Ben's Chili Bowl

Row 1

1213 U St NW (at 12th St. NW)
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 667-0909
Hot Dogs, Diner, Burgers
Mon–Thu: 6:00 AM–2:00 AM Fri: 6:00 AM–4:00 AM Sat: 7:00 AM–4:00 AM Sun: 11:00 AM–Midnight


The celebrity (and presidential) photos on the wall are clear indications of Ben's Chili Bowl's city landmark status, but the continuous lines out the door (and its election to this list) are evidence that the restaurant's chili cheese dogs are some of the best in the country. But those in the know dont just order "dogs," they get the half-smokes, a half-pork, half-beef smoked sausage which is a native D.C. specialty supposedly invented by Ben Ali, the original proprietor, whose sons took over the restaurant after his death. As the U Street Corridor/Shaw neighborhood around it has gentrified and become trendy, it's a more than 50-year-old bastion of down-home D.C. where college kids, old-timers, and celebrities are all welcome as long as they're willing to stand in line like everybody else though the president eats for free.

Foursquare Tips

  • The half-smoke is a half-pork, half-beef sausage native to DC, generously covered with Ben's chili. The result unparalleled deliciousness. Adam Richman, Man v. Food
  • An iconic Washington establishment, Ben's Chili Bowl is well-suited for late-night half-smoke cravings. [Eater 38 Member]
  • Bring cash!
  • The line is optional if you know what you're doing.
  • During the riots, black activists obtained permission to allow Ben's to stay open past curfew. Celebrate Black History by checking out amazing African American contributions:
  • Three words: Chili Half Smoke
  • U can't walk on U St. Without stopping at Ben's Chili Bowl.
  • a must-hit when in D.C. Cosby, Obama and family eat free; everyone else, cash-only.
  • Get the half smoke all the way and an order of chili cheese fries all the way. You'll be good to go for a week! I <3 Ben's
  • Half smoke. No doubt. Make sure you know what you want and don't be in the way.
  • Half smoke baby!
  • Go to Ben's Chili Bowl and get chili half-smoke.
  • Go to Ben's Chili Bowl and get a Chili Half Smoke. Bring cash, though. Ben's doesn't take cards.
  • Get the half smokes, a beef-and-pork sausage that's lightly smoked and served with mustard, onions and, of course, chili.
  • A 60-plus-year-old institution known for its no-frills grub. Our favorite: the Chili Half Smoke, a pork-and-beef smoked sausage on a steamed bun with mustard, onions, and Bens signature chili sauce.
  • The line winds out the door at Ben's Chili Bowl at what seems like all times of day. Try the chili half smoke - Ben's signature dish and a favorite of Bil Cosby's!
  • Half smoke is where its AT!!
  • Go to Ben's and get a chili half smoke, fries, and a shake. Yes, it's worth the wait in line! Also, keep an eye out for the list of people who get to eat there for free.
  • Past customers read like the end of an African-American history book: Ellington, Carmichael, Cosby, and now, Obama, who ordered what every guide book would recommend: chili, sweet tea, & cheese fries.
  • Bring Cash!