Prior to the riots U St was not multi-cultural; it was one of the nation s cultural and intellectual centers of the Black community. The riots sadly destroyed the cultural and intellectual nature of the corridor, but it was not until it was regentrified that it became multicultural. There was a time when the Howard and Lincoln were putting on shows that were the equal of what you could find on Broadway, now the Howard is boarded-up and the Lincoln has practically been relegated to a special events venue. I love U St, but a few jazz clubs and great Ethiopian restaurants are not the same as it returning to what it once was.
I have been to Ben s countless times (I have a coworker that insists on going when it is his choice for lunch), I just don t think that the food has ever lived up to its reputation for being special food. Case in point, the cheese sauce that they use is right from a can. Ben s is one of those places that I really wish that I could love, but I have a hard time even liking it much.