Washington DC In case you've been too busy taking selfies in front of beautiful trees to notice, time is running out to cash in on cherry blossom-inspired food and drink specials in the District. Before the pinkest party of the year is over, be sure to visit these eight places and earn a cavity or two.
Mari Vanna (info and address)
Because they embrace any excuse to give away vodka, this kitschy-cool Dupont Circle spot will throw you a free shot from 5-8pm daily through April 20th. While you’re cashing in on free alcohol, try a slice of $6 cherry pie and an order of cherry vareniki ($14) -- they’re like dumplings, only sweet and Slavic. Continue Reading
Carmine’s (info and address)
Carmine’s might have the perfect blossom-inspired bite: lemon-powdered Italian zeppole with cherry dipping sauce ($9.95). Get an order before they disappear on April 20th. Our only grievance is that the portion size isn’t quite as crushing as their lasagna's. Pair the zeppole with a cherry blossom cocktail made with Absolut Cherrykran and Mandarin vodkas ($11.50).
Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken (info and address)
Astro has a doughnut for every occasion, including sakura season. The Cherry Blossom weekend special is a vanilla doughnut with sour cherry filling and cream cheese frosting. Pro-tip: since they’re only $2.85, get two and build a fried chicken sandwich when no one’s looking.
DC Coast (info and address)
To say "domo arigato" for the trees Japan gave us over a century ago, DC Coast is serving up a special tasting menu ($55) with equally special drink pairings ($30 extra), like a Japanese whisky highball made with Yamazaki 12 Year. Dishes include duck confit gyoza with tart cherry ponzu, hamachi udon, and a matcha green tea cake with cherry mousse and sesame seed brittle.
Co Co. Sala (info and address)
Clafoutis is only a dirty word if you want it to be. At Co Co. Sala, it’s a cherry blossom dessert special called My Cherry Amore: a tart-like concoction served with Sicilian pistachio gelato, dark chocolate streusel, sour cherry caramel, and the Cherry Bon Arabeschi you’d normally find on a child's ice cream sundae ($14).
Commissary (info and address)
Commissary is tossing a Green Hat Gin cocktail into the ring called the Spring Blossom. It’s made with the local producer’s very limited-edition Spring Gin plus liqueur de violette, lemon juice, and bubbles ($9). If you want something that tastes a little more like Triaminic, order the Sparkling Cherry with Luxardo Cherry Liqueur, cava, and a Luxardo Cherry.
Vinoteca (info and address)
By now you’re thoroughly sugar-filled, so try something savory in between epic games of bocce ball and wine flights on U Street. Chef Lonnie Zoeller has created a smoky chicken dish with yellow lentils, quinoa, smoked sour cherry, and cashews ($16).
This weekend is also your last chance to see cherry blossoms on a boat. Whether you’re cruising on the Odyssey or the Spirit of Washington, you’ll have a great view with your meal. Dinner aboard the Odyssey, for example, means blue corn-crusted crab cakes, short ribs, and bread pudding drizzled with Maker’s Mark salted caramel sauce. Pricing, dates, and times are available through Entertainment Cruises. Cruises this weekend will likely lean less tourist and more local.
1. Mari Vanna1141 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington
2. Carmine's425 7th Street NW, Washington
3. Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken1308 G St NW, Washington
4. Co Co. Sala929 F st. NW, Washington
5. DC Coast1401 K St NW, Washington
6. Commissary1443 P St NW, Washington DC
7. Vinoteca1940 11th St NW, Washington
According to a Slavic legend, Mari Vanna was a warm-hearted grandmother known to welcome in hungry travelers for a meal. But who really believes anything Vlade Divac says anyway? Instead, experience her for yourself by chowing down on authentic Russian vittles in what looks like Moscow's version of Antiques Roadshow: dangling chandeliers, plush armchairs, and Russian tchotchkes.
The District incarnation of "NYC's legendary family style Italian restaurant", Carmine's is a sprawling behemoth, with a huge circular bar anchoring a 670-seat dining room covered in 500+ photos (...of old Italian people...), in total 20,030sqft, officially making it DC's largest eatery.
Exactly what it sounds like: donuts and fried chicken that are out of this world.
Co Co. Sala's upscale eatery in Penn Quarter is all about chocolate, whether it's in the form of hand-made candies, cocktails, or other desserts (they even expanded the restaurant to include a full-service chocolate boutique). They even mange to work it into some of their Italian-American fare like mac & cheese with chocolate-covered bacon and crispy buffalo chicken sliders with chocolate nib buns. Where its penchant for decadence really shows, however, is in its stone and gold interior.
This haute-American spot specializes in local (East Coast, that is) and seasonal seafood.
Whether you're looking to grab breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Commissary is a major hit with their full menu of meaty options, salads, pizzas, and sammies. And if want want to slug a few drinks, they also have a full service bar and lounge.
Among U Street's most popular wine hideaways, Vinoteca is the ideal locale for wine connoisseurs and bocce athletes, alike. Complete with a back "plaza" featuring an old-world, brick-enclosed bocce court, an ethereal fountain, and an outdoor bar, there is rarely reason to set foot inside (the heat lamps make it fairly easy to stay put all winter). The enclosed bar and dining room are equally charming, with exposed brick, floor-to-ceiling windows, and vintage film posters tacked between towering displays of stacked bottles of wine. The food menu boasts an in-house whole-animal butchery program, but the stand-out offering is inarguably the wine and spirits list, featuring an impressive number of inventive house-cocktails, a selection of craft beers on tap, and a seemingly-infinite catalog of available wines.