Sunday, January 11, 2009

It's About Time

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:
Bill Cosby.
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


Thinking Fool said...

Their chili sucks. It's a fun place, but the food is not great at all.

Matthew B. Novak said...

I've only had just chili once, and even then I liked it. It wasn't the greatest chili I've ever eaten (that would be my homemade chili. Such a braggart, I know.), but it is the perfect chili to be combined with a halfsmoke or cheese fries or a burger or whatever. If you haven't had it on any of those things, I encourage you to retry. Else, I guess we've all go different tastes, right?

Quinn said...

Ben's sounds like quite the's amazing, though, to me that in 14 years and two summers in college I never once made it out there. I hadn't even heard about it until just now. Another thing to add to my to do list. Thanks, Matt.

Thinking Fool said...

Their cheese fries are AWFUL! They don't even use real cheese. They use cheese sauce and combine that with their marginal chili. If they used real cheddar cheese, the chili cheese fries would be yummy, but they don't do it that way, and that's why it sucks! :) A plain burger with no chili is fairly tasty, but I'll venture to Five Guys before venturing to the Chili Bowl!