Got Plans?

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

The Going Out Guide staff discussed free theater, scotch bars, veggie sushi, Minibar dress codes and conversation starters Thursday, Oct. 1 at 1 p.m. ET.

____________________ Hey there, folks. Lots to discuss today -- did everyone who asked about getting to U2 last week write their review yesterday? What are you up to this week? Let's go.


Fritz will know...: Sat down in a very nice bar, and ordered a single malt neat (Laphroig). Bartender places a glass and the bottle in front of me, and walks off. Like I was Wyatt Earp in Tombstone. What is the etiquette in this situation, do I keep my own tab, can I pour whenever I want? Is it happy time? Thanks for your help in this vexing situation.

Fritz: That almost never happens to me -- something about my reputation preceding me.

Okay, I kid. I don't think they expect you to serve yourself -- it's just a nice touch in high-end places to leave the bottle out in case you want to inspect it, or read the label, or whatever. I usually see this at Jim Hewes' Scotch Bar at the Round Robin, where customers are sampling small pours of lots of different kinds of Scotches, or the Scotch sampling nights at Royal Mile, the wine bars at Bistrot Lepic or Veritas, and sometimes Bourbon.

Now if it happened at the Fox and Hounds -- which, I'm happy to report, now has its jukebox back! -- that would be another story. I'd consider that an invitation.


Angry in Washington: Hey Gurus,

I understand that this isn't your fault, but what's with the free night of theater being out of tickets when I got through 11 minutes after the hour?!?! I get tickets go quickly, but how many could have been available if, by the time I get through, not even 15 minutes later they are all gone? Was there only one pair of tickets for each show? I understand times are tough for the theater, but don't participate in this thing if you only have two tickets to give out, or give them out to special interests before the public gets a crack at it. My question is who can I bring this up to? It is simply not fair.

Stephanie: This is an annual gripe, for sure (and you're not the only one writing in with this complaint). There were supposed to be 3,000 tickets up for grabs for Free Night of Theater, but if you want tickets, you really have to log on at noon on the dot to snag some. We're also getting complaints about the ticket site being down, so that's another issue entirely. On the bright side, last year there were additional tickets released after the initial giveaway. Stay tuned on the blog, and I'll let you guys know if and when that happens.


Washington, D.C.: It's probably too late for the Fall, but I want to take an Italian class. Can you recommend somewhere metro accessible in D.C. (or Md.) that is good, or should I buy Rosetta Stone? Thanks!

Stephanie: I take language classes at the International Language Institute in Dupont and really like it. Last semester I was the only one in the class, and you can't beat that -- private tutorial for group class prices. I know people taking classes over at USDA that are really happy, too.


First time poster: HI GOG's got a question. I love karaoke, but most shows during the week (sunday to thursday) start too late like at 10 p.m. Do you know of any earlier shows, that start about 7 p.m.? So far I've only found Banana Cafe, Sundays 6:30 p.m. D.C. or close in preferred. Thanks :-)

Fritz: Banana Cafe -- that's a good one, though it gets better as the night goes on and more pitchers are consumed. (Margaritas are $3 until 7:30 or so, if I remember correctly.)

Galaxy Hut's karaoke, which happens this Sunday at 8 p.m., is one of my favorites -- great crowd, cozy little space.


Free tickets: They weren't all gone by 12:15. I got tickets at 12:45. Granted, for a matinee performance in Bethesda, but there were still tickets available then.

Stephanie: Oh right. It's worth noting that certain show tickets disappear more quickly than others.


Washington, D.C.: What are your thoughts on the Shirlington Octoberfest? Is it worth it? Will there be actual oompa bands and steins full of beer?

Fritz: Shirlington Oktoberfest is one of my favorite Oktoberfests of the season. It's a giant block party in the streets of Shirlington, with dozens of breweries manning booths along the sidewalks and a large stage with German dancers and an oompah band right in the middle. They always have beers that I don't see on the regular, though you can get your Chimay and such if you need it.

I know some people are going to say that it's not as good as in years past -- until 2008, the format was $25 for all-you-can-drink beers, and now it's $25 for a limited number of beer tickets. Personally, I think the change -- which was mandated by the Virginia ABC -- made the festival more enjoyable. (Heresy, I know.) It seemed like the idea of only getting 10 beers or so for your $25 turned off a lot of the knuckleheads who used to show up, down beers as fast as they could, then mistake the bushes for a bathroom.


Fox and Hounds Staffer here: The lobby to George to get the jukebox back has been an intensive, hard, two-plus year effort. Thank your bartenders and servers and please, if Tenacious D makes it back on, don't play it straight through on repeat several times in a row.

Fritz: I salute and thank you for your persistence, and will order an extra happy hour gin (with a side of tonic) in your honor.

Then I will rock out to Guns N Roses and Ozzy, if they're back on.


Doc Holliday: While it's possilbe that Fritz is right, regarding the inspection of the Scotch bottle -- it's a little strange that the bartender didn't pour first. Needless to say, that's my kind of bar.

Fritz: OHHHHHHH. That changes EVERYTHING.

Um, yeah. That's pretty awesome. I could be down with a self-service bar.

Other than the one in my living room.


Washington, D.C.: Hi Gurus!

Did any of you get a chance to see Molotov's Blood, Sweat & Fears II during the Fringe Festival? Was it good? Should I go now that they are bringing it back?


Stephanie: This sounds vaguely plug-y, but I'll bite. I don't know if you should see the show. Are you easily offended? If so, you may want to steer clear. Molotov is all about performances in the uber-violent Grand Guignol tradition, and it sounds like their upcoming show will be chock-full of sex, violence and, according to their web site, "appalling behavior with stuffed animals." Sounds like a winner to me, but others will definitely disagree.


Dupont: I just read the "Angry in Washington" post about being angry about not getting free tickets. Hello? Have you ever tried to get tix for a hot concert (Phish?)??? They sell out in under 5 minutes and they aren't free. I can't believe folks are complaining about free tickets....!

Fritz: If you tried to get tickets for a Phish concert and got tons of "Unable to Connect" and "Server Busy" messages for at least 45 minutes after tickets were supposed to go on sale, you'd probably be railing against Ticketmaster and the injustice of it all.


Eastern Market: Just moved to this part of D.C. and have a pretty good feel for brunch spots and daytime activities. What are your favorite places for dinner, drinks, people watching on 8th Street? Thanks!

Fritz: I'm a big fan of Lola's and Molly Malone's. Lola's has a dog-friendly patio and great sandwiches and snacks, while Molly's is filled with beautiful woodworking, numerous flatscreen TVs and friendly staff. I sent a friend down there the other night when he asked a similar question. His report: "Definitely would go back. Great looking space, fun scene, even if the beer selection didn't have too many out of the ordinary options."

For sports viewing, I like the Ugly Mug, which is a great place to catch any game. And then there's Matchbox for pizzas and great draft beers.


Shirlington Oktoberfest: In response to the poster's question, there aren't actually steins of beer at the Oktoberfest. You just taste samples at each of the different tents set up. Even without the steins though, it's a great time! Wish I could go this year.

Fritz: Yeah, sorry. I totally glossed over that.

You don't get steins -- you get (real) glass tasters, which are like 3-4 ounces, so you can wander around and sample as many of the 60+ beers as possible.

If you want Oktoberfest beer in giant liter-sized glasses, head for the Black Squirrel (where the traditional 33-ounce masskrug glass is the only serving option on the menu), Cafe Mozart or Gordon Biersch.


Dupont: Phish ticketer here -- you are CORRECT! I thought this person was just late to the game and whining. OH THE HUMANITY

Fritz: True. I was trying to get tickets for a certain play and got completely shut out. Kinda annoying.


Silver Spring, Md.: There's not a lot going on in the Nightlife Agenda for Friday. What else can I get into on Friday night?

David: If you don't mind spending a bit of cash, there's always the Maxwell show at Verizon Center. Style's Chris Richards saw it in Richmond last night and told me it was one of the best R&B shows he's ever seen. The second installment of Story/Stereo is happening at the Writer's Center in Bethesda. That's a neat new series that combines local bands with local poets in a new environment. Moneytown at Dahlak was mentioned in the column, if you want some good funk/soul. Other DJ nights that will be worth your while: Selam hosts Chris Burns and the Future Times crew, dropping the best in out-there dance music. Over at Marx Cafe in Mt. Pleasant there's We Fought the Big One, dropping the best in off-kilter post-punk type stuff. Any/all of those should do the good thing for you.


Upperville, Va.: Fall Gold Cup Races

Sorry you don't wear dresses to Fall races. Totally different vibe etc.

Fritz: You can wear dresses to Fall Gold Cup, though I might not recommend Virginia Gold Cup-style sundresses in this weather.

What, are all the ladies supposed to wear jodhpurs?


Chinatonwn, D.C.: Mayhaps I should toss this into the college football chat, but where can a good southern boy catch the Auburn-Tennessee game Saturday night? I don't want to end up at a bar that's gonna show pansy no defense USC-Cal or the overrated bowl (Oklahoma-Miami)

War Eagle!

Fritz: The "official" gathering spot for Auburn's alumni is the Crystal City Sports Pub, and there was a sizable crowd on my last Saturday afternoon visit. That might be option one.

(Tennessee fans, btw, should head for the BlackFinn downtown, where there a rack of specials on offer, including $10 pitchers, a burger menu, etc.)

Gin and Tonic in Glover Park is a reliably SEC-focused bar. Penn Quarter Sports Tavern has a great vibe for college football, but I wonder if there are so many alumni groups there that they won't play "random" games.


Washington, D.C.: Just got my tickets for Free Night of Theater! Going to a Thursday night show of Black Pearl Sings at Ford Theater and Sunday matinee of Dracula at Synetic Theater in Rosslyn. What's nearby for dinner before Black Pearl (with a friend) and brunch before or early dinner after Dracula (with a date)? On the cheap side for both, but still interesting places and good food! Thanks!

Stephanie: Well I'm glad SOMEone got tix! You can check out Ella's, Oyamel or Matchbox for decently-priced menus near Ford's. As for Rosslyn, well my former home can be a little bit of a wasteland on the weekends, but for early dinner you could try Cafe Asia or Yaku. For brunch, I'm a fan of Liberty Tavern though that's a little farther away in Clarendon.


Washington, D.C.: Hey GOGs! I have a friend in town this weekend that wants to check out the gay nightlife on Friday night. I'm looking for somewhere that is friendly to the straight guys/gals in the group too. I've heard Cobalt is fun, but have seen mixed reviews from the straight crowd. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Fritz: I'm straight, and I think Cobalt and Town are the ones that are the most fun (club-wise) for a diverse crowd on the weekends. (Town's early-evening drag shows draw a mixed audience, and you do get the occasional bachelorette sticking around afterwards, but I don't think it's a problem.)

Nelly's, too, though I expect it will be kinda chilly on the rooftop deck.


Attire for Fall Gold Cup: Comfy, pretty sweaters in fall colors, skinny jeans, riding boots. You see dresses occasionally, but mostly of the sweater variety paired with tights and boots or flats.

Fritz: Yeah, I'm not the fashion chatter. Thanks.


Craving Lasko: Assuming Fritz is the one to answer this one. I just got back from Europe where I was introduced to the Slovenian Beer Lasko. Don't know if you've tried it but its a little lighter and smoother version of Guiness. Any ideas of any liquor stores/bars that might carry it in D.C. (just checked Brickskeller and they don't)?

Fritz: Oooh, this is a good one. First option: Check out Balktoberfest this weekend at St. Andrew's Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Silver Spring. They'll have food and wine, and you may run into someone who knows more about Slovenian beer than I.

The other option -- and I'm saying this seriously -- is to call the embassy and ask them. Not kidding. I've done something similar before when I had a question about Australian beer.


Washington, D.C.: Any recommendations for Metro (bus or rail) accessible veggie sushi? Lots of places have avocado or asparagus, but where can you find the yam tempura, the carrot and avocado, or the cucumber and cabbage?? Mmmm. Thanks!

Stephanie: Hop on the X2 and head to Sticky Rice on H Street. The last time I was there, I had a tempura sweet potato roll that was to-die-for. They also have quite the list of veggie options, including some tofu rolls, and a bunch with a nice spicy kick. Plus you can order a side of tots. Does it get any better?


Scotch B, AR: Ooh, so glad this came up, what's the vibe/dress like? I'd love to try it but I have hesitant friends who need more details before they take the plunge.

Fritz: I love the place. It's very intimate -- only about 20 seats -- and really classy. Go on an off night (after happy hour) and the man himself will guide you through the list, take questions, offer little samples. So much fun. I wrote it up in the paper a few months ago, and you can read that story here.


Greenbelt, Md.: What are some good bars for my newly 21-year-old to try out in Adams Morgan? Shes interested in going somewhere in that area but doesnt want to just pick a place out of the blue where the crowd might be much older or where the drinks might be wayyyyy out of her price range. Any help would be appreciated

Fritz: Millie and Al's, Town Tavern, Tom Tom, Dan's Cafe -- all havens for the 21-25 crowd. When I went to Town for a story about the scene, I talked to a good number of 21-23 year-old women. (All by chance, I swear.)


Molotov's Blood, Sweat & Fears II : Wasn't a plug - thanks for answering! Yea, also the warning on their website that says if you sit in the front few rows you might get "fluids" on you.. I was just curious to hear from someone who may have seen it. Sounds if nothing else, at least interesting!

Stephanie: Check back next week and I'll have a more complete answer for you. I'm planning on catching it this weekend.


W Hotel rooftop/POV: We have friends staying at the W next month and we want to hang out w/them at the rooftop bar/POV. What advantages will they get as hotel guests? No waiting in line in the lobby I assume.. but what about tables in POV?

Fritz: There are always -- or almost always -- empty tables in P.O.V. that are saved for hotel guests. It's one of those things that bugs the non-guests who finally get to the rooftop bar: "How come I've been waiting in line for so long when there are all these empty seats up here?"

I'm also pretty sure they can call down and have you buzzed up to skip the line.


Free night of theater: I got two tickets after much refreshing and resubmitting. It was a thoroughly frustrating experience. But at one point, I did see the show I was trying to reserve had 126 tickets remaining. Guess thats more than 2...

Stephanie: True. Maybe next year they should take Fritz's suggestion. He was just advocating for an old-school, camp out in the cold ticketing process. Brought back fun memories of sleeping in the Tower Records parking lot, trying to score HFStival tickets.


D.C.: Finally get a res at the elusive Minibar, this was even tougher than getting a res at Dorsia.

My questions are what's the dress for this? Also what classy establishments in the area would be good for an after dinner drink (we have the early seating).

Julia: I have never eaten at Minibar (sniff, sniff) but I've seen folks there in everything from business casual to *nice* jeans, cute top, heels, etc. If it were me with the reservation, I'd just focus on looking fly. When I spend a lot on dinner, I like to look good while doing so. Official word from Minibar's Web site is "dress tends to be upscale casual." By the way, did anyone catch Jose Andres's new L.A. restaurant on Entourage a few weeks back? Pretty cool for the local chef.

As to your other question, I'd probably hit up Proof for a nice glass of wine or an Adam Bernbach cocktail.


HEY!! : How did that poster get tickets to two differnt shows? I thought it was one per person! Maybe that's why some people were shut out!

Stephanie: Since the questioner was going with someone else, I was assuming that he/she snagged two tickets to one show while his/her friend grabbed tickets to another.


Washington, D.C.: Best Ethiopian restaurant in town? What do you think?


Julia: Okay, so I might have to throw this out to the crew. Etete's been good to me in the past, but Ethiopian isn't my fave cuisine. Chatters? Any fave Ethiopian spots right now?


Pumpkin beer: Where is pumpking beer being served in NW D.C.? I need to satifsy a nasty craving.

Fritz: Southern Tier's pumpkin beer? I have not had it this year, but would check Rustico, Bierria Paradiso or R.F.D., for starters.

Gotta say, yet again this year, Dogfish Head's Punkin Ale is far and away the best Pumpkin beer I've sampled. So rich and spicy. So unlike all the stuff you get from Budweiser and their ilk. The only pumpkin beer I've actually ordered seconds of.

Seriously, even if you think you hate pumpkin beers, give it a shot.


Single Girls Everywhere...: My friends and I are late-20s early 30s and single. Once we find a bar to meet quality men what do you recommend as a conversation starter? There has to be something better than "come here often?" or "sure is getting cold!" Any ideas?

Fritz: I vote for "Hi" or "That's a nice shirt" or, my favorite, "What are you drinking?"

Also acceptable (if it's being asked to me): "Want to play Connect Four?"



Dupont Circle, D.C.: I'm bored. Tomorrow is date night with my mate and we'd like to try something new. Our favorite places have excellent drinks, particularly cocktails and beer. Preferably somewhere we don't need a car to get to. Any good ideas?

Fritz: What are your current favorite places? Let's start there...


Washington, D.C.: Is there an opener for the Daz-I-Kue show at Eighteenth Street Lounge on Saturday?

Fritz: I believe it's Christine Moritz, the former ESL regular who opened for Thievery Corporation at their sold-out 9:30 Club shows.


Courthouse: Hi gurus!!

Can you recommend a good place for brunch in Alexandria? I've been before but always on an impromptu basis and I'll be making reservations this time. Thanks!!!

Julia: I fear I'm a broken record on this answer, but I stand by my suggestions and I'll say 'em again. the brunch at Vermilion is great. If you want something more casual, Fontaine it is. I also like brunch at the Light Horse. Pork belly benedict...mmmmm.


Washington, D.C.: Hey gurus!

What have you heard of the two dueling piano bars in the area: Howl at the Moon in Baltimore and Bobby McKey's at the National Harbor?

Good atmosphere? Reasonably priced drinks? Worth the trip?

Any other good bar/entertainment settings that are actually metro accessible? Thanks!

Fritz: Bobby McKey's gets a pretty diverse crowd who sing along with everything from Chuck Berry to Journey to Madonna. It's kind of cheesy, but you know that when you're going to a dueling piano bar. I went a couple times when I reviewed it -- fine atmosphere, almost more supper club-ish then a raucous nightclub feel, but with plenty of off-color jokes. (Don't bring the kids.)

Haven't been to Howl at the Moon in years.

As for good, entertaining piano bars where you can sing along: Mr. Smith's in Georgetown still reins supreme.


Free Tickets: Or you could, um, purchase them and support the arts in D.C.

Fritz: If they didn't want us to take the free tickets, they wouldn't offer them.


Washington, D.C.: Hey Gurus! Thanks for taking my question. Since birthdays are so last year, my friend has decided this year will be a celebration of her coronation as Fall Queen. Who has the best haunted forest or house in the area?

Stephanie: I totally agree with you. My birthday was a mad tea party themed un-birthday celebration. Markoff's Haunted Forest is usually a crowd-pleaser. Wow, this sounds like a lot of fun; can I come?


New Caps Fan: Hi Gurus! I've gotten more into hockey lately and am looking forward to this season -- got to go to a pre-game and loved it. Go Ovie! Where's the best place to watch the game tonight? Don't have Versus so I can't watch at home. Prefer someplace I can sit with Red fans & meet some new people. Thanks!

Fritz: I think the bars around Verizon (Green Turtle, Rocket Bar) attract a good number of Caps fans even during away games. There's always Bugsy's in Alexandria -- owned by former Cap Bryan "Bugsy" Watson -- or Union Jack's in Ballston, which has become a hangout for the guys and girls who play hockey at the Caps' practice rink at Ballston Common.

Any other Caps fans want to share their favorite spots?


Dupont: What's the review on the $5 chocolate tasting? And enough about the free theatre tickets already! Talk about boring

Stephanie: I've been dying to check this out, but the times and dates never work with my schedule. Chatters, any insights? I'm thinking: it's $5 and you get to hang out at the Botanic Garden and eat delicious treats. Sounds amazing to me!


Dupont Circle, D.C.: Everything! Particularly fans of the Dupont Paradiso/Birreria Paradiso and just about every other pizza place in the city; Zaytinya, the cafe at Ray's the Classics, Bourbon, Central. We seriously do like everything. But we're in a rut. We do prefer good drinks though...I love a clean martini and he loves a great beer, esp. if it's rare/hard to find or seasonal. I think we're looking for the impossible here...

Fritz: Pizza and beer -- if you haven't been to Rustico in Alexandria, you're missing out. Short walk/bus ride from Braddock Road Metro station. Really, really good draft selection that changes often.

(Also, as far as pizza goes, anyone who doesn't order the amazing and hard-to-find artisanal Italian microbrews at 2 Amys is really missing out.)

The bar at PS 7's is much stronger on food (best reuben and Primanti Bros sandwiches in the city -- seriously) and inventive cocktails than the beer, but I highly recommend it.

Also, the Social in Columbia Heights is really worth a visit -- I love every cocktail I've tried there, and the food is very good. You also can't beat the homey atmosphere.


Re: W Hotel bar: I stayed at the W Hotel in August ( deal of stay 10 nights get the 11th free or something--good deal!) and they did allow hotel guests to skip the line for the roof bar, but did not reserve any tables -- there was an "area" reserved for guests but it was standing-room only when we were there. There were lots of tables reserved but they were for somebody fancier than me, I guess.

In general I was glad I went up there for one drink because of the view, but I would not have wanted to stay for longer, given the standing and the $15 per drink situation.

Fritz: Feedback from a guest -- thanks.


Washington, D.C.: Gurus! I got shut out of the Friday night show of Velocity D.C.! Waa! Is there any low cost theater or dance show around 7 or 8 Friday? I also got no love from Free Theater D.C. -- I'm 0 for 2, and I had promised cheap culture to someone.

Stephanie: Bummer! You could check out Taffety Punk's all-female Measure for Measure.


Minibar: The Minibar post brought a question to mind. I am a definite foodie and have always wanted to eat there, but I suffer from food allergies (seafood and nuts). Would they be able to accommodate someone with dietary restrictions -- because it is my impression the chefs cook whatever strikes their fancy and there are other people (not in your party) there who might not take too kindly to being denied shellfish etc?

Julia: According to its site, Minibar can accommodate diners with allergies. Just make sure to explain your situation to the person taking the reservation and ask questions to see how they'll handle your situation and if the solutions will work for you.


Piano bars and off-color jokes: So, are the ones in D.C. solely focused on sexist jokes like others I've been to? I don't mind off-color jokes, but when every "joke" is simply degrading to women, it's just not funny.

Fritz: I don't think every joke was sexist, no, but there were enough that I noticed. I wonder if it would be different if they had female pianists on a regular basis. (I've never seen one, and none are listed on the Web site.)

Seriously, though -- Mr. Smith's. Men and women standing around the piano singing "Stairway to Heaven" and "Don't Stop Believin'." You may just love it.


Re: Starters: How about a question concerning a current issue or event to get conversation going?

Julia: I like this idea -- you're likely to hear me talk about our local sports teams at any opportunity -- but I see a pitfall. People in D.C. get a bad rap as all-business, all-the-time. I think a conversation starter like "So, about that health care legislation?" could fly in some circles, but not in others.


Mt Pleasant: Hi GOGs-- going down to Georgetown tonight for a show at Blues Alley and looking for a bar to get some pre-show drinks. I never go out in G'town, so have no idea about any good places down there...

Fritz: For a good traditional pub, you won't do better than Martin's Tavern -- dark wood, oil paintings, great atmosphere. Can get cramped.

I also like Mie N Yu's bar -- interesting cocktail menu, and the specials include $5.45 martinis until 7.


Oktoberfest: So with the drinks limited at the Cap City Oktoberfest, what are our options in the area when we run out of tickets?

Fritz: The Cap City Brewing Company? They had an all-day happy hour last year for this very purpose.


Good Stuff: I finally went to Good Stuff Eatery. I consider myself a burger expert, and let me say, that was one amazing burger (I got the melt one.) And the chocolate shake was to die for.

The fries were fine . . . I'm just not much of a fry person so it's hard to judge.

And Spike was there and he was really friendly. He's better looking in person. Not that it's relevant. Heh.

Julia: Spike, is that you? I kid, I kid. I like the burgers there too.

Stephanie: I had the dreamiest veggie burger there the other night. Layers of panko-crusted portabello mushroom with cheese in the middle. I wish other spots were as creative in catering to their vegetarian clientele (and I'm not even a vegetarian!).


Mt. Pleasant: Hey Y'all -- so tomorrow is my birthday and I'm having issues other than simply the panic of entering my late 20s. My boyfriend is taking me out to a nice surprise dinner in D.C. and then we're meeting up with 15ish of my good friends to do some dancing. Problem is I am really struggling with finding a good place to go! We've done Napoleon, Bourbon and Wonderland too many times, so my initial thought was to step it up and start at ESL and end up at Fly but I'm hoping you can suggest a few other options. Is there somewehere that doesn't require table service but that lands nicely etween Napoleon and Fly that I am not thinking of?

Fritz: With a group, I like the ESL option. Bourbon upstairs for hip-hop, too. (Dunno if you've been there for that or not.) And it's blackout party night at Selam, with DJs spinning house and Afrobeat and other grooves with all the lights down low. Always find that idea intriguing.


Starters...: It works all the time and if it doesn't, then the guy is not worth the time because they might be a bit too serious for my tastes, but I "accidentally" bump into them. oops! Then its a perfect segway into apologizing and then starting a conversation!

Stephanie: Very sneaky. I like.


Arlington: So, I have visitors this weekend that have requested to go to a piano bar in the area....I planned of taking them to the harbor, but after reading you talk about Mr. Smith's I'm having second thoughts. Is Mr. Smiths better than McGee's???

Fritz: I would put forth at Mr. Smith's is a bar that has a piano in it, while Bobby McKey's is a piano bar with a stage in it. The focus there is on the two performers, who alternate songs, banter, get audience participation going ... the works. Mr. Smith's, on the other hand, has a piano across from the bar in the front (main) room. It's not strictly a piano bar -- but it's a bar with good entertainment.

If they want the full-on piano bar experience, I'd say Bobby McKey's.


Alexandria, Va.: So what is the deal with Plume (the fine dining restaurant) and Quill (the bar/lounge)a the newly opened Jefferson?? Have you been yet? There is only one review on Yelp so far (its' a good one, of the bar), and it's been open for almost a month! What is with the lack of reviews?? The buzz is that the Jefferson's F&B offerings will far out shine those at the W, but I haven't heard or seen a word publicized :( please share your thoughts with eager future imbibers! thanks! :)

Fritz: Actually, both Tom's review of Plume and my review of Quill ran this week. Well, mine runs in the Weekend section tomorrow, but it's online now.

Short answer: I love the hotel, with all its nooks and crannies. The library lounge is my new favorite cozy hotel bar hideaway, especially because it reminds me of the way the St. Regis violated their hotel bar of the same name. The cocktails are pricey ($15) but the service and decor at top notch. I'd take it over the lobby bar at the W for sure.


Washington D.C.: There are a ton of art and/or craft shows, etc. Which are the ones I shouldn't miss? Anything within an hour or so of driving is OK, unless the weather is wonderful, then something farther off would be great. And no Octoberfests or winefests, please. I don't want to be tempted by drinking then driving.

Stephanie: I'm partial to Crafty Bastards personally, though Art on the Avenue would be a fun and relatively close festival to hit this weekend, too.


Annandale, Va.: I need a bar in D.C. that has a "Mad Men" type vibe. Anyplace that does a classic throwback style and/or drinks?

Julia: I love that we've been getting this question lately. I think the Gibson's good for drinks and definitely has a great atmosphere, but I don't think it's *quite* what you're looking for. I think your best bet is a hotel bar, like, say Round Robin or Town and Country. I think what I'm getting at here are bars that sort of pour on the masculinity, if that makes any sense.

Fritz: I think Quill (which was just mentioned above) might work, along with PX, and second Julia's take on Town and Country and the Gibson.


Washington, D.C.: I'm planning on going to the Crafty Bastards fair this Saturday in Adams Morgan. Because of an afternoon commitment I will be there when it opens at 10am. Any suggestions for breakfast/brunch options in the neighborhood?

Julia: If you don't mind waiting until after you shop to eat, Bourbon opens at 11:30. The Diner's a good option, but I'm often annoyed by the crowds.


D.C. Beer Fan: This Sat is the Shirlington Oktoberfest. Are there any other beer fests in the area you'd recommend or been to that you enjoyed?

Fritz: Rustico's is next week, and they tend to have 25 seasonal beers on draft, plus games and good food. (It's a big block party in the parking lot.) The Maryland Brewers' Oktoberfest features beers from all the Maryland microbreweries, oompah music and -- ready for this? -- wife-carrying races. (Men carry their wives over their shoulders through an obstacle course, and the winner takes home the wife's weight in beer.)


Washington, D.C.: Thanks for taking the question. Do you have recommendations on any upcoming wine tasting events or local wineries in the area you'd recommend to visit on a weekend?

Julia: Check out this story by our colleague Lavanaya Ramanathan. Toward the bottom of this page you'll find some info about upcoming festivals.


Arlington: Re Starters: What's worked for me is - "Will you settle a bet? My friend thinks Ovie is the biggest star in D.C., while I vote for Gilbert Arenas. What do you think?"...or something along those lines, doesn't have to be sports obviously if you know nothing about it, but something cool/fun.

Fritz: Here's some good advice. (Ladies, pay attention. I think you might be able to use this one on David.)


Conversation Starters: As a guy, I still think "Hello" or "Hi" with a smile is the best approach. If the response is not positive, move on. Beyond that I don't think there are any guaranteed winners it's really more about the level of comfort that two people feel. Still, here are a few openers that have led to great conversations, some were from me and some were directed to me.

1. What is that you're drinking? (I'm a bourbon drinker)

2. What's with the whistle? (I hate having things in my pockets and used to wear my keys on a ref's whistle and lanyard) This led to the one pretty good comeback that I've ever given, "I'm the oldest latchkey kid in America." We talked till past closing.

3. You have the longest eyelashes. (I used to.)

4. What do you do for fun? Explicitly not the what do you do (for work)?

5. Another ploy, engage in an interesting conversation with your friends and leave openings both in body language and in the conversation for people nearby to join in. Even if they aren't people you're interested in you'll have fun and it'll make it even easier for other people to join in including someone you could be attracted to.

6. Pardon me is anyone sitting here?

7. Sorry to bother you but could you pass that bar menu?

Fritz: This is great work. Thanks, man.


Hudson Virgin: I submitted this yesterday, but am trying again. I'm going to meet a girlfriend at Hudson for late night drinks at Hudson Monday and I'm typically the dive bar kind of gal. She's never been there either, so we're both wondering what kind of attire to wear. Thanks!

Julia: I've done the upscale casual thing at Hudson. Every time I've been there I think I've paid more attention to men's attire (collared shirt, unbuttoned one button, no tie) than ladies' wear. I seem to recall lots of shimmery tops, as I recall, but I think you could get away with something less flashy.


Gallery Place: I'm gonna be going to the Amazing Baby show at DC9 tonight. I'm not sure when it's gonna end, but is there anything you recommend in the area after 11-ish?

Fritz: The Saloon for beers and snacks. (Kitchen's open late.) Ooohs and Ahhs for late-night soul food. A tallboy of High Life at Solly's. The bar at Velvet Lounge, just because.


Arlington, Va.: Where is the best place to go dancing this Saturday night?

Fritz: Depends what you want to hear. I'd think the jazzy, soulful electronic sounds of Daz-I-Kue at ESL, the all-'90s retro hip-hop party Kids at DC9, or the stomping techno/trance of Glow's 10-year anniversary party at Fur would all be great options.


Cap City Oktoberfest: Hi All-Knowing Gurus, I am really interested in checking out Cap City's Oktoberfest this weekend. But being as I rarely leave the DC borders and am carless, what's the best way to make it out to Shirlington? I look at the metro Web site, and it looks like you can take a metro to Pentagon City or Crystal City and then take a bus, but the total trip ends up being over an hour. Any other options? Are they running shuttles or anything like that? And, if it does require an hour plus on metro-bus, is it worth it?

Fritz: That's what I usually do -- Metro to Pentagon and the 21 bus from there (it's not THAT long of a ride from central D.C.). Then my friends and I usually suck it up and pay $20 for a taxi home because we're impatient.

_______________________ Whew, we went overtime for you today. See, those pickup lines worked -- you truly reeled us in. We'll see you next week, when we'll be getting ready for our Oktoberfest happy hour.


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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