If you’ve never been, you must.  Right up there with the National Monument is visiting Ben’s Chili Bowl.  I’m telling you this as a person who took 2 years to visit.  I have such regret and remorse that it took me this long to visit. 

You must visit this 2004 James Beard Foundation winner.  Words cannot describe my friend.  Here is their menu:


  • Food: If you’ve never been, you must order Ben’s Original Chili Half-smoke with everything with a side order of cheese (or chili cheese) fries.  It’s got great flavor and it’s so filling.  The fries aren’t super crispy, but they are good.  Warning though — you won’t eat for hours.  I’ve never ordered anything other than these, but considering they’re almost always packed, I’m sure everything else is good. 
  • Service: Courteous and speedy.  And they give you a lot of napkins.  You’ll thank them for that.
  • Atmosphere: It’s got the diner feel with the stools, bar, booths, and metal tables and chairs.  It’s uber casual. 
  • Attire: Casual
  • Price: $
  • Overall: Amazing.  Truly fantastic.  Can’t say enough good things, but you’ll definitely want to eat a salad for dinner afterwards.  And you will crave this food.

If I go, I go at “off-hours” because the line winds out the door.   And then forget getting a seat.  I honestly have never gone after bar closing, but I’ve heard stories.  It’s apparently crazy packed but perfect food for those late evenings.  I can understand why.

Oh, and they also say that when Bill Clinton was in office, he’d call late at night and order a bunch of these half-smokes and fries. 


  • Hours: 11 am-2 am M-Thurs; 11-4  am Fri-Sat; Noon-8 PM Sun. 
  • Address:1213 U Street NW; Washington, DC 20009
  • Ph: 202-667-0909