Washington D.C. is currently in the throes of its annual spring National Cherry Blossom Festival, which makes it the perfect time for a Capital Region city break. If you're heading to D.C. in the next few weeks or months, then don't forget to take along our pick of some of the best new and nearly-new restaurants, cafes and coffee shops that have opened within the last few months...
Newly-opened last month, Fujimar is an Asian-Latino restaurant serving sushi, ceviche, lobster, oysters and more. Inspired by the confluence of Asian and Latino cuisine, the menu explores how Asian immigrants to Latin American countries adapted their cuisine in response to New World ingredients and Latin culture. The restaurant, formerly known as Lima, occupies an extensively-renovated and enlarged space on the building's upper floor, while the Lima Lounge bar and nightclub remain on the street and basement levels. Along with an extensive wine list there's also an innovate sake menu - try the Hakkaisan "Eight Peaks" Honjozo with hints of stone fruit and brioche.
Fujimar, 1401 K Street NW, Washington, D.C.
Late last year saw the opening of The Hamilton in the space formerly occupied by Borders bookstore close to the Treasury Building, just two blocks from the White House. The Hamilton is a huge, dual-purpose operation, with a 24-hour restaurant featuring three dining rooms, three bars and a sushi bar, plus a subterranean live music venue holding up to 400 visitors - a great choice in a city slightly lacking in options for round-the-clock dining. The menu focuses on seasonal and local American fare, and according to in-the-know restaurant website Eater DC, First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughters have already popped in for lunch.
The Hamilton, 600 14th Street NW, Washington D.C.
Just opened in Columbia Heights is Coffy Cafe, a mod-themed coffee shop and creperie with a 60s living-room aesthetic, dreamt up by ex-teacher Philecia Harris. The bright and airy double-height space is dotted with Blaxploitation film posters and full of clean-lined, retro-inspired floor lamps, sofas and chairs in shades of crisp white and bold pinks, oranges and reds. Speciality coffees and teas are served alongside such crepey delights as the Barbarella - smoked Salmon, cream cheese, sautéed onions and capers and the Mrs Peal- pumpkin pie filling, graham cracker crust, cinnamon, nutmeg, whipped cream and caramel drizzle.
Coffy Café, 3310 14th Street NW, Washington D.C.
One of Esquire's best new restaurants of 2011, Fiola by chef Fabio Trabocchi is a modern, high-end trattoria located in the heart of Penn Quarter. With an emphasis on fresh, contemporary and regional Italian cooking made with flair, imagination and a lot of love, its lunch and dinner menus change daily. Recent specials include Chestnut Cappuccino soup, Pine Smoked Venison and "Vincisgrassi" Classic Marche Region Lasagna. Special occasion diners might opt for the 4 or 5 course tasting menus, or if you're in town on business try the 3-course $32 'Business Lunch'.
Fiola, 601 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington D.C.
Slightly away from the centre of D.C., but a great option for stocking up on posh sandwiches and sweet treat picnic items if you're heading to the National Zoo, brand new Sugar Magnolia is the Cleveland Park 'storefront market' of sustainability-focused American restaurant Ripple. A mix of gourmet panini, flatbread crackers and pâtés, salads, savoury snacks (think bacon-roasted pecan nuts) and baked goods are available to take away, although the market is making a name for itself most of all with speciality ice-cream sandwiches; scoops of flavours as lip-smacking (or not) as maple bacon and coffee coconut, served on a substantial waffle cookie.
Sugar Magnolia, 3417 Connecticut Ave NW
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About the author: MaxineMaxine Sheppard
Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.