Ben's Chili Bowl, Washington D.C.

4 out of 5 stars 8 Reviews

1213 U Street, N.W. Washington D.C. 20009 (202) 667-0909

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  • Ben's Chili Bowl
    by TexasDave
  • Ben's Chili Bowl
    by Ewingjr98
  • The Chili Bowl on a Sunny Day
    The Chili Bowl on a Sunny Day
    by Greatwalk0
  • Ewingjr98's Profile Photo

    Ben's Chili Bowl - Shaw & Nationals Stadium

    by Ewingjr98 Written May 26, 2009

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Ben's Chili Bowl is a U Street institution. It was established in 1958 and was one of the few businesses to survive the race riots of the 1960s that destroyed much of the neighborhood. This small diner-like restaurant has been a favorite of people such as Bill Cosby, Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, and even Dr. King. While the original owners have retired, their sons now run the family business which has recently attracted President Obama to eat one of their famous half smokes.

    Ben's has also expanded to a second location in Nationals Stadium across town in South East. During a recent game we decided to give it a try, and I had the "Original Chili Half-Smoke" which is considered their signature dish. This is a slightly spicy half pork and half beef smoked sausage on a steamed bun with mustard, onions, shredded cheese and a spicy homemade chili sauce. At the restaurant on U Street this dish costs about $5, but in the stadium it was perhaps $7. Very sloppy and delicious.

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    Ben's Chili Bowl: Bill Cosby's Original Chili Half-Smoke!

    by tspeegle09 Written Jun 30, 2008

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Ben's Chili Bowl has been a Washington landmark since the 1950s, and many celebrities, including long-time patron Bill Cosby, have graced its floors for a delicious made-while-you-wait chili dog. Ben's is an extremely famous place to eat and has been featured on TV shows like "Unwrapped" on The Food Network...but don't worry, this restaurant's location means that it's NOT a tourist trap! It's located on U Street, which is considered a "bad neighborhood" to many in DC (it has also been proudly Black-Owned-and-Operated since its grand opening, which unfortunately still turns some people off)...but not to worry, Ben's is quite safe and located right across the street from the metro stop. Locals flock there for lunch. And if you can't make it for lunch, don't sweat it...Ben's keeps CRAZY hours and is open until 2:00am on weekdays and 4:00am on weekends.

    Favorite Dish: Bill Cosby's Original Chili Half-Smoke...just go for the gusto!

    Exterior of Ben's Chili Bowl

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    Ben's Chili Bowl: Good Chili, but Better History

    by Greatwalk0 Written Feb 7, 2008

    Ben's Chili Bowl is another Washington institution. Though you MAY find the chili just "pretty good" (I have never been overly impressed with the food), the legend that is Ben's Chili Bowl is what attracts many people to this great restaurant.

    Black owned and operated since 1958, Ben's has watched Washington change and develop in one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in the city, though has maintained its authentic 1950s feel. Pictures of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X adorne the walls, while the exposed grill is busy with a line of cooks preparing any number of Ben's excellent menu items.

    The diner is opened late into the night (until 4:00 AM Friday and Saturday), so it is also popular amongst folks walking home from the bar.

    Favorite Dish: I enjoy the chili cheese dogs (gets some napkins)! I also like Ben's Beef Chili Burger!

    The Chili Bowl on a Sunny Day

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    Ben's Chili Bowl: Best Example of Local Flavor

    by TexasDave Written Sep 11, 2007

    World famous chili dogs come in a variety of heat (spice) levels and a lot of other 'fast food' offerings, like chicken tenders, etc.
    Many famous people have stopped here, including presidents, musicians, etc.

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    Ben's Chili Bowl: Ben's Chili Bowl

    by Tom_Fields Written Sep 8, 2006

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This is not just another restaurant. It's a Washington tradition, dating back to 1958. Ben's has long been a favorite late-night place for bar patrons, theater-goers, and everyone else on U Street. That includes many famous performers, who often visit after their shows. This place has achieved national recognition (see the web site, under History). No visit ot U Street is complete without stopping at Ben's Chili Bowl.

    It stays open until 4:00 am on weekends, and opens for breakfast at 11:00 am (noon on Sunday).

    Favorite Dish: The chili is homemade, and is what makes the chili burgers, chili dogs, and chili cheese fries so good. It's not exactly health food, but certainly worth having at least once. I never had breakfast here, but it's said to be very good.

    Ben's Chili Bowl Washington's favorite late-night eatery The counter is always busy on weekend nights Check out the old photos in the Cosmopolitan Room

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    Ben's Chili Bowl: Ben's Chili Bowl

    by globetrotter_2006 Updated Apr 7, 2006

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Ben's Chili Bowl has been around since 1958, and it is somewhat of an institution in Washington DC. It is located in the U Street Corridor next to Adams Morgan and Dupont Circle. Before there was Harlem, there was U Street also known as "Black Broadway".

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  • jsadler8's Profile Photo

    Ben's Chili Bowl: Mmmm Chili........

    by jsadler8 Updated Jul 30, 2004

    Ok, so maybe its not the best chili I've ever had but I recommend it nonetheless because it is an institution here in DC. Opened in 1958 by African-American entrepreneurs Ben and Virginia Ali, Ben's Chili Bowl has been feeding the hordes into the wee hours for just under 50 years !!!! Bill Cosby, a DC native, loves the place and visits whenever in town apparently. Considering the surprising lack of quality, craveable late night food in DC you have no excuse to miss this place :) Come for chili, hot dogs, burgers, fries etc. They even have veggie burgers for non-meat eaters !!!

    Favorite Dish: Chili Half-Smoke with chili-cheese fries !!! Don't miss it...

    Ben's Chili Bowl

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  • Ben's Chili Bowl: Ben's Chili Bowl

    by aklewis78 Written Aug 26, 2002

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    While a bit off the beaten path, Ben's is a true DC experience. The chili is exceptional, but best of all, it's open both late at night (to prevent a hang-over) and early in the morning (to get rid of a hang-over). If you go between noon and 2pm on a weekend, expect to wait.

    Favorite Dish: Half-smoke with a side of chili fries

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