Where to Eat at the Brand New MGM National Harbor
It’s a casino, spa, resort, theater, art gallery, fitness center, and conservatory; but if you only go to the MGM National Harbor to only satisfy your hunger, you will still leave a very happy camper. The brand new (one month old) gigantic resort along the Potomac River is only seven miles from the Capitol and has brought a group of notable chefs from around the world “home” to where several of them began, to open scores of fine dining restaurants and fast-casual eateries. You could eat for weeks inside this cavernous building and never repeat a taste.
Some of the best restaurants at the resort include Marcus, owned by Ethiopian-born and Swedish-bred Marcus Samuelsson, whose Harlem restaurant Red Rooster is already known for its unique African and Southern U.S. influences. His shrimp and grits, Obama’s Short Ribs, and Whole Bird Royale, consisting of a whole moist chicken first baked then fried with a delicious crust, come with life-changing biscuits, mac and cheese, flavored collard greens and gravy, and should be shared by the whole table. Samuelsson originated the farm-to-bed plan in which his incredible dishes can be brought directly to your resort room.
Voltaggio Brothers Steakhouse brings Maryland-born Voltaggio brothers Bryan and Michael together, in a space decorated to resemble their home, for timeline cocktails in the library (we enjoyed the circa 1670 Milk Punch, a Ben Franklin favorite with seven spirits, pineapple, oolong tea, bitters, and spices). The expected steaks come in every form, including the wagyu, similar to Japanese kobe, in which the meat is massaged in beer for days. But the side dishes are the imaginative touch, reinvented into creamed spinach topped with white Cheddar foam; and Tom Kha Thai soup mingled with lobster bisque, among other delicious offerings.
MGM’s sports bar TAP, orchestrated by executive chef Henry Dudley, brings his grandmother Lily’s incredible Creole gumbo to the table with dark roux, seafood broth, shrimp, smoked sausage, okra, sticky rice, and dried sassafras leaves. Pair this and his version of a Philadelphia cheesesteak with one of the 48 draft beers and 24 exports and seasonal craft brews for an unforgettable meal.
Then there’s executive pastry chef Sylvain Bortolini, originally from Nice, France, and later Bellagio in Las Vegas, who turns his chocolate artistry into magical edibles at the MGM National Harbor patisserie.
All of the chefs here, including José Andrés of the delightful Fish restaurant, are not only renowned for their preference to local food and produce — in this case, the Chesapeake Bay — but they are all involved charitably in some way and most have programs in place to help feed the needy in the D.C. area.
If you can’t find the perfect meal here, you surely won't find it anywhere else.