Dining options around D.C.

March 24, 2010|By Richard Gorelick | Special to The Baltimore Sun

Where to eat

There is an official list of D.C. restaurants participating in the this year's Cherry Blossom Festival with "cherry flavored and blossom-inspired" menu additions (See washington.org/cherryblossom), but many more restaurants are participating unofficially. And the best bet might be to go on a Thursday and assemble a picnic lunch at the popular FRESHFARM market in nearby Penn Quarter (North end of Eighth Street Northwest between D and E streets). The Penn Quarter season kicks off April 1, and if you're the outgoing type, you could solicit a dining tip from one of the chefs that shop there. Here are some other options to consider:

Teaism

400 Eighth St. N.W., 202-638-6010, teaism.com. A chill and laid-back alternative to much of the area's upscale options, featuring tea of course, but also a variety of cold bento boxes that are perfect to take on picnic lunches. Teasim is open early for breakfast and every day for Afternoon Tea, which features a $20 fixed price menu of either American or Japanese-style sweet and savory items. Don't miss the salty oak cookie. A half-hour walk to the Tidal Basin, and within view of the Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter Metro Station.

Ten Penh

1001 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., 202-393-4500, tenpenh.com. For the run of the festival, this reliable Asian-influenced restaurant will feature alongside its regular fusion fare a $35 four-course Cherry Blossom Tasting Menu. To give you some idea, the second course is Hudson Valley Foie Gras with bacon-cherry jam.

Oyamel Cocina Mexicana

401 Seventh St. N.W., 202-628-1005, oyamel.com. Specializing in small plates of authentic Mexican cuisine, the whimsical and reviving Oyamel is a good choice for anyone who's a little fatigued but especially for a larger group that can't make up its collective mind. Good margaritas and pork tortillas will take the edge off an afternoon of competing for blossom-gazing space.

Zola Wine & Kitchen

505 Ninth St. N.W., 202-639-WINE, zolawinekitchen.com. This offshoot of the disarmingly friendly restaurant in the Spy Museum cleverly shoehorns cooking classes and a lunch operation into a chic wine store. Lunch seating is limited, and so are some daily offerings. The Web site allows online ordering, though, which might be just the thing to do if the weather's participating.

Pavilion Café

National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, National Mall at Seventh Street and Constitution Avenue Northwest, 202-289-3360. The only downside would be if this view-boasting eatery right on the Mall is too crowded and you're forced to rethink things, in the middle of the Mall. But the Pavilion Cafe, and the Sculpture Garden itself, are underappreciated amenities. Take your chances.

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