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February 7, 2013

1
P.M.

Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Gurus

Total Responses: 45

About the hosts

About the host

Host: The Going Out Gurus

The Going Out Gurus

The Going Out Gurus are the experts behind The Washington Post's Going Out Guide. They write about restaurants, bars, movies, the arts, special events and visitor attractions, and they're out every night to keep you on top of the D.C. entertainment scene.

About the topic

Every Thursday, the Going Out Gurus discuss concerts, happy hours, date ideas, weekend getaways, new exhibits and other ways to have fun in the Washington D.C. area.
Q.

Lavanya Ramanathan :

Welcome, chatters, to today's Got Plans? chat. I'm super-excited, because it's Essential Eats time again, and during the lunch hour, there's pretty much nothing I'd rather be talking about than palak chaat. So, ask your questions, but name the very best dish in the area, in your humble estimation, and two of you could score two tickets to Saturday's performance of "Brian Sanders' Junk" at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. (Since we're talking Essential Eats, you could always pair this obvious date night with a  stop at Granville Moore's for the Moules Bleu). 

Let's get started!

Q.

Macarons

How could any DC eats list be complete without a bite of dessert?! My fave: Sweet Lobby's Macarons (no, I'm not affiliated - just a very happy neighbor). Enough with the cupcakes already, these little guys wont weigh you down and the sight of them makes me smile. Close second: Ted's Bulletin's PopTarts - yum!
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

Yes, love the Sweet Lobby - the lemon macaron is so bright and delicious. But Ted's PopTarts seriously bring tears to my eyes. One of the best desserts in town, hands-down. But tell us more... If you have a favorite flavor for either, write back!

– February 07, 2013 1:04 PM
Q.

NOLA transplant, MARDI GRAS

I'm seeing a few bar specials for Fat Tuesday but do y'all have a list of Mardi Grad celebrations (perhaps some this weekend?) I was hoping to avoid going all the way to Clarendon for a parade, but that is the only one I can find and even it looks more "family-friendly" than "beads&beers". Please help!
A.
Fritz Hahn :

I did a roundup of brass bands, parties and parades on our blog earlier this week. The parades are all on Tuesday. Adams Morgan is hosting a rotating party that will call in at Jack Rose, Bossa and other bars throughout the neighborhood; the idea is that bands and dance troupes will play at one establishment, then march up 18th Street or Columbia Road to the next place, where they'll perform again.

I'm more intrigued about the party at Bayou: The brass section of New Orleans-style brass band Yamomanem is planning to march from the Dupont Circle fountain to the Foggy Bottom bar, beginning at 4 p.m. (The bar itself is offering live music from noon to midnight, with an all-you-can-eat buffet.)

– February 07, 2013 1:05 PM
Q.

Baby it's cold outside!

For the young at heart, with their own young one at home, what are some good later afternoon/early evening dining and entertainment options this weekend?

A.
:

If you're in the mood, Columbia Station in Adam's Morgan has a jazz jam every Saturday from 4pm to 8pm. If need an early pick-me-up, Green Spring Gardens is hosting a Chinese tea tasting at 10:30am on Saturday. If strings are your thing, a trio of Russian classical players (cello, violin, and piano) will be performing for free at the Millennium Stage at 6pm on Saturday.

– February 07, 2013 1:08 PM
Q.

Baby shower locale

This is in response to last week's questioner, who you directed to Founding Farmers. I sympathize with the poster because I had a heck of a time finding a place to host a baby shower of that size a couple of months ago. We ended up having a very successful event for 35 people in the downstairs of Pizza Paradiso in Georgetown. They will allow you to rent out the whole basement on a Sunday afternoon with no room charge or minimum. It was delicious, fun for both genders, and very affordable.
A.
Fritz Hahn :

This is a great idea. The downstairs Birreria Paradiso looks fantastic after a recent makeover. (I'm disappointed that you can no longer sit directly in front of the fireplace, though.)

– February 07, 2013 1:10 PM
Q.

Josephine DC?

Heading to Josephine for the first time with a group (mature but young at heart party girls) on Saturday night--can't find many details on their website. Cover charge? Get there before....? What's the vibe?

A.
Fritz Hahn :

Get there before 11:30 to avoid the massive line. (Actually, it's less of a line and more like a massive crush of people around the velvet rope.) You can sign up for the guest list on the Josephine site for free admission before midnight; I'd definitely try to take advantage of that.

The vibe? It's a bottle service club, though probably one of the best for dancing. Good DJs spinning house music. The crowd strikes me as a little older than Shadow Room, and more fun than, say, Lotus. (It's also more spacious than Heist or Current.)

– February 07, 2013 1:15 PM
Q.

Metamorphoses...

Didn't I see a production on 14th street last year? The show is fantastic, but how did DC end up with productions two years in a row?
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

You're right - both productions, Constellation's small-scale but highly ambitious take from May, and the  Arena Stage incarnation that begins its run tomorrow   are based on a script by Lookinglass Theatre's Mary Zimmerman, based on the Ovid tale. The version at Arena, however, will be directed by Zimmerman herself. It's not the first time we've seen this before in the theater world -- in 2011, we even saw two versions of "Othello" literally running at the same time, one from Synetic, and one from Folger. Both were outstanding!   Personally, I think it's a cool opportunity to see both productions, and compare what a small scrappy theater can do, with what can be done with a lot of resources. 

Side note - if you love water on stage (and I know I do), Synetic's "Tempest" will be performed on a water stage, and if it's anything like "King Arthur," it'll be amazing. They take full advantage of that water.

– February 07, 2013 1:17 PM
Q.

palak chaat at Rasika

Everyone raves about this dish for a reason - it's unbelievably good and incredibly unique. as someone who enjoys indian food (and has had the luck to eat indian food in india) this is something unlike anything i've ever tasted. in my mind, its THE essential D.C. eat because it really emphasizes the best part of this region, nay, the best part of this country: the incredible diversity and the promise of America. Where else could a humble spinach dish rise to the ranks of gourmet must-haves in the world??

A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

I love this.  But I'm going have to argue with the humble-ness of  this particular spinach dish. Because this appetizer costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $12. Other than that -- diversity, promise, good citzenship -- I'm totally with you.

– February 07, 2013 1:21 PM
Q.

Essential Eats Arlington

Puppatella Pizza, steak with blue cheese sauce and roasted garlic at Ray's, and poptarts at Buzz Bakery!
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

Which pizza at Pupatella? Which one are you always ordering? We're geeking out here.

– February 07, 2013 1:22 PM
Q.

Best dc dish

For me it has to be Patatas Bravas at Jaleo! I've been enjoying this dish for years. Add in a glass of sangria and you have a very happy hour.

A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

Oh, they're very good. More like this!

– February 07, 2013 1:23 PM
Q.

DC restaurant for 6?

Hi Gurus! I hope you can help me with restaurant ideas for Saturday night. There are 6 of us in our late 30's / early 40's - one of whom is visiting from out of town. I wanted to try Ambar, but looks like they are booked! We're heading to Bourbon later, but I'd prefer not to eat in Adam's Morgan, as well. Although I just live in Arlington, I haven't made it into DC in a while, so I'm looking for something new, but nothing too loud so that we can hear each other talk since we haven't seen each other in a while. What do you think?
A.
Fritz Hahn :

First, you're in for a treat at Bourbon: There's a new cocktail menu debuting tomorrow night, and as of today, the bar will have 20 draft beers. I'll be blogging about that this afternoon. 

As for dinner: Yeesh. You're leaving this one until the last minute, especially with six people. (There's nothing wrong with dining in Adams Morgan, btw. Cashions, Mintwood Place, Smoke and Barrel are all great right now. But the first two are already booked.) Lavanya's suggeting the new and hot Table, which doesn't take advance reservations; you just call them and tell them you're coming and they'll put your name on the waitlist. You could try New Heights, which isn't far from Adams Morgan, and is a great place to meet a group of friends for dinner. (Only caution: They have a new chef.) Or you could hit Smoke and Barrel for barbecue, great beers and whiskey.

– February 07, 2013 1:25 PM
Q.

DC Essential Eats

For high-end dining, nothing beats the palak chaat at Rasika. Seriously, I don't think there is a single person who has eaten it and not fallen in love. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the grilled cheese at Stony's is out of this world. Sometimes all you want is a classic grilled cheese and this one fits the bill. Buttery, thick bread and lots and lots of cheese. It is also the Thursday special. Might have to make a trip tonight...
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

We are GIANT fans of Stoney's grilled cheese.  Yes, any high-schooler can make a decent one, but Stoney's -- it's exactly what you want it to be.

– February 07, 2013 1:26 PM
Q.

"Something political"

My brother is visiting me the first weekend in March. He's put in a request to do "something political" on that Saturday. I'm drawing a complete blank for weekend activities (visits to Capitol Hill and the Supreme Court are already on the agenda). Any help?
A.
Ryan Little :

The Human Rights Watch is sponsoring a film fest in town, and they'll be screening Brother Number One, about Cambodia's Khmer Rouge regime, at West End Cinema at 7pm that day. At Silver Spring Stage, they'll be performing The Real Thing at 8pm that night, which concerns a wife supporting a political prisoner and the impact that has on her marriage. The Newseum has plenty of political history on display, and in March, there will be a special exhibition dedicated to women's suffrage.

– February 07, 2013 1:26 PM
Q.

Everybody dance now?

Hi Gurus! My boyfriend and I, and a few single friends, would like to go out dancing this weekend. The catch is, we want to try something different- maybe swing, or even waltz or tango. We range in abilities so if a lesson were available, that would be a bonus. We're hoping for Friday night, but Saturday would be okay, too. We have cars, so it doesn't have to metro accessible. Oh, and we're all 30s and 40s, no kids coming along. Is this an impossible order? thank you for your help!
A.
Fritz Hahn :

If you want to try swing, you should go to see Eric Felten at Glen Echo's Spanish Ballroom this Saturday night. (I enthusiasticly recommended it in this week's Nightlife Agenda column.) There's a free dance lesson from 8 to 9, followed by Felten's big band. Because it's coming up on Valentine's Day, I'm expecting it to be full of songs perfect for dancing cheek-to-cheek with your sweetie. (I don't know if anyone singer in this area can match Felten as a big band romantic crooner.)

– February 07, 2013 1:28 PM
Q.

Essential Pizza

Seriously, no one has vouched for a pie yet? Then I will step up for Lost Dog, and in particular, the  Jandy Pizza,  with pepperoni and pine nuts. While I'm more of a thick crust fan, their pie tends toward the thin, but with a zingy sauce that gives the whole affair just enough pop. You can fold that second piece for a big bite that really gives you the full emersion in their robust flavoring. Don't try it with the first piece, cause these come hot from the oven. In our experience, their pizza does NOT travel well, but why would you want to go; their shop has an outstanding beer selection and bartenders who do not disappoint when you ask for, a beer that taste like summer, or  a beer that tastes sincere.  Lost Dog is not one of the old school perennial favorites of DC, but I've tried most of them, and this is DC's essential pizza for me.

A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

Seriously! No pizza nominations. Are we over pizza or something? Giving up carbs again thanks to the paleo diet?

This is great, thanks! I think we're going to try this Lost Dog pizza out, and I'm totally ordering a beer "that tastes sincere."

– February 07, 2013 1:29 PM
Q.

DC Dish

The deep-fried-bacon-wrapped Reese's Peanut Butter Cup at the Passenger. They are the sole reason I work out.
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

Oh, you're good.  Very good. Love our readers!

– February 07, 2013 1:30 PM
Q.

For folks looking to rent big rooms

We went into Virtue Feed and Grain recently and someone had rented the entire place. A few weeks before that, someone had rented the upstairs. It seems you could get a lot of people in either of those options, and it seems as if it would be a great place for a party or gathering.
A.
Fritz Hahn :

I'd love to have a party in the upstairs back room -- the one with the pool table and the video games. Thanks for the suggestion.

– February 07, 2013 1:30 PM
Q.

slow dancing

So, my wife is turning 60 and I'm taking some folks out for a night of celebrating. We're having dinner at Dupont Circle. Where in the city can we go for some dancing afterwards (or at least a nice piano bar)? I'm thinking Sinatra, Gershwin, Cole Porter for either the dancing or listening. Good hotel bars? (Hope this isn't too much a a stretch for you!)
A.
Fritz Hahn :

The Black Fox Lounge is great for this sort of thing: There's a piano in the basement lounge area. You don't say what night you're going; this weekend features a singalong piano night with the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington, and you're bound to hear plenty of Gershwin and Porter. 

My go-to for drinks and piano music is Quill, the classy lounge and bar at the Jefferson Hotel. Great wines, good cocktails, and a pianist from 9 to 11 or midnight Tuesday through Saturday. (He specializes in exactly the tunes you want to hear.) No room for dancing, unfortunately, but great for listening.

– February 07, 2013 1:34 PM
Q.

Single Malt Scotch for a soon to be 21 year old

Wanted: nice location for testing single malts. Have to have Glenfiddich, Highland malts preferred (not lowland, not Islay). She knows what she wants and she wants to do a malt whisky tasting on her Saturday birthday, but not in a group or with a group. (for what it's worth, the old Kramerbooks on I Street did a wonderful one in the late 70's that I used to check out my preferences).
A.
Fritz Hahn :

Call Jack Rose, tell them when you're coming and what your price range is, and they can set something up for you with one of their resident experts. (They have hundreds of bottles of delicious and rare whiskys, with a ton of Highlands; I'm on a Campbeltown kick at the moment.)

You might also check out the Scotch bar at the Willard, but the hours on that are a little irregular.

– February 07, 2013 1:38 PM
Q.

Friday swing!

Hi Fritz! If the dancers-to-be prefer Friday, perhaps they could check out the Have a Heart Hop with Gottaswing at the Dulles Hilton! There's a lesson there too, 8:30 to 9:00, and a live band (Fabulettes) from 9 to midnight. Plus tomorrow night is the huge silent auction to support Lucky Dog Animal Rescue and Honor Flight Network, so if the less advanced dancers want to take a break, they'll have plenty to do. I hear there's also going to be a puppy fashion show, although I honestly don't know what that means. I didn't see this event in your line-up for the week, but I swing dance a lot, and I think this one will be just as good as Glen Echo!
A.
Fritz Hahn :

Good idea, thanks.

– February 07, 2013 1:39 PM
Q.

Virginia wineries

Hi. I'm planning a wine tasting day trip for my Mother's 70th birthday in March. Can you recommend a couple of Virginia wineries that are close together? Especially ones with nice views from the tasting room. Thanks!
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

Ah, the wineries are really in clusters these days, and you can find several of the better wines in Purcellville/Hillsborough. I'd put Sunset Hills on your list for the view - they have a lovely estate. At North Gate, you can do your tasting with chocolate pairings (and it's not your average Hershey's bar, but truffles from the Perfect Truffle that are delicious).  Breaux is another in the neighborhood that's far bigger and more jam-packed, but the estate is also beautiful, and in March, you might feel a little less like you're being churned through.  If that's not your bag, try Doukenie. I like their staff quite a bit, and they produce many kinds of wine, so it's an interesting tasting, for sure. Check out photos from my summertime adventures in wine country here. If you go to Purcellville, definitely stop at the Stoneybrook Farm Market for food and locally made snacks. Check out more stops in the neighborhood here.

– February 07, 2013 1:44 PM
Q.

Komi question

My wife and I are celebrating our anniversary in a couple of weeks with our first visit to Komi. We couldn't be more excited. Quick question about the paired drinks. Do you guys recommend doing the pairings? Should both of us do it, or sense it's shareable should one of us do the pairing, and the other order a couple of drinks through the night to supplement? While on the subject of Komi, did we ever find out if that girl that wrote in back around the holidays got engaged?
A.
Fritz Hahn :

(Girl who might have gotten engaged at Komi: Did you? Inquiring minds, etc.)

As for Komi itself, I would always go with the drink pairings. Your wine/sherry/whatever is not super-sharable, as in you don't get a full glass pour of everything.

– February 07, 2013 1:44 PM
Q.

Pizza question

The talk of pizza had me thinking about, well, pizza. How do people eat it? Is this a fork-and-knife town or fold and eat (yep), with your hands?
A.
Fritz Hahn :

Depends on the pizza. For a deep dish, like at Pi, I would go for the silverware. And for 2 Amys. But at Paradiso, Menomale, Matchbox -- I'm all about the hands.

– February 07, 2013 1:44 PM
Q.

Essential DC dish

Teaism Chocolate Salty Oat cookie - perfect on a just-getting-warm, sunny spring day when you sit outside of the Penn Quarter location. The chocolate just starts to melt by the time you finish lunch, so it tastes like it's just out of the oven. Mmmm.....
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

I remember a time before they started making the chocolate one -- those were dark days, indeed.

– February 07, 2013 1:44 PM
Q.

Where to celebrate a sweet 16?

My daughter is turning 16 this Spring and she'd like to celebrate by dining in DC with 5-6 of her friends. Where can we go that's sophisticated enough to appeal to their new sense of adventure but not so 'grown up' that they'll be out of place? Any suggestions for what to do after dinner would also be appreciated.
A.
Ryan Little :

Good question--perhaps a restaurant that has a few fancier offerings alongside some more familiar fare? I'd say both Lincoln, which offers high-class mac 'n cheese and chicken pot pie alongside risotto and duck sausage, and Founding Farmers, who have amazing cornbread and Southern fried chicken as well as prosciutto and brie, fit that bill. The presidential names make it all a bit more important-feeling as well.

Afterwards? The theater is always a classy way to end the night, but to keep it fun and light, try something like Zorro, currently playing at Source Theatre.

– February 07, 2013 1:46 PM
Q.

Needs plans for tonight...

Help! I live in Reston, and am looking for a fun evening out tonight for my man and I (not dinner - we have that taken care of) - not too expensive and not too far. Any suggestions? We will be traveling next week on Valentines Day, so something "romantic" would be great.
A.
Fritz Hahn :

Hmm. My go-to romantic suggestion for Reston is drinks at Cafe Montmarte, looking over the water at Lake Anne -- but it might be a little chilly for that. How about ice skating at the Town Center, and then warming up with a couple glasses of wine at Vinfera?

– February 07, 2013 1:50 PM
Q.

'No-one has vouched for a pie yet?'

That's because DC pizza is terrible (except for actual Italian style pizza - 2 Amys and Pizzeria Paradisio). Sigh me - disgruntled NYC transplant
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

Ah, it's not terrible, says this one-time New Yorker. It's just not New York pizza. (And even Grimaldi's isn't even run by Patsy Grimaldi anymore, so what's the point?)

I think Pete's Apizza could give Roberta's a run when it comes to toppings. And you're right, 2 Amys does make a certified DOC Neopolitan that's very good - but there are many others who have gone to the trouble of getting their pizza paperwork, including Menomale and Pupatella.  Which, if you believe this mouthwatering list from the stellar Grub Street, is precisely in line with what's happening in the New York pizza world.

– February 07, 2013 1:52 PM
Q.

Bottoms Up Bar!

We walked by the Bottoms Up Bar in Adams Morgan late this past Saturday. It was packed but closing time so we didn't go in. I can't find any info about it. What's the story?
A.
Fritz Hahn :

It's the bar in the basement of Pi. It's pretty basic, or seemed that way to me.

– February 07, 2013 1:53 PM
Q.

Essential eats

The chickpea and spinach stew at Jaleo (definitely add the fried egg), and the confit of roasted red pepper with iberico fat at the same are two dishes that blew my mind. The palak chaat at Rasika is stupid good too. Everyone has to experience a half-smoke, and I can't get enough of the Peruvian chicken at Sardis (though I think they're mostly Montgomery County).
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

I always order that stew, but had no idea you could add an egg! Sardi's is a favorite around here (I think it was on the last Essential Eats list, in fact). So tell me more about this half-smoke.  Who's got the best?

– February 07, 2013 1:54 PM
Q.

Essential Arlington Dish?

Cuban Sandwich from Caribbean Grill.... the humblest of sandwiches at the most humble locale.
Q.

Teaism Chocolate Salty Oat cookie

I think I just found dessert for lunch on my last day working in DC proper. Luke's Lobster for the main dish and this delightful sounding cookie for dessert. YUM
A.
Ryan Little :

I do love a good cookie. Sticky Fingers has a similarly delicious Sweet & Salty cookie that just happens to be vegan. Pairing savory with sugar gets me every time.

– February 07, 2013 1:55 PM
Q.

Essential eats - kitcha fitfit

The kitcha fitfit at Aurora Cafe in Alexandria has become an essential breakfast eat for my boyfriend and me. He likes it made the traditional style; I like it with the meat sauce. I love the yogurt with which it's served. It gets crowded around noon, but when we are awake early on the weekends, we can be found here!
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

Love it, thanks! I  hear such awesome things about Aurora Cafe - and I love Ethiopian breakfast. I just discovered it last year, and it's definitely an essential D.C. eat.

– February 07, 2013 1:57 PM
Q.

Palaak Chat outdone!

Just visited Rasika the other day for Restaurant Week and I must admit, their Sev Batata Puri is hands down tastier than the Palaak Chat. That was the tastiest morsel I've ever experienced! Luckly they give you 6 to enjoy!!!
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

Uh-oh: Controversy. I like it.

The sev puri is definitely the more traditional dish. But hands-down tastier? Them's fighting words.

– February 07, 2013 1:59 PM
Q.

Visitors from Scotland

It's been a long time since I had to plan activities to complete DC newbies, but I have family visiting from Glasgow, Scotland in early March (first weekend) and I would like to show them a good time. I have lived in DC 10 years, so most of my family and friends did the tourist things years ago, so I am completely out of practice as a tour guide. Who knows what the weather will be like, but I would like to show them some sites, are tour buses worth it? Are there any DC restaurants that are can't miss (nothing to fancy, they will probably be in jeans most of the time), I am thinking like DC Institutions, maybe Old Ebbit or something like that? Also, they are Scottish and like to have a drink, are there any DC bars that are casual but fun? I am in dire need of advice, I have been here so long and basically just hang out at my favourite places these days. Thanks for taking my question.
A.
Fritz Hahn :

They're a little early for the Cherry Blossom Festival, which starts March 20, but there's still plenty to do in D.C. First, check out this killer welcome-to-D.C. guide that Maura put together for inauguration visitors. And take a look at our gallery of cool places to visit off the Mall, because you'll get Smithsonian fatigue at some point. 

In terms of restaurants, we'd probably skip Old Ebbitt (recent visits have been kind of meh), and steer you toward something like Graffiato or ChurchKey/Birch and Barley; there's definitely nothing like them in Scotland. (Jaleo's another good fast/casual idea.) For bars, I'd say the Passenger, Jack Rose, Pizzeria Paradiso, Meridian Pint -- something with a lively atmosphere and good beer and whiskey. (Make them drink bourbon, btw. They can get whisky at home.)

– February 07, 2013 2:00 PM
Q.

Virginia Wineries

You might want to check out Reston limo. You can book a public or private tour and then you don't have to drive. I've had 2 good experiences with public tours.
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

Thanks - I frequently recommend this too. Oh, I should have mentioned: Definitely call ahead if your birthday group will be more than six people. Wineries appreciate the heads-up for big groups because of the amount of business they do, and I've even seen some turn away buses that arrive unannounced. You'll get far better service if you get in touch ahead of time with a big group.

– February 07, 2013 2:01 PM
Q.

DC

Hey Gurus, I inadvertently got a little glimpse into what it might be like to be single in DC - and it is not pretty. I was waiting at a bar and was scoping out the scene (for places to sit). Of course, a few places had seat warmers or were decked out in accidental accessories. When I asked if the seats were taken, all I got were looks of confusion and then icy stares. It was a really odd experience, so please tell me this was an anomaly. I promise, I didn't reek of desperation (I am not single) and I thought I was polite but not flirty, with the exception of a brief smile. This gave me empathy for people who might be single in the city because it seems as if it is a tough exterior to break though. Not sure if gender makes any difference.
A.
Fritz Hahn :

I think people are super over-protective of empty barstools, which they believe they have the right to hold for extended periods of time. It's rude and really ticks me off. (Deep breath.)

– February 07, 2013 2:02 PM
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

This is SO true. I've experienced the same rudeness when I inquire about a barstool. But I don't think the icy stares are because you're single.  I think it's people who have nowhere to put their coats, or their bags, who think they're entitled to two or three or four stools --  as many as it takes to protect their precious J.Crew pea coat. (Some of this -- bar owners who are reading -- would be alleviated by  bar hooks. It will translate into more bodies positioned in front of your bartenders.) If you'll give D.C. another shot in the summer, you'll find it's not as much of an issue, honestly.

– February 07, 2013 2:14 PM
Q.

VIRGINIA WINERIES (with a view) - Route 9 Barrel Tasting

So a view from the tasting room is a little tricky; all the best views are usually from a deck (if they have one) - I don't even really think you can see outside from the Sunset Hills tasting room. I would consider going a little further out Route 9 to Hillsborough Vineyards. Big tasting room (a little too yellow for my tastes) but a great view down the hill - fireplace inside (and fireplace outside). Route 9 used to do a barrel tasting tour, that I heard got cancelled by the Virginia tax authorites, because they could not figure out how to tax siphoned wine. Nevertheless, all the vineyards along route 9 are lovely, and each with its own sense of character. (Loudoun Valley Vineyards, Sunset Hills Vineyard, Doukenie Winery, Hillsborough Winery) - I think Loudoun may have a nice view through a window as well

A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

Thanks - Hillsborough is a great option, I'd add it to the list, for sure.  And you're right, at Sunset Hills,  you do have to climb up to the second level, or go out on the deck for the view. Doukenie's renovation has opened up windows looking out onto their estate, however. I'd say overall, the views are better in Delaplane, say, on the lawn at Barrel Oak, or from Veritas.  But they're all a little further apart you'll find near Route 9.

– February 07, 2013 2:04 PM
Q.

Birthday Dinner/Activity Ideas?

I'm planning a birthday party for my sister (late 20s) and 8 - 10 out of town, vegetarian guests (late 20s/early 30s) for March 1 or 2 in DC. She's a foodie, so I tried to organize a dinner at Seasonal Pantry, but they don't have availability for those dates. I've also been looking into painting/wine drinking classes, but they generally have a 12 - 15 person minimum for a private party. Do you have any other ideas? We're looking for something fun and out of the box. And we want people to be able to talk, catch up and just have a good time.
A.
Ryan Little :

It sounds like Everlating Life might be your best bet. They've got the tastiest vegetarian soul food selection in town, along with a juice and smoothie bar, and they're rarely overcrowded. Otherwise, check out our staff's Essential Vegetarian Dishes and Best Restaurants for Vegetarians and Vegans.

– February 07, 2013 2:04 PM
Q.

30th Birthday Roaring 20's Theme - Need a Bar!

Trying to find a good bar in the city with for a 20's theme birthday a few Saturdays from now that will hold my large crowd of friends (50-100), no job right now so can't spend the big bucks on renting a room but I am still going to live it up and be thankful for all I got! I would like to dance and hang out somewhere that goes with the theme (at least some dim lighting and somewhere classy with a private or semi-private room)
A.
Fritz Hahn :

I'm going to be honest: You're going to have a really tough time finding a private space for 100 people on a Saturday night that does not have a charge/minimum, especially a cool place with a 20s theme and a dance floor.

– February 07, 2013 2:04 PM
Q.

Pupatella

Margherita Doc or just a white pizza with mozz, parm, and ricotta. Their dough and cheese alone is magical.
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

Thanks! Ricotta pizza! See, disgruntled New Yorker? It's not all that bad...

– February 07, 2013 2:06 PM
Q.

Best Dish

The Q's Seoul Bulgogi & Kimchi dog at DC3. Seriously, what more could anyone want?
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

Thanks!

– February 07, 2013 2:14 PM
Q.

Things to do next weekend?

Hey GOGs - Submitting early since I have a meeting during the normal chat, but my best friend's sister and her boyfriend are coming into town Friday, Saturday and Sunday - late 20s, early 30s. We are looking for fun things to do that isnt too expensive. We prefer Arlington or Alexandria, but can do D.C. We were thinking going RFD or World of Beer on Friday after work, Sunday brunch somewhere (ideas? for an all you can eat and drink brunch? this can be in D.C.) and totally stuck for something on Saturday. Much help requested. And I am running a 5K sunday morning so preferably a day/early afternoon drinking kind of thing for Saturday so I can make it on time to the race Sunday morning! Thanks in advance.

A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

Hi, this is one from last week that we held because we had so many questions for our arts critics -- hope you still need ideas. Saturday,  On Sunday, I think you should try El Centro's all you can, all you can drink brunch. It's a lot of fun, great for groups, and after your run, you're probably going to be hungry. On Saturday, you could do a museum or two -- for any visitor, the Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum is always a fun one, and close to all the restaurants and bars on Seventh Street, should you want to grab a bite or drink. (I'd suggest Oyamel, whose food and service were great on a recent visit.) If you want to see something a little trendier - Ai Wei Wei at the Hirshhorn has been a huge hit.

– February 07, 2013 2:24 PM
Q.

Follow up - Aurora

Hi Lavanya - just wanted to follow up and point out that Aurora Cafe is Eritrean (obviously, lots of overlap with Ethiopian food). Happy eating!
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

Oops, thank you for the correction.

– February 07, 2013 2:24 PM
Q.

Pizza Nominee

I love Comet's The Hottie pizza. I love all there pizzas, actually, but this is the one I order most. Jalepeno and Pepperoni, and I like to make it weird by adding anchovies. I seriously eat this about 3-4 times a month.
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

Thanks!

– February 07, 2013 2:24 PM
Q.

Best Dish

I adore the sour mustard at Burma. It's unusual and intense and cuts the mustard ... .
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

I actually have had this! Thanks!

– February 07, 2013 2:25 PM
Q.

Need a night out!

Hi Gurus! 40s woman needs a night of dancing! I haven't been out in ages. I used to go to eCiti... I heard it's not Iris Lounge. One of my girlfriends wants to go to Alexandria or Occoquan. Any fun places for us to go dancing? I love salsa...

A.
Ryan Little :

The options aren't infinite, but here are a few ideas: Reston Community Center is holding a contradance this Saturday at 8pm for $9; on Sunday, The Hot Society of Washington is hosting dances from the '20s through the '40s (foxtrot, cha cha, etc.) from 3pm to 6pm at Glen Echo; and on Saturday in Silver Spring, the Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center is offering free Rumba lessons at 8pm followed by a social ballroom.

– February 07, 2013 2:25 PM
Q.

Lavanya Ramanathan :

Thanks for playing, guys. We're tapping the Lost Dog pizza nominator, because you made your argument well. And the bacon-wrapped peanut butter eater, because we whole-heartedly agree, but also admire the fact that you go to the gym just so you can eat it. That's love. E-mail me at ramanathanl@washpost.com and I'll get you on the list for Saturday's Atlas show.   For the rest of you, you still might see your nomination in print when the Essential Eats list goes live in the coming month, so you all kinda win. See you next week at 1 p.m.

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