Ben’s is a DC institution. The main stock in trade is half-smokes, DC’s meatier, smokier version of the hot dog, usually slathered with mustard, onions and the namesake chili. For 60-plus years presidents, rock stars and Supreme Court justices have come to indulge in the humble diner, but despite the hype, Ben's remains a true neighborhood establishment. Cash only.
To place your order, join the locals clustered at the counter gabbing over sweet iced tea. Ben and Virginia Ali opened the Chili Bowl in 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 St Metro stop. Ben died in 2009; his sons now run the business, which includes outlets on H St NE and at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Arlington, FedEx Field and Nationals Park.