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U Street

Ben's Chili Bowl

1213 U St. NW
Washington, D.C., 20009, United States
TEL: (202) 667-0909

Up until very recently, the only VIP deemed worthy of a free meal at the Ali family chili shrine was longtime devotee Bill Cosby, who made the venue a national destination when he held a press conference there in the 1980s. The latest inductee into the eat-for-free club is Barack Obama, who stopped by to inhale the must-order Chili Half-Smoke a few days before his inauguration (he paid—and added a generous tip). Invented in 1958, this signature snack comprises a smoked pork-and-beef sausage tucked into a toasty steamed bun and comes topped with mustard, onions, and (of course) spicy chili sauce.

Insider Tip:

Though they're not as well-known, breakfasts at Ben's are worth a trip across town. The big plates of eggs, hotcakes, and corned-beef hash all come with sides of home fries, grits, and piles of crispy fried apples.


Open / Closes
  • Accessible by Public Transportation
  • Breakfast
  • Celeb-Spotting
  • Dinner
  • Good for Groups
  • Lunch
  • Late-Night Dining
  • No Reservations
  • Open Kitchen/Watch the Chef
  • Parking Available
  • Take-Out Available

Cash Only: 1

Cuisine Type:: American Traditional


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