Chef Matt Baker. Photo by Laura Hayes.
Chef Matt Baker. Photo by Laura Hayes.

I got the smallest taste of what Takeru Kobayashi feels when he sits down to obliterate his opponents in Nathan’s Coney Island hot dog eating contest. Only instead of speed-eating boiled, forgettable franks, I housed the likes of crispy pig ears in a sarsaparilla glaze, Filipino chicken wings, and guava and queso pastelitos.

Usually it takes months to tick off trying seven sizzling-hot D.C. restaurant openings, but thanks to some sneakers and a food editor’s insatiable appetite, I was able to hit all seven stations at Mess Hall’s New Kitchens on the Block (NKOTB) in four minutes and thirteen seconds.

There’s video to prove it.

Think of the event as the Godzilla of pop-ups, because each restaurant or bar hawked a dish or two, plus a cocktail. The about-to-drop concepts include:


Chef Matt Baker selected Ivy City for the location of his first solo restaurant, Gravitas. He’s relying on the earth to supply him with the stars of his menu, as vegetables will be front and center. It makes sense given the space will have a secret garden feel. Baker aims to serve two tasting menu options out of a dramatic, open kitchen. Diners can also look forward to innovative Sunday Suppers featuring local farmers and watermen. Gravitas, 1401 Okie St. NE;

Smoked & Stacked. Photo by Laura Hayes.

Smoked & Stacked

Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley’s pastrami shop is looking at a September opening in Shaw. Meek-Bradley’s been perfecting her brine for some time now, but there will be more to the menu than pasrami. Patrons will be able to build sandwiches with smoked chicken and portobello mushrooms too. At NKOTB, Meek-Bradley showed off her a.m. skills with a “New Yorker Breakfast Sandwich,” featuring pastrami, a fried egg, hot pepper jelly, and comte on milk bread. The yolk bursts and the meat melts in your mouth. Smoked & Stacked is in partnership with Tin Shop. Smoked & Stacked, 1239 9th St. NW,


Restauranteur Jeff Black is reviving Addie’s, which once called Rockville Pike home. The new location of the restaurant named after Black’s grandmother will be in the Park Potomac development in Maryland. Set to open late spring or early summer in 2017, Addie’s the revival will have significantly more outdoor space than the original, an expanded bar program, and more vegan options (inspired by the fact that Black has two vegan sons). Republic Chef Danny Wells was on site at NKOTB to serve Maryland blue crab salad with curried sweet corn, cherry tomatoes, and baby herbs. Addie’s, 12435 Park Potomac Ave., Potomac

T.N.T. tiki bar. Photo by Laura Hayes.

Tiki T.N.T./Potomac Distilling Company

Chef Cathal Armstrong and his right hand drinks man, Todd Thrasher, will make their mark on the Wharf in 2017 with a distillery, tiki bar, and Asian restaurant. Thrasher is behind Potomac Distillery Co. and Tiki T.N.T., which will both showcase his beloved spirit, rum. Think three bars, two on the mezzanine level, and one rooftop tiki bar, for imbibing. Thrasher brought a tiki girl (a professional cosplay model) to NKOTB to show just how serious he is about Island spirit. She handed out snow cones soaked with mezcal, grapefruit, house-made pimento dram, and rum. Meanwhile, Armstrong served Filipino-style chicken wings in adobo sauce. Potomac Distilling Company, 1130 Maine Ave. SW

Colada Shop

This month, Loudoun County, Va. will be the first to get a Colada Shop from Juan Coronado of ThinkFoodGroup fame and his partner, Daniella Senior. But, Washingtonians can expect the U Street location to open in the fall. The Cuban-focused café and eatery will serve strong coffee, cocktails, and Caribbean eats like the Cuban sandwich or croquetas. At NKOTB, the team served guava and queso pastelitos along with other nibbles and a peanut butter Negroni. Colada Shop, 1405 T St. NW; 

Carey Russell and Yuan Tang. Photo by Laura Hayes.

Rooster & Owl

Husband and wife duo Carey Russell and Chef Yuan Tang are also currently still in pop-up mode for their vegetable-centric concept, Rooster & Owl. However, they’re eagerly looking for spaces with a goal of opening in 2017. They plan on debuting a build-it-yourself tasting menu restaurant that pulls influence globally, but with a little extra love for Asian ingredients. At NKOTB, Tang served watermelon with green curry, almonds, and crispy shallots. Plus, a second dish of pork fried rice with soft scrambled egg, Chinese sausage, and plum. Rooster & Owl, (703) 217-6527;


Chef Stefano Frigerio and partners Michael Mercer and Jason Miller have teamed up to launch Shadowlawn, a farm-focused restaurant currently in pop-up mode in Lovettsville, Virginia. Frigerio’s resume includes a long stint at Fiola, while Mercer and Miller are behind The Wine Kitchen enterprise. The group is still hunting for a permanent location, but for now are hosting dinners regularly inside George’s Mill Artisan Cheese Farm. At the event, Frigerio and his team served crispy pig ears with sarsaparilla glaze, picked and fried onions, and char-smoked mayo and a dessert plate of George’s Mill goat cheese ice cream with pickled blueberry leather and raw honey.