A few weeks ago, I took a short overnight trip with my family to Washington, DC. As always, I was putting together a food itinerary. This was family permitting, of course, as there’s no way everyone would have agreed to all the places I wanted to eat at. One of the places that ended up on the itinerary was Ben’s Chili Bowl. My worry was that it would be a tourist trap that would fall short of it’s hype, like Pat’s & Geno’s for cheesesteaks here in Philly. I could name a lot of other places in Philly that serve a better steak, but that’s a discussion for another time.
The menu wasn’t very large, as it had several hot dogs and burgers topped with their famous chili; they even had vegetarian options. I went for the Chili Half-Smoke, which was said to be Bill Cosby’s favorite menu option. The chili half-smoke, which is served on a steamed bun, consisted of a grilled pork & beef dog topped with mustard, onions, and spicy chili. My father and brother both got the chili burger which consisted of a 1/4 lb. beef patty and topped with lettuce, tomato, cheese, mayo, and chili.
I was able to try a bit of everything. The chili half-smoke was really good. I’ve never been a fan of mixed meat dogs so I was a little skeptical when I first ordered. This was easily the best mixed meat dog I’ve had. It was grilled to the point that it had a pleasant, slightly charred outside and just tasted so damn good.
Tourist trap? Sure, I can see that. The chili half-smoke cost me $5.70, but it was delicious though so I can justify making the trip out to Ben’s during a visit to DC. It did not fall short of it’s hype.
Ben’s Chili Bowl
1213 U St. NW
Washington, DC 20009