Chery Picks: Where to eat during the National Cherry Blossom Festival

national cherry blossom festivalIt’s official – the National Cherry Blossom Festival kicks off today. If you’re visiting, you probably have one question on your mind (well, beyond where to sleep and what to do, which we’ve already covered) … what do I EAT?

We’ve made that simple – check out our favorite of the official “Cherry Picks.” Consider this a guide to our favorite Washington DC restaurants offering special cherry-themed meals during the Festival or early spring. Psst – as an extra bonus, if you use a Capital One Bank debit card or Capital One credit card at Cherry Picks restaurants, you’ll receive a free coffee or dessert (purchase of entrée required).

Carmine’s, Chinatown/Penn Quarter
Information & Reservations
We love this “family-style” Italian eatery, which offers over-sized portions (each dish is sharable for 4-6 people). Enjoy the featured dessert and cocktail below, but don’t miss out on favorite dishes like the eggplant parm or special Easter roasted lamb.

  • Sicilian Triple Cherry Cassata ($12.50); Frozen Cherries Jubilee (Cruzan Rum, Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, port, lemon juice, brandied cherries) ($10 and specially priced at Happy Hour)

Cuba Libre, Chinatown/Penn Quarter
Information & Reservations
It’s a true taste of Cuba in the heart of DC. We’re a big fan of the small plates and cocktails at this authentic Cuban restaurant. Don’t miss a chance to sample the cerviches – they’re our favorite!

  • Barbacoa de Pato con Cerezas (Tamarind Barbecued Duck with Bing cherry chimichurri) ($25); Cherry Tini (Pyrat XO Rum, Combier, lemon grass-infused guarapo, bitters, Bing cherries) ($9) and Coconut Cherry Frozen (Three Olives Cherry Vodka, lemon grass-infused guarapo, coconut puree, maraschino cherry juice, ice) ($9)

[Flickr via JoshBerglund19]

Kushi Izakaya and Sushi, Mount Vernon Square
Information & Reservations

What better way to celebrate the cherry blossoms (a gift to the United States from Japan) than at an authentic Japanese restaurant? Kushi boasts some of Washignton, DC’s freshest and best sushi. We’re fans of whatever the chef recommends that evening.

  • Hanami Bento Box ($15 – takeout only); Deluxe Hanami Bento Box ($40); Spring Theme Cherry Blossom Cocktail ($10)

Mie N Yu, Georgetown
Information & Reservations
Don’t miss your chance to dine at this Silk Road inspired hot spot in the heart of Georgetown. You’ll find Asian, Middle Eastern and fusion-style delicacies. We love this restaurant for its chic bar and trendy nightlife scene, but the food is top-notch as well.

  • Sweet and Sour Beef Tartar ($14); Cherry Blossom (vodka, rose petal syrup, lillet and branded cherry) ($13)

Nage Bistro, Downtown
Information & Reservations
Craving hearty, homey food with an upscale touch? Look no further. Centrally located downtown, Nage is a cozy bistro that offers some of the area’s best comforting dishes. Don’t miss their mac and cheese!

  • Crispy Duck, Buttermilk Spaetzle, Shitake, Celery and Cherry Compote ($26); Jalapeno and Cherry Poppers ($8); Boursin Chocolate Cherry Cannolli ($6)

Neyla, Georgetown
Information & Reservations
Small bites don’t get any better than this. From house-made hummus and falafel to creative cocktails, this Mediterranean eatery also offers some of the area’s best cocktails.

  • Duck Manti with dried cherries ($13); Baby Arugula Salad with arak-soaked cherries ($7); Pan Roasted Grouper with kiln-dried cherries ($22); Dark Chocolate Cherry Creme Brulee ($7); Chocolate Covered Cherry Martini (Valhrona chocolate, vanilla vodka and dark cherries) ($10)

Old Glory Bar-B-Que, Georgetown
Information & Reservations
Want a casual night on the town? Look no further. Opt for the signature ‘cue or try your luck at a bourbon from their extensive list.

  • Samuel Adams “Cherry Wheat” Beer Battered Onion Rings with sweet and sour dried cherry-cherry pepper dip ($8); Old Glory “Red Stag” Bourbon Buffalo Wings ($9); Cherry Cola BBQ Glazed Salmon with cheddar cheese grits, backyard cucumber slaw and grilled beefsteak tomato galette ($16); Black Forest Cheesecake with cherry brandy chocolate sauce ($6); Red Stag Mint Julep (Red Stag Cherry Bourbon, vanilla bean, mint, simple syrup, cherry brandy, soda, Red Stag-soaked maraschino cherry) ($10)

Potenza, Downtown
Information & Reservations
One of DC’s best spots for happy hour, this signature Italian eatery offers great pizzas and creative cocktails.

  • Prosciutto de Parma with cherry mostarda ($10); Citrus Crepes with black cherry compote ($9); Duck Breast with black trumpet with cherry jus ($24); Cherry Frangipane Tart with cherry balsamic reduction ($8) (Four courses $45)


Zengo, Chinatown/Penn Quarter
Information & Reservations
If fusion is your favorite, opt for a reservation at this popular Latin/Asian joint, located right next to the Verizon Center. Our favorite items? The tuna-filled won ton “tacos” and the Angry Zengo roll, a spicy tuna/avocado combination.

  • Chile Relleno Tempura with Cherry Braised Beef Brisket ($16); Camarones Al Cana de Azucar with a chile nacho-cherry marinade ($23); Blushing Geisha (absolut kurant / sake / brandied cherries) ($12)

Zola, Penn Quarter
Information & Reservations
Located right next to the Spy Museum, one of Zola’s signatures is the massive rotating doors that lead to the bathrooms – be sure to check them out! Otherwise, cozy in to a corner booth and order some of the area’s best creative American cuisine.

  • Cherry Cured Valentine Miller Ham Rillettes with cherry gelee and brioche ($11); Anise Glazed Sea Scallops with country ham, ramps and cherry suds ($15); Roast Quail with cherry aigre-doux, goat cheese polenta and seedling salad ($16); Cherry Braised Beef Short Ribs with sunchoke puree, pea tendrils and foie gras emulsion ($28); Cherries with bruleed vanilla sponge cake and tonka bean cream ($11)