Peak bloom of cherry blossoms in D.C. calls for celebration, but beyond the trees of the Tidal Basin, local bars and restaurants are serving floral drinks, cherry-infused desserts and Japanese-inspired dishes to commemorate the season.
Restaurants in the District are finding ways to recreate the beauty of the iconic pink trees on their own menus, whether it be through pink coloring, flower garnishes or even hand-painted frosting. We made a list of the new springtime menu editions you need to try to get a taste of that cherry blossom flavor. Debuting in March and lasting until May, take advantage of these limited-edition specials while you can.
With three locations in D.C., including one just blocks from campus, Immigrant Food is serving up a ube-infused cocktail and a sour cherry trifle for the blossoming season. The restaurant is a vibrant display of a blending of cultures from around the world, and that doesn’t stop at their year-round menu, with their cherry blossom specials pulling from the flavors of Japan.
Both the White House and Planet Word Museum locations are serving a nonalcoholic cocktail called the Okinawa Colada, a Japanese-inspired take on a Piña colada, to honor the cherry trees’ origin as a gift from the Japanese government. The drink is comprised of lime juice, nonalcoholic gin, pineapple juice, coconut milk and ube extract. All of the restaurant’s locations are serving up a special dessert option – a Cherry Blossom Trifle comprised of Genoise sponge cake, fresh raspberries, sour cherries, pomegranate ganache, cookie crumble and white chocolate topped with house-made Chantilly cream. Head over to Immigrant Food and pair their specialty menu items together for a fruity blend of cherries, raspberries and pomegranates.
1701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Open Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Friday, Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4:30 to 9 p.m. Find more information here.
Indulge in your coffee fix this spring at Compass Coffee because the chain is back with its cherry syrup-infused offerings. Spring is in full swing at the coffee joint, and with 16 locations in the DMV, you can surely make your way to one to get a taste of the sweet, pink coffees.
Compass Coffee is offering both in-store pink coffees and take-home blends to add a bit of cherry flavor to your coffee of choice. The shop is selling its cherry blossom blend of ground coffee, a brighter and more floral version of its ground coffee using beans from Ethiopia and Guatemala for you to take home and enjoy later. Their in-store offerings include a cherry blossom cream cold brew, a cherry blossom latte and a cherry blossom Vienna topped with a heaping pile of whipped cream. The pink-colored drinks add cherry syrup to their classic menu options for a sweet, slightly tart flavor.
849 18th St. NW. Open 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Find more information here.
This Cleveland Park Mediterranean restaurant is offering both drink and food specials that celebrate spring with rose, cherry and lavender flavors. Sababa specializes in Israeli cuisine, and this spring they have added a cherry blossom twist to their menu with floral sodas and a cherry dessert. Pair your springtime drinks and dessert with any arrangement of their small plates for a festive and filling meal.
All three of their handmade soda offerings scream spring by incorporating flavors such as rose, lemon, mint and rosemary, so choose between the pomegranate-rosehip, lavender-borage and cucumber-mint sodas for a fruity start to your meal. Be sure to end with the cherry blossom tart, made with a traditional white sesame crust that adds a savory contrast to the sweet cherry filling.
3311 Connecticut Ave. NW. Open Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m., 5 to 9 p.m. Monday through Tuesday, 5 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday through Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m. Friday through Saturday. Find more information here.
No need to travel far from campus to get a cherry-infused drink – head over to SecreTea’s E Street storefront. The tea shop, popular among students for its bubble tea options, has five spring-themed drinks and food menu items just in time for peak bloom.
For a small bite to eat between classes, snag a sakura mochi, a mildly sweet, light pink-colored treat made of black sesame filling and pickled sakura leaf. The shop also has four cherry blossom-inspired drinks. The Spring Wonderland is a layered pink matcha drink while the Blossom in the Cloud Generation 2 is a light, fruity dragonfruit tea with strawberry popping boba. The Pink Lady Generation 2 is a black and pink drink topped with whipped cream and made of cherry blossom flavored milk and charcoal espresso and Eden’s Garden is a pink-colored lemonade drink with kiwi popping boba. Stop by the store for a refreshing treat after your next class in the Elliott School of International Affairs.
1959 E St. NW. Open 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Find more information here.
Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken
Head to Penn Quarter for a hand-painted cherry tree doughnut paired with fried chicken. Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken specializes in two American staples, and their cherry blossom special is one you certainly don’t want to miss. Start your meal off with a taste of their famous fried chicken before moving on to a cherry jam-filled treat.
For cherry blossom season, the restaurant is providing a doughnut filled with tart, red cherry jam and cream cheese glaze. But it doesn’t stop there. The top of the doughnut is artfully decorated with a hand-painted, blossoming cherry tree. Order one – or a dozen – of these creative and delectable treats to celebrate the season.
1308 G St. NW. Open 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Find more information here.
Stop by José Andrés’ Penn Quarter restaurant for a savory take on the cherry blossoms. Jaleo is a Spanish restaurant specializing in the country’s signature tapas, paella and sangria. This season, Andrés has introduced a cherry-infused soup and appetizer to the menu.
Start with the gazpacho de cerezas, a take on the traditional cold blend of tomatoes that adds cherries to the mix. For another inventive integration of the fruit of the season, try the fried brussels sprouts with almonds, cherries and apple puree. Finish your meal with either the Basque-style cheesecake with cherries or the Turrón Cherry Times – a box of cherry and chocolate nougat – for a sweet ending note.
480 7th St. NW. Open Sunday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, Friday 11 a.m. to 12 a.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. Find more information here.
This article appeared in the March 27, 2023 issue of the Hatchet.