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The Going Out Gurus
Thursday, November 11, 2010; 1:00 PM

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Alex Baldinger: Ahoy there, and welcome aboard for this week's installment of Got Plans! Very exciting news today, as we're adding the expertise of the Washington Post's fashion and style maven Holly Thomas to our weekly chat ranks. Holly comes to us from the Fashion Fix chat, where you've been able to ask her about everything from re-soling vintage boots to achieving that perfect look for any occasion. She also writes Trend Report for the Washington Post Magazine and is on Twitter @hollyt81. Welcome aboard, Holly!And with that, we're yours for the next hour.

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Friendship Heights: A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was an article on some of the bars that make good non-alcoholic beverages. I can't find it, so can you help a girl out, either with the article, or possibly some recommendations? Thanks!

Fritz Hahn: Hey there. I wrote that story last year, during one of my annual hiatuses from drinking -- aka "The Amazing Regenerating Liver." You can read the whole thing here. Just rescanned the whole thing, and Kevin Rodgers is no longer at Urbana, so I'd suggest visiting Tryst, where bartender extraordinaire David Fritzler has several booze-less cocktails on his new winter menu. Againn might also be another destination.

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Quaint Town for a Sunday day: My fiance and I are looking to go antiquing/enjoying the fall foliage/stroll some historic sites this weekend. We currently live in Baltimore and want to go somewhere that is not too far a drive. We also don't want anywhere that is going to have too many tourists/be too expensive. We were thinking about Frederick. Any other ideas?

Amy Orndorff: Frederick is perfect, but if you are looking to stay a little closer to home, try Ellicott City. It has a charming main street and great antiquing!

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Very random gift need: My boyfriend has a couple of shirts that he loves, but need repair. An arm in a beloved flannel shirt has a huge gaping hole at the elbow. Where can I get these repaired with relative speed? I'm going to do so as a gift to him, because I can't find a replacement anywhere.Thanks!

Holly Thomas: Suede or corduroy elbow patches would look really cool on an old flannel shirt, and that's a project you can easily do yourself if you're at all crafty. You can get patches at places like JoAnn Fabrics or G Street Fabrics (or online) and stitch them on, or take them to a dry cleaners or tailor if that's more your speed.

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Hobgoblin ale: Where to find Hobgoblin ale in DC? We found it in Indianapolis of all places - or maybe not "of all places"; maybe I shouldn't be surprised that other cities take beer more seriously than DC does. Anyway, I haven't seen it since Oxford, so if it's making its way to the midwest, surely it can be found in DC - right??

Fritz Hahn: "maybe I shouldn't be surprised that other cities take beer more seriously than DC does."Man, those are fighting words. On the East Coast, I could give you Philly and maybe NYC, but on the whole, D.C.'s craft beer scene has never been better, from the big spots down to even hole-in-the-walls like Dodge City (Founders, Bells, Bear Republic, etc) to beer dinners at Scion and other forward thinking restaurants.As for Hobgoblin -- and I just drank a bit of it on vacation -- it's a frustrating beer to find. It will show up randomly on a beer list here or there, then disappear randomly. It's mostly bottles, too, and not on draft/cask. I'd check ChurchKey or the Brickskeller, for sure. Maybe Birreria. And probably CommonWealth, where I think I saw it a few weeks ago.Oh, and I know for sure I bought it this summer at Chevy Chase Wine and Spirits. Cleveland Park Liquors also has had it occasionally.

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Dancing: Where can I go dancing somewhere near Golden Triangle or Dupont Circle that has upbeat music, reasonably-priced drinks, and isn't a sauna of a sardine can packed with people? I just want to bust out with some fun moves, with a group of friends.

Fritz Hahn: Most places playing good music in that area tend to get sardine packed, alas, since there just aren't enough of them. (Or you could go on off-nights -- almost never have a problem finding a place to cut loose to bossa nova and Brazilian beats at ESL on a Thursday, for example.)Mighty Pint has a DJ on the weekend -- mostly Top 40, hip-hop and '80s -- and it's almost never too packed to move/socialize. I've head good things about the new Tuesday night party at BarCode, which kicked off Tuesday with Saeed (of globally known local electronic duo "... and Palash"). Run by the folks who book Lima on Thursday and the enormous Glow party on Saturdays, it should definitely be one to watch.

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Growlers: Saw your response last week on where to get a beer growler filled; one GREAT place not mentioned is the Whole Foods in Fair Lakes in Fairfax. 10 taps of great craft brews; the beer manager updates their selection on his Facebook page.

Fritz Hahn: Yes, very good call.

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Bar Query: I want to plan a celebration at a bar and have not found one that meets my needs. It will be on a Sunday, so the bar should have televisions to watch the football games. Ideally, the bar will be within a three block walk of two or more metro lines since it is winter and friends are coming from all over the region. The bar area should be large enough for people to gather, talk and enjoy drinks and appetizers. Any specials are a bonus!Can you think of a bar that meets all my needs? Thank you!!

Fritz Hahn: It depends on how many people you have coming, whether you need a private area, whether or not you're buying the apps (and laying them out for people) vs. folks buying their own, how long you want the party to run for, whether you want to watch certain teams, etc.Lots of variables there, I know.

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Hey, Fritz is back--welcome back. This question is for newcomer, Holly.: Hi Holly,As we are on the verge of colder weather, what would be your perfect chilly-weather ensemble that could go flexible enough to be out-and-about casual but fabulous enough to duck into one of the hot places in the district when the sun goes down--without having to do the dress-to-the-nines look and avoiding the sweatpants look.Thanks.PS Fritz can answer this if he wants to.

Holly Thomas: Hi! I'd say start with some sleek black riding pants and flat boots or low-heeled ankle booties. Add a loose, flowy tunic-length top in silk or jersey (a solid neutral or jewel-tone) and either a cropped leather jacket or a tailored blazer. A few long chain necklaces will keep it interesting, and if you're feeling exceptionally trendy, try a faux-fur vest instead of the jacket. The key is to pick ultra-wearable pieces in neutral colors and pile on the jewelry once the sun sets.

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3-hour weekend and day trip archives?: The print edition's weekend section has been doing a nice series of articles this fall that detail areas like Clarendon, Hyattsville, etc...but I've had trouble finding these pieces online...as well past versions of 3-hour weekend. Any help?

Alex Baldinger: Sounds like you're talking about the neighborhood guides we started back in August. So far we've covered 14th St. NW, Clarendon, Rockville, Falls Church and H Street NE. More to come.The short answer re: 3 Hour Weekend is that there's not a unified location for all that we've done, though that's something we're considering.Is there a particular one I can help you find?

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nice place for drinks!: My best friend is coming into town for the weekend, and I'm looking for nice, classy place that we can go out for a drinks (and inexpensive....we're poor college students!). Any suggestions?!

Fritz Hahn: This is where I really like the Sidebar at Jackie's -- it looks and feels like the hippest cocktail bar around, yet almost every drink on the well-thought-out-menu is $9 or $10.If that's still too much (and I remember being a poor college student/intern), try the happy hour at Vinoteca on U Street -- cool, cozy and with a happy hour every day from 5 to 7 with 20 different wines $5 each.

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Two of My Fave Q & As in One!: I'm the one who asked about the Sunday fall foliage trip with my fiance. My fiance sees me dressed for work and then in my sweats when its time for bed. I want to look cute for our outing--what do you suggest? Also, I'm more of a dress girl than a pants/jeans girl...

Holly Thomas: A fall foliage trip is the perfect opportunity to indulge in a little theme-dressing (which might be one of my favorite activities of all time). You want to look cozy and cuddly, so I'd try a soft sweater dress -- these are both adorable and super cheap. Add some riding boots, ribbed tights or leggings (H&M has some great ones right now for $10 a pop) and a pretty pendant necklace and you're ready to peep some leaves in style ...

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cube city, arlington VA: does policy still have their 'pre-game' HH on fridays? if not, any other places along that 14th st strip that have a good HH vibe tomorrow? just me and a friend meeting up and hopefully going wherever the night takes us.. also thinking of Dupont..gracias

Fritz Hahn: Last time I dropped by Policy for HH -- admittedly in September -- they still had a pretty good deal going, with $5 cocktails and draft beers, and $3 cheapo PBR, etc.For that area, it's not bad, though I also really like Masa 14's -- $4 tequila drinks and appetizers from 5 to 7. Can get a little crowded, but it's a good space and gets a nice crowd.

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Lepic happy hour: How overrun is the Bistro Lepic happy hour that they hold in the wine bar? I love the restaurant itself, but don't see any appeal to having to elbow my way through hoards of people upstairs (and am hoping you'll say it is a relaxed, civilized affair). I'm particuarly interested in Saturday evening, if that makes a difference.

Fritz Hahn: Lepic's popular happy hour -- the one with free wine from 6 to 8 -- is on Tuesdays. That's usually really crowded, though I've never had a problem getting a drink (after a small wait).The "other" happy hour, with half-price wine by the glass until 7, is a *far* more civilized affair. I've been in with a date on a Saturday night around 6, and we got seats at the bar, had snacks and a few glasses of wine. We left after HH was over, and it was just starting fill up.I've heard it's much busier on Fridays, but honestly don't think I've been.

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E Street Cinema eats: Hey gurus, a buddy and I are seeing "127 Hours" at E Street Cinema on Friday night and are looking for good eats and a drink or three beforehand. Any suggestions?

Alex Baldinger: I'm tempted to make a joke about going someplace with small plates, just in case the gory climax of the film gets to you at all...I mean, Jaleo ain't far.But I trust you and your pal will be able to stomach it, and for that reason, I'd suggest District Chophouse for their hearty plates and in-house beer list. It's dark beer season, and their oatmeal stout is excellent.Closer to the theater, and a bit classier, how about Bistro d'Oc? Southern French cooking, a wine bar, but not too fussy in terms of dress or ambiance.

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Holiday work outing: Hi Gurus - I'm new to the area AND the new boss. I'm looking for ideas on places to take my staff for a holiday get-together in the District. I'm thinking a casual, cocktails and apps kind of place where we can sit and hear each other. It will be a small group, 6 max. They are all MUCH younger than I (mid-20s), so...just something to keep in mind....Thanks! Love this chat and read the transcripts every week.

Alex Baldinger: I think the new P.J. Clarke's would be perfect for this type of thing.

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Dupont Circle: Hey GoGs! I posted last week but not get my question answered. I am interested in going to the Repeal Day event, but want to know more before I buy a ticket. If you have gone in the past, was it worth it?Thanks!

Fritz Hahn: (I'm also excited about the special guests, including author/bartenders Dale De Groff and Jeff "Beachbum" Berry.) I haven't had many complaints about previous years, except for the lack of food to help balance out the potent potables.More info and tickets are at www.repealdayball.com.

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Bob Dylan show: Any suggestions for a chill, kinda quiet place either before and/or after (we're flexible) the Bob Dylan show at GW this Saturday night to grab dinner/drinks? Nothing overrun with GW students. We're in our late 30s and not looking for anything too uptight. Thanks!

Alex Baldinger: Tonic at Quigley's Pharmacy is a short hop east on G Street from the G.W. Smith Center. It's more restaurant than bar, I would say, so it shouldn't be overwhelmed, particularly if you head over there before the show.

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Happy Hour: Best happy hour on a Friday in Chinatown/Penn Quarter? Will be going around 6 pm

Fritz Hahn: Iron Horse Tap Room's deals ($2 off all drinks) run until 8, which will give you more time to imbibe, so I'd go with that.

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Georgetown Bars?: Any recommendations for good drinking spots in Georgetown for a (small) group of late 20 somethings? My best friend and her bf are visiting and insist on spending Friday night in Gtown (and only Gtown) and I'm drawing a blank on where to go.

Fritz Hahn: Oh man, I'm sorry. Martin's Tavern has a cool English Pub vibe, Mie N Yu has decent (if a little sweet) cocktails, the bar at the Ritz has half-price drinks until 7.Used to like Rugby, but the crowd seems on the young side these days.

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Concerts at the National Cathedral: Hello there - I love your chat! A friend and I want to go see the Messiah at the National Cathedral in early December. Since we can't afford the premium seats, do you have any advice about where the better mid priced seats are located? We were thinking of the balcony at the back of the cathedral but since the place is so huge we were wondering if the sound would be any good back there! Thanks -

Fritz Hahn: I'd go for the balcony, just because it's kind of cool to say you've been up there, but if you don't care about watching the singers, the $35 seats in the mid/rear nave are not that bad. (Also, I don't recall any echo problems in the balcony.)

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tv shows in dc: Hey guys,Happy Veterans Day! I'm hoping you can help me out. I'm looking to take my brother, while he's on leave from Iraq, to a local taping of a TV show in the area. Any ideas on where I could go & how to get tickets? Talk shows, sports shows, sitcoms, news, anything. I'd be willing to go to MD too, but I'm just not sure what's around. I just thought it would be a fun idea of something we could do while he's home for the holidays. Thanks for the help!

Alex Baldinger: Hey, Happy Veterans Day to you, too, and give your brother a big thank you from all of us.Did some digging around on this last week -- D.C. is home to many things, but television programs filmed before a live studio audience isn't one of them, unfortunately. Though I happen to think The McLaughlin Group would be way more entertaining with some hooting and hollering, don't you?Would you happen to be interested in a taping of It's Academic?

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U Street Bar Crawl: Hi Almighty GOGs! I've got a super important question for you. My husband's birthday is coming up and I'd like to do a bar crawl on U Street. What are your recommendations of where to start, where to go, and where to end? Thanks for your wisdom!

Fritz Hahn: You don't say what you'd like to do or how many people are coming, both of which can be very important factors, so I'm just going to toss some ideas out, all of which would be on my list.Dodge City for DJs and cool beers (plus no cover),1905 for Absinthe cocktailsMasa 14 for Tequlia drinksBar Pilar for the best small-plate eats in/around U StreetThe Saloon for Belgian beers (though not if you have a group, since you can't guarantee you'll be able to sit together)The Gibson for drinks, which might be where a start, due to the need for reservations.Lounge of III for the cool hip-hop vibe.... and ending with some late-night dancing until the wee hours at U Street Music Hall, then late-night soul food from Oohs and Aaahs.

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The Park on 14th: Hi all -I'm headed to the Park for the first time this Saturday night. Any advice on what a female should wear? Thanks!

Holly Thomas: I think the basic rules of "going out" clothes are pretty similar to those of everyday clothes -- you want to look fashionable, flatter your figure, and keep things interesting while leaving a little something to the imagination. A chic, short dress and a cute blazer or bolero is one option; a body-conscious skirt (just above the knee or shorter, depending on what looks good on you) and flowy top is another. If you're on the slim side and aren't going to be doing a lot of dancing, a silk maxi dress with a cropped moto jacket would look great and feel very unexpected. For shoes, stick with a manageable heel -- nothing worse than seeing a well-dressed woman struggling with too-high heels.

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Re: On the young side: Fritz, when you say a crowd skews on the young side, is that stated as if that would be a problem? Or is it because you are getting older (not a crticism, we all are) that crowds now seem young or younger to you? Thanks

Fritz Hahn: (in the past) complained that places are "too collegey" -- especially when they state in a question that they're in their late 20s/early 30s or older than that.I don't mind going to places that skew younger, and when I was just out of college, I never minded going to places that skewed much older. But I learned long ago that age gaps make some people reeeeeeeeally uncomfortable.

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Re: Bar Query: There are a lot of variables. I would assume about 15 - 20 people, it does not need to be a private area and would let people get their own tabs. I am not particular on the football game being shown. Thank you for your recommendations.

Fritz Hahn: Ah, okay. So you just want someplace where 20 people can hang out in the same general vicinity and there are dozens of TVs? Let's go with Buffalo Billiards, Iron Horse Tap Room, the downstairs of Meridian Pint (okay, it's in Columbia Heights, but still), Ventnor Sports Cafe. Important note: Iron Horse doesn't have a kitchen, but you can get food to go from California Tortilla or other nearby spots. It's just a great space for groups.I also think you'd have a shot with Penn Quarter Sports Tavern, but that place can get packed, depending on what teams are playing -- it's home to the Seahawks and other fan clubs.Oh, and Public Bar, too, thanks to its size. And maybe the Mighty Pint.

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NCAA Basketball games: What's a good spot in DC (preferably NW) to watch a bunch of the NCAA games this season? Specifically, I'm a Big 10 homer and wanna watch the Bucks, Spartans, Gophers, etc....

Fritz Hahn: Capitol Lounge is home of the Spartans and some other teams, and it seems to get plenty of Big 10 fans out. Same with Penn Quarter Sports Tavern.

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Hope you can help!: Ahhh so last minute but need your help - can eat soft foods only for one more week as I wait for my permanent crowns to be done. Getting sick of fro-yo and soup - can you think of any other options for me? Thanks!

Alex Baldinger: How soft? I'm thinking Ethiopian here. Could your crowns tolerate some spongy injera and doro wat? I've been lucky with regard to not having crowns (yet) so please don't laugh too hard if that's completely out of the question.

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Second date suggestions?: Hey GOG, So I've landed a second date with a fun, easy-going guy and was looking for some ideas to impress, but not overdo it (the dance that is dating!). The date's Friday night and while I like dinner and drinks, I have a happy hour before the date and would like to find an activity or something interesting going on Friday night. At first I was thinking that FotoWeek would be fun, but I got pretty overwhelmed by the options- are there any exhibits that you would recommend in the Dupont area that aren't the Sideluck Potshow? Or is there anything else that you'd recommend checking out Friday night? Looking for something a little unique from the average DC weekend. Thanks for your help!

Alex Baldinger: Everyone's favorite experimental visual-music tandem, Bluebrain, is going to be performing at a benefit for the Arlington Planetarium tomorrow night at 7 p.m. You could do a lot worse on a second date than lying back, looking up at the cosmos and spacing out to the sounds of Bluebrain, if you ask me. Maybe head into Clarendon afterwards for drinks and nibbles at Lyon Hall?

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Alex Baldinger: Alright folks, that does it for us this week. Thanks again to Holly for dropping some fashion IQ on all of us. We'll catch you next Thursday at 1 p.m. Cheers!


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