This past Saturday, President Elect Obama visited Ben's Chili Bowl. It's about time.
For those who don't know, Ben's is a D.C. institution. In fact, I've often said that if you had to sum up D.C. with just one experience it wouldn't be a museum or a memorial, it would be Ben's Chili Bowl.
It's located in the U Street Corridor, a historically black neighborhood that has seen both boom and bust. There have been riots and celebrations, economic blight and gentrification. But through it all, there's been Ben's Chili Bowl (well, since 1958 at least). The walls of Ben's are lined with photos of celebrities and politicians who have dined there, the majority of them African American. Bill Cosby even honored Ben's by having a press conference there to celebrate the success of his sitcom.
And the food! Oh, the food! Chili half-smokes (their specialty), Chili cheese fries, Chili dogs, Chili burgers; it's all simply amazing.
So on the one hand you have this fantastic, D.C. institution, that's a pillar of the African-American community, where celebrities and politicians routinely eat, and on the other you have the nation's premier African-American politician. For Obama to stop in at Ben's and enjoy a half-smoke was such a no-brainer, the only real question is why it never happened before.
After all, Obama's been in D.C. for four years already. (I should know, we lived in the same building.) What the heck was keeping him away from Ben's?
Maybe he was just waiting for the opportune moment. After all, Ben's became even more enticing for the President-Elect after he won the election.
There used to be a sign saying something to the effect of:
The following people eat for free:
All others must pay.
After the election the Obamas were added to that list.
It was good to see that Obama finally made it to Ben's. I'm sure it won't be his last visit.
When I sit alone come get a little known
But I need more than myself this time