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D.C. Restaurants Bidding Adieu to the Zoo’s Newly Departed Pandas

Where to find free dinners, themed cocktails, complimentary toasts, and more

Name this panda statue sitting outside of Philippe Chow and enter to win a $250 gift card.
Philippe Chow
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

D.C.’s beloved giant pandas that long lived in the Smithsonian National Zoo are currently en route to their new faraway home on a FedEx “Panda Express” plane to China. With the nation’s capital mourning today’s sudden (though previously planned) loss of its favorite furry friends, restaurants are keeping spirits up with all sorts of panda-themed deals.

The white-tableclothed restaurant out of NYC offers cute panda chopstick holders with every meal.
Philippe Chow

The Wharf’s fancy Chinese restaurant Philippe Chow, which has served Beijing-style dishes alongside panda-shaped chopstick holders since opening this spring, needs the public’s help to name its life-size panda sculpture currently sitting out front. The final contenders are Pepper, Pancake, or Pinkie. Vote by 5 p.m. on Thursday, November 9, and the chosen name will be announced at 6 p.m. One contest entry will win a dinner for two valued at $250 (follow its Instagram account, like the post, and comment on the preferred name).

Philippe Chow also toasts to the real bamboo-eating pandas’ final farewell with complimentary champagne for each guest dining at the bar tonight. And anyone who puts on a panda costume can eat for free tonight at Cleveland Park’s Medium Rare steakhouse near the three big bears’ now-former habitat.

Directly across from the zoo at Duke’s Counter in Woodley Park, its trio of panda-themed cocktails are discounted to $10 (normally $12) on Thursday, November 9 and Friday, November 10.

The Pandarita, Pandacolata, and Panda Cake cocktails at Duke’s Counter.
Duke’s Counter

Baked by Yael, also across the street from the zoo’s entrance, reports selling dozens of its popular panda cake pops on the same day their black-and-white muses were driving away to Dulles International Airport to embark on a 19-hour flight halfway around the world.

Now that its neighbors are gone, the 8-year-old D.C. bakery is considering sunsetting the “jumbo” panda pops (but will “likely stay around” depending on demand, an employee tells Eater). Patrons can put in orders online or buy the vegan treats in-store while they’re available.

At downtown’s glitzy Conrad hotel, home to Eater DC’s essential 38 restaurant Estuary, its resident “Potomac Panda” mascot is here to stay:

Nationwide, fast-casual chain Panda Express teamed up with Hot Ones to unleash a fiery new chicken dish at 50 select locations — including four around D.C. — that’s available today through January 2.

Crispy boneless chicken bites and fresh veggies are wok-tossed in a spicy and sweet bourbon sauce alongside Hot Ones Last Dab Apollo hot sauce.
Panda Express