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May 28, 2010 04:53 PM

National Harbor July 2 - 6. Restaurant Suggestions Please!

I'm staying in the Westin in National Harbor in the beginning of July and I'm in charge of dinner reservations for a group of 10-12 for 3 of the 4 nights. These are not foodies but I would like to deliver solid experiences. Price no obstacle - all expensed. Thank you in advance.

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  1. National Harbor is beautiful but isolated. One of the nights you should take a cab into downtown Washington and share dinner at any of a number of restaurants frequently noted on here. Alternatively would be a water taxi to Old Town and dinner at Eve which will be the highlight of your visit.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Joe H

      I second the advice from Joe H. Unfortunately, you will need to leave National Harbor for "solid experiences". The water taxi to King St. is your best option. Restaurant Eve would be your best bet (reserve now), but there are other good options there. Search the board for King St. - I know both the Majestic and Vermillion have been positively reviewed.

      Restaurant Eve
      110 South Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

      1. re: woodleyparkhound

        Pretty discouraging news here. We're going to be somewhat pressed for time and tired, so what is the best we can expect on the property? There must be something?!?

        1. re: hotfoodhot

          breakfast buffett looked good but also agree that for a great and memorable meal you (at least currently) you need to go to dc- would go to penn quarter/gallery place/chinatown area since there are at least 25 good choices to chose from

          1. re: hotfoodhot

            The steakhouse on the property ha sgotten some good reviews but it was noted to be very, very pricey. However, if price is not an object, that should be a good choice.

            You can also catch the water taxi across the Potomac to Old Town Alexandria (I think about $15/pp). Restaurant Eve is about 6 blocks up from the river and is a terrific dining experience. Closer to the river, moderate/casual would be Overwood, there's a decent French restaurant, La Bergerie, that's next door to Overwood on N. Lee Street. Farther away from the river are Vermillion and Majestic, but I know Majestic is a small place and might be difficult to get a reservation for a group as large as yours.

            220 N Lee St, Alexandria, VA 22314

            Restaurant Eve
            110 South Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

            La Bergerie
            218 N. Lee Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

            1. re: hotfoodhot

              The problem, hotfoodhot, is that most people on this or any local board have not been to National Harbor. It is indeed beautiful, yet there are an excessive number of empty storefronts. Gaylord, out of Nashville with no fundamental understanding of the D. C. area market, built a huge convention hotel attempting to compete with downtown Washington. I suppose in their marketing they attempt to trade off of their proximity to D. C. but in truth National Harbor has little access to Washington. This is a beautifully situated but essentially plastic community that at best is only marginally successful. Most, if not all, of the restaurants which have opened are outposts of national chains. To the best of my knowledge not a single one is locally chef owned or run, not a single one critically reviewed as a success. You are going to find "vanilla" food from national emporiums if you stay there (often, I think, breathtakingly expensive); if you are willing to ride for 20 or so minutes on a small boat you have the historic and atmospheric 300 year old Old Town Alexandria available to you. Otherwise, perhaps on your next visit you'll stay in D. C.

              There's just nothing encouraging about your options in National Harbor. Old Town Alexandria is another matter. I would suggest that you are indeed fortunate to be so close to it.

              1. re: Joe H

                When I was in National Harbor last summer, there was a huge "coming soon" sign for Red Eye Grill. Did that open and has anyone been? The NYC original is a decent option, especially in a pinch.

                1. re: daves_32

                  According to the National Harbor website, it's still "coming soon".

                2. re: Joe H

                  I don't think it's fair to say that not a single place there is locally owned or run. Even discounting the places affiliated w/ the various hotels (which in my experience while usually corporate variations on a theme are still often run by local chefs), glancing at the Gaylord website I see in the locally-owned/run column Aromi d'Italia (a little gelateria that seems too small-time to be corporate or part of a chain), CakeLove (local chain), Grace's Mandarin (local chain), Mayorga Coffee (local chain), and Bobby McKey's (locally owned).

                  With that said, it's pretty much acknowledged universally that National Harbor is not the place to go for good food. I've been there a handful of times and popped my head into a few of the restaurants to check them out or grab a drink, but never eaten at any of them; of the places I saw, though, if I had to eat there I would probably go w/ McCormick & Schmick's (national chain but generally very solid) or Rosa Mexicano (national chain that has very good guac and pretty good margaritas, and just OK food (but non-foodies seem to enjoy it a lot)). I've also been told that Bobby McKey's (a dueling piano bar) is very fun if you're in the mood for campy drunken singalongs, but I don't think it's really a valid dinner option.

                  You can see the entire list of available options on the National Harbor website:


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

                  Aromi Cafe
                  156 National Plz, Oxon Hill, MD 20745

                  1. re: sweth

                    but Bobby McKey's is damn fun! a liquid dinner!

                    1. re: sweth

                      Agreed that National Harbor isn't the place for a true dining experience. However, I have actually been to McCormick & Schmick's, Rosa Mexicano and Cadillac Roach - err Ranch. M&S was okay, nothing surprising there. Rosa Mexicano was super-jam-packed. The guacamole is actually very good. The entrees were okay; but make you think you spent way too much on tacos. I think they would be happy to accommodate larger groups; I saw one when I was there and they all looked happy. I didn't actually eat at Cadillac Ranch, thank goodness; and I probably never will. But it was fun watching drunk people try to ride the mechanical bull. I'm sure that after falling off, they were on their way to Bobby McKey's.

            2. The last time I went to National Harbor (and if my luck holds, it will be the last time ever) was about 1-2 years ago. There was a Rosa Mexicano there, which was jam-packed with people, so we got a sandwich at Potbelly (mediocre sandwich chain). There weren't many restaurants at all to choose from then - there may be more now. I tasted the guacamole from Rosa Mexicano once at a street fair in DC - I was pretty surprised at how good it was. If you go there, definitely order it. I have never had anything else from there, but have read reports that the rest of the food is ... ordinary. In terms of the choices available at National Harbor, this is all I can offer. Please look into taking the ferry to King St., Alexandria.

              1. Rosa Mexicano offers family style dining for large groups, good selections to choose from and easier to manage than going a la carte. Guac and margaritas are EXCELLENT!