Inside Chef Edward Lee’s New National Harbor Restaurant: Succotash

The Kentucky-based celebrity chef expands to Washington with a Southern-Asian spot.

Succotash opens at National Harbor with creative Southern cooking from Kentucky-based chef Ed Lee. Photography by Andrew Propp.

Succotash is a dish that means different things to a variety of people. Sometimes it’s a salad of corn and lima beans, other times a casserole with bacon, tomatoes, and shell beans. New Englanders consider it a staple on their home tables, as do Southerners. Both cultures originally adapted the recipe from Native Americans.

“It’s symbolic of my cooking style,” says Edward Lee, chef of the newly-opened Succotash at National Harbor. “It’s personal, and riffs on tradition.”

Lee draws from his Korean heritage for many dishes, such as watermelon with fried peanuts and sesame.

Many will recognize Lee from his television appearances (Top Chef, PBS’s The Mind of a Chef), or his new cookbook, Smoke & Pickles. After opening two successful restaurants in his home town of Louisville, Kentucky, he’s expanded to Washington, teaming up with Knead Hospitality + Design and executive chef Lisa Odom—formerly of Miami’s Tongue & Cheek—for the 200-seat National Harbor restaurant.

Groups of six or more can opt for a family-style menu of pimento cheese, ribs, and more.

The menu, dinner-only for the opening weeks, mixes Southern tradition with flavors from Lee’s Korean heritage. Certain dishes are classic, such a fried green tomatoes with buttermilk dressing or shrimp n’ grits and redeye gravy. Others play up Southern-Asian fusion, such as “dirty” fried chicken glazed with sweet-spicy gochujang sauce—a Korean pantry staple—or curried pot pie with lemon-miso butter. In keeping with the family-style traditions of both cultures, groups of six or more can opt for a shareable “Taste of the South” menu, with platters of wings, cornbread, ribs, and more ($39 adults; $18 kids 12 and under).

Smoked ribs and “dirty” fried chicken glazed with honey-gochujang sauce are among the many meats.

Being a Southern restaurant, drinkers at the rectangular bar can expect plenty of brown liquor. A lengthy list of bourbons, whiskeys, and ryes is available for sampling, running the gamut from household names like Jack and Jim, to $85 pours of Pappy Van Winkle. Many of the cocktails incorporate the whiskeys, including classic mint juleps and old fashioneds, and creations such as a frozen Kentucky Winter made with bourbon, vanilla, spices, and a blend of coconut and rice milks.

The 200-seat space boasts water views from the bar and an outdoor patio.

Once the kitchen is up and running, Succotash will be open around-the-clock, from breakfast to dinner and weekend brunch.

Succotash. 186 Waterfront St., National Harbor, MD; 301-567-8900. Open nightly for dinner. Full hours (starting soon): Monday through Thursday, 7 AM to 11 PM; Friday 7 AM to midnight; Saturday 9:30 AM to midnight; Sunday 9:30 AM to 11 PM.

Certain dishes run classic, such as fresh and fried green tomatoes with buttermilk dressing.
A large bar is the place to sample the many whiskeys, or a mint julep.
A private room lined with repurposed whiskey barrels is tucked away in the back of the restaurant.
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.