Courtesy Mess Hall
Courtesy Mess Hall

Mess Hall’s New Kitchens on the Block (NKOTB) is back after a successful first go that allowed attendees to try seven coming-soon restaurants at once over the summer. (In my case, I tried all seven within four minutes).

The 2.0 version of the event will be even bigger with a line-up of 11 coming attractions. Tickets cost $65 per person (or $95 for VIP) and there will be two sessions: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2-4 p.m on March 19. Expect New Kids on the Block puns and a ton of food.

The following restaurants will serve bites or sips to give diners a first taste of what’s to come:


Chef Johnny Spero‘s solo project coming to Georgetown this summer will be an modernist celebration of ingredients and techniques (after all, Spero helmed the kitchen at minibar by José Andrés).

Unconventional Diner

Chef Michel Richard‘s long-time right hand man, David Deshaies, is readying to open a diner-style restaurant at the Convention Center. He’s been running the show at Central in the meantime and Washingtonians can expect some non-traditional dishes when his casual spot opens late spring or early summer.


Chef Frederik de Pue, formerly of Table, has been quiet for a while but he’s making a comeback cooking his native Flemish cuisine at Flamant coming to West Annapolis. He’ll serve what he calls classic European cuisine with a twist.

The Salt Line

This New England inspired ale house coming to Dock 79 near Nats Park will specialize in lobster rolls, chowder, seafood charcuterie, and a raw bar. Chef Kyle Bailey, currently of Sixth Engine, is the chef and Nationals slugger Ryan Zimmerman just announced he’s an investor. The restaurant is scheduled to open this spring (possibly April).


Alexandra Bookless Turner and Michael Turner are already popping up at Mess Hall, but now more people will get to try their New American food. Washingtonians know Alex from her time behind the bar at The Passenger and Michael’s resume includes minibar by José Andrés and Daikaya. The restaurant is named after the couple’s baby girl.

RASA Indian Grill

Rahul Vinod and Sahil Rahman announced in Fall 2015 that they were working towards a fast-casual Indian concept with input from their industry fathers Surfy Rahman of Bombay Bistro and K.N. Vinod of Indique. They’re hoping for a summer opening in the F1RST building in Navy Yard. Picture assembly-line ordering of wraps, bowls, and salads. 

Taqueria del Barrio

DC Empanadas owner Anna Bran Leis is branching out by opening a Mexican restaurant in the former Domku space in Petworth. When it opens this spring, expect tacos, tortas, empanadas, and margaritas. 

Other participants include Dio Wine Bar, Katz District Coffee, Lupo Verde (Palisades), and Sugar Shack Donuts (coming to Shaw).