1213 U Street NW
Washington, DC 20009
Sometimes there is a landmark (or two) that you feel the need to eat at because it's (they're) famous. Ahem. Other times the place is a landmark AND it's just that damn good. We are dealing with the latter in this case. Ben's Chili Bowl serves up the finest half-smokes you have ever seen. Not fancy, not expensive, not for those on blood pressure or high cholesterol medication. It can be both a bit stressful, and a bit greasy. I love it.
This is a tight space to wait, and you need to find the line and get in it. The bar is the best place to sit, as usual, and you can check out all of the action. While you stand in line, you get a glimpse of the food to come. It will definitely make you re-adjust your order.
Look at these BEAUTIFUL half-smokes on the flat top. Having to watch these brown is no mistake on their part. I doubled my original estimates.
This encased meat maestro was working this grill like he was born in the kitchen.
The menu is small and sausage/chili focused. ALTHOUGH you could order a veggie burger if you wanted. Although they may laugh you out of the store. And I wouldn't blame them.
The bag is a throwback to simpler times, much like the food.
A tidy meal, this is not. Below is an order of chili cheese fries, and a chili cheese half smoke (one of two I ate). The fries left a bit to be desired, but they stayed surprisingly crispy throughout the seconds that made up their short lives.
The star, by far, was the half smoke with chili. Good lord. Half beef, half pork, coarsely ground and smoked. This is comfort food at its finest. Charred on the grill, smothered and covered, this beats about any hot dog around.
The snap on this sausage casing adds a perfect texture to offset the soft chili and bun. The combination of salty, smokey, fatty, and crispy makes for a sensual overload. This is not fancy, but your taste buds will be wearing an overcoat made of grease. This may be the best and/or only thing worth going to DC for . . .
...well, partial take back: Rumor's (an Eagles bar) will be another repeat on my list for next time.