Got Plans?: Valentine's Day events, rugby games and paczki

The Going Out Gurus
of The Washington Post's Going Out Guide
Thursday, February 11, 2010; 1:00 PM

The Going Out Guide staff talked about Valentine's Day events, rugby games and paczki on Thursday, Feb. 11, at 1 p.m. ET.

____________________ Cabin fever got you down? Hang out with us for the next hour and we'll answer your questions about how to get out of the house. On with the show.


Alexandria, Va.: Hi Gurus, We have a three-year-old girl who we wanted to take with us to eat out on Valentine's Day, perhaps brunch or lunch. Where is the best place to go with a little one? Thanks a bunch!

Julia Beizer: Cuteness. You know where I would go? Fontaine Caffe and Creperie. It's in your hood, feels romantic and has low-key eats for the little one.


Washington, D.C.: A few years ago, you had a list of where one could watch Six Nations Rugby games. Any idea on new places to watch this year?

Fritz Hahn: The Six Nations is one of those events where broadcast rights are controlled by an "exclusive" provider, which means that the number of pubs showing the games live are limited. Your choices in the D.C. area are Fado (both downtown and Annapolis), Summers, Flanagan's Harp and Fiddle and Daniel O'Connell's. Of those, I'd got O'Connell's -- had a great time there last St. Patrick's Day when they were showing Irish sports. Good food, too, if you're sticking around for a few matches.

As always, if you can stomach avoiding international Web sites, bars like Solly's will be showing tape-delayed games.


Washington, D.C.: Any idea what time Ian MacKaye will be going on at the DC Record Fair?

David Malitz: According to the Black Cat's Web site it will be 4-5 p.m. for Ian. But if you get there only for that, you may have missed out on lots of choice records that were scooped up in the early hours. But by the same token, when things are winding down the bargains may be better. So...


Kalorama: Can you tell me what are some places that serve good beer during the day on Saturdays? I'm planning a walkabout in the 14th Street/U Street/Columbia Heights/Dupont areas and would love to know where to pop in to take the chill off and put the buzz on.

Fritz Hahn: You have some pretty good choices out there, actually.

ChurchKey is now open at noon on Saturdays and Sundays, serving brunch and lunch. Best draft lineup in the city. You might not even make it out of there.

You should, though, because there are two spots on U worth your attention. Bistro la Bonne, which I recently blogged about, has a tremendous beer program that focuses on American microbrews (21st Amendment, Bell's, Speakeasy, Stoudt's, etc.). Good French comfort food, too. They open at 11 a.m. for brunch. Down the block, the Saloon is still its cantankerous self, with great German, Belgian and Belgian-style beers, the rules about not standing, not ordering martinis, and never ordering your beer and food at the same time. It's also open at 2.

If you're heading up to Columbia Heights, I like CommonWealth, which has been pouring English and American ales every day of this snowstorm. And I think it's worth a visit to the Red Derby for the 40+ beers in cans, just because it's such a cool neighborhood spot.


Washington, D.C.: My friend and I are attending SOME Jr. Gala tomorrow night and we're looking for a restaurant in the neighborhood of the Corcoran to grab some dinner before heading over there. We're not super picky, but we'd like a moderately priced restaurant with a good wine list within walking distance of the event. Any suggestions?

Julia Beizer: The Corcoran's in a bit of a wasteland as far as moderately priced restaurants are concerned. Tonic and Quigley's or Cafe Asia aren't exactly known for their wine lists, but those could work. Love Kaz Sushi Bistro, which is also near-ish. If you're looking to spend a bit more cash, The Oval Room and Kellari come to mind.


Washington, D.C.: Though I begged them to reschedule, I have 3 friends coming into town this weekend. Due to unforeseen complications due to the Snowpocalypse, I cannot spend much time with them this weekend but I want to give them some advice on what to do. They'll be staying wtih me near the Capitol South area and it's their first trip to D.C. Any suggestions?

Stephanie Merry: If it's their first trip to D.C., then at least they're in a convenient spot to check out all of the typical tourist must-sees. Tell them to bring their snow boots and wander down to the Mall to pop into whichever Smithsonian museums strike their fancy (assuming they're all open by then, which I'm guessing they will be). Yinka Shonibare at the Museum of African Art would be a good bet, as would Josef Albers at the Hirshhorn. The chocolate tastings and demonstrations at the American Indian Museum also sound like a good time, and then they can head back to be in prime location for witnessing the madness of Cupid's Undies Run.


UNC Fans?: Probably a longshot but, any advice on where to find UNC fans for basketball game this Saturday?

Fritz Hahn: Not a longshot at all, unless you think the Heels have gone into hiding during what looks like a wretched season. (Even friends who are the biggest UNC backers are moaning about not even being good enough for the NIT.)

Reliable spots for finding Carolina fans including the Crystal City Sports Pub and Ventnor Sports Cafe (both of which have been known to serve beer in blue cups "He's Not Here"-style). I've heard that Union Jack's in Bethesda shows Carolina games but haven't been there for one.


Alexandria, Va.: Greetings GOGs! This Tuesday is Fat Tuesday and being of Polish descent I have my heart set on finding paczkis. The only place I've found is the Kielbasa Factory in Rockville. I'll drive up there if need be, but I was hoping you can suggest some alternatives -- preferably something closer! Thanks!

Julia Beizer: Wow. No idea. Chatters?


Year of the Tiger: Do you know of any restaurants having special Chinese New Year menus? My husband and I are tigers and want to celebrate our "birthday." I know that the Source is doing something but that's a bit more than we want to spend.

Julia Beizer: Yeah, I heard that. The Source's menu (on from Feb. 16 through the 20th) looks delish, but it's up ther: $95 for five courses, $135 with wine pairings. Zengo will offer special dishes from Feb. 14 through Feb. 28, in addition to the a la carte menu. The dishes are priced between $12 and $28. Zentan's four-course menu is $47.08, and will be available from Feb. 15 through 28.


Re: Paczkis: I was previously operating under the idea that Baltimore was the only place you could get paczkis in the "D.C. area"! I'm happy there is some place closer now.

Julia Beizer: Just called to confirm that they do indeed sell these. Apparently closed today, but according to the Kielbasa Factory site, they have paczkis.


Washington, D.C.: I am having 10 or 12 people in town to celebrate my 30th birthday this weekend (Sat. Feb. 13) -- any suggestions on restaurants (not Mexican) along the Orange line to celebrate for a late dinner as well as a place to dance or a lounge for afterwards? Thanks for your response. LDogg

Julia Beizer: Happy Birthday, LDogg. How much are you looking to spend? I think Cafe Asia is good for groups if you're looking to stay on the cheap side. Kellari Taverna could work if you were willing to spend a little more cash. Bibiana or Ceiba could work too.

Fritz Hahn: Dancing or a lounge? I think to celebrate your 30th you should go a little more upscale to show your age, though that doesn't mean you have to make it expensive. The real issue I see here is trying to get a dozen people into the same venue after a late dinner -- meaning you'd be heading for the club at, like 11? -- without getting hit by lines. Kind of puts a damper on the celebration if half the party gets stuck outside and half gets in, you know?

What you should do is try to hit somewhere like Fly, so you can sign up to get on the guest list and free/discounted admission. Try fly (, the Shadow Room ( or maybe Current (

Or try places that don't generally have long lines, like Gazuza. Science Club is generally willing to reserve space for little or no fees.


McLean, Va.: Shoveling. And eating lots of ibuprofen.

Julia Beizer: But you can take a break from that for a couple hours, can't you?


Paczkis: Giant grocery chain has them.

Julia Beizer: In boxes, as per chowhound. Not sure if that counts....


Polish food request: I checked W. Domku's menu and it seems they have a similarly names food called placki.

Julia Beizer: Similar name, different food. I believe placki are potato pancakes and paczki are donuts of some sort. Polish-food seeker, correct me if I'm wrong here.


Snowy D.C.: Hi Guys,

Any ideas for a birthday gift for a beer-loving guy? I know there are places you can make your own but do they exist for making your own beer?

Thanks and stay warm!

Fritz Hahn: You can brew your own at Shenandoah Brewing Company in Alexandria. You come in one day to prepare your five-case batch, then come back a few weeks later to bottle it. Fun day out with a group of friends, since there's a bar and foosball while you're waiting for things to boil.

If that sounds like too much work, I'd go to Chevy Chase Wine and Spirits in Chevy Chase, which has hundreds of beers available by the bottle. No need to worry about whether he'd like a particular six-pack when you can just grab one bottle of a dozen different beers.

Or take him to dinner at Beck, where there's an optional tasting menu to accompany your food.

Or book yourselves seats at an upcoming beer tasting -- I'm kind of excited for the four-course/six-beer Troeg's dinner at Birreria Paradiso, since they're one of my favorite PA breweries.


Rockville, Md.: I am a 50-year-old recently divorced man looking for someplace to go to on Valentine's Day where I can meet other singles and where I will not be older than everybody there. Do you have any suggestions?

Julia Beizer: I asked our colleague Lavanya Ramanathan, who dove down reallllly deep into the dating world for this story, which deals with dating at any age. She says:

"Well, if he likes to dance, the Hollywood Ballroom in Silver Spring has had a number of success stories -- so many, there is a giant wall of photos of couples who have met there and then married. On Valentine's Day, they are having a dance beginning at 8 p.m., and I've heard from a number of people that these dance lessons and parties are pretty successful. Every Friday night, they also have a singles dance party, which could be a great idea for the future.

"For later: He should try getting on Paul's List, at The mailout is not strictly for singles, but it lists events and mixers for the 45+ crowd. I hear this is a lifesaver for a LOT of people.

"And he should also get on the calendar of events that is regularly mailed out by, run by dating coach Amy Schoen. She's the real-deal, and includes all sorts of events in Maryland and Va."

Hope this helps!


Polish Food Seeker: You are correct, placki are potato pancakes, paczki are similiar to filled doughnuts. The dough used for paczki is different, richer than your normal doughnut. So Giant's 'paczkis' don't really cut it.

Julia Beizer: Thank you. When you find 'em, wanna bring me one?


Re: Paczkis: Try Heidelberg Bakery in Arlington County. They carry a lot of the European specialty pastries.

Julia Beizer: That place is trip. Love all the maripan cuties. Sadly, just called. No paczkis.


Washington, D.C.: Hey Gurus,

Have any of you been to Little Fountain Cafe (I think that's what it is called)? Is it any good? What is the feel like? I've never been to the place and wondered if it was any good or worth trying? I never hear anyone talk about it.


Stephanie Merry: Little Fountain is sort of an old standby for date night with all of the romantic necessities: good acoustics, polite staff, candlelight. My meals there have never particularly memorable, but the place isn't really about experimenting with flavors so much as creating a nice experience, which they do very well.


Igloo on 18th: Last year I went to a Smithsonian and embassy party with a euro club vibe. Are there any of these coming up/where can i find out about these things?

Stephanie Merry: I believe you're talking about the DJ Underground party at the Ripley Center last year, right? That was part of Francophonie 2009 (in collaboration with the Smithsonian Associates), and this year's events kick off in March. A "Grand Fete" takes place on march 5 at the Maison Francaise, but the details for this year's DJ Underground party haven't been announced yet. Keep an eye out on the GOG for developments.

Fritz Hahn: For other Euro-vibe parties, keep an eye out for the Planete Chic evnets, which draw a Francophone crowd or the Eastern European-heavy Troika parties (this Friday at Josephine and Saturday at Lima). House of Sweden events also draw a heavy Euro crowd, especially when they feature someone like Swedish hip-hop artist Adam Tensta.


Washington, D.C.: Any fun date ideas for Friday (tomorrow) night? It's a third date, so nothing too heavy or romantic :) But maybe something more creative than dinner/drinks?

Stephanie Merry: This is more like the antithesis of romantic, but the Hearts and Skulls Valentine's Party should be fun. There's also a wine tasting at Zola that could be a nice way to kick things off and a goofy play based on retro comic books happening at DCAC.


D.C.: Do you have any suggestions for interesting events or things to do during the day in D.C. this weekend. After a week of snow, I would love to get out this weekend.

Anne Kenderdine: I hear that, D.C. And yes, we have plenty of ideas for things to do this weekend.


Snowtown, D.C.: Gurus, are there any non alcoholic Mardi Gras events next week? Or rather, events that are not being held at a club or bar and require me to show my (fill in the blank) for beads?

Fritz Hahn: Two options for you: The Clarendon Mardi Gras parade brings floats and (family-friendly) bead tosses to Wilson Blvd. on Tuesday night, with live music, dinner specials and other fun afterwards in nearby establishments (not just bars).

But honestly, I'd go to Glen Echo on Tuesday to see Curley Taylor and Zydeco Trouble. You get a cajun dance lesson and three hours of live zydeco for your $15, and the Spanish Ballroom is alcohol free.


Sunday Funday: Looking for a place to end my weekend with some out of town friends before they head back to NYC before the next snow storm early next week.

Requirements are Hookah, Sushi, Good Drinks and near Dupont Circle. We went to Chi-Cha last time they were in town and they loved it. Where should we try this Sunday?

Fritz Hahn: Um, Gazuza? Same owners, and one of the few places that have hookah in D.C. Only caution is that I'm not in love with Gazuza's sushi.


Italian: I've just moved to Silver Spring (and the area) and I have three friends visiting me Saturday. Can you recommend a good (and not too dressy) Italian restaurant anywhere off the Red line? Silver Spring is fine, though Chinatown/Metro Center area would be best. Thanks!

Julia Beizer: Our former colleague Eve Zibart wrote about Olazzo a few years back -- sound like it'll fit the bill if you want to stay in Silver Spring.

Some of the area's best Italian restaurants -- Tosca and Bibiana -- are in the Metro Center area, but I think they're less casual than what you seem to be looking for. If you want to stay in D.C., Luigi's is a good, cheap-eats Italians place. Nice vibe after all the worker bees leave town. If pizza will do, Pizzeria Paradiso is a great option.


Washington, D.C.: Gurus:

Do you think the cafe at Palena will be open tomorrow (if they aren't open tonight)?

Julia Beizer: Just called. The cafe is open tonight and will be open tomorrow, unless weather hits. Man, that burger really is something else, huh?


D.C. Polack: Paczki are giant deep fried jelly donuts covered with sugar. Please don't eat them with the hole facing the person across from you. Otherwise, they'll be splattered with the filling.

Julia Beizer: Noted.


Washington, D.C.: So glad to see you're still going forward with this today!

We have visitors coming this weekend who have been to D.C. numerous times, so the regular tourist activities won't fly. The original plan was to take them wine tasting in the Shenandoah and/or to check out Baltimore, but both those options seem to have been nixed by the snow.

Any other suggestions for fun things to do this weekend? In particular, any activities you can think of that would be made even more fun by all the snow? (Unfortunately they're a little old to go skiing.)

Julia Beizer: There's the International Food and Wine Festival this weekend, so that's an option if they're food fans. There are also more wine-focused events that could work for your crew. See if you can get on the list for Co Co. Sala's $50 chocolate and champagne tasting. That sounds amazing.


Washington, D.C.: I want to get a bunch of my (single) friends together on Valentine's Day. We'd prefer something fun and social over a typical Adams Morgan-type evening. Drinks, perhaps some nosh. Any thoughts? I was thinking of Buffalo Billiards or Big Hunt.

Fritz Hahn: You're on the right track -- a place where the lights won't be too low, no Barry White, nothing that encourages excessive hand-holding. (Exhibit A: Why I love the Black Cat on V-Day.) COuld be fun to grab some take-out food and settle in at the new Iron Horse Tap Room, which has skee-ball, 20 draft beers, shuffle board and plenty of room to lounge. (H Street Country Club has Valentine's package, so that's out.) Make your own beer tasting at ChurchKey with their four-ounce samples. Or head to Vinoteca for wine happy hour, since a portion of the proceeds goes to help charities in Haiti.

And honestly, when I hear single, fun and social on Valentine's Day, I think of the free Voodoo Valentine's party at Current, where they give you a voodoo doll and some pins, and you let your ex have it. But that could just be me.


Gazuza Girl: Used to hate the sushi at Gazuza. Now the sushi is excellent. Could be a new chef. Also to your other chatter I think there is something going on on Sundays now because I've been 2 out of the last 3 weeks and it was pretty crowded...and fun! Lots of cute boys!

Fritz Hahn: I have friends who swear by Gazuza, and it can be a good happy hour spot. Just not sold on the food.


Arlington, Va.: My older brother is turning 30 this year, but is not too happy about it. His friends and I want to throw him a surprise birthday party, but want to keep it fairly small (around 30 people) and low-key. He likes bars like Fado, Rocket Bar, etc., but I don't know if they have separate party rooms or spaces for celebrations. Do you or any of the readers have any suggestions for something like this that would also be relatively low-priced? Love you guys!

Fritz Hahn: Continental in Rosslyn is one place I'd call, because they can section off party areas, with or without pool tables. Fado isn't cheap to rent -- you could try RFD next door, since they'll rent the back room by the hour and even let you pick which beers are on draft on the 10 taps.

Talk to Rocket Bar and its new sister bar Iron Horse, maybe the upstairs or basement at Big Hunt.


Silver Spring, Md.: Hope I'm not too late but I think the Woodmoor Pastry Shop in Silver Spring has the Polish doughnut.

Julia Beizer: You're right! They do! And the nice lady on the phone taught me how to pronounce this word. It is not at ALL what I thought. They're at 301-593-7667.

That about does it for us today, kiddos. Stay dry. We'll see you next week!


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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