Two half smokes and chili cheese fries please. I wish I was the only one who wanted to place that order this Saturday afternoon but no such luck. The line at Ben’s Chili Bowl was 30+ deep and unfortunately, I didn’t have that much time to wait. But long lines are the norm for this DC establishment which has served the likes of…well everybody. The short list of past regulars is a who’s who and includes the likes of Nat King Cole, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and Bill Cosby. Speaking of high profile customers, the place seems to have gotten noticeably busier since President Obama’s well-documented cameo last month. Of all the eateries in DC, Ben’s Chili Bowl is the one place you have to visit.
Cost – $
Service – B
The B is for effort and entertaining staff. With tons of people piling in after a night out, you can’t really expect expedient or attentive service. Unless you score a table of seat at the counter, the wait is something you have to deal with.
Food – A
True, I usually eat Ben’s at 2 am when I have had a beer/cocktail or three and I have adjusted my rating accordingly by giving an A instead of an A+.
Decor – C+
For those that have never been, Ben’s decor is like a diner complete with signed celebrity headshots on the wall. The plus is for the photos of cool musicians that have graced U Street over the years.
Feel – A
Every trip to Ben’s feels like you are visiting a place with a lot of history (and not because the décor hasn’t changed since it opened in 1958). The patrons range from yuppies to foreign tourists to …well like I said, everybody. Hey, what’s not to like about Ben’s Chili Bowl.
Ben’s Chili Bowl is located at 1213 U Street NW. They can be reached at (202) 667-0909.
What’s the Buzz:
January 19, 2009 – The Buzz at Ben’s Chili Bowl (The New York TImes) – Ben’s Chili Bowl was already a pretty lucrative operation, but it seems fair to say President-elect Barack Obama’s visit a few Saturdays ago — as well as this week’s festivities — are good for business. At lunchtime today, the line to get into the Washington landmark filed down U Street before snaking up a side street. And, according to employees at other U Street establishments, customers have been lining up in the cold for several days now. Full Article…