7 Cherry Blossom Food and Drink Specials to Try Around DC

Where to snack on sakura-smoked sashimi, pick up a picnic basket, and sip cherry-blossom spritzes.

The hanami picnic at Love Makoto is available from March 20 to April 14. Photograph courtesy of Love Makoto.

With temperatures already hitting the 60s, fake spring has sprung in DC. But nothing will herald the arrival of real spring like the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which kicks off on March 20—just before the predicted peak bloom—and lasts until April 14. As always, restaurants and bars are celebrating the city’s gift from Japan with cherry-based bites and drinks. Here are a few sakura specials that are truly worth checking out. 


Love Makoto

200 Massachusetts Ave., NW 

To celebrate hanami, the Japanese flower-viewing tradition, this Japanese food hall is dispensing a takeout picnic consisting of 16 pieces of sushi, seaweed salad, two bottles of strawberry Ramune soda, and two heart-shaped cherry blossom donuts. The $50 picnic offering will be available to order online for the duration of the Cherry Blossom Festival, as will a pair of cherry-accented cocktails from Love Makoto’s Hiya Izakaya: the Cherry Blossom Highball (with gin, strawberry-rhubarb vermouth, and sakura blossom) and the Haruno Sakura (with vodka, nigori sake, and sakura salt).


Silver Lyan

900 F St., NW

Chef Masako Morishita has created a 10-day pop-up menu at Silver Lyan in honor of the Cherry Blossom Festival. Photograph by Veronika Sabir-Idrissi.

One of DC’s top cocktail bars is hosting chef Masako Morishita, who revamped the kitchen at Perry’s, for a 10-day pop-up menu March 19 through March 30. Morishita, who grew up in Japan, is celebrating Japanese-American fusion with a picnic bento of Spam musubi, miso-togarashi peanuts, and sesame zucchini pickles, served alongside a split of champagne. Other snacks include tater tots with shiokoji ranch, karaage fried chicken, and a photogenic strawberry-and-mascarpone fruit sando. Silver Lyan’s cocktail team has also whipped up five special drinks to honor the blossoms, including the Sakura Silver Service (Roku gin, Haku vodka, and sakura vermouth) and the Daifuku Punch (bourbon, strawberry cream, and red bean orgeat). 


Stellina Pizzeria

508 K St., NW; 399 Morse St., NE; 2800 S Randolph St., Arlington

These casual Neapolitan pizzerias might not immediately come to mind when you think of cherry blossom festivities. But starting March 11, all three locations will serve  a cherry blossom-inspired pie with mozzarella, cherries, duck prosciutto, and port wine reduction. There’s also a blossom-themed spritz and a negroni with Don Ciccio cherry liqueur, gin, and sweet vermouth. 



974 Palmer Alley, NW

Chef Amy Brandwein is honoring the blossoms at her CityCenterDC Italian dining room with a pappardelle special laden with cherries, creme fraiche, and garlic scapes. There’s also a spritz  made with cherry shrub, prosecco, and vodka. 


Residents Café and Bar

1306 18th St., NW

Residents has its outdoor patio decked out with cherry blossoms. Photograph courtesy of Residents.

This Dupont Circle bar has a penchant for over the top seasonal decorations. This month, Residents has festooned its heated streatery with a canopy of cherry blossom branches, and on March 12, it’ll roll out drink offerings like a Sakura Spritz (sakura shochu, Japanese bermutto, sparkling sake, morello cherry, and lime). 


Hank’s Oyster Bar

1624 Q St., NW; 701 Wharf St., SW

Four Japan-inspired cocktails will be available at Hank’s Oyster Bar’s Wharf location from March 8 through April 12, and at its hidden Q Street bar in Dupont throughout April. There’s the Lychee in Osaka at Midnight (Japanese vodka, green tea syrup, and lychee); Matcha Made in Heaven (Roku gin, matcha powder, and strawberry boba); Peach Oolong Old Fashioned (made with Suntory Toki whiskey); and a classic Suntory Toki highball. 


Nama Ko

1926 14th St., NW

Cherry blossom season is already underway at this tradition-bucking Japanese spot near U Street. Try katsuo bonito sashimi smoked over cherrywood and topped with cherry blossoms foraged by chef Derek Watson himself. Also find a tableside sakura-smoked old fashioned made with Iwai Japanese whiskey. 

Ike Allen
Assistant Editor