Ben's Chili Bowl
Regional American

1213 U St NW
Washington D.C. 20009
(202) 667-0909
Categories Food

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.

Ben's Chili Bowl Photos
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The Daily Meal Editors and Community Say

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Foursquare Tips
a must-hit when in D.C. Cosby, Obama and family eat free; everyone else, cash-only.
Rob B
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
Honey Bear ♛
U can't walk on U St. Without stopping at Ben's Chili Bowl.
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:
An iconic Washington establishment, Ben's Chili Bowl is well-suited for late-night half-smoke cravings. [Eater 38 Member]
Justin Schuck
Get the Chili Half Smoke w/ Mustard & Onions -- even if you don't like mustard, onions or chili. Heck, even if you don't like meat. This is why God made Ben.
Try the Half-smoke with chili and cheese fries
Travel Channel
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
DC After Five
They pour grease over the hotdogs. So good!
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.
Josei ==> @ShoesNFood
Landmark. Happy staff = Happy customer
Vincent Gallegos
Half smoke baby!
Amy Whitelaw
Half smoke. No doubt. Make sure you know what you want and don't be in the way.
Jaineen Brown
Try the cakes!!
Bring cash!
James Walker
Three words: Chili Half Smoke
Victor Z
The line is optional if you know what you're doing.
Jonathan Hensley
Head to Ben's Chili Bowl, grab a chili half-smoke
Order a Chili Half Smoke with mustard and onions
kimberley shults
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.
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