Hot dam! The President ate here!

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by wanderer 2005 on September 26, 2011

A DC institution, you have to make the trip to Ben’s Chili Bowl and get the half smoke and/or a chili dog. PERIOD.
Ahh…..the memories.
Opened in 1958, this converted pool hall serves up yummy food at a great price and a dose of history as well.
Located next door to the Lincoln Theater, In 1968, when Dr Martin Luther King was assassinated, the city was full of riots and it was pretty much shut down. Ben’s had special police permission to remain open after curfew to provide food and shelter for activists, firefighters and public servants because the Student Non-Violent Coordination Committee was across the street.
Bill Cosby courted his wife here in the 60’s (they named a sandwich after him) and Barack Obama ate here 10 days before his inauguration. Not to mention all the coverage on Oprah, and the Food Network, magazines and newspapers.

Now….depending on the day of the week and time of day, you may have to stand in line a while. We went on a Saturday afternoon and waited in line for a good hour. It was totally worth it, but it was a bit warm that May afternoon.
Let me say that everyone who works here is super nice, as packed as the place was.
We grabbed the second booth as you walk in, and hubby waited in line to order food. There is a whole other dining room beyond the front of the store, so don’t freak if you don’t see a table or stool at the bar, right away.
We settled on 2 Bill Cosby’s Original Chili Half Smokes, a side of chili cheese fries and 2 sweet teas. Man, was this good eats! In hindsight, I should have gotten a chili dog instead only because the half smoke was BIG and a little too much for my petite tummy to handle. A couple of drops of hot sauce on the fries and a meal is born!
The chili was meaty and really tasty. He half smoke was plump and had a ‘pop’ when you bit into it.

They have vegetarian options like turkey burgers and dogs as well as vegetarian chili, so don’t be afraid to eat here if you don’t partake in meat.

There is a gift shop upstairs and you can order chili and half smokes online as well and have them shipped anywhere.

Directions are simple…take the Green Line Metro to U Street/African American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo stop. Walk up the stairs and Ben’s is right across the street!

They open at 6am most days and offer breakfast. They stay open late till 2am and 4am on Fridays and Saturdays.
Ben's Chili Bowl
1213 U Street NW
Washington, District of Columbia, 20009
(202) 667-0909

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