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Jan 27, 2009 02:50 PM

What's the Best Restaurant near National Harbor?

Hi hounds.

I have a business meeting in National Harbor, and would love to take some friends out for a great dinner. Within reason, price is not a huge consideration. Would like really great food and an atmosphere conducive to civilized conversation.

Fwiw, I'm pretty active on the LA board, I know it's sometimes annoying to get this sort of inquiry from out of towners. Any suggestions are, at least in this case, very much appreciated, and I promise to write-up wherever we end up going.

TIA hounds.

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  1. I'd recommend crossing the river to Old Town Alexandria for Restaurant Eve. If you've never been, Old Town is a nice place to wander after dinner. Good backup places in Old Town include Farrah Olivia, Majestic, Vermilion or the Grille at the Morrison House. I can't speak for the restaurants actually at National Harbor - it's kind of isolated from the rest of DC in a fairly new development patch (blah) - I believe it's mostly chain fare.

    1. The problem with National Harbor is there isn't much around it (outside of the complex that is). In the Harbor area itself there is McCormick & Schmicks, Grace's, Rosa Mexicano. There are other restaurants that will open soon. I agree that your best bet is to go across the river to Old Town Alexandria. All of the restaurants metnioned below are good. Restaurant Eve has the best food, but is pricey. Majestic, Vermillion are both very good. Google Old Town Alexandria Restaurants and you will come up wtih quite a few more.

      1. Restaurant Eve is, by far, your best choice if "price is not a huge consideration."

        Unless there is traffic congestion on the bridge over the Potomac River, the taxi ride between National Harbor and Restaurant Eve will take only about 10 minutes.

        There is also a water taxi service running between National Harbor and Old Town. For example, a water taxi to Old Town departs National Harbor at 6:30 p.m. each night. You might want to consider taking the water taxi from National Harbor to Old Town (in order to avoid rush hour traffic on the bridge and to add a little adventure to the trip), and taking an ordinary (non-water) taxi home.

        1. Maybe you've already been, but I would suggest Grace's Mandarin. They have fabulous sushi, their other food is ok. Bond45 looks good, just very expensive for what they offer. I have to agree with others that the short drive to Alexandria may be worth it if you really want good food without feeling ripped off!

          Grace's Mandarin
          188 Waterfront Street, Oxon Hill, MD 20745

          1 Reply
          1. re: acecil

            OK, so I am trapped here in National Harbor, staying at the Gaylord National. Here for a conference, so I am solo, sans wife and kids. Typically, we would be with rental car and striking it out on the town, to sample what DC has to offer. However, since I don't have a car, and really don't feel like paying $20 each way in cab fare to Alexandria (already went to dinner at Brabo for a group function yesterday), I ended up just staying local for a couple of the days I was here.

            First stop after arrival was Bond 45 - even though there are several posts recommending a search for National Harbor, I found the reviews rather sparse, and the only thing I heard anything good about was Bond 45. I made a reservation, got seated immediately (the place was pretty empty for a Thursday evening), and prepared to be impressed. I have to say the service was only fair for such a pricey restaurant. I started with the caeser salad - a rather ample portion in a big bowl, but for $14 it better have some redeeming factor. The salad was good, good enough that I got the remainder to go (no way I could finish it myself) to save for lunch the following day (in combination with a sandwich). Croutons were crunchy, the romaine was fresh, and the caeser dressing was a good middle ground - not too much on the acidic side, and not too creamy, either. The main course was comprised of a petite filet (8 oz) with accompaniments of parmesan asparagus and a side of sauteed broccoli rabe (not listed on the menu, but available by request). The filet was very good, cooked to my preferred medium rare/medium wellness, very tender, and as one would expect in a steakhouse. But however, no surprises, no wow, but solid steak fare. The asparagus side was somewhat underwhelming; the asparagus quite thick and slightly fibrous, and the parmesan just falling right off when I tried to pick up a piece or two for my plate. Not $12 worth, if you ask me. The sauteed broccoli rabe was better, but strangely there were some thicker broccoli stem pieces mixed in, along with bits of florets as well. Cooked the way I like it, slightly "al dente" but not too snappy. I just couldn't get over the other bits mixed in - rabe is rabe, OK?? The service was only satisfactory, not what I would expect from such a pricey venue. The atmosphere was not as sumptuous as one would expect from a high end steakhouse, either.

            So this brought me to today, another night to kill in National Harbor with no transportation, all my colleagues have left, what to do? I toyed with the idea of going back to Bond 45 (since I at least I knew that wasn't going to be horrid) but I decided to give the Old Hickory Steakhouse in the Gaylord Hotel a run for it. I got seated immediately, even though I had called for reservations 5 mins prior. The place was quite packed, as the convention goers had all arrived for the weekend, but I could immediately tell the atmosphere was better - better lighting, great veiws of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, and just better overall ambiance - nicer furniture, better dressed wait staff, more attentive servers. I took my place at a table, solo, ordered my favorite martini, and within minutes, the waiter was already bringing it to me. Somewhat burned from ordering too much food (two sides at Bond 45), I reeled it in a bit and just started with a wedge iceberg salad for starters and a 20oz ribeye for the main course. The salad was quite impressive; a whole half head of iceberg, split into two, just the right amount of bleu cheese dressing, and real just-cooked bacon slivers (still warm!). I couldn't finish the whole thing without worrying if I was going to be able to finish my steak.

            The main course arrived, and I was quite impressed. The steak had just the right amount of char/sear, and it was still hot - could hear a bit of sizzle still! I cut into it and it was prepared exactly as I wanted. Steak was excellent, nice subtle crunch from the sear, buttery smooth texture, and great flavor. Unfortunately the cabernet I wanted (by the glass) was out, and I got a rather weak less bold cab as a suggestion. But I really didn't mind because the steak was so good and the wine became secondary (boy, I don't say that very often). I finished it off and couldn't even think about dessert.

            I would definitely encourage those traveling to National Harbor to give Old Hickory Steakhouse a try. I would have loved to dine there with my wife, gotten a nice bottle of wine and have a fantastic steak dinner. My experience was still good enough to make it memorable.

            Good luck.

            Old Hickory Steakhouse
            National Harbor, MD, National Harbor, MD