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Ben's Chili Bowl

Perfect For: Cheap Eats Classic Establishment Late Night Eats

Ben's Chili Bowl

PHOTOS: Christopher Prosser

While U Street has certainly changed over the years, Ben’s has been a staple. It’s one of the first places that pops into people’s heads when thinking about eating in DC, for better or worse. We’re not sure why it’s been hailed as a must-go for so long, other than it being around for so long and maybe that giant Cosby mural outside and the “he eats here for free" thing (which, ya know, yikes).

And while we don’t think it’s worth the classic status it’s received, Ben's certainly has its time and place. That time and place being when you’re sh*t-faced at 2am. It’ll hit the spot for drunk food, but don’t go expecting it to match the hype that you’ve probably heard about.

If you do decide to go sober and at not 2 am, know that there may be a line out the door, but it moves quickly. Have someone in your group snag a table in the back while you order so you aren’t left trying to down chili-cheese fries while standing.

Bottom line: unless you’re stumbling past here after midnight, leave this for the tourists.

Food Rundown

Half-Smoke With Chili

Don’t over-think this, go with the classic.

Chili Cheese Fries

This is classified as a side-order, but we’ve ordered these as a centerpiece all by themselves. Schedule that cardiology appointment for the next day.


These aren’t the world’s best shakes, but strike a good balance with the chili to help cool you off. Did we mention that you should see your doctor soon?

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