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Jan 10, 2009 11:22 AM

I Misjudged Obama-He's Got Soul

Just saw a photo of Mr. President ordering a half smoke with chili and the works at Ben's Chili Bowl. NOW I have hope for this country. If Ben's catered the inauguration, we could use the money saved to bailout some more banks ;)

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  1. Your title got my attention. Could you please tell an ignorant Californian what you mean? half smoke? the works?

    6 Replies
    1. re: Glencora

      Oh my... Here's a veritable treatise on the half smoke, from Washington CityPaper:

        1. re: beauxgoris

          He went there today with Adrian Fenty.

      1. re: Glencora

        Ben's is as real Washington as it gets. Sort of our version of a diner, but with a half smoke and chili centered menu. It survived the '68 riots, from which the neighborhood has just begun recovering the last few years.

        They don't care who you are there, you wait in line and pay with the rest of us locals. It is one of the few restaurants around where race and class truly isn't an issue. Behind the counter-one of the few true lunch counters left in the city-there is a sign that used to say "Who eats free at Ben's: Bill Cosby. No one else." At some point during the campaign it was changed to say "Who eats free at Ben's: Bill Cosby. The Obama Family."

        I believe the most expensive item on the menu is the veggie burger, which is just under $8.00. Most vegetarians around here have great respect for Ben's, but find it better to try to eat elsewhere.

        Obama's showing up with our Mayor on a rainy, cold, gray Saturday, even if the Secret Service had to close down the block, is a bit of sign of respect, you might say, to DC.

          1. re: pineapple sage

            Actually Obama didn't pay. They wouldn't take his money so he left a $20 tip. All according to the press, I wasn't there.

        1. Don't want to be a killjoy, but it the president-elect was out doing a PR tour with the DC mayor. "The Visit" to Ben's was both obligatory and inevitable.

          5 Replies
          1. re: MartinDC

            Maybe we can reserve judgment on "Soul" until the Mayor and President-elect show up in the line at Horace and Dickie's on H Street, up Georgia Avenue, or over in Anacostia.
            Ben's has gotten pretty uptown since the Reeves Center opened a couple decades ago and the new half-million dollar condos began rising all around it.

            1. re: MakingSense

              You can't tell from the menu or the slow as molasses service.

              Still one of my favorite dishes in DC though.

            2. re: MartinDC

              Whatever. Bush hated DC. Barack will be different. PR tour or not. That was the whole point to show love for DC.

              1. re: cocoagirl

                Coco- You're spot on with that statement!
                There s a great article in the Washington Post or New York Times food section this am about Bush s relucantence to enbrace or entertain the DC dinning scene. In the two weeks before Obama has taken office he s make more appearnaces at local restaurants than Bush did in eight years. In less than a week, Obamas eaten at Ben's and Bobby Vans. Take Peking Gourmet in Falls Church and some other Tex-Mex W liked, out of the equation and its pretty easy to see his true colors.

                1. re: baldwinwood

                  I fully agree. "Obligatory" implies that there is an "obligation" on the part of the President to eat obligation that Bush must have ignored.

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