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The Going Out Gurus
Thursday, January 6, 2011; 1:00 PM

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

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Fritz Hahn: Hi Everyone. Hope you had a very happy new year and that you haven't broken any resolutions yet. We're resolving to get out even more this year, and hope you'll do the same. We've got all the Gurus (bar Justin), and Holly's back to take your fashion questions.Let's get started.

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spray tanning: Do you know what the best place is to get a spray tan in the DC area?

Stephanie Merry: I can't vouch for it myself, but I had a roommate go to Fit to Be Tan in Arlington, and they did a great job. She's also a redhead, so I think that's especially tricky, but it really did look natural.

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Cocktails: I have ordered a Sidecar at two different restaurants recently and both times they were served in a martini glass with the rim dipped in sugar. Is this part of the "martinification" of cocktails? Or is it because I am middle aged woman? While I don't frequently order cocktails, I seem to recall getting this one served in a old fashion glass in the past.

Fritz Hahn: It is part of the "martinification" of cocktails, though I know places that have been serving them that way since the early 2000s. (I think my first Sidecar was served up with a sugar rim, and that was years ago.) The main difference is whether the drink is being served on the rocks, in which case it would go in the old fashioned glass, or up, which would call for the usual cocktail/martini glass.I don't have my library of vintage 30s and 40s cocktail books here at work to see what they call for, but I just checked my reference copy of Dale DeGroff's "The Craft of the Cocktail" and he indicates that it can be served either way.

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Axxiom Nails? : Do you know of any salons in the district that are doing the OPI axxium - which is the long term gel lacquer? Thanks!!

Lavanya Ramanathan: salons doing Shellac, including Patsy's Nail Bar. Find them here.

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Eating in Rockville: Hi GOGS - I realize this is probably a question for Tom, but I wasn't able to submit a question yesterday. My wife and I are thinking of buying a house in Rockville and after doing some house hunting this weekend we are hoping to eat dinner there to get a feel of what is around. We are good with all types of food and especially like Italian and seafood. Doesn't have to be crazy upscale, but just a few options for good eating in what may be our new hood. Thanks!

Amy Orndorff: Welcome to Rockville! I am pretty sure that you can find anything along the Pike. Honestly, whatever cuisine you crave is there. I highly suggest Addies or Mosaic for nice, relaxed atmosphere.

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Shirlington: Have you heard anything about Samuel Beckett's Irish Gastro Pub that is supposed to open in Shirlington this weekend? I always like the idea of Irish pub's, but find they are pretty much all just like RiRa and Fado. Is this place going to be any better? Also, any idea on price ranges for food or if they'll have any beer other than the norms? I checked their website, but it is unnecessarily bare. Thanks.

Fritz Hahn: I don't know much about Samuel Beckett's, though I've been following its progress via the pub's Facebook page -- which still says it's set to open in October 2010.I'm looking forward to checking it out this weekend, though. Those two fireplaces they're promising should come in hand.I'm hoping it's more along the lines of the un-Fado-like P. Brennan's on Columbia Pike, which I rather liked last year.

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Good day trip for a younger man: I've got a houseguest coming in tonight, and I'm looking for ways to amuse him this weekend. He's 25, has been to DC before, and has hit the obvious tourist sites. Any great ideas? Thanks.

Stephanie Merry: Check our our weekend best bets list for about 20 ideas that might amuse him. As you can see, Elvis's Birthday Fight Club looks especially entertaining.

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Rim jobs on cocktails: It is amazing how many drinks now come with sugar around the rims for decorations - I always just ask for my drink in an old-fashioned glass when I want a "real" cocktail. Most bars will be accomodating.

Fritz Hahn: What about drinks in an old fashioned glass makes a cocktail more "real" than a drink in a "martini" glass? Honestly, I have a large collection of pre-World War II cocktail manuals, and many of them call for drinks to be served up in a stemmed glass.

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Dance Party : My birthday party is on Friday. After a suitable amount of libations during HH, I plan to relocate my sizeable group to a bar for a top 40s dance party. I'm looking for a place where the DJ will not think twice about playing Beyonce 15 times, because that is probably what I'll be requesting (or judge me for doing so). Would also like some place a bit out of the box that won't be insanely crowded, since there will be a lot of us. Thoughts?

Fritz Hahn: Chief Ike's Mambo Room will have plenty of room to dance and plenty of popular songs to dance to (with a heavy dose of '90s hip-hop, or did last time I stuck my head in the door).I also think this is exactly the kind of party that the Clarendon Ballroom was invented for. DJ Lil Fos spinning all kinds of songs you can sing along with, a huge bar, plenty of room for groups, and you're surrounded by happy hour options -- Lyon Hall, Whitlow's, Clarendon Grill, Eventide (if you want something fancier).

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20001: Two questions for Holly, I got this shirt for christmas, and I don't know what to where it with, I'm a size 12 for pants which i feel is too big to pair it with skinny jeans/leggings. i didn't get a gift recipt and didn't want to return it for half off, but i can if i can't wear it. also, on the old chat you or someone posted a method of getting the smoke smell out of purses and i couldn't find it by searching. do you happen to remember it or know where i could find it. Thanks

Holly Thomas: Cute top! It's basic but not boring, and I think you can do a lot with it. I think you should try it with some straight-leg or slightly flared (not skinny) jeans , a sharp blazer and heels first. Then try tucking it into a pencil skirt and topping it with a cardigan; you could even layer it over a white blouse and make it work as a vest. As for the smoke smell, fill a plastic sandwich bag with baking soda (some people recommend dry coffee grounds in a tied-off sock); put it inside the purse (careful not to tip it over) and let it sit for a few days. You might also try cleaning the leather with Murphy's Oil Soap, too.

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According to Wiki-knows-it-all: The earliest mention of sugaring the rim on a Sidecar glass is 1934.

Fritz Hahn: That sounds about right. Thanks for your research.

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Consignment ski/snowboarding clothing: My question today for the gurus: I am planning to do some snow tubing and/or cross country skiing next weekend and I do not have the appropriate clothing...Are there any consignment shops in the area that specialize in ski & snow boarding apparrel? PS I live in Montgomery County. Thanks

Holly Thomas: The gurus might have additional tips for you, but I always see tons of snow/ski gear at area thrift stores. If you're not picky about matching and just want something to get you through a trip here and there, I'd hit up the Unique Thrift or Value Village store closest to you. Craigslist is another option.

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Dupont Circle, DC: Happy Hour ideas for tomorrow on U St? Seems like there are a bunch of new places there I haven't heard of before. Also, most cocktails can be served either up or on the rocks. If you have a preference, you should order the way you like it. No idea how someone could get the idea "real" cocktails are served on the rocks.

Fritz Hahn: The trendy new places -- thinking along the lines of American Ice Co. or Dodge City -- don't do happy hour deals. They're open, and they're worth trying out, but don't go looking for discounted drinks.If you haven't given Lounge of III a try, though, I'd pop in there, because they usually have solid drink specials to go with the old-school hip-hop beats. (Think $2 margaritas and $3.50 drafts until 7.)

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Fashion Question: (I actually got it from Nordstrom but they do not carry it any more.) The metal piece around the toggle has come off and I was wondering if you know of a good place (preferable in or around Alexandria) that might be able to repair it. Thanks!

Holly Thomas: dry cleaner.

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Gastro Pub : ok why are so many places being named this now? it sounds so gross.

Fritz Hahn: Why does it sound gross? Just curious. It's an English thing originally -- the idea of a homey neighborhood pub that also does really fantastic food (hence the gastro part). The term has now been completely hijacked, and half the time I see one, it's just a restaurant with a bar attached.

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using the GOG: Earlier this week, I tried to search for kid-friendly events using the GO guide (also looked to see if you had a chat this week and it was not on the weekly schedule). The guide indicated that there were only 2 kid events on Saturday. Really? No SI events listed. Clearly, I do not understand how to use the guide, so please explain the steps I'd need to take to find kid events for Saturday. thanks.

Amy Orndorff: First of all an apology then an explanation: I am sorry. The kid's guide has long been neglected because it wasn't getting enough clicks to make it worth devoting a lot of effort. Now the good news: our new editor is allocating resources to revamp our coverage. We have several projects and stories in the works to make the site more robust. Please keep an eye out for a news letter in the near future.Finally, I added events for this weekend yesterday so I hope if you go now you will have a better experience.

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Follow up: Hey! In Nov you mentioned that you might start up you monthly happy hours in Jan. I was just wondering if its still a go and when/where. Thanks!

Fritz Hahn: We think there will be one at the end of the month, but we're nailing down the final details. We'll have the info on the blog as soon as it's set.We can tell you that they won't be on the clockwork second-Thursday-of-the-month schedule any more, though.

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Dressed Up Dinner and Drinks?: Hi gurus! I have a great cocktail dress for a weekend and nowhere to wear it (long story). So I'd like to just get dressed up for a Saturday evening for the fun of it. Can you name a couple restaurants and/or bars/lounges where a girl in a sexy yet classy cocktail dress and a guy in a suit can spend an evening and not feel too overdressed or out of place (or young--we're in our 20s)? I'm willing to spend more $$ than usual for this one. Thanks in advance!

Justin Rude: The death of proper dining dress is a subject Tom Sietsema has visited before. There are a few places left that you won't feel out of place wearing your best. For drinks check out Plume at the Jefferson hotel. Its a beautiful space and it is a great accompaniment to thoughtful threads. For dinner, Corduroy still maintains a dress code, while other upscale choices like Bourbon Steak and the Source tend to draw better dressed crowds.

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BCS National Championship Game - Auburn v. Oregon: Aside from the normal Auburn/Oregon bars (Crystal City/Rhodeside Grill) which will we be mobbed for hours beforehand, what are some good spots to watch the game on Monday (preferably with the sound on)? Don't have a rooting interest, but would like some atmosphere.

Fritz Hahn: Rhodeside is an Oregon bar? I know it's a Texas bar, and I know the official Oregon alumni group meets at Summers. Didn't know about Oregon, though. Strange. Of all those, I expect PQST will be the most crowded, simply because it's the smallest.

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New Divorcee + 1: My friend and I are going out to celebrate her divorce Saturday night. Yay! We want to have a great time but not end up feeling we're the oldest people in the bar! Hoping to do dinner at a nice spot and then drinks at another place close by. Where are two thirty-something ladies to go in this fair city (that is also hopefully on the red line)?

Lavanya Ramanathan: great little plates and stay and drink slushitos till they kick you out).

Fritz Hahn: I'd say that Estadio and then either Masa 14 (which has a DJ but no dance floor) and Bar Pilar would be the way to go on 14th.The other Red Line hop I'd suggest is dinner and many glasses of wine at Proof, and then off to the bar at PS 7's.

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Beer Quest: Fritz,Where can I find Red Stripe Light on tap in the DC metro area? I just returned from the Caribbean and am craving this tasty refreshment.Thanks.

Fritz Hahn: I honestly have no idea. Usually when I drink Red Stripe regular it's out of 16-ounce cans at Patty Boom Boom or Red Derby, not on draft. (I can't remember the last time I saw it on tap.)Chatters? Help?

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Day Plans?: Happy New Year! I have friends coming into town next weekend (for the long weekend!) and I have zero idea what to do during the day on Sunday. They have been here many times before, so we have covered the museums, the mall, georgetown, etc. Last time they were here, we did spy in the city and loved it (yes, we are 27) - so active-type activities are good. Metro accessible is a must - or a cheap cab ride from the metro. thanks a ton!

Stephanie Merry: I'd probably head to the Phillips Collection, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary with free admission all weekend long, plus all kinds of tours, champagne, a new installation and a display of cakes from local confectioners.

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For the fashion gurus: Question about wearing boyfriend jeans - I know to wear a snugg-ish top since jeans are a little baggy. If I wear loafers or flats, should I roll jeans up so ankle shows or cuff just enough to be normal length. And for a cardigan - is a long one too schlumpy?

Holly Thomas: Personally, I cuff mine to just above the ankle to break up the line between baggy jean and shoe/boot. A long cardigan can work if it's a thin, lightweight material and the under layer is either slim and body-conscious or pretty and feminine. The one rule for boyfriend jeans -- make sure they fit at the waist and flatter your backside as much as intentionally-baggy jeans can. If the jeans are a few sizes too big and hang too far down on your hips, they won't do you any favors (I learned this the hard way from some unfortunate candid Christmas photos -- but hey, I was on vacation!).

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re: Gastro Pub : I'm not the poster but I get grossed out too. When I hear "gastro" I think of when I went to see a gastroenterologist for irritable bowel syndrome. When it's associated with a pub I think that place is going to give me tummy troubles.

Fritz Hahn: The flip side, of course, is that the definition of "gastronomy," according to Merriam-Webster, is "the art or science of good eating."Nothing there about your irritable bowels, I'm afraid.

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Special Activity for Visiting Three Year-Olds: Hi Gurus! So, I had a brilliant plan to invite my sister and her three year-old twins to DC in February for Disney Princesses on Ice. They live in SC, and her husband is being redeployed in a few days to Afghanistan for over a year, so I thought it would be a nice thing to host her, pay for the tickets, and give her a little help with her sweet but energetic girls. Well...little did I know that the minimum cost for four decent seats to Princesses on Ice would be upwards of $400! My sister was aghast at the cost and told me to forget it, to just come up with some other plan during the year when they could come up and visit. Thus, finally, my question: what are some great, not-too-expensive EVENT sort of activities that three year-olds would enjoy in DC in the coming year? The only restriction is that it can't be March 4-14, April 9-12, mid-July or Dec. 20-31 (I'll be out of DC at those times). My adorable nieces are in their princess phase, to be sure, but they also love horseback riding (my sister is an equestrienne) and other outdoor activities. Please come through for me, gurus!

Lavanya Ramanathan: $40 in service charges by going in person to Verizon Center and buying your tickets. It's a flat $2 bucks apiece, rather than the $10 fee for each top-tier ticket you buy. In February, the Kennedy Center has a cool show called "46 Circus Acts in 45 Minutes" (which reminds me, perhaps I should write about this....). And finally, if you want to pursue the horseback riding, a great spot is Rock Creek Park; maybe you could schedule a trail ride together for the warmer days, perhaps even around the Cherry Blossom Festival?

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MLK Day: Looking for something different to do in Virginia with the kids (7 & 14) on MLK Day. Any thoughts? Looking for Alexandria/Fairfax area if that helps.

Amy Orndorff: Head to a National Park! All parks will be waiving admission fees on MLK day.

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Dinner for Two: I need suggestions for a nice dinner for my SO's birthday next (!) week. In an ideal world, I would take him to Komi, as it is our favorite restaurant. But I can't afford to take him to Komi. I'm interested in something in between Komi and Vintoeca that is really good for a date. Oh, and we're foodies and value a quality wine list.

Justin Rude: Brent Kroll at the Oval Room maintains a great wine program and really knows how to treat his guests, and I think chef Conte's cooking is special occasion worthy. Another fine choice would be Proof. Or you could check out Bryan Moscatello's new tasting room at Zola. Its top notch, and priced in tiers, so you can keep it under budget. Plus, Zola wine director Malia Milstead is great.

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Tea/Royal Wedding: So the royal wedding happens to be on my anniversary, so I think my husband (he's a Brit) and I will take the day off to watch it, and then go somewhere for high tea in the afternoon. Any suggestions on a good tea location? I'd be tempted to take him to a B&B somewhere for the weekend if I could find one with a big wedding-watching TV plus a good tea. Hmmmm...

Stephanie Merry: What a fun idea! Becky Krystal in the Food section put together this list of good spots for high tea. As for B&Bs with big screens, I'm going to have to send that question out to the chatters. Any ideas?

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St. Patty's Day: It might be kinda soon for this question but I have a few friends who have already bought tix for the ShamrockFest and I'm wondering if the festival is worth the money, does it sell out and are there real advantages to the VIP tickets?

Fritz Hahn: Just to clear up any confusion, March 17 is St. Paddy's Day. St. Patty is short for St. Patricia, not St. Patrick.As for ShamrockFest is worth the money, I think $25 isn't unreasonable for a full day of live music, carnival games and entertainment with 40 bands and a bunch of DJs. It doesn't really sell out per se, but ticket prices will keep going up and up as the day gets closer, and you might wind up paying closer to $50 if you wait too long. (That's how they get you.)The VIP tickets mean there are no (or much shorter) lines for bathrooms and drinks. You might be thankful for the bathrooms alone if you buy them.

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Fashion Question - HELP: Just received a wedding invitation for this weekend and have no idea what to wear (and nothing in my closet!) The groom (and my date) are in the army, so it's taking place Saturday evening on a military base and most of the men will be in their ceremonial uniform. Any ideas on where to go shopping in the DC area that won't break the bank, and what on earth to buy?

Holly Thomas: Since it's an evening wedding, you'll probably need (at minimum) a nice cocktail dress. If you're willing to go the consignment route -- upside, cheaper; downside, requires more digging and has potential for fruitless searches -- try the following places: Second Time Around in Georgetown, Secondi in Dupont, Current in Clarendon and Old Town, Mint Condition and Treat in Old Town, Second Chance in Bethesda. If you want something new and unique, try Lettie Gooch on U Street or Rue 14 on 14th Street. If department store shopping is more your speed, try one of the area outposts of Filene's Basement or Loehhman's.

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Cheap hotel in Annapolis?: My boyfriend and I want to do a mini trip to Annapolis - maybe leave on a Saturday and come back on a Sunday. Any good recommendations for cheap hotels in Annapolis? Nothing to trashy and close to the action please. Thanks!!

Fritz Hahn: The last time I went to Annapolis on a weekend night, I didn't want to drink and drive, so I pricelined the Loews Hotel on West Street for $60. That's about as cheap as you're going to get. The Historic Inns of Annapolis are really romantic and boutiquey, but you're going to pay $125-$160 a night.

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Re: Rockville Househunting: Don't forget about the fairly new Rockville Town Center--I was there with a friend last week, and we were really impressed at the amount of restaurant choice we had.

Amy Orndorff: Town Center is pretty nice and Tom has given a couple restaurants high marks including Spice Xing. But many of the options are chains which doesn't exactly scream unique to me.

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TEA: I love the Mayflower's tea. It's called afternoon tea, though. High tea is something entirely different - ask your British husband about it!

Stephanie Merry: Another idea for high, I mean, afternoon tea.

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more confused!: Now am confused - is there a St. Patricia day then?

Fritz Hahn: Her feast day is Aug. 25, according to the Catholic Church.

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Year-End Lists?: Maybe I missed them, but did the Gurus (or Tom?) make lists of 2010's best new restaurants, bars, exhibits, theater? I only saw concerts and albums.Thanks.

Lavanya Ramanathan: But we did this cover story in Weekend, with what we'll be seeing in 2011 (yeah, we like to be forward-thinking) -- more low-key bars; more ethnic diversity in our dining (and lots more taquerias, yeah!!!); more men looking fly; more art, less party.

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Leather Bag Repair: Holly, my leather bag's handle broke and I was wondering if there is anyone in DC that could repair it for relatively cheap. Where would I go for this sort of thing?

Holly Thomas: Corrective Shoe Repair in Dupont is my go-to spot for handbag repairs. Shoe repairs and leather bag repairs seem to go hand-in-hand, so you might want to investigate your local cobbler -- Eastern Market Shoe Repair gets pretty good marks, as do the Cobbler's Bench locations and American Valet in Tenleytown. If this is a designer bag, you might want to try contacting the brand's customer service dept or a local retailer and ask if they offer a repair service (Coach does this, as an example).

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My favorite Rockville Restaurant is...: Il Pizzico. It's in a small strip small just south of Gude Dr. and it's yummy.

Amy Orndorff: I know exactly where you are talking about. It has been a while, but I remember good things the last time I went. Thanks for the suggestion!

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Sagres Beer: My BF recently discovered Sagres beer (at Nando's!) and loves it. Any idea where I can pick up a 6-pack for him?

Fritz Hahn: Sagres is a great reason to go to Nando's. (Well, that and the extra-hot chicken livers.)Call Chevy Chase Wine and Spirits and ask them if it's in stock.

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The flip side, of course, is that the definition of "gastronomy," according to Merriam-Webster, is "the art or science of good eating.": But "gastro" alone means "stomach." So, it's the Stomach Pub. Yum!

Fritz Hahn: Okay, I give up.

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Paddy/Patty: Thanks Fritz - that's one of my serious peeves.Petworth

Fritz Hahn: Mine too. And I'm not even Irish!

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Shellac: I'm pretty sure that Bliss (in the basement of the W) is doing it too.

Lavanya Ramanathan: the W sounds like a nice place to get pampered.

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Dressy Drinks: Oh, go to PX!

Justin Rude: my buddy and I were the only men wearing slacks and blazers, and we were definitely counterbalanced by a large party of tucked in polo shirts and clipped-on phone holsters. I assume they were brought over from the Majestic or the Bistro at Eve, which is a risk you run there.

Fritz Hahn: The last time I was at PX, I came over from the Majestic, and I was wearing jeans and a button-down and (probably) Converse. So yeah, there's that risk. But I'd go anyway.

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first date: Any ideas for a fun Saturday afternoon date? something inexpensive obviously!

Stephanie Merry: If you guys are into theater, Studio has a pay-what-you-can performance of the new show (which Lavanya wrote about and sounds amazing) "Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet."

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winter bars: Which are the coziest bars for winter? Hot drinks, maybe a fireplace, I'm talking places that scream winter.

Fritz Hahn: Tabard Inn, with one of Chantal Tseng's amazing hot drinks in front of that gorgeous old fireplace, is #1 in my book. The warm drinks and patio fire pits at Room 11 and Bourbon Steak put them at #2. (I'd probably give the edge to Room 11 because the inside is more cozy, and the drinks are less expensive.) I also love a mug of hot Irish coffee (with Powers whiskey) in front of the fireplace at Murphy's of Alexandria.

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Steakhouse Suggestion: So its my fathers birthday on the 17th of this month, which is during restaurant week. He loves a really really good steak so I was wondering if you could recommend a steak restaurant to take him to. Thanks!

Justin Rude: There is no dearth of steakhouses participating this year, so it all depends on what you think he might like. Something old school? Try the Prime Rib. Something a little more modern? How about J&G or Bourbon Steak. And thats without mentioning the Capital Grille, the Palm or Ruth's Chris, which aren't likely to disappoint your dad either. I think your decision might more likely have to come down to who has reservations left at this point... so don't wait much longer to make yours.

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RE: Visiting Princess Nieces: Last minute, but another idea for the visiting 3-year old twins who are into princesses -- the Mayflower Hotel does a monthly tiara tea for the little ones. I've never actually been, but it sounds pretty adorable.

Amy Orndorff: It does sound cute, Moira wrote about it for us not too long ago.

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my buddy and I were the only ones men wearing slacks and blazers, and we were definitely counterbalanced by a large party of tucked in polo shirts and clipped-on phone holsters.: I've had a tons of fun at bars while overdressed (usually late at night after a party and several drinks), but it's embarrassing when you're sitting down to dinner.

Fritz Hahn: I've worn a tux to the Black Cat before. Hi-LAR-ious. But usually after some fancy Corcoran party or whatever, my friends and I go out all dressed up. It's a great way to get girls to talk to you. Swear.

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What's the season limit on suede/velvet shoes?: I am seeing a lot of suede or velvety shoes and booties this season. I love them, but am wondering how long I can wear them. Until Easter? Until Memorial Day? Or will no one notice the texture and you can wear them all year round?Thanks! -@lisatella

Holly Thomas: I think that depends mainly on the specific material, and then on the type of shoe. Suede is a lot more versatile than velvet, so a suede bootie can work year-round, especially if you're on the prairie/boho bandwagon and want to pair them with a breezy floral dress and ankle socks in the spring/summer. A slouchy suede boot can carry you through the early summer, as well. But velvet flats, pumps and booties feel very winter-y and are best for colder months. I'd shelve them once the weather starts to warm up.

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Patty/Paddy: I had a male friend who was originally from Kilkenny, named Patrick, who went by Patty as he felt Paddy was a derogatory term for Irish people.

Fritz Hahn: "Fritz" was a derogatory term for Germans in the early 20th century, and it's also my given name. Wouldn't dream of changing it.

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Dupont Circle, DC: Bar that would let a few of us watch a friend on "Jeopardy!" with the volume on?

Stephanie Merry: Fritz and I conferred on this one, and we think Maddy's and Scion would probably be your best bets. You might want to call ahead for Maddy's; Julie over at Scion says: "We'd definitely do that but our TV is small. And we only have one at the bar. We have a bigger one, but we'd need a heads up if you wanted it set up. It's in the dining room."

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Annapolis question: What is there to do in Annapolis for a mini wkend getaway? I've been there in the summer when the waterfront is packed, but what else is there to do? I'm interested in going there also.

Amy Orndorff: Usually I am not a huge fan of tourism sites, but Annapolis is incredibly tourist friendly and has a good site.

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Place to take out of town guys to meet girls?: Hi! I have a handful of guys in from out of town who want to go out tonight. They're staying in Dupont so they want to try out a different area. Where can I take them to meet girls that is big enough for our group (8), conducive to meeting other people, a reasonable commute from Dupont, and not annoying?

Fritz Hahn: Have they done the whole Madhatter/Mighty Pint/Sign of the Whale circuit? I'd say start there first.Depending on the age, you might want to try U Street, too -- Local 16, Marvin, maybe Stetson's.Oh, and the Hill. Good lord, it's going to be crowded and party central over there tonight. Capitol Lounge, Union Pub, Hawk and Dove....

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Tired of winter: Can I wear flip-flops yet?

Fritz Hahn: Not if you're going to the Black Cat or Dodge City, no.

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Caps jersey....: Shopping question. I plan to splurge on my cousin's birthday present this year. He really likes hockey, though not any particular professional team; his family is more likely to go out and see the local college team than watch a pro game on TV. But he is about to turn 9 and I thought I'd get him a "real" Caps jersey. I asked my uncle about the size, and considering the rate at which the young man is growing, my uncle suggested a men's medium so it will last a while. I've poked around on-line and they are all over $100 (without players names/numbers). Is there any source I haven't found that would be cheaper? His birthday is in February, so I can't wait for yard sale season.Thanks so much.-Charlie's loving cousin

Holly Thomas: Have you tried Dick's Sporting Goods? I found a few Caps options online that were under $100 ... it's worth a look.

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Birthday planning: Hi. I'm trying to plan my husband's birthday celebration for Saturday the 22nd. It's just the two of us but I would like to do something besides a nice dinner. I was thinking Obelisk at 6:30, but not sure how to go beyond just dinner. We have a babysitter, and I'd like to use the most of this time! The bell chimes at 10:30 when we need to be back home. Interested in Arlington or DC. Suggestions? Thanks.

Fritz Hahn: If you're set on doing Obelisk, you could combine that with a nice romantic nightcap at the Tabard Inn -- you, him, a bottle of wine, a crackling fire. Sounds pretty good right now, doesn't it?

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Annapolis: The Amish Market in Annapolis is way off the tourist beaten path, but is strangely impressive. I could watch the woman making cinnamon rolls for hours.

Amy Orndorff: Sounds yummy!

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Celebrating...: Hi Gurus! I could use your help for this Saturday night - awesome group of early thirties ladies looking to go out to celebrate and maybe get out of our usual haunts. We were thinking U Street/14th Street Corridor. Looking for good cocktails, space for us to chat with each other and mingle with the crowd (no shoulder-to-shoulder backed action if possible). Usual spots are Bar Pilar, St. Ex, Masa, etc. I realize its still a pretty vague question, but any thoughts on your favorite places in that area where we could have a good time? Or something going on in another 'hood we should check out?

Fritz Hahn: Wines to start at Vinoteca, followed by beers from mason jars and great whiskey cocktails at American Ice Company, which hasn't gotten quites as packed as people thought it would. (Patrick and Melanie are fantastic bartenders from Bourbon/The Gibson, so they can take care of your drink cravings). Late night, I'd finish things off with absinthe cocktails around the corner at the dimly lit 1905.

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Disney Princesses on Ice: The sister should call ITT at Anacostia/Bowling to see if discounted tickets will be available for military families. My father was in the Navy and that's how we got our tickets.

Fritz Hahn: Good advice for the princesses.

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Re-entering dating, maybe: After more than a decade out, and after separation and divorce dust settling, I'm now trying to figure out the dating world for the divorced, well-into-adulthood life, and what one does on dates. Please don't recommend joining something as I'm joined to the max--soccer, ballet, scouts, etc. With a limited amount of adult time, I'm wondering what women who are in say the mid/late 30s-mid/late 40s demographic group would be interested in doing on the first few dates. This all assumes I can find these wonderful women. Thanks.

Lavanya Ramanathan: I did this story last winter, where I talked to dozens of people -- really, all sorts -- about what it's like to date when you're older, divorced, lost a spouse, whatever. It was one of my favorite stories, because I learned so much. It was hard for some people, but I found that women who were coming back on the market were really energized and excited, which can only be a bonus for you. Maybe you'll read it and get a sense of the landscape? And consider possibly meeting with a dating coach once or twice, just to get some ideas about how to handle dating in 2011, which is really really different than dating was in 1988 (err, texting?). I met with this coach a few times while reporting; her site seems a little overwhelming, but I think she's a just great human being.

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Girls Night Out: I am planning a girls night out for a group of 5 mom's We are staying at the Helix and I'm looking for suggestions for dinner and drinks afterward. We are a laid back group of late 20's, we don't get out much so we are ready to cut loose a little. Looking for and loungy place with fun upbeat music and a not too young crowd (aka no college kids). Any help would be great! Thanks

Fritz Hahn: You've got Birch and Barley right around the corner, with ChurchKey -- one of the most buzz-worthy bars in D.C. -- right upstairs from it. That would be my suggestion, though I should point out that Helix's bar is pretty fun and upbeat as well.You're also within walking distance of Estadio, which I think Lavanya has talked up in this chat, and about three-and-a-half blocks from Masa 14. (See the earlier answer above.)Steph would be disappointed if I didn't mention that you're around the corner from Stoney's, one of her favorite haunts, where you can kick back with beers and have fun.

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NYE: thanks for the suggestion to head to JVs in Falls Church for NYE.We had a great time and would not have known about this without you guys!

Fritz Hahn: Awesome! Glad you enjoyed the band.

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Shamrockfest: It's fun but keep in mind that weather can be pretty bad that time of year. Last year's had a cold rain all day long and huge puddles all around.

Fritz Hahn: Oh, that unpredictable D.C. weather -- but a fair point. Another reason to buy your ticket now, I guess, is that if you eat it now, you're only out the cost of three ShamrockFest Bud Lights.

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Fritz Hahn: Okay, that's gotta be it for the first Got Plans? of 2011, even though there are a lot of questions and comments still in the queue.Check out tomorrow's Weekend Section for a planning calendar covering the first three months of the year -- everything from Monster Trucks to Gauguin -- and my review of a fantastic British pub in Seven Corners that specializes in traditional fare like Lancashire Hot Pots and Chip Buttys. See you next week.


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