Ben's Chili Bowl

Row 1

101 Best Restaurants in America
101 Best Casual Restaurants in America
101 Best Burgers in America
America's Best Hotdogs
1213 U St NW (at 12th St. NW)
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 667-0909
Hot Dogs
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.

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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
Travel Channel
Monday, November 15, 2010 - 11:39
An iconic Washington establishment, Ben's Chili Bowl is well-suited for late-night half-smoke cravings. [Eater 38 Member]
Thursday, July 28, 2011 - 13:26
Head to Ben's Chili Bowl, grab a chili half-smoke
Sunday, March 15, 2009 - 17:09
Bring cash!
Friday, April 16, 2010 - 11:28
They pour grease over the hotdogs. So good!
DC After Five
Sunday, November 14, 2010 - 12:44
The line is optional if you know what you're doing.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009 - 03:24
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.
Thursday, March 5, 2009 - 14:53
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.
Monday, October 18, 2010 - 12:47
Order a Chili Half Smoke with mustard and onions
Thursday, March 5, 2009 - 17:54
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:
Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 09:34
Three words: Chili Half Smoke
Thursday, January 28, 2010 - 17:12
Landmark. Happy staff = Happy customer
Josei ==> @ShoesNFood
Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - 21:04
U can't walk on U St. Without stopping at Ben's Chili Bowl.
Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 10:08
Try the Half-smoke with chili and cheese fries
Friday, November 26, 2010 - 15:48
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.
Friday, February 4, 2011 - 08:03
a must-hit when in D.C. Cosby, Obama and family eat free; everyone else, cash-only.
Saturday, July 6, 2013 - 04:34
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
Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 10:12
Half smoke. No doubt. Make sure you know what you want and don't be in the way.
Saturday, May 22, 2010 - 16:02
Try the cakes!!
Monday, April 19, 2010 - 15:10
Half smoke baby!
Friday, July 16, 2010 - 21:03