Q — Foodie Birthday on a Budget: I'd love to have foodie birthday celebration for myself and between 5-8 friends in November that won't break the bank. I was thinking of something along the lines of the chef's table at Pearl Dive Oyster Palace where we wouldn't be restricted to a super expensive set menu and could have a unique and interesting experience, but that's limited to only four diners. Is there anything similar in the same price range? Or some other food-centric experience that might fit the bill?
A — Tom Sietsema: How about eating with your fingers at Ethiopic on H St. NE? Or grabbing a picnic table under the open sky at Standard Barbecue ? The new Izakaya Seki near U St. NW is lovely, and if you watch your sake consumption, you shouldn't have to break a budget.