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Ben's Chili Bowl

1213 U St. NW, Washington, DC - (202) 667-0909
Home of the unique DC street food, the half-smoke, Ben's has become a beloved institution in the Capital. Its smoky links and hot dogs are big and delicious, its French fries excellent, and its sweet potato cake for dessert truly memorable.
97% Approval Rating (45 votes)

Scorecard

4 - Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Sweet Potato Pie
chili dog
Half-smoke
Chili Burger
chili smoke
Strawberry Cake
Sweet Potato Cake
French Fries
Chili Cheese Fries

Highlighted Reviews

rating
Michael Stern - Photos (10)
Roadfood.com Editor
"“First it was taxation without representation. Now, it’s taxation without Roadfood representation.” So wrote Rod Hendrix when he sent us a long list of places to help alleviate the dearth of Roadfood listings in the nation’s capital. None of his suggestions was more ..."   [Read More]
rating
Cilla Reesman
January 28, 2005
"The existing review is great and accurate as far as it goes. But, you missed the fact that Ben's also makes the best French fries for hundreds of miles around. Ask them to do them a bit crisp and you will be in fry heaven. Heaps of fries will arrive in a red plastic ..."   [Read More]
rating
David Dawson
February 02, 2011
"I've lived within a mile of Ben's for almost 20 years and am still bewildered at the attention that the food at this place gets. I get that it's a historical place and I do love that as well but I've never had anything that's better than agreeable. Fries are, well, ..."   [Read More]

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Map & Web Site

1213 U St. NW, Washington, DC
(202) 667-0909

http://www.benschilibowl.com

Hours & Policies

Seasons:Open Year Round
Meals Served:Breakfast, Lunch, Late Night
Operational Hours:Always Call Ahead!
Credit Cards Accepted:No
Alcohol Served:No
Outdoor Seating:No
Reservations Accepted:No
Delivery Available:No
Takeout Counters:Yes
Half smokes on the griddle await their buns and a blanket of chili.
"Half smokes on the griddle await their buns and a blanket of chili."
Michael Stern





This end-view of a chili dog shows the mustard that is customarily applied before the chili. The dog itself is excellent!
"This end-view of a chili dog shows the mustard that is customarily applied before the chili. The dog itself is excellent!"
Michael Stern


A half smoke blanketed with chili: it's definitely the way to go at Ben's, but the half-smoke all by itself is something special, too.
"A half smoke blanketed with chili: it's definitely the way to go at Ben's, but the half-smoke all by itself is something special, too."
Michael Stern


We were lucky enough to be sitting in a booth at Ben's when this sweet potato cake was brought out front, freshly cut. Wow, what a treat!
"We were lucky enough to be sitting in a booth at Ben's when this sweet potato cake was brought out front, freshly cut. Wow, what a treat!"
Michael Stern


Half-smokes and chili dogs are served with corrugated potato chips on the side. But we believe it's worth spending an extra $2.05 for a plate of Ben's French fries.
"Half-smokes and chili dogs are served with corrugated potato chips on the side. But we believe it's worth spending an extra $2.05 for a plate of Ben's French fries."
Michael Stern


Ben's serves one of the best sweet potato pies anywhere. It is so good that we plowed into the point of the wedge before I remembered to take a picture. That's why this photo shows only the outer edge. I cropped out the bite marks.
"Ben's serves one of the best sweet potato pies anywhere. It is so good that we plowed into the point of the wedge before I remembered to take a picture. That's why this photo shows only the outer edge. I cropped out the bite marks."
Michael Stern


Ben's tasty chili works equally well on their burgers.
"Ben's tasty chili works equally well on their burgers."
Cliff Strutz


A huge, sloppy and addictive plate of French fries topped with Ben's alluring dark chili and school-bus-orange cheese makes one heck of a naughty meal ... or a good side dish for two or three or four people to share with their half smokes.
"A huge, sloppy and addictive plate of French fries topped with Ben's alluring dark chili and school-bus-orange cheese makes one heck of a naughty meal ... or a good side dish for two or three or four people to share with their half smokes."
Michael Stern


The one dish unique to Washington, DC: a half-smoke. They are sold from street carts throughout the city, but there's none better than the one you get at Ben's. The sound of biting into one, as juices burst, is almost as good as the taste.
"The one dish unique to Washington, DC: a half-smoke. They are sold from street carts throughout the city, but there's none better than the one you get at Ben's. The sound of biting into one, as juices burst, is almost as good as the taste."
Michael Stern


Everyone at the table who sampled the moist strawberry cake declared it a winner!
"Everyone at the table who sampled the moist strawberry cake declared it a winner!"
Cliff Strutz


Ben's signature dish: a half-smoke topped with with chili in a steamed-soft bun. Below the chili and atop the sausage are mustard and onion, of course.
"Ben's signature dish: a half-smoke topped with with chili in a steamed-soft bun. Below the chili and atop the sausage are mustard and onion, of course."
Michael Stern


After finding Florida Avenue Grill not open for another hour, we headed over to Ben's for a half smoke breakfast, which includes eggs and your choice of home fries or grits. The chili does not come with it, but the friendly waitress was happy to include a generous portion on top of the half smoke.
"After finding Florida Avenue Grill not open for another hour, we headed over to Ben's for a half smoke breakfast, which includes eggs and your choice of home fries or grits. The chili does not come with it, but the friendly waitress was happy to include a generous portion on top of the half smoke."
Cliff Strutz


Ben Ali stands in front of the legendary restaurant he created ... that is now run by his sons. Mr. Ali passed away in 2009 at the age of 82.
"Ben Ali stands in front of the legendary restaurant he created ... that is now run by his sons. Mr. Ali passed away in 2009 at the age of 82."
Michael Stern



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