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Rate & Reviews
How would you rate Ben's Chili Bowl?
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
I remember it being pretty good. I only had take away food, so for me, it tasted just like every other chili. However, I do wonder what it would be like to have a sit-down meal - I know this place is very popular.
The food and staff were great. I enjoyed my visit to DC.
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.
Highly recommended. Was visiting DC from LA. My wife is not a fan of chili and she loved it. We had the half-smoke, chili burger, and potato salad. My wife even ordered an extra chili bowl to go!
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.
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.
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.
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.
This place is still one of my favorite places to eat. I have been going there for 15+ years now. Still classic, still amazing
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.
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 !
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
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.
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!
It is a classic. The chili is a bit less tasty than I expected. But their hot dog are really good no doubt. And the team there is very welcoming and nice. Thanks a lot.
I really enjoy coming here after mass at St. Augustine's Catholic Church, but on or may recent visit the service was bad, really bad. I hope this is a one-time event. We sat for 10 minutes at the bar without a greeting. Since the five of us were hungry and were in the mood for chili, I flagged a manager who took our order. It was another 20 minutes to wait for some of our order top come out...only after I asked for it. I think they're so much more capable of this and I hope it's just growing pains from accepting credit cards and online orders.
It's the hype. Ok product, good service. Tastes like wolf brand chili to me. Ms.Ali is always nice
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!
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 .
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.
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.
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 loves this place 15- 20 years ago but now it's a tourist spot. The food doesn't even taste the same anymore. I guess it's great 4 the establishment.
First time going to Ben's Chilli Bowl. Meet the owner Mrs. Virginia Ali. Great experience. Delicious food, and good customer service. Thank you Angie. The only issue is parking, but that is expected in DC.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 😖
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.
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.
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.
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.
Amazing- half smoke is just fantastic. Chilly cheese fries are delicious. The chilly is definitely outstanding. Staff is very polite and professional. Thumbs up.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 3493 more