New Kitchens on the Block 6: Fan Frenzy

The fans are in a frenzy and who can blame them?  It’s been an incredible season and we’re on our way to stunning victory. 

Oh wait, you thought I was referring to the World Series?  Sorry… this is about new DC restaurants and the latest sneak peek offered to food fans at last Sunday’s New Kitchens on the Block 6 held at Mess Hall.

Ten upcoming chefs/restaurateurs hit it out of the park, each showcasing a dish and a cocktail, and whetting participants’ appetite for what’s to come when these restaurants make their official debut.

Event founders Al Goldberg and Nevin Martell assembled the ace roster of restaurants. 

New Kitchens on the Block founders Al Goldberg and Nevin Martell
New Kitchens on the Block founders Al Goldberg and Nevin Martell

“We were so proud to showcase such a diverse array of talent, who will be shaping the DC dining scene for years to come. Collaborating with such exceptional, hardworking, and dedicated people was a real honor,” says Martell, who is a freelance writer.

Al Goldberg, founder of Mess Hall, remarked on the exceptional passion of the players. “NKOTB is one of the most exciting events that we host because it demonstrates that the city is ripe with amazingly talented chefs who will continue to take restaurants to new heights in the city. It’s affirming to see – and taste – first-hand that we still have much to look forward to as a food town.”

This was the line-up at NKOTB 6.

Hi/Fi Taco, 1401 Pennsylvania Ave. SE

Hi/Fi Taco is making its way to Capitol Hill as part of The Roost, a new culinary food hall from Neighborhood Restaurant Group. Nate Anda, known for his handcrafted charcuterie at Red Apron Butcher, will turn his attention to craft tacos.  Anda served up a winning “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes Tacos” combo with pig’s head, smoked salsa, shredded lettuce and American Cheese.  Even the tortilla was made with lard.

New Kitchens on the Block Hi/Fi Taco “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes Tacos”
Hi/Fi Taco “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes Tacos”
photo by Linda Wang

Cranes, 724 9th St. NW

It’s a double play from Chef Pepe Moncayo who will combine Spanish and Japanese cuisine when he opens Cranes in Penn Quarter.  The Catalonian-born chef has a love of Japanese food, so why not put them together? He gained fans with a paella-like rice dish accented with nameko mushrooms, shio-kombu broth, ginger flowers, and a dollop of burrata. 

New Kitchens on the Block Cranes Nameko mushroom rice
Cranes Nameko Mushroom Rice
Photo by Linda Wang

Tabla, 3227 Georgia Ave. NW

The owners of Supra, Jonathan and Laura Nelms, put more Georgian food on the plate with Tabla.  The restaurant will open in Park View with some of the hits from Supra such as khinkali soup dumplings and khachapuri cheese bread. Making its debut at NKOTB was the striking Beet Pkhali, a beet and walnut pate nested on a bed of Georgian cornbread.   

New Kitchens on the Block Tabla Beet Pkhali
Tabla Beet Pkhali

La Famosa, 1300 4th Street, SE DC (Navy Yard)

La Famosa means the famous one, and it’s where Chef Joancarlo Parkhurst hopes to turn a well-deserved spotlight on Puerto Rican cuisine. The casual restaurant is slated to open in Spring 2020.  The chef scored at NKOTB with fried sweet plantain scooped out and filled with salted cod stewed in a tomato broth.

New Kitchens on the Block La Famosa Canoa de Bacalo
La Famosa Canoa de Bacalo
Photo by Linda Wang

Soko, 7306 Carroll Ave., Takoma Park, MD

Could Takoma Park be getting a winning butcher shop?  It looks that way.  Soko pairs Chris Brown of Takoma Beverage Co. with Chef Brad Feickert of the now-closed Oz Restaurant & Bar. You can catch them serving up meat, along with preserves, cheeses, and pickles. Look for deli sandwiches – both classic and creative- as well as tasting menu dinners. Soko wowed the crowd with a plate of house-smoked pastrami with kimchi, rye, Thousand Island, and beef jus. 

New Kitchens on the Block Soko house-smoked pastrami
Soko house-smoked pastrami
Photo by Linda Wang

Pearl’s Bagels, 1017 7th St. NW

It’s getting to be a competitive field when it comes to bagels in DC.  But Alee and Oliver Cox aren’t playing around.  They’re bringing their bagels to Mount Vernon Square.  Look for a slightly sweet bagel and savory spreads like hot jalapeno cheese, scallion and chive, and smoked tuna.  Batter up!

New Kitchens on the Block Pearl's Bagels
Pearl’s Bagels

 Emmy Squared Pizza, location TBD

They are from New York, they make Detroit pizza, and they’re heading to DC. Clearly co-founder Emily Hyland and chef Matthew Hyland play the field with their expansion team. “The Emmy” is a smile-inducing home run with its combination of mozzarella, banana peppers, red onion, ranch, and a side of red sauce.

New Kitchens on the Block Emmy's Squared Pizza "The Emmy"
Emmy’s Squared Pizza “The Emmy”

& Pizza
, Multiple Locations

Erik Bruner-Yang gets in the game, the pizza game that is, as the new executive chef for &Pizza. “Yin X Yang” (clever!) features garlic ricotta, mozzarella, green onions, black garlic mayo- and to top it off- tator tots! His new menu will roll out in DC later this year.

New Kitchens on the Block &Pizza Erik Bruner-Yang
&Pizza Erik Bruner-Yang

Maialino Mare, 221 Tingey St. SE (in the Thompson Hotel at the Navy Yard)

Maialino Mare brings restaurant MVP Danny Meyer to DC.  The New York restaurateur is known for acclaimed restaurants Gramercy Tavern, The Modern, Maialino, and more. He is also the founder of Shake Shack. As the name suggests, this restaurant will highlight seafood and pastas.  Chef Rose Noel pitched Bombolotti Cacio e Pepe and the crowd ate it up.

New Kitchens on the Block Maialino Mare Bombolotti Cacio e Pepe
Maialino Mare Bombolotti Cacio e Pepe

Bubbie’s Plant Burgers & Fizz, Permanent Location TBD

How’s this for a grand slam? A fried chicken sandwich topped with cheese that’s 100% plant-based and certified kosher. Soy and garbanzo beans pinch hit for chicken. Shaun Sharkey and Chef Margaux Riccio (of the plant-based Asian fusion Pow Pow) started the season with Bubbie’s Plant Burgers & Fizz as a pop-up in the Rock & Roll Hotel on H Street, NE.  Their concept- with proteins, veggie patties, and cheeses all crafted by Riccio- is still available there on weekends and through online orders.  Look for a permanent location in the near future.

New Kitchens on the Block Bubbie's Plant Burgers & Fizz
Shaun Sharkey and Chef Margaux Riccio
Bubbie’s Plant Burgers & Fizz

Read my story about Bubbie’s Plant Burgers & Fizz for Jewish Food Experience here.

I had a ball at New Kitchens on the Block 6. Get ready for a championship season in 2020. And again, I’m referring to restaurants. Even so, GO NATS!

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