Established in 1958, Ben's Chili Bowl is one of the last holdouts in the newly gentrified U St. Corridor in Northwest Washington, D.C.–surviving social upheaval, riots, urban renewal, and (so far) the Food Police. And we're all better for it. The process is simple: 1. Arm wrestle for a seat at the counter. 2. Out-shout the other denizens of the counter, ordering Ben's Chili con Carne in a bowl, atop a big fat half-smoke (get it split & grilled. trust me.), or perhaps ladled over top of a never-frozen 100% beef hamburger. 3. Load on the onions, cheese, hot sauce and whatever else tempts. 4. Go home and sleep it off. 5. Repeat as needed.
They don't take credit cards, and be ready for the 10% D.C. sales tax. They make a half-hearted attempt at a “healthy” menu, but you can get that boring stuff anywhere. If you make the trek all the way to Ben's (wondering if you're even going to find a parking spot), do the properly carnivorous thing and get with the program.
Ben's is on U St. between 12th and 13th, next to the Lincoln Theater. They are open 'til 2am Mon. thru Thurs., Fridays and Saturdays 'til 4am and they close at 11pm on Sunday. If you simply must call, they are at (202) 667-0909. Click here for a look at Ben's menu. (B., L., D., Late Nite). Price range: Inexpensive -.