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How would you rate Ben's Chili Bowl?
I learned about this place watching Andrew Zimmern doing his show here in DC.
Regardless of all the famous people who have given this place high praise, including President Obama, I walked out of there totally disappointed.
There is absolutely nothing in that establishment that deserves more than one or two stars. Average hot dogs, average milk shakes, average fries and cheese, but overall, and most importantly, a below average chili.
Their chili, supposed to be the core of their business, is absolutely flavorless. It tastes just like a bowl of beans plus ground meat plus salt. Now I'm not a great chef, but I do cook, and I know that salt is supposed to enhance flavors, not substitute them. But in this chili sauce there is nothing to be enhanced, at all. It's just salty, a little spice and that's it.
Their prices? We spent $63 on 2 hot dogs, one chili fry, 2 french fries, one chili bowl, 2 sodas, one "gourmet" burger (really?, was that a gourmet burger?) and 3 shakes for a family of 5. I would have spent half of that at any Wendy's.
Cash only, parking is a mess, the restrooms... my God.
My family shares my opinion and disappointment. It's really, and I mean it, really hard to find quality fast food in the Metro area.
It's hard to believe but if you want a nice fast food meal you will have to travel 2 hours and have a cheese steak at Pat's or Geno's in Philly.
Other than that... not in DC.
The only reason I'm giving it 3 stars (changed my rating to 2 stars. It is just REALLY not even worth the drive. Stay for the bars if anything) because of its atmosphere. Mind you, this is only great as a tourist STOP, not eatery. BCB is supposed to specialize in chili and one would think that after 50+ years you would taste some chili that would "knock your socks off". The only real reason this place is on the map is due to its visit of historic figures and celebrities. If you think you're coming in here for a great x5hili experience, let me save your taste buds from the disappointment.
They serve some "beef" chili and "vegetarian" chili. I put it in quotations because I strongly believe they got my order wrong. I ordered the veggie chili and it was disappointing. Not only do I believe that they gave me their "chili con carne" but I also suspect this is prepackaged chili. It does not taste fresh and it looks watered down. It has no spices whatsoever. I got chili fries. The fries were mediocre with watery chili on top. I tried to save my experience by adding salt. Then I proceeded to add pepper in effort to try and make my money worthwhile. After lots of salt, pepper, and ketchup - yes, ketchup I had to add ketchup to make it even taste remotely better- I guess one can say it was "ok". Definitely won't recommend or come by here at all. There's a fast food place in Maryland and DC called Checkers or Rallys, they definitely have better chili cheese fries for a better price. You taste no cumin, paprika, cayenne. A disgrace to chili.
Moving on to the "beef" chili or brown goop they put on the hotdogs and regular chili cheese fries. I can vouch and say that 7-11 has better chili than Ben's. It was another flavorless goop.
Please, don't believe the hype. Save your money and go elsewhere. The wait isn't worth it and the atmosphere alone isn't worth it either. If you must really get ANYTHING from this place, just go with either of the two items requested most: half smokes or chili cheese fries. To share. It's not even worth individual portions.
Half smoke and chili cheese fries are the way to go here. They're good but not the best. I think Tommy's in California makes better chili everything. This is a popular D.C. landmark mostly because President Obama and Bill Cosby have both eaten here. When you're craving chili dogs and fries late at night, this place can hit the spot but it's overhyped and overpriced. This place can be super crowded since it's open till 2am Monday-Thursday and 4am Friday-Saturday and it's right along U Street.
Few restaurants in DC live up to the hype (Im talking to you, Jose Andreas), but Ben's Chili Bowl started something amazing back in the 1950s and they haven't changed much at all. When the location at Reagan Airport opens, I will get there an extra 30 minutes before just to get a half smoke smothered in chili-cheese goodness. The original U Street location is tiny and always packed, so be prepared to carry out, and eat while walking down the street. The arent bashful about toppings, so be prepared to get a little messy. As that U street corridor gets trendy and new bars and restaurants come and go, Ben's is here to stay.
Cool late night spot to grab a bite, particularly after bar-hopping. Long lines and cash only payments are annoying plus the chili is waaay over-hyped. Overall, a good spot to grab a bite late night. Will come again and will recommend..
So here's the thing. You're going to get a lot of uppity hipsters telling you to skip this "touristy" "overhyped" DC icon. That the food isn't actually that great, that it's too crowded, and not worth your time. Those people don't know what they're talking about. If you're in DC you should go here. Not necessarily for the food because yeah, it's just a chili dog. But the real value of this place is it's history, it's steadfastness through some of DC's very worst hours, days, and years. Come here for the Ali family who fed people in a part of the city that was charred and abandoned; that gave people food, jobs, a place to meet, and hope when none of those things were plentiful on U St, or in the city as a whole. Would I avoid the vegetarian chili - yeah. Would I go here to soak in the atmosphere and appreciate the people that have held the neighborhood together for decades - absolutely, very first thing.
To me this is a classic Washington, DC experience. The atmosphere is great (with cool music playing and wonderful smells) and the half-smokes are legendary.
I always get the chili cheese half smokes (with a side of chili cheese fries) but a lot of my friends have told me that their breakfast is great as well.
They're open super late so if you're having a night out and you're in the neighborhood then finishing your evening at Ben's is a great way to cap off a fun night.
A terrific DC classic. Get a whole or half smoke, and cover it with chili and cheese. Chili cheese fries are an instant obsession. There's always a line around the corner of his hotspot - and don't miss the mini version at Nationals stadium!
We just returned from DC and had the best experience at Ben's Chili Bowl. It was so good that, 1 week later, I placed an order for my husband's birthday. I paid for 2 day shipping which doubled my cost. I'm waiting today ALL DAY to receive shipment. Nothing arrives. I call and am told "something got messed up and it will be shipped over-night to arrive tomorrow." That seems an easy fix, right?
We're going camping tomorrow morning! No one will be here to receive shipment tomorrow! AND I planned to take my order with me to give to my husband at his birthday dinner! The dinner is planned around this shipment. Now I must alter my plans at the last minute and pretend everything's fine so my husband won't be disappointed. Thanks Ben's Chili Bowl.
Food is terrific
Staff is terrific
Shipping department needs improvement
Service was friendly and quick. The food was very tasty. The chili is delicious and spicy. We try to frequent every time we visit DC.
MUST MUST MUST VISIT!
You can't go to DC and not stop here for a half smoke or a turkey burger!
Super nice folks and great food as well as an important historical landmark!
I know for me, I am picky about my Chilli. No one made it better than my mom but this place comes VERY VERY close. Amazing chilli SO yummy! Hands down the best in DC.
A must hit if your visiting the DC area! Iconic food, historic decor and fantastic staff!
Plus it's real cheap!
Better to look from the outside and find a good restaurant than to go in and eat. I have lived in DC all my life and this is garbarge. Once a silent movie theater (you have to sit in the back of the store to see this) there is no other reason to visit. Boxed deserts, grade D beef in the grease chili and an ally called, appropriately, Ben's Ally. I never thought of it before, but Ben's Ally is the perfect place to purge after a meal in this dump.
Some places don't need a review because you already know of their legend. Chili with a kick that goes great on a dog. If you miss the original location catch them at DCA on your way back home. You'll be happy you skipped the fast food burger.
The food was good but the atmosphere was great. This is not supposed to be a 5 star restaurant. If you are looking for something more than a glorified hot dog cart then you will be disappointed. Not that the place was dirty (it was very clean by the way) or unsavory but it is very congested and busy. We were able to find a seat in the back (under the picture of Chris Rock) and although I enjoyed my meal my girlfriend didn't but it was more her fault because she's not a fan of spicy chili.
The food is a little above standard in certain areas and the chili itself does have a unique flavor with the bit of spice and the selection of meats were also good. I do have to say that the Half Smoke is delicious and I wish that I got a second one.
Next time I'm in DC I will be back.
How can you not fall for the nostalgia of this dinner. It looks like a place out a 1950's movie. The chili cheese dogs will make mess of your hands and blouse but heaven to eat. If you go during peak hours you will mostly be eating your hot dogs on the street so go during off hours and maybe you will lucky. I know eating a chili dog puts most people off because they dont want chili on their clothes but it is worth it.
This place is amazing!!! I love the chili cheese fries and the chili burger. The milkshakes are delicious. You can mix two flavors for your milkshake. 😁😊☺
Best food ever were from Columbia md and drive all the way to Bens for their half smoke. We love you bens!! If I could give you a 10 star I would!!
Ben's makes a solid hotdog. Both all-beef and half-smoke were tasty. Chili is overrated and better skipped. Vanilla milkshakes are surprisingly out of this world.
All the people at my work get mad when I say this place is only OK for a hot dog joint and I know that "half-smokes" are different but I still prefer Pink's in LA or Costco when I want a good dog. It was good experiencing this "institution" of DC once, but because of the line, price, and hard to find seating all for a chili dog I don't plan on becoming a regular or care about exploring the different options they have on their menu.
I went when the line was pretty short before the rush hour started, but there were tourist groups everywhere so it was still hard to find a seat. I ordered the famous half-smoke, and it came with a small side of chips. Maybe it was the best dog in DC, but it wasn't anything spectacular compared to hot dogs I've eaten in my life. The chili was good, but it wasn't spicy at all and I could barely taste any beef bits. Also, the half-smoke was pretty small for 6 bucks. This place is definitely not what it is hyped up to be, but I do feel more like part of the city after experiencing this place haha
I understand that this is a neighborhood institution and that is wonderful! The service was great and the people super friendly. The chili dog was good and the meat in the half-smoke very hearty! But all in all, it's a chili dog. It's also a bit disappointing to see they still openly support Bill Cosby in light of all that's gone up in the press lately. They have a mural of the President right next to Cosby...really?!
Let me just say that those of you who gig a restaurant becauseof their clientele are simply a-holes. You got a beef with Cosby, fine but don't slam an area icon, especially when you say you I you loved the food. There are those of us who lose our appetite seeing the picture of O'Bamy on the side of the building, but we appreciate good chili and red hots in spite of his lousy politics. Don't like Cosby? Don't see his show. Don't like the food? Fair enough but don't drop the ratings over crap politics.
Whish I had a chance to eat my hot dog I spent so much money on. But the staff was nice and setting us very retro 1950s. It is cash only but they have a ATM inside. Nice local spot
This became my favorite place to get french toast on the east coast! Thanks to the owner and BMe I will always make this a must stop and eat every time I visit DC.
If you've never tasted a half smoke, consider yourself lucky. Why? Because then you'll be satisfied with the normal, everyday hot dogs that people outside of Washington, DC are subjected to.
Granted, there are some decent ones, but none like the quarter pound of half pork and smoked beef sausage topped with mustard, onions and the infamous spicy chili sauce over a steamed bun. If that sentence didn't make you drool, then congratulations, you are a robot.
The half smoke is meatier than a normal hot dog and tastier than a normal polish dog. The spicy kick juices things up to blend everything together perfectly.
$5.50 buys a half smoke with chili and a side of chips. Not the cheapest or healthiest option, but your taste buds will give you a standing ovation upon consumption.
Ben's Chili Bowl is located across the street from the U Street stop on the Metro Green Line. Within walking distance for tourists visiting the White House, or a quick bus/metro ride away. No excuses. Go visit now!
I am not going to lie. I love DC and I know Ben's Chili Bowl is a DC classic, but I really firmly believe it's over rated. The food is terrible and the environment is not that great either. The food may be good at 2AM when you are so tired, but you'll be reminded of how bad it is when it puts you on the toilet for hours. Save yourself some trouble and go to Ben's Next Door. Much better than Ben's Chili Bowl on every level.
I love this place!! If you are a DC college grad who has returned to your home state, you can order your half smokes & chili sauce online & have it delivered to your door! They have the best service & their food is consistently great! #neighborhoodgem
Grab yourself a spicy hotdog.Fast service with comfortable seating.I can't wait to try out some more of your hotdogs
I truly don't understand why this place is so popular besides it's history and Obama visiting it. The food is overpriced and does not taste good at all. I usually get the vegetarian chilli cheese fries. I usually leave feeling gross with heartburn, which would've been worth it if it tasted good.
I wanted to spend my iconic birthday in my hometown at an iconic restaurant. The food brought back memories from childhood. I recommend that anyone coming to DC to stop at Ben's Chili Bowl.
I love hotdogs, but not these. I truly do not understand what folks like about these hotdogs. The chili taste exactly the way it looks, like seasoned mud. Nothing but slop in my opinion. I feel that folks are vibing on their reviews off the hype behind the history of the place. GROSS, YUCK. I even visited the H Street location just incase my first visit was an off/bad day for them, but it was the same old mess.
Authentic and cool atmosphere.
Really weird and confusing menu though, for Europeans at least, and a little expensive.
Love this place. I had the jumbo turkey chili dog. So good. I don't usually do chili, I like a good coleslaw on my hot dog but the vegan chili was amazing. And yes I did try their coleslaw and it was delicious as well. Going again in a few days
Food was great service was subpar. We had a large
Group and made reservations. They were understaffed for our group. Very disappointed after hearing so much about it.
Anyone from Washington DC needs to go here at least once. Been in business since 1958 Best Chili Dogs in town. The place is old, but for me that was the best part, people working there were super nice and you can tell they loved what they did.
The food was okay, good experience for those who want tasty food and a bit of a history lesson. however keep an eye out for the Cashier; they inflate price based on traffic. I payed $40 for wait normal cost $15 on a weekday.
Food was great! Best Hot dog Ive ever had.......so far. Portions were a good size and the prices were average. Got a "Half Smoke loaded upand an order of chili cheese fries for $12
Long lines but moves decently fast. Came here for a late night bite after going to the bars because it's been a long staple of the neighborhood and because i love me some chili. Ordered the chili dog with no onions (though it still came with chili), fries and a drink. Ordered the more expensive hotdog and it was oh so good. The only thing I wish i did is get something with more chili. I'm assuming they make their own chili, but it also did taste like chili that you get at a ballpark but better.
I've been here twice and was recommended the half smoke with all the toppings - absolutely delicious! Had their homemade lemonade which was great. Will definitely come back next time I'm in DC. Accepts credit/debit cards and cash.
I love a good bowl of chili con carne and this place does not disappoint. Love it! It's busy but for a reason. Excellent food!
A seriously a must-have in DC. Everyone knows it, its a tourist stop, but amazing all the same. I had the half smoke and fries. Half smoke had a good, snappy bite without being tough at all. Skin was crispy but not burnt. And the chili is epic. A bit of spice and great flavor. The fries are also some of the top fries I've ever had. I would get the chili cheese version next time. I ate around 745p on a weekday and had no wait.
It's all it's cracked up to be. Old school diner feel, great food and nice staff. I had the half hot and it's as good as advertised. Parking wasn't as bad as I thought, but it was a Sunday. It's a bit pricey, but it was a damn good dog!
Milkshakes and cake are amazing, you just have to know what time to go. The food selections are your everyday American choices with condiments such as Chili.. hence the name.
Great place to visit. Clearly a local institution. The employees were all really great and very polite, friendly, and helpful. The food was good (guilty pleasure food), prices felt decent. Long opening hours. Would happily come back. Worth a visit!
Local institution. Great Chilli Dogs. Get the original with the fries and you will not be disappointed. Only drawback is there is always a line.
The restaurant had the diner look. There was many pictures of celebrities who had been to the diner. They played old songs, which made the ambiance great. The restroom was clean.The workers were polite and respectful. I ordered a turkey burger and cheese fries. The burger was delicious and the fries were basic. I didn't like the fries because it was cut thick and the cheese tasted like canned cold nacho Cheese. A friend of mine ordered a beef burger that wasn't fully cooked. They fixed it for her and gave her free chips on the side. the waiting time felt long but I came with a group of seven. I would say it took about 20-30 mins. The lemon cake was excellent.
Loved it. A honest place with a story to tell (many famous people stopped by, as you can see from the photos on the wall). Don't miss the "half smoke" hot dog. And since it's not going to be a light meal anyway, do indulge in the chilly fries ;)
A DC landmark. I think most go for the experience to say they've been because honestly, ya been to one grease pit ya been to them all. Not much to say. You order at the counter, you gotta be assertive if its busy. Find a chair on the counter or open booth if you're lucky. Its good diner food, thats it.
Good people own and run this place. This is a come-as-you-are casual spot that does have veggie and vegan offerings. Best fries in the District.
A part of DC history! Delicious hot dogs and chili served with amazing personality of staff that have been there for a generation. Popular with the 2am crowd. Street parking. Take the family during the day and evening. Leave late night for the late night crowd.
Excellent service. Delicious food. This place does well to live up to its historical reputation.
Awesome! You gotta check it out. Great service, food and drink
This review is for Ben's Next Door restaurant. Had the Jerk Chicken Pasta. It was amazing! Had this dish in many other places and none of them measure up to Ben's.
The atmosphere is nice. It is a sports lounge atmosphere. We came in around 11:30pm and was seated immediately. Drinks were pretty good too.
I'm a longtime faithful of Ben's Chili Bowl. So it is unfortunate that I couldn't give this other venture 5 stars. The waitress spilled a drink on my cousin. She wasn't very apologetic about it. She didn't attempt to mop up her mess. We had to ask one of her co-workers to take care of this and then she did with a bit of attitude.
Ben's Chili Bowl is an institution in DC. Gotta represent this pillar in the community better. That was the only negative. Please don't let it stop you from supporting this great business! Ben's Chili Bowl and Next Door has great food!
What can I say about this historic landmark other than simply amazing. The Ben's Jumbo Chili dogs and fries are simply to die for. And the atmosphere is trendy and cool. I live going here, every time I'm in DC.
Great service and food. We enjoyed our lunch here. Metro stop is right down the block so easy to get to.
Was here yesterday and the service was good as was my scrambled egg breakfast. I decided to come today. I waited for 10 minutes before anyone addressed me. In fact the staff walked back and forth as if I was invisible. Seemed disorganized behind the counter. One person was walking around with a Starbucks cup. Gloves are not taken off to take payment or run the register. No sign of urgency by the staff. Not very professional.
I had the chili half-smoke. The dog had a bitter after taste and the chili tasted like canned. The bun was cold. Not the taste I expected. I was hungry so I ate it all. The place fills easily. I think I'll try it again but will stick with breakfast.
Although this place usually has a line we love this place. Food is always good and hot. We will continue to go here.
Really nice place, good food. A bit crowded. The hot dogs with home made sauce is pretty good
Poor service. Not worth the price/hype/wait.
I came here on a Tuesday evening and it wasn't busy, plenty of empty seats. It still took 10+ minutes for the waiter to take my order and a ~15 min wait for food. They got my order wrong twice, leaving everything off my burger besides the cheese. It took them over 10 minutes to correct the mistake, which was just throwing on a little bit of lettuce and a tomato slice onto my sandwich (they still forgot the chili). I had to wait another 5 minutes to put chili on a lukewarm burger. I can get better $7.50 burgers elsewhere with much better & faster service.
A true DC institution! Go for the experience, but understand what you're in for: a long line and less than mind-blowing food. BUT, totally worth going, especially for a late-night chilly dog to cap off a night out on U Street.
First off, there is a bouncer. No this isn't a lounge, this is a hole in the wall Chili Spot.
I'm definitely one of those people that lived in a city for a couple years and never tried this place. So I came back for a visit, I said sure, why not let's go for the "experience."
The experience is exactly what you're going to get. Waiting in this long line will definitely make you hungry, if you weren't hungry before. The line loops around on the inside as well, so if you just made it inside the door you still have a ways to go.
Just because Obama likes it, doesn't mean I will. At the end of the day it was just okay. It wasn't the best chili I ever had and I personally love good food, not just the experience.
I also got a milkshake which again wasn't that great. I have had better cyclone milkshakes at Mcdonalds...and I don't even eat fast food like that.
Maybe my expectations were too high with Obama's stamp of approval. I mean this is a late night spot for a lot of people just finishing up with clubs/bars/lounges. They aren't looking for the best chili ever, they just need FOOD.
If you are sober my advice is don't go, but because it has so much hype, I'm sure you will.
Have you taken a picture with the bear here?
I've been here twice, but I don't think I'll be back.
There is a lot of history in this restaurant. It's also very busy and many tourists come here bc its so well known from Man v Food and Presidents and celebs visiting this place.
The food here was not worth the hype.
Most cities, neighborhoods have a joint "famous" for something. Harry's Famous Rute 66 Burgers, Tammy Ann's Famous Hot Wings etc. etc. etc.
And when you try their "Famous" something you get a little disappointed every time right?
This place is exactly like that.
The "famous" chili ain't bad but just as good a gazillion other places that doesn't claim to be "famous" and the "homemade" coleslaw is everything but made in that kitchen.
Your money will be better spend elsewhere.
As usual Bens Chili Half Smoke is delicious & the fries compliment our meal. I enjoyed it though it has been a while it brings pleasant memories back when I lived in the city. The service wasn't up to par. I waited at the table for 15 minutes & no one came to take our order. So I went up to the counter & placed all of our orders. Everyone was full & very 😌 satisfied. Ben's legacy continues to live on.
I had the best Original Chili Half-Smoke dogs yesterday 🌭🌭🌭 It was not just good, it was Amazing!!! I had the large meal that including a large French fries 🍟 and a large drink. The service is awesome and the atmosphere is amazing. If I didn't had a large apple pie for breakfast. I would easily had eaten five Original Chili Half-Smoke dogs + a large meal lol
Service was great, although they had a large bus crowd of visitors for lunch, they were working in sync to get folks out. I was very happy and please with the three chili dogs I ordered. Thanks U Street Crew, job well done.
I've been there twice. The first time I let the terrible service go, but it happened the second time two. I waited 10 minutes or longer while the waitstaff walked back and forth as if I wasn't there.
Another couple came in and sat down and they waited as well. Then a lady finally came over to take their order and only took mines because the lady told them I was sitting there first. The food was amazing. It's unfortunate because I won't be going back there ever again. Service is bar one. And because it happened to me twice, I know I wasn't tripping.
This was recommended to us by our Virgin Holidays representative, and it didn't disappoint ! Had wonderful Half Smoke chili dog meal and despite other reviews I thought price was excellent - just over $20 for the three meals we had. (They don't take cards) Brilliant to see the photo's covering their walls of the famous folk who have eaten there - including Barack Obama !
This place is amazing. A lot of food for the money. I had the spicy half smoke combo. You can not go wrong with their chili! I even got to see Virginia, who is still running things and looking amazing at 84 years young! Do yourself a favor and get a milkshake after your meal. Also, check out the mural on the side of the building. It's phenomenal!
Fabulous place to dine in, if you Love Chilly. There's a great selection to choose from. This place is busy all day long. Family owned and operated. A place where many Famous people eat at or has eaten. Such an our always and forever First Family....Barack and Michelle Obama. Many gone but not forgotten musicians and movie stars. Google it and you shall find a lot of information.
I will go again.👍👍👍
This place was recommended by a couple of locals and some people from back home told us to try before we returned, so we gave it a try. So we ordered a Spicy Half-Smoke & some Chili cheese fries. The half-smoke was pretty good nice and juicy and it was good with the Chili but a tad small. Would we return if when we come back to DC...that's would probably be a yes.
Oh m geeeee. This place is phenomenal! A super amazing hole in the wall restaurant with delicious chili dogs. The chili was seasoned to perfection and was a bit spicy. The dogs (I believe brats) were cooked so that they had a nice char and smokey flavor. Also plenty of neat photos around of the celebrities who have visited. Highly recommend to anyone wanting a quick bite!
The staff is friendly. The lines are long. They do move relatively quickly. But you really need to know what you're going to order when you get to the front. . Prices where a bit higher than I expected. Seating is kind of limited but because of the history and nostalgia that makes it an experience .
It's part of the fabric of DC and a must visit at least once place. The walls at U Street are filled with pictures of famous people who have eaten here. It is also has its own historian.
The food is more than reasonably priced. That being said, the food was okay but not outstanding. I got the rice bowl; my husband got the chili burger and my daughter got a turkey burger. All were competently done, but nothing particularly special. I enjoyed eating here, but it was a lot of effort to get here from the distant suburbs of Virginia, so I won't be repeating the trip anytime soon.
Ever since coming up to DC, I have been told about Ben's and how fantastic it is. It is interesting as there is a similar place in Atlanta called the Varsity in terms of the menu. I had the half smoked combo here and it by far exceeds the Varsity, definitely was worth the stop in.
Funk music played as we walked in. Patrons occupied the counter. That, in conjunction with the dinner style tables and white concrete block walls decorated with iconic figures who have walked through the doors of Ben's Chili bowl, evoked one word to mind:
That is the best way to describe this place.
But you know what else is historic? The Chili. You'll never forget it. I've taken up enough of your time already. So let's leave it at this: Do yourself a favor and get yourself and anyone you love a bowl of chili from Ben's.
The back room beyond the historic counter seating and booths in the front of the restaurant, is a great place to meet. I attended a remote live radio taping of a social justice program. A great way to enjoy breakfast or brunch while feeding the body and the mind at the same time. I missed the food on this trip, because I was late. However, the food must be good, for the line was about four people long and the aroms of hot dogs and burgers was inviting.
I been living in the DMV all my life. The main reason I never ate here because I didn’t want to feel like a tourist or a transplant. To the review, I ate here for Breakfast and their food is so good that I’m definitely coming back if I’m working mornings. They have the Best Hotcakes. They taste like they are homemade.
I love this place an I actually got a chance to meet the famous Mrs Ben.. Such a Beautiful soul inside an out.. The food is awesome an the music is a plus too... A must try!
Great place to visit anytime of the day. Guest really enjoy visiting this place. Best veggie chili in the District. Make sure to look at the artwork outside of the U St building.
A few friends of mine and I went to Ben's to try it out. We all got beef hot dogs, turkey hot dogs, and chili fries and regular fries. The beef hot dog was great! But the chili killed the experience for me. It tasted off. It had a kick but the chili was slimy and did not have good flavor. So I was disappointed especially since this place has chili in the name. Other than that, the food was aight
Ben's Chili Bowl is an absolutely essential food stop in Washington. Friendly staff, great menu, reasonable prices, and fantastic food (order a chili half-smoke with fries to start). The line can sometimes stretch out the door, but Ben's has earned that.
A famous and iconic restaurant loaded with a unique history.The food was delicious! The half smoke my favorite. We absolutely loved the fun hardworking staff. The atmosphere was busy but relaxed and fun!
Famous local restaurant in DC where celebrities visit all the time due to its history and relevance to the community. Other than their famous dogs and fries with chili, they have amazing salad options and veggie burgers. This place is always busy, mainly during prime hours, so expect a few minutes to be seated.
After all the hype about going there, I was greatly disappointed in this institution. The atmosphere and the place itself was great--our food was placed on the table and it all went downhill from there. The fries were good and so was the cheese, but the chili has crunchy bits in it and tasted old. The burgers were good, but bright pink in the middle as undercooked, risking food poisoning or salmonella. We ordered extra fries and never received them. We asked once of they were in the way and were replied to only with an eye roll. The place was cool, it was awesome to know all the celebrities that have visited, and the decor sets a mood, the whole place has its own great atmosphere...but the food itself was a deal breaker on liking this resturaunt 😖
Nice chili with a little kick. The beef dog was tasty. The chili cheese fries were delicious. The atmosphere is nostalgic and Ben's must be on your list of places if you are anywhere near DC. The murals on the side of the building are classic.
Love this place. They have the best chilli dogs in the area. They remind me of home, I have no problem driving, actually drive to Greenbelt Metro and take the train in, from Baltimore. Staff is also awesome.
Historic old school style African American diner which actually survived (and thrives) the U Street dig. Looks low-key, but quite a famous institution. Mrs. Virginia Ali (a venerable institution herself), pops by to say hi to diners everyday. Apparently President-elect Obama's first dining stop in DC.
Check put mural on exterior wall commemorating some famous Washingtonians. And wear napkin around your neck or the delicious chili will drip on your shirt (I speak from experience) when you dig into the classic half smoke hotdog. Great food and experience
Good food. Chili dogs and chili cheese fries were great. Surprisingly it was the dog and not chili that made the spicier option spicy. Only downside was related to cleanliness but the place was quite crowded so I suppose that is expected.
Was in D.C. from California and Googled food famous in Washington DC and first on the list was Ben's Chili Bowl. My husband said chili sounded great and the rest of the menu sounded good also. He absolutely loved the bowl of chili and my chili burger was outstanding. We met the lovely Virginia, the original owner and she was a sweet lady. Lots of old stories. The atmosphere was busy and everyone seemed to be enjoying the food and place as well. Definitely glad we stopped there to eat. I definitely recommend that anyone who loves burgers, big hot dogs, the perfect french fries and out of this world chili, visit Ben''s Chili Bowl if in DC.
Yummm! Super thick and creamy shakes. Chili cheese everything! You can get a turkey dog vs beef and vegetarian (I believe, could be vegan) chili. There's a snap to the dog, the bun is nice and warm. The fries come in a container, but you dump them in the tray and spread it around to coat them evenly. The chili is a bit spicy!!! I'd definitely recommend as a must try if you're in the area.
Outstanding. Met Mrs. She came out to meet the customers. She is a spry 80yo. Staff is fantastic. One came in to eat on his day off. Saw a busload had just come in. And jumped right in to help serve the crowd. That's excellent team spirit.
Amazing- half smoke is just fantastic. Chilly cheese fries are delicious. The chilly is definitely outstanding. Staff is very polite and professional. Thumbs up.
Had the BEST conversation with the owner. She was the sweetest woman and had such great stories. Also, left my purse there by accident and went back and the manager had it in his office. So happy and will definitely go back many times.
Go experience Ben's Chili Bowl! You won't regret it! The people are awesome and the food was everything I had hoped for. I had a half-smoke, chili cheese fries, and a banana milkshake. To top it all off, Mrs Virginia Ali was there. She was sweet as can be. She interacted with the customers and took pictures. I left full and happy. Today was my first visit but it is far from the last.
I was excited to pay this place a visit after it was reccomended by a co-worker. After arriving, the staff seated us at the bar and was very nice and friendly. I ordered the half smoke combo as it had really good reviews. The establishment had a nice vibe and I really enjoyed reading the history behind it; however, I wasn’t too impressed with the food. In my opinion, the chili was basic. I couldn’t tell the difference between the chili I purchased at the restaurant and the canned chili that I purchase from the store. I did however enjoy the music and lemonade. I would pay another visit, but definitely not a must have.
Came here after going out to the club really late with friends. Heard all about this place as a classic. Ordered Ben's classic chili dog and I really did like it. I thought i wouldn't like as I like but do not love chili. I enjoyed it so much I returned the following night after a few drinks and ordered the same. Would try different menu items if recommended. Service was not that great when ordering in, but when ordering to go it is decent.
Ben's is always the best. A half smoke with chili and chili fries is all you need. Open late and affordable. The parking can be tough in the early part of the day and sometime the late night crowd can be sketchy, but I have always felt safe. This place is a DC institution. BEN'S FOREVER!!!
Take a bus, get on the Metro, walk, crawl, hitchhike... do not miss this historically significant institution of the D.C. (and food!) world. Read up on the history of these amazing people (same owners for 60 years) and then meet Mrs. Ali herself, who stood next to our table for 15 minutes and detailed stories about the ‘60s riots on that very street. Locals were taking pictures with her and she was happy to oblige. Waiter-recommended half-smoke is the staple and take his advice. The hybrid dog was thick and juicy with a distinct, beefy flavor. The chili is hot enough for a tang but not quite as hot as many reviewers say. We went with baked fries but the chili fries must be outstanding as well. Burgers are topped well; meat itself was well done (he didn’t ask) but ordinary. Amazing to see diners of all shapes, sizes, and colors, coming together here. Don’t miss it.
You must have the half-smoke. That is all. You MUST have it. It is a life-altering experience. Seriously and no kidding, this place has been around since 1958, and it has earned its longevity. The food is unique and makes-you-smile good, and the service is wonderful. All the credit in the world goes to Mrs Ali (along with her late husband, the founder) and to her daughter for keeping the place running and running perfectly for so long. This place is a neighborhood gem, and for us, is a must-visit on every trip to DC. Quick thumbnail review of our meal: Half-smoke -- fabulous; Chili Cheese Fries -- a hoot; Chili con Carne -- dead-solid perfect. Just go here whenever you're able and keep these folks in business for another 60 years. Their sweetness and decency and their commitment to the community they serve stand as a beacon of hope. Love these folks and their wonderful food.
This is an amazing place! The food is great, but you don't come here for impressive service or luxury. This is a fast-food place at heart, so don't expect it to be a luxurious, spacious restaurant with top-notch service. That being said, the food is great and I recommend getting one of its two most iconic meals: the Original Half-Smoke or the Chili Bowl. They are amazing meals, and I call the half-smoke "love at first taste". Be warned though, the food is VERY spicy.
This is also a restaurant that is steeped in history: a restaurant started by an immigrant from Trinidad in 1958, one that survived the civil rights riots, one that fed Martin Luther King, Jr., one that survived DC's good and bad times, and one that famously fed Barack Obama during his presidential campaign and Bill Cosby as he was dating his future wife. There is street art on the side of the building, and that's also worth a look. Also, this restaurant is great because it's less than a minute away from the Metro by foot.
I thought this was a restaurant. It was recommended to me by several people, but not explained well. It's a fast food joint with pictures of famous people on the walls. Don't get me wrong; the food was good. But it was fast food.
I might have been more satisfied if the people who recommended had only made less of a big deal about how great this place is. It was overhyped, and I was underwhelmed by the perfectly good fast food.
Not certain how the pricing is high here. For DC it is actually pretty cheap. $8 for a chili half smoke with cheese.
This place is more about the ambiance and history than the food itself. You definitely feel like you have entered a time warp upon entering and sitting down especially at the counter.
Food is average. Nothing exciting or worth writing home about. But it is not bad. The half smoke is a classic but Ben’s has been outdone by multiple newer places. The chili has some heat but it is not spicy hot.
I actually wanted to try something different off the menu so I ordered the the turkey burger and although it took a while to get severed, I was not disappointing. The burger was cooked to order and was perfect; seasoned well and succulent. Fries were nice and crispy. Staff were superb and friendly. Venue can seat a considerable amount of people. The interior walls are decorated with photos of local celebrates include former President Obama. Another DC gem right here.
My wife and I stopped in for lunch on our visit to DC. The half-smoke was delicious, spicy with a good snap. The chili was also very good. We also got a milkshake, which was classic and tasty. The furniture inside is largely original from the '50s, and it feels authentic. The pictures of celebrities were fun to look through, we were treated nicely, and we were even greeted and thanked for visiting by the co-founder while we ate. It was a great experience.
Am here to tell you that Ben's Chili Bowl is EVERY bit as good as the hype would lead you to believe; starting with this original location on 14th & U Streets where I had lived when I first moved into this area some 20 years ago.
I make special trips with my kids to the airport just to get Ben's since I no longer live near this location.
I cannot recommend a place to a higher degree as Ben's sets the bar.
Try it. You will not be disappointed.
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It was pack when i got there so service was slow. I order a Turkey burger and some chili cheese fries. To be honest i expected more from the chili but it was okay. However the turkey burger was good. It was actually seasoned it wasn't dry. That was a good Turkey burger.
I didn't eat there on that day, just wanted to take pics/video of the Muriel on the side of the bldg.... simply beautiful... however, I have eaten there before and I loved the good and the atmosphere 👍🏽👍🏽👌🏽
There is a lot of history here and it's all very interesting. The staff was as friendly as could be and the food was decent. Good chili for a reasonable price. I got a spicy half smoke, fries, and a soda for under $10. When I entered I thought they were cash only because I didn't see the card logos posted anywhere and there was an ATM inside. They do accept cards though.
The original chili and half smoke with fries add cheese was very good. I had lunch with a pleasant stranger who is friends with the owner. It was nice to learn about the history of the restaurant from someone who actually lived it. It made my first visit here more meaningful.
This is amazing restaurant that is steeped in history. Went while visiting DC and I must say that I would recommend all stopping here if passing through! The food is delicious with a decently variety of options and just knowing that so many prominent people have eaten here and show their respect for this place over the years enhanced my experience!
Everyone I spoke to said this place was a must try while in DC so I figured I would give it a shot & I was not disappointed. The staff was very helpful & friendly. The half smoke was so good & the chili was delicious! While I thoroughly enjoyed everything about my experience, I think the best part was learning about the history of this place. Will definitely be visiting again my next trip up!
Great historic place to go to. Great food and great people. I meet the owner and she was amazing and a sweet person. President Obama ate there and I sat where he sat. They have pictures of famous people on the wall who came and ate there. I will go back again. For those who are traveling to Washington DC stop by Ben's chilli bowl.
A small DC favorite that you have to try if you’re in town! Its really cool to walk in and look on the wall to see all of the famous people that have eaten there.
They’re known for the chili (obviously) because it’s so delicious. They have a wide variety of options for people who don’t eat beef or meat. That includes veggie chili and turkey burgers. The portions are kind of small but still very filling.
I went this place just for experience. I was completely satisfied for my visit. Service people are really nice compare to any other food place in USA. I am not sure its worth for food or weather i will go one more time. But for diner experience its well worth. Try here if your in DC
I ordered the Half Smoke with a small bowl of chili. I thought the Half Smoke was pretty good. The sausage is coarsely ground with chili and cheese on top and a hint of smokey flavor. I thought the chili was too salty for me but maybe some people prefer that amount of salt. My main gripe is that it took almost a half hour of waiting in line to order. I didn't think the long wait was worth it but obviously some people did.
Oh this place is so good.
I’ve been at all hours of the day and night. Best time to go is after a night of drinking. Line is always long. Chili is always tasty and worth it. Every time I go they keep rising the prices. But again, worth it! I always order too much.
Sometimes you run into celebrities. That’s cool I guess. 🤷♂️
Love this Historic Restaurant. The food is fresh and I enjoyed the tasty half smoke with chili cheese and onions, the crispy fries, delicious milkshake, and topped it with a homemade coconut cake. I will go back soon. I enjoyed as a child and coming back is a pleasurable memory. The staff is very accommodating.
Chili dogs aren't really my thing, but I enjoyed every bite! Such a fun place to visit, so much to look at and a great menu to choose from. There was no line the day we visited and we got our food quickly!
Product quality is very good, customer service is good, and general vibe is good. Favoite item, Half Smoke; favorite time to visit, between 2 and 4 P.M. (everyone is more relaxed and food is being prepared for the evening). Parking is not bad if you do not mind walking a block or two from a side street parking spot.
Ben’s Chili Bowl is an iconic DC restaurant. The food was respectable, dining area was old school, the our server had a bit of an edge. Overall it worked for what it is. The secret is definitely out now so this place felt less authentic and more touristy. But it is still legendary. Get yourself a half smoke and some cheese fries and try this DC icon!
You have to know what you are going for here. It's a diner. It's a bit greasy. But that's what we came for! I had a half-smoke, split and grilled, with fries. Perfect, perfect fries. So good. Our group also had burgers which were awesome. The condition of the ladies room keeps me from five full stars.
If you're ever in DC craving food, good company and are free of all diet restrictions, you should definitely check this place out. I tried the Half-Smoke (half pork, half beef sausage) and was thoroughly satisfied. Another plus for me is the beautiful murals that you'll find along the walls on the side of the building. 10/10 experience, you should definitely check it out.
Fantastic dogs and chili. The burgers are pretty good too, if you're in the mood. Fries are fresh as can be and the proprietor might even bring your food out to you! (She's a lovely woman)
Definitely see why this place has a reputation for great eats. Evidently even has its own historian on some days!
Had my first visit today. Hot dog with chili and fries, peach soda. There was nothing special about the food, and I was quite disappointed the fries had no seasoning. Please know that when you come here, you are paying for the name only. However, I still gave them five stars because of the customer service I rec'd. Everyone working today was very kind to me and treated me like a valued customer. The workers were happy and eager to assist. I will go back just for the customer service alone.
I loved this place! We ordered the half smoked dog and it was so delicious 😍! The service was fast, and very professional. Clean table, and area. The only downside I experience was they didn't have any cones left for ice cream cones, but I got an amazing shake instead. I highly recommend.
So delicious. When you sit in Ben's Chili Bowl you can feel the history, you can taste the history. And the half smoke?! Perfection. Every bite has a snap as you crunch through the casing. Writing this and I wish I would have gotten a second to go.
We’re visiting DC and saw everywhere we should try this “amazing” half smoke hot dog. Let me tell you I TRULY understand why Americans are all OBESE. This was the nastiest greasiest food I have ever had. We all felt nauseous after eating the food and had to go home. This is not a place for someone with a relatively clean diet. Your stomach can’t handle this much grease.
Delicious chili con carne and American cheese. An easy to understand menu consisting of chili with hot dogs, fries, burgers or in a bowl.
Served in an authentic diner experience.
An excellent place to go for any tourist seeking an American dining experience in a restaurant over 60 years old.
Staff are very friendly and the service was quick.
Ben’s consistently lives up to expectations, the half smoke is good! Only complaint was that the chili cheese fries came with spicy chili and I wasn’t aware, it was much hotter than I was prepared for! Milkshake was great and very thick, and customer service was on point.
Had to try the famous chili bowl and it was great! The thickness was just right and I like how there was just enough spicy to make it right but not burning. The beef was also tasty that's in the chili. I'll be back for the chili dog next. Just wish their prices went so high... $6 for a small chili and $4 for fries seemed a bit steep, but you get what you pay for too I guess.
This is a absolutely amazing place. You need time - It is not comparable to McDonalds or others. Here the whole family works together.
I was so exited to talk to the founder of the place with her age around 80 years she is still in the business and so cute!
If you are in the area: come and visit.
So many pictures on the walls with famous people that where here also like President Obama ....
Food was great! I would have give 5 stars if it weren’t for the waitress messing up our order. She didn’t even write it down when she took our order so we expected she would screw it up and she did. We were mildly irritated but the taste of the food made up for it mostly. Will visit again.
Husband and I visiting DC for the first time. But we knew we had to try Ben's chili bowl. Amazing food we had the famous half smoke & fries. And we met the original owner herself and she was so gracious to take pics with us. A must while your visiting The DC area.
If you're ever in the DC area, you have got to pop into Ben"s Chili Bowl. It honestly doesn't look like much from the street, but once inside, you'll see decades of local history in play. The food is spectacular, as well. Especially the D=Chili Half-Smoke dog. It is simply outstanding. I will be back if ever in DC again.
Apparently world famous. Definitely a local iconic restaurant and favoured by locals and tourists. Open late which is a plus if you're bar hopping around and it's not too far out. Wish there line up/ordering system was a little better organized but it is what it is. The food was great, simple and straight forward good classics.
Great food. Great experience. Pricey for chili and hot dogs. Nearly $50 for two, having jumbo dogs, drinks, a couple slices of cake and oh, we shared an order of fries. But then you get to take a picture with the owner, Ben’s wife!
First, did you know that Obama has been here! Other famous people as well! I like that they are open late, even on weekdays. The food was great! The chili burger and chili jumbo dog were fantastic! We ordered chili to go as well. I do wish the large chili was larger for the price. I love the history of this place though and was glad to support the business!
The line was pretty long and took a long time but it's not a big place. I liked the chili but I feel it needed some extra salt. The sausage was great and so was the cheese.
Great place for a quick bite, even as a tourist! The service was quick, the food was fresh and delicious, and the atmosphere was just awesome! Had the original half smoke and while sausages and hot dogs aren’t my thing, this was! The milkshakes are full flavored and delicious. The fries were HOT (they shouldn’t be any other way!). I want to make it a tradition every time I come to DC
I definitely give it five stars. The employees were super nice it was busy but they turned out food very quickly. The chili was pretty good not the greatest. I thoroughly enjoyed the milkshakes. The Oreo and also the maple I would highly recommend! Definitely historic spot in a great place to come and get some food. I can’t wait to come back again!
Excellent! Original half-smoke definitely something to brag about. Small chili with cheese and onions was perfect side dish. Friendly cheerful staff. Great time. Will return
The service was quick, the food was fresh and delicious, and the atmosphere was just awesome! Had the original half smoke and while sausages and hot dogs aren’t my thing, this was! The fries were wounderful and the service was amazing. I couldn't have asked for a better experience! I want to make it a tradition every time I come to DC
The food was good. The history of the place was great. It is a DC landmark. Service was great and the people were great. Will definitely do it again. Vegan? Yes! They offer both the impossible buger and beyond meat. Ben's has got you covered.
Delicious! We had some initial confusion about whether we were supposed to order at the counter or wait at our seats (the guy at the register told us to go have a seat and someone did eventually come take our order). Once we ordered food was out quickly and was very good. We ordered spicy half smokes and fries and milkshakes and they were all delicious!
Nice place for a quick meal, however it is nothing you will remember for the next day. No breathtaking tastes, no astonishing ingredients. Fries are good, but won’t recommend the ones with chili sauce and cheese - just too much everything, prefer it classic way. Chili sausage bun was tasty but not excellent, the chili sauce actually is something different but not something to die for. What is very important to say that they use a real, tasty sausage for their buns - bravo! Another bravo goes for the burger with impossible meat. It’s great to see another place with this option. The burger was just as it should be. I am not the fan o the cheese added, because it’s kind of artificial for me, you can see it in the picture. The staff was super friendly and fast. The whole place was okay but I think it could use a little cleaning from time to time.
A wonderful atmosphere, great food, and even better people made our experience here the best!! The fries were cooked perfectly (crunchy but not burnt), the chili is very spicy and flavorful, and the half-smoke sausage was delicious! We came with a school group and couldn't have been happier.
It was good. The food is good. The hype for the chili is a bit higher than the experience of eating it. The real experience here is the incredible historical relevancy of this location and the spirit of a continually owner operated restaurant in an area like DC. Definitely a must visit and if you love the food then keep going.
I was told by several locals this is the spot to go, a landmark and staple for those who live in DC. Ben's Chili Bowl has been around since 1958 and this was the original location. Looking at the photos on the wall many celebrities have graced the presence and I can see why - the chili dog was awesome. My only regret is getting plain fries instead of chili cheese. But I did go with the chili half smoke, the signature dig. Great choice and I will definitely return when I am back in town.
Food is great and customer service is awesome. Never had a bad time in this place. Make sure you go see Angie. She is fabulous. I rate this place A++++++
Walking into the restaurant was a trip straight back to the 1950's, a great atmosphere. The portion sizes were actually sensible unlike most places in America, so that's a plus. The chili was delicious. The fries were good, but nothing special.
Only downside is that the restaurant was quite dirty, though mostly on the more hard to reach places, so not too bad. Overall a good experience.
Great food but a little intense atmosphere was very busy and a big line. But it was all worth it tho! Glad I could visit such a famous place! My chilly fries were incredible and the hot dog delicious!
I think I need to start by saying I had eaten here twice in my whole life. I'm from Miami and when there is a place with such fame like this one. It's pretty obvious it's gonna be good. But it blew my mind. The half smoked it just another level and the Chili, the best I have eaten. I drove from Miami to DC and my first stop was here
Every time I am in DC I make a trip, no... actually I make a pilgrimage to Ben's. The chili is some of the best I have ever had, the half-smoke is...read this and 3496 more