Traditionally a slow time for restaurant launches, the holiday season this year ushered in a slew of new concepts. Here’s a look at some of the just-opened restaurants on our radar.
1. Fish by Jose Andres
The debut of MGM National Harbor casino and resort just outside Washington, D.C., in early December brought with it the launch of three new celebrity chef-led concepts, including Fish by Jose Andres. The menu pays homage to local seafood styles with options such as Maryland blue crab and Rappahannock oysters, while also offering other types of seafood such as lobster jambalaya and tuna tartare. The 268-seat nautical-themed restaurant features multiple dining areas, including seating along a wave-shaped counter looking into the open kitchen.
2. Voltaggio Brothers Steak House
Also located at the MGM National Harbor, Voltaggio Brothers Steak House marks the first joint concept for brothers and chefs Bryan and Michael Voltaggio, who shot to fame after their appearance on Bravo’s “Top Chef.” The fine-dining restaurant’s multiple rooms were designed to resemble parts of a home, from the living room-like lounge area with drapes and banquettes to the library-style bar, with all rooms featuring views of the kitchen. Entrees—priced between $28 and $120, according to The Washington Post—include a 45-day dry-aged rib-eye and blue crab-topped Maine lobster.
3. Marcus by Marcus Samuelsson
Open through 2 a.m. (and soon to be open 24 hours), Marcus—the other MGM National Harbor celebrity chef spot—offers a more laid-back option than the upscale Fish and Voltaggio Brothers concepts. Its menu of modern takes on classic American fare includes muffin top pot pie and chicken and waffles with picked daikon, while beverage options include local craft beer and an extensive bourbon selection. A sliding door at the back of the restaurant opens up to Sammy’s, a prohibition-style supper club also from Samuelsson featuring live Harlem-style blues music.
4. Barnes & Noble Kitchen
The retailer continues the test of its bookstore and full-service restaurant hybrid with the third location of Barnes & Noble Kitchen. The latest unit in Folsom, Calif., features a menu from a former Hillstone Restaurant Group chef that includes lemon ricotta pancakes, slow-cooked beef short ribs and more than 20 wines by the glass. Since debuting the concept in November in Eastchester, N.Y., Barnes & Noble has launched a second location near Minneapolis in Edina, Minn. A fourth is slated for Loudoun, Va.
Co-founded by neurologist Dr. Alon Seifan, this New York City fast casual features “mindfully chosen ingredients” that it says support brain health, such as vegetables, legumes and foods rich in omega-3s. The name is a nod to the prominence of honey, used as a natural sweetener because Seifan says it could be gentler on the body than regular sugar. A retail area features shelves lined with different varieties of local and international honeys, ranging from wildflower honey sourced from Brooklyn to New Zealand manuka honey.
6. Fin & Pearl
Fin & Pearl is the newest concept from Nashville restaurateur Tom Morales. The upscale casual-dining restaurant emphasizes sustainability, only serving seafood and fish caught by small privately owned purveyors that meet its sustainability standards. Other sustainability initiatives include the use of a machine that turns food waste into environmentally safe water, drinkware made from used wine bottles, and custom furniture and counters made from sustainably sourced wood.
Weeks after launching fried chicken sandwich concept The Bird, Adriano Paganini’s Back of the House restaurant group debuted another new venture, Flores. The casual-dining Mexican restaurant in San Francisco serves traditional Mexican fare such as quesadilla huitlacoche, mole negro poblano and carne asada.
8. Level Up
Launched at the end of December, Hakkasan Group’s latest concept targets millennials with its array of tech-savvy and traditional games. The 12,000-square-foot modern arcade bar and lounge in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas features entertainment options such as giant Pac-Man and Connect Four, an arm-wrestling table and an indoor laser golf course, according to Las Vegas Weekly.