When Encore Boston Harbor opens on Sunday, June 23, not all the action will be on the gaming floor. The sprawling casino-resort also boasts 15—count ’em, 15—different bars and restaurants demanding your attention. Where to start? How to navigate? Here’s your handy guide to all the action, sorted by the amount of local-color imbued by Encore’s Vegas-based developers. Think you can gorge your way through all these? Good luck.
What do you get when two bigwigs in Boston’s Italian-dining scene team up for a restaurant at a casino? Most likely, something that resembles the kind of place where Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, and Ray Liotta hash out a dicey deal in a movie soundtracked by Dean Martin standards. But there’s only one way to find out for sure: Hit up Fratelli, where Frank DePasquale (whose empire includes Bricco and Mare Oyster Bar) and Nick Varano (of the many Strega restaurants) will serve fresh pastas, brick-oven pizzas, and entrées such as lobster fra diavolo in a 150-seat spot. (To learn more about how the power-duo came together, head here.) Open daily from 11 a.m. to 4 a.m.
Although executive chef Anthony Micari and sushi chef Tony Mai were imported from Miami’s acclaimed Makoto, Mystique is actually the latest homegrown venture from the folks at Big Night Entertainment Group, one of Boston’s biggest restaurant-nightlife portfolios. Big Night already has experience in the somewhat-local casino-resort space: They have venues at Foxwoods, including a location of their Back Bay-founded Red Lantern restaurant. At Mystique, expect Japanese-inspired cuisine that makes good use of a robata grill, wok-fried dishes, street noodles, sushi, and other elevated-izakaya offerings. The 450-seat room will also offer “a seductive atmosphere against the backdrop of Boston’s skyline.” Woo us, baby. (Want more info? Head here.) Open Sunday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m to 1 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Food is served from 11:30 a.m. to 12 a.m. daily.
You won’t be eating here. (Unless you count the gummies stowed in your purse–which we’re not endorsing, just noting.) But this massive nightclub, adorned with “gold surfaces, plush leather accents, custom marble tables, [and] glistening chandeliers,” will certainly have plenty of cocktails for imbibing while you dance to globe-trotting DJs like R3HAB, who opens things on Sunday; dubstep guru Steve Aoki, who spins on Monday, June 24; and Diesel, aka basketball legend and Kazaam star Shaquille O’Neal, who arrives on Thursday, June 27. It also comes from Big Night Entertainment Group, and though Boston has not been known as a clubbing capital in recent years, new BNEG projects like this, the Grand, and forthcoming Big Night Live are helping to change that. Open Friday through Sunday from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Monday through Thursday hours vary.
First of all, it’s not on the waterfront. Second of all, who cares? (Okay, we certainly wouldn’t have complained…) We will accept as consolation the presence of chef John Ross, formerly of the North End’s iconic Neptune Oyster, who will provide shareable, dressed-up pub food with a seafood focus. Neptune’s lobster roll is famous, so naturally Ross came up with a new one: This version is loaded with bacon, avocado, smoked-tomato aioli, and celery salad. Also on the agenda: a 32-selection lineup of exclusively New England-made craft beers on draft. The 27-seat bar will dominate the space, which seats 80 overall, in a leather- and wood-swathed room with an églomisé-style piece of back-painted glass depicting Boston Harbor. Drink until it looks like the real thing. (For more details on Waterfront, head here.) All-day menu served Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (plus beverage service only until 2 a.m.); and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The Oyster Bar
It’s an oyster bar! (Act surprised.) It’s also first-come, first-served at this 19-seat counter (buttressed by eight other seats), where chef John Ross will offer freshly-shucked shellfish netted exclusively in Northeast waters, plus ceviches, crudos, and a trio of mini lobster rolls dressed with brown butter-mayo. Beer and wine only. It’s like they know we’ll line up for this stuff; they’re not wrong. All-day menu served Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Arguably nothing on this list is actually more Boston than a 24-hour (!!!) Dunkin’ at a casino. This could only be more-Boston if Ben Affleck and the Ghost of Mayor Menino were in line for Coolattas, arguing about whether they eva’ shoulda dropped the “Donuts.” Otherwise, we have peaked. Open 24 hours daily, because of course.
On Deck Burger Bar
Not that our city has a monopoly on gourmet-burger-sports-bars, but–come on. This is very on-brand for Boston, especially when you consider that they tapped a local chef to head it up: Jacqueline Bulio, previously of Scarlet Oak Tavern in Hingham and Quicks Hole Tavern in Woods Hole. Bulio has created some fancy patties, like a peppercorn-and-foie-gras burger, plus a bacon-cheeseburger salad, cheese-steak tater tots, and more game-day-apropos grub. Wash it down with craft beers (including an Encore-exclusive collaboration with Lord Hobo) in a 154-seat space with mahogany woods, plaid carpeting, and 33 (that’s, thirty-three!) 75-inch TVs. All-day menu served Sunday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.
On one hand, this chop shop will bear some similarity to its Sin City cousin, SW Steakhouse at the Wynn Las Vegas. But it’s “not going to be a cut and paste job,” says Warren Richards, Encore’s executive director of food and beverage. For one thing, it’s making good on its name: Rare will be the only place in New England to dine on certified-authentic Kobe beef, the most highly-prized variety of Japanese Wagyu (which is already fairly coveted). There’ll be other hard-to-find cuts, like Sanuki Olive Beef (available at only a few restaurants in North America), plus copious amounts of stellar Scotch. The 300-seat dining room eschews the typical dark-and-drab-steakhouse aesthetic in favor of cream tones and lots of marble. It boasts floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the Harborwalk, as well as a spacious seasonal patio. (Learn more about Rare here.) Dinner is served nightly from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The bar opens at 4 p.m. daily.
Chef Taylor Collis, a Rhode Island native and former executive sous chef at Boston Harbor Hotel, moves to Encore to lead this “elevated all-day dining experience” focused on “American-derived classics” with an eye toward “indigenous ingredients” from “local purveyors.” Shorter version: It’s a farm-to-fork café. File under Boston.
The award-winning, fancy-pants Italian restaurant at the Wynn Las Vegas receives a sibling in Boston, where images of Ol’ Blue Eyes will gaze upon thee whilst thou devour veal parmesan, Ossobuco “My Way,” and other crooner-referencing menu items. Dinner is served nightly from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The bar opens at 4 p.m. daily.
It’s all about classy Chinese cuisine in a scarlet-hued space at Red 8, the fourth iteration of a high-end brand with other locations in Las Vegas and Macau. Chef Ivan Yuen “blends the regions of China, incorporating Cantonese and dim sum classics as well as the flavors of Shanghai and Sichuan.” Plan on Peking duck prepared in a wood-fired oven and Sampan-style king crab, offered in an ornate interior with red crocodile walls and railings, mahogany and brass decor accents, and marble floors. (For additional details, head here.) All-day menu served Sunday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 a.m.
Every casino needs a buffet, but this colorful, quirky, sophisticated setup is not the kind of place grandma nests for early-bird specials. Chef Sydney Semedo, alum of the Mandarin Oriental Boston, will bring fine-dining finesse to the buffet format, which will have plenty of surf- and turf-oriented stations, plus a splay of indulgent desserts. Brunch served on Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; lunch served Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; and dinner served daily from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
If Dunkin’ is just too déclassé for your high-roller tastes, head to Bru. This spiffy, 24-hour java joint serves coffee, tea, and espresso concoctions that’ll keep you caffeinated for marathon bouts at the blackjack table. There’s also plenty of pastries for noshing with pinkies lifted. Open 24 hours daily; breakfast selections are featured from 5 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
A 28-seat hangout in the middle of the gaming floor, where you can grab beer, wine, and cocktails for fortifying your courage back at the games–or, you know, drowning your sorrows if you just hemorrhaged next month’s rent. (Don’t do that.) Open daily from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m.
A craft cocktail hangout above the lobby, described as “secluded” and feeling like “a delicious secret.” Read: Head here when you need to ditch your Tinder date. Sunday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Read more about how to have the most fun possible at the Encore Boston Harbor Casino
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