Got Plans: Advice from the Going Out Gurus

Jan 31, 2013

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.

This week, the Gurus will be joined by Style section critics to discuss the Spring Arts Preview. Looking for the perfect play or must-see concerts? Ask them about their favorites.

We have three special guests with us today: Washington Post critics Ann Hornaday (movies), Chris Richards (pop music) and Anne Midgette (classical music) all contributed to Sunday's mammoth Spring Arts Preview and are ready to take your questions about the best films to see and music to hear in the months ahead. Ask them anything you'd like.

But the regular Gurus are here, too, if you want to chat Super Bowl, Puppy Bowl, happy hours or what have you. Ready? 

Reading the Arts Guide, it seemed to me that much of the focus was on artists coming to Washington rather that artists _from_ Washington. Do you think that the number of theaters, galleries, concert halls and such does a good job attracting big names, or do we tend to over look locals because we see them performing every season?

This is always a tricky question when thinking about coverage. When I'm looking at big events to highlight, I do want to make sure everyone knows when major artists are coming through, especially artists who are a little outside traditional genres (Meredith Monk, for instance). But local groups are the life's blood of classical music and opera in the region, and attention must be paid. I can certainly think of some local highlights right off the bat - Virginia Opera's "Streetcar Named Desire;" the 21st Century Consort, which has programmed some fantastic concerts this year; and the local choruses, which have some exciting programming coming up - the Master Chorale's world premiere of a work by Donald McCullough, the City Choir's world premiere of a John Tavener piece, the Washington Chorus's "Elijah." (Elijah may not be exciting to everyone, but you get my point.)

I try to make sure we strike a balance between local and national/international groups - the Fairfax Symphony, for instance, is an orchestra that merits our attention. But it's true that in a big preview section like this, it may sometimes seem that they have to struggle to be seen.

I second Anne's sentiments. I try to approach the film beat as an ecology -- a well-balanced system of big and small, local and mainstream/national, Hollywood and indie. I think this year's guide reflects an ecosystem that's pretty healthy, especially with so many film festivals and series that Washington cultural institutions offer. That said, if you know of local artists who deserve to be lifted up, please let us know!

Blah Blah Blah. Men throwing things. WHO CARES?! I want to know if anywhere is showing the PUPPY BOWL IX?!? If not? I don't want to live on this planet anymore :(

Wisdom on Capitol Hill -- the city's only dog-friendly cocktail-focused bar -- is showing Puppy Bowl. (They posted on Twitter that they might even forgo the main game and stick with the puppies all night.)

Ann, please tell me there is a Michael Fassbender movie coming out soon. I'm going through withdraw.

Lord, I feel your pain. Mr. Fassbender has been incredibly busy since his big year in 2011, when he seemed to be everywhere. According to my trusty IMDB account, at least two of his new films should be in theaters this fall: TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE, by Steve McQueen (who directed him in HUNGER), and THE COUNSELOR, a Ridley Scott movie he's co-starring in with Brad Pitt and a bunch of other people who aren't Michael Fassbender. Glad to hear you're a fan! Hang in there and I'll be counting the minutes along with you!

Thanks for taking my question! My friend is moving overseas and we are doing a classic DC restaurant night tonight. The theme is "Lobby Like A Boss" and we are looking for a place that will fit the bill. Unfortunately, Rasika is all booked up because I'm a last minute planner and I'm a bit overwhelmed with all of the choices in the Penn Quarter area. Any other suggestions in this area with a similar Rasika vibe/price tag? Thanks so much!

Last-minute planning and not being able to get in is not "lobbying like a boss," unfortunately. Having a standing reservation and the hosts know you by name  at Marcel's or Central, however.... 

So I always think you can capture that suits-and-deals vibe at Fiola (not sure about reservations tonight, but you can always drink and eat burgers at the bar like a boss...); the Oval Room, or even Bombay Club.

I'm intrigued by the Nordic Cool events coming up, which I read about in the Spring Arts Preview - any recommendations on which to check out?

Nordic Cool is an interesting cornucopia of a festival that reminds me of festival-going back when I lived in Europe - there are lots of events that look interesting and I have limited knowledge with which to evaluate what will be good. In my field, of course, there are obvious highlights like Sakari Oramo (the Finnish conductor) and Anne Sofie von Otter, but I'm actually more intrigued by the more eclectic indie-style groups, the group Yggdrasil or the various "joik" groups or the man who carves instruments out of ice, all of which may be more in Chris's bailiwick. Not to mention some interesting-sounding dance and theater offerings - Metamorphosis and Fanny and Alexander definitely interest me. It looks to me like a fun grab-bag.

Any idea when single game tickets go on sale for the Nationals? The countdown clock on pitchers and catchers reporting for Spring Training has me itching for an afternoon at Nats Park!

There's no official announcement from the Nats yet. Last year, they waited until spring training was underway -- early to mid-March -- to put single games on sale. I'd expect it to be similar this year.

Thank you for the list of upcoming film festivals. For those of us who haven't heard of most of the films that will be screening, can you pick a "must-see" for the biggest festivals?

Good question! Washington is truly blessed with a plethora of film festivals -- making is possible for local audiences to see just about everything that's happening in film from around the globe.

Unfortunately when we went to press, most of the festivals hadn't finalized their programming, so I can't specify particular titles. Personally I'm intrigued by a lot of the documentaries playing at the DC Independent Film Festival, including DIRECTING DISSENT, about an activist-educator in Baltimore, and LET THERE BE LIGHT, about stained glass master artists creating a great window for the National Cathedral.

Stay tuned for our coverage of the other festivals as they release their slates!

A group of middle-aged single women want to go to a musical this Friday or Saturday as a bday present for one of us. We're in northern Virginia but can travel to DC & MD. The top rated shows about married people & their children problems, the full monty, and others about political problems do not appeal to us. What do you recommend? Our next option would be a good play.

Well, I can weigh in from the opera corner to suggest the InSeries's "Clemenza di Tito" -- opera on a small scale offers an intimacy and immediacy that can be very effective. It runs Saturday and Sunday this coming weekend. A lot of the spring's other interesting theater offerings are opening a little later in the month (Metamorphosis, Hello Dolly, etc.)


I just got a press release in my inb0x that "Jesus Christ Superstar" is opening at Anne Arundel Community College this weekend. Not sure what professional level we're talking about -- a lot of students are involved -- but there it is.

Hello! Some friends and I are doing a bachelorette (a grown up late 30's bachelorette) party on H Street. Starting with a cocktail class at Church & State, followed by dinner at Sticky Rice. The question is...what next? What should come after dinner? I'm stuck!

Upstairs at Little Miss Whiskeys for dancing. If the party happens to be this Friday, well then, Prince Paul will be spinning the regular Moneytown party, so you can expect a lot of stuff perfect for the 30-somethings.

I'm having drinks with my new boss and the rest of the department, 5-6 people total and we need to find a quiet bar for a weeknight that serves nice cocktails and wine, preferably close to the metro in either Dupont Circle or Gallery Place/Chinatown. What do you recommend?

Gallery Place: I'd say Fiola (though it's not cheap, unless you go *right after* work and hit happy hour, which ends at 6), and the bar at 701 would also be a good destination. Definitely quiet. (Proof is the best option on paper, but it's going to be hard to get 6 together in there.)

You could also walk a few blocks north to Hogo, which is a better weeknight bet than the Passenger at this point.

Around Dupont, I'd try Bar Dupont (right on the Circle), maybe Bar Rouge.

....will they continue to stage concerts at the ballpark? Much better than going out to FedEx. But the shows ruin the grass.

Well, they're doing another Opera in the Outfield live broadcast of Showboat in the spring. I think those Opera in the Outfield presentations (broadcast live from the Kennedy Center) have been pretty successful, and they've gone up from one to two a year. But I don't think that was the kind of concert you were asking about - I'll have to defer to Chris on the rest.

I'm going to the Improv this evening and I want to get something to eat around 6 before we go in. Can you please suggest some restaurants or happy hour places around there? We are driving there so it doesn't have to be within walking distance. We want to be in & out in less than an hour, so nothing fancy. Thanks!

If you wanted something quick and casual, I'd do Shake Shack, which is up the street. You can do it in less than an hour, and if you're driving in, odds are good you haven't tried it yet, right?


I'm with the Capital Rowing Club and I have been tasked with finding a place to hold our annual organizational meeting. This meeting is an opportunity for people interested in rowing with our club to learn more information about our programs and it's also an opportunity for our veteran rowers to get needed information for the upcoming season. But the meeting is really all about socializing with people we haven't seen since the end of last season.

In the past, we have been plagued by places being too small and not being ADA accessible for our adaptive rowers. So here are our must haves; must be large enough to hold up to 100 people, preferably a bar atmosphere (people are able to get a drink and food if they want), no large payment up front (bar minimums are fine), preferably in the Capitol Hill/Navy Yard area (we would like to stay local but it isn't a deal breaker), semi private (we want everyone to hear the need to know information), available Mid-March during the week (Monday - Thursday), and it must be ADA accessible.


I'm throwing this out there because I'm stumped. Most of the good large private spaces I know on the Hill are on an upper floor and *not* ADA-accessible, such as Sonoma, Top of the Hill, Lola's or Hawk & Dove.

I would suggest trying Capitol Lounge and asking about the side/Nixon Room. 

I really enjoyed Argo, Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook. Any good comparable movies coming out in the next few months?

Hi, glad you enjoyed those films -- and 2012 will be a tough year to follow, won't it? That said, I do see some promising titles on the horizon: SIDE EFFECTS is from Steven Soderbergh, who seems constitutionally unable to make a bad movie; I'm very optimistic about "42," the Jackie Robinson biopic -- starring one of our own Howard grads, Chadwick Boseman! jOBS, the Steve Jobs biopic starring Ashton Kutcher, is getting pretty good buzz.

And, okay, here's me out on a limb: PAIN AND GAIN -- Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson in an action comedy. I know it could be a stinker, but I'm hope-hope-hoping for something along the lines of THE OTHER GUYS, which was way better than I had predicted.

Care to elaborate on this tweet? "It's only January 28, but I feel like the top ten list I compile in 11 months is gonna be all women from Texas or Tennessee."

Glad you asked! 2013 is already shaping up to be a phenomenal year for country music and the Two Great Albums I've heard so far are from Kacey Musgraves (TX) and Ashley Monroe (TN).

Monroe you might recognize from the Pistol Annies, that wonderful group she has with Miranda Lambert and Angaleena "I Always Hope I Spelled That Right" Presley. Not only do the Annies have a disc due out later in the year, but Monroe will drop her solo album "Like A Rose" in early March. Think: Dolly Parton at her weepiest. It's just killer stuff. 

And somehow, I think Musgraves' album is even better. She's a 24-year-old from Texas who's penned songs for Lambert and Lee Ann Womack, and her debut "Same Trailer, Different Park" has a stunning emotional economy to it. I played the first track, "Follow Your Arrow," about thirty consecutive times in my apartment on Saturday (ask my neighbors.) This album is also due out in March, but Washingtonians have the chance to see Musgraves open for Little Big Town at the 9:30 Club on Valentine's Day.

I might try the Source since Rasika is booked up. Total lobbyist stomping grounds. I'm also a fan of 701. Also, for the person planning drinks with her new boss, at least previously, Firefly would let you reserve the small area to the right of the main bar for a small-ish group.

Yes! I meant to write that, and it slipped my mind before i published. Thank you for that, and for the Firefly suggestion.

The restaurant industry trend of blasting modern music in the dining room is horrible. That isn't a question. It's a true fact.

My husband, Greg Sandow, wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal a few years ago about what kind of music restaurants should actually play during dinner. It's rare that they get it right. I agree with you completely.

My husband and I are going to the Caps game tomorrow night and are looking for a fun place to go after for drinks and dessert or snacks. We haven't been to the area in awhile and would like to go someplace new, but we'll be dressed in our hockey shirts so that needs to be acceptable dress. Any ideas?

The "I want to go somewhere nice-ish but I'm wearing a Matt Hendricks jersey" is among the eternal conundrums of Caps fandom. (Along with why can't the power play gain the offensive zone with any regularity, but I digress.)


Hill Country: Nothing fancy, but they have awesome desserts, like banana cream pudding and Blue Bell ice cream from Texas. The bar food (like pimento cheese and brisket sandwiches) and late-night happy hour don't hurt any, either. 


For something nicer, you could pop into Jaleo for some chocolate flan, "gin and tonic sorbet" and the really odd-sounding but delicious olive oil ice cream with grapefruit. Nothing wrong with wearing your Caps jersey here either.


Finally, if you want to go on a chocolate binge, Co Co. Sala is your best bet.  It's more of a scene than the others I've mentioned, so you might be the only twosome in Caps gear, but the desserts are top notch. 

didn't Mario Batali start that movement at Babbo? that would be at least two horrible trends he has to answer for, the other being Crocs

I fear both Crocs and bad restaurant music are far bigger trends than even the outsize Mr. Batali can take responsibility for.

Landmarc in NY used to have custom Pandora channels -- I think it was Pandora -- that were really great. Some places put the thought into it that it deserves. Then again, most restaurants are also way too dark...

Is the Fillmore considered a success, financially and artistically? Nice enough venue but the bookings are pretty lame.

Two very different questions there.

Financially, the Fillmore is owned and operated by Live Nation, the planet's largest concert promoter, so that affords them more wiggle room than any other venue in the are. That said, I haven't asked about the books lately. Thanks for the nudge on that. I will.

Now, whether or not the Fillmore has been an artistic success is a far more subjective can of worms. I'd say yes and no. They've done a good job of hosting acts from certain genres that weren't making regular stops in the Washington area, particularly big name country artists.

But there have still been plenty of nights when the Fillmore has been dark. I think how frequently a venue is booked speaks to its vitality in a big way.

I know this is something that comes up frequently, but I now that I need it I can't figure out how to search for it! Do you have any suggestions for restaurants or bar that have a private room or space that could be rented for a party? It won't be for a few months and the date is flexible, but we'd need room for about 80. Maryland or DC preferred, though Alexandria and Arlington aren't out of the question.

80 is a big number for a private room; many of the places we usually recommend are in the 20-50 range. Maryland: Jackie's Sidebar has a cool private space w/room for a band or DJ. Rock Bottom Bethesda has an upstairs lounge with pool tables. Caddie's has a second floor (where we once hosted a happy hour) with a private balcony.

D.C.: Buffalo Billiards is a nice large space with multiple options. Iron Horse Tap Room downstairs is worth looking into for skee-ball and beers. Hill Country has plenty of room if you want to keep things informal. 

You might want to call the Clydes in Gallery Place. Had a friend on crutches after surgery last year and their elevator proved quite useful (and they're pretty big so I'd think they could handle 100 people).

An option for the ADA planner. Thanks.

Chris do you know if Michael Beast Morse is taking "take on me' with him? I hope the Nats got a sing-along to be named later back in that awful trade

I might not have read this correctly -- my vision was blurred with tears -- but I think I read somewhere that, yes, recently traded Nats outfielder Michael Morse is taking his at-bat theme song, "Take on Me," with him to Seattle. Bummers on top of bummers.

But that said, tomorrow is a bright new day! There are new traditions to forge! Natitude springs eternal!

It might have to start with Bryce Harper changing his walk-on music, because let's be real: it's hard to sing along with Bassnectar. "GWOMP-GWOMP-GWOMP." See?

Need to kill some time between 3-7:30pm on Saturday before bud gets back on Amtrak. I was thinking H Street NE - thoughts? If so, where should we go? The goal is to eat and have a few drinks. Will it be difficult to get back to Union Station? Thank you!!

We agree, we think since you're talking about mid-day on Saturday, you're more likely to be able tokill that time on H Street NE, where the 400-500 block has places open during the day. We are digging the food at Big Board, where you can drink and eat beginning at noon. For something classier, you could eat an open-face sandwich at Batter Bowl Bakery. Even better: You could check out the new Charles Taylor Steak and Ice (from the Taylor Gourmet folks; I've been hearing amazing things). Then zip back to  Big Board or Boundary Road for those drinks.

Hey gurus, I'm sure you have been asked this before but I thought I'd give it a shot anyway. My friend and I are headed to the Louis CK show at the Kennedy Center at 7 on Friday. Meeting up at the Foggy Bottom metro. Where would be the best place to grab a bite before the show around there? Planning on either taking a cab or the free shuttle over to the show afterward. Also, any idea of what the dress code might be for a show like this? I've been to other performances at the Kennedy Center and usually get dressed up but I'm wondering if the vibe will be different for a comedy show and we can get away with wearing jeans or need to still go a little fancier. Thanks!

Your closest options for a pre-Kennedy Center bite and a pint are probably either Burger Tap & Shake or Tonic at Quigley's Pharmacy. They're both about 1/2 mile from the Kennedy Center. There's also Founding Farmers, which shouldn't be too hard to get into at the hour you'd need to be there. It's about a mile from KenCen, more or less a straight shot, but a cab might be advisable so as not to cut it too close. 


As for how you should dress: It's not the opera so I wouldn't go for the nines. Nice jeans are okay, but I wouldn't show up looking like Louis CK either, just because. 


Edited to add: Anne Midgette here, adding that the restaurant at the River Inn is one of my favorite places for pre-Kennedy Center eating. Comfortable, good food, nice staff. As for dress, I took a friend to opening night at the opera wearing a John Deere cap, clean jeans and a plaid shirt, promising him he wouldn't feel awkward, and he didn't.

We've gone to Oyamel in Caps shirts and didn't feel out of place. God, I miss America Eats.

You are the first person I have heard say those words, haha. I'm with you:  Jess and I dropped into Oyamel in parkas, ugly hat and scarf and 15 layers (me), and we were just fine. Also, they're pros at handling big crowds.

Sort of a going out question. I'm attending the croquet match at St. John's College in Annapolis in April (I'm an alumna), and it's usually a dressy affair with people in 1920s garb. Because its April, I'm assuming there's a possibility the weather might be chilly. Any ideas of what I could wear as a coat that would look period and dressy? (Hoping not to need it, but you never know.) Any thoughts?

I usually attend The Croquet, and if you can find a boxy-yet-drapey fur/faux-fur coat that's longer than your mid-thigh, you should be fine.


Chris - I have to take issue with your review of last night's Lumineers show at DAR. Caveat: I'm a big fan of the band and loved every minute of the show. If you don't think that the Lumineers deserve credit for bringing folk music back into vogue, would you recommend ANY of the current crop of folk artists making a dent in the charts (Mumford, Avett, etc.)? If not, are there other current folk groups out there that you like, or are you just not a fan of current folk music generally?

I'm glad you enjoyed the gig, but yowch, it was a snoozer for me. But I really appreciate your question, because, yes, there are tons of contemporary folk acts that I love. (They aren't on the charts, though. Is that a deal breaker?)

One act, I just fell for over the weekend. Her name is Jessica Pratt, she's from San Francisco, and her self-titled album came out late last year. Enchanting Laurel Canyon lullaby songcraft with vocal harmonies that are strangely gorgeous.

And then there's Hiss Golden Messenger, who released one of my favorite albums last year. Heck, I'll re-pub my (short) review of it (apologies for the Avett and Mumford dings) right here:

Hiss Golden Messenger

Poor Moon

On the fourth Hiss Golden Messenger album, North Carolina songwriter M.C. Taylor sings unflinching country tunes that evoke the still-water depths of James Taylor and Merle Haggard. And that’s a relief. Up against the pomp of Mumford & Sons, the sentimentality of the Avett Brothers and the quirk of Father John Misty, Taylor offers his more successful folk-rock peers a much needed lesson in restraint.

But there’s still plenty of Biblical dread coursing through these quiet little songs, and it comes to a rolling boil with “Jesus Shot Me in the Head,” Taylor’s testimonial about finding God. “I was getting wrecked in a Motel 6 when he showed up in the back,” he croons. Then Taylor bids farewell to his vices, his sins and his sketchball buddies. What a deliciously complicated take on the intervention of higher powers. To be born again, part of you has to die.

It's astroturf. I know because a vet friend with PTSD and I attended opera in the outfield a couple of years ago. When the t-shirt cannons started their thing, he tried to dig himself a hole, but was thwarted by the fake earth. Not the evening we'd expected. At any rate, a concert won't have the slightest effect on that stuff.

Well, they may have something down over the earth to keep you from digging, but I am pretty sure that that is real grass, not Astroturf - I've spent a lot of time on that grass at the various Opera in the Outfield presentations over the last few years. I don't know if any ball parks use Astroturf any more - I thought it was a 70s thing, and makes the balls bounce oddly.

Hi, GOGs, what can you tell me about the Groundhog Day festival in Dupont Circle? Worth getting up early for? How long does the celebration last? Looks like hats and suits for men, what about ladies?

Hmm. Whether or not it's worth getting up for depends on your level of fascination with a stuffed groundhog


That's not me trying to be a naysayer about the event, which is organized by the Dupont Festival folks behind events like Soccer in the Circle and Shakespeare in the Circle. They're very good at organizing these types of whimsical civic gatherings. Just don't expect to crane your neck for a glimpse of a real, live groundhog -- although "Potomac Phil" is/was supposedly a relation of Punxsutawny Phil. 


Judging by photos from last year's groundhog day event in Dupont, you can wear whatever you like. 

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.

I'd call Estadio ASAP to see if they can accomodate you -- it's great for foodies, and a lot for vegetarians, plus plates mean sharing, and that's fun for a party.  (I realize I give this place a lot of love, but I am so happy grazing on veggies there right now. ) Also try Rasika West End, which has an area that can handle larger parties.  Elizabeth's Gone Raw might be fun; you could also do the four-course menu at Rogue 24, which serves vegetarians and vegans, so long as you give it fair warning when you call to make reservations. I also think you might plan a day perusing Union Market. There are fun events almost every weekend that you can drop in on, and then you can walk several blocks to H Street for dinner at Ethiopic.

We always go to Nando's-- they have great Sangria specials and are fast and affordable!

Of course! Nando's! We're big fans. (Hallumi and hot sauce, a few of my favorite things...)

I'm going to be heading there this weekend, and was hoping you or your esteemed readers might have suggestions for cool bars, restaurants, etc. Also thinking of heading south for a day to Carmel and/or Big Sur--suggestions for great vineyards/places to eat, etc. would be most appreciated.

From Jess Righthand, our sunny staff Californian:  As an SF native, there are certainly a few things I can recommend. Two of my favorite wineries are Cakebread and Duckhorn. I haven't actually lived in the Bay Area for almost a decade, so I'm not as up as I should be on local dining. For a nice wine bar, try Tank 18 in SoMa. I love Tres Agaves, the only place in the U.S. offering several different tequilas. For restaurants, I love Foreign Cinema, Farmerbrown and most things at the Ferry Building. You have to go to the Buena Vista for Irish coffee. I highly recommend a trip out to West Marin for Hog Island oysters. And if you want to go see music, the new SF JAZZ space just opened and is supposed to be incredible. Carmel is worth a look - stop in Pescadero on the way - it's tiny, very quaint, and boasts a great deli and a couple fun restaurants. And I personally love Monterey as well. There is so much more to see and do... have fun! Readers? Any more suggestions?

There's a new pub on 9th Street next to DC9 called Cause. Their upstairs has a max capacity of 130-140 and their downstaris max capacity is 30-40. It's a fantastic place and know that some of your profits will go to one of the 4 good causes outlined for the quarter. It's a nice place where you can go casual or dressier.

Cause might be worth a call. When we talked to the owner about private events there, he seemed willing to give people the back room for free (capacity 30-40) but didn't mention the whole upstairs.

American Legion on 3rd and D SE?

I thought about that, but wasn't sure ... do they regularly do food? (I've only been to the bar.)

We enjoyed "Ladies Swing the Blues" at the Metro Stage.

I think any restaurant/bar near the Verizon Center has come to expect people "dressed down" before games. If they're not...well they're losing business.

Oh no, nothing near the Verizon Center will turn you away for wearing your jersey. (Even Lucky Strike, which normally bans "athletic wear of any kind," makes exceptions on game days. Which are often considering Wizards + Caps.) Just that there are some places you'll fit in better. Ultimately, it's up to your own standards of where you think you'll be comfortable. This is just me, but If I know I'm going out somewhere a bit more upscale after a Caps game, particularly if it's not near the arena or with friends coming from elsewhere, I might leave the jersey at home. 

Hey there! I'm 29 weeks pregnant and my sister, who lives in South Carolina, would like to throw me a baby shower. We were hoping to do maybe a brunch/lunch co-ed thing for 30-40 people, but cool, too! (no games!). Another idea was a cocktail/dessert sort of thing. We were thinking the Bethesda area would be ideal. Any ideas for a place in Bethesda (or anywhere) that would be good to host such a thing? Thanks so much!

Soo, you can get  a big space,  non-alcoholic drinks that are delicious for you and a huge menu of brunchy fare to please everyone, at Founding Farmers in Potomac (right off I-270, honestly, not far from Bethesda). Just call them up with plenty of time to spare, and ask if they can accommodate your group upstairs. I have a huge bit of advice: Try to set up your reservation for the moment they open, not noon, not 1 p.m. The Potomac location is very, very busy early, and your reservation might get bumped and bumped and bumped till you're being seated an hour late.  It'll be far better if you're the first people in the place.

Come on down for Nats Spring Training! Weather is 66 and brilliantly sunny here today. It's only gonna get better.

Less than two weeks until pitchers and catchers report!

We did the wine trolley in Sonoma and it was great. They pick you up, take you to 4 vineyards, feed you lunch and then bring you back. Totally worth it.

Thanks! I did Sonoma by private tour bus, but I can attest that it was awesome, and such a learning experience. Big open windows on your bus/trolley are great, because a big part of understanding the area is seeing how winegrowers use the land -- it's awesome to see the vineyards there.

Here is the question should yall choose to answer it: who? Two fabulous women in their early 30s. What? a free saturday to do ANYTHING and catch up preferably including a few adult beverages. Where? Anything metro accessible, but preferably Arlington or DC. Why? duh, because we are fabulous!!! Now HOW do we get this accomplished? Col brunch maybe? Followed by a cool art exhibit? HELP! :)

Here's an easy Arlington answer: Go to the buzzy Lyon Hall (try Lyonnaise potatoes and poached eggs or the Provencal poached eggs) with mimosas or an orange crush. Then head over to the Arlington Arts Center for the new Interwoven exhibit, which features 26 arts melding craft and sculpture. (Michael O'Sullivan has a positive review in tomorrow's Weekend section, but you can read it now if you click on that link.)

For D.C., I might suggest brunching at Masa 14 for the bottomless mimosas -- that's why you'll get the crowds -- and solid people-watching. From there, it's a short cab ride over to the Phillips Collection for the "Picturing the Sublime" exhibit, which closes in two weeks. Or, from Masa, you could just skip the art and browse all the boutiques down 14th Street or west on U. Art versus commerce.

Okay, we're running late for a meeting and have to bail (after only 75 minutes) and have to go. We will try to get to some additional questions on the blog or in next week's chat. Thanks again to guest critics Anne Midgette, Ann Hornaday and Chris Richards for joining us.

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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.
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