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'Top Chef' Alum, Chef Kwame Onwuachi, New Restaurant​ Set To Open This Spring

Chef Kwame Onwuachi aims to commemorate the West African lineage that assisted in drawing the borders of the District of Columbia, with his new restaurant, Dōgon.


Chef Kwame Onwuachi

Dōgon is set to open in the spring at the revitalized Southwest waterfront at Salamander in Washington DC, which is a part of a significant hotel enhancement project.


Onwuachi makes his return to the nation’s capital thanks to the restaurant concept inspired by DC Surveyor Benjamin Banneker and his heritage of the West African Dogon tribe. The “Doh-gon” restaurant will serve “vibrant cuisine through an Afro-Caribbean lens and draw from Onwuachi’s unique Nigerian, Jamaican, Trinidadian and Creole background," according to a press release. Dōgon is being developed by the architectural firm Modellus Novus.


“I firmly believe that a restaurant should have a story because when it has a story it has a soul,” Onwuachi said. “Researching the history of Benjamin Banneker, the Dōgon tribe, and the connections to our location was a humbling yet inspiring experience. Our menu will celebrate all the cultures within DC’s four quadrants. This is the story of Dōgon.”


Banneker was a self-taught mathematician, astronomer, and inventor who made substantial contributions to the development of Washington DC, which included the use of astronomy to assist the surveying of the soon-to-be City of Washington in the year 1791, according to historical accounts. Many authors have also argued that Banneker’s ancestry can date back to the grandfather of the Dōgon tribe from Mali, which is known for its advanced knowledge of astronomy, mathematics, and engineering.


Chef Kwame Onwuachi

“Through his surveying work and skills, Banneker’s has helped bring people together for generations,” Onwuachi said. With this story and the Dōgon lineage as our foundation, we saw an opportunity to create something new: a restaurant that celebrates the rich cultural heritage of Africa in a contemporary DC setting.”


The restaurant life isn’t anything new to Onwuachi. This will be the former Top Chef contestant's second restaurant opening in 18 months, following the popular Tatina restaurant in New York City. Just last year, the restaurant was named the city’s best by the New York Times and was also rated one of the best new restaurants of the year by Esquire.


The amenity is a part of the overall property redesign at Salamander Washington DC, developing a warm and welcoming environment. The section of the city claims it to be the new heart of Washington D.C.


Photo Credit: Jonathan Thorpe

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