Chef Kwame Onwuachi’s Forthcoming DC Restaurant Honors Benjamin Banneker

Dōgon is coming to Southwest DC's Salamander hotel.

Chef Kwame Onwuachi is making a DC comeback. Photograph by Jonathan Thorpe.

Dōgon—Kwame Onwuachi’s forthcoming restaurant in Southwest DC’s Salamander hotel (formerly the Mandarin Oriental)—marks the James Beard Award winning chef’s first new venture in our city since he left Kith & Kin in 2020. The new restaurant—opening date TBD—will pointedly honor DC’s Black history: “I firmly believe that a restaurant should have a story, because when it has a story it has a soul,” Onwuachi said in a press release. 

Like some of Onwuachi’s past openings, the concept behind the restaurant is sophisticated: it’s inspired by Benjamin Banneker, the Black astronomer and cartographer who helped survey and draw the original borders of the District of Columbia. Though Banneker’s name graces a high school, two streets, and a hotel in DC, his role in mapping the city is less well-known than that of white planners like Pierre L’Enfant. 

Banneker, who was largely self-taught, reportedly had roots in Mali’s Dogon people, an ethnic group known for their astronomical knowledge and stargazing traditions. Dogon culture and Banneker’s own work will influence the restaurant’s design, which is led by the New York firm Modellus Novus. Details on how exactly Banneker’s legacy will translate into Onwuachi’s approach and cooking are scant, but the menu will draw on Afro-Caribbean cooking and the chef’s own Nigerian, Jamaican, Trinidadian, and Creole background. 


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Bronx-raised Onwuachi has had a long-running connection to DC. His first restaurant was the short-lived Shaw Bijou, after which he opened the acclaimed Afro-Caribbean restaurant Kith & Kin at the Wharf in 2017. The latter effort won him a James Beard Award for Best Rising Star Chef in 2019 and a memoir deal for Notes from a Young Black Chef  (he’s since authored a cookbook too). But Onwuachi left Kith & Kin in 2020, looking to become a restaurant owner for his next venture. That became Tatiana, a Manhattan ode to African, Caribbean, and Black American cooking that the New York Times named the best restaurant in the city last year. Dōgon has a lot to live up to, and Onwuachi is thrilled to be back in DC.

Can’t wait for you all to come through these doors, the chef wrote on social media. It’s so so so so good to be back!

Ike Allen
Assistant Editor