Got Plans?: Watching hockey and football games, burlesque, the Black Cat and offbeat places to take visitors

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The Going Out Gurus
of The Washington Post's Going Out Guide
Thursday, November 19, 2009; 1:00 PM

The Going Out Guide staff talked about watching hockey and football games, burlesque, the Black Cat and offbeat places to take visitors Thursday, Nov. 19 at 1 p.m. ET.

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washingtonpost.com: Hi everyone. The full group of Going Out Gurus is here to take your questions and comments on a rainy Thursday afternoon. Want to make your day a little bit brighter? Tell us about your favorite off-the-beaten-path place to take Thanksgiving visitors and you could win tickets to Theatre J's production of "Lost in Yonkers" this coming Tuesday. Put on your thinking caps and let's go...

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20008: Asked this last week, didn't get a response -- trying again.

The Army/Navy game is coming up on Dec.4, in Iraq as I understand it. Where's a great place in D.C. to watch it? Can't be in Annapolis ...

Fritz: Sorry -- I've never heard of this. As far as I (and the Navy sports department) know, the game is Dec. 12 in Philadelphia.

For football viewing, I know that some of the service groups meet at Penn Quarter Sports Tavern, inc. Army and Air Force.

And if you're an alum of Annapolis or West Point, there's a pre-game pep rally at the Army Navy Country Club, which you can find out more about here.

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Zayatina: I've been there a few times, always good with a crowd. Since Top Chef, has this place gotten more/less/same popularity?

And does Mike Isabella show his face much or is he strictly in the kitchen?

Julia: I haven't eaten there since this season started, so I can't really answer your question -- chatters? When I've been in the neighborhood (C-A-P-S!), it looks busy, but . . . Zaytinya has always been busy. As to your other question, every time I've eaten at Zaytinya, I've caught a glimpse of Mike Isabella. Not sure if that has changed since the show.

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Arlington, Va.: I hope you can help me, Gurus. My partner and I are celebrating our three year anniversary on Sunday. Our original plans fell through, so we're trying to pull together a last minute celebration. We were thinking of a matinee musical followed by dinner, but it seems that all of the tickets in our price range for the area productions are no longer available. Do you have any ideas for an alternate afternoon activity? I'd love to do something that's a little more of a -splurge- activity since we've set aside money for this day and we're usually on a limited budget. Thank you!

Stephanie: If theater is your thing, you might want to start with our Free and Cheap guide or this blog I wrote about ways to get discounts on tix. As for prices, what's your range? If you're looking to go fairly cheap, then I might direct you to one of the Fall Fringe shows. Those will certainly be entertaining, but may not feel like much of a splurge.

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Washington, D.C.: It's my friend's birthday this weekend and he's a huge Montreal Canadiens fan. Tickets for the Caps/Canadiens game were too expensive for our group of friends (6 people) so I'm looking for a good sports bar to go to watch the game and celebrate his birthday. I'm not a hockey fan so I have no idea where the good places to go are so any advice on D.C. area sports bars would be appreciated! Thanks!!

Fritz: If he's actually a huge hockey fan, I really don't think there's a better place to watch a game than Bugsy's in Old Town Alexandria. Framed Gretzky/Messier/Orr sweaters on the walls, a booth shaped like a penalty box, Molson on tap, Hockey Night in Canada on TVs, and an owner who played for the Capitals and coached the Edmonton Oilers for 18 games when a certain Mr. Gretzky was a rookie.

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Washington D.C.: Favorite off the beaten path place to take visitors is the National Arboretum. It's a bit of a hike, but the scenery is gorgeous, especially with all the fall foliage.

Stephanie: One of my favorite spots in D.C. I mean, a whole museum dedicated to bonsais! Does it get much better?

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Bethesda, Md.: Hey Gurus, Not exactly a going out question but... I love to wrap presents. Love it! How can I find a charity that is holding a present wrapping fund raiser and volunteer? I've already tried One Brick with no luck.

Thanks!

Julia: Wow, I have never ever heard anyone say, "I love to wrap presents." Anyway, in high school, I used to volunteer with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation wrappers in Montgomery Mall. My friend's mom used to organize it... and gave me a non-wrapping job because I have no paper-tape-ribbon skills. Looks like they still do this -- you can check out the group here.

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Dupont Circle: Any idea where I could watch the Harvard Yale game tomorrow?

Fritz: Sure, you just have to pick sides -- Yale's watching the game at BlackFinn downtown, Harvard's at Crystal City Sports Pub. I'm sure some neutral places will put it on -- Penn Quarter Sports Tavern? -- but not many.

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Washington, D.C.: This doesn't have anything to do with going out, but instead help with finding the right place in the city (or surrounding areas!). I have been searching for an antique Russian map for my father for Christmas. Any place in the area that might have something like this??

Julia: Fritz and I just put our heads together on this and we think that the map vendor at the Eastern Market flea market (the part in the parking lot on the *other* side of the street from the actual market) might have what you're looking for. Or at least he'd know where you could start. Fritz has purchased random maps from that guy -- London, etc.

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Capitol Hill: Is there a good place on H St. NE to watch college football games on Saturdays? I usually go to Cleveland Park Bar & Grill or have people over at my place but need to be somewhere around H St. later in the afternoon so would like to watch someplace nearby. Thanks.

Fritz: Well, there are TVs at the Argonaut (my pick) and H Street Country Club, but I'm not sure either really counts as a sports bar.

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Out of towners: My favorite thing to do with out of towners is a bbq at Gravelly Point -- being on the water, space to throw around the football, enjoying cleverly concealed alcoholic beverages, grilled yumminess, and airplanes...can't beat it. Evening ends at Dan's Cafe. Simply because there is nothing else quite like it.

Fritz: Here's someone in the running to win Theatre J tickets...

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Ballston Dude: Where do the GOGS go when they have a hankering for falafel?

Julia: Funny you should ask, Ballston. We were just talking about the (totally awesome) falafel at Me Jana, which is near our office. It's great but kind of pricey. Personally, I go to Amsterdam or Astor -- both near my house, both delicious. I like Amsterdam when I'm feeling all DIY and need a wide variety of toppings. Astor's just a good, standard wrap.

Rhome: While others slow their alcohol absorption with jumbo slices, I prefer falafel. 24 Seven at 14th & U is always there for me in the wee hours after a long night. Otherwise, Amsterdam rules the roost. Two sizes, mad toppings, authentic Dutch frites.

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Arlington, Va.: Off-the Beaten Path -- National Building Museum! Awesome exhibits (including a great permanent one on Washington history), and an architecturally impressive building. A few blocks from the Mall and never ever crowded.

And everyone I've taken to Ray's The Steaks hasn't complained.

Fritz: You're two-for-two, Arlington. NBM should get more love from visitors. Thanks.

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D.C.: What's a closeted twilight fan to do - I have tix for a middle of the day show on friday at Gallery Place, do I need to go early to get in line with the screaming tweens or can I pretend I'm a normal adult and sneak in close to start time?

Jen: Well, I think that depends on how you feel about your seat location. If you're super-picky about that, then you may want to get there at least a half-hour ahead of time. If you're not and don't mind getting a neck-craner seat in the front row, then sneak in at the last minute. A middle-of-the-day show should be a little easier than a nighttime one, I would think.

Good luck. Give my best to Taylor Lautner's abs. I haven't seen them since I caught last night's advance screening of "New Moon" but please tell them I am really looking forward to our upcoming brunch date.

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Bethesda, Md.: Is Burlesque dead? In April there was an article on burlesque in D.C., but two of the three shows listed have stopped. I've been to Palace of Wonders but the area is a little sketchy and the bar a little dive-y. Is there any place to see upscale burlesque in D.C.?

Stephanie: You know, I think Palace might be your best bet for recurring burlesque performances. There are some that pop up now and again (especially during Fringe Festival), but I'm blanking on other burlesque nights that happen on a regular basis.

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Black Cat Newbie: I'm going to the Black Cat for the first time this weekend. What's the best show to see? I can't decide between the RIGHT ROUND UP! 80s Alt-Pop Dance Night and PARTY LIGHTS: 60s Girl Groups, Soul, Garage, and more (even though this one is free). Does it matter whether I got to the main stage or backstage to get the full experience??

David: I mean, if you're really worried about getting the full Black Cat experience you should probably see an actual BAND. Nothing against those fine DJ nights, but the Black Cat didn't get to where it is because of DJ nights. That said, both of those should be fun, there will probably be more dancing, songs you recognize and more people upstairs. Party Lights on the backstage will have good old gems, though, and it's free. So you can check out both. And Friday DJ Dredd is doing his vintage hip-hop night on the backstage with, let's just say, a very special guest.

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D.C.: I'll be in Columbia Heights area this Saturday morning with a few hours to spare. Anything interesting going on over in that part of town? Breakfast, good coffee shop, exhibit, stores -- I'm open to ideas! I haven't spent much time over there, other than Target.

Julia: Check out the newly minted Tynan Coffee & Tea. Lots of loose leaf teas, waffles served all day and a really, truly, utterly fantastic gingerbread chai tea. Expect crowds. The intersection of 14th and Irving is brutal on Saturday morning. There's also the Simply Soles on Park Road if you want to shop.

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Re: Bonsai: Don't overlook the rare psilotum that grows in the same pots as the bonsai. You can view natural history in action with their primitive structures, such as enations.

Stephanie: Whatever you say!

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Russian Map: In past years, there was a vendor at the outdoor Christmas market by the American Art Museum that sold antique prints and map. Might be worth a look!

Julia: Good to know. I wonder if it was the same guy. I love that market, by the way. I buy my mom's Christmas present there every year. It starts up again Dec. 4!

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RE: Gift Wrapping: It's not Bethesda, but the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia(www.lcnv.org) is looking for volunteer gift wrappers. Shifts are available in 10 local bookstores throughout Northern Virginia, starting after Thanksgiving and lasting through Christmas Eve.

Julia: Any wrappers out there?

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Excited for the holidays: Hey Gurus, in addition to the creche exhibit at the Washington National Cathedral, do you know of other places to see lots of Nativity scenes? Also, any general recommendations for (free) holiday related activities this year? Thanks!

Fritz: There are usually a ton of creches (with live animals!) at the Mormon Temple's Christmas Spectacular, but that doesn't open until Dec. 4. While we haven't seen this year's edition, we're guessing it will be similar to those in the past.

For free holiday events, I go for the model trains and curious-looking D.C. landmarks made from plant material at the Botanic Gardens, water-skiing Santa, holiday parades (like this weekend's in Silver Spring, the Norwegian Christmas at Union Station ... almost too many to list. But thankfully we DO list them in our recently-launched Holiday Guide.

I'll also have more cropping up in the Free and Easy column, which you can find every Monday in the Style section and on this site.

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Brentwood, D.C.: Holiday visitors: Arlington Cemetery (after 12/12) to see the wreaths and the Willard lobby for hot drinks.

Fritz: Very good ideas. The Willard makes some of the best warming cocktails around.

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Chuck: Thanks for the heads up on the Chuck Prophet show tonight. When do you recommend arriving at Iota for a 9:00 show?

David: Should be a good one at Iota tonight, I saw Chuck there almost exactly two years ago and he was excellent. Dude can really play that guitar. I'd probably be there but I'll be ducking for cover at the Jesus Lizard show. It should be crowded and might even sell out, but if you get there by 9 you should be OK. They are usually pretty good about the opener going on right around the listed time.

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Washington, D.C.: If its decent weather -- visitors could walk the Cultural Tourism D.C. Heritage Trails around the city. People often gloss over the amazing history of D.C. -- particularly in places like U Street. I mean, they'd be pounding the pavement -- but I wouldn't call that the beaten path. Info's at www.culturalheritagedc.org.

Rhome: Since I often find myself giving these historic facts off the top of my head (and forgetting stuff), I endorse this. And strolling through neighborhoods often reveals nice old homes and architecture that you don't see from a car or bus.

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Bethesda, Md.: I am a HUGE fan of Bryan Voltaggio of Top Chef. Any tips for snagging a table at his restaurant and/or meeting the hometown celeb?

Julia: Snagging a table at his restaurant is tough, but not impossible. Just try to call to make a reservation if OpenTable shows no availability. Want to score a seat at the exclusive Table 21 at Volt? That's tougher. When I was up in Frederick to shoot this video, Bryan told me that the four-seat chef's table was booked solid through January. I can only imagine those seats are even more difficult to get after Tom Sietsema's 3.5-star nod in the Dining Guide.

If you make the trip up to Volt from Bethesda and ask to meet the chef, I'm sure he'd make every effort to come out to say hello.

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Arlington, Va.: Guru's; you are the only ones I trust to help me! I am proposing to the love of my life on Saturday the 19th. I already have the logistics setup - our adventure will end near the Studio Theatre near Thomas Circle. The plan is to then meet up with both of our families for a late dinner. What I'm hoping to find is a place to go inbetweeen. The hour will be around 7-8 p.m. and I'm looking for a nice quiet, but not dead place for us to have a celebratory drink (just the two of us) before we meet up with the fams. I'm picturing something with maybe a wrap around couch or something of that sort. All I can come up with is the Washington Plaza Hotel bar. Any other ideas??? THANKS!

-The Bachelor

Fritz: Okay, so let's throw the WP bar out the window. It's nice but bland, and certainly not the way you want to start your newly-engaged life together. ChurchKey, which is right there, is waaaaaay too popular on Saturday nights for me to suggest it. Stoney's is awesome if you want to celebrate with a grilled cheese and a beer, but probably not.

So ... what about the Helix Lounge? If you could score one of the cool curtained-off booths (and I bet you could if you called ahead), that would be ideal. The dark/romantically lit Bar Rouge might also work.

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Washington, D.C.: Also. can you guys be reached by e-mail?

Thanks. Erik

Fritz: events [at] washingtonpost.com for general stuff
nightlife [at] washingtonpost.com for nightlife-related things.

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Bethesda Happy Hour?: Hi! love your chat and read it every week...and decided to submit today for some advice. I am in charge of choosing a place for three ladies (late 20s-early 30s) to meet for drinks and snacks one afternoon. One just had a baby and will be coming out (maybe with/maybe without the baby) for the first time since August. We are teachers, so we like to hit the spots early. Do you have any suggestions in the Bethesda area or not too far away? Preferably a place that won't be too loud, where we could get a table to really catch up, but offering some deals on drinks and maybe apps?

Thanks so much!

Fritz: Julia and I have been to Black's on the early side and had a good time -- not too loud, good deals on appetizers, oysters and wine. If you're there early, tables shouldn't be too hard. BlackFinn has a ton of specials and a younger vibe, if that's important. And Tommy Joe's is always a safe bet.

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(at) (dot): Why have I been seeing this more and more lately? When someone provides an e-mail address in print, they type "events(at)washingtonpost(dot)com. What gives?

Fritz: It's so spam-spiders trolling Web pages don't immediately recognize your address as an e-mail address and add it to their list.

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Day after T'giving: Maybe this is a Sietsema question, but I've got tickets to Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit at National Geographic for day after T'G. I'll have three teenage boys in tow. Where can I find an early dinner/late day snack in that neighborhood that won't break the bank. I don't get downtown that often. Our tickets are for 4:30 p.m.

Julia: That's a tough call. You know what I'd do? Go to the Nando's at 18th and Connecticut. It's less than a quarter-mile a way. There are closer restaurants, for sure, but this one seems to fit the cheap + teenage boys criteria.

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Falls Church, Va.: Hey Guru's!

My husband and I are staying in town by ourselves for thanksgiving, and we're wondering if you know of any great bars that will be open Thanksgiving night?

Fritz: I was out in Adams Morgan and on U Street last Thanksgiving, and it seemed like most bars were actually open. Not packed, but open. There are always exceptions, ranging from ChurchKey to the Bottom Line, so it's worth calling ahead.

One safe bet: Hotel lounges like Bourbon Steak and the Tabard Inn, both of which I'd recommend. (Hmmm. I wonder if it will be easier to get to the W's bar on Thanksgiving...)

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Washington, D.C. : For the Bachelor -- Helix. Way more room to be intimate. Since it's early, call ahead and if they don't have a private party I'm sure they'll work with you to get one of those booths. Rogue is just too random. There is no way to predict that bar.

Fritz: That's what I was kind of figuring. Thanks.

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Russian Map: I'm not 100% sure on this, but figured I'd throw it out there. I was at Hillwood House last Christmas and they were all about Russian stuff. Is it always like this or is it a rotating thing? If they're always Russophiles maybe that person could pick up a map there.

Julia: Hillwood is definitely a good place to look. The historic house has a very extensive collection of imperial Russian art.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi GOGs, I am alone on this Thanksgiving for the first time in years. After volunteering at Food and Friends, what activities or diversions can you recommend to keep a single 30-something occupied on the holiday? Are most movie theaters open?

Stephanie: I went to see "Milk" last year, so I'm guessing most theaters are open. You can also catch some live music (care to join me for Zero 7?) or check out an exhibition, because a lot of museums are open, including the National Gallery, the Smithsonians and the Botanic Garden.

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Glover Park: What bar is on the photo used here today? Someone descending stairs with a neon red 'bar' sign...? Not familiar with that one in D.C....

Fritz: Science Club, as mentioned in the blurb on the Going Out Guide front. (This is the entrance to the downstairs bar -- I think most people just head up the front steps and never notice it's there.)

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Arlington, Va.: Hi guys,

I just moved to Shirlington Village from Bethesda. Could you tell me any good places to eat and also a nice hang out for drinks and lounging. I like all kinds of food.Thanks a lot.

Julia: The Carlyle is perhaps the most reliable place in the area. I love the margaritas at Guapo's, too.

Fritz: I like a good microbrew at Capitol City Brewing Company, and the ridiculous happy hour deals ($1 longnecks on Thursdays! $1 margaritas on Mondays!) at the tiki-tacky Bungalow Billiards. There's also Busboys and Poets for your open-mike fix.

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For Gift Wrapping Volunteer: Sorry this is so late but I am volunteering for this very worthy cause this year - wrapping gifts for children of incarcerated parents. Here's link to the event info.

Julia: More on gift wrapping.

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Reston : Hubby has picked The Prime Rib for his birthday dinner this Sat. Is there anyplace in walking distance for a pre- or after-dinner drinky poo?

Fritz: Drinky-poo? Not a drinky-winky?

I would go to Founding Farmers for a cocktails (bar much is better than the restaurant), or maybe the Westend Bistro. Elephant and Castle is fine if you just want a beer or something.

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Courthouse: Have any of you eaten at H Street Country Club? What's good? I'm going with some friends and want to make sure they have good food. Any recs?

Fritz: Only off the bar menu -- like the lobster tostada, tamales and empanadas to go with my margaritas and skee-ball.

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Falls Church, Va.: Where is the best hot chocolate in the area? Lots of mommies would like to know!! Thanks!

Julia: *Lots* of mommies, huh? Oyamel and ACKC are both known for their hot chocolate, but it's worth noting that these are pretty grown-up renditions of the drink. Former guru Erin did a great hot chocolate round up a few years ago. Some of the places no longer exist -- sniff, Murky's -- but it's a pretty definitive look at the hot chocolate issue. Buzz, on her list, is a good one that's sort of near you in Virginia.

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Off-the-Beaten-Path: This is coming in pretty late, but my favorite place to take visitors is the Hillwood Estate and Museum. It's a fantastic place to take my mother because we can look at whatever is on view, stroll the gardens if it is warm, and have afternoon tea!

Stephanie: The gardens at Hillwood are indeed phenomenal.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Gurus! Thank you for the chats, I've been a loyal reader since I moved to DC 5 years ago! Anyway, I'm looking for a happy hour place for Friday night around Dupont Circle with food specials (or just inexpensive food). I'm catching up with a friend and we want something fun and busy, but not so packed that we'll have to shout conversations or wait a half hour for a second round. Any suggestions?

Fritz: Try the new Maddy's on Connecticut Avenue. I wrote about it back in October when it first opened and I've been back a couple of times without being disappointed. Good flatbreads and mini-burgers, decent wine list. The happy hour isn't huge ($1 off all drinks) but it's a good little spot with cozy booths and not as slammed as most Dupont bars get.

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12 and Mass: Who is DJ Dredd's special guest tomorrow night? You're killing me!!

Fritz: Rhome is too humble to do this himself so I'll mention that DJ Stylus of the Soul Controllers and Poem-Cees (aka Rhome) is on the decks with DJ Dredd.

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Logan Circle, D.C.: On Friday me and a couple of girlfriends I haven't seen in awhile want to meet up for drinks and dinner somewhere in Arlington. I'm thinking something fun (cocktails, ambiance), with good moderately priced food. Any ideas?

Fritz: The lounge at Eventide is a good idea -- cocktails are interesting and well-made, the food is moderately priced ($10-13), and there's always a scene. Yaku's bar is another option, since they have a DJ, and Gua-Rapo rarely disappoints. All of these will also let you catch up without having to shout over the dudes hoisting Guinness glasses, too.

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Washington D.C.: Help, my boyfriend just did something so nice for me...I want to repay him by taking him to a nice lunch on Saturday while we are shopping, we'll be dressed up so do you have any suggestions? Everywhere I've tried downtown and along Connecticut Ave up to Friendship Heights seems closed for lunch. I'd like to be able to make a reservation. My first thought was Tabard, but we just went there.

Thanks!

Julia: What about Urbana?

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Re: Anniversary Idea for Sunday: The French embassy has a great series going on right now - all of Beethoven's piano sonatas. François-Frédéric Guy is there for 9 days, playing 10 concerts and each concert showcases different sonatas. I think Sunday is the last day and can't remember which sonatas he's performing that day. My husband and I went to it last Friday and it was incredible. $20/ticket.

Stephanie: And definitely feels like a splurge, right? A great idea for an anniversary celebration!

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Capitol Hill Elf: Gurus - I hate to be critical but you all dropped the ball last week in responding to the dude who wanted to show his visiting parents the splendor of D.C. Christmas decorations. As a veteran of many a date night during past Christmas seasons to enjoy the festive cheer of twinkling lights as well as seasonal alcoholic beverages, please allow me to chime in with a suggested itinerary:

Start at Union Station - check out the huge wreaths outside, the Norway train display inside. Head over to the Capitol and check out the Capitol Christmas Tree and the U.S. Botanic Garden. Time for a beverage break - there a number of options but none are particularly Christmas-y. Last year we went to Sonoma and had a nice glass of wine by the fireplace upstairs. Other options - Bistro Bis, Johnny's Half-Shell, Charlie Palmer's.

Next, head to the Ellipse to check out the White House Christmas tree, with its trains, the state trees surrounding it, and the most-awesome honest-to-goodness real yule log with tree trucks as firewood and a raging fire. Head to the Old Ebbitt Grill and bow to the larger than life Nutcrackers standing at the door. Here you can have a parents-friendly dinner or just have a drink. (Last year, we walked between the Capitol and White House to admire the Christmas tree at the Canadian Embassy and stopped at the Capital Grille for an appetizer and cocktail.)

After dinner, go to the Willard Hotel to see the old-school hotel's great Christmas decorations in the lobby; they also usually have gingerbread creations of D.C. buildings and/or monuments. Parents fit right in at the Round Robin Bar for an after-dinner drink. I may add the W hotel to my agenda this year to see what, if anything, you can see from the new roof-top bar in term of Christmas decorations. Nice hotels usually also have nice Christmas decorations so in the past we have also added the bar at the Hay-Adams in our loop and I still have the tiny Christmas ornament that came with my festive holiday martini that year.

Anyway, as a frequent reader but rare poster, I just wanted to try and help spread the Christmas cheer for the visiting parents. Keep up the good work!

Anne: Many wonderful ideas here, so thanks for sending our way. But elf, I think our answers to this question last were creative, too. (Just not as lengthy.)

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Washington, D.C.: We've got tickets to see the Terra Cotta warriors exhibit on a Sunday. Any recommendations for a lunch/brunch spot nearby?

Julia: Tabard Inn isn't too far.

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Cleveland, Ohio: My wife and I are arriving Friday morning in D.C. and leaving Monday afternoon. No kids. We're visiting the White House, LOC and The Capitol via our Sen. Brown's office.

What are some other fun activities that you can recommend for this weekend?...

Fritz: Well, I'll start by pointing you towards our list of Best Bets for the Weekend, which ranges from fringe theater to a wine-and-cheese tasting with live music hosted the French cultural group Alliance Francaise.

There are plenty of interesting exhibits in town, too, or you could just copy one of my favorite two-fers and browse the collections at the huge American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery -- and the glass-roofed courtyard is worth a visit on its own -- followed by a pitstop across the street at Proof, which is one of the area's nicest wine/cocktails bars

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Woe is me: Hey GOGs,

So I found out some bad news at work today.....where can a fella go to down a few pints in self pity in the Arlington area without it being too loud and boisterous?

Thanks

Julia: The Four Courts is pretty dead between lunch and happy hour. Ragtime would be my pick. Sorry for the bad news! Feel better.

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The Prime Rib: I would stay at the bar there for an after dinner drink. The atmosphere is so old school/glam and the live piano/jazz music is awesome. When my grandfather was alive it was his most favorite restaurant and I went there to have his favorite drink in his honor on his birthday...I mentioned it to the bartender and someone tipped off the pianist and they played a little happy birthday tribute. Very sweet. That place is so classic.

Fritz: Another suggestion for the birthday couple.

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Washington, D.C.: With the weather not quite cold enough to keep me inside, do you know what bars still have their outdoor spaces open...and perhaps even have heaters for when the temperatures do dip to just below comfortable?

Julia: I think a lot of places do this. I had a great Saturday evening under the stars (and heat lamps) at Room 11.

Fritz: Yeah. Room 11 has to -- so small inside. The Gibson heats its outdoor space, too.

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Alexandria, Va.: A nice little off-the-path circuit for guests south of DC is to go to Mt. Vernon and walk the grounds - should be much less crowded than in the summer and the gift shop has lots of Christmas stuff if guests are into that (and the new visitor center is amazing).

From there you can head to Gunston Hall and see the mansion and grounds where George Mason lived. Then head over to Frank Lloyd Wright's Pope-Leighy house, then end the day with coffee/drinks/dinner in Old Town.

Fritz: This is a great list, Alexandria, thanks.

(I think Gunston Hall and Pope-Leighy are a little more off the beaten path than Mount Vernon, though.)

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Keep family busy Saturday after thanksgiving : Hi, I love my family but unless we are being active and doing some activity together we tend to sit around and bicker. So I need an activity for the Saturday after thanksgiving. The catch: three kids under 3. So eight adults + two toddlers and one infant. Prior to toddlers and infant we used to do things like go bowling or brew beer or go ice skating. What should we do this year? Please, Gurus, I need a suggestion to keep the family harmony.

Anne: Where do you live and what time are you thinking? You could do a pretty easy free-form standby like the zoo or running around the courtyard at the Portrait Gallery (side benefit: viewing amazing art). There are the early holiday decorations like the walk-through Garden of Lights at Brookside or the awesomeness of the Botanic Garden (though kids that young probably won't be as impressed as older ones). Check out our holiday guide or other kid-friendly ideas for that Saturday. Bummer that the TMBG kids show is sold out.

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Attn: Fritz: Your thoughts on the Henry hand ball.

Did the ball play the hand or the hand play the ball?

The Irish got shafted either way.

Fritz: Titi is sort of dead to me after leaving Arsenal, but I have to say that I think he knew what he was doing. Shame, really, but I have to think the French would have won on penalties anyway.

Russia going out was much more of a shocker.

And hold tight to all the Algerians who were partying their butts off at the Bistrot du Coin Beaujolais Nouveau party last night, singing and waving flags. Great spirit.

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Volt's Table 21: A few days ago I called to make a reservation for four for Volt's Table 21, and they were taking weekend reservations for June, July and August! If you only need seating for two, or if you are willing to go during the week, it sounded like they had some earlier options. And this was just for Table 21 -- I am sure that it is far easier to get a table in the dining room.

Julia: Thanks for the intel.

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Policy on Ust: Hi Gurus! My bf is returning from Iraq this week and we are having a 'welcome back' get together for him on Saturday night. This sounds trivial, but what's a 20-something girl to wear to Policy? Many many thanks!

Fritz: You can wear whatever you like -- from a nice top and jeans to a party dress. The crowd kind of runs the gamut, but it's focused on the fashionable. Enjoy the party and say hi to your boyfriend for us.

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Washington, D.C.: Please Help! Oh knowledgeable gurus, I usually host a Christmas party as a fundraiser for a local nonprofit that I'm involved with - the idea being that instead of bringing a bottle of wine or whatever, I ask my guests to contribute to my cause. The thing is I feel that we've outgrown my apartment, so I'm looking for a FREE space that I could use to host this year's party. Any ideas? Prefer DC but could do VA or MD, and definitely looking for something metro accessible. Thanks for saving Christmas!

Fritz: Two easy options for free get-togethers: Aroma in Cleveland Park will let you use its back room for free if you reserve in advance, and Science Club frequently hosts groups like this, as long as it's not a large crowd on a super-busy Friday night. You could also try the Laughing Man Tavern downtown, or maybe Midtown Loft.

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washingtonpost.com: Okay, so we've gone WAY over time today and there are still plenty of questions in the queue that I know I'd like to get to. We're giving our tickets to the person who suggested taking the Cultural Tourism walking tours through various historic neighborhoods. Should be especially nice this time of year with holiday decorations going up. Send an e-mail with your contact info to events [at] washingtonpost [dot] com and we'll hook you up. As a reminder: No chat next week. We'll be busy eating turkey (or, in a dream world, Turducken). Thanks for joining us, and we'll talk to you in December.

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The Going Out Gurus write about restaurants, bars, movies, the arts, special events and visitor attractions, and they're out every night to keep you on top of the D.C. entertainment scene. Check in with them throughout the week on the GOG Blog or join their live Q&A every Thursday at 1 p.m.

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


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