Got Plans? - American cuisine and post-derby juleps

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The Going Out Gurus
Thursday, May 13, 2010; 1:00 PM

got plans dc, bars dc, dc restaurants

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: Another week, another weekend. Welcome to the Got Plans? chat with the Going Out Gurus. We'll take your questions about fun stuff to to do this weekend and beyond. And speaking of fun stuff, don't forget tonight's Going Out Guide Happy Hour at the Big Hunt, from 6 to 8. Let's have at it!

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Washington, D.C.: We're celebrating our wedding anniversary this summer, can you recommend an Italian restaurant in DC where we can celebrate just the two of us? Money won't be an option (to a point, willing to spend up to $200 on the dinner) and dressy is fine. I've heard things about Obelisk, but never been. Should we try that out or are there better options? Thanks!

Julia Beizer: I've never been to Obelisk either, but it's a perrenial Tom Sietsema favorite and the chef was nominated for a Beard award this year. Sounds like it's exactly what you're looking for. Happy anniversary.

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The Gibson?: Hey Fritz (or other GOGs who may want to chime in):A friend is coming into town next weekend, and I'd like to take her to The Gibson and sit on the patio early Saturday evening. I know they don't take reservations for the patio, so I am wondering what our chances are of getting seated if we show up right around 6pm?Incidentally, your column about the patio says you can make a reservation for inside and then request to sit outside if there are seats, but when I tried to do that last summer they said "no" despite plenty of seating in both spots.Hmmm...as I give it more thought, maybe I'll just take her to Vinoteca. :)

Fritz Hahn: I'd say you're generally good for the patio as long as you're there before 7:30. As for reservations -- just spoke to a Gibson manager who said that "It's not a guarantee" that anyone with indoor reservations can move outside, especially because they don't sit parties larger than four (and mostly have seating for tables smaller than that), but they'll "try to accomodate people if there's room."

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H Street, NE: Time for the weekly Bier Garten question...I see opening is postponed again. Any update? Also, any news on when Vendetta will open?

Fritz Hahn: No news on Vendetta, I'm afraid.And as far as Bier Garten Haus, the owners have been very apologetic, but it seems like they're making sure that all their staff are trained before they open the doors. Smart move, in my opinion, if that's true -- the outdoor servers are going to be in the weeds from day one, so if they want to make a good impression, they have to be ready for an onslaught.

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Shakespeare : Is there a way to find if a play is playing anywhere in the area? My son is reading Macbeth and I'd love for him to see it live, as it was meant to be seen, but I don't know how to search all venues. Of course I checked the Folger & STC but I would be happy with a community show or HS production. Thanks - jad

Stephanie Merry: I'm sorry to say that I know of no productions of "Macbeth" playing now or anytime in the near future. It could be playing at a local high school, but that's a little beyond my scope. My suggestion? Now that he's tackled Macbeth, suggest he read "Hamlet" and take him to the Folger.

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Airshow @ Andrews: Have any of you been to the joint services airshow at Andrews? My military boyfriend and I are planning on going Saturday (wish we could go with the DODs on Friday but can't). How crazy does it get? Do we need to get there early?In any other town I couldn't imagine this event being packed, but it is DC afterall.

Lavanya Ramanathan: The event is on Saturday and Sunday (with the Blue Angels flying both days), so that should alleviate some of the crowds. If it's the traffic jam you're worried about, there will be shuttles running from FedEx Field and from the Branch Avenue Metro station, so you can always park there and let someone else deal with the traffic.

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Eastern Market: I was planning of going to Eastern Market probably this weekend (not sure yet Saturday or Sunday - which day is better??). I know it's not going to take me all day. I'm guessing maybe two hours. What else is around to do? I'm going to be by myself. Food is good!!!! Museums will get boring.

Julia Beizer: When I was growing up, I remember that everyone used to say that Sunday was better. But, personally, I've always liked Saturday. To each her own, I suppose. Chatters, have strong preferences either way?Lucky for you, the neighborhood is BRIMMING with good stuff to eat. Exhibit A: everything at Eastern Market. Exhibit B: Seventh Hill Pizza. Exhibit C: Barracks Row! Right along 8th Street, you've got Matchbox, Cava, Ted's Bulletin (the new place from the Matchbox dudes), etc. Exhibit D: Stop in and see all the cute kitchenwares stuff Leah Daniels has in store at Hill's Kitchen. Bought a Koi apron last time I was in. Adorableness.Whichever day you go... skip breakfast.

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Zoo Bound: What's a good-kid friendly restaurant around the zoo?

Julia Beizer: I like OpenCity if you're planning to take the Woodley Park Metro. In Cleveland Park, there's always the Cereal Bowl. Sorriso is fun too.

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That Cricket Asking Dude: Hey Fritz - think anyone in the area will/would show the World 20/20 Final on Sunday morning (11:30)? I need open a cricket centric pub.

Fritz Hahn: I *wish* I knew the answer to this one.Any suggestions, readers?

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Mechanical Bulls: So I have a friend who has decided she wants to ride a mechanical bull. A quick Google search revealed that there might be one or two in the area, but I can't determine if they are fixtures or just brought in every now and then for special events. Can you help? Please?

Rhome Anderson: The Cadillac Ranch at National Harbor will allow you to concuss yourself on a mechanical bull while a crowd cheers you on.

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Oh no: the new format -- designed to drive chat readers away!

Julia Beizer: Tell us what you don't like so we can tell our peeps. We're collecting all feedback. I think it's kind of cool looking myself. Of course, we've all been using the other tool for five years, so if it feels a little slower today, gang, that's why.

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Got beer?: NoMa outdoor film season is starting and I could never find out if you are allowed to bring beer in coolers? I love the concept, but not wild about the schedule - but that's just me.Sidebar: Fritz, your praise of Surfside is well deserved. Went for the first time and the Negril fish tacos wuz phine!

Fritz Hahn: You can't legally bring your own beer to any of the outdoor film festivals in D.C. or Rosslyn or Strathmore or whereever. That counts as drinking in public. Not that people don't, but it's a risk you take.Also, Surfside roof deck, with a fish taco and beer? Yes please.

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Re: Obelisk: It's great, but the anniversary couple should keep in mind that the prix fixe menu will put them at right around $200 without drinks. So they'll have to adjust their budget upward a smidge or order a la carte.

Julia Beizer: Thanks for providing this insight. A good thing to note. Couple, if you can't adjust up a smidge, I think you could get out of Posto for under $200. Never felt very romantic to me though. Bibiana is another option.

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Italian restaurant: I'd recommend Dino for upscale Italian. Wonderful food, though it might not be as dressy as you might be looking for. Try the burrata appetizer if you go. It's amazing!

Julia Beizer: I do like the food at Dino. Not really as romantic as I think they want. Perhaps they could check out nearby Palena as well?

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Weekend Celebration: What's the best way to get outside and enjoy the gorgeous weather on Saturday while celebrating the final accomplishment of a long project? We're already planning a Sunday brunch, but would love to have some ideas for inexpensive ways to play outside anywhere in the metro area. We tend to avoid the Virginia side of Great Falls due to the large crowds, but enjoy hiking, picnicking, and seeing cool places.

Stephanie Merry: singing "giant lambs on spits, giant lambs on spits!") or a Parisian take on processional theater.

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Washington D.C.: Recommendations on good happy hour spot in Cleveland Park or Woodley Park for several women who want to get together to catch up (want to be able to hear each other.) Sake was an idea, but impression is that it's closed. Any suggestions or scoop? Also, do tell on the Greek Festival on Mass Ave this weekend? Anyone been to this yearly event?

Fritz Hahn: Sake Club is indeed closed. I would say Bardeo would be a good spot, especially if you can get seats on the rooftop deck. Maybe the Alero patio with pitchers of margaritas?Also, I love the Greek Festival at St. Sophia's. I just hope they can sell Greek wines with their tasty lamb kabobs this year. (THey haven't been allowed to for the last two years after people took their drinks off the church grounds and into the neighborhood, which riled some Woodley Park/Cathedral Heights residents.)

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Hotel bar: Which of our DC hotels have the most elegant/romantic and not crazy crowded bar to meet for drink after work?

Fritz Hahn: Tabard Inn if you don't go on Thu-Sat.I also like modern Art Deco vibe of Le Bar at the Sofitel, Off the Record in the Hay-Adams, the dark Town and Country at the Mayflower ... and I guess Bourbon Steak's bar would count, too.

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Arlington: I have a group of friends (single, 30ish) coming into town next weekend (5/20 - 5/23), and they've all seen the museums and monuments. Are there any special events or exhibits going on next weekend that you would recommend? Thanks

Michael O'Sullivan: How about the Handmade Mart, an indie craft fair in downtown Silver Spring? Sunday, May 23, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. More than 50 craft vendors, live music and crafty workshops.

Rhome Anderson: If your friends are outdoors types, Bike DC is next Sunday the 23rd. It's a 20 mile route through the region that's closed off to automobiles and you can rent a bike too.

Alex Baldinger: I'm going to recommend two things for you: the Fiesta Asia Street Fair on May 22 which is one of the final Passport DC events of the year; and the Food Festival of the Americas on May 23, which features food from more than 26 countries. Tacos and caipirinhas, yes please.

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Happy hour in CP: If the weather is nice, the group of ladies might want to consider Sabores by the Cleveland Park metro. Hard to go wrong on a nice day with sangria.

Fritz Hahn: It's a thought. My experiences with Sabores have been hit or miss, but I do like the sidewalk patio.

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Nissan Pavilion: Hi Gurus--I am seeing Pearl Jam tonight at the Nissan Pavilion---I have searched all around and mostly reading "yelp" advice on the parking situation. Do any of you gurus have any advice about where to park (to avoid the 2 hour long lines to leave the area, which I have read about) or any tips to lessen traffic woes?Or is all this traffic mayhem an inevitability? Either way, I am excited for the show!!Thanks!

David Malitz: There's really nothing to be done about the parking/traffic. It's just part of the reality of attending a show there. But it should be an excellent show as it almost always is with Pearl Jam - and they usually like to close with "Yellow Ledbetter," which I think is one of their worst songs, so that serves as a way to escape just a bit early.

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Girls Weekend Out: A very good friend is coming in from London. I have already made plans for dinner at Zaytinya - desserts at CoCo Sala for one evening.We are going to go to Georgetown for shopping. Any good lunch options (I am vegetarian). What about the U St. corridor? Thanks!

Lavanya Ramanathan: And if you're looking on U Street, how about repping DC's diversity and eating at one of our many Ethiopian joints? I like Etete, but Dukem is the standard. Both have veggie platters to die for. As a backup, the food has never blown me away, but there are many veggie options at Busboys and Poets.

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Dragon Boat Race: Have any of you been to the Dragon Boat race before? I was thinking of heading down on Sunday but wanted to know what the scene would be like. Can you just hang out on a blanket along the shore to watch the boaters? Are there any other fun things to do at the festival?

Justin Rude: Plopping down a blanket is the way to go. The big day is Saturday with a dragon and lion dance around 8:30 for the opening ceremonies and then crafts activities and performances throughout the day. Sunday will still have crafts activities and the added perk of catching the awards ceremony if you hang around for the close.

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Alexandria: Three of my girlfriends and I are planning a brunch and movie outing for this Saturday and can't decide where we should eat...looking for good food and delicious (potentially bottomless) brunch drinks. We'll be going sometime in the noon - 2 p.m. timeframe and would like to stay in the WiBEC (Wilson Boulevard Entertainment Corridor). Any suggestions for a good Saturday brunch spot?

Julia Beizer: Sadly, you won't find what you're looking for in the "WiBEC." Thanks to some Virginia laws, bars can't have bottomless specials. What about Liberty Tavern? The restaurant offer brunch on Saturday and, you know, has drinks. Anyone with love for the four ladies in Va.?

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Italian Restaurant: For a special Italian dinner, I recommend Bibiana. Posto is WAY too loud and I agree the atmosphere at Dino is better suited to a Friday night dinner than a really special event.

Julia Beizer: Oooof! I know I typed Posto above, but I meant Tosca. Same owners, much more lowkey vibe. Agree re. Posto and loudness.

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Preakness: Do you know if Rosecroft will be open for betting this weekend? I just want to go place a bet on the Preakness and would like to miss the crowds at Pimlico. Thanks.

Fritz Hahn: Ooh, great question. (I'm partial to Pimlico if only because I remember the old "Hiiii-hoooo Pimlicoooo" TV commercials.Check Rosecroft's <a href='http://www.rosecroft.com/UPDATE/PDF/Simulcast%20Calendar.pdf'>Simulcast schedule</a> for details.

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Rooftop pool?: So I missed the rooftop pool parties last week are there any more this week?

Rhome Anderson: For The Greater Good Mondays is now in season at the Donovan House. Hopefully the rain will have passed on by then.

Fritz Hahn: Most of the big pool party happy hours are kicking off next weekend -- Recess (the game night) is hosting a party on the roof of the Liaison on the 22nd, while the weekly Adult Swim party returns on the 23rd. (This is the one that's more Shadow Room/Midtown/Fly clientele rather than Beach Blanket Bingo.)Over at the Capitol Skyline, there's a Russian pool party on the 23rd (seriously), and Top Chef Spike will kick off his Sunday afternoon grilling-and-swilling pool party on Memorial Day weekend.

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My beef with the joint services airshow ...: ... is that you need a DoD badge to get in. How crummy is that? My boy wants to see fighter jets up close.

Justin Rude: Only the first day (Friday) is restricted to military personnel. Take your boy on Saturday or Sunday, which are both open to the general public

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Wagamama: I haven't walked up 7th NW recently, but is there any progress on Wagamama opening? Should we just give up on that ever happening?

Alex Baldinger: The Washington Business Journal had a report on Wagamama's D.C. future earlier this week. The short answer: the parent company is reviewing its options with regards to U.S. locations. D.C. still sounds like a possibility but don't hold your breath; things are up in the air.

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5/22-5/23: For the person with friends who have seen everything - WalkingtownDC is that weekend. Check if there are tours of things they haven't seen. There's a wide enough variety to make that work well. (last year? Year before? I went to the Rock Creek Cemetery tour. That was great.)

Stephanie Merry: True. And some of the new tours sound especially intriguing. Example: Rowdies, Madams and Painted Women: An Adults-Only Tour.

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Thanks to some Virginia laws, bars can't have bottomless specials.: How about topless specials?

Justin Rude: I think your looking for the Crystal City Restaurant. Ive heard they have an amazing buffet.

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The American Experience: Most of us are trying to find unique and international dining experiences but I need help with the opposite... my girlfriend is Brazilian and she is curious to know what 'American' food is. Right now, she thinks an American meal is just hamburgers and hot dogs. I consider 'American' food to be the simple, down-home food my Mom makes in central Pennsylvania but that isn't typical restaurant food. If you were given the task of showing an international person what an AMERICAN MEAL is... where would you take them? For all three meals! Thanks!

Michael O'Sullivan: Maybe not for all three meals, but for one of them, you can't get more American than the Mitsitam Cafe at the National Museum of the American Indian.

Julia Beizer: Okay, I haven't been there yet, so I can't REALLY vouch for the place, but that certainly was the concept for Ted's Bulletin, the new spot on the Hill that I linked to above. Pork chops, comfort food, milkshakes. That could be what you're looking for. You might also want to show your lady some Southern cooking, one of America's coolest regional cuisines. Eatonville, maybe?

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The New Format: Actually, I like it - you don't have to refresh to see new posts, and, this is going to sound nuts, but the Post can sell more advertising. That gives me hope that the Post can survive.

Michael O'Sullivan: Thanks. It gives us all hope.

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The Gibson (again): Hey Fritz,Thanks for answering my question. Just an additional note, the one time I made reservations for inside at the Gibson (and then requested patio seating when we arrived) it was 6pm, there were only 2 of us, and there was plenty of seating outside (and continued to be for the first hour we were there). However we were told that we couldn't sit outside because our reservation had been made and if we moved it would be taking spots from others who might have wanted a reservation. So either The Gibson has changed its policy or it depends who you talk to (or who you know) whether they will allow you to switch.Thanks again.

Fritz Hahn: Was this last year? I think they're less uptight about reservations now that the upstairs has opened, and they have far more space to accommodate walk-ins and reservations.

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Thumbs Up on New Q&A Format: The New Q&A Format is so much easier to read and follow. The only hang up is that when I jumped online to submit a question, it took me awhile to find the link. I'm use to seeing it at the bottom vice the top during other online discussions. Thumbs ups for the New Format.

Julia Beizer: Ha! Thanks. This one goes out to Chad and Larry and Marlee and Paul and anyone else I may not know about who made this whole thing possible. Tom Sietsema's switching over next week, too, kiddos, so just a heads up. Take it out on me, not him, if you don't like it.

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Juleps: Gurus - any place to go in town for a mint julep, besides the $16 version at Round Robin?

Fritz Hahn: Bourbon does a great one. I think the Jockey Club at the Fairfax will do one outside of Derby season, too.

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SoundBites?: Any insight into the SoundBites concert at the 930 Club? I know it's for a good cause and all but think it'll be worth it?Thanks!

Lavanya Ramanathan: event, which is why I think it's definitely something worth hitting. The folks at D.C. Central Kitchen told me that the kitchen's founder, Robert Egger, grew up with Seth Hurwitz, and both were not only friends, but shared a passion for music. And both have gone on to make a huge impact on this city. Fast-forward a million years, and they're working together on SoundBites. Okay, enough backstory: The show is $30, which includes your donation to D.C. Central Kitchen, an all-you-can-eat spread of food from local restaurants like Cork, Indique, and Taylor deli, plus you get a ton of bands. It's a pretty good deal, all in all. Something to know: The food won't be served past 8 p.m. So to get the full bang for your buck, get there around 5, when the event starts.

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Party venues: We're looking for a place we can throw a party in DC, which turns out to be a bit complicated. Here's what we'd like: somewhere in the city, space for at least 50 people, access to a bar and music system of some kind (we hoping we could get a friend of our to agree to DJ), willingness to let us bring in food from our favorite DC place. Am I dreaming to imagine somewhere like this might exist?!

Fritz Hahn: This is somewhat tough because you want to bring your own food -- most places want you to buy theirs. I'd ask about the Iron Horse Tap Room, which will let you bring your own food. I'd think you could fit a DJ upstairs.Or you could try the Mansion on O, which is a fantastic party venue, depending on your budget.

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Fun stuff for kids: Aloha Gurus,The fam is visiting this weekend and I need some reccomendations of fun things to do with my adorable nieces 3 and 7. We will definitely be going to the zoo but need more to do than the wonderful zoo. They are staying in Alexandria so ideally these funtastic things will take place in either Alexandria and DC. Anything cool can't miss things going on this weekend? I don't quite think they'll be interested in the museums too muchThanks ever so much!

Justin Rude: I'm taking my little one.

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Dupont: I work for nonprofit and we are interested in doing a happy hour fundraiser here in the District. I know that there are plenty of bars that have partnered with organizations in the past for charity fundraisers. Do you know of any bars that are especially giving or have had successful events in the past?

Fritz Hahn: Maddy's gives a percentage of sales to groups that guest bartend. The Passenger donates 10 percent of all sales on Monday nights to a different non-profit group of the week. (Last week, it was D.C. Sail, where I fully intend to take sailing lessons this summer.)

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If you were given the task of showing an international person what an AMERICAN MEAL is... where would you take them? : Gadsby's Tavern in old town Alexandria might be fun.

Michael O'Sullivan: Thanks for the recommendation!

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Date Suggestions Near Metro Stops: Hello. I'm a first time poster, but am quickly becoming a regular reader of your column. I live in Silver Spring, Md., and the guy I'm seeing lives in Arlington, Va. We try and meet halfway. I'm fairly new to the area and don't really know the restaurant scene. We tend to gravitate towards casual, laid back type of venues. He's partial to a good beer. Do you have any recommendations for us to try?

Julia Beizer: Churchkey doesn't need any more help getting patrons, and it's not super close to a metro, but man, if you're guy's into beer and you're into tasty innovative flatbreads, that's where you should go. I'm DYING to hit up 8407 near you. The bar menu seems quite reasonably priced.

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Birthday Fun: Gogs, I need help with planning my GF's birthday! She's looking to go big with table service somewhere NY/LA swank. This isn't my scene, so I need a recommendation on somewhere in the city that fits the bill. Already tried POV at the W, but it is already booked! Please help.Zack, NW

Fritz Hahn: Depends on what you (or her) are looking for musically. Fly is cool, with hip-hop or house DJs. Current has a great back deck with DJs spinning house music. Shadow Room is fun with a group of 6-8. Eighteenth Street Lounge has a funkier vibe (less dress code heavy) with great DJs.

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Mint julep: Vidalia's mint juleps are fantastic.

Fritz Hahn: Arrrgh. You are correct. I should have mentioned that.(Sorry. Wrestling with this new technology, which is nothing new. At the beach last weekend, I had to try to get my head around them new Miller Lite "vortex" bottles.)

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Re: Format: Actually, more than half the time I DO still have to refresh. Kind of takes away from the novelty, you know?I should also add that the page looks less ambiguous than the former style, and when you all KNOW we read these chats while we're at work, I can't see how you'd think that would be a plus.

Stephanie Merry: So maybe we should change the chat format to a giant spreadsheet...? I kid.

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Rooftop Deck for Cocktail Reception: The fiance and I are getting hitched in the Bahamas next month, but want to throw a party here in DC when we get back. Would love to be outdoors, with a view if possible. Any suggestions for a rooftop deck that can accommodate a cocktail reception for around 100 people?

Julia Beizer: Eighteenth Street Lounge, maybe?

Fritz Hahn: Cantina Marina on the waterfront? The W's POV rooftop bar? The Reef? (Okay, not much of a view, but they can fit your crowd.)

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WiBEC : No, no love for someone who uses the term WiBEC.

Julia Beizer: Now, now. Play nice.

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Re: mint julep: The Majestic in Alexandria makes a fine one!

Fritz Hahn: Never had it. Perhaps I should.

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Tailgating at Nissan still allowed????: Since the changeover what is the official policy? Wife's got some friends coming into town for the Tim McGraw show and one of them found some Yelp references to NO tailgating allowed at all anymore.Thoughts?

David Malitz: Their official policy is "no tolerance" for drinking alcohol in the parking lot. I'm not sure how strictly that is enforced, but that's the word.

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Gtown/K Street happy hour help: Submitting early -- very much in need of advice!! I am planning a Friday happy hour for 30-35 people. We are restricted to the Georgetown/K Street areas due to people's schedules. Most of us are in our late 20's/early 30's, so the typical college bar is not our scene. Sitting outside is a MAJOR plus. The waterfront was one option, but we're a bit wary of the waterfront's prices.Thanks!!

Fritz Hahn: For outdoors -- I got Mackey's. That's about it. Or maybe the back patio at the Park at 14th, though I'm not sure of its capacity.

Fritz Hahn: Sorry -- just had a flash and was thinking about the 19th, where Karma used to be at 19th and I. Awesome side patio that I'd recommend.Oh, but for non-outdoors places: Lotus Lounge could work, and I know they do happy hour bookings there. (I just think it's a bit weird to be in a basement club during daylight hours, but that's just me.) Or the Elephant and Castle -- I've seen groups reserve space there.And don't be afraid to negotiate -- most places will work with you to offer drink specials if you're bringing in a guaranteed crowd.

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Party Space: I know the chatter asked for a space in D.C., but if they are willing to go out a little further, the Soundry in Vienna is an awesome space. It is an art space that used to be a garage in an industrial area near historic Church Street. You can bring in a band/DJ and your own caterer. (I was planning a party there that never got off the ground...but it is a very cool space.)

Julia Beizer: I'll send out a little love for Vienna, Va. My hometown.

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new format: long time reader and question asker - loving the new format. every thursday i was afraid i was going to break my refresh 'button.' thanks!

Michael O'Sullivan: Awwww. You're welcome! We aim to please.

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BRUNCH!: I was searching thru your Best Bets lists and noticted there wasn't one for brunch. Looking to try brunch this weekend. What are your recommendations for great brunches in the area? Thanks!

Julia Beizer: Depends on what your priority is: focus on the food? Or focus on bottomless, boozy specials. The one place I can think of that really addresses both is Creme, but sadly, no reservations. For booze, Front Page's special isn't too bad: bottomless mimosas. For food, I've always loved Vermilion's offerings in Old Town.

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Re: American meals: I once had a foodie friend visit from France, and I took him to the Dancing Crab for an authentic regional cuisine experience. His response: "It is quite a lot of work for not a lot of food." But we had a great time!

Julia Beizer: Too funny. Actually, one of my favorite culinary experiences in recent memory was bringing some friends from St. Louis out to Mike's in Annapolis for a couple dozen crabs. So much fun in the summer.

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Washington, DC: Hi Gurus, love the chats (of course!) My Mom is in town for Memorial Day weekend and I'm hoping to take her two places: Udvar Hazy and Monticello. I'd like each outing to include some great food, but my knowledge of restaurants outside the beltway is super limited. I thought this would be a great opportunity to try some awesome places I wouldn't otherwise get to. Any suggestions for those two areas? No dietary restrictions, fairly adventurous, willing to splurge for a really great meal. Thanks!

Lavanya Ramanathan: I can't help but think that as long as you're way out there, you should maybe hit a winery with Mom. Bluemont is a great one, with a beautiful deck and warm bread and cheese. Which ties in with my answer about restaurants, because there are many nice ones there that pay attention to wines and local farming. Landsdowne Resort is renowned, and on Sundays, they do a posh jazz brunch. Vintage 50 has a fair amount of buzz. Hunter's Head Tavern, modeled after an English pub but serving plenty of local, organic fare, looks kind of amazing too. You may as well visit a place that really gives you some of the area's pastoral charm. If you're planning on visiting a winery, you can always call them up and ask them for suggestions nearby.

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We read these chats at work...: Put it on the small format, it's harder for people walking by to see what you're looking at. Then keep a second browser window (not a tab, a separate window) open with something legit and use <alt><tab> to swing back and forth between windows.- Chat Expert

Fritz Hahn: This person is truly an expert.

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Format: Okay, you asked. Answers that appear like this are just one of the reasons this new format is annoying as heck:Only the first day (Friday) is restricted to military <!--/* Style Definitions */p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} --> personnel only. Take your boy on Saturday or Sunday, which both open to the general public

Julia Beizer: Well, it turns out this was our fault, but we're new at this tool! Give us a week or so to work out the kinks.

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RE: Money won't be an option: That's too bad, you can't get much at a restaurant without money. There may be some good dumpster diving around Dupont Circle, though.

Julia Beizer: Oh you know what she meant.

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"American" Resturants: I think this is actually pretty easy. You have Central (french bistro, maybe - but still very American), Churchkey (or any of the Neighborhood Resturant Group), Busboys and Poets, Ben's Chili Bowl, Vidalia, the Carlyle, Eastern Market in the morning, any of the multiple burger places around here that raise it to a new level, Ray's the Steaks, etc and so on.just um - not Gadsby's Tavern. The service is horrible, the food is awful, and it is *really* pricey. Yeah, they wear costumes but save yourself some money and go on the delightfully cheesy Ghost Tours in Old Town.

Michael O'Sullivan: Thanks for chiming in with some excellent tips, including the, um, second opinion on Gadsby's.

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American restaurant suggestions: Georgia Brown's, Old Ebbitt, Tabard Inn. Or even that Cadillac Ranch place for fun, since riding a mechanical bull might is American, right? At least it was in that John Travolta movie.

Julia Beizer: Nice.

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Nissan/Jiffy Lube Live: Seasoned vet here -- as long as you behave and look like you're old enough to drink, you won't be bothered. It's the beligerent teens pounding Natty Lite that draw the most attention.

David Malitz: Some advice. As always, "don't be an idiot" seems like a pretty good rule of thumb.

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No Juleps, drink Black-eyed Susans this weekend: Juleps are for the Derby. It's Preakness time. Drink a Black-Eyed Susan.

Fritz Hahn: I'm a born-and-bred Maryland boy, but even I think that a Julep is a much better drink than a Black-Eyed Susan. (Rum, vodka, triple sec, pineapple/orange/lime juices.)

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New Format: One thing I still like better about the old format is that there are links to all of the other chats for the day at the top of the page so you can easily move from one to another. Would be great if that could be added to the page that uses the new format.

Justin Rude: Ah, I had to search for those too. They are still there, just a new location. Look on the right side under the add -- you may have to scroll a little bit.

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Something fun tomorrow afternoon?: Grew up in Bethesda, haven't been in DC in many years. Flying in Friday afternoon at 3:30, dinner with folks near GWU at 8. What fun thing should I do for my few free hours (with luggage)?Was thinking of the National Gallery, any other ideas?

Michael O'Sullivan:

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Public Transportation to the Dragon Boat Races: GoGs, thanks for reminding me about the dragon boat races! Is there information anywhere online about where to sit for the best view or how to get there? The official website (dragonboatdc.com) is more for the participants, not for spectators. I looked at the Thompson Boat Center website and it gives driving directions, but we'd like to be able to metro there and walk or take the bus if necessary.

Justin Rude: I metro to Foggy Bottom and then walk down H to Virginia and then across Rock Creek to the Thompson Boat Center area. Non-race activities take place on the Kennedy Center side of Thompson I think, and that is the grassiest area to sit. Might be better views on the Georgetown Waterfront side, though. Its been a couple years since I've been.

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New York, NY: Hi Guru's! I know this might be a little out of your comfort zone, but I really need help! Going to NY for only the 2nd time in my life - and am in my early 30's. Where are some great bars and/or lounges to go to that might be off the beaten path? Preferably a place that is not very pretentious, has good drinks/beer, and a decent sound system. Music wise - I like it all - reggae, hip hop, house, rock, etcf. Thoughts???

Alex Baldinger: In Manhattan, Little Branch.In Brooklyn, Huckleberry Bar.

Lavanya Ramanathan: There's a new bar I'm dying to check out -- Painkiller. It's a tiki bar, getting a good about buzz. Why not? Oh, and be sure to visit the High Line Park; it's not a bar, but it's kind of amazing for New York. An above-ground park. Go figure.

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Awesome Wife Plans Awesome Birthday: Celebrating the husband's birthday next weeked and I'm looking to be a good wife by planning a wonderful evening out. We're both in our late 20's. Looking to build an itinerary for dinner out somewhere followed by drinks at a bar/lounge or two within walking distance. He's a HUGE scotch fan. Is Gibson worth the effort? Major plus for a place with live music, but we've done 18th Street Lounge/Marvin to death. Would like a restaurant that's somewhat off the beaten path, but still in a lively neighborhood (Penn Quarter, U Street). Prefer quality over high prices. Help? Thank you!

Fritz Hahn: I'd just say make it easy on yourself and go to Againn. I really like the food -- especially the fish and chips, but I am simple -- and they have a great Scotch selection and bartenders who really know their stuff. Hang out there for a drink or two after dinner, then cab to someplace like the Gibson.If you'd rather walk to the Gibson afterwards, try somewhere cozy for dinner like 1905, or the new Dickson Wine Bar. (Their menu is small, but everything I've tried has been really good.)

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Michael O'Sullivan: Thanks for joining the conversation with your questions, comments, critiques and compliments. See you next week.


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