The Lengths I go to for Sangria and Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC

It’s Saturday morning,  68 degrees with clear blue skies and a light breeze, the first truly gorgeous day of spring and I’m stuck in traffic. Inching our way through D.C.’s notoriously snarled beltway traffic we arrive at our destination 45 minutes late after a 4.5 hour drive. What could prompt me and my friend Katie (of Domestiphobia fame and the only person crazy enough to join me) to drive 8 hours round trip on an absolutely beautiful spring day?

Spanish food, that’s what.

The lure of paella and sangria are strong but that’s not the only reason we journeyed this far. When fellow blogger Jessica van Dop Dejesus of The Dining Traveler invited me to the #DCTravelBlogger brunch at Chef Jose Andres’ Jaleo Crystal City  in Arlington,VA I jumped at the chance. Eating and talking travel, two things I do very,very well.

Delicious Spanish cuisine at Jaleo Crystal City

Rushing in Katie and I took our spots at the end of the table where we were soon presented with glasses of cava and sangria (I personally think I should be greeted this way all the time) . A few quick introductions were made before our table mates pointed at a green drop perched on a silver spoon. “You need to try that-it’s a liquid olive!”. A liquid what? I brought the spoon to my mouth, where a gentle pressure resulted in a burst of briny, olive-y goodness. Unfortunately we missed the molecular gastronomy demonstration that resulted in this tasty morsel but more good things were in store.

Liquid olives at Jaleo Crystal City

A selection of Iberico ham, charred asparagus with romesco and fried baby shrimp topped with an organic egg immediately brought me back to my time wandering the labyrinthine streets of Seville-the scent of orange blossoms heavy in the air; days spent searching for ceramics and sampling tapas, nights spent searching for flamenco and sampling sangria. Vegetable paella prepared table-side was delicious, with savory caramelized notes that only a seasoned paella pan can provide (truth be told, the carnivore in me was missing the spicy kick that chorizo brings to the paella party). Our meal was then capped off with a decadent sweet-soaked Spanish toast accented with caramelized bananas and rum whipped cream.Charred asparagus with romesco and Iberian hamat Jaleo Crystal City www.casualtravelist.comVegetable paella at Jaleo Crystal City www.casualtravelist.comSweet soaked toast with rum spiked whipped cream at Jaleo Crystal City

Aside from being plied with delicious food and drink at every turn, the best part of the experience was meeting and talking food and travel with a number of D.C. area travel bloggers. This was a group that wouldn’t judge me for enduring a 4.5 hour drive through D.C. traffic for some Spanish food. I was especially excited to finally meet Jessica (aka The Dining Traveler) in person. We immediately bonded as only female-military-veterans-turned-travel-bloggers can.
#DCTravelBlogger brunch at Jaleo Crystal City

With my desire for Spanish food temporarily sated, I figured it would be a shame to drive all this way to D.C. during peak cherry blossom season and not to head across the Potomac. If you plan on visiting Washington D.C. consider staying in Arlington as hotel prices are considerably cheaper (a night at a Ritz-Carlton can be had for under $200 per night compared to the $500+ per night in Georgetown) and you are a quick metro ride to anywhere in the city.


Washington D.C. Metro

Washington D.C. is definitely at its prettiest in the in the springtime. The season’s first pale green buds signal life has returned after this past winter’s wrath while delicate pink and white blossoms soften the capital’s classic architecture.

Discovering why spring time is the best season to visit Washington DC Discovering why spring time is the best season to visit Washington DC Discovering why spring time is the best season to visit Washington DC

Having only a few hours to wander the National Mall was our best bet for getting in a few sights.

First stop-1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

It was hard for me to believe that Katie had never visited the White House since it’s a constant for me on nearly every visit. Aside from the world changing decisions going on inside, it’s a fabulous place to people watch. Tourists angling for the perfect spot for a White House selfie, legions of gray suited government workers doing their daily D.C. hustle and an ever changing roster of political activists protesting outside provide the perfect snapshot of daily life in downtown Washington. Katie, on the other hand, was making plans for moving in. Domestiphobia for president 2024?
Discovering why spring time is the best season to visit Washington DC


A leisurely stroll through the National Mall took us past the buildings and monuments that grace the change in your pocket. Wanting to get the iconic shot of the Jefferson Memorial we meandered towards the Tidal Basin only to find that everyone else had the very same idea.It wasn’t just crowded, we were well past that. There was literally a sea of people lining the banks of the Potomac and spilling over the steps of the Jefferson Memorial. We settled on taking pictures of each other instead (we’re pretty photogenic, don’t you think?) and battled the crowds to get back toward the metro. A chance glimpse by Katie revealed the perfect shot of the Washington Memorial, the tranquility of the image belies the packed masses that fall just below the frame.

Discovering why spring time is the best season to visit Washington DC Discovering why spring time is the best season to visit Washington DC Discovering why spring time is the best season to visit Washington DC Discovering why spring time is the best season to visit Washington DC

Slightly smug with the satisfaction of our photographic success it was time to head back to Arlington for a quick bite to eat before hitting the road for home. Four hours later, I pulled into my driveway bleary-eyed and exhausted as the clock struck midnight. So, was dealing with D.C.’s notorious traffic worth it?

Yeah,it was definitely worth it.


Here’s how a few of my fellow bloggers experienced the #DCTravelBloggers brunch at Jaleo

68 Comments on “The Lengths I go to for Sangria and Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC

  1. I’d travel for food too but the cherry blossom festival makes it a no brainer. I’ve always wanted to be in DC when they are in bloom. I’m sure you guys had a fun road trip together and the food looks fabulous. We just had the most amazing tapas in Healdsburg CA and now I can’t get it out of my mind. I either want to go back to Spain or back to CA. Arlington is a little closer 🙂
    Tamara recently posted…Diving In: A Family Guide to Water Sports in MauiMy Profile

    • There is never a bad reason to go back to Spain or Healdsburg. Dang it, now I’ve got tapas on the brain too!

  2. Pingback: #DCTravelBlogger Brunch – Jaleo Crystal City | Get in my Mouf

    • It was definitely worth the effort. On a normal Saturday morning the majority of that 4.5 hours I spent on the road would have been spent sitting in front of the computer in my PJs lol.

  3. Wow! I haven’t been to DC since my 8th grade field trip, but I have to say the lure of Spanish food might get me there too. Thanks for sharing (now I’m hungry!)
    Mags recently posted…South Of The BorderMy Profile

    • DC is such a fun town with a lot of vibrant nieghborhhods and nightlife, you should definitely try to visit again.

  4. Great post! Of course I had been drooling over those food pics for days now. Hi Katie! I loved the picture of the two of you, very nice. Bri, that is how I knew we were meant to be friends because I, too, would drive many hours for a yummy meal. 😉 Glad you enjoyed your day. May you be blessed with many more.
    Melody Pittman recently posted…West Virginia’s Midas Touched State CapitolMy Profile

    • Melody, we are definitely kindred spirits. I would love to go down and explore Panama with you 🙂

  5. Sangria and cherry blossoms? Eight hours round-trip in a day is really long but from the photos I’d say it looks definitely worth it.
    Jill recently posted…The BroadmoorMy Profile

  6. Its so great meeting with travel bloggers. Put some food and sangria in the mix and you’ve got a pretty perfect day! The cherry blossoms look beautiful, your photos are fantastic. Thanks for sharing

  7. Yes, I bet it definitely was worth it! The cherry blossoms are in bloom here in Toronto, but not for long! They are just so stunning!

  8. After watching House of Cards – I’m going to avoid DC’s metro. Also – there’s a particularly frightening level in Fallout which focuses on those very stations. On another note – I am super jealous of all the fantastic delicacies you’ve shared with us thus far. Thank you!

  9. I would drive even 10 hours for a good paella and Jamon!
    Cant wait for next week. Gonna attend TBEX in Spain.
    Hope to meet fellow travel bloggers and will deffo eat a lot!
    Safe travels!

    • Nothing like eating paella in Spain. I’m sure you’ll have a blast at TBEX!

  10. I love Washington DC at any time of year, but spring is absolutely unique there. Like you, I also crave the good food they have there. As for Sangria, after visiting Madrid I learned to make my own. I don’t want to brag about it, but the one I make is the best that I ever tried anywhere (I put all the good stuff in it).
    Anda recently posted…Living the Good Life in Lake ArrowheadMy Profile

  11. that is such a great recap of the #DCTravelBlogger meetup! Flattered that you and Katie drove all the way from Virginia Beach to spend the afternoon with us. Also happy that it was such a beautiful day in DC that day to take gorgeous pictures of the cherry blossoms. Hope you continue to join us.
    Jessica @ The Dining Traveler recently posted…Travel Influences: Thomas RathsackMy Profile

    • Thanks for putting on such an awesome event, I’ll definitely be back up to join you guys again 🙂

  12. Brianna,

    Thanks so much for the great post! It was wonderful to meet you, and I’m so glad you had fun! Hope to see you up around Arlington again soon!

    • Hi Cara, it was great meeting you as well! Looking forward to returning to Arlington and the DC area 🙂

  13. I would have totally drive 8 hours for that meal. The paella looks so interesting! I have not had that variety before. And I remember how beautiful the cherry blossoms are in DC this time of year, its been awhile, but they are gorgeous!
    Andi recently posted…Great Grilled Cheese in San FranciscoMy Profile

    • Andi, I know you would have loved rocking out in the car with Katie and I before feasting on some paella.

    • Spain is one of my favorite countries, love the laid back vibe and tasty food. Have fun!

    • I’m ready to head back up to DC for seconds (of both the food and the cherry blossoms).

    • I love DC( and Richmond too), Virginia has so many great options.

    • I wish it were more popular, its one of my favorite cuisines!

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