Got Plans?: Cavalia, Oktoberfest, Arlington Bars, Birthday Brunches, Whiskey

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The Going Out Gurus
of The Washington Post's Going Out Guide
Thursday, September 24, 2009; 1:00 PM

The Going Out Guide staff discussed birthday brunches, Arlington bars, Cavalia, Oktoberfest, the U2 concert and whiskey on Thursday, Sept. 24 at 1 p.m. ET.

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washingtonpost.com: Hi everyone. So much to talk about today -- the National Book Festival, Oktoberfest, Sonic Circuits, Chuck Brown at the Reagan Building and -- tonight only -- $1 beers and cover bands in Clarendon. And hey, you can get all our Best Bets for the weekend right here.There's a full group of Gurus right here waiting to answer your questions and listen to your comments, so let's get underway.

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Wanting freebies, Va.: I thought I remembered reading in the Post travel section a few weeks ago that this Saturday the 26th was a free admission day for museums around the country. I've been waiting to go to the Crime and Punishment Museum because of the relatively high price tag. Is this in fact happening, or did I make this up, wishful thinking style?

Thanks!

Stephanie: Free Museum Day is indeed happening on Saturday. Just be sure to print out the admission card from the Web site before heading out for the day.

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Silver Spring, stationary: I am deathly afraid of bike riding. I rode when I was a little kid, but have not been on a bike in more than 20 years. Because of my fear, I miss out on family bike rides and nice fall weather outings. Any idea where a 30-something year old can learn to ride a bike without feeling like an idiot?

Rhome: Washington Area Bicyclist Association offers classes for beginners.

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Cleveland Park Girl: GOGs what's the deal with Cleveland Park? Everything seems to be shutting down in my cute hood. Is anything new coming to replace McGruders? Starbucks? McDonalds? 7eleven?

Fritz: Well, you've always got Atomic and Dino! McDonald's has been empty since I moved to Woodley Park, and that was YEARS ago. Honestly, I find myself spending less time there than ever, which is a shame. Blame sky-high rents (thanks to the expensive houses nearby), blame lack of parking, blame the limit on the number of restaurants/bars. It's all contributing to the decline of the strip.

But hey, you could always live in Van Ness.

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GOG Happy Hour: Hey, I still haven't been able to locate the pics from the happy hour at Public. Are they up and I'm totally missing them?? BTW while at the happy hour I noticed...Rhome is dreamy...just sayin'.

Anne: You can see a bunch on our Facebook page. (And ones from past happy hours, too.)

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Birthday Brunch: We're planning to celebrate our friend's 25th birthday with a brunch next Saturday. We're thinking we'd like to be in D.C. (Georgetown, Dupont, NW anywhere really) and there will be about 8 of us. Do most brunch places take reservations? Thoughts on Creme? Bonus points for a brunch with the option of a bottomless drink. Thanks!

Julia: Many do NOT take reservations, actually, which can be frustrating, I know. Creme does not take reservations and even though it's probably my favorite place offering the bottomless drink option, I don't think it's a good choice for a group of your size. The Front Page offers a pretty standard brunch option. The food's not great -- and it definitely feels like you're in a bar -- but it's satisfying and the waffles are good for a hangover morning. Plus, they have bottomless mimosas. (That may only be on Sunday though; call to be sure 202-296-6500.)

If you want a classier affair, try Cafe Atlantico or Poste. The food will be better. You can make reservations. But expect a higher price tag.

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Arlington, Va: Gurus,

Any suggestions on options for a pseudo-Oktoberfest bar crawl this weekend? The idea would be to go to a few beer bars that have good selections and some seasonal/Oktoberfest brews. Not interested in that Penn Quarter bar crawl, but is the Oktoberfest at Nat'l Harbor worth making the trek out to instead of a DIY adventure? Thanks.

Fritz: Das Best Oktoberfest is more like "Beerfest" than, say, the Capitol City Brewing Company Oktoberfest, which is all about trying different beers. The National Harbor version has rock bands, a "Best Beer Belly" contest, hundreds of beers to sample and a now-sold-out "VIP" option.

If you want to do your own crawl, places where I've enjoyed good Oktoberfest beers so far this year:

Birreria Paradiso Dupont (Ayinger on draft last night was so good)

Cafe Mozart (All-Spaten draft lineup include the Oktoberfest)

The Reef (Hofbrau, Paulaner and two other festbiers on)

Gordon Biersch (house-brewed Maerzen style)

District Chophouse (two outstanding fests on right now)

R.F.D. (A couple Germans, plus outstanding U.S. options like Bell's and Flying Dog)

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U2 @ FedEx Field: Any chance you guys have the inside scoop on how FedEx Field will run the U2 concert? How early can the general admission people arrive? Can we use their bathrooms? Do we have to pay for parking?

Thank you!

David: You can arrive VERY early. Really, really early. Like, at noon. That's when the parking lot opens. Box office opens at 3. Doors open at 5. Opening act at 7. You already paid for parking -- it's included in the ticket price. Also, Metro is extending its hours, so the last train will leave Morgan Boulevard at 12:24 a.m. And remember, there are many ways to get to the stadium. Exit 17B will absolutely be the most busy; there are plenty of other ways to get there.

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National Mall: Myself and some out of town family are coming to D.C. for a wedding, but before we go home, we want to see the National Mall on Sunday. Unfortunately, I cannot take Metro as I'll have my dog with me. I've done some research and found a few places that have either garage parking or lot parking near the mall. Any suggestions on places to park so my family can see the sights of D.C.?

Anne: When I drive, I usually do well parking somewhere south of Independence (the Air and Space Museu/Hirshhorn/American Indian Museum side). You might have to hunt for a bit or walk a few blocks, but I bet you will find something free.

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Annandale, Va.: Hi Gurus, love your advice! Here's my dilemma: my in-laws are coming to town this weekend, and we need a place to take them for dinner on Sunday. Any suggestions for places near the Fairfax city area? Every place I've thought of seems to be closed on Sundays. Also, they're pretty picky eaters (dietary restrictions) so we can't do anything too crazy. I'm totally at a loss on this one. Any thoughts?

Julia: What about Artie's?

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Mount Pleasant: I'm planning a bar crawl on H Street and would like to end the night at a place with dancing. But, having done recon during last weekend's H Street festival, I'm not sure such a place exists. Did I overlook something? Hook me up, Gee-Oh-Gees.

Fritz: I saw plenty of dancing at the RNR Hotel (upstairs) and at Lil Miss Whiskey's last weekend. LMW is pulling some major DJ talent these days, including Rhome, who spun there a couple weeks ago, and Ronnie Darko of Spank Rock/Amanda Blank fame, who's there this weekend.

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Washington, D.C.: Sometimes I just want to relax and have a drink on my own. Are there any quiet places, such as hotel bars, that are great for going for doing just that?

Fritz: Totally. I like destressing at old-school hotel bars like Off the Record (in the basement of the Hay-Adams) or the Town and Country at the Mayflower. Went to the newly reopened Jefferson recently and think it would also be a great idea to grab a couch in the book-filled lounge.

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Cavalia: I'm being dragged to Cavalia tonight. What am I in for? Am I going to be bored to death and falling asleep in my seat or should I actually try to get excited about going?

Stephanie: I don't think that boredom will be a problem with Cavalia. While our critic Nelson Pressley admitted that some people might find portions of the performance slow, it's still a show full of crazy acrobatics -- on horses! How boring could it possibly be?

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Washington, D.C.: Going to Chincoteague for the weekend. Any must see/do recommendations? I could use a food rec, canoe suggestions--anything that's chill and fun for two. Thanks!

Anne: Our hero Amy Joyce is the go-to expert on the homey atmosphere in Chincoteague.

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Alexandria, Va.: My husband and I are heading to a house party in Glover Park Saturday night. Any suggestions on a fun but good place to eat before? Isn't there a place where you can have tacos on a rooftop? Town Hall really isn't our scene so if you have any other suggestions, that would be great. And aside from Bourbon, are there any bars we can hit afterwards in the area? Is Breadsoda worth trying out? THANKS!

Julia: You're thinking of Surfside, which is indeed delicious. If it were me, I'd probably stick with Bourbon afterward, but I yield the floor to Fritz on that topic.

Fritz: I like Breadsoda. A lot. Fun mix of people (hipsters AND Town Hall peeps), great jukebox, DJ on the weekends hitting the party vibe, sandwiches until late when you're hungry, fantastic draft beer selection.

Did I leave anything out? Well, it can get crowded on Saturdays, but no worse than anywhere else in GP. (Except for, like, Kavanagh's.)

Bourbon is the other big option if you're trying to avoid the Town Hall/Gin and Tonic/Kitchen scene. It's also packed, but the bourbon and wine-by-the-glass selections are great.

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Washington, D.C.: This may be a better question to ask in a few months, but I'll try anyway. I've lived in D.C. for several years now and have always wanted to join one of the softball leagues in the spring. However I work in a small lobbying office where we don't have a team and none of my friends play in any, so I don't have a connection to any of the leagues. Can someone simply sign up in a league or do you have to have an office team in order to do so? I love baseball and think playing softball would be a lot of fun and get me outside and active, as opposed to only working out indoors. If it matters I'm a male in my mid 20s. Thanks!

Julia: There are some leagues around town that allow single folks to sign up. Just looked over a long-ago article I wrote on the subject and, at least in 2007, DC CityBall seemed to be the most open to individual players joining a roster. Check out my old story if you need more intel on various leagues.

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Arlington, Va.: Best place or places for gyros around here? Dying for one lately...thanks!

Julia: I'll go with Greek Deli & Catering. Chatters -- want to add to this list?

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NoVa, no clue: I know you probably get this question all of the time but I seriously need some pointers. Where does one find nice boys in their late 20s/early 30s? My friend needs to find a date and I have no idea where to go because I've only recently moved back to D.C. (and I'm married, so I'm not looking). Someplace low-key, but a good crowd vibe. I'm thinking of Eventide, EatBar and Carpool to start. Any thoughts?

Fritz: There are men all around. The bar at Eventide would be good. EatBar probably not. Maybe Yaku, Continental, the Four Courts, karaoke night at Galaxy Hut?

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Staycation: Which hotels would you gurus recommend for a young couple to enjoy a weekend of activities in D.C. without worrying about transportation? We live in the 'burbs and just feel like changing it up this weekend and staying somewhere nice(r) (without breaking a bank). It doesn't have to be super fancy but bonus point for romantic, quaint atmosphere.

Thanks so much, dear Gurus.

Fritz: I can recommend the Tabard Inn for a quaint, pleasant staycation -- complete with one of the best brunches in D.C. on Sunday morning. And it's hard to beat the location.

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Arlington, Va.: Those cycling classes all seem to be geared toward people that can physically ride a bike already -- what about adults that never learned how period (a.k.a. my wife)? Do you just have to go find an empty parking lot and teach yourself?

Something else I've always wondered - can two people ride a tandem bike as long as one knows how to ride a bike and sits in front, or will the person that can't ride a bike throw the balance all off even if they just sit in back and pedal?

Stephanie: When I learned to use clipless pedals a few years ago, I went the parking lot route (because I'm seriously clumsy), and I think that's a good, no-stress place to start. After a couple hours there, she can graduate up to a not-too-crowded bike path. As for going tandem, that sounds a little risky to me. Chatters, care to weigh in?

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Navy Yard: Do any of you know about D.C. bar and restaurant policies regarding electronic cigarette use? Has "vaping" made the scene in D.C.?

Fritz: I have not, actually. (And some people in the office didn't even know what electronic cigarettes were.) The vapor when a user "exhales" is all water vapor without tar and carcinogens, so I expect it's legal, but I'm not sure your average bar/restaurant would know the difference.

Anyone have a take on this? Vapers?

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Holy Cow: Is Karaoke night at Galaxy Hut back on Thursdays?

Fritz: Nah. I wish. (And I wish Jimmy and Caroline were still running it.)

But G-Hut Karaoke is the first Sunday of the month.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Greetings GOGs-

I'm going to the Snow Patrol concert Friday night at DAR Constitution Hall. Do you know of any restaurants in that area worth trying?

Thanks!

Julia: That area is tough if you're not looking to spend a lot of cash. J&G Steakhouse, The Oval Room, Bombay Club, Equinox and BLT Steak are all nearby, but eat at any of those places and you're probably going to drop a lot of cash. If it were me, I'd hit up Kaz Sushi Bistro for sushi. Potenza is nearby too -- and affordable -- but I've had up and down experiences there.

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Ashburn, Va.: Re: National Mall Parking: I always find a spot on Ohio Dr. by the FDR Memorial. Just turnin off Independence. That way you're already at the FDR (which is awesome) and really close to the Lincoln, Vietnan, Korean, WWII.

Julia: Yeah, actually, that's where I park too when I drive down there.

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Facebook: Okay, I'll admit to being technologically challenged, I can't seem to find you on facebook. Everytime I sign in via the link you provided I'm taken to my page and can't seem to find you when I search. What am I doing wrong?

Fritz: Try clicking here and tell me what's up.

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Washington, D.C.: I'm going to the Lady GaGa concert next Tuesday (the 29th), do you know if cameras are allowed inside, and whether fans will be able to take pictures with her after the concert? Thanks

David: Haven't seen an official word on cameras. It would seem like quite a task to keep people from taking pictures at a Lady Gaga show. Isn't that sort of the entire point? Big professional cameras will certainly be frowned upon, though. And you will be out of luck with getting a picture after the concert. Unless you are very serious about stalking her. Meet and greet? No.

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Annandale w/picky eaters: What about Fairfax Corner? There are several restaurants & little shops around there. You have Coastal Flats, PF Changs, some Mexican restaurant & other stuff. It's a cute spot to walk around also.

Julia: Love Coastal Flats.

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RE: Softball: If you're a graduate of a university that participates in CAN, http://www.dcalum.org/chapters.aspx , they offer softball, football, volleyball, and basketball leagues all year. The softball league may involve more drinking than exercise, but It's a ton of fun, and a great way to meet people in D.C. It's how I met my future hubby!

Fritz: Another option.

Personally, I don't go for team sports any more challenging than bocce these days.

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Middleburg, Va.: Anyone looking to head west on 50 should know that Middleburg and surrounding small towns are celebrating Harvest Week. All of our restaurants are going to be featuring dishes all made with fresh local products and local wines. The wineries have started picking grapes. It is a really fun time out here this weekend and next.

Anne: Since I asked what you all think is the best fall activity around, I'll accept this plug. Here's their link, even. If you are heading out to the country, see some recommendations for Loudoun restaurants you might hit on the way.

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Proof Positive: Saturday Night I'm taking my girlfriend out for our one-year anniversary. We are starting at Proof for dinner and she wants to go dancing somewhere after. We are both in our late twenties. Is there anything in that are to go to? How is Stir, Ultra-Bar, something else?

Fritz: Ultrabar is good if you like clubs -- big ones with soaring ceilings and uptempo dance music. I like the intimate, vault-like basement, which features hip-hop, with more mashups and Top-40 upstairs.

Stir is loud and not a ton of fun. Feels very generic. And there was a $20 cover last time I was there. I'd head for either K Street (Josephine) or Connecticut Avenue (ESL, the Spot) after.

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Arlington, Va.: RE: Softball - You can also go on D.C. Sportsvite (http://dc.sportsvite.com/) to find a team to join or create a profile and advertise yourself as someone looking for a team, for just about any sport.

Julia: Good to know -- thanks!

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Alexandria, Va.: Vaping? Electronic cigarettes? Why not save yourself the trouble and just get an "L" tatooed on your forehead.

Fritz: Soon enough, you won't be able to smoke in Virginia bars, and then you'll have to deal with the same issue...

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Washington D.C.: Hi Gurus, This is a bit outside your usual topics, perhaps. But I'm hoping you can help me. I'd like to find a gallery where I can exhibit photographs. But every one I've tried either is not accepting submissions or wants you to join for a high monthly membership fee. Any suggestions for galleries that are welcoming to newer artists? Thanks!

Stephanie: Hm. My two initial suggestions are out because one is over (Artomatic) and the other is closed for entries (the competition for FotoWeek DC). I think you might want to start by talking to fellow photographers, especially ones who are exhibiting around town. You can track them down at opening receptions for new exhibitions, during FotoWeek in Novemeber or at gallery talks. You can even get started on Saturday at 4; photog Jim Feinberg will be discussing his work in conjunction with his exhibition at Katzen Arts Center.

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Staycation Spot: For the person looking for somewhere to stay in D.C. on their Staycation, I would recommend the Hotel Palomar. You can't beat the free wine social hour!

Now for my question -- any recommendations for a place that is within a few hours drive of D.C. that would be a romantic place to spend a weekend in the fall? I am looking for something that maybe has hiking, wineries, cute stores, good restaurants, etc. Thanks!

Fritz: Doesn't Rouge give you cold pizza in the mornings or something like that?

Anyway, getting out of town: You cannot beat the Shenandoah Valley. Staunton, Lexington or Charlottesville would be my choices -- they'd fit all your requirements. Just make sure you check the VMI or UVA football schedules if you choose the latter two towns, because they make traffic horrendous. The Fighting Squirrels of Mary Baldwin don't have a football team, so that's one less thing to worry about.

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Tandem teaching is a bad idea: i have some experience on tandems and they are not all a picnic for the person in the back. Yes, the person in the back can definitly throw their weight around and make things difficult. If she's really scared have her learn on a hard grassy area so that if she falls over theres minimal scraping. It doesn't take long, promise.

Stephanie: There you have it!

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Washington, D.C.: I am planning on driving to the U2 concert next week from D.C. and I would like to get information on the best route to take and any tips for avoiding the long delays that happened with the Paul McCartney concert. Also, do you know how parking works at FedEx for concerts and how much it typically costs? Thanks

David: If you're coming from the Beltway I'd say take exit 16 (Arena Dr.). That should get you to the stadium very easily, and you'll probably pass lots of people waiting to exit at 17B. If you want to avoid the Beltway, and are coming from the city, take East Capitol St. (which becomes Central Ave.) into MD, turn left on Garrett Morgan Blvd and follow to the stadium. Or take New York Ave into MD, take exit 3B for Landover Road, take that to Brightseat Road, turn right and go to the Gray Lot. There are really lots of ways to get there.

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Little Miss Whiskey's: What's the atmosphere there like? I've heard it's "like L.A.," but I'm not sure what exactly that means.

Fritz: How about "Awesome"? It's tastefully decorated with old posters, mirrors and light fixtures, draws an eclectic crowd that ranges from b-boys to electro-nerds, serves Stroh's in cans ... probably my favorite new bar in D.C. right now.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi GOGS,

Like many my favorite food is Italian, but I feel like I'm in a rut. What are your favorite restaurants in D.C. (Metro accessible please) that do Italian very well, but that is not incredibly expensive. In other words, I'm looking for a "go to" place for weekly, biweekly dining with my wife and/or friends, not a special occasion place. 15-25 dollars an entree for example. Thank you and keep up the good work!

Julia: Of the restaurants on our Best Bets for Italian list, I'd say Dino probably most closely fits your needs. I'm reviewing the Pizzaiolo Cafe & Bar in tomorrow's Weekend section. That place is more casual -- even more well suited for a weekly dinner, in my opinion -- but alas, nowhere near a Metro.

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Soccer Loving BF: Hey Gurus, LOVE your reading your chats. I am new to the area, so I rely on y'all to get going out advice/ideas. Anyways, I got tickets for my soccer-loving BF and I to go to an upcoming DC United game, but I need some help! First, what is the best way to get to the stadium? More importantly, are there any good places to grab drinks before the game?? I tried to look online, but it didnt seem like there was anywhere nearby -- HELP!!!

Rhome: I usually Metro to RFK and if I'm staying in the city I'll take the D6 or 96 bus back west because you can avoid the crush of people descending on the Armory Metro stop all at once. There are numerous bar options on Barracks Row or Pennsylvania Ave before a game. Or you can hit those areas after the game for a bite and then ride a much less crowded Metro.

Fritz: I like Trusty's before/after a match. You can walk there, or it's only one Metro stop. Probably better to walk after the match to beat the crush.

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RE Single Men: Please do not send this woman to Eventide, Galaxy Hut or in anywhere in Clarendon. As a single mid-20s girl, I can say that Eventide, the 'Slut (our friendly nickname, no slight intended), and Liberty are the WORST places to meet people. There is the Chinese restaurant near Mexicali Blues, and the bar with the astroturf porch (Name is escaping me) and plenty of other hole-in- the-walls.

You GOGs are great, but not really equipped to answer questions about "Where to meet single men in Clarendon" (given that the ladies are married, and the guys, are well, guys.)

Fritz: I've met a lot of interesting people at Galaxy Hut! (And I like to think I'm interesting.)

Are you thinking of Whitlow's? I think of that more for hook-ups than meeting people, but well, I'm apparently a guy.

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CBD: I'm a little green in this whole "work world" but am meeting with my old boss to strategize my employment future. I want to suggest a place to meet up downtown where we can talk over a few glasses of wine. Any suggestions for a place that has the right atmosphere for a friendly/business conversation that makes me seem grown up? Thanks!

Julia: The lounges at Ceiba or Proof seem like good fits to me.

Fritz: I'll co-sign Julia's answer, and add Off the Record. Always a good look.

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Cleveland Park: So I am not sure this is a going out question, but I do trust you guys opinion. I am thinking about buying a house close to the H street corridor, H and 7th street NE. I know there are some great bars, but the neighborhood is still pretty sketchy. Do you think the neighborhood is on its way up, or will it remain unsafe?

Rhome: H Street has been transforming itself for the past 5 years. It'll probably be another U Street within the next 5. There actually was a time when folks called U Street sketchy, now it often looks like Georgetown on a weekend. Sometimes I wish I could put folks in a time machine from when I grew up near H Street. They'd have a vastly revised definition of "sketchy".

Fritz: True quote, from an older woman at Bohemian Caverns one night, about Rhome's old block. "That's not Capitol Hill. That's Capitol Hood."

I think the thing about H is that so much of the development is taking place at the far ends -- concentrated between 12th to 15th and around the old Capitol Children's Museum at 2nd/3rd. It'll be interesting to see what happens in between.

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Learn to Ride a Bike: The chatter might try a bike store, Performance Bike. Most bike stores will either teach you or direct you to an organization/person who will. Although, I'd rather learn in an empty parking lot so the audience for my falls is sparse.

Stephanie: Another interesting idea for bike beginners. I'm with you though -- the fewer people to see me looking klutzy, the better.

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Dupont Circle: Hi Gurus! I wanted to go check out National Harbor on Saturday night -- is it possible to get there via public transportation? Any idea how long it would take from Dupont and when the bus (I assume) stops running? I couldn't find this info on the National Harbor site so if you or the peanuts know, it would really help me out!

Fritz: Here's what I would do: If you're deadset on not driving, take the Metro to Old Town and take a water taxi over. The bus from Branch Avenue runs every 30 minutes "or so" and takes forever, and cabs don't hang out at Branch Avenue on weekends. Last boat leaves at 11, which is kinda early, but not too bad.

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No, not Whitlows: Jay's Saloon! That's the name! I love the 'Hut too - and Fritz, you are interesting. But I just haven't had much luck. I personally think there are other places out there. But I'm only a girl, so what do I know :)

Fritz: Oh God, I love Jay's. Best cheap beer in Arlington! And the Astroturf porch! Plumbers sitting next to dudes in suits at the bar. That's what makes Jay's great.

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Washington, D.C.: I asked this question in advance but it hasn't been answered yet... I'm looking for activities to do one weeknight with a small group of co-workers for "office bonding." I thought of the H St Country Club but wanted to see if you all had other ideas? Thank you!

Julia: I think that sounds good. That or Lucky Strike Lanes. Something with an activity....

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Washington, D.C.: I'm in charge of planning a "bonding" activity for our small office of 7 people for a weekday after work. I had a thought that H St. Country Club could be fun, but wanted to see whether you had suggestions or other ideas? I think we'll want to stay in the District. Thanks!

Fritz: H Street could be fun. Or a Skee-Ball/darts/shuffleboard triathalon at Rocket Bar.

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Alexandria, Va.: For good affordable Italian, I don't think you should exclude Luigi's from that list.

Julia: OMG -- Luigi's, of course! Totally adore that place.

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Speaking of Italian: Have any of you ever eaten at that place Finemondo's on F Street NW (I think) by the National Press Club building? I've always been tempted to eat there because it's convenient to the mall (and I like how they open the doors to the dining room), but then I look at the menu and the prices are a little high. I've always wondered if it's worth it. Any thoughts?

Julia: Actually no, never been. We're almost out of time, but chatters... help me out!

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Alexandria, Va.: Okay weird question. I've been a beer drinker all my life, but want to expand to the hard stuff when out. Would whiskey go well with soda? Will I be laughed at by a bartender if I ask for Gingerale and Jameson or something similar? Any other suggestions? Thanks and please excuse my ignorance.

Fritz: Don't drink Irish whiskey with ginger ale. Drink blended Scotch, American whiskey (i.e. Jack Daniels) or bourbon (i.e. Maker's Mark) with soda. (I dunno why. Just don't.) The only Irish whiskey I've ever liked with soda was Powers, for some reason.

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Place to meet guys: Go to a Nats game (okay so the season is almost over) but it's a great place for marrieds and many single guys to chat with. I met my fiance there.

Julia: No kidding! You guys are going to have a great wedding toast!

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Kids in bars?: Trying to organize game watchings for an alumni group. Do you gurus have the scoop on bar entry ages for daytime weekend games?

We recently had a dad and his 15 year old son turned away at Buffalo Billiards... Is this a D.C. law or the bar's own policy? Do you know any bars that turn more family friendly during weekend days?

Fritz: Ah, I love being able to say this:

There is NO LAW in D.C. that says a 15-year-old can't be at a bar or restaurant where alcohol is being served. None. They sure can't order or drink it, but they are not legally barred from being there. When people tell me there is, I asked to be shown the law, and they usually can't find one.

I would call around and ask. Explain you'll be there to chaperone, and ask if it's okay. I know some bars allow anyone in during the day but start carding at 9 or so.

Try calling Penn Quarter Sports Tavern and see what they say.

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Pizzaiolo is metro accessible: If you go to Cafe Pizzaiolo in Crystal City. Although it doesn't have the bar, or bar atmosphere, or the locals like the one in Del Ray does (we personally like the Del Ray one better)

Julia: Yeah, I think Del Ray is pretty cool. So good for families. I was sad I didn't have my nieces with me any of the times I went.

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Jay's Rocks!: I have met more interesting people at Jay's than I have anywhere else...ever.

Would I want to date these people -- not most of them (seeing as they are old enough to be my father or grandfather) but Jay's is the kind of place where you can truly be yourself and see what happens.

Kind of makes me want to go to Jay's tonight...

Fritz: You should, and have an icy-cold mug of Bud for me.

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Palisades: Thanks for the Yaku suggestion last week. Who can beat $2 Newcastles? Awesome.

Here's my question, I keep seeing places around town with no signs. For instance, what's the place next to the Subway on the 2500 block of Penn? There are tables outside but no sign. Do I go in, should I sit down, what will happen? I feel like some of these places could be members only but there's no sign, so who knows.

I know Jimmy Valentine's and a few other bars go by word of mouth but is this a trend in restaurants as well?

Fritz: The place next to Subway is The Rookery, a members club and live music venue owned by the man behind Smith Point, Surfside, Something Sweet, etc. I don't think you have to have a members card to grab a meal there anymore. (It's waaaay less exclusive than when it opened and you had to be on a list to get past the bouncer.)

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Best Cheap Italian: Pasta Mia at 18th and Columbia, BUT:

- Cash only, - Be prepared to stand in line outside, - Don't ask for substitutions,and - Don't ask to split an entree.

No need to hear from all the Pasta Mia haters out there -- we've heard it all before. Bottom line -- if you don't like the reality -- don't go.

Julia: Agreed with the hater line for sure.

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Re: Best Gyros: Fetoosh in Georgetown are excellent.

Julia: Thanks for the tip.

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Fairfax, Va.: I am looking for a bar in NoVA (excluding Arlington) that has games. I like Carpool in Herndon. They have plenty to do. Are there other similar bars?

Fritz: Carpool's about the king of board games and other amusements. Breakers Sky Lounge in Herndon is an interesting place, from pool to darts to karaoke to dozens of TVs. Jimmy's Old Town Tavern has foosball, trivia and other options.

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re Learnin to love the liquor: As a long time bourbon drinker I think it's important to distinguish between club soda and soft drinks. I'm a purist so won't mix with anything other than a small splash of water. however, if you're drinking a rail whiskey, ginger ale isn't horrible. Coke is not my thing. Although I drink it like water, mixed with whiskey, it's heinous. I'd actually suggest mixing a better level whisky with club soda to start and see if you can wean yourself onto regular water. Whiskeys can be as varied as wine and each has its own character. Time and experience will tell you what you like. Go to tastings and remember that while the flavors are remarkably different, the basics of learning to appreciate whiskeys are pretty much the same. A little water brings out the undertones in Scotch, Bourbon and Irish Whiskeys.

Fritz: This is all good advice, and sorry I should have been clearer in my answer. When I said soda, I meant Club Soda or Soda Water, not Coke or Pepsi or something.

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Silver Spring, Md: Hi Gurus -- I'm want to have a fun signature drink for a party I'm hosting this weekend. I have exactly one night, tonight, to research. I live in Silver Spring and have little ones, so I can't go too far. Who has the biggest and best cocktail menu in SS/Bethesda/CC/Upper NW? Thanks!

Fritz: Great cocktail menus are few and far between in Montgomery County, sad to say. (Seriously, someone should do one right. They'd make a mint.) Black's has some good drinks, but mostly Bethesda's a beer kind of place. Same with Silver Spring, though I do like the bar at Jackie's. And in Chevy Chase ... there's Clydes, which has a fine little patio for sipping wine on a nice day, but the cocktail list is kinda predictable. Can you manage a 15-minute Red Line ride to Gallery Place? You'd find a ton of inspiration in Adam Bernbach's new cocktail list at Proof, or Gina Chersevani at PS7's, or Jason Storch at Rasika.

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Washington: Hey Gurus,

I really like good cocktails. The kind a man can drink with pride and that don't always end in -tini. But PX and the Gibson are a little too chichi for casual after-work drinks. The only other place I've found is Eventide (which I love) but I'm hoping there are others out there. Is there any place else you recommend?

Fritz: Casual-but-good cocktails: Bourbon Adams Morgan. Room 11. The bar at the Tabard Inn. PS7's. Ceiba. Town and Country Lounge.

(Proof, too, if you don't think the wine bar is fancy.)

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National Book Festival: I am looking forward to the National Book Festival this weekend. The one piece of information I can't find, however -- can I bring my own books for the authors to sign, or do I have to purchase them from the sales tent there? Or, will the authors sign other items (I'd love to get a Festival poster if they're available for purchase & have that signed by as many authors as I can)?

Stephanie: Book World editor Rachel Shea tells me that she brought her own book last year, and they were cool with it. Better yet, they gave her a festival poster for free.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Gurus -- you guys are the best! I was wondering if you could help me out. I'm looking for the 411 on the best Carribbean spots in D.C. -- restaurants, clubs/dancing, etc. Any unhidden gems out there? I know about the usual suspects -- Crossroads, Boukum (sp?), Tropicana, etc., but looking for others to add to the list. Thanks.

Fritz: Carolina Kitchen in Hyattsville -- which I think Rhome told me about -- is on my list of places to visit. They have reggae every Tuesday.

DJ Super Slice, who you hear at some of those big clubs, also does the occasional thing at Almaz on U -- next night of roots and culture with various sound systems is Oct. 17.

Also, there's the Trinidad and Tobago Hall on upper Georgia. They host fetes with live music there on the regular.

You've hit the main locations, so keep an eye out flyers announcing other parties, because they're always going on at private banquet halls and places like that.

Oh, and I have to mention the Soundclash, which is a night of vintage Jamaican music -- straight-up 60s and 70s classic ska, rocksteady, etc. -- at Marx Cafe one Friday a month. Next one is ... this week.

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washingtonpost.com: So we've run well over our allotted time -- see how much y'all mean to us? -- and we have to split. But we'll be back here next Thursday, and Julia will have a chat wrap-up on the blog tomorrow that might contain an extra couple of questions that we couldn't get to today. Who knows. Anyway, have a good weekend and enjoy the waning days of good weather.

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