Ben's Chili Bowl

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1213 U Street Northwest, Washington, DC, USA - (202) 667-0909

Ben's Chili Bowl Washington Reviews

freespirit3 freespir…
52 reviews
Ben's Chili Bowl May 12, 2012
Not only making it to the food network, but having this be the president's hang out was enough of a reccomendation to get us there as well. This is a late night hangout in the center of DC, just a few short steps from the metro stop so very convienent. However in my opinion, I think that perhaps this place is more hype then quality.

It was close to midnight when we headed over to the Chili Bowl to try one of DC's favorites - the half smoke. When we arrived there was not a seat in the house and the line was wrapped around and headed out the door. They were grilling up hundreds of sausages at a time on a large grill on the side of the order counter. When we made our way up to the women taking orders, we both ordered the half smoke to go. These were wrapped in foil and brown bagged for us. The service was good and polite, the price was average.

After a short metro ride back to our hotel, we dug into this chili dog with high expectations. My son loved it and ate both of ours. I didn't think it lived up to all the hype. I guess I am just more of a coney island dog fan. But as quickly as my son ate them both up, I think that Ben's developed at least one more fan.
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HuBison HuBison
417 reviews
This place was great even before Barack (although I love Barack!) Jan 09, 2011
Eventhough it's been in the news alot because of Barack's recent visit to Ben's Chili Bowl, it has always been a great place. They just celebrated their 50th anniversary last year. I'm sad to say that I haven't visited Ben's as much as I would have liked to in all the time I have been living here in DC, but it's only cause parking on U street sucks so bad (whether it's day or night).

This place turned me on to turkey burgers bad. I ache for them as soon as I walk through the door. Is it worth as much as they charge? Eh, maybe not, but the ambience is cool and the people are cool and it's such a nifty place. They have veggie items on the menu, they serve breakfast, and they stay open late. It's a place you MUST visit, even if you're in DC for only a weekend.

My friend just bought me a book on the history of Ben's Chili Bowl and I'll be sitting down to read it soon, but a few interesteing fact are:

* Mahaboob Ben Ali, a West Indian immigrant from Trinidad, opened shop in 1958.

* Ben's original plan was to be a dentist.

* Ben's chili bowl was one of the few businesses that remained open despite the mayhem that came with the construction of the metro system.
Ben's at night
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
HuBison says:
Yeah, I have been there. I've written a review. I like it when it's not super crowded.
Posted on: Mar 03, 2011
Meech301 says:
Very nice..have you been to Bens Next Door yet?? It's more of a Lounge right next to Bens Chili Bowl by the same owners..
Posted on: Mar 02, 2011
alexindc alexindc
41 reviews
A DC Institution Sep 28, 2009
Outside of the monuments and museums, there’s really nothing more "DC" than Ben’s Chili Bowl. In business since 1958, Ben’s is one of the only businesses in the neighborhood to survive the 1968 riots, during which it remained open to serve neighborhood residents, protesters, police and firemen. It also survived the preceding decline in the neighborhood, and the construction of the Green Line Metro, which closed the street in front of it. However today, with the neighborhood newly alive with trendy bars, clubs, restaurants and $1 million condos lurking in the background, it’s still standing and stronger than ever.

The food is good, but certainly nothing spectacular, but the experience, atmosphere and history are worthwhile. Try a half-smoke (a type of sausage unique to DC, slightly spicy and coarsely ground) with chili and onions. No, that’s not healthy, but if you’re on vacation or if you’ve already been out partying, why worry about that? Enjoy the friendly staff and the clamor of shouted orders; the music that varies between oldies from the 50's to American funk classics from the 70's to modern hip-hop; the furniture, most of which is original to the 1950’s; and the pictures of celebrities who have enjoyed the place, such as Bill Cosby (a regular), the Obama family, Chris Tucker and Bono.

A great place to get a quick dinner before a show at the Lincoln Theater, Black Cat, 930 Club, etc. Also a great place to hit up after a night of partying, thuogh expect long lines during lunch, dinner and after midnight.
wildntexas says:
I tend to disagree with you about the food. I don't like chili cheese dogs, so when my husband suggested that we go, I agreed because I know he likes them and I knew a few things about the history of the restaurant (and the people who have visited it). I LOVED my chili cheese dog. The only problem with it - it was gone too way too quickly.

The day we were there, the Children's Choir from Miami (who had sung at SuperBowl 2010), were there and sang a couple of songs for us.
Posted on: Jun 20, 2010
1morespicy 1morespi…
28 reviews
Well worth a visit. Dec 04, 2009
Ben's Chili Bowl is an old DC landmark. Established in 1958 and frequented by many a familiar face. Bill Cosby, Michelle Obama and her kids are the only people who eat for free here.

Seeing as it was my first time in Dc there really wasn't any other place to go. The atmosphere in here is buzzing. Organised chaos. We queued up to order our food and a lady told us to just pick a table and someone would bring the food over. All the staff seemed to be having the time of their lives. Singing and dancing to the soul music being played quite loudly. They were friendly, happy and helpful.

I ordered a chili cheese dog, fully loaded. Now, I have learned before, that these things normally look like it's already been eaten but they always taste amazing. It's by no means healthy but it's definitely good for the soul.
Chili cheese fries.
marksreynolds marksrey…
55 reviews
Historic landmark and great food with a Apr 04, 2009
If you are looking for a historic place to have lunch, or a late night snack with a unique atmosphere, Ben's Chili Bowl is the place! We ate here after a long day walking around the Tidal Basin during the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. and it was great! There was a long line to get in so you can place your order, but it moves along quickly and once we did get inside, there were plenty of tables to sit at. This is a self seating kind of place, and you order and get your food from the counter then take it to your table. If you have six or more people, you can get a table and someone will come take you order! There is crazyness happening behind the counter with employees singing and dancing while they cook and prep the orders! What a cool and fun place to eat! The music is going with 70's, 80's & 90's R&B and Hip Hop!

If you are in D.C., you must make this a stop to eat! For more info on Ben's Chili Bowl, including the history and directions, check out their website at
Outside Ben's Chili Bowl as seen f…
Joe, Courtnie & Lena waiting outsi…
A brife history of Ben's Chili Bowl
Cheese Fries! This is enough for t…
marksreynolds says:
Thank you every one for all the smiles, comments and congrats! I really appreciate it! :)
Posted on: Apr 12, 2009
Lilliana77 says:
Congratz on the feature! :)
Posted on: Apr 11, 2009
Lord_Mike says:
Congratulations on your feature review today!!!!
Posted on: Apr 11, 2009
gwizzle17 gwizzle17
17 reviews
Great late-night comfort food! Jun 28, 2008
We decided on this place for a late-night dinner after a long day of traveling! We actually found it based on the previous reviewer, which I corroborated with a few online guidebooks the DC Visitor's guide!

Absolutely delicious! Easy to get to, and was almost standing-room-only at a little after midnight. Because it was so late, we shared the chili cheese fries, and they were most definitely the best I'd ever had! The chili is a bit spicy, but I wouldn't say that people who don't like spice couldn't handle it. And with the flavor, you don't want to pass this up! Even their lemonade was really good! =)

A great, relaxed place to eat!
travelman727 says:
Nice review, Gwen! This sounds like my kind of place :-) I will have to check out Ben's Chili Bowl on my next late night visit to our Nation's Capital :-D
Posted on: Oct 03, 2008

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