Ethiopic restaurant in the Atlas District serves some of the most authentic Ethio­pian food in the city, and won’t break the bank. (James Buck/The Washington Post)

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.

Check out this week’s transcript for talk about ordering just appetizers, what to do if your chair breaks at a fancy restaurant and more. Follow Tom Sietsema on Twitter at @tomsietsema.