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Ben's Best Time of Day?

kea13 Nov 14, 2013 12:36 PM

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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    Steve RE: kea13 Nov 14, 2013 08:31 PM

    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
      hill food RE: Steve Nov 14, 2013 09:14 PM

      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
        kea13 RE: Steve Nov 15, 2013 02:46 AM

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

        1. re: kea13
          agarnett100 RE: kea13 Nov 15, 2013 03:11 PM

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

          1. re: agarnett100
            Steve RE: agarnett100 Nov 15, 2013 05:16 PM

            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
              monkeyrotica RE: Steve Nov 16, 2013 08:17 AM

              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
                Steve RE: monkeyrotica Nov 16, 2013 08:42 AM

                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
              hill food RE: agarnett100 Nov 15, 2013 06:55 PM

              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. monkeyrotica RE: kea13 Nov 15, 2013 05:49 AM

          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
            archd3 RE: monkeyrotica Nov 15, 2013 10:44 AM

            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).

            1. re: archd3
              Dennis S RE: archd3 Nov 15, 2013 10:59 AM

              Kinda like Gray's Papaya.

              1. re: Dennis S
                monkeyrotica RE: Dennis S Nov 15, 2013 11:41 AM

                I prefer Papaya King myself.

          2. agarnett100 RE: kea13 Nov 15, 2013 03:13 PM

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

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