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Nov 14, 2013 12:36 PM

Ben's Best Time of Day?

Family coming to DC for Thanksgiving and they want to go to Ben's Chili Bowl. Any suggestions for the least crowded time of day to visit?

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  1. I wouldn't go out of my way for it. I am not sure I would go IN my way for it, since there is better soul food in the neighborhood (like Oohhs and Aahhs).

    What makes you think it ever gets that busy? There's usually a table available in the back.

    Maybe avoid when the 9:30 Club lets out.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Steve

      heh if at night get the family tipsy first like many of the other patrons and that way the food tastes better too!

      1. re: Steve

        It's your city's landmark. A chili dog isn't soul food. Not here or anywhere.

        1. re: kea13

          Kea13 is correct chili dogs are not considered soul food in any way

          1. re: agarnett100

            Have it your way. I can still beat anything they serve by a mile.

            My point was that the Fodor's experience of flocking to lousy historic restaurants can't touch the meal at Oohhs and Aahhs. Anyone coming in from out of town will be going out of their way, so you might as well eat well. Sure, take a peek in at BCB, and then go down the street for some great food that you can't make at home.

            1. re: Steve

              Apples and oranges. When I'm in the mood for a halfsmoke, lemon pepper wings are scarcely a substitute, no matter how good they are. I know when I go to Antoine's  or Tadich's Grill, I can get a more refined culinary experience at Herbsaint or Gary Danko, but those restaurants haven't been around for 150 years. Food is just one part of the overall experience at the former. 

              1. re: monkeyrotica

                I hear ya, I just wish it was a better half smoke topped with better chili.

                Anyway, I've been there plenty of times over the years... as a local. As a visiting Chowhound, I'ver been steered to historic lousy food in other cities, and I regretted it.

            2. re: agarnett100

              Kea - while I'm not defending the fare at Ben's, it's not a chili-dog, it's a chili half-smoke, which I too don't quantify in the category of 'soul food' but it is different than a dog.

        2. During the week, there's usually a lull after breakfast and before lunch around 10am and again mid afternoon. Skip the hotdog and get the halfsmoke. If it's crowded, there's Ben's Nextdoor, which serves the similar food albeit in a slightly more upscale atmosphere.

          3 Replies
          1. re: monkeyrotica

            Along with monkeyrotica, you're there for the half smoke and chili -- nothing else. It may not be the finest food in town, but there's a place for it in this city's history -- and in my stomach.

            Basically, avoid normal meal hours. There's ample seating inside, especially if you meander past the Obama booth to the back, where there are a lot more photos on the wall. I imagine the line will never be as long as it can be in the spring since it's colder outside and it's not exactly tourist season (minus a couple weeks in December).

          2. FYI -- Bens Next Door offers the same items and more its usually less crowed and they serve alcohol