Years in the making, MGM National Harbor will swing open its lion-guarded doors to the public for the first time tonight along the banks of the Potomac River.
While the $1.4 billion, 308-room resort hotel will tout spa services, big-name concerts, and a 125,000-square-foot gambling floor, its food concepts are also a focal point.
Marcus, TAP Sports Bar, National Market, Blossom and Ginger all open tonight, with the rest of the food offerings debuting tomorrow. Finishing touches are still coming together on the property. Eleventh-hour jobs were wrapping up at a pre-opening press conference event on Thursday, like painters touching up interiors in Voltaggio Brothers Steak House. Patisserie’s floor-to-ceiling chocolate fountain has been generating big buzz, but it won’t start flowing with 4,000 pounds of dark, white and milk chocolate just yet; it’s currently “working out some kinks” and the team hopes for an unveiling over the next few weeks, a rep told Eater. Spring will bring patios for restaurants like Fish and Tap Sports Bar.
Marcus’ in-room dining services will be available 24 hours a day, but for introverted hotel guests, minibars include a range of “healthy and naughty snacks” as well as craft spirits and local Maryland beers, says Alison Bybee, vice president of food and beverage operations at the resort.
Here’s a summary of what to expect at MGM National Harbor on the drinking and dining front.
Local chef José Andrés anchors his first seafood-focused concept at MGM. The sun-drenched space features a nautical theme with nets and a wall design that mimics fish scales. Expect Andrés on site steaming crabs during warmer months when the patio is open.
The 6,000-square-foot Pan Asian spot is an internally-developed MGM concept they hope will be “an under-the-radar hit,” executive chef Jason Johnston said. Dim sum will be made fresh every day.
Another internal MGM concept, Johnston describes Tap as “the perfect sports bar.” “It has this effect where you naturally want to sit at a bar, order a beer, platter of wings, and a delicious burger,” he said. It’ll feature bocce ball and beer pong during warmer months.
Marcus Samuelsson offers some of the same comfort food found at his famous Red Rooster restaurant in Harlem, as well as new dishes integrating Maryland seafood. The laid-back global soul food experience “makes you feel like you’ve stepped into a different time,” says Johnston. Marcus’ in-room dining offerings will be replicas of what you can find at the restaurant, he notes.
Voltaggio Brothers Steak House
“Top Chef” brothers Bryan and Michael Voltaggio teamed up for their first restaurant, a steakhouse. The space is meant to mimic their childhood home in Frederick, Md., complete with bookshelves and personal belongings.
The downstairs concert venue lets guests grab a drink in a movie theater concessions-style format. Wines range from $10 to $18, while cocktails are priced $15 (16 oz.) to $26 (32 oz.) and include the National Storm (Mount Gay Black Barrel MGM National Harbor, fresh lime, and ginger beer). Beers are $8 to $9. The shows themselves will give good business to the sit-down restaurants at MGM: Bybee reports a “lot of good restaurant reservation traffic” flowing in for Cher, Boyz to Men, and Duran Duran concert days.
Blossom and Felt
The drinks stemming from the casino floor’s lounges are the most intricate at MGM, ranging from tableside mixology services complete with a sparkler-and-smoke show, to the Nellie Blossom, served in one of 18 pieces of glassware with an edible flower.
The pink-hued Bellagio Patisserie, which currently has two locations in Las Vegas, sits on the atrium floor and will serve up French-inspired pastries, tiramisu, chocolates, cookies, croissants, cakes, and sandwiches.
The dozen grab-and-go eateries are open from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. and include banh mi, sushi, and pizza. Bybee predicts the venues to do well with hardcore poker players that don’t budge and rely on quick bites being brought over. The only two chains out of the lineup are Pappas Crab Cakes and Shake Shack, as well as an adjoining Starbucks.
MGM National Harbor Casino, 7100 Oxon Hill Rd, Oxon Hill, Md., website