After spending a week in the Nicaraguan jungle eating rice, beans, tacos, and fruit, I was excited for a diverse culinary adventure back in our melting pot of a city. Cue: Mess Hall.
New Kitchens on the Block (NKOTB) is an annual event hosted by Mess Hall, a culinary incubator in Northeast D.C. The event is a fun, low-key opportunity to preview new and exciting concepts coming to the District this year. I was particularly excited to preview restaurants slated to open in my new Navy Yard neighborhood, namely The Salt Line and Rasa.
Here’s what you can expect from some of our favorite new concepts:
Dio Wine Bar
The skinny: This summer, D.C. will get it’s first natural wine bar, thanks to owner Stacey Khoury-Diaz. Think no pesticides or additives, with a healthy selection of local wines. We sampled a sparkling red and a smooth white from a husband and wife owned winery with an affinity for music, aptly named “Duke & Ella.” Bitches love a good wine bar and if it’s au naturale, you can bet we’ll be posting up.
Coming soon to: 904 H St. N.E., Washington, D.C.
The skinny: Founded by second-generation restaurateurs, the concept is described as accessible Indian cuisine. Between the approachable branding and the perfectly marinated meat and shaved potato dish we sampled, we’re looking forward to venturing to this fine fast casual restaurant in Navy Yard this summer.
Coming soon to: 1247 1st St. S.E., Washington, D.C.
The Salt Line
The skinny: The boat turned raw bar caught our attention at NKOTB. Chef Kyle Bailey was flipping mini Johnnycakes, a cornmeal flatbread, and serving up oyster shooters from The Salt Line, a soon-to-be addition to the Capitol Riverfront. The Johnnycakes topped with crème fraîche and caviar were the perfect accouterments to the oyster shooters with apple mignonette. We washed it down with a gin and tonic made with a splash of homemade strawberry juice. Needless to say, we’re counting the days until this New England style fish house and riverfront bar opens this spring.
Coming soon to: 79 Potomac Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C.
Sugar Shack Donuts and Coffee
The skinny: Of course, the minute I leave my old neighborhood of Shaw, they get a doughnut shop. With more than 150 flavors, including unique profiles like green apple and strawberry champagne, and an extensive coffee menu, the Shack will surely give locals a sugar rush.
Coming soon to: 1932 9th St. N.W., Washington, D.C.
The skinny: This summer, Central chef David Deshaies will open a modern diner near the Convention Center. We’ll be curious to see how more of the elevated dishes, like the lemon meringue served in hollow lemons, from the acclaimed Chef of Central Michel Richard fare. With this addition to the booming neighborhood, we can’t help but think: is 9th Street the next 14th Street?
Coming soon to: 1211 9th St. NW
And, of course, no spring event in Washington would be complete without an ode to the perennial bloom, this time via Cherry Blossom Lager from Dover, DE. We were pleasantly surprised to sample a lager that integrated the otherwise bitter fruit into a smooth, medium-bodied blend.
We look forward to NKOTB each year as it’s an inside peak to an otherwise commercial kitchen space and a fun, low-key way to spend a Sunday afternoon with your foodie friends. Keep an eye out for upcoming events at the unique space in Washington, D.C.