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February 3, 2011

1:01
P.M.

Got Plans?

Total Responses: 61

About the hosts

About the host

Host: Stump the Gurus

Stump the Gurus

The excellent electro-pop duo Chromeo is appearing at the 9:30 Club this weekend, and we have a pair of tickets of give away to Sunday's show. (Saturday's show is sold out.) If you'd like to go dance to "Fancy Footwork" "Bonafied Lovin" and the rest of the group's infectious hits, join our Got Plans? chat Thursday at 1 p.m. and tell us your favorite non-football-related thing to do on Super Bowl Sunday. We'll pick the best answer and put your name on the guest list.

We'll also be looking for any smartypants who can stump us with D.C. trivia or who scored a top rating in our How well do you know Washington? quiz. Get your questions ready.

About the topic

The Going Out Guide staff discuss great ideas for local entertainment, dates and family fun.
Q.

Justin Rude :

Today's chat is going to be a busy one. In addition to Chromeo ticket giveaway and a callout of D.C. trivia questions, today also marks the chat's 10th anniversary. See the right rail for information about the contest and trivia, and don't be afraid to ask Fritz how things were back in the wild and woolly days of early 2001.

 

Q.

Steak

I'm planning a birthday dinner for my boyfriend. He is VERY into steak. Where is the best steak restaurant in DC that still has some character/charm? I know there has to be a better atmosphere than the Palm...
A.
Justin Rude :

I guess this depends on the type of character and charm you are looking for. J&G Steakhouse has a gorgeous dining room with dramatic, high ceilings. The Prime Rib is old school in the best way, recalling yesteryear's smoky temples to meat and booze. And Bourbon Steak is warm and both warm and sophisticated with exemplary service.

– February 03, 2011 1:04 PM
Q.

Drinks after dinner at Oceanaire

My boyfriend and I have dinner reservations on 2/12 to celebrate Valentine's Day at Oceanaire. We will definitely be dressed up, and would like a place relatively close by to go for drinks (say the Penn Quarter area). Our favorite places for special occasions are Bourbon (in Adams Morgan) and The Gibson, but we don't want to hike all the way up there from Metro Center. Any suggestions?
A.
Fritz Hahn :

Cocktails at Proof would be my #1 -- I think the dark moodiness of the bar there is incredibly romantic, and I love Adam Bernbach's new hot winter cocktails, which come in a thermos for two so you can share. If Proof is full, which it may on a Saturday night, your next best bet right by Oceanaire may be the bar at Ceiba, though it closes at midnight.  Personally, I'd get a cab to the Passenger.

– February 03, 2011 1:05 PM
Q.

Theater for newbies?

My fiance and I are trying to look outside the box and do things we don't usually do (i.e. bars, bars, and more bars). We want to start going to see some plays and other shows, but we don't know where to start. Any ideas? Thanks!!
A.
Stephanie Merry :

Can you be a little more specific with what kinds of things you guys like? Shakespeare, musicals, comedy, drama, totally offbeat and goofy fare (like Landless Theatre's show that Lavanya just wrote about). Hit me back with some details, and check out my monthly theater preview, which may give you some ideas.

– February 03, 2011 1:08 PM
Q.

Please help!

Is there a place in the metro area that does make, or could make, a custom headband? I know it sounds strange, but I'm getting married in the spring and I wanted to have my headband made out of my straps from my wedding dress. Any suggestions would be great!!
A.
Holly Thomas :

My best suggestion would be to use Etsy for an Alchemy transaction -- essentially, you post an ad explaining what you want, and Etsy sellers make offers to do a custom piece for you. More info here. Or you could shop the site for a designer/artist you really like and work out a commission with her/him directly.

– February 03, 2011 1:09 PM
Q.

please, no coverrrrsss!!!

looking for a lounge/bar on saturday night where people can dance but also chill if they want to. please, no clusters. having difficulty finding a place with out a cover. any suggestions? located in arlington, but don't mind cabbing into the city (except adams morgan, its a mish).
A.
Fritz Hahn :

It's a hard balance, since so many of the good lounges with dance music have covers or require bottle service if you want to sit down, and don't have any seats otherwise. That's one of the things that keeps me from recommending places like Lima or Eden for situations like yours. You can get in free, sure, but it's hard to chill when you're pressed up against a wall.

In Arlington, there's Gua-Rapo in Courthouse, which doesn't usually have a cover, no minimums at most tables and sports some fantastic Latin DJs, but it's also a hookah bar so you'll get some smoke on your clothes.

In D.C., try Science Club for good house DJs, Barcode for a more electro feel, maybe Lounge of III on U for the old-school hip-hop vibe.

– February 03, 2011 1:10 PM
Q.

To Dos in Chevy Chase

I live in Alexandria and rarely head into Maryland but I'm venturing across state lines this weekend to try a restaurant in Chevy Chase. Are there any interesting sights, shopping, etc that I should check out? Thanks!
A.
Alex Baldinger :

In Friendship Heights alone, you've got Chevy Chase Pavilion, Mazza Gallerie and a whole bunch of high-end shops and boutiques up-and-down Wisconsin Avenue (Barney's, Jimmy Choo, Cartier, Tiffany's, etc.). It's the "Rodeo Drive of the East Coast," or something like that. Just make sure to bring your check book. 

– February 03, 2011 1:12 PM
Q.

Dinner Similar to Birch and Barley?

Hi Gurus! I submitted this question to Tom yesterday, but he didn't get to it so I'm hoping you can help me out. I wanted to surprise my husband with dinner at Birch and Barley next weekend for Valentine's Day. Unfortunately, they do not have any reservations available. Can you suggest anywhere that might offer something similar to Birch and Barley's tasting menu with the beer pairings? Thanks in advance!
A.
Justin Rude :

If it was one of their special beer dinners, then you aren't likely to find anything quite on that scale, but there are plenty of restaurants with great beer lists and servers who can help you make informed decisions about what to get with your meal.

Lets start by keeping it in the same restaurant group: the beer list at Rustico is managed by the same minds behind Birch and Barley and Churchkey's, and I think the kitchen at the new Ballston location is as sharp as the one operating at Birch and Barley. Againn has a solid selection of UK brews, and I believe their beer list includes suggestions for what kind of food each beverage pairs well with. And of course there is Beck, which pairs its Belgian cuisine with beer as well as anyone else in town.

– February 03, 2011 1:12 PM
A.
Fritz Hahn :

In addition to agreeing with J-Rude about Rustico, I'd suggest dinner at Brasserie Beck. A little more formal than Rustico, and GM/beer sommerlier Thor Cheston is always floating around to offer suggestions for pairing dinner and beers. He's quite good at it.

– February 03, 2011 1:17 PM
Q.

D.C.: Foggy bottom bar

Hi Gurus! If you had an hour to kill before an 8 PM reservation at Founding Farmers on Friday, would you simply get a drink at their bar or try something elsewhere (reasonably close)? Nothing too fancy or alternatively, too frat party. Thanks!
A.
Justin Rude :

Fritz will almost certainly have more to add to this, but I actually think that Founding Farmers has a very solid bar. In fact its probably the restaurant's best feature.

– February 03, 2011 1:14 PM
A.
Fritz Hahn :

I'm going to agree with Justin here. I really like the cocktails at Founding Farmers, and it's kind of a dead area as well in terms of barhopping. I do like the under-the-radar Library Bar at the Hotel Lombardy, though, which is kind of quaint and quiet -- very much a proper hotel bar, as opposed to something like Helix or Rouge. It's only a block or two away.

– February 03, 2011 1:14 PM
Q.

Bachelorette Party ideas

Hey all, I'm planning a bachelorette party for mid-March. We're not looking for the loud, obnoxious bar scene or the (stereo)typical bachelorette party scene where everyone is ridiculously drunk. We are looking for places for just a fun night with the girls, maybe some dancing, maybe some fun lounge-y place to chat. Do you have recommendations for places like that in DC? Thanks!!
A.
Stephanie Merry :

I've been big on recommending H Street for bachelorette parties lately, as long as your not planning on doing puffy paint t-shirts and anatomically correct straws. I think a fun night would include: drinks and board games at Toyland, sake and sushi at Sticky Rice and then dancing at Rock and Roll Hotel or Little Miss Whiskey's. And after all that, a late-night trip to Taylor might be in order.

– February 03, 2011 1:15 PM
Q.

Best gyms for short term membership?

I am looking to a join a gym for a couple of months while in town. Unfortunately, most gyms only seem to have memberships with 1 or 2 year contracts. Can you recommend any gyms with month-to-month membership?
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

It looks like a lot of our local gyms offer options for short-termers (we are a town full of them, after all). When I was here ages ago for an internship, I went to the Y because I could pay month-to-month (it's basic, very basic); I called the D.C. branch, and they confirmed that they do have month-to-month memberships. Vida also offers month-to-month memberships, and so does Results. The WSC offers 30 days for 30 dollars, which doesn't quite suit your needs, but I'd thought I'd throw it out there.  I can't really recommend one since  each  has a very different clientele; I think it's your best bet to visit each (and find out what fits your budget).

– February 03, 2011 1:18 PM
Q.

Happy Puppy Bowl Weekend

Where can a dog lover go to watch the Puppy Bowl on Sunday? (Yes, this is a serious question!)
A.
Fritz Hahn :

This is a brilliant question, and I wish I knew the answer. I had hopes that the Humane Society would be hosting an event, but no dice. I wonder if Argonaut might be doing anything, since you can bring your dog onto its outdoor patio and watch the game there, though I expect it would be very, very cold.

Chatters? Any suggestions?

– February 03, 2011 1:19 PM
Q.

The Prime Rib is old school in the best way, recalling yesteryear's smoky temples to meat and booze.

Ha. And then there are those of us who would say "in the WORST way." I did enjoy the actual food when I ate there, but egads. I know they're famous for the outdated decor, but it's really hideous. Dark, low ceilings, worn furnishings, ugly mix of patterns. I shudder just thinking about the place.
A.
Justin Rude :

I'm not going to disagree with anything you are saying here... but one man's hideous is another man's charm.

And thank you for giving me some space just as I remember I should also recommend Bond 45. National Harbor isn't the most convenient, but that restaurant's Italian steakhouse charms make it worth the trip.

– February 03, 2011 1:20 PM
Q.

Theater follow-up

Well, I'm up for anything, but he tends to be a bit more reserved with these things. Traditional is good, but I can only take so much Shakespeare... Any middle ground? Thanks!!
A.
Stephanie Merry :

I would probably start with Arabian Nights at Arena Stage. It's based on a classic text, so there's that sense of tradition, but it's also incredibly entertaining and visually stunning. I am also sort of obsessed with Cymbeline at Lansburgh. It's Shakespeare, yes, but it's an obscure one, and the director's take on the play is really inventive. I never see plays twice, but I'm seriously thinking about going back.

– February 03, 2011 1:20 PM
Q.

Chinese/Lunar New Year

Anything to do downtown? Too much to ask for something in the increasingly ironically named Chinatown? Thanks!
A.
Alex Baldinger :

Party like it's 4709 (because it is) at the annual Chinese Lunar New Year celebration in Chinatown Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. Make sure you're there for the five-story fire cracker lighting at 3:45. It's the year of the Rabbit, by the way, symbolizing patience, sensitivity, elegance and tireless work ethic. Not a bad sign to be born under. 

 

 

– February 03, 2011 1:20 PM
Q.

DC

Hi Gurus - all this winter has got me down. Anything I can do this Saturday that will get me active (ideally metro-accessible)?
A.
Stephanie Merry :

Amy (who's in Trinidad right now -- jealous!) just wrote this great story about ways to get active during the winter months. That should give you a few ideas for beating the winter blues. Or you could just go to Trinidad....

– February 03, 2011 1:22 PM
Q.

A question for Holly!

Holly, I tried posting this on the Fashion Facebook page with no luck but...I have my company's big 10th anniversary gala coming up at the end of February. The attire is black tie optional--so my first question, should I go long or short? I'm tall, so long looks good on me but I can't decide it I'll be overdressed. Any suggestions for styles? I'm pear shaped, so things that flow a bit more on the bottom are best for me. I also have fair skin and dark hair. (If that helps with color choices since I would prefer not to wear black). Second question, how should I do my makeup? Obviously I want to look professional but this is going to be in the evening, "dinner, dancing, and cocktails" as the invite says. I want to look my best! Thanks in advance.
A.
Holly Thomas :

I've been meaning to get to your question -- thanks for being persistent! For black-tie optional, I'd say go mid-length to short if you're worried about looking overdressed, since most people take "optional" to heart in these cases. If you happen to have a long dress already and it looks great on you, go for it -- just keep the rest of your look understated and elegant. For a pear-shaped figure, try an empire waist silhouette, which will be more forgiving to your lower half. For colors, I'd pick a really rich, gorgeous jewel tone, like a deep sapphire, ruby, emerald green, eggplant or bronze -- those would look really striking and elegant with your hair/skin combo. And for makeup, since you'll be doing dinner + drinks, I'd keep the focus on your eyes with a smoky look or a natural shadow + liquid liner combo, and go for a more natural, rosy lip (which will save you from constant reapplication and worrying about whether you have red lipstick on your teeth).

– February 03, 2011 1:23 PM
Q.

Happy hour

I will be in Rosslyn this afternoon for business. My husband offered to meet me someplace in the Clarendon/Courthouse/Rosslyn corridor for happy hour. Where could we sit down at a bar, have drinks/food in that area? We have enjoyed the Liberty Tavern, Eventide but would like to try a new place (we eat out quite often but always same places). We are in our early 40's so Whitlow's is not quite our scene. I was possibly thinking of the bar at the Hotel Palomar but wondered how it was...Any other suggestion is appreciated. Thank you!
A.
Justin Rude :

Have you been to Lyon Hall yet? Its still a relative newcomer and offers up some good Alsatian plates along with a nice beer and wine list.

And the paint is barely dry at the Arlington Rooftop Bar and Grill., which is located above Delhi Dhaba and the Subway.

– February 03, 2011 1:26 PM
Q.

Stump the Guru

What Washington, DC, landmark is the subject of an Academy Award winning documentary, short subject?
A.
Alex Baldinger :

Would this by any chance be about an object contained within a D.C. landmark? 

– February 03, 2011 1:28 PM
Q.

Places with Good Beer

GOGs - Multiple-part question here, all related to places to drink beer, so feel free to answer as many or as few as you can. My wife and I became suburbanites (Bethesda/Potomac area) and then recently had a baby (now 3 months old). This combination of events -- plus our continued love of good beer selections -- has led us to look at places in a new light.

1) What places in the Maryland suburbs have a good beer selection? From our experience there are not that many (only Mussel Bar and American Tap Room come to by), and they tend to be overpriced (at the latter a Guiness is $7 or $8). The new Matchbox in Rockville has good beer, but not a really wide variety (a la Rustico).

2) What good beer places (DC or MD or Tyson's area) are baby-friendly (not so much worried about being "good" for babies as much as not allowing babies)? I know Meridian Pint is (and we love that place), and Big Hunt is not. What about other ones like ChurchKey and RFD?

3) Why does beer seem to be so much more expensive in MontCo? I recall something a bit back about higher taxes, but recently I read that MD has some of the lowest alcohol taxed in the country. Thanks for any guidance on these questions.

A.
Fritz Hahn :

1 - The best beer places in the near Maryland suburbs are Frisco's Grill in Columbia (a drive, but worth it) and the Quarry House Tavern in Silver Spring. If you're a fan of brewpubs, try Franklin's in Hyattsville, DuClaw in Bowie or the recently reopened Growler's of Gaithersburg.

2. Pizzeria Paradiso (especially Georgetown and Old Town) is very family friendly, more so than ChurchKey or Big Hunt. I've seen kids in RFD before Caps games, but never really at other times.

3. Beer costs more in MoCo because of the messed-up system by which the county government is the sole distributor of alcohol within the county. (It's the only situation like this in the U.S.) When I wrote about Mussel Bar, I called Thor Cheston to ask why beers were more expensive in Bethesda than at Beck downtown.  "This, Cheston says, is because of Montgomery County's control of alcohol, which adds "at least a 25 percent mark up" to his costs. And because the orders of beer have to be purchased from the county, it makes it harder to score kegs from the cool, small Belgian breweries."

– February 03, 2011 1:29 PM
Q.

This should be easy, but you never know

Who was the only president to become a member of Congress after his term?
A.
Fritz Hahn :

And if you were at our GOG trivia night in December, you might have known that he was the only president to die in the Capitol building!

 

 

 

(the answer is John Quincy Adams, btw.)

– February 03, 2011 1:30 PM
Q.

Birthday Help in Arlington

Good afternoon oh mighty GOGs! This one is a twofer. My birthday is the Saturday and I need some help. 1) This question might be best suited for Holly, but if any other GOGs have suggestions that'd be great! I want to go on a thrifting spree during the day Saturday. Since I live in Arlington, I'm looking to hit the stores in MD & DC that I never have a chance to go to. Any suggestions for a CANNOT miss thrift or consignment store? Or suggestions on a specific area of DC or MD to focus on that has plenty of thrift stores to keep me busy? Also any good places to grab a bite near one of those can't miss stores?

2) For Saturday night I want to go out dancing with my boyfriend. My absolutely favorite dance party is Fatback. What's the dance scene look like for this Saturday? I see that the Moon-Bounce party is going on at the Black Cat, but I don't know if that will be too high energy (and cramped since it's backstage). What about anything on H Street? I've always been curious of the scene at Little Miss Whiskey's. Also, do any bars exist that are less than crowded and rowdy, and within walking distance of one of the dance parties going on this Saturday? My boyfriend hates going out because of crowds and I'd love to know of someplace we can escape to for drinks after we're (read I'm) done dancing. Thanks so much for taking my question and helping me to have a fun birthday!

A.
Holly Thomas :

Here's my take on 1) -- head to the Maryland suburbs. The combo Unique Thrift/Value Village in Silver Spring is pretty amazing, and there's a great BBQ joint in the parking lot (facing New Hampshire Ave) for when you feel absolutely famished after thrifting. From there, hit the Value Village on University Blvd in Hyattsville and the Unique Thrift in Wheaton. You might get lucky at the DC Goodwill on S Dakota Ave, but in my opinion, it's hit-or-miss and not close enough to other spots to make it worth the trip. There's not really much true thrifting in DC (vintage shops don't count); I know you live in Arlington, but I must say I've had awesome luck lately at Joseph's  Coat and the new Goodwill just down the road.

– February 03, 2011 1:33 PM
Q.

Drinks tonight in Dupont Circle

Typically my boyfriend works evenings - he really misses the simple God-given right of going out for drinks after work at the same time as everyone else. This week only he's working a different shift. I work in Dupont Circle so we are planning to meet for drinks in the neighborhood around 6:30. We're pretty familiar with the neighborhood, but it isn't typically one of our destinations. Is there a place with a great after work scene that I'm not thinking of. And because people seem to offer this up as a parameter, we're in our late-30s. And we like everything from Quarry House to The Passenger to Off the Record (as I read that list, I realize it could just read: We like bars.) Thanks!
A.
Fritz Hahn :

The bars I've been going to in Dupont lately: Birreria Paradiso for brews, Scion for an off-the-beaten path choice of craft beer and fantastic burgers (and an outstanding happy hour), Bistrot du Coin's bar when I want to be around people (and maybe play a little foosball), and Maddy's for a lower-key neighborhood spot with a friendly vibe and good appetizers for sharing.

– February 03, 2011 1:33 PM
Q.

Wedding headband

She might also check out the vendors at Eastern Market. I know there are some who make ribbon headbands who might be willing to work with her.
A.
Holly Thomas :

Thanks for the tip!

– February 03, 2011 1:34 PM
Q.

When "after work" is after 8...

I get off work after 8 p.m.... too late for happy hour. Any other after-work activity ideas?
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

You don't actually have to rule out happy hour. I can honestly say I've never been to a "real" happy hour in all my years in D.C., because I could never get out of here and to a bar before 7. But there are bars that do happy hours late or all-night on weekdays. A couple of note: Ceiba hosts a second happy hour beginning at 9:30 p.m. on weekdays (and 10 on weekends), and PS7's extends happy hour all night on Mondays, as does Science Club. Breadsoda does happy hour on weekends till 7. 

– February 03, 2011 1:35 PM
Q.

Muzette

Hi Gurus, I was wondering if any of you have been to Muzette, the new Korean Karaoke place in Adams Morgan. I'm less interested in the food and more interested in the karoke rooms/if it it's a fun place for a night out (don't like a lot of the typical AM places like Tom Toms, etc.). Thanks!
A.
Holly Thomas :

I went a few weeks ago for a friend's birthday and had a blast -- I've avoided karaoke for years after a traumatic college experience, but the private rooms make a huge difference in the level of comfort and intimacy. My friend was able to work out a deal to create her own bottle service, which probably helped, too.

– February 03, 2011 1:35 PM
Q.

RE Stump the Guru

No, not quite... The documentary short focuses on things within, outside, and on top of the landmark.
A.
Alex Baldinger :

Thought you might have been talking about "The Flight of the Gossamer Condor" but alas...

 

 

– February 03, 2011 1:36 PM
Q.

Spring Break Camping

My first thought of Cunningham Falls is a bust (no availability). Other suggestions for a couple of tent campers with a toddler? MD is preferable. Thanks!
A.
Alex Baldinger :

Have you tried Catoctin Mountain Park just north of Frederick? Very pleasant and kid-friendly tent pad site. 

– February 03, 2011 1:38 PM
Q.

U St & Dress Codes

Hey Guru's - heading out to U St. this weekend with a small group of friends, and unfortunately - a few of them refuse to dress up at all. By that I just mean they might be wearing jeans, tennis shoes, and hats. I wanted to take them to possibly Lounge of 3 and Patty Boom Boom. Does those two establishments have dress codes, and can you recommend any other decent places nearby they might get in? Thank you!
A.
Fritz Hahn :

Don't worry -- I've seen plenty of guys in sneakers and caps at both Patty Boom Boom and Lounge of III. Obviously they're not going to get into the Jins or the Pures because of the dress code. The best dress-codeless spot for dancing and good music on U is still U Street Music Hall, though the house/electro music doesn't quite fit in with your other plans. If you're going on Saturday, check out Moon/Bounce, a night of hip-hop, disco and other dance genres on the backstage of the Black Cat. Last one I went to was pretty high energy. There's no dress code and a $5 cover.

– February 03, 2011 1:39 PM
Q.

Outdoor again

Sorry, I appreciate the link to the article, but those options don't seem to be metro accessible! Any chance you have other ideas?
A.
Stephanie Merry :

Oops. Not firing on all cylinders today; blame the sleep deprivation. I actually just went trapezing for the first time, and it was...an experience (and a big physical challenge). I think a little adrenaline could go a long way in curing your winter blahs, too. Sportrock, which offers indoor climbing, has a location near the Van Dorn Metro. There are, of course, plenty of options for yoga classes around town or you could look into a drop-in dance class at Joy of Motion.

– February 03, 2011 1:40 PM
Q.

Chromeo

My favorite non-football related thing to do on Sunday is to have a Wes Anderson film festival in my living room and eat <a href="http://semiweeklyeats.blogspot.com/2011/01/avocado-fries.html">avocado fries</a>. Followed by a night of Chromeo at 930club of course.
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

I like anything having to do with avocados and  Wes Anderson (a fellow UT Austin alum). I think, though, you should consider theming the food to the films: Avocado fries and salsa for "Bottle Rocket," chaat and chai for "Darjeeling Limited."  I'm stumped by "Rushmore."

– February 03, 2011 1:41 PM
Q.

Fritz, you're good

You were all over that JQA question! Now, who was Georgetown named after?
A.
Fritz Hahn :

King George II, who was on the throne when it was founded.

– February 03, 2011 1:42 PM
Q.

Gym Month to Month

For the person looking for gym memberships month to month, check groupon and living soclal. They have deals quite frequently for one month memberships, especially to Results. I have a friend who is on her 3rd month of this...
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

Yes, I thought of the same -- you could just buy yourself a zillion exercise classes. On the same note - you can often join yoga studios by the month. Bikram Yoga for sure...

– February 03, 2011 1:42 PM
Q.

Jewelry stores/engagement rings

Hi Holly and Gurus. I'm in the market for an engagement ring and I was wondering if you all had some recommendations for some nice non-mall jewelry stores in the DC metro area. Bonus if they carry gemstones other than or in addition to diamonds (GF isn't sure she wants a diamond). Budget isn't a huge issue- although I'd like to keep it under 5K. Any advice would be appreciated- haven't been in DC that long and all of my friends seem to have gotten engaged elsewhere! Thanks.
A.
Holly Thomas :

First, you should check out the last several GOG discussions, since this question has been coming up a lot lately (is everyone in love these days?). Here's a quick list of smaller, non-mall shops you might want to scope out: Mia Gemma (my pick), Tiny Jewel Box, I. Gorman, Charles Schwartz, Pampillonia, Secrete, Boone & Sons (all on the pricier side). Maybe Tabandeh if you want something more funky/exotic. Chatters, any other suggestions?

– February 03, 2011 1:43 PM
Q.

game nights?

Are there any places in DC that have game/trivia/scrabble nights?
A.
Fritz Hahn :

In an organized competitive manner? No so many. But bars where you can bring your friends, borrow Connect Four/Boggle/Battleship/Scrabble from the bar, or even play some Wii? Yeah, we got a list of those.

– February 03, 2011 1:44 PM
Q.

Blue Valentine

Hi Gurus, Has any of the gurus seen Blue Valentine? If you did, what do you think? Is it worth going to or would I be better off doing something else with a couple of hours? Thanks.
A.
Stephanie Merry :

Ann Hornaday reviewed Blue Valentine and I haven't gotten a chance to catch it yet. (I opted for the far more light-hearted No Strings Attached last weekend) Ann really liked it, but it's a serious flick and heavy on the drama, so if you feel like you need a good cry (or just something more fulfilling than an Ashton Kutcher rom-com), this might fit the bill.

– February 03, 2011 1:45 PM
Q.

engagement rings

etsy... or make your own at a silversmithing class at glen echo. but im still looking (original poster from three weeks ago)...just nothing that says "her"...yet. so please keep the suggestions coming
A.
Holly Thomas :

Good for you for putting so much thought into it ... making your own engagement ring is a pretty awesome idea. You could try the Alchemy approach on Etsy, too ... let us know what you find!

– February 03, 2011 1:46 PM
Q.

After Hours Happy Hour

I liked the question about late night happy hours. Can you guys create a list or a best of for this? I had the same question & I was told to check out Piola (I think that's the name). It wasn't that great on a Friday night & they didn't have free food like I was told.
A.
Fritz Hahn :

Piola only has free food at the regular happy hour, which runs until 8 every day. Maybe you were thinking about their late-night beer-and-a-pizza happy hour, which includes any pizza and any beer for $12 from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights?

As to the first part, I've made at least two best bets lists for late night happy hours in the past, but I'm not seeing them now. Very frustrating. I will try to get one up for you ASAP.

– February 03, 2011 1:47 PM
Q.

Follow-up to banquet question

Sorry, forgot to mention that the venue would have to be in the District and metro-accessible. Thanks again for any help!
A.
Alex Baldinger :

I can't really clue you in on their rates, but I've heard people going the Maggiano's route for something like this. It's just inside D.C. Metro to Friendship Heights. 

– February 03, 2011 1:48 PM
Q.

Drinks and Apps by Arena?

Hello, and happy anniversary GOG's! A friend and I are off to Arabian Nights tonight at Arena, and we were wondering where can we go for a light dinner (apps is fine) and drink around there? We'd love to explore the neighborhood a bit, since we don't get over there a lot. Thanks!
A.
Stephanie Merry :

I went to Jenny's Asian Fusion, which is walking distance from Arena, before Arabian Nights a few weeks ago. The staff is really friendly and the food was delicious. There's also a cafe inside of Arena Stage -- Next Stage by Jose Andres -- that should do the trick.

– February 03, 2011 1:49 PM
Q.

Blue Valentine was good!

Although it is super intense. Another good emotional one out there is Rabbit Hole. Both Nicole Kidman (who I don't especially like) and Aaron Eckhart are fabulous.
A.
Stephanie Merry :

Thanks for the input!

– February 03, 2011 1:49 PM
Q.

RE Stump the Guru

One more clue, since I realize my first clue might be a bit misleading: the landmark is the backdrop for the documentary short; like many documentaries, the subject centers around the people associated with the landmark.
A.
Alex Baldinger :

Alright, at this point I've resorted to Googling and Wikipedia, so I guess that constitutes an "I give up." Drop some knowledge on me.

– February 03, 2011 1:50 PM
Q.

Bars in Old Town

I'm looking to go bar-hopping in Old Town Alexandria (within walking distance of King Street) to celebrate a couple of birthdays on a Saturday night-- we're a group of 4 in our mid-20s, looking for a fun vibe and not-too-pricey drinks. Bonus points for good food. Any suggestions?
A.
Fritz Hahn :

Pizzeria Paradiso is my favorite newcomer to Alexandria -- great food and fantastic brews. Beers range from $5 to $9, usually, but you're doing better than the Miller Lite served most places. Columbia Firehouse is a little older crowd, but another spot with better-than-usual food and drink.

Of all the Irish bars on the strip, I like the nooks and crannys of Daniel O'Connell's, and the all-out party vibe at Murphy's, where everyone sings along to live Irish tunes and hangs out next to the fire.

I have a soft spot for Bugsy's, a hockey-themed sports bar that's more of a locals party on Saturdays, with music and pitchers of beer. And there's usually a younger crowd at Flying Fish for the Saturday night karaoke, once you've visited a few other places.

– February 03, 2011 1:52 PM
Q.

Superbowl for Puppy Lovers

I don't know if the Humane Society is hosting a Superbowl party, but 3 of the Fashion for Paws models are hosting a fundraising party to benefit the Washington Humane Society at Thunderburger Bar in Georgetown. Guests will be asked to make a voluntary donation and will be offered food and drink specials.
A.
Fritz Hahn :

Here's a start for the Puppy Bowl folks. Thanks!

– February 03, 2011 1:53 PM
Q.

Post-Oceanaire drinks

Don't forget 701, which has a very cool lounge, great drinks, and usually live music.
A.
Fritz Hahn :

True. I do find the atmosphere at the bar to be a little hit-and-miss, though.

– February 03, 2011 1:54 PM
Q.

Sorry if you got this multiple times....

I have a wedding in the beginning April in Boston and need to get a new dress. The wedding is cocktail attire. Is it too soon to start shopping for it? I saw a Lilly PUlitzer dress that had longish sleeves that would probably work except it's $200 and I'd like to spend no more than $100. I'm 5'3", 120lbs with a large chest. What stores in the DC area, preferably metro accessible but have a car and will drive if needed, would help? I also hope to be able to wear the dress again.
A.
Holly Thomas :

Never too soon to start shopping, especially if you're looking for a deal. If you really want to shop locally, I'd start at some consignment stores: Secondi in Dupont, Second Time Around in Georgetown, Current, Mint Condition and Diva in Old Town, Second Chance in Bethesda, Clothes Encounters on Capitol Hill. But if you're on a strict budget, you'd be better off to search online at EDressMe.com, ShopStyle.com, the J Crew factory sale site (on the web only on weekends).

– February 03, 2011 1:54 PM
Q.

ACKC

Hi, I think one of the GOG's might have posted earlier in the winter season (which probably seems like a long time ago since this winter seems pretty long and we still have weeks to go) about great hot chocolate spots. I'm pretty sure ACKC was listed. Do you know if they do their happy hour M-F only or is it everyday? Thanks.
A.
Stephanie Merry :

Mmmm. ACKC hot chocolate is to die for. But happy hour specials are just Monday through Friday.

– February 03, 2011 1:55 PM
Q.

make your own at a silversmithing class

Mmmm. If you're a total newbie to silversmithing I don't know if you want to count on this. The ring I made when I took a class isn't so great. My husband and I went to Protea in Arlington and really liked the brothers who own the business.
A.
Holly Thomas :

Thanks for weighing in! The DIY approach is definitely better left to those with an artsy side ... but still cute.

– February 03, 2011 1:56 PM
Q.

RE: Engagement rings

I'd also check out Mervis and Blue Nile (online only). And I'm sort of reluctant to go there, but he says budget isn't a huge issue, then says he wants to stay under $5k. While you can certainly get a great ring for under $5k, I hope his budget is realistic for what he's looking for.
A.
Holly Thomas :

More engagement ring tips ... thanks!

– February 03, 2011 1:57 PM
Q.

Winter at POV

I would love to take my boyfriend up to POV at the W (not on Valentine's Day, but some weekday close to it), but I've only been up there in the summertime. I've heard they have some type of heating and big cozy blankets, so it sounds great. Do I have to make a reservation? Is there a minimum tab? Thanks!
A.
Fritz Hahn :

That would be a nice surprise -- it's heated and yes, you can snuggle up to keep warm while sipping warming cocktails. On most weeknights you don't have to make a reservation, but I would -- just to give yourself some piece of mind so that you don't get his hopes up and there's a line when you arrive. The best part is that there's no food or beverage minimum for a table if you're a party of two -- only groups of six or more have to worry about hitting a $35/pp minimum.

– February 03, 2011 2:00 PM
Q.

RE STUMP THE GURU

(Drum roll) The answer is... The National Cathedral. The documentary is titled, "The Stone Carvers." It won an Academy Award in 1985. From IMDB: A look at some of the last stone carvers working in the United States, those completing the sculptures adorning the Washington National Cathedral. They discuss their craft and the cultural forces which helped define it, as well as the fading use of stone ornamentation in architecture and the history of stone carving, and they tour the cathedral to point out the history behind some of the work.
A.
Alex Baldinger :

Well, I can honestly say I did not know that. I humbly salute you. 

I can't be the only one that didn't know that though, right? 

– February 03, 2011 2:02 PM
Q.

Re: Steak

Ray's is the best steak in the city especially if he is a steak aficionado. And its the opposite of the boring Palm, Prime Rib, Cap Grille, and Ruth's Chris.
A.
Justin Rude :

Ray's has great steak, absolutely. But would you call the atmosphere charming?

– February 03, 2011 2:03 PM
Q.

Pants for a slim frame

Hi Holly, I miss your fashion chats! Part of my New Year's Resolution is to look more professional at the office (I could wear sweatpants every day, so this is a big change for me.) My problem is, I can't find pants that fit! I am very slim and narrow through the hips and thighs, and even 0Ps from Ann Taylor are cut too large for me. Any suggestions for a tight budget?
A.
Holly Thomas :

Thanks -- that's a great resolution! Slim and narrow ladies should check out Club Monaco, Benetton, Zara and maybe H&M, since they offer more European-style cuts. You should be able to find some good sales in stores now, and once you know your size, you can scoop up cheap pairs on eBay.

– February 03, 2011 2:03 PM
Q.

Super Bowl Sunday

My favorite non-football related activity to do during the Super Bowl is......to go streaking! While everyone is inside watching the game.........I'm running around the neighborhood buck-naked. Hey.........it's my own version of the Polar Bear Plunge, lol!
A.
Stephanie Merry :

An exhibitionist who doesn't want to be seen. Interesting combo.

– February 03, 2011 2:06 PM
Q.

Dancing Saturday Night

Thanks Holly for answering part 1 of my question about the thrifting spree! I still need help with the evening for party of my b-day. Where is there a relatively calm bar that is also within walking proximity to somewhere fun I can go dancing on Saturday night? I need to know of places to escape to with my boyfriend for a drink after he's had too much of the crowds on the dance floor. Thanks!
A.
Fritz Hahn :

Sorry -- little intra-Guru mixup there. Moon Bounce at the Black Cat is like a cousin of Fatback, you could say -- younger, not as popular yet, but developing its own vibe. Can be fun. If you're going dancing on Saturday, I like Kids, the all-'90s hip-hop dance party at DC9 (Your boyfriend would maybe like some free Olde English malt liquor?) or the Soul Monkey party at Sticky Rice, which is a night of to-die-for funk, house and disco. Little Miss Whiskey's is usually a lot of fun, with electro and house DJs tearing it up, though you can head to the bar downstairs when you need a break.

If you do any of those, I'd steer you and the BF to Dodge City or American Ice Co. (if you do DC9) or Biergarten Haus or Smith Commons (if you do Sticky Rice or LMW). The Pug is still the best dive on H, so that's highly recommended as well.

– February 03, 2011 2:07 PM
Q.

RE STUMP THE GURU

Can I be in the running for Chromeo tickets because I stumped you?
A.
Fritz Hahn :

Sure, why not?

– February 03, 2011 2:08 PM
Q.

Who was the only president to become a member of Congress after his term?

Maybe now I don't feel so bad about going backwards in my career.
A.
Fritz Hahn :

And he had a stroke on the House floor and died there, too. That's dedication to your job.

(Oh, and a point of clarification: Adams was the only president to serve in the House after his term was over. There was another ex-president who served in the Senate. Anyone have a guess?)

– February 03, 2011 2:10 PM
Q.

Superbowl Solo Spots

Where are some good options to experience the game solo with some good food and drink?
A.
Alex Baldinger :

How about a pot luck? DC Nine is showing the game and asking anyone that's attending to sign up to bring a specific item. They've generously contributed a three-foot hoagie. Who knows -- maybe you can bond with your fellow bargoers over potato salad? 

– February 03, 2011 2:12 PM
Q.

Bluesgrass at Madams Organ

I'm interested in Madams Organ Bluegrass on Wednesdays, but I've never been there before - are there tables, order food and drink or is it just drinks? How mobbed is it?
A.
Fritz Hahn :

It can get pretty crowded. If you show up early, there are seats at the bar and tables on a raised/not-quite-mezzanine level that overlooks the stage. You can sit there while enjoying your soul food and beers. It tends to get more crowded as the night goes on, but if you show up by, um, 8 or so, you should be fine.

Even if you have to brave the crowds, though, it's worth it. So much fun to listen to, and lots of guests stop in for a couple songs.

– February 03, 2011 2:14 PM
Q.

President who became a senator?

Andrew Johnson (TN). Easy.
A.
Fritz Hahn :

You'd be surprised how many people *don't* know that.

– February 03, 2011 2:15 PM
Q.

Camping again

Catoctin isn't opened until May. Other thoughts?
A.
Alex Baldinger :

Dagger. HAS TO be Maryland? Because I know the campground at Shenandoah River State Park is open year-round and offers B-E-A-UTIFUL views from Skyline Drive. 

– February 03, 2011 2:19 PM
Q.

re: Bluegrass at Madams Organ

Would a solo woman feel out of place?
A.
Fritz Hahn :

Not at all. I've seen plenty of women there - it's a party with great live music, not a dude-fest. And if you're a redhead, you get half-priced beers all night, sooooo...

– February 03, 2011 2:21 PM
A.
Stephanie Merry :

Take that, ginger haters!

– February 03, 2011 2:26 PM
Q.

Alex Baldinger :

Alright, we weren't kidding. Hey guy/gal who stumped me on "The Stone Carvers," we've taken your request into consideration and are going to oblige with the Chromeo tickets. Get at me: baldingera@washpost.com.

To the rest of y'all, enjoy the Super Bowl, and be sure to join us for our 20th anniversary of Got Plans? on Feb. 3, 2021. You're free to be here every Thursday until then, of course. 

Ciao. 

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