Twice a year Mess Hall becomes a portal to the future by giving Washingtonians access to restaurants gearing up to open in the area. The strength of New Kitchens on the Block continues to be the breadth of cuisines founders Nevin Martell and Al Goldberg bring together in a party atmosphere in Edgewood. At the seventh installment, on Sunday, April 5, you can try everything from Jamaican and Thai to Japanese and vegan Italian charcuterie.
“Al and I are incredibly passionate about the D.C. dining scene, so we love promoting it by introducing people to their new favorite restaurants,” says Martell (who is also a City Paper contributor). “The line-up for this edition of the event demonstrates our commitment to showcasing a diverse variety of talent and cuisines from both industry veterans and some really exciting newcomers.”
There will be two separate sessions: one from noon to 2 p.m. and another from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. A limited number of early bird tickets are available for $75. General admission is $85 and a limited number of VIP tickets, which include swag bags, go for $135.
Try bites from the following nine restaurants at New Kitchens on the Block:
Cenzo’s Upper EastsideLocation TBD
One thing vegans probably never thought they’d be able to do is step up to a cheese and charcuterie counter at an Italian market and purchase something to consume themselves. That changes with Cenzo’s Upper Eastside, from the team behind plant-based Pow Pow and Bubbie’s Plant Burgers & Fizz. Chef Margaux Riccio is working on an entirely plant-based, kosher menu that features sandwiches like chicken parmesan, smoked pastrami with house-brined pickle, slaw, and Asian-berry mustard on rye, and a classic Italian dip. There will also be an array of pastas and New York-style pizza topped with Riccio’s proteins and cheeses. Customers will be able to buy food in the marketplace, sit at the drink counter, or dine in the full-service dining room. Riccio and her partner, Shaun Sharkey, plan to serve plant-based charcuterie at the event, along with a hot dish.
Som Tam just opened in Union Market and Chef Alex McCoy and his collaborators, Thai couple Lekki Limvitana and Satang Ruangsawatana, are already thinking about their next venture. Yaang will feature grilled street food dishes, made-to-order Thai salads, house-made sausages, sticky rice, and daily Northern Thai specials. Look forward to gai yang (whole grilled chicken), muu yang (grilled pork), pla pao (whole grilled salt crusted fish), and sai ua (northern herbal sausage) once Yaang opens.
Smokecraft Modern Barbecue 1051 N. Highland St., Arlington
Pitmasters Andrew Darneille and Marc Leone have experience smoking the competition at barbecue contests. They completed 38 over the past couple of years. Now they’re teaming up to bring barbecue to Arlington this spring in the former Citizen Burger Bar space. Menu highlights include St. Louis ribs, smoked spaghetti squash, flaming smoked duck, slow smoked brisket, Chesapeake smoked crab cakes, and “black crack Reuben” sandwiches. “Smoke should be treated like salt and pepper,” Darneille says. “It’s supposed to accent the food, it’s not supposed to take over the food. If we handle the smoke right, you can do almost anything with smoke.” They plan to use Southern Pride smokers and a variety of woods like hickory, cherry, and maple.
Cold Beer Location TBD
Chef Mathew Ramsey’s forthcoming restaurant will be dedicated to globally inspired comfort food. Think of ramen fried chicken or a crab fat-glazed cauliflower steak served with black sesame yogurt. Ramsey has worked at several Michelin-starred restaurants in D.C., including Pineapple and Pearls and Tail Up Goat, but many know him for his blog-turned-cookbook Pornburger, which showcases his creative burgers. He has a special place in his heart for Japanese and Mexican ingredients and techniques. The name Cold Beer speaks to Ramsey’s appreciation of the simple things in life.
Jerk at Nite1100 H St. NE
While enrolled in Howard University, Denville Myrie started making food in his home and delivering it to students who had grown tired of eating pizza and Chinese take-out. Having grown up in Jamaica, he was eager to introduce his classmates to new flavors. He successfully launched two food trucks and a catering business after graduating and hopes to open his H Street NE restaurant in late spring. The “Jerk Box N Mac” is the biggest seller. It comes with jerk chicken, “JaMacNCheese,” and rasta bread. He hopes to pair his Jamaican cuisine with fresh juices, Red Stripe beer, and fermented sorrel.
Hank & Mitzi’s Italian Kitchen1026 King St., Alexandria
Restaurateur Jamie Leeds is switching up her restaurant in Alexandria. What was formerly Hank’s Pasta Bar is in the process of becoming Hank & Mitzi’s this spring. Leeds tapped longtime D.C. Chef Will Artley to be the executive chef of the restaurant specializing in pasta, pizza, and Italian share plates. Artley’s resume includes stops at Evening Star Café and Pizzeria Orso, also in Northern Virginia. The restaurant is named after Leeds’ parents.
Yardbird Southern Table + Bar by 50 Eggs901 New York Ave. NW
Yardbird made its name in South Beach in Miami. In its foray into the D.C. market, the James Beard Award-nominated restaurant will open in the former Acadiana space. It specializes in Southern cuisine and hits include the crispy chicken biscuits with pepper jelly, deviled eggs topped with smoked trout roe, shrimp ’n’ grits, and skillet cornbread loaded with cheddar cheese, bacon, jalapeño, and honey butter. Cocktails lean heavily on bourbon.
Lazy Kate’s 2300 N St. NW
With Lazy Kate’s, restaurateur Hakan Ilhan is opening his most approachable restaurant to date, all with the millennial diner in mind. He wants to keep lunch and dinner entrees priced at $20 or less. The American bistro in West End is named after a three-pronged instrument used to ply yarn. It holds spools or bobbins in place. Ilhan says he picked the name because the menu will pull from the top dishes from his other restaurants, which include Mirabelle, Ottoman Taverna, Al Dente, and Brasserie Liberté. Lazy Kate’s should open over the summer.
SHŌTŌ Midtown Center, 1100 15th St. NW
SHŌTŌ, one of two Japanese restaurants coming to Midtown Center, will have a bar, sushi counter, and Japanese robata grill. The restaurant comes from restaurateur Arjun Waney, partner Tunu Puri, and managing partner Arman Naqi.
As a bonus, New Kitchens on the Block attendees will get to try a beer from newcomer City-State Brewing Co. that’s being brewed for the event. Founder James Warner says it’s an easy-drinking beer that will pair well with the variety of dishes being served. Also look for Brandon Byrd’s Prosecco Van. He’ll be supplying the bubbly to make the occasion feel even more celebratory. There will also be cocktails featuring alcohol from New Columbia Distillers’ Green Hat Gin, El Silencio Mezcal, and One Eight Distilling.
Tickets are available here.