Skip to main content
Book

Reserve My Stay

Book

Spa

Dogon
A man standing by fire

The Story of Dōgon

Chef Kwame Onwuachi is no stranger to pushing boundaries, but at his new Washington, D.C. restaurant, he will also honor them and the West African lineage that helped draw the borders of the District of Columbia. Dōgon by Kwame Onwuachi will open this spring along the revitalized Southwest waterfront at Salamander Washington DC – part of a significant hotel enhancement project. The acclaimed chef makes his highly anticipated return to the nation’s capital with a concept inspired by DC Surveyor Benjamin Banneker and his heritage to the West African Dogon tribe. Pronounced “Doh-gon,” the restaurant will serve vibrant cuisine through an Afro-Caribbean lens and draw from Onwuachi’s unique Nigerian, Jamaican, Trinidadian and Creole background. Dōgon is being designed by the architectural firm Modellus Novus.

Kwame standing in front of a window

Sign Up

Be the first to receive restaurant updates.

Sign Up

Follow @dogondc 

@chefkwameonwuachi

Kwame sitting in front of a fire pit

About Kwame

Kwame Onwuachi has penned multiple books, like his successful memoir Notes from a Young Black Chef and the bestselling cookbook My America: Recipes from a Young Black Chef. He also been a contestant and a judge on Bravo’s Top Chef. In 2019, he was acclaimed by Esquire as its Chef of the Year, recognized by Food & Wine as one of its Best New Chefs, and named by the James Beard Foundation as "Rising Star Chef of the Year.”

Dōgon DC will be Onwuachi’s second restaurant opening in the space of 18 months, following the highly acclaimed Tatiana in New York City. Last year, Tatiana was last year named as the city’s best restaurant by the New York Times and rated one of the best new restaurants of the year by Esquire. Forbes called it more than a restaurant and the “future of fine dining.”

Kwame standing in front of Salamander DC

Careers

Grab a seat at our table and reignite your culinary career at Dōgon DC. If you're a talented culinary professional who is passionate about breaking the mold to deliver unique and unforgettable experiences, we’d love to work with you.

Learn More

[email protected]


History and Inspiration

"I firmly believe that a restaurant should have a story, because when it has a story, it has a soul."

According to the Maryland Center for History and Culture (MdHS), Benjamin Banneker was a self-taught, free African American tobacco farmer, whose brilliance in astronomy and mathematics garnered the attention of the most powerful white men in the new nation. With the approval of Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Ellicott enlisted Banneker to assist in surveying the territory which was to become the District of Columbia. After the survey's completion, Banneker would go on to engage in a correspondence with Jefferson about the equal abilities of men of African descent.

In 1994, historians preparing a National Register of Historic Places registration form for the Pierre L'Enfant plan of the City of Washington wrote that 40 boundary stones laid at one-mile intervals had established the district's boundaries based on Banneker's celestial calculations. Among many recognitions, Banneker has been honored with a commemorative stamp, has had schools and parks named after him, and has been the subject of numerous books.

According to MdHS, which owns copies of the original Banneker almanacs and is in possession of the Banneker's handwritten astronomical journal, Banneker was the grandson of an African slave named Bannaka and an English woman named Molly Welsh. Molly was a former indentured servant who purchased Bannaka and another slave upon her release from servitude, as she needed help working her tobacco farm. A 2002 biography of Benjamin Banneker from Charles A. Cerami explored this ancestry further and reported that Bannaka (Benjamin's grandfather) was a member of the Dogon Tribe, perhaps even royalty.

The Dogon people are an African tribal population of 400,000 to 600,000 native to Mali, most of whom live in the hills and mountains of the Bandiagara escarpment. Beginning in the 1930s French anthropologists Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlin began studying the Dogon people, and their findings prompted further authors to report significant mathematical, scientific and astronomical knowledge dating back hundreds of years – especially surrounding their detailed knowledge of the star system Sirius, which is made up two separate stars: Sirius A and Sirius B. This is notable as it wasn't until 1862 that the American astronomer Alvan Clark deduced the existence of Sirius B using a telescope, among the most advanced for that era. And, it was not until 1970 that there was confirmation of the existence of this star, never mind a photograph of it. Yet the Dogon people apparently knew this information hundreds of years beforehand, calling the Siruis B star by the name of "Po Tolo."