16 Best Restaurants To Enjoy Springtime In Washington DC

CORRECTION 4/11/23: A previous version of this article indicated that the Voltaggio brothers are the chefs at Estuary. Ria Montes is the restaurant's current chef.

With nearly 130 Michelin-starred restaurants in the area, plus a plethora of unique diners, cafes, and pop-up restaurants, there's no bad time of year to dine out in Washington, D.C. If you were to choose only one season for sampling restaurant cuisine in the District of Columbia, though, it would have to be spring. As the cherry blossoms bloom, the whole city seems to come to life, and local restaurants celebrate the season with inventive new menus and specials.

The annual citywide National Cherry Blossom Festival encompasses five weekends, and during these weeks, many D.C. eateries pay homage to the cherry trees and their blooms (a gift to the nation from Japan in 1912). Cherry blossom-watchers refer to the weeks when the blooms are at their prettiest as "peak bloom." You could say that springtime in Washington, D.C., is a "peak restaurant season." With that said, we've collected a sampling of some of the best spring menus, cherry blossom specials, and cherry blossom cocktails that D.C. has to offer in 2023.

The Duck & the Peach

This Capitol Hill favorite combines California and New England cuisine, resulting in a menu that's decidedly American, with a fresh West Coast vibrancy and the homey traditions of the East Coast. Spring is a particularly good time to sample the dishes at The Duck & the Peach on the sunny patio. There may be a wait for a seat outside during popular hours, as they don't take reservations for the patio, but the upside is that you can swing by on a whim.

New seasonal items on the menu include a spring herb salad studded with locally-sourced chervil, tarragon, and chives, topped with mimolette, and a vinaigrette made from the deliciously-sweet wine of France's Banyuls region. Spring cocktails are also befitting the season, centered on ingredients such as elderflower, grapefruit, garden herbs, and edible sakura. To fully indulge any cherry blossom desires, try the cherry blossom sundae: a creamy sakura frozen yogurt base with chewy cherry mochi, almonds, and hibiscus cubes.

The Mayflower Club

The Mayflower Club's building history dates back to the Prohibition Era when the fourth floor housed a speakeasy. Today, the cocktail list still retains a bit of a Gatsby vibe. There's plenty modern about The Mayflower Club, not the least of which is Chef Alex Oradei's approach to his Mediterranean-focused menu. His commitment to local produce means that the dishes have even more than their usual share of sizzle and color in spring (when there's plenty of nature's bounty to choose from).

This season's special prix fixe tasting menu ($55 per person) begins with a cherry reduction-topped baked Brie with crusty French bread, followed by the Mayflower's version of classic surf and turf. Diners can choose between a signature cherry blossom margarita or a glass of fruity rosé. The dessert is a real showstopper: a beautifully-decorated chocolate eclair filled with cherry-vanilla pastry cream. Take your after-dinner revels upstairs to the blossom-bedecked Zebbie's Garden for clever cocktail constructions, including a refreshing cherry-centric twist on a smooth Old Fashioned.

China Chilcano

Never tried Peruvian cuisine? There's perhaps no better place to educate your palate in Washington, D.C., than China Chilcano. If the presence of the word "China" in the name confuses you, you might be even more surprised to find Japanese dishes on the menu. Your first lesson is learning that the menu celebrates the historic influence of Chinese and Japanese cuisine on Peru's native criollo cooking, so the dishes you'll find are a brilliant melange of all three cultures.

During cherry blossom season, China Chilcano focuses more specifically on the influence of Japanese flavors in Peruvian cuisine — a cooking style known as Nikkei — with limited-edition dishes, cocktails, and desserts. The 2023 spring menu includes a ribeye and egg-topped gyudon rice bowl and a Peruvian twist on traditional Japanese chicken skewers that incorporates beef heart anticucho and blistered shishito peppers. Special cocktails make use of seasonally-appropriate Japanese ingredients like yuzu, sakura syrup, lemongrass shochu, and plum sake.

Residents Café and Bar

During spring, Residents Café and Bar is like an oasis in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Dupont Circle. To celebrate the season, the patio, bar, and upstairs dining room have all been festooned with hanging cherry blossoms (over 22,000 of them) to create a picturesque paradise that will have you snapping Insta-worthy photos even before you see how stunning the new dishes are. (Don't forget that the patio is heated, so you can enjoy the air, even when the temperature drops in the evening.)

The spring dinner menu at Residents has signs of spring all over it, from the pickled Persian cucumbers perking up the salmon carpaccio to the basil and spring ramps in the spicy crab pasta. The herb risotto is the essence of the season on a plate. New seasonal cocktails, like the Japanese highball, celebrate fresh spring ingredients. Cherry blossom enthusiasts will gravitate toward the petal-pretty sakura spritz but don't miss the bright and frothy rhubarb cocktail.


The chefs at Estuary take the best parts of Chesapeake Bay cuisine and elevate them to an art form. Even menu items as simple and traditional as Caesar salad, hush puppies, or crab rolls look like museum pieces. Though the food may look like art, it tastes like real food, thanks to the farm-to-table philosophy of chef Ria Montes. Spring is the perfect time to sample the wares while getting a seasonal view of D.C.'s downtown from Estuary's spacious glass windows inside the Conrad Hotel.

For Cherry Blossom Festival-goers, the restaurant is offering a tasting menu with optional sake pairing for a limited time. The menu features whimsical riffs on Mid-Atlantic dishes with Japanese flourishes, such as grilled chicken skewers glazed with cherry blossom tea and crab-stuffed hush puppies with a yuzu kosho aioli. The sake pairings also reflect the season, chosen not just for their suitability to the menu but also their intricate floral flavors.


Tryst is a staple spot in the Adams Morgan neighborhood, where a bohemian vibe rules. The laid-back coffee shop and cocktail bar combo has a large interior that mixes comfy couches with its tables so that you can choose your level of chill. Have a quick coffee and bagel at a table, or kick back on the sofa with a glass of wine. The diverse clientele makes it a great place to people-watch, and even more so on the patio, where you can take the air while watching the eclectic neighborhood buzz around you. 

If coffee shops don't scream "spring" to you, you haven't been to Tryst. Changing with the seasons is all part of the vibe, from the cherry blossom mural on the windows to the house-made sakura syrup that infuses cherry lattes. Tryst has given its menu a spring clean, too. Look for the new bursting-with-berries yogurt parfait and the avocado toast topped with feta and colorful corn salsa. The spring sangria is season-perfect, made with white wine, peach liqueur, and fresh fruit.

The Hamilton

The Hamilton is one of those places perfect for celebratory dinners with a big group of friends who can't agree on what kind of food they want. Where else can you find sushi rolls and smoked brisket on the same menu? This is no gimmicky chain with a slapdash bit of everything, though. The Hamilton's dishes are as solid and well-crafted as its dark wood and paneled-wall interior. Even simple burgers and salads are elevated by The Hamilton's dedication to the local sourcing of ingredients.

Spring-forward starters include a stunning yellowtail carpaccio, ponzu sauce-dressed calamari salad, and rice paper summer rolls bursting with fresh vegetables and herbs. Smoked whiskey has been a trend on menus of late, but The Hamilton one-ups the concept by featuring a cocktail smoked over cherry blossom wood, imported from Japan in homage to the festival season. For dessert, share a sweet trio of chocolate-cherry tartlets, citrus parfait, and a pineapple tart tatin with black pepper.

Café Georgetown

If your spring schedule is a hectic one, you may not have time to stop and smell the roses (or the cherry blossoms). That's where places like Café Georgetown come in, providing luscious coffee and tea concoctions, bakery items, and sandwiches that you can grab on your way to wherever the season takes you. (You can sit and savor if you like, but keep in mind that the space is small, so it's best suited for on-the-go sippers.)

Café Georgetown's spring drinks include a spectacularly Instagrammable pink cherry blossom latte, plus a delight the cafe calls the Day Dream Latte — a deep ocean blue espresso drink made with butterfly pea flowers. A popular item is the printed latte, which allows you to customize your latte's decoration via a downloadable app. Whatever spring means to you — whether it's a baby chick, a bouquet of tulips, or your pet's fuzzy face — you can have it rendered in the medium of latte foam. Pair your drinkable work of art with a blueberry muffin or a flaky spinach and leek turnover.


The dishes of the Mediterranean seem to taste like sunshine no matter which season you're in, so when the season happens to be spring, the menu items at Zaytinya practically burst off the plate with color and flavor. The extensive menu of mezze dishes, meant for mixing and matching, can be a bit daunting, but for novices to Greek, Turkish, and Lebanese cuisine, the prix fixe tasting menu allows a curated sampling of the best the restaurant has to offer.

For spring, Zaytinya features a twist on lamb kofta (a spiced meatball) flavored with sour cherries and pine nuts. You can indulge in a layered Greek yogurt parfait with sour cherry compote, vanilla yogurt cream, and roasted pistachios for dessert. Items on the regular mezze menu that make perfect accompaniments for the season include creamy tzatziki, yogurt with za'atar, and a refreshing fattoush that gets its bite from green pepper and radishes.


You can get pretty much any kind of food in Washington, D.C., but some of the most exciting restaurants are the ones that combine cuisines in smart, new ways. At Cranes, Chef Pepe Mocayo's menus focus on Japanese and Spanish dishes, exploring the unique aspects of flavor that the two cuisines share. The result is a vibrant restaurant and sake lounge with food that manages to evoke the history of the two countries while creating its own modern style of cuisine.

For cherry blossom season, the chef is offering a three-course tasting menu that begins with a flame-seared wagyu short rib starter with kabosu fruit crème fraiche, fresh radishes, and bubu arare rice crackers. The entree is an artfully-plated smoked salmon rice dish topped with salmon roe, wasabi mayo, puffed rice, and snap pea blossoms. A citrus cheesecake rounds out the menu, and a seasonal cherry blossom sake cocktail is available as an add-on.


Jaleo is celebrating its 30th anniversary this spring, and it's no surprise that the tapas spot with a casual vibe has endured for so long. The consistently tasty small plates span the gamut of Spanish cuisine, from the traditional to the modern. The dishes here are truly tapas-sized, so you'll want to order several if you wish to make a meal. Even more ideal is to bring a bunch of friends so you can sample little tastes of almost everything. If you get lucky, you'll happen to swing by during a stellar flamenco performance.

For the Cherry Blossom festival season, Jaleo offers six seasonal tapas choices in addition to the regular menu. Standouts include a chilled tomato and cherry gazpacho, seared scallops with a bright romesco sauce and sheep's milk cheese served with crusty pan de cristal, and a selection of jams. Finish your meal with a Basque cherry cheesecake, or take home a gift box of specially-crafted cherry and chocolate nougats made in Spain by Torrons Vicens chocolatiers.

Immigrant Food

Immigrant Food describes its restaurants (with three D.C. locations) as "cause-casual." That's because Michelin-starred Chef Enrique Limardo is dedicated not just to celebrating the rich traditions of historical American immigrants but to supporting and furthering the causes of immigrants today — whether that's by hiring immigrants, serving immigrants, or giving to programs that help them succeed and thrive. Diversity is key at Immigrant Food, from the people in the restaurant to the stories and flavors on the plate. 

Spring cherry blossom specials at all three of Immigrant Food's locations include a sumptuous cherry blossom trifle: a layered confection with a base of Genoise sponge cake alternated with fresh raspberries, sour cherries, pomegranate ganache, cookie crumble, white chocolate, and chantilly cream. Also special for the season is a white wine sangria made with lush tropical fruits. The White House location's happy hour menu includes fun seasonal twists on classic mimosa for after-work cocktails. 


It might be easy to confuse Lyle's (the restaurant and bar) with the Art Deco Lyle Hotel, but does it make it easier or harder to know that Lyle's is inside Lyle Hotel? What's very much not confusing is the menu, which is decidedly unfussy, even though the execution is top-notch. There's even an elevated riff on a popular fast-food burger (you know, the one with the "special sauce"). It's all part of Lyle's vibe, which is as coolly sophisticated as it is casual.

For spring, Lyle's brings that cool-meets-casual vibe to its special cherry blossom-themed menu items. A plum blossom cocktail represents the sophisticated side, made with Japanese plum whiskey, yuzu liquor, lemon, and cranberry juice. For dessert, you can't get more casual (or classic) than a slice of old-fashioned cherry pie made especially for the season. A dollop of hibiscus chantilly cream makes it even more special.


Bring a big appetite to Yardbird because this is one place where you definitely won't be eating like a bird. The James Beard Foundation-praised restaurant (with sister restaurants in a smattering of hotspots from NYC to Singapore) focuses on American classics, and many of those are Southern classics — the kind of dishes known for a hearty rib-sticking ability. That means overstuffed deviled eggs, whole fried chickens with hot honey for drizzling, and brunch-time country biscuits and gravy that are worthy of choosing as your last meal on earth.

Yardbird's special creations for the Cherry Blossom Festival are also steeped in classics. The featured cocktail is inspired by chocolate-covered cherries, made with Rémy Martin VSOP cognac, orange Curaçao, and chocolate bitters, all topped with Grand Marnier foam. For dessert, the chefs have created a rich cherry vanilla butter cake, served with a cherry blossom crème Anglaise and good ol' classic vanilla ice cream. You can also celebrate the spring with a glass of sangria: Yardbird's recipe changes seasonally to incorporate fresh fruits that are of the moment.

Ciel Social Club

If you're more in the mood for cocktails and small bites, Ciel Social Club fits the bill. Named for the French word for "heaven," Ciel has a lofty wraparound view from the top of the AC Hotel Washington D.C. Convention Center that makes the name appropriate. It's even more of a paradise in the spring, as the whole rooftop bar has been draped with cherry blossoms, which appear to bloom on the walls, windows, ceiling, and around the impressive 12-foot chandelier.

Ciel has one of the most extensive cocktail menus for cherry blossom season, with a full list of season-perfect libations. Examples include the Tokyo Tonic, made with pickled plum-infused gin and housemade lemongrass tonic water, and the Devil Fruit, a rum-based cocktail made creamy with matcha coconut milk. There's also a menu of small bites created for the season, with bao buns, spring rolls, and a special bento box of savory seasonal goodies made for sharing.

Bourbon Steak

The Washington, D.C., location of Chef Michael Mina's Bourbon Steak (at the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown) is a haven for steakhouse lovers, with a menu that is mostly pure Americana, even if it dips its toe into the adventurous (e.g. grilled octopus, hamachi crudo). Bourbon Steak already has a bit of a Japanese connection with its high-end wood-fired Wagyu striploins. For cherry blossom season, the steakhouse has even more offerings from Japan to complement its otherwise heavily surf and turf-centered menu.

A seasonal libation called the Sado brings the ritual of Japanese tea to the cocktail hour ("Sado" translates to "the way of tea"). The drink — a clever mixing of matcha, mint-infused Haku Japanese vodka, Bermutto sake, Orgeat syrup, and lemon — is poured tableside from a ceramic tea kettle. Also on offer is a Japanese fusion version of crispy tater tots. The Tokyo Tots are topped with Kewpie mayonnaise, bonito flakes, and sweet-and-savory okonomiyaki sauce.