We want to help you enjoy the Washington area to its fullest. That’s why we take reader questions every Thursday at 1 p.m. If you’re seeking a new happy hour spot, wondering which museums will entertain visiting relatives or trying to find a restaurant that can accommodate a crowd, we’ll try to help you out. (Submit a question now, or join us later today to offer your own advice.) Here’s one question we got this week:

What's a good local bakery  or coffeehouse-type place where friends and I can meet up that's more-or-less centrally located and not in Old Town? Two of us live around Huntington/Eisenhower Avenue, one's on Van Dorn, and the other's on Columbia Pike. We were regulars at the Alexandria Buzz, but we're looking for a new joint. Cheers!

People who work in the service industry like Camilo Poveda become very essential in snowstorms like today at The Coupe in Washington, D.C. on March 06, 2013. Customers rely heavily on having their coffee and and their internet. Poveda makes a latte with a tulip. (Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post) (Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

Lavanya Ramanathan: The offerings in Alexandria proper tend to be in Old Town, but I’ll point you a few independent places that are not too far away, but worthy of a visit.

The first on the list, because of proximity, has to be Grape + Bean. It  carries very good coffees and pre-prepared food. There’s one very close to Van Dorn in Rosemont (there's also an Old Town location).

Another nearby option: Shirlington isn't too far – you could always do a coffee and dessert at the Busboys and Poets there.

If you wanted to do something a little quirkier than plain old cupcakes – Shilla is a fantastic Korean bakery and tea/coffeehouse in nearby Annandale. Their cakes and buns are really fantastic, and so fresh that sometimes you can catch them still warm.

Vienna isn’t the closest, but I’d be remiss if I didn't tell you about Caffe Amouri, which is a great little place that roasts its own coffee in-house.

Arlington has its own Buzz Bakery (with a slightly different set of offerings), but also Northside Social, a staff favorite. They've got fantastic food, thanks to a shared ownership with the nearby Liberty Tavern.

And, finally, a great one – Killer E.S.P.  It’s in Old Town, but there’s pie! It serves not only Stumptown coffee, but Dangerously Delicious Pies, homemade sorbet and macarons as well.