top of page

The Lowdown Hub

Spice Kitchen wants to change the world with its stellar Nigerian food

Steak suya with plantains and efo riro, a spinach stew, at Spice Kitchen. (Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

Thin strips of beef, dusted with a formidable West African spice blend, are scattered atop a waxy sheet of “The American Times,” a faux newspaper whose motto is “All the News That Changes the World.” The slogan, an obvious riff on the Gray Lady’s 19th-century retort to yellow journalism, seems custom-made for Olumide Shokunbi and Spice Kitchen.

This is Seafood channels a lifetime of experience into one tasty takeout

Shokunbi earned his stripes in the restaurant business at Chipotle Mexican Grill, rising to the level of general manager at a store in his native Bowie, Md. The chain left its mark on him, not so much with its approach to customization but with its big-tent philosophy. Customers at Spice Kitchen don’t walk the line and accessorize their plates of steak or chicken suya.

They do something perhaps more important: They experience West African flavors in a counter-service setting, a relaxed atmosphere that, by its design, is meant to ease newcomers into a dish still largely foreign to American palates.

Spice Kitchen is Nigerian street food by way of MiXt Food Hall, an airy, open space with large windows that flood the room with sunlight, perfect for shining a light on one of West Africa’s beloved dishes.

Chef-owner Olumide Shokunbi. (Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)