Credit: Emmy Squared Pizza

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The recurring food fest that’s become synonymous with “sneak preview” returns for its sixth installment on Sunday, Oct. 20. New Kitchens on the Block at Mess Hall gives diners the chance to try a slate of intriguing D.C. restaurants before they officially open.

“It’s super exciting to be able to bring people both chefs they know and introduce them to people that they’re going to love down the road,” says Nevin Martell, who co-organizes the event with Mess Hall founder Al Goldberg. (Martell is a contributing writer at City Paper.)

“D.C.’s dining scene continues to be super vibrant and still growing,” Martell continues. “Given how long we’ve been in a growth spurt, it’s amazing to see where we are.”

Attendees will be able to sample bites from the following ten restaurants: 

Emmy SquaredLocation TBD

D.C. can look forward to more Detroit-style pizza courtesy of the New York-based company Pizza Loves Emily. The popular square-pie spot Emmy Squared is from Emily and Matthew Hyland, who hope to finalize a location in the District and open in late fall. Their best selling pizza is the Colony², featuring pepperoni, pickled jalapeños, and honey. “It’s based on a restaurant in Stamford, Connecticut, Colony Grill, who puts hot oil on their pizza,” Emily says. “That pizza was such an inspiration for me and Matt, we wanted to pay tribute to it.” She also elaborates on what makes Detroit-style pizza so special. “I love eating pizza cooked in a pan. We’re super famous for the frico crust featuring really crispy cheese and fried dough at the edge, an airy middle, and a crunchy bottom.” Emily says there will be at least one pizza on the menu unique to the D.C. market. 

Hi/Fi Taco 1401 Pennsylvania Ave. SE

Neighborhood Restaurant Group is starting to fill in the food options at The Roost. Chef Nate Anda, best known for his charcuterie prowess, will try his hand at making tacos. The taco aficionado has already discovered that you can flavor carnitas with orange soda. “There’s something in carbonated beverages that breaks down proteins,” he explains. Sample tacos at his Capitol Hill food stall will include the “Taco Night in America,” with seasoned ground beef, a crispy shell, lettuce, pico de gallo, sour cream, and atomic whiz, and the “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes,” with pig’s head, American cheese, smoked tomato salsa, and shredded lettuce.

Cranes724 9th St. NW

Chef Pepe Moncayo is confident he can meld Spanish and Japanese cuisines at his forthcoming Penn Quarter restaurant and sake lounge, Cranes. Moncayo recently spent time cooking in Singapore and Barcelona. He’ll serve both an a la carte menu and a “Spanish kaiseki” tasting menu. Look forward to dishes like fried baby squid with soft-boiled egg, chorizo, and white onion puree and oysters with ponzu and Espelette pepper.

Tabla3227 Georgia Ave. NW

The married co-owners behind Supra, Jonathan and Laura Nelms, are opening their second restaurant specializing in Georgian food. Tabla, coming to Park View, will focus on two of the country’s greatest culinary exports: khinkali (soup dumplings sprinkled with black pepper) and khachapuri (cheese breads of various shapes). They plan to be open for late breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. “We just want it to feel more relaxed,” Jonathan says. “This is more of a neighborhood spot.” 

Pearl’s Bagels1017 7th St. NW

Allee and Oliver Cox abandoned their day jobs for bagel-making after waking up too many mornings in Logan Circle without a breakfast sandwich to start the day. “I grew up with a lot of really good bagel shops nearby,” Oliver says. He’s from just outside Princeton, New Jersey. “It’s a nostalgia thing for me.” He and his wife have been recipe testing and landed on a mostly New York-style bagel flavored with a hint of malt and boiled with a bit of honey. When the shop serving breakfast and lunch opens in Mount Vernon Square, the bagels will be on display as they bake much like they are in Montreal. Anticipate trying an array of mini bagels at NKOTB with spreads such as Alle’s grandmother hot cheese—pimento cheese but with jalapeños—and a smoked tuna spread from New Jersey’s Nassau Street Seafood

Maialino Mare 221 Tingey St. SE

With Maialino Mare, mega restaurateur Danny Meyer is opening his first full-service restaurant outside of New York. It will also be serving his restaurant group’s first fish-focused menu, emphasizing dishes you might at trattorias in Rome such as seafood pastas and whole-grilled fish. Meyer tapped Rose Noel to serve as executive chef at the restaurant landing at Navy Yard’s Thompson Hotel. 

Soko7306 Carroll Ave., Takoma Park

Takoma Park’s forthcoming butcher shop is a partnership between Chris Brown, who owns Takoma Beverage Co., and Chef Brad Feickert, an alum of Bryan Voltaggio’s Volt and the now-shuttered Oz Restaurant & Bar in Arlington. “We want it to be an old-school butcher shop where you know where your meat is coming from and you know your butcher,” Brown says. But they’ll do more than sell prized cuts. The ambitious team will make cheese, preserves, pickled vegetables, and deli sandwiches. Eventually they’d like to serve weekly tasting menu dinners for approximately 10 diners at a time.

Bubbie’s Plant Burgers & Fizz Location TBD

Imagine classic American food, but plant-based. That’s what Bubbie’s Plant Burgers & Fizz, from the same team behind Pow Pow, brings to the table. Founders Shaun Sharkey and Chef Margaux Riccio tested the concept at Rock & Roll Hotel over the summer. Specialities, which are all vegan, include a fried chicken sandwich, a blue cheese and smoked beet burger, and a deep-fried, plant-based bacon grilled cheese. In addition to being fully plant-based, all of the dishes at Bubbie’s Plant Burgers & Fizz will be certified Kosher. Riccio makes all of her own proteins, patties, and cheeses in house daily through her new company, Planted by M.

La FamosaLocation TBD

Set to open in early 2020, La Famosa is a tribute to Puerto Rican cuisine. The all-day, “fine-casual” restaurant will offer coffee and cocktails that embrace Puerto Rican flavors and traditions. The restaurant is from Chef Joancarlo Parkhurst, who aims to make La Famosa irreverent and inviting. He hopes Washingtonians will learn more about the diverse dishes of Puerto Rico.

&pizzaMultiple locations

This summer &pizza named Chef Erik Bruner-Yang its new executive chef. NKOTB will be the first time diners will be able to try the recipes he’s created for the rapidly growing fast-casual pizza chain before they roll out in this market later this year. Some of them are already available in New York. Bruner-Yang is behind local favorites Maketto, Spoken English, Brothers and Sisters, and ABC Pony, coming soon to Navy Yard. 


To pair with the food, NKOTB will showcase cocktails made with spirits from New Columbia Distillers, El Silencio, One Eight Distilling, and Catoctin Creek, as well as some new beer releases from 3 Stars Brewing Company.  Also look for artist Marcella Kriebel, who will be selling food-focused art at the event. 

There will be two ticketed sessions on Oct. 20, one from noon to 2 p.m. and another from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. General admission tickets are $85 and VIP tickets, which include a swag bag, cost $135. Purchase tickets here

Previous editions of NKOTB helped build excitement for Maydan, Call Your Mother, The Salt Line, Unconventional Diner, Lucky Buns, Chloe, Reverie, Coconut Club, Dos Mamis, Piccolina, Colada Shop, Gravitas, Three Blacksmiths, and RASA.

Mess Hall, 703 Edgewood St. NE