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The Going Out Gurus
Thursday, November 18, 2010; 1:00 PM

The Going Out Guide staff discuss great ideas for local entertainment, dates and family fun.

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Justin Rude: No contest today, but we do have some good news: we are hosting a five-round trivia smackdown at Bedrock Billiards on Sunday, Dec. 5. So form a team, bring your friends see if you have what it takes to win bar tabs, DVDs and other prizes.Fair warning -- teams should be no bigger than five people. If your group is larger, we may ask you to break into two teams, or have a few folks join another small team.For other going out news and announcements, make sure you receive our newsletters and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.And with that, let us commence!

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Ideas for 12-year-old: Any good ideas for spending a Saturday in December with a 12-year-old girl? The Wax Museum is on my list, but what else is fun for that age? [She's been to the Smithsonians before.] Thanks!

Amy Orndorff: Since you will be in the area, why not visit the Spy Museum?

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restaurant for a 70th birthday, last minute: My parents are suddenly coming to town for Dad's 70th bday, which is Monday. Where could we go to dinner that's special/fun, accommodating for school-aged kids, and that we could get reservations for 7:30(crazy work hours + a school night)? Oh, and near/in Arlington. Thanks!

Justin Rude: I'm a big fan of Fire Works Pizza in Clarendon. I've taken my parents, friends and toddlers all in a big group, and its been a blast every time. I would also consider the Liberty Tavern, which is a fun/lively place without being inappropriate for kids. A bit outside of Arlington you could try Pizzeria Orso in Falls Church, which is challenging for the crown of area's best pizza.

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Best Bets for Playing Tourist this weekend: My husband and I are spending the weekend in the city to celebrate his birthday. Are there any off-the-beaten-path or under-appreciated exhibits/shows/sights we should add to our list? We'll be staying in the Dupont Circle area.

Stephanie Merry: If you're in Dupont then you'll be near two of my favorite museums -- The Phillips Collection (where there's a fantastic photography exhibit right now) and the Textile Museum, which I think is totally underappreciated. You'll also be relatively close to the National Geographic Museum (Geckos!) and the Corcoran where you can see the cool cloud-themed exhibition by Spencer Finch.

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Washington, D.C.: In last week's chat, the Gurus said that not drinking will make your liver heal. Is this science or science fiction?

Fritz Hahn: Oh, this is totally true, though it sounds like some Snopes-worthy tall tale. When I wrote about my annual sabbatical from drinking last year (as part of a story about bars serving non-alcoholic cocktails), I spoke to the head of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at NIH. Basically, your liver is an amazingly resilient organ, and if you don't drink for a couple of weeks, it will completely heal itself. Well, to an extent -- if you're a bottle-of-Jack a day drinker who has already irreparably damaged portions of your liver, those don't magically regenerate. But for most people, quitting drinking temporarily -- and not drinking so much in the first place, obviously -- can do wonders for your health.

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Trivia, eh?: Saw this one in the Express - What's the only country, other than what is now the United States, visited by George Washington?

Fritz Hahn: Barbados, when he was a young man -- I believe that's where he caught smallpox. (You can still see scars on his face in some of the portraits of him.)Hey, did I mention my high school/college quiz team specialty was presidents and U.S. history? Something to keep in mind for trivia night on Dec. 5.

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PSU - Indiana on Saturday: Gurus, I need help with suggestions as to what my friend's wife and 2 children (6 & 1) can do while he and I are at the Penn State - Indiana game on Saturday. They would like to stay somewhere between, or in the vicinity of, FedEx Field and Kingstowne. They are probably up for just about anything that will allow them to kill time between noon and 4pm. Any ideas? Thanks very much.

Alex Baldinger: Ignoring for a moment the logistical nightmare of being anywhere near FedEx Field on event days, why not send them to National Harbor for the Ice! exhibition? That's really all I can come up with in the rough vicinity of the stadium.Is Downtown D.C. an option? There are surely a ton of different kid-friendly opportunities at, say, the Natural History museum, and the Smithsonian stop links up with the Blue Line that runs out to FedEx. That would be my vote.

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Restaurants near the National Geographic.: Any recommendations for a reasonable restaurant near the National Geographic that can handle 10 people on a Saturday night?

Justin Rude: You're not too far from the new P.J. Clarke's, and they can handle a crowd.

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Christmas Carol and TicketScrooge: Hi GOGs, can I vent here about Ticketmaster for a second? So, the washingtonpost.com is displaying ads for A Christmas Carol at Ford's Theater everywhere. Cool, right? I definitely want to check that out. Except, the stupidity that is ticketmaster makes it nearly impossible to find tickets that are available. Instead of just showing you the DATES that tickets are still available, ticketmaster makes you pick the date & time FIRST, then select number of tickets, seat selection, etc., etc., makes you input the @$$#@! CAPTCHA, then and only then do they tell you that no tickets are available for that particular date and time. WHY NOT TELL ME THAT FIRST!!!!! I hate ticketmaster, I hate ticketmaster, I hate ticketmaster.....

Stephanie Merry: Okay, I don't want to turn this into an anti-Ticketmaster chat, because everyone knows it's annoying. But here's an alternative (though, admittedly less convenient): Go to the Ford's Theater box office. Or call them at (202) 347-4833. It's not as easy as clicking a mouse, but at least it will save you from the stroke you're about to have.

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dancing for the middle-aged: I love to dance--but I'm 50. I don't want to go to some place filled with slinky 20/30-somethings. But I don't want ballroom or line dancing, either. Is there any place in the DC metro area for those of us who still can move but know we're not kids any more?

Lavanya Ramanathan: They're really hoping to become a home to dance, so I think it's worth keeping an eye on. Those nights are mostly on weekdays, however; there are also late-night parties on Saturdays that skew 20/30/slinky but this weekend's may be a departure from that, since it's a big band/bhangra mashup band, Red Baraat.

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Which bar to watch KC Chiefs-AZ Cardinals game 1PM Sunday?: My friend is from KC, her husband is from AZ, and their respective NFL teams are finally playing eachother. Are there bars that would definitely show this game, since I think it's at the same time as the Redskins and Ravens games? We have cars, so can go anywhere in metro area.

Alex Baldinger: Stick to one of the big sports bars with NFL Sunday Ticket. My pick would be Buffalo Billiards: Enough TV's there that even a game as mediocre as Chiefs-Cardinals will be shown. That's right -- I'm a Redskins fan hating on Chiefs-Cardinals. I have a lot of nerve.

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For the December Saturday with a 12 year old...: The Downtown Holiday Market should be going on that weekend as well. If I recall correctly its by the Verizon Center/Portrait Gallery, so right by the Spy Museum. Might be a good spot to help her pick out some small crafts as gifts for friends and family.

Amy Orndorff: Great suggestion! More information here.

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Keeping DC Warm: After years of having my excess coats fall off the rack, I've finally decided to donate some. Even though I love my South Pole coat, it's not really what a 32 year old should be wearing and it hasn't been worn in years. It's in perfect condition, unfortunately the wool coat I want to donate isn't. The lining is torn in several places. However, it doesn't affect the warmth of the coat because it was meant to be reversible. It just isn't anymore. Is it feasible to donate this coat? and if not, what should I do with it? Thanks!

Holly Thomas: I can think of a few places that might take the wool coat, depending on the condition -- if the outer layer is in good shape, a women's shelter or charity resale shop is a good place to start. I'd call around to places like N Street Village, Joseph's Coat and Martha's Table to see if they'll accept the coat in its current condition. If it's something simple that a little hand-stitching could make wearable, they'll most likely take it. If it's too shredded, Id say take it to Goodwill (or put it on Craigslist) and let some budding seamstress buy it for a few bucks, put in a new lining and make it look great.

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Hobbled, DC: I'm going to be on crutches for the next few weeks, which rules out many of my favorite haunts. Any recommendations on good places to go out for a drink in the Dupont or U Street neighborhoods where I won't have to climb more than a few stairs and where it isn't so crowded that I need to worry about being knocked over?Thanks!

Fritz Hahn: Ouch, sorry to hear this.I've had friends in similar situations, so I can tell you to expect almost step-free access at a lot of bars, and also that people seem to be *very* accomodating for folks on crutches at crowded bars and restaurants.On U, try Bar Pilar (where we've seen staff help secure a seat), Solly's U Street Tavern, Stetson's, Chi-Cha Lounge (with couches so you can rest your leg), Nellie's for sporting events. And the Gibson if you need a cocktail.We also need to spend a special shout to the Black Cat, who've let some friends -- and Lavanya! -- use the band elevator to get upstairs to see a show when they were on crutches, and offered a barstool on the side of the stage so they could see without being jostled.Around Dupont, Veritas is a street level wine bar. Kramerbooks has maybe one step, though the bar is a little narrow. Current for sushi happy hour. Pizzeria Paradiso is another good one if you don't go at peak times, like Thu-Fri happy hour.(As an aside, shout out to the dude on crutches down front of the DJ booth at Simian Mobile Disco last night at U Street Music Hall.)

Lavanya Ramanathan: Second the Black Cat -- they let me and my boo sit stage-side to watch Grizzly Bear. It almost made being on crutches bearable.

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Drinking: Just to counteract the opposing chat on Four Loko, where can I go to try this stuff ?

Fritz Hahn: I don't know of a single bar that sells the stuff, so I'll throw this out to the crowd. (For the record, I do enjoy the occasional Mickey's, Colt 45 or other malt beverage at Little Miss Whiskey's or Jimmy Valentine's.)

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Hipsters + kids : We have a friend in town that wants a cool/vegetarian dinning experience. Where can we do that with kids (ages 11 & 5) in tow? Thanks

Justin Rude: We've spotted little ones at Cafe Green. And even though he told me not to tell you because he's tired of all the damn kids, David confirms the family-friendliness of the Georgetown Pizzeria Paradiso. If you are out in the Virginia burbs check out Counter in Reston, where Lavanya is a big fan of the veggie burger.

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City Center Stage: Any idea what the stage is for that they are setting up in the city center (old Convention ctr turned bus station)?

Alex Baldinger: It's the so-called Slurpee Summit. It's from 4 to 8 today. Free Slurpees and a concert by Blues Traveler.

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Try some DC trivia: Where's the highest point in Washington, DC? And if I went out there to look at it, what else can I do in the area?http://highpointers.org/archives/182

Fritz Hahn: The answer's Fort Reno, and I'm pretty sure I've asked this question at a previous trivia night that I've hosted. (Ooh, let me tell you about the time I wrote an entire round of questions about Metro. Everyone said it was kind of hard.)

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re: even a game as mediocre as Chiefs-Cardinals will be shown: Ouch.

Alex Baldinger: That's right. I went there. Probably just a defense mechanism.

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Weekday Freedom: I unexpectedly lost my job a month ago. Since then, I have just been moping around the house, afraid to spend money. If you suddenly had your weekdays free (something I have never had in DC), what would you do? Bonus for things that can't be done on the weekends or are free/cheap. (Have car. Metro/bus good, too.)

Stephanie Merry: I'm sorry about the job. That's a bummer. But I think it's awesome you're getting out there and trying to make the most of your free time. First, are you reading our Free and Easy posts on the blog? We publish them every Monday with a different event for each day of the week. Or you can check out this search return for all the free events in the Going Out Guide. Since I don't know what your interests are, it's hard to give specific advice, but DC is the capital of free entertainment -- we've got all the Smithsonian Museums, the National Gallery, Botanic Garden, Arboretum, Library of Congress, Archives ... I could go on and on.

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Dinner in the Courthouse/Clarendon area?: I am supposed to meet a friend in the Arlington area (Rosslyn to Ballston) for dinner tomorrow night and we're looking for somewhere that isn't on the beaten path, fairly healthy, not super expensive, and that you wouldn't need a reservation for because traffic is so unpredictable. Do you have any suggestions?

Fritz Hahn: I like Piola for this -- good pizzas and pastas, cheap drinks at happy hour, and the Rosslyn location means it's not as crowded as the usual Clarendon/Ballston hotspots.

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even a game as mediocre as Chiefs-Cardinals will be shown: I predit the Chiefs-Cardinals game ends up being much more interesting and fun to watch than seeing the Redskins get totally blown away by the Ravens.

Alex Baldinger: Well, the Redskins aren't playing the Ravens on Sunday, so your smack-talk is ill-informed. But you're probably right in a hypothetical sense.

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Music + conversation: I've just discovered that several 40-something girlfriends are visiting me for a December weekend. Where would you suggest for good cocktails and interesting background music that doesn't make a conversation impossible? Music doesn't have to be live, and people watching is a plus. My searches are making me think music and 40-something are mutually exclusive.

Fritz Hahn: Live jazz at Quill, the swish cocktail bar at the Jefferson Hotel, would be high on my list -- love the drinks and the ambiance. Againn has canned music, but we've been digging the cocktails lately (which you can read more about in tomorrow's Weekend section). I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the large window booths at the Passenger -- you can escape the LOUD BAR NOISE if you can snag a seat near the door.

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Bolt Bus Parking: Heading to NY for the day the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Any suggestions for parking near the bus pick-up site that won't break the budget?

Alex Baldinger: Where are you coming from? I would take Metro, or at least park your car at a Metro garage in one of the burbs. There's your most budget-conscious option.For convenience, you could park at Union Station, but that'll cost you.

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Holiday fun: I have my friend, her husband and one-year old child coming into down the first weekend in December. One of the things she said she'd like to do is see some holiday decorations. I thought about walking through the Willard Hotel. Do you have any other suggestions? Thanks!

Lavanya Ramanathan: they make it snow indoors twice daily. Most of it is free (Ice! being the exception).

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Arlington: Tomorrow is my girlfriend's birthday and we are trying to figure out where to go for dinner. She has narrowed the meal to the type of food she wants: thai. Any must-try spots we should try out?

Stephanie Merry: Yes! Take her to Thai Square. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but the food is phenomenal. If it's atmosphere you're going for, you can check out the new Teak Wood near Logan Circle. It's really beautiful inside, but I'm less keen on the food.

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If you suddenly had your weekdays free (something I have never had in DC), what would you do? : Volunteer to walk and play with animals at a shelter.

Stephanie Merry: That's a great suggestion....

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Fashion Question: Hi- I keep hearing about the "right" jeans, the "right" heels, "skye" tops for women? I know about Christian Louboutin, but what are the right jeans now? The brands change so fast. I know what Ed Hardy shirts are thanks to Jersey Shore. What designer makes all the sparkling Fleur de Lis shirts? The hot housewives are not wearing Juicy anymore? What is the new tracksuit? I just feel very out of it-- I won't be buying this stuff mind you. I just miss the days when Izod and Esprit were the thing, OK?

Holly Thomas: Referencing Ed Hardy, Jersey Shore and Juicy tracksuits all in one question ... wow. The answer to this question is pretty simple -- the "right" clothes for you are the clothes that fit and flatter your figure and make you feel good. Whatever the "new tracksuit" is, it won't last nearly as long as a great-fitting pair of jeans and the perfect white shirt. Embrace the preppy spirit of Izod and Esprit; just update it with J Crew, Tommy Hilfiger and Club Monaco.

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Just to counteract the opposing chat on Four Loko, where can I go to try this stuff ?: Order a beer and an espresso at the same time. Enjoy.

Stephanie Merry: And that is a MUCH tastier alternative.

Justin Rude: I'm not actually sure that's enough caffeine or alcohol to properly simulate the experience.

Lavanya Ramanathan: Fruit Bat on H Street will add caffeine powder to any cocktail, which I thought was brilliant, until I learned I should feel guilty and bad.

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Place to Watch Final Nascar Race in DC?: Great Blog. Thank you in advance for any help you can provide on this.Where is a good bar in DC to watch the final Nascar race on Sunday?

Fritz Hahn: Hmmm. This is a tough one, since most bars are content to just stick on football all day Sunday and run with that. I would check Public Bar, maybe the Bottom Line, maybe the Grand Slam Sports Bar in the Grand Hyatt?Open to suggestions, NASCAR fans. Most of the places where I've watched NASCAR in the past -- Grevey's, Summers, Velocity Five -- are out in Virginia.

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U St: Hi -- I'm sure you've answered this. But does anyone have a recommendation for a trusted shop that can fix a tear in a leather jacket? Dupont, U st, or Crystal City would be awesome, but I can travel. Thanks!

Holly Thomas: I've had good luck with Corrective Shoe Repair in Dupont for leather bags ... depending on the severity of the tear, it's worth a shot.

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Dining Out on Thanksgiving: Greetings! Brother, his wife and two kids - 10 and 12 - are in town for Thanksgiving. I gave them a head's up that I would not be cooking a bird. Any suggestions on what part of DC might be best to hang out in where there may be a choice of open restaurants? Do you know where I can find a list of places that will be open - not necessary that we eat turkey? Cheers

Lavanya Ramanathan: Justin penned this handy little blog post this week with some options for places open on Thanksgiving, though most are serving special meals. (I'm partial to the Life Affirming veggie feast, but that's just me.) Add to this list Art & Soul in Capitol Hill, while Cork is doing take-out, as is the National Museum of the American Indian. And I'm pretty sure plenty of your favorite Indian and Chinese restaurants will be open, thank goodness.

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Boot Treatment - Dupont Circle: Hello Holly and all the GOGs! I just invested in a gorgeous new pair of black suede knee-length boots. I've already weather-treated them, but the sole has no traction, and I'm considering taking them somewhere to treat the sole and maybe reinforce the heels (about a 1 1/2 inch stilleto) before going out, to make sure they last as long as possible with all my city walking. Any recommendations for somewhere other than my local place for alterations/shoe repair? (I was unimpressed with the job they did re-heeling a pair of pumps awhile back)

Holly Thomas: Adding traction to the sole is great for extending the life of your boots, as is protecting the heel (avoiding sidewalk grates is crucial too). Cobbler's Bench is pretty reliable, along with the afore-mentioned Corrective Shoe Repair ... I'm picking up a pair of resoled boots from a new place today, and will report back next week if it's worth a visit.

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€™s Fado, Rocket bar and La Tasca.

Alex Baldinger: Chef Geoff's is one of my favorites in that area, and a it's pretty great value, but I think you and the significant other should expand your search parameters a little wider. In the name of love!

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Karaoke in Gallery Place?: We're going to Jaleo for a friend's birthday and I know she has her heart set on karaoke (the kind that's short on talent and long on cocktails). We're going to Jaleo on Friday at 8pm. Any suggestions for post-dinner warbling in the area?

Fritz Hahn: There ain't much karaoke around Jaleo, even though I've seen some in Chinatown. Your friend would be advised to take a cab to Dupont for Cafe Japone or Adams Morgan for Peyote Cafe or Muzette.

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Forget the espresso chaser, try coffee flavored beer: You can get Pipeline Porter at Whole Foods. http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/579/33183

Stephanie Merry: I don't think people that drink Four Loko are actually looking for a decent beverage so much as a "blackout in a can."

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Crutches and Alcohol Beverages: Now I like to drink but crutches and alcoholic beverages out in bar just don't work well. Unless the bar is dead you face all kinds of issues just going to the head. Bar stools and injuries that require crutches often times don't mix. ANkle of foot surgery not too bad. Knee surgery and brace etc makes sitting on bar stool kind of uncomfortable. Having a few drinks and then trying to walk on your crutches will be a challenge. The effect on your coordination when you have two good legs is not noticed but on crutches you can end up in worse shape. Can you say face plant off bar stool? Oops forogt I was on crutches.

Fritz Hahn: Maybe my friends who had torn tendons/busted kneecaps were just well-coordinated?

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last minute group dinner: I've got a group of friends coming DC this weekend, the problem is I don't know how many (between 10-20) or when we'll be able to eat (5pm-8pm). Where could a large group go as walk ins and be seated relatively quickly? Looking for a sitdown type dinner with a full bar, as opposed to a fast casual type place

Justin Rude: Well, you should obviously call ahead to any place you are expecting to bring a group of that size, even if you don't know the exact numbers. Try Carmine's downtown. It specializes in serving groups large, family style portions of Italian food, so it works especially well for large, unpredictably sized crowds.

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For Middle-Aged Dancer: Glen Echo Park has multiple kinds of dancing in the Spanish Ballroom every weekend, always with live bands. Most weekends offer Contra and Swing, and other fairly frequent options include Waltz and Zydeco. Adults of all ages--really--come out to these dances.

Lavanya Ramanathan: Yes, these are very popular. Thanks for the additional suggestion.

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Happy Hour: Will you be starting up the monthly happy hours again?

Alex Baldinger: We're talking about a bunch of different things, but in the meantime, not sure you saw in the chat intro, but we're hosting trivia night at Bedrock Billiards on Sunday, Dec. 5. We think you'll like that. Five rounds of questions concocted by us, while you have a chance to win cool swag, like, say, The Six Million Dollar Man box set that I have sitting on my desk. We hope that you'll join us!

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DC bar for a birthday party: I am looking for a bar in DC where I can get a group of about 50 friends together for my birthday on Saturday, Dec. 4th. With holiday parties in full swing, I'm having trouble finding a bar with no minimum required and no room fee. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Fritz Hahn: You are not going to find very many places at all that will give you a room for 50 with no minimum or room fee, ever. Especially during holiday season. Sorry.

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12 year old girl: If she isn't local and hasn't seen the National Christmas tree, that might be an option. Maybe on the way too or from one of the museums.

Amy Orndorff: Also a nice idea as long as she is visiting after Dec. 9.

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your smack-talk is ill-informed: Ah, I see. I was told the Ravens were playing the worst team in the entire league this Sunday, but I see my friend was referring to the Panthers. Oops.

Alex Baldinger: Hail!

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Possible to stretch toe area of boots?: Hi. Bought some ankle boots that I love but the toe is too narrow and makes my feet hurt. Is there anything I can do to stretch them out? If not I can't wear them. Sigh.

Holly Thomas: but it's probably best to take them to a cobbler and have them stretched. Any of the ones I mentioned already can help you out.

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Four Loko: I could not find it at a couple 7-11s around my job in Reston. But I found it in several 7-11s from Fairfax to Arlington. Different flavors too!

Stephanie Merry: The gurus are fascinated by the fact that I'm the only one on staff that has tried the stuff (they're always trying to pigeonhole me. Lame.), and I've seen it at 7-11 in Arlington, too. Also, I've tried three flavors and they're all seriously nasty, but fruit punch was the least revolting of the bunch.

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Quiet Holiday Spot: I'm looking for a place I can go to spend a couple of hours writing holiday cards; someplace festive, maybe with appropriate music, but not loud, where I can relax, maybe with a drink, and just enjoy being while I do this task. I'm in DC, but will venture outside the city.

Fritz Hahn: The Willard's amazingly festive lobby and bar never fail to put friends of mine into the holiday spirit -- especially if you relax at the Round Robin bar with a warm cocktail.Martin's Tavern in Georgetown is a personal favorite. It's dark and cozy and pubby, and they hang greenery and ribbons everywhere.

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And even though he told me not to tell you because he's tired of all the damn kids, David confirms : Haha.That's what people my age say about people who are David's age.

Stephanie Merry: David's an old man. It's Amy and Alex you need to watch out for....crazy kids.

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wife's birthday: i am taking my wife out for her 27th birthday on saturday. i just made reservations at 1789. we are both vegetarian and they said they could accomodate. since we are going somewhere fancy, where would be a good place to go afterwards for some drinks and/or dancing? or would you recommend something else? thanks!

Lavanya Ramanathan: I wanted to answer this in part because other folks may not know that lots of high-end restaurants are really accommodating of vegetarians and vegans. I heard from Todd Thrasher last year that Restaurant Eve once cooked up a nine-course meal for a vegan, and it sounded like they dug the challenge! (Nora even has a vegetarian tasting menu.) But you definitely want to call ahead and let a restaurant know well in advance about your restrictions/ethical choices. As for bars, the one at the Ritz-Carlton, Degrees, should keep the sophisticated vibe going.

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Zaytinya: Hi GOG's,I haven't been to Zaytinya for a couple of years but I'd like to know if it's still worth going to? It is always packed but I don't know if it's tourists or locals? Thanks.

Justin Rude: In fact, I need to make plans to revisit it -- I expect its still well worth cheking out. Any chatters have more recent experience?

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Dancing!: Gurus, help. Two girlfriends from New York will be in town from tomorrow to Sunday, and they want to go dancing on either Friday or Saturday night. They say they don't care what kind of music, but that it has to be fun, crowded, and without stuffy people or "lounge" dress codes. (It would help me if it doesn't have a high cover charge.)I need suggestions! Help!

Fritz Hahn: My favorite free dance night in the city is Fatback at Liv, and it's coming around again this weekend. DJs spinning soul, funk, R&B and disco while a hip, good-looking crowd just gets down and get funky all night. The Fatback boys tore the roof off of the Swedish embassy last Saturday....

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I'm happy that Holly has joined this discussion!: Hi Holly,Gotta look good when "Going Out." I'm allowing myself 1 purchase for the Autumn/Winter (probably more Winter) months. What 1 item would you steer me towards? Open to suggestions (can be outerwear, underwear, shoes, etc.) You get the idea!Thanks!

Holly Thomas: Thanks, I feel special now! I'm not sure if you're male or female, so I'll throw out one idea for each. Since you're going to wear it a lot in the coming months, a great camel coat is a good investment and right on trend for the season -- just check out the Chloe fall collection for coats that will literally make you swoon. A structured cocktail dress is another good buy (the Lanvin for H&M collection is loaded with them and it hits the Metro Center store on Saturday!). For the fellas, get a good-quality shawl collar sweater or a pair of desert boots. But really, unless you're in dire need of clothes, I'd say take that money you're saving up for a single purchase and spread it out among accessories (a great leather satchel, some killer necklaces, a few big cocktail rings, a couple cozy scarves) to freshen up what you already have.

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playing the worst team in the entire league: ... um they aren't the worst. They are tied for the worst with the Bills who took until mid-November to win a game... grumble.

Alex Baldinger: Well, Carolina's rocking a -111 point differential this year, compared with Buffalo's -81. Plus, the Panthers are starting someone named Brian St. Pierre on Sunday, who I could have sworn was on my fantasy hockey team until I Googled him. So yes, you heard it here first in the Going Out Guide chat: the Panthers are the worst team in the NFL.To bring this all home: If you ever want to see your last-place NFL team play on Sunday when the Redskins are or are not playing the Ravens, your best bet is either Buffalo Billiards or Public Bar, at least downtown.

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Heels/Sidewalk Grates: At that leads me to another question...Why are there sidewalk grates? They're all over D.C., but I don't recall seeing them in Arlington. If it's for Metro, why aren't they up and down Wilson Blvd???

Holly Thomas: I don't know the answer to this, but I avoid them like the plague for several reasons: I'm kind of always expecting them to cave in beneath me; they're extremely slippery when it's raining; and I've walked right out of a stuck high heel one too many times. Never a good idea to be hopping around barefoot on K Street.

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Army Football: Walking by Madhatter's on game day, it's pretty apparent it's the place to watch Air Force games.Is there a chance I'd be able to find a place in DC playing the Army [/Notre Dame] game?

Fritz Hahn: I remember Crystal City Sports Pub being a Black Knights bar in the past, but would love to hear from some West Point alumni about whether it's still a game-watching spot.

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Holiday gift for boyfriend?: i know it is early to start thinking about this, but i want to get my boyfriend something AWESOME for the holidays this year. i'm thinking some sort of special event in dc. are there any big sporting events/concerts/shows coming through DC in december?

Amy Orndorff:

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National Harbor: How does one Montgomery County-ite get there?

Lavanya Ramanathan: 201 Waterfront Street, National Harbor is the Gaylord address you can pop into your GPS or whatever you use. Just go slow when you get close and pay attention to the signage -- the signs pointing to National Harbor have gotten better at over the past few years, but it helps to follow them very closely.

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Where in the DC-MD-VA area can I take those old time Western photos?: The Sepia photos where you dress up like you're in the Old Western times or a similar antique look.

Fritz Hahn: So we've discussed this in the office and can't think of anywhere west of Ocean City or Rehoboth. Anybody else have ideas?

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Re: stretching boots: If they're leather, you can wet the area (inside the boot) with rubbing alcohol, then wear them for a while with really thick socks. Maybe even stuff the toe area. I've done it with success on a few different pairs of shoes. Worth a shot before paying a pro.

Holly Thomas: Thanks for the tip -- just make sure you wear them or stuff them really tightly. Otherwise, if you wet the leather and let it dry on its own, it could actually end up shrinking.

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daytime dog walking: It's not just people with daytime availability who can help with this! I walk/run with shelter pups most evenings. Check with your local shelter, I'm sure they'd be happy to work something out (but be patient if they want you to do some training beforehand - safety first)!

Amy Orndorff: I second this idea and would add that volunteering isn't just for the holidays!

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Volunteering: Hi, Gurus! I am having my 'festive meal' next Friday, so I was thinking I could volunteer on Turkey Day. I'm finding a lot of requests for drivers to deliver food, which doesn't work since I don't have a car. Any soup kitchens or the like need volunteers on the holiday?

Justin Rude: I know there are tons I don't know about, but I have a friend who helps serves food at S.O.M.E. (So Others May Eat) every Thanksgiving.

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Thanksgiving in DC?: We're two adults and two kids (6 and 3) with NO plans for the Thanksgiving weekend (for dinner or otherwise) & and we're paralyzed by indecision. We'd love to do a couple of fun/festive/meaningful things around town. Something to make it feel Thanksgiving-ish and not just like another weekend at home. Any ideas?

Stephanie Merry: begin? For starters, I'd be sure to hit up the seasonal display at the Botanic Garden -- model trains weaving their way through DC landmarks made of plants. It's totally adorable, and kids love it. The American Art Museum is opening its Norman Rockwell exhibition early, at 10 am, Friday-Sunday. The Building Museum is always popular with the little ones, and they have a Lego exhibit right now that's pretty sweet. In the theater realm, you've got Junie B. at Imagination Stage and Annie at Olney.

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Cold-weather French food: Hi All,I'm in anti-hibernation mode right now. As the months cool down, I'm thinking of things that will appeal enough to get me out and about, even on the coldest days/nights. In this line of thinking, I always seem to crave the 3C's of French Bistro food--cozy, comfortable, classic. With that in mind--what do you think of putting Bistro Cacao on my winter to-do list?Thanks

Fritz Hahn: Good idea. I'd also put the French onion soup at Bistro La Bonne and the to-die-for cassoulet at Bistrot du Coin on your list.

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High Point: If you go to the high point, walk the NEW Tenleytown Heritage Trail afterwards!

Amy Orndorff: Great idea! Cultural Tourism DC's walking tours are a great way to learn about the city. I am partial to the U Street tour, which comes with audio.

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DC: Hi GoGs - I'm a timid organizer, but wanted to plan HH mid-next week to bring together some disparate friend groups. Can you recommend a bar, ideally downtown/Chinatown, that could accommodate 10 people, is lively enough that it doesn't feel dead, but not so loud that we can't talk? Seats would be great, as would the option to order snacks for those who want them. Oya's bar would be perfect...but I'm not sure if it we could still snag spots if we get there at 5:30/6. What do you think?

Fritz Hahn: If you're doing mid-week at 5:30, I think you could do Oya without too many problems. Same with the Passenger, where the off-the-beaten-path location usually means crowds don't build until 6:30 or later. I'd suggest Bar Louie, too, for the happy hour and acres of space.

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Army/ND game: Unless the questioner specifically wanted to watch the Army-ND game with other Army fans, almost any bar with a lot of TVs will have the game. Even though the game is at Yankee stadium, it is considered an ND home game and will be shown on NBC.

Fritz Hahn: From the Air Force mention, I got the impression that they were asking specifically about watching with other Army fans, even though Notre Dame games get shown everywhere.

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Post-Birthday Dancing in Dupont: Group going to dinner around 18th & U and want to do some dancing afterwards in area. Any suggestions. Group diverse, early to mid 30's. Possibly low-key dancing or place that offers a "dancefloor" but open. Thanks.

Fritz Hahn: Depends on the kind of music you want. Jin (14th and U) is a cool spot for R&B and hip-hop, and less hectic than some other U Street spots. Cafe Saint-Ex and Marvin play more of a mix -- everything from old-school soul and funk to old-school hip-hop and '80s, depending on which Friday night you're there, and they have people-watching galore. U Street Music Hall is the spot for popular electronic/house DJs, but there aren't many seats or much else to do besides dance. Patty Boom Boom is the spot for reggae. You'll find people dancing at Local 16 and Chi-Cha , too, although not as many.

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Wedding Reception After Party?: Hey Gurus! I'm a bridesmaid for a wedding that will be held downtown on a Saturday in December. There will be about 20 folks in town, average age about 30, who want to go out and get some drinks and maybe keep dancing after the (dry) reception. Here's the catch, the wedding will be early in the day and the reception will be over by 6pm. The reception is in Lanham, MD, but most folks are staying in a hotel downtown, so we're flexible. Any suggestions you can give would be great. I think the group would be interested in some old school hip hop, but most important will be the option to talk and/or dance. Thanks!

Fritz Hahn: the Park at 14th would be standbys. The new Bar Code is mixing up hip-hop and electronic music on weekends, though their schedule is still in flux, so no telling what will be there in December.For something with a bigger dance floor, there's Ultrabar, which has a central downtown location.

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Fritz Hahn: Okay, and that's it for us. Thanks for coming by.Check tomorrow's Weekend Section (and this afternoon's GOG email newsletter) for a big story that Lavanya and I wrote about our favorite up-and-coming D.C. bartenders, complete with recipes you can make at home.Oh, and because Thanksgiving is next Thursday, we'll be chatting at 1 p.m. next TUESDAY to take all your last-minute questions about food, fashion and ways to escape the in-laws. See you then.


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