Ben's Chili Bowl 📍Washington, DC
Updated: Jan 8, 2019
You can’t go to the Nation’s Capital without hearing about it, Ben’s Chili Bowl. This little shop is an iconic, historical foodie landmark in Washington, DC, located on U St, near the theater district and minutes from Howard University. This restaurant was built during the civil rights movement. It withstood the 1968 MLK Assassination race riots. It became the place where patrons could come inside, relax, regroup, talk, and eat good food. It quickly became the hub for the African American Community. Ben’s Chili Bowl made it out of this era, untouched. Now the most famous and diverse restaurant in the city, Ben’s is known for The Famous Chili Dog (Best chili dogs in the world).
Ben’s Chili Bowl is a small old fashioned restaurant that hasn’t changed its style from 50+ years ago. From the exterior to interior, you can feel the history and sense of family within the doors. The majority of seating is bar style, several bold red stools lined up against the bar admiring the chef’s creations. You are surrounded by photos of legendary people who have visited this location and gave it a stamp of approval.
Ben’s Chili Bowl serves the best half smoke (half pork, half beef, smoked sausage). I don’t even eat pork and I eat everything here, I don’t care, I don’t care! The snap of the hot dog when you bite into it, leaves nothing to be desired. The bread buns are hot and fresh, some seem grilled with the hot dog itself. The chili has a smooth, not chunky, hearty consistency with just the right amount of spice. They complement your dog with crunchy, starchy fries, fluffy on the inside and steaming on the outside. They have since evolved over the years and opened up the menu to serve vegetarian option as well. I have yet to try the veggie dog but I hear great things. This is my first stop when i'm back in DC.
The customer service here is impeccable. This is a family owned business with generations still serving the customers. Some days you can still catch Mrs. Virginia (Owner) standing behind the counter serving warm welcomes and friendly smiles. At times, the service can be slow. Go figure, this place is known for having a line out the door. Especially after hours, leaving the club, drunk and starving, everything takes forever. However, I recommend you commit to this wait at least once in your life, you won’t regret it!
When visiting D.C, skip the downtown hotdog stands and go take a bite out of history here at Ben's Chili Bowl.
Have you visited Ben's Chili Bowl? What’s your favorite item on the menu? Tell us about it below.