Ben’s Chili Bowl

restaurants / American

Ben’s Chili Bowl information

Washington, DC , USA
1213 U St
Getting there
Metro: U St
More information
mains $5-10
Opening hours
6am-2am Mon-Thu, 6am-4am Fri, 7am-4am Sat, 11am-midnight Sun
Something wrong?
Submit a correction

Ben’s is to DC dining what the White House and Capitol are to sightseeing: a must-visit. To take that analogy a little further, while the White House and Capitol are the most recognizably important symbols of DC as capital, Ben’s holds the same status as regards DC, the place where people live. Opened and operated by Ben and Virginia Ali and family (Ben died in 2009; the alley adjacent is named in his honor), the diner-style Bowl has been around since 1958. It’s one of the only businesses on U St to have survived the 1968 riots and the disruption that accompanied construction of the U Street Metro stop. The main stock in trade are half-smokes, DC’s meatier, smokier version of the hot dog, usually slathered in mustard and the namesake chili. Until recently, Bill Cosby was the only person who ate here for free, but Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia get the nod too – though apparently, not their presidential dad. That’s a short list, as a lot of famous faces have passed through these doors, from Bono to both Bushes. Cash only.