Ben’s Chili Bowl is more than just a restaurant…it is a living piece of history. Opened in 1958, Ben’s has always served more than food—its served the community. Nestled in the heart of the U street corridor, a historically African American neighborhood in Washington, DC, Ben’s has been there through it all.
The minute you walk into the door the environment is nostalgic with R&B playing in the background, counter tops reminiscent of the 60s and 70s, and service with a smile. You are greeted in Ben’s as if they know you from the moment you walk into the door. At any given time when you are in the restaurant there are people from all over the US and the world that have come to experience Ben’s.
Eating at Ben’s Chili Bowl is not just about the meal itself. It is a rite of passage. It’s like the DC version of rubbing the stump when you walk out onto the Apollo stage. The food at Ben’s is simple, yet sophisticated in it’s own way. The half smoke is a type of sausage that is half beef and half pork, local to the DC area and more flavor filled than a hotdog. Ben’s elevates this local staple by adding mustard, onions with their homemade chili and cheese if you like.
The chili at Ben’s has a unique spicy flavor. Their chili half smoke is actually my favorite “hot dog” dish of any restaurant I’ve been to. They have also managed to create vegan dishes that lack the meat yet retain the bold flavors they’ve been known for over the years. There are plenty of menu options in addition to half smokes from hotdogs and burgers to chili and rice bowls. You can view the menu here.
Nothing can bring locals, tourists, presidents, musicians, activists and politicians together better than a half smoke from Ben’s Chili Bowl! Visit Ben’s the next time you come to DC, grab a half smoke and feed your soul while you fill your stomach!