I hope your weeks are getting off to a great start and that you had an awesome weekend! For this week’s adventure, I decided to head over with a few friends to Ben’s Chili Bowl. If you google the restaurant, the word “landmark” comes up a few times, so it’s clearly one of those must-do things in D.C. Even though I’ve been in the city for a few years now and pass Ben’s Chili Bowl almost on a weekly basis, I had never been, and I felt like if I didn’t go soon, I didn’t deserve to stay in D.C. for much longer. So for those of you who may not be as familiar with the establishment, let’s do a brief overview:
About Ben’s Chili Bowl
Ben’s Chili Bowl was established in 1958 by Virginia and Ben Ali on U Street, and it’s remained there ever since. At the time of its opening, the area was known as “Black Broadway” and had such famous visitors as Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington. The celebrity most associated with Ben’s Chili Bowl now is probably Bill Cosby, whose favorite item, the Chili Half-Smoke, is one of the restaurant’s famous meals and is even now named after the comedian. Fittingly, Bill Cosby was the only person who could eat for free at the restaurant until the 2008 election, when the Obama family was added to the list. The president has indeed taken the restaurant up on its offer (but still voluntarily handed some money over anyway), getting, of course, the Chili Half-Smoke.
My Experience at Ben’s
Whew! So much history! It was time for me to finally pay Ben’s Chili Bowl a visit. It’s pretty crazy how quickly the place can fill up all of a sudden. When I walked past it earlier while waiting for one of my friends, it was pretty packed and the line was long. When I actually went in with my friends though, there was practically no line only to be packed again about five minutes later!
So with all this talk about the famous half-smoke, I decided that I needed to investigate it for myself. The half-smoke is a pork and beef sausage with chili, onions and mustard. Oh man. Let’s take a look at the picture.
It was definitely good, but I wasn’t exactly over the moon about it (*cringing as I wait for backlash from dedicated fans to ensue*). I still enjoyed it though and had a lot of fun. The energy of people constantly coming in and out, the cooks preparing the food, and the jukebox music definitely makes for a good time, so I’m glad I finally experienced it all for myself.
For More About Ben’s Chili Bowl
There are a bunch of interesting articles and slideshows online about Ben’s Chili Bowl, so if you’re interested in finding out more about the restaurant (and all the famous people who have gone to eat there), here are a few things to check out!
- Ben’s Chili Bowl: Half-Smokes, Whole Moments
- Ben’s Chili Bowl Mural Features Barack Obama, Bill Cosby, Donnie Simpson And Chuck Brown
- Bill Cosby Recalls Ben’s Chili Bowl
- Sarkozys Eat Half-Smokes at Ben’s Chili Bowl