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Since 2016, Mess Hall has given Washingtonians a chance to mingle with the chefs behind buzzed about forthcoming restaurants at an event called New Kitchens on The Block. Organizers Nevin Martell (who is, in the interest of full disclosure, a City Paper contributor) and Al Goldberg have a track record of identifying stars; past events have included Maydan, Call Your Mother, Spoken English, Chloe, Lucky Buns, and other places that now draw lines and fill reservation books.
The fifth installment, to be held on Sunday, April 7 at 703 Edgewood St. NE, might feature the most impressive cast to date with James Beard Award winners and nominees and Michelin-starred chefs who are growing their local empires.
New Kitchens on The Block attendees can buy tickets for two separate two-hour sessions. One runs from noon to 2 p.m. and the other from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. General admission costs $75 and a limited number of VIP tickets, which include swag bags, go for $135.
Attendees will be able to try bites from the following in-progress restaurants and pair them with cocktails from Green Hat Gin, One Eight Distilling, El Silencio Mezcal, and Catoctin Creek:
Cracked (Address TBD)
Four partners are answering the call for more breakfast options in D.C. with their forthcoming concept, Cracked. Mike Tabb, Ross Brickelmaier, Alex Buc, and AJ Zarinsky are looking for a location in Northwest D.C. for their 24-hour breakfast sandwich shop that’s focused on locally sourced, sustainable ingredients. “Growing up I loved having breakfast for dinner,” Tabb says. “We’re going to push it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night. There’s a huge gap in late night options outside of Jumbo Slice, tacos, and empanadas.” At NKOTB, Cracked will serve their signature sandwich, “The Mayor,” with candied hot bacon, egg, and cheese.
Emilie’s (1101 Pennsylvania Ave. SE)
This 5,000-square-foot Capitol Hill restaurant from Himitsu chef Kevin Tien, a James Beard Award nominee, will stand out for its unique approach of serving food, such as raw bar items, fancy toasts, Korean banchan, and desserts off roving carts, in addition to a menu of family-style feasts. Tien says they recently decided to add more square footage to create a dedicated space for “collaboration dinners with local and out of town chefs that benefit various charities” as well as pop-up dinners “to change it up and to test new menu items and have a secondary rotating restaurant concept.”
Piccolina (963 Palmer Alley NW)
Chef Amy Brandwein, another James Beard-nominated chef, is taking over the space across from her restaurant Centrolina in CityCenterDC and introducing Piccolina. It will specialize in wood-fired breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Diners will also be able to grab coffee, pastries, and a selection of retail and prepared items like eggplant lasagna.
Philotimo (1100 15th St. NW)
D.C. is familiar with Michelin-starred chef Nicholas Stefanelli’s Italian cooking from his restaurants Masseria and Officina. Next up, he’ll try his hand at Greek cuisine at the new Midtown Center complex.
Dauphine’s (1100 15th St. NW)
The team behind The Salt Line, including Chef Kyle Bailey, is opening a New Orleans-inspired restaurant in Midtown Center. To prepare, Bailey has been making research trips to Louisiana and is trying to fine tune recipes. “I’ve been pouring through recipe books and watching YouTube videos and really getting into it,” he says. “I made 50 gumbos in 50 days!” He’s not sure what he’ll serve at NKOTB, but this is the second time he’s participated. Last time was for The Salt Line. “It’s always a solid, serious line-up,” he says. “As a chef I would want to go to this.”
Oyster Oyster (1440 8th St. NW)
Chef Rob Rubba, formerly of Hazel, is teaming up with sommelier and restaurateur Max Kuller and bartender Adam Bernbach to open a plant-based restaurant in Shaw. Like the name suggests, both bivalves and oyster mushrooms will play starring roles on the innovative, environmentally conscious menu.
Sloppy Mama’s (5731 Lee Highway, Arlington)
Pitmaster Joe Neuman has run one of D.C.’s best barbecue businesses without a brick and mortar restaurant for years. You’ve tried his ‘cue including brisket, half smokes, and ribs inside Solly’s on U Street NW; inside Union Market; and from a food truck. His first dedicated restaurant will land in Arlington.
Daru (1451 Maryland Ave. NE)
Dante Datta has shaken and stirred drinks at some of D.C.’s top bars and restaurants including Columbia Room and Ellē. Now he’s striking out on his own to open a cocktail bar with an Indian twist off H Street NE with Chef Suresh Sundas. The pair worked together at Rasika West End. Expect drinks flavored with red cardamom, coriander, and tamarind paired with a jackfruit kati roll and “achari” chicken wings with a stinging pickled mango sauce.
Hatoba (300 Tingey St. SE)
The same team that brought D.C. Daikaya, Bantam King, and Haikan is expanding outside of Northwest for the first time with Hatoba in Navy Yard. The 80-seat Sapporo-style ramen shop will have a menu from Chef Katsuya Fukushima that somewhat diverges from its siblings, most notably with cold noodle preparations and ingredients from the sea.
Bar Jônt (1906 14th St. NW)
Chef Ryan Ratino is adding a 18-seat tasting menu experience above his popular 14th Street NW restaurant Bresca, which holds a Michelin star.
Prima (7280 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda)
Restaurateur and James Beard-winning chef Michael Schlow brought D.C. several full service restaurants from Casolare and Alta Strada to Tico, The Riggsby, and Nama. Next up is his first go at a fast-casual restaurant in a former Taylor Gourmet space in Bethesda. Prima will serve customizable meals featuring Italian ingredients that are quick and simple and utilize locally-sourced vegetables, fresh herbs, beans, and sustainable proteins.