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The Going Out Gurus
Thursday, December 9, 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: questions this week. We also have a couple stocking stuffers to give away to help you get through to Jan. 1. For the ladies we have Essie's "Snow Princess" French manicure kit, and for the gents, Skincando's Combat-Ready body soap. All you have to do is tell us how you plan on staying warm this weekend. Our favorite two get the prizes.

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New Year's Eve 2011: Hi gurus. My friends are counting on me this year to plan our new year's eve plans this year in DC. I am looking for bars with an open bar which are fun but won't be overwhelmingly crowded. Please help-D

Fritz Hahn: First, the timely announcement: Tomorrow's Weekend Section cover story is all about New Year's Eve, from free events to places to take the kids to under 21 options to holiday fashion advice. (A hybrid option: Science Club's free NYE party, with an optional open bar from 10 to 1 for $25.)Curious to hear from chatters about their feelings on open bar New Year's parties.

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Counting on Frostbite: Heading into DC for the tree lighting tonight - any place great between there and the Farragut metros to grab a couple of cocktails afterwards to miss the metro crush?

Fritz Hahn: The best post-White House Xmas Tree cocktail spot is Off the Record, in the basement of the Hay-Adams Hotel. (It's just across Lafayette Square from the White House.) Cozy atmosphere, wonderfully old-school and competely hidden.Option B, which takes you toward Metro Center or McPherson, is the festively decorated Willard Hotel and its Round Robin Bar, where the holiday cocktail menu has tasty hot (alcoholic) cider and other seasonal warmers.

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Seasonal Cocktails?: I'm planning a happy hour for Monday for five to six friends. What places are featuring awesome seasonal drinks right now? A fun martini or some spiked cider would be awesome-- orange/red lines preferred.

Fritz Hahn: The hot toddies at Room 11 are high on my list, as are the toddies, cider and house-made eggnog at Poste.

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Girls Christmas dinner?: Hi Gurus! My five girlfriends and I have a tradition of going out to dinner every holiday season. In the past we've gone to Tabaq, but I was wondering if you could recommend something else that had a similar mood, but a better price point? Thanks so much!

Justin Rude: Agora will be open on Christmas and will be offering its regular menu, so you won't be railroaded into any prix fixe "deals."

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Brickskeller : Hey GoGs, I heard that the Brickskeller might close (by the end of the month!)? Do you know if that is true? What about its sister bar RFD? Thanks for all that you do.

Fritz Hahn: (I say most likely because the staff told me that the sale won't be completed until Dec. 23, so it could theoretically stay open until then.)R.F.D. will stay open, and I think it has been improving in recent months. The current scuttlebutt is that the Brick's owners, who are not including the Brickskeller name in the sale, are taking the name to Chinatown. We shall see.

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weekend fun?: Hey Gurus, I'm hoping you can help me out. After completing all of my holiday shopping, I'm pretty broke for the rest of the month. I have zero going on this weekend, and I'm looking for something fun to do Saturday and/or Sunday afternoons in DC. I enjoy art, music, crafts, people-watching...even being outdoors in December as long as the sun is out. Any suggestions for things to do that are cheap and Metro accessible?? Thank you!

Lavanya Ramanathan: Well, there's definitely art to see this weekend, plus a couple of great art/sale things that don't require you to buy a thing. For a great exhibit/party, I'd totally head to Artisphere, where the show "Party Crashers" opens -- great artists, and Saturday night, there will be shuttles to Arlington Arts Center for the other half of the show. You could also make a stop at the Downtown Holiday Market just to window shop, or the Corcoran's student art sale or the Cheap Art Sale, all of which look promising, and festive. Details on those here. This weekend could also be a great time to people-watch/tourist-watch at the Ellipse, where the tree will finally be lighted and open for the holidays.

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Restaurant Eve - conflicting dress code info?: I'm so lucky - a friend is taking me to dinner at Restaurant Eve's tasting room. I've never been there before, though, and I have no idea what to wear. OpenTable says that jackets are required, but other reviews say business casual. (Jackets/no jackets isn't exactly relevant for me - I'm female - but it would give me an idea of the atmosphere!) What do you think would be appropriate?Thanks!

Fritz Hahn: It's a classy place with a relaxed atmosphere. On the couple of times I've been, it has been business attire with some business casual. I've always worn a tie, and it seems like most men are the same way.

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Holiday Buffet: Do you know of any restaurants/hotels that offer holiday buffets? I know the Mayflower used to have one, but it appears that they discontinued it. Thanks.

Justin Rude: There are a few out there. Blue Duck Tavern has a holiday brunch buffet, but it will run you $90 per person. More economical options include Cure Bar and Bistro and the restaurant at the Omni Shoreham hotel. Those will run you $45 and $60 per person, respectively.

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Dance : I keep hearing about these 90s dance parties around town but always seem to miss the boat. I think there's one this week - the Peach Pit party. I am finding conflicting info. Is it tonight or tomorrow? And how can I stay in the loop about finding out when these are? Thanks!

Fritz Hahn: No need for conflicting info. Peach Pit, which was one of our top picks in the Nightlife Agenda, is tonight, and should be a blast. Even if you hate the Spice Girls.

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Staying warm while decorating: This weekend we're staying in to decorate the tree and the house and wrap a few gifts. I plan on staying warm by having a glass of merlot while cranking up the holiday tunes and dancing around with my 2 year old. Her favorite song at the moment is Bustin' Loose, so we'll have to throw some non-holiday tunes into the mix as well. Do you know of any fun, non-traditional holiday albums I could get to keep this music loving toddler happy? She loves to dance, so nothing mellow.

Amy Orndorff: That sounds like a lovely way to spend the weekend!Chuck Brown actually has a Christmas album that your tot might like.And as far as music for the younger set, I don't think you can go wrong with Buckwheat Zydeco, who just put out his second kids' album. It isn't Christmas music, but it will definitely make her want to dance.

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36 hour DC date: Hey there! My long-distance boyfriend and I are meeting up in DC for a 36 hour rendevous this weekend. We've got a room at the W, courtesy of a charity auction, and Saturday and about half of Sunday to spend together. We're going to try to skate at the sculpture garden - any must-see exhibits open right now that we could check out beforehand? And any nearby, mid-price restaurant recommendations for after? Lastly, any bar recommendations by our hotel? If it was summer, we'd check out the rooftop bar, but I'm not sure that'll be worth it in this weather. Any spots for a warm winter cocktail nearby? If you can answer ANY of these questions....it'd be much appreciated! Thank you! (I tried to include a lot of detail because I'll be in the hospital working during the chat, so I can't respond to any clarification questions...)

Alex Baldinger: Well, a room at the W is certainly a great way to kick off the weekend. Before skating at the Sculpture Garden -- and I'd wait until the sun goes down. It's pretty magical and serene at night -- I'd take in the Norman Rockwell exhibit just up Seventh Street at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Whether you're a student of portraiture or not, it's geared toward a general audience and some of the works included have an iconic feel, even if you've never seen them before. From there, I'd recommend dinner in the neighborhood at Cafe Atlantico or Matchbox if you're looking for something a bit more low-key. And don't overlook the W's P.O.V. bar -- in previous winters they've been known to provide fleece blankets up on the roof, which, I hate to say it, is pretty darned romantic when coupled with some of the bar's warming cocktails.

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€™re thicker. I've found lots of black or colorful footless tights to wear, but cannot find any sort that are the same shade as more sheer "nude" or "tan" nylons, which look classier and match more. Does what I'm looking for exist?

Holly Thomas: American Apparel's footless hose in Sand Dollar are the best nude-ish option I can find. If you want to try regular tights made specifically for your frame, though, Bare Necessities offers a lot of tall sizes, which might be helpful. In my search, I also came across these and these from Hue ... not exactly what you're looking for, but still pretty cute.

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New Years Eve 2010: Are you going to put out a list of 2010 New Years Eve Events like you di for 2009? That list was very helpful especially the DC Bars with special Open Bar Events.Thanks.Thanks,

Alex Baldinger: Sure -- how about in tomorrow's Weekend section?

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Rosslyn: Have you guys had the chance to check out the Arlington Rooftop Bar and Grill yet? Hoping to check it out for a birthday dinner this weekend and was wondering what the atmosphere was like.

Fritz Hahn: I've been -- I think my writeup is running on our blog tomorrow. First, the major news: There's no rooftop yet, and won't be until March. That leaves a large room with soaring ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows offering views of Wilson Blvd., walls covered in dozens of flatscreen TVs, and large leather booths for groups. I like the long wooden bar. The draft beer menu is really blah for the neighborhood, especially with Galaxy Hut and Fireworks so close, but the burgers are killer.

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AU Bar: I am hosting an event at American University and I am looking for a nearby bar to host an after party. I don't need reserve a separate room or space, but ideally the bar could handle 50 or so people. Nothing too divey, but would appeal to young and middle aged professionals. Any ideas?

Alex Baldinger: I'd recommend Guapo's for this kind of a thing. Young and middle-aged professionals always love margaritas.

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hotels that wow you with Christmas: Hey there...I am looking for your recommendation for the nicest hotel with the most Christmas-y decor as a place to meet with friends for drinks and munchies. I mean, I know the nicest hotels, but in your opinion, which ones go the extra mile to make the ambiance the most Christmas-y?

Lavanya Ramanathan: erupt in lighted water shows several times a day, Santa will serve brunch, it will snow indoors. It's a spectacle.

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Cube City, Arlington Va.: Hey GoGs, going to the Cirque show tomorrow at the Kennedy Center... what's available nearby for a pre-show drink? Gracias

Fritz Hahn: There's nothing immediately nearby. If you're taking the Metro, I would grab a cocktail or glass of wine at the tiny-but-cozy bar at Notti Bianche or a happy hour beer at the way-more-casual Tonic at Quigley's Pharmacy. Both are within a few blocks of Foggy Bottom, so you can get your pre-show drink and hop the shuttle to the Kennedy Center without having to walk through biting cold.

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Birthday Dinner!: I'm in my early 20's and am trying to pick somewhere for a birthday dinner! Small group (2-4 people), and would like it to be a special place, but have entrees under $30 and good and varied dessert options. I was looking at Rasika and Proof, any other ideas in D.C.?

Justin Rude: Those are great choices. Might I also suggest 701, Birch and Barley and Estadio, all of which have handsome dining rooms and nice prices for how good the food is.

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Re: Curious to hear from chatters about their feelings on open bar New Year's parties.: The only open bar party I ever went to honestly was not that fun. It seemed like everyone who was there had organized a large group to attend, and the groups stuck to their own. The best time I've ever had on New Year's was when I went bar hopping around Dupont Circle with a small group of friends. Somewhere along the way picked up a fake microphone made out of a big ball of tin foil on a stick and it ended up being a conversation starter. Everywhere we went someone wanted to borrow the microphone to pretend they were on stage singing along with whatever song was on. It got passed around quite a bit, one person would start singing and someone else would grab it away. Groups crowded around it to sing together. It always ended up back with us and we'd take it to the next bar.

Fritz Hahn: This is an awesome story.I always find that people who paid $80-$100 for an open bar are the most stressed about waiting for drinks at the bar. It's the "I PAID FOR THESE DRINKS IN ADVANCE AND I DEMAND THEM NOW" mentality. Folks who are just out and haven't spent the big bucks seem to be more willing to have a good time.

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Holiday Party Tomorrow night: Hi Gurus, this question is for Holly. I am wearing a green and purple flowered dress with a silver background and graphite pumps that look as if they have glitter all over. What color of hose can I wear or should i wear tights? I would not normally wear hose, but since it is cold I figured it better to wear them. Thanks for all your help.

Holly Thomas: Since your dress and shoes are both pretty eye-catching, I'd keep it simple and go with black hose or opaque tights, depending on your preference. The other option is to try tights in a dark gray that closely matches your pumps -- if that entails shopping on your lunch break, try Filene's Basement or Loehmann's. Enjoy the party!

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Churchkey's Luther: Hey GOGs! Does Churchkey still sell the Luther? I think it was a burger with doughnuts for buns, something like that. I never got to try one... kinda wanted to...

Justin Rude: Their take on the Luther was a fried chicken breast and thick-cut bacon in a brioche doughnut with maple-chicken jous glaze. It is awesome. And as far as I understand it is served on Sundays during football games, so my guess is you have a couple more weeks to try it out.

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Staying Warm: This weekend we plan to build a big fire in our fireplace and have an indoor camp-out with our two young kids. We are trying to prepare them for an actual camping trip so we'll have all the fun stuff- hot chocolate with marshmallows, smores, etc. At bedtime, we'll all get into our foootie pajamas (yes, they sell them for adults too) and crawl into our cozy tent.

Holly Thomas: This sounds like my idea of heaven. I bet your kids will love it!

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Champagne Bridal Shower: Where would you suggest for a 30-40 person champagne bridal shower in the district in May. Would be a Saturday afternoon, totally flexilble really just don't want to bust the bank and would rather not be stuck in a 4 walled hotel conference room. thanks sooo much! --Bubbly Bride.

Lavanya Ramanathan: pretty, airy room and, sometimes, a harpist. That's if you want to go classy. I think you should also consider giving Napoleon a call and seeing if you can't rent out the champagne bar downstairs for an afternoon. One, it's already girly-pretty, and two, it's already stocked with champagne. I think it would be a super-fun place for a different sort of bridal shower.

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Ideas for a 30th Birthday Party: Hi Gurus,I'd like to gather 40 of my closest friends at a bar near a metro stop, treat everyone to appetizers and dessert, but leave drinks to a cash bar. Most places in DC seem to be crazy expensive with minimums of $2500. Do you have any ideas for a fun place to gather friends in the city that is not too expensive and classy enough for a 30-something crowd?

Fritz Hahn: Here's a guide I recently wrote for booking holiday events. I'd start by pointing you in the direction of Iron Horse Tap Room and Science Club.

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toddler-friendly Nutcracker?: I missed the boat on the shortened Nutcracker performances by the Reston Conservatory of Ballet. Does anyone know of other shortened performances geared toward very young audiences? Had really hoped to take my two-year-old this year. Thanks!

Amy Orndorff: Aw, I am sorry that tickets are sold out for the shortened Nutcracker, but fear not, there are other options: The Ballet Arts Ensemble of Fairfax has "Nutcracker in a Nutshell" on Dec. 18 and 19 and the Puppet Co. Playhouse at Glen Echo has a "Nutcracker Fantasy" for kids age 4 and younger on Saturday.

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DC: Whats the word on Redline Gastrolounge?

Fritz Hahn: Oh god, I hadn't heard that "Gastrolounge" was part of the name. That just kind of made me shudder.It's an upscale sports bar with tons of flatscreen TVs and a 10-foot projection screen, tickers scrolling the latest scores and odds, a meh beer/cocktail list and the best buffalo wings in Penn Quarter.

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beyond warm!: After spending Saturday cavorting in costume with the Santarchy/SantaCon crew, I will wake up at crack-o-before-dawn to run the holiday 10k in West Potomac Park. My darling roommate who is not running with me (the other one is running too) will fire up the stove and oven and coffee pot so that we can host a post-race brunch with our nearest and dearest. Irreverence, fun, food, friends: perfect chaser-away of cold!

Amy Orndorff: I like it! Good luck at the race.

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Weekend plans: Heading down to Staunton to watch A Christmas Carol at the Shakespeare theatre. The theatre, a replica of the Shakespear's original Globe, is awesome and they sell glasses of VA wine right on the stage before the show! Good times.

Fritz Hahn: I have been down that way a few times, and I love the Blackfriars Playhouse -- even if they make you rent the seat cushions. And I imagine Staunton is lovely at Christmas.

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Gastrolounge: Kinda sounds like a place you'd go for cheap stomach surgery.

Fritz Hahn: Exactly!Or it just reeks of pretention.

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Winter Coat: A fashion question. I've had the same black wool winter coat for almost 15 years. I love the cut and have gotten many compliments on it over the years. However, it's looking its age. The lining is shredded, the buttonholes are tearing, and the cuffs are fraying. I've been looking for a new coat, but haven't found anything I really like. (I bought this one in Chicago.) Can my coat be saved or should I just grit my teeth and get a new one?

Holly Thomas: After 15 years, you've gotten more than your money's worth out of that coat. Without knowing the cut you prefer (or whether you're male or female, for that matter), I can't be as helpful as I'd like, but here are a few resources you might want to check out: Overstock.com, Land's End, Max Mara (if you're a lady with a big budget, the coats are out-of-this-world beautiful), Kohl's and Zappos.com. Since you've worn the same coat for more than a decade, treat yourself to something nice -- look for wool/cashmere blends, a soft lining, and a new color to perk you up. Crimson, dove gray, ivory, charcoal or a buttery camel are timeless but will bring you into 2011 in style.

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Solo Outings: Hope this is not too much of a downer question around the holidays, but I am in the process of separating/divorcing and am looking for things to do that would not be weird to attend solo. Not talking about "singles" events -- really don't care about meeting singles right now -- but rather activities to get me out of the house and enjoying all that DC and/or NOVA has to offer. And the less emphasis on Christmas the better! Thanks!

Amy Orndorff: My favorite thing to do solo is visit museums. You can linger as long as you'd like and most museums aren't heavy on the Christmas decorations.

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There is nothing esoteric about a hot dog: I assume that your have all reviewed the NY Times article portraying DC as a junk food haven. Thoughts?

Alex Baldinger: Well, to be fair, the article did give a nod to the proliferation of higher-end establishments in town, as well as the fact that some NY institutions (Shake Shack!) are making their way down here, which must mean we're cool now, in addition to being out of shape -- right?In general though, my response.

Lavanya Ramanathan: Last year, it told us we were all sitting around eating soul food, which of course, somehow connected to the Obamas. This year, it's burgers, again connected to the Obamas. Ugh.

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SImilar to 18th Street Lounge?: HI Gurus!A Friend is coming back to town for the weekend and wanted to organize some drinks with friends. She's looking for a place "like" Eighteenth Street Lounge, but " without having to worry about whether there might be a cover, or what kind of shoes people are wearing, etc. In case people want to stop by on their way to/from other places." Any ideas? I'll be honest, I'm more likely to do long leisurely dinners with lots of wine or a dive bar than go to lounges, so I need some help!Thanks!

Fritz Hahn: How about Marvin, Local 16, Science Club, or even Dodge City? One of those should do the trick, I think, without the ESL door pressure, and they're all in areas that allow for more barhopping when you're done.

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Jukes: Easy question: Where are the top 5 best non-internet jukeboxes in DC? I'll accept your answers in random order. I'm looking for an eclectic juke, not like, a juke that specializes in metal or rockabilly. Although an all New Jack Swing juke would rub me the right way. I doubt that exists. In heaven maybe. The real heaven I mean, not that bar. Does that still exist? Sorry, I've said too much.

Fritz Hahn: Pharmacy BarBedrock BilliardsBen's Chili Bowl (plenty of soul and NJS)Quarry House TavernThe Fox and Hounds

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the Rents: Gurus - do you have a weekly feature that contains ideas on what to do when the parents are in town? What's it called?

Lavanya Ramanathan: date you're having guests, and we'll try to hook you up with ideas.

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Post-tree-lighting drinkers: Why, oh why did you mention the Round Robin bar? That's where I was heading. Now I won't be able to get a seat at the bar. You can't see my tears, but trust me, they're there.

Fritz Hahn: Because the place is seriously awesome at Christmas, especially if you carry your drink out into the lobby.

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fashion -- White House xmas party????: Holly, I'm lucky enough to be a date at a WH xmas party next week. What should I wear?!? suit or dress? if dress, strapless a no go? help!

Holly Thomas: Ooh, fun! Definitely a dress -- do you know the specific dress code yet? If it's cocktail attire (or anything more formal), I'd say you can get away with a strapless dress and rock the bare shoulders all night. But odds are, it's probably not that formal, so you might want to opt for a bit more coverage. A strapless dress with a bolero, velvet blazer or cashmere cardigan could work, or try a basic sheath with some really fabulous jewelry. Something like this Club Monaco number is easy to accessorize (plus you can get iterations of it anywhere from Target to H&M to Forever 21).

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Enjoy drinks at an indoor beach this weekend...: Since I cannot physically escape the cold, I will find a way around it--by finding a beachy-like place near home. I've always wanted to try Mango Mike's in Alexandria. I hear that it's like going to an exotic getaway without actually going away...tropical decor complete with tiki bar and palm trees. Since my family's from the Islands, this would be the closest escape for me...Can you give me your review?

Fritz Hahn: My favorite part of Mango Mike's is the outdoor patio, where there are palm trees and adirondack chairs in the spring and summer. The thatched bar inside is kinda silly, but MAN do I love the rum drinks and the orange/grapefruit crushes. And the pina colada served in a coconut husk.Great, now I'm thirsty.

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Zoo Lights!: I'm taking some friends from out of town to see the Zoo Lights on Friday night. Any restaurant ideas for before? One of my friend's is a professional chef, but just got out of school, and the other is a teacher, so our budget isn't huge. I'd still love to impress them with a great restaurant in Adams Morgan/Dupont area. Any ethnic food would be welcome, too! On another note - can we bring *ahem* coffee drinks in mugs into the Zoo? Thanks!!

Justin Rude: I like New Heights, which happens to be quite near the Zoo. In Dupont I think you would enjoy Plume, Pesce and the Tabard Inn. For ethnic, the revamped Sushi Taro is a crowd pleaser... but it aint cheap.

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Re: Winter Coat: Thank you, Holly. I'm female, 41, plus-sized (sigh), don't have a huge budget, but I could probably spend a bit. I'm a blue-eyed blonde, so am thinking camel might be nice. My trusty black coat didn't have collar, which was nice as I really like scarves.

Holly Thomas: Definitely go with the camel -- it'll look amazing on you! As for the (sigh), there are some pretty sharp plus-size options to be had. This ivory car coat from Chadwick's would look lovely, and this utility coat is available in camel. Oh, and they're both under $100, which means you might even be able to pick up a few new scarves to go with. Just make sure the style you pick accentuates your waistline, either with stitching, darts or buttons -- stay away from anything too boxy.

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downtown: I'm planning an all day date with my husband for saturday and I'm trying to think of good places to include. The Plan involves touring the whitehouse (i think our tickets are for noon) then checking out the elipse, i want to stop somewhere cozy for hot cocoa/cider then trying to knock out most of our christmas shopping downtown and at the holiday market in chinatown, then getting a nice low key dinner somewhere around those areas. The only thing I'm not sure of is where to get the cocoa and the dinner, any suggestions? also are there any toy stores around there? there are a couple kids on our list and I can't think of anywhere to buy for them.

Lavanya Ramanathan: As long as you're in the Chinatown area for the holiday market, I'd try to make the cocoa stop at Co Co. Sala -- they have great, though slightly pricey cocoas (I still dream of the peanut butter one). And if you're feeling like you need a sugar spike to keep you going, you could always tack on one of their dessert tastings, too, haha. I wouldn't have dinner there, but there are lots of other options, including Zaytinya, Jaleo (which just got some updated love from Tom S.) and even places like TenPenh or Fogo de Chao. Just try to make a reservation so you're not waiting forever. As for kids toys' my guess is to duck into a museum gift shop -- the Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum HAS to have some sort of puzzles and toys perfect for little ones.

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staying warm?: I'm staying warm by baking 7 different kinds of cookies with a friend -- all of which will be fueled by a nice bottle of wine.

Justin Rude: Did you cheek out this week's Food section? Cookies galore.

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Staying Warm This Weekend: Since I have my company holiday party on Saturday and will be wearing a cocktail dress and strappy shoes to show off, I'll be staying warm with a cozy pashmina. Hint, hint: I could really use the manicure kit to go with the strappy shoes.

Holly Thomas: Thanks for sharing your plans!

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Capitol Christmas: Hi Gurus,Hope you can help! One of my friends mentioned wanting to go see the Capitol Christmas tree. I've never been; is it like the White House one with several things to check out, or is it just, well, one tree? Also, any suggestions of places to grab a drink near there afterwards? Thanks!

Fritz Hahn: The Capitol Christmas tree is definitely worth checking out, even though there's no accompanying display a la the National Christmas Tree. It's decorated with ornaments from the state that donated it (this year, Wyoming).I would pair a visit to see it with a trip to the neighboring Botanic Gardens -- Steph and I love the annual holiday display with D.C. landmarks made out of plants and a fantastic model train setup. (Bonus: The Botanic Garden is open until 8 on Tuesdays and Thursdays this month, complete with live entertainment. There's an acapella group performing tonight.)

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Holiday fashion: Hello! A fashion question: I have a few semi-dressy holiday parties coming up. I would love to be able to wear two skirts I have. One is below the knee, bronze satin, sort of A line. The other is just above the knee, black satin with gorgeous silver embroidery. But I haven't been able to find tops to work with either, and I have limited shopping time and no car. Could you suggest some specific tops that might work that I could find at downtown stores? I was thinking maybe a cream shell for the bronze skirt? I also have a great wine velvet fitted blazer, if that would work. Thanks!

Holly Thomas: Neutrals always work -- for the bronze, go with black, ivory or chocolate brown in a lightweight knit sweater or shell or silk blouse/top. For the black satin, go for contrast in the fabric -- a cashmere sweater in black, ivory or gray would look great. As for scooping up those pieces downtown, I'd try Ann Taylor, Loft, Banana Republic or Filene's Basement. Save the wine velvet blazer for a pair of simple black trousers, a black pencil skirt or nicely tailored dark jeans.

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Washington, DC: I tried to go to Momo's last night, but it was closed. Where are some other sports bars on U Street?

Fritz Hahn: Momo's has closed, along with Cafe Nema.There aren't really any good sports bars on U Street, unfortunately. There's Stetson's, but that's about it.

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Penn Quarter: I read the former Zaytinya chef is opening a place in Penn Quarter. Garrifto? Do you know exactly where it will be?Have any of you tried Merzi yet? A friend and I peeked in one night and were told they had sold out of food.

Alex Baldinger: Mike Isabella's new joint is going to be at 707 6th St. NW, across the street from the Verizon Center. We'll update as we know more.And I gave Merzi a shot last week and wasn't particularly impressed. I like my Indian cuisine swimming in curry, and the one ladle of tikka masala that I got on my chicken rice bowl was disappointing. The naan also let me down -- more like pita bread than the fluffy, doughy treat I've come to know. That said, it was the first week the place was open, so I'm more than willing to give it another shot.

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Post-tree-lighting drinkers, again: Totally didn't know I could leave the bar with my drink. The tears are gone now. Thanks!

Fritz Hahn: I don't know if it's official hotel policy, but I've done it and seen other people do it -- just grab a seat in the lobby and enjoy.

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Pre-Show Drink near Kennedy Center: The Circle Bistro bar.

Fritz Hahn: Another option.

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AU Bar: I am hosting an event at American University and I am looking for a nearby bar to host an after party. I don't need reserve a separate room or space, but ideally the bar could handle 50 or so people. Nothing too divey, but would appeal to young and middle aged professionals. It would be on a Friday soon after 5pm. Any ideas?

Fritz Hahn: Hmmm. 50 people would overhelm most bars in the Tenleytown area. Call Guapo's and see if they can give you the upstairs room, maybe? Or cross your fingers and go to Chef Geoff's.If it doesn't have to be right next to AU, I'd say head down Wisconsin to the Alliance Tavern, which has the space and isn't too packed after work.

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NYE @ Churchkey: Hey gurus, Does anyone know if the $150/head event at Churchkey on New Year's Eve will be worth it? I love good beer, but if it's crushingly crowded with people sucking down rum and cokes (which seems to be the case if we go at night), then I don't know if we'd have a good time. Thanks!

Alex Baldinger: It will be crowded, even if there's a fairly conservative cap on tickets, but $150 for six hours of open bar at ChurchKey --well, it's easy to run up that kind of a tab there in much, much less time.

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Meridian Pint on Sundays: When Meridian Pint opened in my hood, it was billed as a sports bar, but I've only been there on Friday or Saturday nights, and honestly it doesn't look like they cater to the Sunday afternoon crowd. Is there a better place nearby (or easily Metro accessible) where a non-Redskins fan can catch all the out-of-market games?

Fritz Hahn: I've spent a few Sundays in the downstairs bar at Meridian Pint. Have you been there, or just upstairs? The basement bar shows every game live on a dozen TVs spread throughout the whole space. There's pool and shuffleboard if you're waiting for your game to come on. The brunch menu goes until 3 or 4, and includes burgers and sandwiches as well as omelets.

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UGGs for Boys in the snow: Hi Holly! My partner and I have had UGGs for years and worn them around the house. We don't typically wear our girls clothes out of the house, so we were thinking of getting some of those new male versions they have out now, but were wondering how well they hold up wearing them around in the snow and slush. Thanks!

Holly Thomas: Hi! If you followed Fashion Fix, you know how I feel about UGGs ... they make feet look like loaves of bread, and I can't abide by that. If you want something that will hold up in slush and snow, spend your hard-earned money on something designed for slush and snow -- try Sorel, North Face, and Sperry, for starters. But if you simply must have your UGGs and wear them too, I'll try to understand ... so long as you're wearing these or these.

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Coat Sale!: JCrew is having a coat sale.

Holly Thomas: Thanks!

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For the champagne brunch: You can try Hillwood Estate, up in Cleveland Park/Van Ness.

Lavanya Ramanathan: Another suggestion for the bride-to-be.

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Big Shoes: This is a question for Holly... I've got big feet, so its hard enough trying to find shoes, but I also wear a size 10.5 and I can't seem to find this size anywhere! I have checked online and have found it there, but I like to try on shoes before I buy them. I'm at a loss for what to do. Any stores you know of that run bigger sizes? I'm a female and am looking for dressier heels/sandles, FWIW. Thanks so much for your help!

Holly Thomas: For in-person shopping, you might try the Simply Soles locations -- there's one in Georgetown and one in National Harbor. For discounts, DSW is another option, as is Loehmann's. I understand wanting to try things on in person, but since you're looking for something specific, it might be best to take the path of least frustration. Browse the options at Zappos, Endless and Barefoot Tess (a site devoted to bigger sizes), familiarize yourself with the return policies, and order a few different options until you find what you like.

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Smithsonian to start charging admission?: A friend told me Smithsonian will start charging $7.50 admission in January, is this true???

Alex Baldinger: The Smithsonian has never charged admission since it was established in 1846. The imposition of admission fees is something that comes up every few years and seems to fizzle out. Not sure if this time around will be any different, but you can be sure that if it was going to happen , it would be big BIG news and you would know about it long before the fees went into effect.

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Dirty Martini: Hey GOG's,Any word about how Dirty Martini is (in Dupont on Connecticut)? I can't get myself to go in, though intrigued a little, because I'm not sure what to make of it. Nothing bad on their part...but aren't Dirty Martinis passe? It seems to be a bit swanky but if one is putting the premise of an establishment on a passe drink, is it wise to be so current, so trendy with an out-of-fashion drink? Also, is it drink-heavy focused? Meaning that the food is horrible? I like to eat well while I drink.Thanks for any info.

Fritz Hahn: I haven't had a chance to go -- was supposed to meet people there last week, but couldn't make it at the last minute. From what I hear, the focus is more on cocktails than food.

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so it's not like it's stealing, but...: ...can you wise gurus think of a part of DC where I could go to, you know, *borrow* a bunch of magnolia leaves from a tree to make a wreath? Because this poor apartment-dweller has no trees. And no magnolias nearby. Could I do this at the Arboreteum, or would they be mad at me? Thanks, you rock!

Justin Rude: Oh my goodness, I spent 3 years cleaning up after the magnolia trees at Mount Vernon as an assistant groundskeeper in high school. I'm no expert on estate policy anymore (its been a while), but if I had seen you bagging a few of those leaves I certainly wouldn't have tattled. Less to rake.

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Movie question: Has any of the gurus seen "Black Swan"? Reviews are all over the place. Thanks!

Stephanie Merry: I did on Monday and the theater was PACKED. As my movie companion said as the credits started to roll, "well that was a mind[expletive]." I have to agree (though maybe not in those words) -- it was crazy, and there were a couple moments that were sickeningly gruesome, but I found the whole thing pretty compelling.

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Question for Holly: Hi. My down filled parka leaks feathers. Anything I can do?

Holly Thomas: Molting ... it stinks, and there's not much you can do about it, unfortunately. Among the offerings, a water-resistant or waterproof down coat/jacket is less likely to shed feathers, due to an outer fabric that is either coated or really tightly-woven. Basic puffy coats (designed for fashion, not performance) use an outer fabric with an open weave, which makes it lighter but allows feather to poke through easily. Coating it with something like Scotchguard might help, but that's just a guess.

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RE SHOES IN LARGE SIZES: Nordstrom (at least the one in Pentagon City) has a table in the shoe section with only bigger sizes. And they can probably order whatever else you'd like to try on.

Holly Thomas: Thanks for the tip -- Nordstrom Rack locations might have some good options, too.

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For Women's 10.5s: Nordstroms and Nordstroms Rack are the way to go.

Holly Thomas: Another vote for Nordstrom's -- thanks!

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Smithsonian: The $7.50 admission was a suggestion made by the deficit commission; since the commission's report was voted down the $7.50 admission suggestion went down with it.

Alex Baldinger: Thanks for the intel.

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re: Dirty Martini: I went last Saturday night for dinner. The food was good but the cocktails were spectacular. It was definitely a hip vibe with people being super dressed up (fur coats, skin-tight short dreses, 5" heels). I didn't feel weird eating there at a table wearing normal-ish clothes though.

Fritz Hahn: I heard it was the place to go before heading to Midtown or Public or Fly, and what you're saying jibes with that. Thanks.

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Activities: Hi Gurus -- As a recently single (again!) 30-something, I'm looking for places other than my usual haunts to meet people. I'm thinking something that allows a bit more interaction (game night, activity of some sort) without the forced weirdness of singles events. Any suggestions? Metro accessible is great. Thanks!

Lavanya Ramanathan: Just go to Meetup.com to find some.

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Reading in Bars: Hi! I'm going to be in town for about a month and I don't really know anyone. I like to bring a book or a magazine to a bar and read while I drink. I usually meet people that way. Can you think of few good bars for that in DC? Extra bonus points if I'm likely to meet a smart, funny girl with short hair and chunky glasses and an MFA in, let's say fiction or visual arts.

Fritz Hahn: Here's my list of the best bars for flying solo. I should probably add the Passenger to this list, especially early on in the night.

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Classic Hip Hop: I've been to Monday nights at Marvin and DJ Dredd's monthly at the Black Cat and they are both so much fun. Are there any other classic hip hop nights in town?

Lavanya Ramanathan: Kids at DC9 was good music, but I hated being the only person in the crowd who remembers the early 90s. (In the event that the party moves somewhere else...)

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20009: This one's for all the GOGs: With the Brickskellar's closing imminent, what are some of your favorite memories of the place. Feel free to include stories of terrible service, lack of beers available, and anything else.

Lavanya Ramanathan: Oh, and I think it smelled weird. And that was my favorite memory.

Fritz Hahn: My favorite memories involve beer dinners led by the Beer Hunter Michael Jackson, who broadened my palette for Belgian beers in a sly and witty fashion. There were great nights -- hosted by Bob Tupper -- with Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn, Tomme Arthur of Lost Abbey and Pizza Port, Sam Caligione of Dogfish ... I could go on.Back in the early-mid 2000s, before ChurchKey/Rustico/Paradiso/Granville Moore's, it was the only place to find so many great beers that I went there many, many times. (A friend who's a graphic designer even dragged me to a beer dinner with Rogue, Flying Fish and Victory that was ostensibly about designing logos for beer labels.)Oh, and there was the time that I went with six friends for a story. We ordered 20 beers between us. They had 12 of our first choices, and were out of four of our eight second choices.

Alex Baldinger: m pretty sure they had it.

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The Going Out Gurus: That does it for us, folks. Our winners are camping indoors and 10K racer! Please email us at events@washingtonpost.com to claim your prize. We'll see you back here next week.In the meantime, don't forget that you can follow us on Twitter @goingoutguide or on facebook.com/goingoutguide. Later.


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