Image: Chicken ‘n Waffle
Last Updated: 6/14/2020
Current Status: Succotash was a shining light during the early days of the shutodwn. Led by Chef/Owner Edward Lee, they began a relief program that provided food and staples to out-of-work service industry employees that lasted until the end of May. The Washington Harbor location is doing sit-down now. The D.C. location is currently closed.
Gift Cards – redeemable at all Knead Restaurants (Mi Vida, The Grill, Gatsby)
Before Times Review:
Last Visited: August 2019
Succotash flies under the radar. It wasn’t supposed to be that way. The second version of the concept (the first one was a pre-fab, tourist-friendly National Harbor spot) has the trappings of a flagship. Louisville-based, celebrity chef/owner Edward Lee chose as a location a converted bank with a cavernous, majestic, marbled room. This could be a culinary temple, but it settled into being a nice, very-good crowd-pleaser of a spot.
The cooking matches the tone: down-home, southern-rooted cuisine with funky and fun elements of Asian cooking mixed in. It does not attempt to transcend the classics (see e.g. Unconventional Diner), but rather to spruce them up just a little. Catfish, ribs, salmon, fried chicken are done well. The hot chicken uses Asian spices in a sauce that is lacquered on. The catfish is simply breaded and served with a tangy sauce and a grilled lemon half. Collard greens have kimchi spices for kick. The deviled egg is heavy on the mayo, almost to the exclusion of the egg. (Note: photos below are mostly restaurant week portions).
The service is friendly, and bustling. They are trying very hard to keep up with the press of business, and it is appreciated. Early reviews picked up on a tone of pretension. That is gone. The wine list is interesting and more than covers the bases. Cocktails tilt toward those sure to get attention, but a classic old-fashioned was done well. The Bourbon list is long, and knowledgeable bar staff can help you navigate it.
When Succotash opened there was hope that it would aspire to combine the sublime with substantial. Instead, it is satisfying with a few offbeat touches. The large groups celebrating birthdays and other occasions highlight that it is a somewhat fancy place that doesn’t break the bank (no pun intended). The upstairs dining area is a great romantic spot. Judged against what it is versus what it might have been, Succotash is very good. That is more generous than some critics, but I can’t overlook that I’ve enjoyed each of my multiple visits.
Washington Post: Tom gave it 1.5 stars in 2018.
Washingtonian: Only the National Harbor location reviewed (in 2015 and not that positive):
Michelin: They are fans, calling it a very good standard and Bib Gourmand. So, at least I’m not delusional to think it’s pretty solid.
NY Times Profile Piece of Owner Edward Lee