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Got Plans? - No more jeans and a cute top?

The Going Out Gurus
Thursday, September 16, 2010; 1:00 PM

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Alex Baldinger: Welcome to your weekly shot of Got Plans. Before we begin, a brief rant:Let's face it, we like to dine out a good bit, and if you've lived in D.C. for as long as we have, you're likely pretty fond of the local culinary scene our fair city has cultivated. So was anyone else offended that a show calling itself "Top Chef DC" would have the gall to film their final episode in...Singapore?! Consider the offense taken, Colicchio.Anyway, have at us with your questions about D.C. food options that are actually in the D.C. area, or whatever else you've got cooking.

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Cuba Libre: Is it true? Are they opening Friday? Been to the one in Philly, solid. Can't seem to find any info on their site.

Fritz Hahn: (I took a quick look through an open door on my way to Arts on Foot last weekend and they still have some work to do.)The restaurant's best guess right now is the 29th or 30th of the month, maybe the first week of October if something goes wrong.

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Date Night: Husband and I are going to the Warner Theatre tomorrow night for 7:30 Aziz Ansari show. This is our first "date night' since having a baby this spring. Yeah for us to finally get out!We are both in our late 30s - he generally likes "bars" - not necessarily clubs/lounges so I'm trying to figure out where to go after the show. It can be either walking distance/short cab ride from the theater - or anywhere on the red line towards Shady Grove. (Not Bethesda - we used to live there - would like something in DC)Any suggestions on an area where we could go, and barhop through a couple places? Bonus points if there's a place we could grab some burgers/bar food, since we probably wont' have time for dinner pre-show.In the past we've hit Cleveland Park or Midtown (getting a bit old for that area, IMO) but I'd like to try something new this time, since it's been so long.THANKS!

Fritz Hahn: I'd send you up towards Dupont -- beers and maybe pizza at the bar at Pizzeria Paradiso, hop down the street for drinks and the fantastic kobe beef burger at cozy little Scion, depending on the time, and then a nightcap up the street at Maddy's, which serves its tasty sliders and sides until 1 a.m.

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bachelorette party: Hi Gurus! I am planning a bachelorette party for Saturday, Sept 25th for a group of 10 girls in their mid/late twenties and we're looking for a place to go dancing with good music. We're trying to stay either in the claredon or georgetown area?? Orginally I was thinking Claredon Ballroom but they're having a concert that night... Please help, I want to show my friend a good time!

Stephanie Merry: It's not in Gtown or Clarendon, but if I were you, I'd consider taking your crew to Dupont for a dance party that involves learning the moves to MJ's "Beat It" video. Plus it's only $5 to get in, which is going to a good cause.

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Saturday afternoon paddleboats: Hi Gurus-- my boyfriend and I haven't seen each other all week, and will finally have all of Saturday to ourselves. We were thinking of meeting up in the early afternoon to go on the paddleboats around the Jefferson Monument. What would be a good place to get lunch afterwords? I was also thinking of perhaps instead packing a picnic, do you have a favorite spot around that area?

Alex Baldinger: I would opt to do the decidedly unromantic thing and hop on the Metro at Smithsonian for a ride of a few stops to Eastern Market. Plenty of places to eat, drink and otherwise spend an afternoon there, as well as nearby Capitol South. I think the picnic idea (aww cute) is solid and I think Hains Point/East Potomac Park is the place to do it.

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Restaurant suggestion: Hi gurus! Please help! A couple of foodie friends are visiting from New York this weekend and we are meeting up for an early dinner in DC. I'm trying to find a good restaurant to take them to, preferably in or near Penn Quarter, but someplace where my 10-month-old will also be welcome. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Justin Rude: Call Kushi and make a reservation. Try to make it early, and tell them you have a little one. I've sen them seat people with young children at the bar seats which overlook the robata grill. The food is authentic and complex for the adults and the skilled chefs doing their thing over the open flame is a diverting sight for kids and adults alike.I actually like Kushi for older kids too. They offer those one-piece plastic training chopsticks and crayons for the kids. And while they don't have a kids menu they do have a number of suggested items off their menu that kids enjoy.I know from personal experience that its hard for parents to find restaurants that make themselves welcome to kids while also presenting the adults with an undiluted and sophisticated dining experience, and Kushi does a good job of that.

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NW DC: I have an 8 year old and 4 year old staying with me this weekend. What the heck am I going to do with them on Sunday?

Stephanie Merry: You could take them to the International Children's Festival at Wolf Trap, which promises live music, theater and dance performances. You can check out the full schedule on their web site. That should keep them entertained for a few hours....

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Euro Night: Has anyone been to Euro Night at the French Embassy? What sort of dress is it? It's a Friday, and it'll be chilly tomorrow, so I'm leaning toward more casual. But their website has pictures of girls in summery strapless dresses.

Fritz Hahn: I've been, and yeah, what you see on the web site is what the crowd looks like -- well, the younger members of the crowd anyway. Dress ranges from what I'd call fancy business casual to women who just have to bust out the familiar "jeans and a cute top" outfit or a strapless party dress and heels. There were others there in blue oxfords and khakis. (And they kinda stood out like American tourists in Berlin.) Again, all over the place.

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Low key College Football?: I'm looking for a place to watch the Gators game on Saturday with my parents (in from out of town). Columbia Heights would be ideal but we can travel. The places I usually go - Pourhouse, Baileys - get packed well before kickoff. A rowdy crowd is fine - as long as there is a place for a group of 4 to sit!

Alex Baldinger: I've given out a similar answer before, but I think Meridian Pint is the answer if you're looking for sports on TV in Columbia Heights. If you decide to venture out a bit more, check out some of Fritz's picks.

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Re: Paddleboats: The walk from the paddleboats to the Fish Market isn't the prettiest (hello, underpass!), but once you get there you could get some seafood from one of the stands, then take a stroll along the waterfront, concluding with a drink at Cantina Marina. -From a proud Southwester

Fritz Hahn: I like this answer -- softshell crab sandwiches on Maine Avenue, then micheldas or margaritas while enjoying the end-of-summer weather at Cantina.

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HH in Reston: Someone asked about Reston happy hours a few weeks ago, and it seems that there was a sad lack of choices. However, I've since learned that two places in Reston Town Center offer cheap drinks and food during happy hour: Il Fornaio offers half price cocktails and apps (around $5), and PassionFish also has great drink and food specials.

Fritz Hahn: PassionFish's $5 menu (lobster roll sliders, crabcake sliders, etc.) sounds like a real deal. Thanks.

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8 year old and 4 year old: How about apple picking?

Stephanie Merry: Sounds like fun. My 4-year-old neice also loves the old stand-by of a trip on the Metro (just pretend it's Thomas the Tank Engine's less exciting brother), Natural History Museum and carousel on the Mall.

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Fairfax: My office is moving from Clarendon to Fairfax - can you suggest anywhere good for happy hour or dinner out there? Really hoping it's not as tragic a move as I think it is...

Justin Rude: is right in line with the rest of their places (Sweetwater, the Carlyle). I would also recommend checking out the neighborhood ethnic spots. There are a lot of nice little family run places nestled in strip malls. I like Malik's Kabob and Uncle Liu's Hot Pot.

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Haper's Ferry: I am planning a fall trip to Harper's Ferry, WV in late October with my husband and another couple. Any tips? Best place to stay, eat, things to see and do?We are all in our mid twenties and enjoy outdoor activities as well as decent food and wine. Thanks guys!

Alex Baldinger:

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Dancing in the Suburbs: Hi Gurus!I love going dancing--either with my fiance or with my girls. I like salsa, swing, country, and regular club music. Even fox trot type stuff. But WHERE oh where can I go dancing in Northern Virginia suburbs that are farther out than Arlington? I live in Herndon. There's got to be some stuff in Fairfax or Tysons or Reston or somewhere, right? It's just really tough to make it downtown for late night weeknight dancing, then face the work commute the next morning.Thanks!

Fritz Hahn: I've written about going dancing a couple of times at Ned Devine's in Centreville -- cover bands like Gonzo's Nose, weekend DJs spinning '80s and Top 40, even a country night on Thursdays. (There's a Ned's in Herndon, too, but I think Centreville gets a better crowd.)In Herndon, both Jimmy's Old Town Tavern and Carpool have events with DJs and live music, though I really consider them more places-to-hangout-with-music than destinations for dancing.The Champps in Reston does some cool stuff with DJs every now and then, so I might keep an eye on them.Velocity Five in Fairfax has DJs, but I honestly thought the scene was a little sketchy.

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National Harbor: Hi Going Out Gurus! I read your chat every week and have gotten a ton of great ideas, but this is my first time submitting a question. I have tickets to see Ovo this weekend at National Harbor and then reservations at Bobby McKey's later that night. I've never been to National Harbor, so I'm looking for some restaurant recommendations and other "must-see" suggestions. I've heard the Gaylord Hotel is worth seeing. Any suggestions are welcome. Thanks! Keep up the great work!

Justin Rude: Restaurant-wise Bond 45 is your best bet. Its a big-dining room Italian place that does a good job of making its customers feel like guests and has a deft hand with steaks and seafood.And yeah, the Gaylord is impressive to go inside, but I like walking out the pier and ogling the boats. There are some impressive rides moored there.

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H Street Fest: Is this worth going down to H Street from CoHi for? What should I expect?

Stephanie Merry: I definitely think it's worth the trip, and I'm planning on being there (although coming from Shaw so slightly closer, I suppose). Here's the rundown of what to expect; I'm especially looking forward to the karaoke, pie eating contest and tattoo competition.

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Fairfax: Dinner at Pad Thai off of 29 is always a hit, and Cee's Fine Dining isn't bad Thai either. The vegetarian Indian place Savarna Palace is also tasty and a good bargain. Tom's raved about Temel near Fairfax Circle in the past. For Mexican food there's Coyote Grille. For happy hour head out to Fairfax Corners to hit up packed Coastal Flatts or Uncle Julio's. The George Mason crowd tends to overrun the Auld Shebeen downtown, but it does have live music on the weekends.

Fritz Hahn: Yeah, the Auld Shebeen isn't bad. Nor is the new-ish Icons in Fairfax, which gets more crowds for IFC matches or Va Tech games than happy hour.Personally, if we moved out to Fairfax, I'd be spending most of my time at Dogfish Head.

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Re: Top Chef DC: I beg to differ with those who are offended by Top Chef DC finale being filmed in Singapore. For die-hard DCists, it probably was disappointing. However, Singapore is actually one of the great cities (and most fascinating) cities, food-wise. I'm not saying it will appeal to every taste; it likely won't. For those who are interested in tastes, contrasting and balance, and the way flavors work (or do not work well) together, then Singapore was a great choice. Many people, cooks included, may not be familiar with the different options for taste, levels of contrast and pungency in ingredients, but it's a wonderful learning environment--at the same time as taking many people out of their comfort zone and in a place where they still have to perform, which is exactly what it did, I think. The name of the game is quick, on-your-feet cooking and Singapore definitely has that. I know--most people would never think of Singapore as a great food city. I think it was a good choice. To think of the finale having to be filmed in DC doesn't seem to take into mind that the food scene, in DC also, has global influences--and I think Top Chef DC acknowledged and celebrated that by filming the finale in Singapore.

Fritz Hahn: all year and then move the big finale to Singapore feels like a slight. That's all.

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Friend in town: I have friend in town who's already done all the touristy things here in DC. She wants to "DC it up" with me on Saturday night. Suggestions please??

Fritz Hahn: What do you think she means? But we need some help before we can help: How fancy/pricy do you want to get, how much do you want to dress up, what kind of music do you like, etc.?

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Cheeseburger Day: What a weekend for holidays! Not only do we have Talk Like a Pirate Day on Sunday, but I just found out Saturday is National Cheeseburger Day! I heard ZBurger is doing a $1 promo for it, and was wondering if any other of the many area burger joints were doing something similar? Any info, or idea where I could find it?Thanks, me hearties.

Fritz Hahn: I'ma let Justin answer the burger part, but Piratz Tavern, which is ground zero for local Talk Like A Pirate Day festivities, is actually holding two parties this weekend: Its four-year anniversary party on Saturday, with sword fighting demos and half-price drinks, and then the big pirate madness on Sunday.

Justin Rude: Sorry I'm chiming in late. That Z Burger deal is the only one that I am aware of. $1 cheeseburgers are a pretty great deal though -- every day should be National Cheeseburger Day!

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After Wedding Party: A friend of mine is getting married tomorrow night at the Carnegie Institution. She was planning on having the after party at Stoney's and figured we could all just wander over there, but when she called yesterday, they are insisting that she rent out the upstairs. She does not want to do this. This is super last minute, but can you recommend a place for about 20-25 people for tomorrow night in that area? divey is fine. cheap is good. fun is important. Love You Guys!!

Stephanie Merry: I was sort of thinking you should just show up. I had a joint birthday party there recently, and we just unofficially took over the upstairs without reserving it. The only issue might be if someone else reserves it. Then you'd have to come up with plan B on the fly. Another option would be Stetson's, which is where former guru Julia Beizer went after her wedding.

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Brunch for In-Laws - Eastern Market: Hi Gurus-My in-laws are coming to town, and we were thinking of taking them to the Eastern Market flea market this Sunday. Ted's Bulletin came to mind as a good place for brunch around 11am or so, but I know they don't take reservations. Is there another place that might be better for a couple in their 70's who aren't terribly mobile in that area? Or, should I just go to Ted's and prepare to wait - I do love their food.

Justin Rude: Ted's is a great option, and probably worth waiting for. I would also look at Montmartre or Cafe Belga as options. Though you might be facing a wait at any of those places.

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Top Chef Finale: In all past seasons, they have taken the finale show to a different city. So going to Singapore isn't a slight to DC/our dining scene. It's just the city they chose to use this year.But I guess you could be offended on behalf of the US, if you want to, since they decided to go international this time. Stage a burning of a Top Chef cookbook! (Too soon?)

Alex Baldinger: I'm right there with you.

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DC: Well, since Fritz the fashion maven doesn't like it when women "just have to bust out the familiar 'jeans and a cute top' outfit" what does he suggest we wear? I don't own a "hipster button down," if that is even appropriate for females, or, um, anyone.

Fritz Hahn: I am SO not the fashion maven. The "jeans and a cute top" comment refers to the fact that we regularly get questions from women asking if such-and-such is a place where they have to wear a dress or whether they can just wear "jeans and a cute top." I mean, that's what people wear to Euro night. Check out the photos on http://houseoffrancedc.com/and recommend something for the ladies out there. Go on.

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H st Corridor: I finally went to H st to check out the bars & places I keep reading about in these chats. I went on a lazy Sunday afternoon, everything was empty there wasn't much traffic (besides that caused by the road construction), but there was still a lack of parking spaces. I also went up the st to Capital City Diner & that area was a bit sketchy. I didn't even want to leave my car out there. Wondering what it's like during HH & the festival this weekend.

Fritz Hahn: Well, "Sunday afternoon" explains it, since a lot of places aren't open then, outside of the Pug, Argonaut, Biergarten Haus, Dangerously Delicious Pies -- maybe a gallery. To get a feel for the neighborhood, you really should go on a Thursday or Friday night. (Saturday night is often a little too Adams Morgany for my taste these days.)For the Festival, they're expecting around 20,000 people to visit for the day. Twenty. Thousand.

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Union Station: How long should we allow to get from Northern VA to Nissan Pavillion for Rush? Thanks!

David Malitz: The worst time to head out there is rush hour on a weekday and that's taken me over 2 hours from Arlington. On a Saturday it should be smoother but you never know with Jiffy Lube Live. Navigating/exiting the parking lot is where the delays can get bad. But getting there - I think 90 minutes *should* be enough this time.

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Opera in the Outfield--Worth it?: Any background on the Opera in the Outfield event Sunday? It's free, which is good. Has anyone been before? What's the scene like?

Alex Baldinger: "Un Ballo in Maschera," which I haven't seen, but can't imagine is routinely viewed accompanied by stadium concessions.

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Festivals: Any art/food festivals happening in DC this weekend?

Justin Rude: The H Street festival is going to be a blast. The Virginia Wine Festival is a little further out, but worth the trip. If you are looking for family fun I recommend the Fiesta Musical at the National Zoo.

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Tattoos and piercings: Hi Gurus! I need a little help. I'm looking for somewhere in the District that does tattoos and piercing. Not my first of either, but the first here. Any recommendations, please??

Stephanie Merry: I was actually just doing some research about this myself, and after taking a poll of inked locals, I heard highest praise for Tattoo Paradise in Adams Morgan, Jinx Proof in Georgetown and BritishInk on H Street (though I don't think they do piercings). Chatters, feel free to chime in.

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Fairfax/Reston/Herndon Love: I'm glad to see all the questions/answers for this area! I had to move out here for my job & I noticed that GOG don't show us much love. I'm always looking for places to eat, drink & dance around here!

Fritz Hahn: I'm always looking for new and exciting stuff out that way, too. Problem is, I'm not always finding it. (I've written about Jimmy's, Carpool, Ned's, Auld Shabeen, Breaker's Sky Lounge, bars at the Town Center, etc., over the years.) Most of the destination-ish places opening in the area are in D.C. or at least inside the Beltway, like the Mad Fox Brewpub in Falls Church, which I wrote about recently.Oh, I should mention playing darts at Mighty Mike's in Sterling can be seriously awesome. And hard, because the level of competition is high.

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Re: Opera in the Outfield: I went last year--it's basically like Screen on the Green. People with picnics on blankets in the outfield, people sitting in the stands, etc. Very low key and people talk during the opera--a totally different experience than seeing it at the Kennedy Center. Fun and casual and entertaining. Go for it!

Fritz Hahn: I'll co-sign this and stress the IT'S FREE aspect. I mean, wouldn't you rather picnic while watching an opera instead of a film that was on AMC last week?

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Harper's Ferry: For the Harper's Ferry couple, for food, go to Shepherdstown, not far away. Stop at the General Store, which is a must-see. Then get food at Stone Soup Bistro. You'll need reservations unless you can snare a seat at the small bar - which I tend to prefer.

Justin Rude: I'm heading out there myself later this fall, will have to add these suggestions to my list.

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Jeans and Cute Top: Well, the "just have to bust out" sounded pretty snotty. Also, I recall Rhome -- is he still with you? -- for YEARS ripped on women wearing black pants to go out. So it's like, if not jeans or black pants, then what?I'd rather see either of those than the barely butt-covering skirts I see on U st. on the weekends...

Stephanie Merry: Rhome is still "with us." Just wear what you feel comfortable in. And don't listen to Fritz; he wears "jeans and a cute top" most days of the week.

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Where in Fairfax? : It's a big place, I've lived here for most my life and I didn't even recognize any of your recommendations! Hard Times in Fairfax City is a good place for work HH, as is Primetime near the Fairfax Gov Center and Dogfish Head by Greenbriar.

Fritz Hahn: Primetime is a good (and newish) idea, and Dogfish is one of my faves. Hard Times is a standby across the area -- I've done happy hour gatherings with beer and chili from Bethesda to Clarendon.

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Post-birthday dinner date idea?: Going to Brasserie Beck for my birthday dinner with the boyfriend. Need a fun/romantic activity for after dinner (before meeting up with friends for a night of heavy drinking). Any ideas in that vicinity? I'm already thinking about drinks at The Passenger, but I want something a little more creative; activity can, but does not have to, involve booze... thanks!

Alex Baldinger: You could try the Columbia Room, Derek Brown's boutique cocktail spot inside the Passenger; depending on which night you're looking for, there look to be a few seats still available this weekend. Otherwise, hop across 11th street from Brasserie Beck to Againn for a flight of scotch, or cocktails if scotch isn't your thing.

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Jazzy: Due to a heavy schedule I missed my friend's birthday last month. He's a classical Jazz fan and mentioned he had heard of a Jazz brunch somewhere downtown and would like to go on a Sunday sometime. I think he would prefer to hit the Jazz clubs along U Street on a Saturday night since there is much more variety and he can move along if he doesn't care for a particular band. What's your take? Do you know of any Jazz bruches (other than Georgia Brown's? Does Blues Alley have one?). He (we) are both over 40 if that makes any difference and will likely be with a few other friends. Thanks!

Fritz Hahn: On/around U, HR-57 and Twins are the reliable spots. Twins gets more out-of-towners than HR-57 does. But I'm just as happy to hop into the little no-cover U-Topia and listen to jazz as to pay for a ticket at any other spot.Twins used to do a brunch, actually, but doesn't have it any more.

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Harpers Ferry: I keep hearing about Harpers Ferry. Here, there, everywhere. Do you think the GOG might put together a "best bets" Harpers Ferry list?

Justin Rude: Really? Because let me tell you, we get way more questions about Charlottesville than we do about HF.

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re: Friend in town: She's from MS, so she wants to experience the city side of life. Business is probably as dressy as we'd get. Price - I'd say moderate. She loves Latin music and all other things Latin.

Fritz Hahn: She'd probably love them.

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Arlington, VA: Love the chats. I'm going to the Rush concert at Jiffy Lube Live this Saturday and I've never been there before. I'll be coming from Arlington. How much time should I allow to get there? Any other tips? Thanks!

Alex Baldinger: Tip: Gird yourself for war going into and out of the parking lot. Kidding. Sort of. Getting out there is never easy. I like to pretend I'm flying international whenever I go to Jiffy Lube (and ain't that fun?), leaving a good three hours before showtime to make sure I get there on time.

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NW ish: tonight is my friends birthday, and she happens to be in town and I'm the only person she knows. I feel like I should take her out somewhere, but where? She's working in Dupont and staying in shaw, and should finish up around 7, the problem is I won't be home until 9ish and will want dinner, I'm assuming she will have eaten during the 2 hours she has to kill before I get there. I'd like someplace with more of a chill bar where we could get a table (so i can eat) but doesn't feel empty or isolated. oh annd is not too expensive. where do you suggest?

Stephanie Merry: Between Dupont and Shaw, you could hit up one of the spots along P Street between 14th and 15th. We already mentioned Stoney's, but Commissary and Logan Tavern would also be good low-key places for a drink and a bite to eat (and maybe even outside if the weather cooperates).

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Hfest: Is the best plan to park at Union Station? for those of us people in the burbs, the drive to metro, the parking there, and the ride into town is more time and hassle then its worth.

Fritz Hahn: Since six blocks of H will going to be closed, parking -- and getting in and out -- will be tough. Shuttles are running from Eastern Market and Gallery Place, though you surely could park in the garage at Union Station and walk over. Caveat: You're looking at a walk of about a mile, according to Google Maps.

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Watching the Caps at Kettler: Their schedule says that they're having Group A practice and then Group B. What does this mean? What would I see if I went there?

Justin Rude: If you go you will see either a half or a third of the roster (I don't know how many groups there are) going through drills and doing bag skates.Its not a game, but even seeing these pro athletes going through drills is pretty exhilarating. As a hockey player myself its amazing/disheartening to see some of the moves these guys attempt (and occasionally pull off) when there isn't a game on the line.Anyway, what day are you going? I might be there, You should stop by and say hi. I will be the one wearing read and cheering whenever something cool happens.

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Dress code: Please no sorority sweat pants (those stretchy black pants every so popular a few years back) unless sitting on the couch or during a run the Harris Teeter without makeup. I promise not to wear a sports jersey unless watching sports. Deal?

Fritz Hahn: Ladies, I would advise you to make this trade.

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Ovo: Hey GOGs,I've got tix for OVO, but have never been to the Harbor. Should I drive or metro (I live in Arlington, work downtown)? And any suggestions on where to eat beforehand?

Fritz Hahn: Drive, or take the water taxi from Georgetown and/or Alexandria if you're feeling adventurous. The Metro ride to Southern Ave. is long, waiting for the bus is longer.Tom Sietsema's a fan of the Italian fare Bond 45. The food at Public House is okay. But the dueling pianos at Bobby McKey's are a scene unto themselves.

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first date bar: Hi! I'm looking for a place to go on a first date. We're coming from Eastern Market and Arlington, so preferably somewhere in the middle, or at least on the Orange/Blue lines. I'd like a fairly relaxed bar that's not too pricey where we could get some drinks and maybe a bite to eat. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Fritz Hahn: I like the patio at Elephant and Castle (Federal Triangle) on weekends. It's nice, not too crowded, decent beers and bar food.Okay, that's going to have to do it for us. Enjoy the H Street Festival, Talk Like A Pirate Day, first dates or whatever you do this weekend.

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