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Ben's Chili Bowl

Ben's Chili Bowl

Hot Dog Joint, Burger Joint, and Diner$$$$
U-Street, Washington
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8.3/10
1,325
ratings
  • Stars
  • Stars
    The folks at Travel + Leisure and Michelin Travel & Lifestyle like this place. Would you agree?
    • Travel + Leisure
    • Michelin Travel & Lifestyle
  • Tips
    Amy G.
    "Grab a chili half smoke with everything and some chili cheese fries!"(21 Tips)
    GourmetLive
    "... Cosby, and now, Obama, who ordered what every guide book would..."(16 Tips)
    Scoutmob
    "Bill Cosby is the only person who eats free at Ben's Chili Bowl."(11 Tips)
    Henrique A.
    "Try the Bens Original Half Smoked Chili Dog - Mixed beef and pork"(30 Tips)
Tips and Reviews icon374 Tips and reviews
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  • chili half smoke
  • obama
  • good for a late night
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  • Jérôme T.heart icon on user image
    Jérôme TomasiniFebruary 9, 2016
    You can't go wrong with the Chili Half-Smoke hotdog. Add up more calories with the Chili French fries. The vanilla thick milkshake will sweeten the chili burn.
    Upvoted 2 weeks ago
  • Ken P.heart icon on user image
    Ken Pierre IIAugust 7, 2014
    Great landmark in DC! The chili dog is amazing!! This is a great location to get a taste of what makes Washington DC! The line is long but it goes incredibly fast!
    Upvoted Feb 22
  • Paddyheart icon on user image
    PaddyJanuary 2, 2015
    From what I hear this place is a DC staple. The "famous" half-smoke was delicious. The chili is more savoury than it is spicy. More like a stew than any chili I've had before but was still excellent.
  • Edheart icon on user image
    EdOctober 29, 2012
    Been here 5+ times
    During the 1968 riots following MLK's murder, Ben's stayed open to feed police and activists alike. It was untouched by violence and is still home to the best chili dog (half smoke) you'll ever have.
  • Lisa
    LisaAugust 26, 2013
    No wrong options here. Don't be shy...have the chili half-smoke (spicy hot dog they R famous 4) with everything. Get a med-drink for free-refills. All fresh, made to order. Will ship nationwide
  • Travel + Leisure
    Travel + LeisureJanuary 4, 2013
    A 60-plus-year-old institution known for its no-frills grub. Our favorite: the Chili Half Smoke, a pork-and-beef smoked sausage on a steamed bun with mustard, onions, and Ben’s signature chili sauce.
  • Mark R.heart icon on user image
    Mark RussellNovember 18, 2017
    Chili Half Smoke combo is the real deal. It really doesn't need the cheese, which seemed like a cheese sauce. There are a few locations, but the original is the best, just for the history.
  • Behrad Eatsheart icon on user image
    Behrad EatsJune 21, 2016
    The Chili Half-smoke is why you come to this DC landmark!
  • KStreet202 D.heart icon on user image
    KStreet202 DC Real-Estate BrokerDecember 22, 2014
    Been here 5+ times
    This place never gets old! The half smokes with all toppings is amazing. Don't want a hotdog the smothered fries ( veggie Chilli or regular) is something to write home about. Seriously
  • Vickie J.heart icon on user image
    Vickie JohnsonJuly 11, 2017
    Great food and atmosphere. The staff was helpful and really nice! I'll definitely be coming back next time I'm here.
  • Kurt H.heart icon on user image
    Kurt HaaMarch 15, 2016
    Why Ben's Chili Bowl? A historical place in DC, great late night meals, spicy chili, friendly staff. My favorite place to have a hot dog in town
  • Gambino G.heart icon on user image
    Gambino GiavagliaMarch 22, 2017
    Famous Ben's chilli bowl,I love it. Have been going here since I was a teenager,now my kids love it💯💪 Always a great outing when we come to Bens...
  • Men's Health Mag
    Men's Health MagAugust 3, 2014
    Call it a hot dog and we’re going to whup you two ways to K Street. A “half smoke” kicks sand in the face of your traditional wiener. It’s beefier, spicier, and a whole lot tastier. Read more
  • Ashley W.
    Ashley WalkerAugust 28, 2020
    If you’re in DC you MUST eat here!!! Half smoke is awesome. But definitely try the Chili Burger Sub.
  • Cara
    CaraSeptember 19, 2014
    A half smoke is obviously classic, but the best conduit for their legendary chili is definitely some fries. Plenty to share and absolutely killer, drunk or sober.
  • Road Unraveledheart icon on user image
    Road UnraveledAugust 18, 2019
    Every trip to Washington, DC should include a visit to Ben’s Chili Bowl. The half-smoke is incredible!
  • Sarah J P.heart icon on user image
    Sarah J ParkerOctober 11, 2017
    Great dogs, great chilli, but not off the scale. More than decent veggie option and unique history make this place a safe bet in DC
  • BET
    BETJanuary 31, 2013
    During the riots, black activists obtained permission to allow Ben's to stay open past curfew. Celebrate Black History by checking out amazing African American contributions: http://bet.us/BHM
  • Naomi O.
    Naomi OyadomariOctober 15, 2012
    Oh man! Great chili! Great burgers and fries. Historical and campy! I made my Ben's Chili Bowl pilgrimage, and I am very satisfied! President Obama is what made me visit this place!
  • Ashley H.heart icon on user image
    Ashley HoweJuly 3, 2015
    Good, cheap food - go for the half smoke for the best hotdog. Their homemade lemonade is also delicious.
  • Joshua D.heart icon on user image
    Joshua DelanoJuly 11, 2013
    One of the top 5 hot dogs of all time, the half smoke. Verybgood breakfast as well. People are nice too...unless Cosby or Barack stop by, they eat for free.
  • National Car Rental
    National Car RentalOctober 7, 2012
    Open late and located in the popular U Street area, this 54-year-old landmark is just minutes away from the National Mall by car or metro. Try the chili grilled cheese!
  • Morgan T.
    Morgan ThomasFebruary 3, 2015
    Only come here if you have never been here before, new to dc or there is no line. This is a great late night spot but don't expect the best chili you've ever had.
  • This Is My South
    This Is My SouthOctober 23, 2013
    Be prepared to wait in line any time of day and bring cash. Go with the chili half smoke dog, Bill Cosby's favorite. Read more
  • Real Living | At Home
    It's almost unfair to say this is a burger place, but they do make one of the best ones in town. But, you MUST smother it with their famous Chili or there is no point to it.
  • Andrew B.heart icon on user image
    Andrew BadenhorstJune 16, 2013
    The best!! You can't visit Washington DC without a visit at Ben's Chili Bowl! I was there during February 2013 with a South African delegation.
  • Morgan C.
    Morgan CorpeAugust 4, 2011
    Delicious! Last time we waited an hour for our meal but it was worth it. People watching, fun atmosphere, great food. They even gave us free water while we were waiting. Bring cash!
  • Michelin Travel & Lifestyle
    Sloppy chili dogs, thick milkshakes & chili cheese fries are universal pleasers at the inexpensive Ben's Chili Bowl. Or try comedian Bill Cosby's favorite, the chili half-smoke. -- Green Guide Editor
  • Eater
    EaterJuly 28, 2011
    An iconic Washington establishment, Ben's Chili Bowl is well-suited for late-night half-smoke cravings. [Eater 38 Member] Read more
  • Ghostly International
    This place is incredibly famous and deserves it's fame. The chili here is, of course, delicious and it's run by a family, so the atmosphere is fun and relaxed. Chili fries are the best.
  • Honey R.heart icon on user image
    Honey RushJuly 11, 2017
    Long wait to order because it's packed!! People were supper friendly. Great music. Nice to see the history of the restaurant and famous visitors
  • Social N.
    Social News NetworkDecember 5, 2013
    The best chili you will ever have ever. The walls are filled with photos and tales of its rich history, and many a famous face have been known to walk in.
  • Laura G A.
    Laura G AdamsSeptember 25, 2011
    The chili cheese fries are my go-to meal here, but the half smokes are pretty good too. Walk all the way back and sit in the back room if you can - the pictures are extraordinary.
  • Catherine W.
    Catherine WongJune 5, 2012
    Chili cheese fries when you have the late night munchies hit the spot. Make sure you share with at least one other because the portion is pretty large. Cash only!
  • Military Discounts Central
    Now this place may not have a military discount, but the food is so cheap, yet so delicious. You must go here and try one of their famous chili dogs. Yummmm!
  • The B.heart icon on user image
    The BigBDecember 17, 2022
    Good Chili, good fries, good vibes. It’s the total work of art that gives this place its meaning. Recommended!
  • Stone C.
    Stone CannizzaroMay 9, 2013
    The half smoke is def the way to go! Fries are big enough to share, or skip the fries and get free potato chips.
  • Tyler M.heart icon on user image
    Tyler MayneMarch 6, 2015
    They will bring you strawberry shortcake if it's your birthday... Just don't attempt to leave before they bring it to you!
  • Evan[Bu]
    Evan[Bu]July 13, 2011
    Be sure to bring Barack Obama with you, he eats for free. Get the Original Chili Half-Smoke, with a side of fries (the works). Bring cash, this place no likey the credit cards.
  • USA TODAY
    USA TODAYAugust 5, 2013
    Get the half smokes, a beef-and-pork sausage that's lightly smoked and served with mustard, onions and, of course, chili. Read more
  • Design*Sponge
    Design*SpongeAugust 3, 2014
    It’s an amazingly simple concept and the food is simply amazing. My favorite is the good ole chili dog. Yum! Read more
  • Zach M.
    Zach MartellJanuary 6, 2012
    Half smoke is where its at.. Chili onions, cheese is extra but a must! Oh and mustard.. A little on the expensive side but still a great place to go
  • Ryan&Karen
    Ryan&KarenOctober 13, 2015
    Not bad at all. Very crowded not a fancy place. Take cash! No credit accepted. Tasty spicy chili but I have had better. $20 for chili cheese fries two chili dogs and tea. Just right portions.
  • Rob B.heart icon on user image
    Rob BJanuary 31, 2013
    Get the half smoke all the way and an order of chili cheese fries all the way. You'll be good to go for a week! I <3 Ben's
  • Andy H.
    Andy HarrisonFebruary 24, 2013
    This place is busy, but the food is great! If you don't want to wait in the long line, try getting a spot at the bar.
  • Ellen S.heart icon on user image
    Ellen S. P.December 24, 2015
    Been here 5+ times
    There's a reason everybody orders the chili cheese half smoke. Also, the vegetarian chili is great if that's your thing.
  • GourmetLive
    GourmetLiveOctober 18, 2010
    Past customers read like the end of an African-American history book: Ellington, Carmichael, Cosby, and now, Obama, who ordered what every guide book would recommend: chili, sweet tea, & cheese fries.
  • Abheart icon on user image
    AbDecember 18, 2014
    Super "famous" at this point, but I'm not sure the folks who run it have noticed. The food's great, unhealthy but delish
  • Laura C.
    Laura CovingtonMay 23, 2012
    if you book ahead, you can have a large party in the back room. makes for an amazing business lunch. who can say no to veggie chili cheese fries?
  • Juan M.heart icon on user image
    Juan MontoyaMay 8, 2015
    Great late night food...gotta get the iconic half smoke, chilli cheese fries, and chilli cheese dog!
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