When one thinks of landmarks in Washington DC , you think of the White House , Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials , Washington Monument among others .

In the U Street Corridor of the city,there’s another landmark , a restaurant that’s been at the same location since 1958.

It’s Ben’s Chili Bowl and it’s number 79 on my bucket list .

U Street was known as “Black Broadway ” back in the days of segregation with many places not catering to black people.

The building that Ben’s is in now used to be a pool hall and before that a movie theater called The Minnehaha Theater.

In 1958, Ben and his wife , Virginia purchased the building and the rest, is history .

Ben died in 2009, but Miss Virginia is still around, either talking to customers, taking pictures with visitors and still behind the counter sometimes seeing that things go smoothly .

They now have branches of the restaurant at the Ronald Reagan Airport, Rosslyn , Virginia and for those Nationals baseball and Redskins football fans who need their half smoke and chili fix, they even have restaurants at Nationals Park and FedEx Field.

If you visit the original store on U Street, you’ll see pictures of the many celebrities that have eaten here.

If you go outside, you’ll see murals of famous Washingtonians and other figures in black history .

I ate there the two days that I was in DC and even though the chili was a little spicy for me , it was oh so good as were the cheese grits and the famous half smoke that I had.

If you ever visit DC, it’s very convenient to get there.

The Metro station, U Street/African-American Memorial -Cardoso on the green and yellow lines is right across the street.

Just take the exit that’s on your right.

It’s worth the trip.


  1. Oh yum! I love me some spicy chili. I love how you visited the original location & that Virginia is still alive & behind the counters sometimes. If I ever go to DC, I am SO going here. Thanks for sharing, Jo Ann!!

    Liked by 1 person

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