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Nov 21, 2012 09:59 AM

Is Ben's Chili Bowl worth a visit?

Is this icon worth the trip? Thanks.

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  1. No. If you are going to be in the hood, then go to Oohs And Aahs instead. Get the shrimp and grits.

    1. If you're into the halfsmokes and history and tourist thing, yes. Just lower your expectations accordingly. The chili is pretty bland.

      2 Replies
      1. re: monkeyrotica

        Totally agree. It's a place to go once.

        1. re: Bob W

          I disagree; it's a place to go several times but only after you've drunk 6 beers at the 9:30 Club.

      2. Only if you are into DC political theater. It is iconic only because it survived through the riots, the METRO construction, and because anyone who is anyone in the political scene in DC eats there at least once. One of Bill Cosby's favorite places, but he'll eat anything. Only he and President Obama can eat free there.

        3 Replies
        1. re: dinwiddie

          Wow- not exactly enthusiastic reviews!

          1. re: dinwiddie

            Interesting that you don't see those two around there very often. Not reall a ringing endorsement.

          2. Yes. Stop on the sidewalk and have a companion take a picture, then move on. Oohs and Aahs I second. Florida Ave Grill is also iconic. Okay food (also soul food), though it's been years since I've been.

            8 Replies
            1. re: Dennis S

              I was at Florida Ave Grill recently. It's a decent place to go, but not for the half-smoke which is more like a kielbasa.

              1. re: Steve

                The only places that I know of that sell the coarse-grind Mangers halfsmokes from Baltimore are Bens and Canales Meats in Eastern Market. At the latter, you can buy them hot off the roller for a couple bucks or by the pound, mild or spicy. I prefer the spicy. Everybody else's "halfsmokes" are just big, caseless hotdogs.

                1. re: monkeyrotica

                  No doubt the very best way to eat a half smoke is to get the spicy version from Canales in Eastern Market and blacken it yourself in a pan. A 5-star chowhound delight. I also really like the ground chuck at Canales, 85% lean, my favorite in the area.

                  1. re: Steve

                    You seem to really be on top of things. Any suggestions for Italian food that allows corkage fees instead of, or in the alternative to overpriced wine lists?


                    1. re: WineCounselor

                      This is not my area of specialty, but I think most places allow corkage, with a fee. The question is: what kind of place are you looking for?

                      Fanciest: Fiola (risotto excels here), Tosca.
                      Some really outstanding dishes with lower cost, Bibiana.
                      SImpler homemade pasta dishes, also outstanding, Siroc

                      1. re: WineCounselor

                        some ideas here for Italian food and wine
                        DC by law allows corkage but it isn't universal at restaurants

                        1. re: WineCounselor

                          Dino permits corkage, and in fact has free corkage Monday thru Wednesday. However, it also has a huge Italian wine list and is extremely well priced.

                      2. re: monkeyrotica

                        I have been remiss in not getting to the market for a while - but the last time I was there - Union Meats had the rollers with hot dogs and half-smokes. Has the elder Canales brother added a machine to his stall as well?

                  2. Yes, if you're drunk and hungry past midnight.

                    I'm actually a sucker for the potato salad.