Ben’s Chili Bowl is a landmark restaurant in Washington, D.C., located at 1213 U Street, next to Lincoln Theatre, in the U Street Corridor of northwest D.C. It is known locally for its chili dogs, half-smokes, and milkshakes, and has been an integral part of the neighborhood’s history since its founding in 1958
You can’t miss Ben’s Chili Bowl. The restaurant’s bright red and yellow facade on the U Street Corridor proudly broadcasts itself as a Washington landmark. The institution is best known for its chili dogs and half-smokes—half-beef, half-pork smoked sausage smothered in chili—and has presided over U Street since it opened in 1958.
Much has changed in 60 years: U Street has become a hipster hotspot and Ben’s has expanded to five other locations, including one inside Washington Reagan National Airport and another at Nationals Park. Former President Obama has been known to dine at Ben’s; his likeness graces a mural on the side of the building. Prepare yourself for an animated, if not downright rowdy, crowd. By day, the restaurant is a popular tourist destination—everyone is here to try a half-smoke—and by night it’s a perfect late-night spot to recover from an evening at one of U Street’s many bars.