At Ben’s Chili Bowl Only Barack Obama and Bill Cosby Eat Free

IMG_0994.jpg Ben’s Chili Bowl, in Washington DC, is famous for having a sign that used to read, “Only Bill Cosby Eats for Free”. That changed recently to include the Obama Family too. We recently ate at Ben’s Chili Bowl in DC. It was just after the November ’08 election, and sure enough the sign was there. We went there late on a Friday night, and the pics in the gallery below are the ones we took.

I f you’ve ever been in South Philly, and experienced the whole Pat’s / Geno’s cheesesteak phenomenom, you’ve got a good idea of what Ben’s is like on weekend nights.

This was just as much an experience as it was a dining out event. What a great experience as well as delicious food! Ben’s Chili Bowl is an historic place – entering their 51st year. Located on “U” Street in Northwest DC, it was the lone survivor in it’s neighborhood to make it through the riots of the 1960’s, and survived major construction at it’s steps of the DC Metro.

It’s a favorite haunt of Bill Cosby, whom is rumored to always get some food from Ben’s whenever he’s in the area. Whether in person, or by courier, Cosby has to have Ben’s. As I wrote this, just 1 day after the inauguration of Obama, Ben’s website was down due to so much traffic. They have a great little site with historic pics, time-lines, history etc. [note: site is back up and running] The most popular item there is the “half smoke” sausage. Meaning, it’s made of half beef and half pork. Check out the rest of the pics in the gallery below to see them grilled in the front window of the shop. If you’ve ever been in South Philly, and experienced the whole Pat’s / Geno’s cheesesteak phenomenom, you’ve got a good idea of what Ben’s is like on weekend nights. But when all is said and done, the chili half-smoke is like a “kicked-up” chili dog from your favorite dog palace. I’m still trying to figure out the best way to display a gallery of pics. Enjoy! [nggallery id=2]

Ben’s Chili Bowl

1213 U St NW Washington DC 20009

(202) 667-0909

About Brian Meagher

I'm your host here.
I eat hot sauce. I cook BBQ. I write about both.
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  1. Buddah says

    My first experience with Ben’s Chili Bowl was at opening day at the Nats new stadium last year. We got tickets to the exhibition game the day before and the lines to Ben’s Chili Bowl were outrageous. It was so bad, that the next day for opening day that had roped off the area to better control the flow of customers.

    My friend Paul told me about the popular chili place, but I had never heard of it before. I got the half smoke with chili, but I have had so much better it was average at best for me. I guess people don’t know a good chili when they taste one nor a good smoked sausage as well. The next game I went to Hard Times Cafe, got the chili nachos and was a very happy camper for the better choice. I know for a fact that my chili is better than Ben’s Chili Bowl. Enuff said.

    Nice piece Brian.

  2. @Buddah – Agreed… it’s not the best chili in the world. But it’s not bad. Kind of reminds me of a darker spicier version of the 7-11 machine chili. 🙂
    But the half-smoke sausage is pretty damn good!

    Going to Ben’s is more fun than it is a good meal. But after midnight, everything is good!

  3. Buddah says

    I probably would have more fun at a hot dog stand, I hate lines. We can always meet for a Nats game and do a side by side comparison Hard Times Chili vs Ben’s.

  4. parker394 says

    Man that chili dog and fries look good! Oh so hungry…lol