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“First Place We Ate in DC. Tough Act to Follow”
Review of Ben's Chili Bowl

Ben's Chili Bowl
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Ranked #19 of 330 Quick Bites in Washington DC
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $0 - $7
Cuisines: American
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Restaurant details
Good for: Local cuisine
Dining options: Dinner, Lunch, Breakfast, Late Night, Takeout
Description: Virginia Ali is now 86 years old and she started the restaurant with her husband Ben when she was only 24. On August 22, 2019, Ben’s Chili Bowl will turn 61. But it’s not just a birthday for Ben’s, it’s a celebration of DC’s African American history, culture, and character. It’s a celebration of our city, and U Street’s resilience. Presidents, celebrities, neighbors and people from around the world have all enjoyed Ben's signature Half-Smoke, chili cheese fries, burgers and milkshakes.
Reviewed December 16, 2017

We asked for recommendations from friends for places to eat when we got to DC. This recommendation is one I want to pass to the whole world! Ben's was fantastic. The food was amazing and the place was clean and full of great things to look at.

The staff was so friendly, and I couldn't believe how reasonable the prices were.

If you come to DC... Don't miss this experience!

Date of visit: October 2017
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Thank Dirk M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nizam A, Owner at Ben's Chili Bowl, responded to this reviewResponded December 18, 2017

Thank you so much for the wonderful review and recommendation! We are thrilled you decided to visit Ben's Chili Bowl while in D.C. and thoroughly enjoyed everything about your visit with us. We hope to see you again soon!
Our Warmest Regards,
The Ali Family

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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187 - 191 of 2,107 reviews

Reviewed December 15, 2017 via mobile

My boyfriend and I were at Ben’s late night after a night at the casino. The food was amazing loved the half smoke and the chili. Can’t say enough. However the best part of my experience was the honesty of the staff. You see I dropped my ID credit card and hotel key. The next morning I got a call that they had them. I went to get them that next morning and everyone was so helpful. I will forever be a fan of Ben’s

Date of visit: December 2017
Thank svgernhart
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nizam A, Owner at Ben's Chili Bowl, responded to this reviewResponded December 18, 2017

We are thrilled you had such an excellent experience with us at Ben's Chili Bowl. It is so great to hear how helpful and honest our employees were with your situation and we love that you loved our famous half-smoke after a night out at the Casino. Thank you for the amazing review, we hope to see you again soon!
Our Warmest Regards,
The Ali Family

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 9, 2017

Having spent only a day of my life in DC, this is the only restaurant I know about in the city. We came here for dinner before a concert next door and the service was fast, food was good and hearty. Wish we could have stayed a little longer to really take in the atmosphere. Will definitely return next time I'm in DC.

Date of visit: July 2017
    • Value
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Thank samihaahmed
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nizam A, Owner at Ben's Chili Bowl, responded to this reviewResponded December 11, 2017

Dear Samiha,
Thank you for the amazing review! We are thrilled you decided to visit Ben's Chili Bowl before a concert in D.C. and enjoyed our food and atmosphere. We can't wait for the next time you visit to get the full Ben's Chili Bowl experience and possibly meet Mrs. Virginia who opened this up with her late husband almost 60 years.
Our Warmest Regards,
The Ali Family

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 9, 2017

This location was the family's first one. Started in 1958 by a newly married couple, Ben's Chili Bowl quickly became an institution. We saw the wife still presiding over the operation after all of these years.

African American celebrities make a stop at Ben's part of their Washington DC visit. President Obama visited fairly regularly. No matter your race, you are warmly welcomed.

Sit at the counter where you can watch all of the action - the grill is right up front.

Their traditional food is the "half smoke" - a sizeable dog on a bun topped with all the fixings and chili.

Staff were very helpful and friendly. I'm very glad we visited.

They accept credit cards for everything but the tip. Bring some cash.

Check out the mural on the side of the building. It reads like a who's who of local and national African American culture.

Date of visit: December 2017
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Thank dawnfromseattle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nizam A, Owner at Ben's Chili Bowl, responded to this reviewResponded December 11, 2017

Dear Dawn,
Thank you for the wonderfully kind and amazingly descriptive review of Ben's Chili Bowl. We couldn't have described the experience and atmosphere you will have here any better. It is so great you truly enjoyed your visit with us from meeting Mrs. Virginia to indulging in our famous half-smoke combo. We hope to see you the next time you are in D.C.
Our Warmest Regards,
The Ali Family

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 3, 2017 via mobile

Great place for those in a rush or those on a budget. Quite limited in terms of what you can order, but this is a fast food place.

Was luckily enough to speak to the founder - what an inspirational woman! Still going strong all these years later and with strong family traditions and ties.

Date of visit: October 2017
Thank 0908267
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Nizam A, Owner at Ben's Chili Bowl, responded to this reviewResponded December 4, 2017

Thank you so much for the great review! We are very happy you were able to meet Mrs. Virginia and truly enjoyed your experience with us. We can't wait to see you again soon!
Our Warmest Regards,
The Ali Family

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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