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January 12, 2012

12:59
P.M.

Got Plans? Lynne Breaux, president of Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, the organizer of Restaurant Week, joined us the gurus to discuss Restaurant Week and the dining scene.

Total Responses: 43

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

Got Plans? Lynne Breaux, president of Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, joined the gurus to discuss Restaurant Week and the dining scene.

LINK: D.C. Restaurant Week
Q.

Lavanya Ramanathan :

We've got a big chat this week, chatters, thanks to Restaurant Week, and Tom Sietsema's Cheap Eats list. To help us out today, we've got Lynne Breaux, president of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington to talk Restaurant Week (and dish on what's up in the restaraunt business).  Check out our preview with Breaux here, and send us your questions now. Let's get started.

Q.

POV Lounge at the W Hotel

Hello Gurus! a girlfriend of mine wants to celebrate her birthday with drinks and dinner for about 6 ladies at the P.O.V. lounge at the W Hotel. I've never heard of it before-any thoughts? We range in age from 24-33, love to have a good time, eat&drink, and of course dance to great music(hip, hop, r&b, reggae, pop, etc). She made reservations for 9, is that a good time to go on a Friday nite? We want to make sure she has a fabulous time! fyi, Parc is our backup. Thanks a bunch!
A.
Fritz Hahn :

If you've got reservations for P.O.V., you're set. The W Hotel's rooftop lounge has the best views of any bar in Washington -- you really feel like you're thisclose to the White House and the Monument -- and the cocktails are usually top-notch, if a little pricey. The only thing I'll say is that you don't get dancing there, as there's nowhere to set up a dance floor. So enjoy your dinner and drinks, and then head elsewhere -- you could check out Eighteenth Street Lounge, which is debuting its new upstairs Studio Bar on Friday, or maybe keep the rooftop theme going with a visit to Lost Society at 14th and U.

– January 12, 2012 1:03 PM
Q.

Restaurant Week

It seems like Restaurant Week started as a chance for the 99 percent to try many of the restaurants that would ordinarily be out of our price range: your Rasikas and Obelisks and 1789s. But now with Groupon, Living Social, etc. dropping discount restaurant coupons in my inbox every day, and people complaining on Yelp and in Tom's chat about poor Restaurant Week service and the small portions, isn't it time to rethink this annual event?
A.
Lynne Breaux :

RAMW certainly is aware of other discounting deals... Restaurant Week is the "real deal" according to one of our prominent restaurateurs and its popularity with chefs  (over 200 participating restaurants again this winter) and the dining public, along with the statistics on returning customers  is proof of its effectiveness.

– January 12, 2012 1:04 PM
Q.

Bachelorette Party

Hi, I am helping plan a bachelorette party the weekend of St. Paddy's day. I could use some help on Saturday. The only thing I know for sure is that we want to end the night dancing at New Vegas Lounge. Any suggestions on daytime activities, and also a good place to grab dinner, drinks, dessert on Sat night (doesn't have to be all at one place). Love the chat...you guys are great! Thanks!!

A.
Fritz Hahn :

A bachelorette party on St. Patrick's Day sounds like ... well, it may not be the perfect storm, but it's going to be a storm, all right. We won't have a fuller list of St. Patrick's Day ideas until sometime in February, but you could always do a Saturday pub crawl in Old Town, which has multiple Irish options (Murphy's, Eamonn's, Daniel O'Connell's), or, if you're hunting for something rowdier, the annual Shamrockfest block party at RFK Stadium with dozens of bands, ranging from local cover acts to Scythian and the Dropkick Murphys.

– January 12, 2012 1:10 PM
Q.

Golden Globes Party

Are there any Golden Globes viewing parties happening at the bars on Sunday? Seems like the perfect night for a shindig with the federal holiday the next day.
A.
Fritz Hahn :

You know, I haven't heard of any, which is kind of weird.

Anyone know of a bar/restaurant hosting a Golden Globes party?

– January 12, 2012 1:11 PM
Q.

Restaurants vs. Food Trucks

Lynn, I noticed with some shock today that food trucks are going to be forced to move the minute they no longer have a line. (Previously, they were allowed to go 15 minutes between customers.) Some people are insinuating that this crackdown is yet another escalation in the fight between restaurants and food trucks What is the Restaurant Association's current position on food trucks?

A.
Lynne Breaux :

This has been quite the controversial issue; RAMW is all for expanding food options and legalizing food trucks. Restaurant outdoor dining necessitates 18 different reviews prior to obtaining a public space license, there does appear to be a disparity between such a lengthy regulatory process and using public space almost at will. RAMW very much looks forward to continued working towards a resolution.

– January 12, 2012 1:12 PM
Q.

Besides CoCo Sala

What other DC restaurants have extended their restaurant week offerings? Looking for ideas for a date on Monday but I don't have any other parameters yet. Thanks!
A.
Lynne Breaux :

The RW extensions are on our website www.restaurantweekmetrodc.org bon appetit

– January 12, 2012 1:13 PM
Q.

DC bar scene

Does there exist a metro accessible bar in DC like Nine bar, but with straight men? I love the music, friendly crowd and drink specials at Nine, but I'm a straight woman who wants to have her cake and eat it too.
A.
Fritz Hahn :

You know, I had female friends who loved Halo -- a previous bar in the same space with the same owners -- for the exact same reasons. (Well, and the lineup of fresh-fruit mojitos.)

I'd love to hear what other women recommend as a Number Nine substitute. It's one of the better lounges in D.C., I think, gay or straight.

– January 12, 2012 1:14 PM
Q.

Help a guy out with Pregnancy Cravings

My wife has recently started having pregnancy cravings. I could handle the takeout chinese and ice cream requests, and sort of enjoyed the baked bread phase. But now she wants pancakes... as she puts it "Good Pancakes" which specifically excludes the IHOPs of the world. So do you have any recommendations where I can find "Good Pancakes" somewhere in Northern Virginia? Fairfax area a plus, but at this point, anywhere in the Commonwealth will work out just fine.
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

So, how much pregnancy weight have you put on?  Well, we've got two suggestions, both diner-ish, but cozy and perfectly capable of making "Good Pancakes."  Try Bob & Edith's  (where the varieties they make include multigrain pancakes, which are delicious) or one of the Silver Diners. Justin Rude wrote last year about how the local chain has committed to using organic and local ingredients, making the diners worth another visit (you can check out the new ethos on their site). If you don't mind the drive and the line, Market Lunch in Eastern Market does those legendary Blue Bucks (one of our essential D.C.  eats) -- many many people argue they're worth the wait.

– January 12, 2012 1:17 PM
Q.

AdMo

Is there any word on the opening dates for Mintwood Place and for Southern Hospitality?

A.
Fritz Hahn :

Southern Hospitality had its media/friends party last night (so you'll know why you're seeing mentions on a variety of websites/blogs today) and it's set to start its public opening tonight. I haven't been yet; I'm planning on checking it out soon, though.

Mintwood is coming along; owner Saied Azali e-mailed Justin today and said it will be open "soon" and he's about to set the opening date. Stay tuned for more on that one, because we're pretty excited. (For those who haven't heard, it's next to Perry's, which Azali also owns, and features chef Cedric Maupillier, formerly of Central.)

– January 12, 2012 1:19 PM
Q.

Bars for a slightly older crowd?

Friend and I (late 30s/early 40s) are looking for a DC bar that isn't overrun with 20-somethings / Capitol Hill staffers wanting to party. Something a bit tamer and nicer where you might actually be able to hear what the person next to you says. Ideas?
A.
Lynne Breaux :

Assuming Cap Hill? Monocle, Sonoma, Johnny's Half Shell, not the Hill? Occidental, Bobby Van's, Le Bar at the Sofitel...

– January 12, 2012 1:19 PM
Q.

Plans for 12 year old boy and 7 years old girl

Family coming into town this weekend. They want to go to come museums but not walk around for monuments. What should I recommend that will keep both a 12 year old boy and a 7 year old girl (and their parents) entertained? Any new and exciting exhibits they might both like? Have already been to Natural History I believe. Thanks.
A.
Amy Orndorff :

The Air and Space Museum would be a good bet, especially if you buy tickets to an IMAX screening. The National Building Museum with its Lego exhibit would also be a good bet. And, if you are willing to shell out a bit more money, the International Spy Museum and the Newseum are two more that I would consider.

– January 12, 2012 1:19 PM
Q.

Saturday on the mall

Hi Gurus! My guy and I are heading to the National Mall for the day on Saturday. We plan to catch the Warhol exhibit at the Hirshorn before it closes, and we may go ice skating at the National Gallery too. Anything else not-to-miss in that area? Thanks!
A.
Lynne Breaux :

Poste Brasserie, Cedar, bistro d'oc

– January 12, 2012 1:22 PM
Q.

RW Wine specials

Sou'Wester's RW menu included an optional wine flight (1 glass per course, maybe a little less expensive than the usual per glass price). I thought it was a nice addition to the meal. Are there other restaurants with similar offers?
A.
Lynne Breaux :

yes, best to go the restaurant's website and see what other lagnaippe's are available. also check out Dino's offers

– January 12, 2012 1:23 PM
Q.

We're not in the District anymore, Toto

Two suburban-reluctant Rockville couples in their late 30's got babysitters and have made plans to go out together next Saturday night. Is there anything fun for us to do close to home in MoCo (besides dinner and a movie or a play, or Dave & Busters)? The expertise of the omniscient Gurus and followers would be greatly appreciated!
A.
Lynne Breaux :

Cap Grille, Lia's, Bezu, Redwood, MoCo is ever expanding

– January 12, 2012 1:25 PM
Q.

Bars for a slightly older crowd?

Friend and I (late 30s/early 40s) are looking for a DC bar that isn't overrun with 20-somethings / Capitol Hill staffers wanting to party. Something a bit tamer and nicer where you might actually be able to hear what the person next to you says. Ideas?
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

These days, most bars are filled with 30/40-somethings looking to party, seriously. You shouldn't have a hard time finding something nicer. If you want to swing really nice, you could make a reservation at the Gibson, where you'll have seats. You can also try Quill, the new Hamilton (happy hour is the best there), or Black Fox Lounge or Bayou  for live music and drinks.  If you don't mind a little pop music and more of a "scene" -- I'd add the rooftop of El Centro D.F. to the list. It's been super chill, particularly if you get there a little early (there's a happy hour there each day till 7, too). (In a similar vein, there's the downstairs bar at Blackbyrd.)

– January 12, 2012 1:26 PM
Q.

Pancakes

I LOVE the pancake selection at The Original Pancake House (Falls Church and somewhere in MD). They have everything you could think of, including bacon pancakes (delish!).
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

Great suggestion, thanks. The one in Maryland is in Rockville. I didn't know there was one in Falls Church!

– January 12, 2012 1:26 PM
Q.

Outdoor Activity with Visitors on Sunday

My parents and adult sister are coming to town this weekend and I'm trying to round out the schedule for Sunday. So far we have brunch at the Tabard Inn at 11, Dinner in Chinatown at 8 with drinks before at PS7's. Assuming the "mostly sunny" weather holds, we'd like to be outside. I was originally thinking Great Falls but would now like to do something closer to or in the city. Thank you!!
A.
Amy Orndorff :

Sounds like a lovely day! How about a walk around the Arboretum, Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens or even the U.S. Botanic Garden? If you are up for a bit more of an adventure try Kingman Island.

 

– January 12, 2012 1:27 PM
Q.

RW Date

Question for Holly. I've been invited out to Masa 14 for restaurant week for a first date. Thoughts on an outfit that's comfortable but still trendy (but not so trendy its a man repellent)?
A.
Lynne Breaux :

its all about the face and the feet-great earrings, flattering top and knockout shoes...

– January 12, 2012 1:28 PM
Q.

Sushi Taro

Took advantage of Restaurant Week at Sushi Taro last night. It was great. Four courses, though not big, expanded my japanese culinary horizons beyond sushi. I'm pretty sure I ate Monkfish Liver - I didn't know fish had livers large enough to dine on. Overall I was very happy with the service and trying something new.
A.
Lynne Breaux :

great to hear...just what RW is all about...

– January 12, 2012 1:33 PM
Q.

Girls Day Out

Girls (4) getting together in DC on Saturday. We do this once a month and have been doing it for years....so this time I'm asking the professionals. What is there not to miss....one person was wondering about Embassy related events - and one wants to see the MLK memorial. Dinner is included - starting @ approx 3 PM. Any thoughts are greatly appreciated!!!
A.
Fritz Hahn :

Let's start with the embassy events: There are some cool embassy exhibits that I'm looking forward to checking out, including Australian artists tackling the issue of contemporary culture versus the natural landscape, but most are only offered on weekdays, when the embassies are fully staffed. (The Australian gallery, for example, is only open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.)

MLK Memorial would be fun, especially because of the upcoming holiday. (I'm also thinking it will be less packed on Saturday than Sunday or Monday.) And don't forget that Andy Warhol's "Shadows" closes at the Hirshhorn this weekend.

Food-and-drink wise, I'm looking at the Park Hyatt -- home of the Blue Duck Taven -- which is hosting a Masters of Food and Wine Day, with some fascinating-sounding seminars, including a tasting of seasonal winter teas, and a brewer-led tasting of beers from Alexandria's Port City Brewing Company.

After dinner -- you might as well stay at Blue Duck Tavern -- there's the deliciously dorky Nerd Nite at DC9, followed by the all-'90s Peach Pit dance party.

– January 12, 2012 1:33 PM
Q.

mussels and beer?

Any news about the new mussels and beer place in cleveland park?
A.
Fritz Hahn :

St. Arnold's -- a sister to the rathskeller-y Belgian beer bar on Jefferson Place, south of Dupont Circle -- opened earlier this week. I tried to swing by on Tuesday, but they were already closed at 9 p.m.

The one in Dupont is solid (good mussels, good sandwiches, cool beer list), though I have to say that I prefer the bivalves at Bistrot du Coin, Brasserie Beck and Belga, among others.

– January 12, 2012 1:36 PM
Q.

St Paddy's Bach

Shamrockfest is not actually that weekend, its the weekend after on March 24! http://shamrockfest.com/
A.
Fritz Hahn :

Argh, you are right. Was working too quickly. Please disregard my earlier answer.

– January 12, 2012 1:37 PM
Q.

Golden Globes Viewing Spots?

Some girlfriends and I are looking to find a bar or restaurant that will be actively showing the Golden Globes Awards this Sunday. Do you know of any spots that will be broadcasting the event?
A.
Lynne Breaux :

With the last Sunday football game this week starting at 4:30, I am sure many restaurants with TV's would be happy to accomodate your request...so call a few places and ask...Sunday nights after sports games can be pretty quiet...

– January 12, 2012 1:38 PM
Q.

Kid Activities

Hi Gurus - My nieces (ages 11 and 8) and nephew (age 3) will be visiting the last weekend in Jan., and I need to come up with something to entertain them for a few hours on that Sunday. Any suggestions? It's been difficult for me to think of something that will keep the attention of a 3 year old, but be cool enough for the 11 year old! Thank you!
A.
Amy Orndorff :

When it comes to older kids and younger kids I try to go to with sporting events. Monster Jam is at Verizon Center that weekend. And if the kids like chocolate (who doesn't?) there is the McLean Chocolate Festival. If you want them to burn off a little energy, something like Rebounderz? Or (if you are on the other side of the river) Monster Mini Golf.

– January 12, 2012 1:40 PM
Q.

Birthday Celebration!

Gurus, it's birthday celebration time. I'm looking for a restaurant/bar that would be good for a casual birthday meetup. I recently went to a friend's brithday at Old Ebbitt and it worked well to stake out a place at the bar, order apps and drinks and people could come and go throughout the evening. I wouldn't think that there'd be more than 6-8 people at any one time and the day of the week will probably be a Saturday. Bonus points if there's a place to go afterwards...for example, Old Ebbitt is by POV. (Obviously I like what my friend did, but don't want to do the same thing twice!)
A.
Fritz Hahn :

Not that I'm encouraging you to show up your friend, but I might go around the corner to the brand-new Hamilton, which is massive (multiple bars, sushi bar, huge dining room) and would be a perfect place for your coming-and-going crew. (Stake out a spot at the bar in the far back dining room, both to make yourself easier to find and because I don't think it gets quite as busy as the front fern bar.)

Nearby, if it's on a Saturday, I'd suggest strolling up the street to Ceiba, which has half-price cocktails and bar snacks after 10 p.m. You could also go around the corner to Recess on 15th Street; the cozy little one-room lounge is pretty jumping on weekends.

 

– January 12, 2012 1:41 PM
Q.

MORE OF A SOCIAL ETIQUETTE QUESTION

I just graduated from grad school and would like to throw a celebratory happy hour at a pizzeria/bar in Arlington. However, this is a real catch-22 because while I want to thank my friends for not abandoning me during my 2 year hiatus from the social scene, I also can't afford anything too lavish since - you guessed it - my bank account has basically been wiped clean by tuition payments and loans. I wanted to buy about $100 - $150 worth of appetizers and pizzas to share at Fire Works Pizza in Arlington, but can I ask my guests to buy their own alcohol? If so, what's the best way to politely state this up front in my invitation?
A.
Lynne Breaux :

thats a tough one but as always honesty is the best policy...when inviting just state that the alsohol is individual...if possible you could limit the selection to pitchers of beer and carafes of wine, thus the per person cost could be more easily devided, when its time for the check

– January 12, 2012 1:42 PM
Q.

"Good Pancakes"

The Original Pancake House in Fall Church (on Lee Highway, I think). They have so many varieties and options, I'm sure the pregnancy cravings can be satisfied. They also have non-pancake items, for you.
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

This one is turning up as a pancake favorite among our chatters. Future dad, I hope this helps!

– January 12, 2012 1:42 PM
Q.

Restaurant Week

I made reservations for lunch at Graffiato this past Monday. I wasn't even thinking about Restaurant Week, but was pleased to enjoy their RW menu. With four of us at the table, we got to taste a wide range of dishes. Big yum on the brussel sprouts and the risotto. We had an early reservation. By the time we left, the place was packed.
A.
Lynne Breaux :

another pleased RW diner, even if it wasn't planned for RW

– January 12, 2012 1:44 PM
Q.

music mix

Hi! Looking for a venue with a nice mix of hip hop, house, and electronic for dancing tomorrow night. No/cheap cover. Any suggestions? Thanks!
A.
Fritz Hahn :

A couple options I'm thinking of: I'm a bit of a fanboy for English DJ Rory Phillips, as I've been to many of the London parties he's done over the years (And Did We Mention Our Disco, Trash, Durrrr) because of the way that they blend electronic, house, synthpop, pop remixes, what have you. He's spinning at U Street Music Hall tomorrow, and it's free for everyone 21 and over.

The Clockwork Dance Party at the Rock and Roll Hotel ticks off all the boxes you're looking for, with some disco and Club thrown in. Little Miss Whiskey's and Lost Society also do the no cover/great tunes combo well, though the latter fills up pretty early.

– January 12, 2012 1:46 PM
Q.

Restaurant Week

My dad's in town this weekend - any recommendations to take him to for Restaurant Week? He's your typical Midwestern guy - likes the red meat, doesn't care much for vegetarian options or dessert (whereas I am the opposite, but flexible). I'd like to take him somewhere unusual and really DC, since I am moving out of town. Only other hitch - we'll be in casual clothes (so no 1789 or the like, sadly). Thanks, gurus! I appreciate all your insights during my seven years living in DC!
A.
Lynne Breaux :

can't get more really DC than Old Ebbitt, but depending on just how casual you are, great steakhouses abound in DC, simply check their dress code, many are participating on RW...

– January 12, 2012 1:51 PM
Q.

Fashion question (sort of)

Thermal hair straightening - worth the $$$?
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

Sooo, I've got corkscrew hair (fresh out of the shower, I look a little like Rick James), and I've struggled with this question, talked with friends who've done it (andthe Brazilian blowouts) and the consensus is pretty much "Don't do it." It's damaging to your hair, while the Brazilians have some controversy about having formaldehyde in the formula. And I've heard that on some people, or because of the person doing the treatment, sometimes your hair goes back to normal after just a few weeks. I can say this: I've had a ton of success taming my hair with Moroccan Oil products (I love the shampoo and the oil the most) and a blowdryer. I got a stylist to take the time to show me how to blow out curly hair like mine. And be sure to use one of those thermal protectant products (my stylists all seem to recommend the Sebastian Trilliant, and I like it.) Yes, still a total time suck, but my hair's probably healthier for it. 

– January 12, 2012 1:53 PM
Q.

DC Visitors

Hi Gurus! Thanks for taking my question! My fiance's awesome brother and sister-in-law are going to be in town this weekend and we're looking for something to do on Friday evening. They love great food and unique cocktails/beer. On previous visits, we've taken them to Churchkey and Meridian Pint as far as bars go. Since it's restaurant week, our dinner reservation selection is a bit limited - we're looking for a fun, relaxing Friday night full of good food and booze. Price and location are open. Seeing as they are the best visitors ever, we want to make sure they have a great time! Thanks!
A.
Fritz Hahn :

A couple of non-Restaurant Week options:

Barbecue and beers at the (relatively) new Smoke and Barrel, from the owner of Meridian Pint, has become one of my go-to places for bourbon drinks and smoky deliciousness.

Cocktails and 20 draft beers at Jack Rose, with food prepared by ex-Viridian/IndeBleu chef Michael Hartzer.

Brasserie Beck -- start with the happy hour specials, which include half-price Belgian beers and, from 5 to 6:30, two orders of mussels and a wine-sized bottle of the Mont St Albert Reserve Belgian ale for $50.

You can also just sit in the lounge/at the bar at Bourbon Steak and make a meal out of appetizers while sampling some of D.C.'s best warm and "chilled" cocktails.

– January 12, 2012 1:54 PM
Q.

Best Sushi?

Hi! I'm taking my boyfriend out for sushi for his 28th birthday next week. What places would you recommend?
A.
Lynne Breaux :

Kaz, Kushi

– January 12, 2012 1:54 PM
Q.

Intergenerational activity?

Two 1-year olds, two sixty-somethings, two thirty-somethings, and a 90 year old are all spending the long weekend together. Suggestions on what to do? Best intergenerational museums / exhibits / day trips etc.? (The 90 year old is in great shape; the 1-year olds need something stroller accessible)... We're in MD but will happily go in to DC or VA... Thanks!!!
A.
Amy Orndorff :

Spend at least one day in Baltimore. Explore the aquarium, the Maryland Science Center (an IMAX movie, maybe?) and the Sports Legends Museum. We also compiled a pretty cool neighborhood guide for Annapolis that has a little something for all in your party.

– January 12, 2012 1:54 PM
Q.

Organic in Georgetown?

My best friend is coming to DC and staying in Georgetown. We want to meet somewhere near her hotel for dinner. Can you recommend a healthy (preferably organic) restaurant? She's not a vegetarian, so that's not an issue. Thanks!
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

Lynne Breaux and the staff wracked our brains and could only come up with Restaurant Nora, which isn't too far from Georgetown (a five minute cab ride, max). We think you might like Cafe Milano, too, because the fare is so healthy and delicious, though not necessarily organic.

– January 12, 2012 1:55 PM
Q.

Best Bars with Fireplaces?

Looking for a cozy, dimly lit bar/ restaurant with a fireplace to take a new bf and have seasonal drinks. Any suggestions?
A.
Fritz Hahn :

My idea date night these days is the combination of a hot toddy and the outdoor firepit at Room 11. So hard to beat, since the last couple times I've been to Tabard, you couldn't get near the fireplace...

I'd also suggest a hot chocolate cocktail or a toddy at Bourbon Steak, and then out to one of the gas-powered firepits in its secluded courtyard. (They don't always have them on, but since it's the Four Seasons, you just have to ask.)

– January 12, 2012 1:58 PM
Q.

Trivia

Hi everybody! I want to take a group to trivia and have been to several places but was looking for recommendations where the bar doesn't have a limit on the number of people per group and where there is enough room that we don't have to get there insanely early to score seats. Ideas? Thanks!
A.
Fritz Hahn :

How many people are you bringing for your team? Steph and I are both avid trivia attendees and hosts, and we agree that there's something inherently unfair about a game where one team has 8-10 people and everyone else has 4 or 5 -- of COURSE there's a better chance that that larger team will win.

– January 12, 2012 2:02 PM
Q.

Birthday Party

Any ideas for a fun place for a birthday happy hour? Heading solidly into my 30s for this one - looking for a place where I grab some space for friends to come and go throughout the evening, get some food and good cocktails. Red line is preferable but will travel for a great location! Thanks!
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

I'm going to go with El Centro (yes, again) because the rooftop bar is a favorite of the staff here -- you can gather a group of people, plus the happy hour is a great deal and they'll have the good cocktails you seek (note that the kitchen stops serving food up there at 9, sadly); or Barcode, a staple for after-work crowds because of its location, and great deals (and the food's good, and half-off too), Fritz suggests Laughing Man Tavern for a low-key vibe.

– January 12, 2012 2:03 PM
Q.

Desperate for terror...

Tomorrow is Friday the 13th. I know there HAVE TO be events going on! Where can I find a listing or do you know of any? Have a friend coming in to town and would like to do something out of the ordinary...
A.
Amy Orndorff :

I am so disappointed at how little there is going on to celebrate Friday the 13th. In honor of creepy/interesting/different things I suggest Congressional Cemetery (be sure to download a map of famous residents and charge your cell phone for a tour).

– January 12, 2012 2:06 PM
Q.

Outdoor Activity

I also recommend Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland - you need a car to get there, I think, but it's a very nice park - small and walkable (compared to the Arboretum), yet there are so many things to enjoy and see. Also Hillwood in Van Ness has a pretty garden (My fav is the Japanese-inspired garden) too. You will also enjoy the estate/museum.
A.
Amy Orndorff :

Yes, Brookside Gardens is very worth the drive. Hillwood is also lovely.

– January 12, 2012 2:08 PM
Q.

Options for a proper good-bye to DC

B/c of work, my husband and I need to leave DC for a few years. Tear. Before we go,I want to take advantage of the best of DC. If you could plan two "DC" nights--one without a budget and one with a "cheap eats" theme, what kind of evenings would you plan? We're willing to hop around anywhere. Thanks!
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

I really like the idea of doing a.) things you loved to do together and b.) things you always wanted to do but didn't.  So for me, this would include a no-budget dinner at Rasika, because the food is SO memorable, followed by a cocktail or two at Estadio or Room 11. I love walks around the city, to remember landmarks and favorite places --  you always run into friends, which makes it fun -- a Sunday brunch is always fun (and cheap). Go some place you love but don't get to enough (I like wasting a morning at Tryst, even if it is just to eat a bagel and drink a Cuban). And have you considered one of those funny city tours -- like the Open Top tour ? You always learn something, even if you've lived here for ages.

– January 12, 2012 2:08 PM
A.
Fritz Hahn :

Things I would have to do one last time before I left D.C.:

Cheapish

* Half-price Belgian beer happy hour at Brasserie Beck.

* A last visit to the Kogod courtyard at the American Art Museum.

* Ethiopian food, since it's such a rarity outside of D.C., probably Etete or Madjet or Queen Makeda.

* A late-night stroll around the monuments.

* Late-night shots-and-PBR at the Tune Inn.

Not-so-cheap

1. World-class cocktails at the Passenger/Columbia Room

2. Dinner at Rasika or Fiola

3. Cocktails on the roof at POV, just to remember the view

4. Nightcap at ChurchKey, one of the country's great beer bars.

Hey readers -- send us the plan for your last D.C. night and we'll publish the best on our blog. (E-mail them to me, fritz.hahn@washingtonpost.com, or Lavanya, ramanathanl@washpost.com, and we'll take care of the rest. Thanks.)

– January 12, 2012 2:08 PM
Q.

Restaurant week - vegetarian options?

Hello! Are there any restaurants that provide good vegetarian options during the restaurant week? I can eat anything, but a few of my family friends don't eat meat/fish and their choices are so limited especially re: main courses. Would it be okay to ask for a substitute?
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

I've noticed a lot more restaurants are offering at least one vegetarian option  for Restaurant Week, which is great news. So I don't think you'll need to ask for a substitution.  Justin Rude says his Mio meal was "awesome," and there was a veggie dish on the menu; some others I'd throw out there include Nage (though it's listed as "seafood," they do a great job accommodating vegetarians. Co Co. Sala has long offered veggie options. Dino is another option - offering  diners a flexible choice of pasta, which means there will definitely be an option for vegetarians. Good luck! 

– January 12, 2012 2:14 PM
Q.

Cuban Restuarants in Arlington?

Hi- Do you guys know of any good Cuban restuarants in Arlington?
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

Caribbean Grill is a favorite -- try that one.

– January 12, 2012 2:15 PM
Q.

Fritz Hahn :

Whew. Thanks for another busy week on the chat. Reminder: Send us your one-night D.C. bucket list -- the things you'd have to do on your last night in the area -- and we'll publish our favorites on the Going Out Guide blog.

Thanks to Lynne Breaux for joining us this week.

Next week, we're talking hoops. Seriously. See you then.

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