Cherry Blossoms + DC Eats
cherry blossom bound!
If you live on the East Coast, the you know that Washington D.C. is the mecca of all things cherry blossom. There's only a few sweet days in April when these little rascals are in bloom across the city and it's a pretty spectacular site. The annual National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade is taking place this Saturday, April 14th at 10 a.m. It runs along Constitution Avenue and this year's grand marshall is the always energetic Carla Hall from The Chew. If you're in the New York area, make sure to stop by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and walk through their massive row of cherry blossoms (members get in free!). If you're cherry blossom'd out or you just missed your chance, there's still plenty of things to do in our nation's capital. Yes, you could go to a museum or take a tour of the White House but you could also...eat!
This time of year always makes me want to hop onto a Bolt Bus and head to D.C. I've been a few times this year already so I thought I'd share some of my favorite local spots with you. From a restaurant dedicated entirely to the anatomy of a bird to a bar with a giant mural of Liz Taylor on the side of its building, here are a few local eateries and watering holes not to be missed.
I should preface this with the fact that I haven't actually been here before. BUT, I was at The Commodore once having a pre-dinner drink when a server from The Bird stopped in to say hi to the bartender. The way he described the restaurant, I was basically drooling on my way out the door. I almost cancelled my reservation at RPM (see below). The Bird utilizes every part of, you guessed it, the bird. Plus, they're offering a special Bird & Blossom menu in honor of the Cherry Blossom Festival. Enjoy a five-course menu that spotlights fowl and fresh vegetables paired with cocktails and wines specially selected to highlight the subtle, unique, and carefully crafted flavors of Japan. (Available through April 15th)
This is Bill & Giuliana Rancic's restaurant so I couldn't wait to try it back when it opened a few years ago (hello, recipes straight from Mama DePandi!). Just walking through the front doors, you can feel the elegance of this place. The bar is a separate entity to the right with a beautiful enormous circular bar (where you can dine more casually). You definitely need a reservation and get ready to spend some dough. I thought the main dishes were a bit overrated but the Truffled Garlic Bread 1963 comes piping hot in a skillet and the Caesar Wedge won me over. I still dream about that bread! I want to go back to the bar for a cocktail and a mellower meal (the atmosphere of the main dining room is nice but feels a bit stuffy).
This Shaw neighborhood hot spot is great for an afternoon soiree. Stop by on the weekend and grab a stool or a spot at one of their outdoor tables. This beer garden serves German, Belgian, and American craft beers, local meads and ciders, as well as unique cocktails and wine. Of course, you can't come here and not get a giant soft pretzel with mustard. It's tradition! Dacha also offers a few perks at the beginning of the week. Meetup Mondays encourages professional and social groups to get together over a beer. Every Tuesday, they provide local non-profits an opportunity to raise money and promote their cause in the garden. Organizations can take advantage of an extended happy hour until 8 p.m. during Cause Tuesdays (they raise $800 on average). Wednesday nights are dedicated to the beer drinker. During Beer Club Wednesdays, a local or national brewery, meadery, or cidery to showcase their beverage creations. Want to become a member? Click here. The best part? This place is dog-friendly so you can bring your pooch. Don't forget to snap a pic by the giant mural of Liz Taylor on your way out.
You've got to come to this French cafe for a burger. Their Burger Americain is simply made with two patties, American cheese, pickles, onion, and special sauce (ahem, mayo). Dare I say it's an elevated version of a Big Mac? The pomme frites add a nice crisp saltiness to an already perfectly seasoned burger. I sat outside on their patio on a warm winter's day and had a glass of rose. It was sheer perfection.
Book a table for brunch at Founding Farmers and you won't be disappointed. This urban farmhouse is equipped with handcrafted community farm dining tables as well as silo-shaped booths upstairs on the mezzanine level. The space is beautifully designed and filled with plants and jars of pickled vegetables. There's plenty of light so there really isn't a bad seat in the house. Brunch-wise I'd say go for the Breakfast Chicken & Waffles. This perfectly paired plate also comes with scrambled eggs and white gravy. I douse mine in maple syrup which pairs nicely with the saltiness from the fried chicken. Their Buttermilk Pancakes and Bourbon Batter French Toast always look enticing too. You really can't go wrong at this joint.
I discovered & Pizza while walking around Georgetown with some girlfriends. We were starving but it was only around 3 p.m. and we just wanted a snack. We decided to hop into a casual pizza shop to split a slice. What we discovered was a gem! We ordered a customized pizza (think we chose caramelized onions, ricotta, and marinara sauce) and our oblong-shaped pie showed up minutes later, piping hot and read for our stomachs. The crust wasn't too thick and it was the perfect size. I probably could have eaten the whole thing but we were having dinner in a few hours. This place was fast, efficient, and very tasty. You can choose from signature pizzas like their American Honey (spicy tomato, mozzarella, pepperoni, arugula, red pepper flakes, goat cheeses, hot honey), Gnarlic (garlic ricotta, mozzarella, grilled onion, basil pesto, garlic oil, parm) or Pineapple Jack (classic tomato, mozzarella, salami, pineapple, pickled red onion, Might Quinn's BBQ sauce, parm). When creating your own, the topping choices range from an egg yolk and spicy chickpeas to shrimp and vegan sausage. They've got it all! I love the casual street vibe of this place and their drink selection is equally as great. Hello, Cereal Milk Cream Soda from Milk Bar!
This beautiful farm-to-table restaurant creates their menu using unexpected flavors that are forged from nature. They grown their own herbs on the roof and they use modern bistronomy to allow guests to have a unique dining experience. I went here for my birthday this year and it was completely fascinating. My cocktail, called the Bee's Knees (bee's wax gin, truffle honey, citrus) was served in a glass shaped like a bee (complete with metal wings & straw) and each shared dish blew my mind when it came to presentation. Each plate looked like a work of art. The menu is constantly evolving but I can say it's inventive. We had some Pine Nut Macarons with nori, parmesan custard, and basil that took blew my mind. Come ready to blow some dough, though. It's well worth it.
If you want to hit up a local pub that has a few boardgames and a chill vibe then head over to Kingfisher. You can order craft beer in a can and happy hour goes from 4 p.m. - 8 p.m. every weekday (5 p.m. - 8 p.m. on weekends). They have fun cocktails like Fuck You, Kung Fury (Espolon Tequila, Ilegal Joven Mezcal, cinnamon syrup, lime juice, Hellfire Bitters) and Drop That Zero & Get With The Hero (Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey, lemon juice, simple syrup, red wine float). I also am a fan of old fashioneds and they have a Campfire version that's made with high West Campfire Whiskey, simple syrup, and aromatic bitters. Monday nights are for free Bingo and Tuesdays are for trivia so come ready to play. Unfortunately, they don't have a kitchen but you can bring in food from outside (ahem, like a burger from Le Dip). But they do have free popcorn - always a sign of a good, solid bar.