephanie: Another good suggestion for art...


Bethesda, MD: So I throw this one out to you Fritz and to the masses. The GF is almost exclusively a white wine (chardonnay) drinker with an occasional glass of red or a single bottle of Corona. She would really like to venture out to something different --- to give her some variety. What would you suggest to allow her to expand her horizons without taking a giant leap to another level? She definitely cannot handle any serious alcoholic cocktails (a la cosmopolitans and such) and does not particulary have a sweet tooth. Any and all suggestions are welcome. Thanks!

Fritz: Like different wines? Or different drinks altogether?

Take her to Veritas or Proof for wines by the glass, have her explain what she likes/doesn't like, and I guarantee they can find something she'll enjoy. For cocktails, put her in the hand of Gina Chersevani at PS7's, who is truly a miracle worker when it comes to finding new drinks for people who say "Oh, I can't drink/I don't like" something.


Rockville, Md.: Tom Sietsema was not a huge fan of Founding Farmers. I am going there tomorrow night, because, despite the review, my girlfriend "really wants to try it." Have any of the gurus been? Any dishes you particularly recommend? If I am dropping the cash, I want to make sure I'm ordering a winner!

Thank you!

Fritz: I've dropped a bunch of cash at the bar, and the cocktails are far more interesting than any of the food I've tried.

Rhome: I wonder if Fritz and Tom tried the cornbread. It made my life better. That's my only contribution to this topic.

Fritz: I did not.


Richmond, Va.: I used to live in Charlottesville, and learned to plan my own out-of-town getaways on UVA football weekends.

On the other hand, there are plenty of things to do near-but-not-in Charlottesville: plenty of wineries, a couple of craft breweries, Montpelier, to name a few.

Stephanie: Good call. Wineries are perfect if you want to avoid the Hoos fans.


Finally!!!: I will FINALLY be getting to attend one of your happy hours and what better one than the bday celebration!!! In all reality I expect it to be packed so what time do you think a line will start forming?? Also, I know there is free food and giveaways (and mad props for having a veg friendly spread) but what is the deal with drinks? Regular Ballroom specials? "special" specials? Thanks so much and can't wait to (hopefully) meet ya'll!!! HAPPY DAYS!!

Fritz: We have been told [by the Ballroom] we can't tell you what the drink specials are or even if we'll have them because Virginia Law does not allow bars/restaurants to advertise their happy hour drink specials. (If I write about them in the course of doing a review, that's another matter entirely.)

Frankly, this seems like a losing argument to me in the days of the internet, but it's the law.

So we can't tell you we have drink specials, but when you get there, I suggest you ask your bartender.


Jammin Java: Might also be good for the 15 year old, depending on where they live.

David: Yep, this is true. Can be a bit of a trek from certain places in Maryland and doesn't have quite as much "indie" but definitely a good "starter" venue, as it were.


Arlington, Va.: Gurus,

Please help! I am in serious need of good Mexican food. I'd like to avoid the standard, overpriced, chain restaurants, and prefer a smaller, divey, hole-in-the-wall type place with great food. Prefer either D.C. or Northern Va. Any suggestions or favorite places?

Julia: I don't know if you've realized the hot-button issue you've touched on here.... People in this town take Mexican food (or the lack of it) very seriously. I like Los Cuates in Georgetown or Tia Queta. Los Tios gets high marks from friends, but I've never been.


Foggy Bottom, D.C.: New to the area: is Eastern Market open on Saturdays?

Julia: Yep. The thing about Eastern Market is some vendors are there Saturday, some Sunday, some both days. I actually prefer it on Sundays; it's a little more chill.


Columbia, MD: For Frederick, stay around on Sunday night for a free concert at the Baker Park Bandshell. It's in the middle of a nice park where people play frisbee waiting for the band to play. It's a great activity on a nice summer night. A few food vendors and Brewers Alley isn't that far away either. It was better when Railroad Earth was part of the series and drew a great mosh pit of rednecks and hippies. Alas, they got too popular and moved on.

Also Chubby's BBQ and that Mountain buffet place (with homemade pie) up in Thurmont is worth the trip. Visit the grotto near Mt. St. Mary's for some "healing" water to go also.

Julia: Great ideas, thanks!


NOVA Teetotlar: Did I spell that right? Anyway, I am on the wagon for the next few weeks but cannot stop my social life, right!? Can you tell me how bartenders feel about non-drinkers? Are they alcohol-free friendly? Do they ever feel challenged (and happy about it) to make "mocktails"? I will be drinking again next month, and will gladly reward the ones who are friendly to me now with a nice high bartab next month! But, are we welcome in their establishments? I see myself as the Designated Driver right they welcome our presence?? Thanks!

Fritz: Hey there, Teetotaler. First -- deep breath. Relax. You'll be fine.

I went dry for a couple weeks earlier this year and wrote a story about it for the Weekend Section. I kept going out four/five nights a week the whole time.

Most bartenders don't mind non-drinkers as long as you treat them the way they deserve to be treated -- be polite, smile, chat, and remember to tip them when they bring you another cranberry-and-soda or tonic water with lime, just as you would if it were a Stoli and tonic. Your better cocktail bars will have experience mixing non-alcoholic drinks, specifically PS7's, which crafts booze-free versions of everything on the menu, though some are better than others.


D.C.: This isn't going out as much as staying in, but as well as you know the city: where should I live? I just moved to the area, but read your chats for research to prep for the move. I'm 22, female, and am searching for a magic intersection of not ridiculously expensive (I'd like to spend less than 900 a month) and safe. HELP!

Stephanie: Since we all live in different neighborhoods, this should be interesting. But I vote for Logan Circle (although if money weren't an object, I'd say Dupont, but I let go of my rent control apartment so can't afford the neighborhood anymore. Sad). But Logan is close enough to the bars and restaurants along 14th and U and Dupont to walk, close to multiple metro lines, a bunch of bus lines, it's safe and parking isn't a huge hassle.

Julia: I live in Mount Pleasant and adore the place. Group houses come cheap in the area, but if you want to live alone, you may be better off in Columbia Heights. I should mention that both MtP and Logan Circle have their share of crime though -- scooters go missing in Logan daily and I know a bunch of people who have had their cars broken into in my hood or have been mugged. I still feel safe as a woman walking around in either place, I just didn't want to sugar coat it for ya.

Rhome: I live in Hyattsville and people try to clown me for it but I can walk to the Metro and the grocery store and my mortgage is half what most folks pay in rent for a studio apartment in DC. And I have voting representation in Congress. That quiets the ridicule quickly. If I did live in DC, I'd like Logan for reasons Stephanie noted but would probably end up in Brookland or Takoma Park because of the green space and peace and quiet. Possibly Petworth too.

Fritz: For less than $900, you'd find a decent spot in a group house in Columbia Heights or Glover Park. Both neighborhoods have lots of people in their 20s, active nightlife and decent transportation, though GP is more bus-oriented than Columbia Heights, which has the Green line.

Bloomingdale is another place I'd look, too -- a neighborhood on the up that doesn't have much (right now), but good prices, access to U Street and Shaw, and lots of cool folks moving in.

_______________________ Okay, we really have to dash to start getting ready for tonight's happy hour. See you at Clarendon Ballroom at 6 -- early birds get the free food and the prime rooftop spots.


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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