Got Plans?: Meeting on the Metro, Bars for Birthday Girls, Ben's Chili Bowl and Where to Watch Patriots Games

The Going Out Gurus
of The Washington Post's Going Out Guide
Thursday, October 8, 2009; 1:00 PM

The Going Out Guide staff discussed bars for birthday girls, Ben's Chili Bowl, places to watch Patriots games and the way to meet people on the Metro on Thursday, Oct. 8 at 1 p.m. ET.

____________________ It's a sad day here in D.C. as Ben Ali, founder of local institution Ben's Chili Bowl, passed away at the age of 82. Enjoy this photo gallery, chronicling more than 50 years of the establishment. Feel free to share your thoughts and memories here. And, as usual, let us know what else is on your mind. And one more thing -- don't forget to join us at Capitol City Crewing Company tonight from 6-8 p.m. for our monthly Going Out Gurus happy hour. Let's get to it.


Falls Church, Va.: Thinking about heading down to Rustico tomorrow for some brews, but I'm worried about the weather. Will the Oktobeerfest be under a tent, or open sky? Thanks Gurus!

Fritz: Open sky, and it will go on rain or shine, the restaurant says. You could always just duck into the restaurant for a beer or two while the storm (if any) passes. There are some sick, sick beers coming to Rustico this weekend, so I wouldn't let the weather put me off. The Hofstetten Hochzeitsbier von 1810, which is based on the recipe of the beer brewed for the first Oktoberfest, is one of my favorite beers of the season, and Greg Engert told me he should have some tomorrow.

Accuweather is predicting rain around 9 a.m. and then dry until 10 p.m. Let's hope that holds.


ThreeDayWeekendLand: My fiance and I are looking to watch the Pats game on Sunday. We'd like to go somewhere with decent food and good drink prices. It doesn't have to be a Pats bar but I'd prefer it if he didn't get into a fist fight with a Bucs fan if you know what I mean.

In the past we've enjoyed Chef Geoff's but I was thinking we could always stand to try somewhere new.

PS- We live in Adams Morgan so anything easily acessible to that general area is prefered.


Fritz: Adams Morgan area and good food, plus lots of sports.

Cleveland Park Bar and Grill's pizzas are pretty good. Julia loves the wings. And they have lots of TVs and all the packages, so you can be sure your game will be on. (Also, there aren't many Bucs bars in D.C.)

My friends who are Bills fans love going to McFadden's, which is an official Bills Backer bar, and rave about the cheap drinks, but I pretty much never, ever eat at McFadden's, other than the wings.


Alexandria, VA: I'm going to a play tonight that is going to end late (probably too late for Metro). Any idea how I can find out the approximate cost of a cab from Bethesda to Alexandria (roughly the Bethesda metro to the Eisenhower metro)? Thanks

Julia: Oooh, I was going to suggest our totally awesome Cab Fare Finder, but sadly, that's only for taxis that start in D.C. I'd suggest calling Barwood Cab Company at 301-984-1900. They pretty much rule the Bethesda market.


Very special occasion restaurant: A recommendation: my husband and I recently went to L'Auberge Chez Francois (in Great Falls) for our anniversary dinner. It's a French restaurant featuring Alsatian food. The service is impeccable and the food is divine. Our waiter was a dead ringer for Stanley Tucci and had a charming French accent. Dinner was very leisurely and nobody rushed us. It cost mucho dinero -- we spent over $200 without wine (I'm nursing so can't drink), but it was soooo worth it. Wonderful food in a lovely location.

Julia: Ha! I went there before prom one time.... and haven't been back since. Chatters, I know this sounds like a plant, but I can pretty much guarantee you that no one from this faraway special-occasion restaurant would try to plant something about this place on this chat.


Burke, VA: The US Men's National Soccer Team is playing Honduras in Honduras on Saturday, 10/10/09. The game starts at 10 PM EST. It appears the game in not broadcast in the US. Do you know where I can watch the game in English in the Northern VA area?

Thank you.


Fritz: I was going to blog about this, actually, but my colleague Steve Goff over at Soccer Insider beat me to it. Here's what he said:

"At last check, threefour "English" sites in the DC-Maryland-Virginia region have agreed to offer the USA-Honduras match on closed circuit for a cover charge: Molly Malone's near Capitol Hill, Fado Irish Pub in downtown D.C., Summers in Arlington and Slainte Irish Pub in Baltimore. Contact these fine establishments directly for details."

I heard Molly Malone's is charging $20 at the door (per the satellite provider) but sweetening the deal with drink specials and food.


Stephanie!: So, did you see Molotov's Blood Sweat and Fears this past weekend? What did you think? How would you describe it?


Stephanie: Oh but I did, and what a show it was. If you want a full description, then you should really come find me at tonight's happy hour because I can't do it justice in this forum; I'd get fired. I found the whole thing pretty entertaining, but I have a highly immature sense of humor (to give you some frame of reference, "Super Troopers" is one of my favorites). I will say that you should make use of the ponchos they hand out at the beginning of the show, because you will get sprayed. Oh, and check a mirror before leaving Playbill. I didn't realize when I was walking home that my face and neck were splattered with fake blood and got some weird looks in Logan Circle.


Off U Street: Friday night happy hour, the Human Rights Campaign Dinner, Washington Renegades 10th Year Reunion, Blowoff, National Equality March and $2.00 Skyys at Jr's, how is a gay's liver supposed to survive this weekend?

Fritz: You forgot the Black Cat's Right Round Up! on Friday and the dueling Last-Taint-Ever and Homo/Sonic parties on Sunday at DC9 and the Cat, respectively, plus the weekend full of parties at Town, plus ...

Seriously, it's like the Fall version of Pride week.


Silver Spring: Other then Dinosaur Jr. tonight, I don't have any weekend plans...but I'm also a little overextended on the credit cards. Any advice on something cheap a newly single guy can do this weekend?

David: Well, you're going to Dinosaur Jr., which means you can handle the volume, so I'm going to throw a few options your way that I might not normally recommend to most people. Saturday at Comet this band Former Ghosts is playing, I wrote about them in Nightlife Agenda: "synth-driven songs. Instead of using four-on-the-floor beats, the trio opts for a foreboding drone that manages to still sound inviting." Plus excellent locals Laughing Man open. The next night at the Velvet Lounge is an impressively stacked lineup. Pay close attention to TV Ghost, a midwestern band that plays scuzzy, dirty, loud rock, maybe like Dino Jr. without the guitar heroics. It's also the LP release show for local experimental stalwarts Kohoutek. I'm psyched for both shows and one $20 bill will get you into both. Caveat: HIGHLY unlikely you'll meet too many single gals at these shows.


Ben's CB: Has President Obama's name been added to Bill Cosby's for getting food free at Ben's?

Julia: I'm pretty sure he has, yes. (In fact, this post from one of our blogs confirms it). Can't say I've checked out this myself, though. The last time I was at Ben's, I was much more focused on a pineapple milkshake and chili fries.

A couple of years ago, I went to Ben's to report my favorite story I've ever written for this fine Web site (or perhaps, ever, actually). Sad news about Mr. Ali.


Nightmare on M St?: Hey Gurus, I was wondering if I could get some personal opinions on the Nightmare on M street Halloween party. I have heard good and bad reviews from different friends, and I don't know what to think. Is it a total mob scene that will prevent me from getting into any of the interesting bars? Should I pregame and just come to enjoy the costumes (without paying for tickets?) Should I just go to Adams Morgan? Thanks for your help.

Fritz: Nightmare on M Street is going to be more of a mob scene than usual this year, for one reason: Halloween's on a Saturday, which means more than the usual number of costumed revelers will be out.

If you're thinking about going down to do some people-watching, it's probably worth it to suck it up and buy the ticket. Crawlers without wristbands will pay at least $5 to get into any of the participating bars, so unless you want to watch the action from the sidewalk (without a beer), just pay.

That said, if you have an aversion to overcrowded bars and drunks -- especially since people are going to start drinking at 3 p.m. -- this may not be your type of event.


Pats Fans!: Murphy's in Old Town is wall-to-wal, both floors, Pats jerseys. lots of fun! Bit of a hike to get there from Adams Morgan (I live there, too) but it's worth it.

Fritz: True. I don't think I've ever written a where-to-watch-your-football-team story without including Murphy's. Everyone's really nice about explaining where to sit and trying to teach you team cheers, even if (like me) you're not a Pats fan.


Columbia Heights: All knowin' Gurus - how do you let a woman know you think she's attractive while riding on the metro? Or can you without being creepy. Understood it's not a place to meet women but sometimes...

Stephanie: How about "come here often?" I kid. I'd be interested to hear what the chatters say on this front. I think it can be done, and it's certainly better to say something than cross your fingers and go the Missed Connections route.


The Green line is closed! Oh no!: Thinking about heading to the Bullpen this weekend for the Oktoberfest tailgate..but with the green line closed this weekend, I want to make sure it's gonna be worth the extra hassle and I won't want to leave right away.

Anything you can tell me about it?

Fritz: It looks like it's going to be a good tailgate-style party. Local cover bands, a DJ from Mississippi, cornhole and beer pong tournaments, college football on the TVs, brats on the grill.

My only caveats are that, yeah, the Green line being closed makes transportation a bit of a hassle. (Of course, you can always grab the Circulator at Union Station or Eastern Market, as it stops right by the Bullpen.)

Also, the event's mostly outside, and trying to cram everyone under the tent if it rains doesn't sound like fun.

But other than that, I think it sounds like a great time.


Life without happy hour: Hi all: I hope your week has been a good one. I recently stopped drinking. Usually, my weekend plans revolve around happy hours or a good band. Can you give some guidance of fun things to do at night (other then movies) preferably in VA but DC is ok too that does not involve the bar scene?

Thanks so much! This means so much to me.

Stephanie: Many Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays involve some sort of exhibition openings at area galleries. There is free alcohol generally (I don't know if that's a dealbreaker), but it's a great place to meet up with friends and see what's happening in the local art scene. Other than that, what about checking out the Improv schedule? Or local theater? I can't really give recs since I don't know what you like, but there's a lot to choose from. There have also been a bunch of interesting art talks recently, with more in the pipeline. Some are listed in this recent blog post.


Takoma Park, Md.: Hi, we have a 3-1/2-year-old and a 1-year-old to entertain this weekend -- any suggestions? Something outdoors would be great!

Anne: You can join me at the Truck Touch, where it sounds there's a huge lineup in store. I generally refer to every big, yellow land-mover as a digger, but for kids obsessed with giant multi-wheeled vehicles, this will be paradise. Saturday also has Farm Day in Falls Church -- which is a way to get that fall-on-the-farm feel without leaving the 'burbs. (I know, a long way to drive, but seriously, I bet most farms are further.) I also just got wind of Sweetgreen's block party on Sunday, which sounds like an event that's fun for grownups but where kids would be fine to bring along, too.


Metro: When I lived in San Francisco after college I rode BART every day to work and often noticed the same people. One day this guy who I always saw on the train slipped me a note as he was getting off with his name and number. I chickened out about calling him but regret it to this day! So I say go for it.

Stephanie: That's a cute idea! But yeah, I'd have been too big of a wuss too, so I don't know if it's the best approach.


Pats Fans!: Fritz, you just broke my heart. How are you NOT a pats fan? We were soulmates (little did you know) until this very moment.

Fritz: I'm not from New England. That's the real reason. Also, I can't stand Belichick and his hoodie.


Arlington, Va.: Hey GOGs! I love your chats so I hope you can help me with my question. Me and a group of my friends are going to try out Public Bar for the first time this Friday. I heard there's a long line, so do you recommend a time for getting there to avoid it? Also, do you know if there's a cover? Thanks!!!

Fritz: If you get there by 10:30 or so, you won't have to wait (too long). I've gotten there around that time on a Friday -- maybe closer to 10 -- and didn't pay a cover.


Attractive metro ladies: Please, for the love of science, just make a humorous observation or comment. It could just be me, but someone attempting to starting a conversation with, "I think you are attractive" is really creepy in any setting not to mention embarassing if everyone else on the train hears. I think if you say something friendly to a girl on the metro, most of us can infer that you think we are attractive. Coming out and saying it to a stranger is, as Liz Lemon would say, a deal-breaker.

Stephanie: Yeah, I thought this went without saying. That would just be embarrassing in front of all the other commuters!


Washington, D.C.: Girls' Night Out Friday night and going to U Street for the first time! What are the best places for us to go? We're early 20s, want maybe a little dancing but not really a club scene. Thanks!

Julia: St. Ex and Local 16 are probably good bets for your group.


Dinner Desperation: Let me start by saying, I am OBSESSED with these chats -- they make my Thursday afternoon sooo much more enjoyable. My question: I am looking for somewhere near Chinatown/Metro Center for four friends to meet up for dinner/drinks tonight. I have never really been in that area, so I am totally lost. I am looking for somewhere FUN/inexpensive... anywhere with good drink/food specials tonight? THANKS sooo much!

Julia: Why, thanks! Color us flattered.

Anyway, Asia Nine could be what you're looking for. The food is pretty standard Pan-Asian fare, but most of the menu is under $15. It also offers fun cocktails. I prefer the pizza at Matchbox to that at Ella's, but both are good options.

As for food specials: If you sit at the bar at Oyamel, they have taco specials (two for $4) and drink specials from 4:30 to 6:30. 701 has $7 food plates from 5 to 7 p.m.


Washington, D.C.: I've been trying and failing to come up with a place in DC to go dancing with a friend in town from Lebanon. Her last night here is Friday and she wants somewhere where heels and dresses are appropriate, with some top 40 type music (Rihanna etc I guess) and bonus points for international music (Euro/Arab). My usual haunts of the Black Cat and 930 club are not her scene, so I'm hoping you guys can help me out with a few suggestions! Thanks

Fritz: Shadow Room, Fly and Josephine have the most Top 40-ish playlists of what your friend is looking for. Josephine will mix in the most Euro/house music, since they essentially have one room with more hip-hop and one with more dancey tunes.

I like the scene at Current, too.


Date ideas, D.C.: Hi Gurus!

Making plans with a man I have been dating for about a month for tomorrow night. Any ideas? Something low-cost would be great, as he is in between jobs right now. We're both in our 30s. Dates so far have included 2 Amy's and ice cream, Great Falls, the get the picture.


Stephanie: Have you checked out our blog post about seasonally-appropriate date ideas?


Arlington, Va.: Do NOT pay for a ticket for Nightmare on M Street. My friends and I did it last year and spent the majority of the evening waiting in lines outside the bars. Once we got inside, it was too crowded to move. If you must go, at least just suck it up and pay $5 to get in one bar and stay there. If you try to move to different ones, you'll end up outside in lines all night anyway. Others may have had different experiences though.

Fritz: I'm with you on the crowded bars. My tactic in the past has been to avoid the ones I just *know* are going to be rammed, like Rumors or Front Page, and hit the lesser-known spots. I'd rather have a drink at Steve's Bar Room or (in past years) Black Rooster than be waiting in line outside Public Bar for 45 minutes.


Washington, D.C.: Here's my combined going-out and District-revenue-producing suggestion based on today's Post story -- the District should encourage Nationals fans (or attendees) to park at the Columbia Heights mall garage for a flat fee (pay before the game to avoid lines at the parking ticket machines), then take the green line from Columbia Heights to the game. This would help all the Red Line riders avoid what can be a long wait for a transfer at Gallery Place (plus you then have to get from your Red Line station to your house). They could price it so it is cheaper than driving to and parking at the park. This doesn't raise revenue until April, but I hope the District is thinking of ideas like this.

Julia: Hey, I like this idea! (Even as someone who takes the Green Line from Columbia Heights to Nats' games). You should submit it to the letter to the editor page in the Post.

Here's a link to the story this reader references, in case you're curious.


Washington, D.C.: My advice for the guy on the metro who sees an attractive woman on the train to smile (nicely, not in a creepy way) and say "hi." Then, give her a litle space or distance to see if she's open or responsive. If not, let it go; you tried. It's pretty basic stuff here. While meeting on the train is not the ideal place, there really is no "ideal" place. People meet anywhere, everywhere - it's a sign of the times. I think you've got to give the person a chance to look you over and figure out if she's interested enough to take a chance on a random person on the metro, which is why you need to give her space after smiling and saying helo. A smile and a greeting is a pretty clear sign that you like what you see. What's so hard about this concept? Why do people overlook the best approach to meeting someone? Is it really that hard?

Stephanie: It's not hard -- in theory. But most people have a tough time putting themselves out there, especially when there's the possibility of getting rejected in front of a train of commuters. Still, I like this straightforward approach.


Arlington, Va.: For Ben's, the addition to "who eats free" is "The Obama Family," with the caveat, written in pen, "But he paid!"

Julia: Thanks for the update!


washington, dc: Hi Going out Gurus!

How do I go about advertising a fundraising event on your Going Out Gurus website? I volunteer for a non-profit called "One Brick DC." It is a small organization and we are trying to raise money for the year and it is our first fundraising event.

I appreciate any help from you. Thank you! richard

Fritz: Reminder: We love to feature charity happy hours and bar events in the weekly Nightlife Agenda column. Send an email to or with all the details AT LEAST a week in advance, hopefully more. We do get events that we'd like to include, but with two days notice, they don't get the attention they deserve.


Pats Fans: If you weren't scrambling to watch the game 10 years ago, stay home. And, no one likes cheaters.

Fritz: I just don't understand people who change teams.


What someone said in last week's chat: Hi there, Gurus.

I was reading older chats during the week since I haven't been able to make any of your recent chats. There was a guy who wrote in--in response to starter conversation lines that talked about the best one is "hello." Could I second or third or whatever it is by now. It's simple and straightforward, and most importantly, he talks about whether or not a connection exists that really sets the stage for whether or not there's much more to say. I thought it was so accurate and stated without fanfare, in a way I've never seen so I thought I'd write in to say "kudos" because that's how simple it should be and really is. I can't stress the connection factor because you can't make it up or force things. It was so refreshing, especially to hear it from a guy.

Thanks for posting such a smart comment.

Fritz: Thanks, whoever had us at "Hello."


Cleveland Park Girl: Hi GOGs. My mom is coming into town for a visit next week. She's disabled and it's hard for her to walk too much. Any suggestions for me to show her some D.C. sites without taking a tour bus?

Stephanie: I actually think this would be the perfect time for a tour bus, but if you're really averse to it, then would a Segway tour be possible? I've heard that more people with disabilities are using them to get around, so that might be an option.


Springfield, Va.: Hello Gurus! I have tomorrow off (yay!) and I was thinking of sitting in on the Supreme Court. It was something that was suggested in WaPo. Have any of you done something like that before? How would you suggest I plan for it?

Fritz: I wrote about this for the Visitors Guide. Hearing arguments in person is a really interesting experience, and one that not everyone does. (How many people do you know who've been to the Capitol? How many who've sat through a session of the Supreme Court? Exactly.)

Unfortunately, though, arguments are on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. If you go tomorrow, you can tour the building -- which is very cool -- and hear a lecture about the court, but you won't get to hear a case.


Washington, D.C.,: My friend and I were just having a conversation last night about being more approachable in public settings (we are both introverts) and he sent me this comic depicting his worse fear when approaching women And just in time for today's GOG chat! I am pretty much that girl in the comic.

Julia: OMG, love this!


Downtown, D.C.: Any opinions to share about the National Harbor -- is there enough up & running to suggest to some out-of-town folks to visit? They are staying in Alexandria...I read about a ferry that goes there, but I can't seem to get a good feel as to whether there's enough going on/open for them to spend time there. I did look at the nice WashPost interactive. I know the Awakening is there...which is where I used to send folks when it was at Haines Point..but then what?

Thanks for any feedback!

Julia: Funny you should ask; I was just there last night. My sense about National Harbor is that it's just like a big outdoor mall. Like Reston Town Center. Others may disagree, but I wouldn't really go there just to hang out for the day. Go if you have a specific bar or restaurant in mind or if you want to see the Awakening. But, it didn't strike me as the kind of place I'd want to just wander around. (Had a great lobster-bacon soup at Old Hickory, though!)

Here's the intel on the water taxi.

Fritz: I second Julia's assessment. It's a big urban-in-the-suburbs development, with a cool art gallery (Art Whino), the Awakening, and a lot of chain stores. There's a dueling piano bar, Bobby McKey's, which we talked about last week, and the Aloft hotel has a neat bar. The lounge atop the Gaylord hotel is stylish, if not often packed, and has great views of D.C.

And that's about it.


meeting on the metro: Strike up an innocuous conversation - especially easy if the person you want to approach is reading a book. Then see how the conversation progresses and read her body language. If it seems good, you can consider giving her your number. If she seems like she wants to be left alone it's easy for the innocuous subject you introduced to peter out and for you to smile and go back to your reading material/ipod. I think it's helpful here to have a book/ipod etc so that you can clearly signal a back-off. That way there's no ick factor.

David: Maybe I'm in the minority here, but when I'm on Metro, there is only one thing on my mind -- getting off the Metro as soon as humanly possibly without catching H1N1. Perhaps it's a pickup spot for others, but it just seems wholly too public and with those harsh lights and everything ... there's got to be a better way, right?

Julia: David is the most neurotic guru. Just sayin'.

Stephanie: David is so dramatic, right? For the record, the book idea works.


Washington, DC: Had a terrific happy hour experience at PS7 last night. The recession special (Miller Lite, ginger liquer, ginger ale) for $5 was delicious and packed a punch. Also, they were doing a free tasting of three Balvenie scotches!

Fritz: Yeah, PS7's occasionally has some awesome Scotch or bourbon tasting that no one hears about until the very last minute. (If only people there would tell us in advance, hint hint.)

And I like the always-on-happy-hour Recession Special. Much better than I thought it would be. Sort of ... soda-y.


Arlington CAPS FAN!!: Hey going to the Caps game at 7 - quick, me and the crew need cheap drinks in a fun atmosphere around verizon center, and please dont say greene turtle - the service STINKS there. HELP :)

Fritz: I'm a sucker for the $3 house-brewed pints at District Chophouse, especially if you go upstairs to the bar with couches and pool tables. (Specials run from 3 to 6, so get there early and try to grab a beer at 5:55.)

R.F.D.'s also not a bad option for their beer of the day deal.


SW Washington: Hi GOGs,

We are three 30 something ladies looking for a great place to have happy hour tomorrow after work. Where do you suggest we go that offers a decent wine list, outdoor seating, doesn't require us to shout to talk to each other, and has a good mix of people? (Preferably nice, attractive guys, who are over 25 but not 40.) Does such a place exist?


Fritz: Proof would be at the top of my list. And if you need cheap drinks, Vinoteca is a good choice. (If you're coming from SW, it's an easy ride to U Street Metro, too.)


Glover Park, D.C.: Hey GOG's, love the chats! Food question for y'all. I moved to Glover Park a few months ago and have tried most of the restaurants/bars in my 'hood. I'm looking to move south to Georgetown and would like your suggestions. Where are some good places to eat? There are SO many restaurants in Gtown. I don't need fancy, a la Citronelle, and kind of want to steer clear of bars-with-food. Just need some solid suggestions for dinner on Tuesday night, looking to spend $15 a person type places. Thoughts?

Julia: I really like Los Cuates, Cafe La Ruche and The Tombs (provided you avoid the college crowd at the latter).


Arlington: The playoffs are here! Are there any other Yankee bars in the area besides 51st State? I love that place but its just too small and it's hard to nab some seats when a game is on. Go Yanks!

Fritz: Sign of the Whale is a "Yankees Bar" thanks to one of the managers, who didn't like that Rhino Bar, which has the same owners, is a Sox bar.


Washington, D.C.: I've read your where to watch games columns, but I'm not really satisfied. I'm in search of somewhere to watch the Steelers game sunday. Would like to be in the dupont/farragut/metro center area (so pourhouse is out), doesn't need to be a "steelers" bar but would like somewhere not crazy with skins fan (i know its not avoidable), otherwise just lots of tvs and seats, and half decent food would be nice. any suggestions? thanks so much!!

Fritz: I don't think too many bars is D.C. are crazy with Skins fans these days.

I'd say some good options around those Metro stops would be BlackFinn, which has TVs and a ton of game-day specials, the lounge/lofty Public Bar, maybe the Penn Quarter Sports Tavern if you don't mind going down one more stop on the Red line.


Circulator to Navy Yard: It's not running on the weekends, right? Since baseball season is over.

Fritz: I thought that was just the Smithsonian loop, but you might be right. Let me check.


For: Sober happy hour: I stopped drinking also and had to ditch the friend who was basically "my drinkin' buddy." If you can find some people who you can hang with that don't drink (or won't drink when they're with you) that helps. I am just as happy going for a bike ride to Gravelly Point and watching the planes land. Maybe you could walk in your neighborhood and check out the local shops. You're bound to meet some cool people like this. If you like running, try out some new areas that you haven't been before. If you get into a routine, you'll run into people that enjoy the same things you do!

Even if you have some nights that are low key, think about the money you are saving on drinks. Maybe use that money to take a long weekend to go visit a friend or family. The possibilities are endless . . .

Stephanie: Great suggestions. Thanks!


Alexandria, Va.: Hello fantastic GOGs, My hunny and I are getting married on New Year's Eve, during the day, we are doing a small civil ceremony. My question is, where should I book for us to go have a celebratory lunch/early dinner in or around Alexandria/NOVA/D.C.? We are simple folks but like to have fun! It would be us and another couple celebrating our nuptials! Thanks a bunch, guys! I know you'll come through with some terrific ideas!

Sincerely, Out with the old & In with the New!

Julia: You're so cute! Congrats!

Some celebratory lunch places that come to mind are Vermilion in Old Town or Central in D.C. We're sort of running out of time and I'd love to give you a more tailored answer -- think you can drop me a line at julia(dot)beizer(at) with things you're looking for -- like type of food, price point, etc? Would love to hear from you!


Dupont: Cafe LaRuche? So disappointing. Have you been lately? The atmosphere is cute but it's one of the worst meals I've had in the past two years.

Julia: God I'm sorry to hear that. I was there about six months ago and loved it, still, but you're not the only reader to object to the place, so I'll throw this out there for caution.


Re: Parking at Columbia Heights for Nats games: Good idea in theory but the Green Line rarely goes up to Columbia Heights AFTER the games.

Julia: Maybe I'm missing something, but the Green Line always goes up to Columbia Heights, unless Metro is done for the night.


Washington, D.C.: I don't understand why the Post gives the Brickskeller so much press. So they've been around for 53 years. But they never have most of the beers I order and the food is awful. The new beer bars without history like Birreria Paradiso, Rustico and Dr. Granville Moore's are much more interesting for real beer fans. And on that note, what is happening with Church Key?

Fritz: I don't think we've given them too much press lately. I wrote a blog post yesterday because (a) it was the Brick's 53rd anniversary and (b) they're offering $3.50 beers all month, plus some rarities like that delicious Lost Abbey saison.

The ritual of having to order multiple beers until you get one that's in stock is a familiar one, and one I've written stories about. I take groups of friends there, we order 20-25 beers and see how many of our choices actually show up. I think it's usually around 12 or 13 of 20. I know that's still not a great ratio -- can you imaging going to Jaleo and having more than half the entrees not be available? -- but it's not as bad as some people make it out to be, and there are beers at the Brickskeller than no one else in D.C. has readily available.

As for for Church Key, I'm being told that it's only a few weeks away. Just waiting for a concrete date at this point.


Anonymous: Please advise on a nice and fun restaurant where 80 people can hold a post-graduation dinner/cocktail party near Georgetown. Good food, but not too expensive...Music a plus. If we can have the whole place for ourselves...better...we are a noisy crowd! Ingrid

Fritz: Try F. Scott's, the private function room at 1789 and the Tombs. You can throw a great party there.


Side question totally for hax but here goes...: Two of my fiance's friends just got engaged. I don't like them, long story -- but they know it, and I don't do fakeness very easily.

When we got engaged, they wrote on my Facebook wall "Congratulations!!" but it was so...fake.

Do I have to say congrats to them?

Julia: I would, particularly over Facebook. Because if you can do fakeness anywhere, Facebook is the easiest place to do it!

Besides, these people are friends of your fiance. Clearly he enjoys them. I'm not saying you have to be all bff with them, but it seems like it won't take too much effort for you to bury the hatchet for the three seconds it takes to write "congrats!!" and then be done with the whole thing.

Being an advice columnist is sort of my dream job. Reasons I wouldn't be so good at it? I am DYING to know the back story here.


Petworth: " I just don't understand people who change teams. "

I'm a Nats fan. I grew up a fan of the Orioles. I live here, not there. I changed to my hometown team.

Julia: Me too, Petworth.


Need a Wig!: Hey Gurus! Does anyone know if that temporary Halloween store in downtown Bethesda is still around? Have any idea where it is located this year? Thanks!

Julia: I don't know about the temporary store, but Bruce Variety in Bethesda (301-656-7543) always comes through in a pinch! I also like Backstage Costumes on 8th St. SE.

4:37 Update: Readers wrote in with some tips after the chat ended. The Halloween store is back at 7016 Wisconsin Ave. Here's the info.


No Pants Dance?: I hate that you get so many of these bachelorette/birthday questions but...friend coming from no fun southern VA for her bday celebration: we are going to Temple for sushi early evening (VA Square) then want to go out. Requests: good music that we will want to cut a rug to, cute boys for some possible bday making out -bday girl & co :)- and not to poshy ritzy. Used to like Heaven and Hell for good dancing but after gunshots the last time I was in AM not going there for a while. Would like to check out Dupont - Public Bar and Midtown are fun but have been done - anything closer to that feel in the area that would be good? thanks always you guys are awesome - think about changing your name to Going out Gods/Godesses?? SERIOUSLY! have fun tonite...

Fritz: Hey there. You don't say which night this is, but I'll give it a shot. If you're looking to stay around Arlington, there's Eleventh or one of the Clarendon Ballroom/Grill, but honestly, neither of them gives me a "get drunk and makeout" vibe. Dunno why. Closer to Dupont, I'd say at Fly and Cafe Citron *definitely* have the crowd/vibe you're looking for, and I can't see a group of girls getting turned away, as long as you're not rocking the "IT'S MY BIRTHDAY" sash or what have you.

Julia says Rumors. I think that's totally a get-drunk-and-kiss-someone vibe.

Oh, and if you're going this weekend, on Saturday night at McFadden's, people with October birthdays drink for free from 8 to 11, and their friends pay $20 for the same deal. They play loads of dance music that everyone knows. Just e-mail to get on the free drinks list.


Washington, D.C.: What about a restaurant for a post-graduation party (around 85)? Preferrably near Georgetown and necessarily a fun place with good food...I've asked three times, please help someone!! I'm planning this across the ocean!!!

Julia: Really? I swear I've never seen this question before! Anyway, sorry for the delay. You need a restaurant for 85 people? The Old Ebbitt Grill or the Occidental might suit a party that big. Not particularly near Georgetown, but they have big private rooms.


Alexandria, Va.: Hey GOGs, My Dad's in town this weekend, so I made reservations for brunch at Art&Soul on New Jersey Ave for 12:30pm on Sunday. I just heard there is going to be a parade that morning, with street closures all along Penn Ave to the Capitol. Any sense on how bad it's going to be for traffic, parking, etc... Should I cancel the rez? Thanks!

Julia: Fritz says that this is right by the Equality March parade route. You might want to make a new reservation.

_______________________ OK, that's it for us. We will see you in mere hours at Capitol City Brewing Company for our monthly happy hour. Get there early if you want that free food -- and stay for the good people!


Petworth: Yeah, the green line is SUPPOSED to always go to Columbia Heights (and then on up to Petworth). After games there are often trains that SAY they are going to Greenbelt that then go out of service at Gallery Place.

This is why I ride the 70 bus home from games.

Julia: Interesting, I guess I have had those trains go out of service at Gallery Place, but I've always been able to make it home!


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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