Ben’s Chili Bowl: Chili Half-Smoke


Ben’s Chili Bowl is a late night cultural institution that has been handing out hotdogs since 1958. The Best Thing on the Menu: Bill Cosby’s Original Chili Half-Smoke needs very little introduction.

We asked ourselves, how does one smoke only half of a hotdog? Where does the name come from? In our research, we came across a Washington CityPaper article – The Missing Link. Though from 2007, this article comprehensively covers the culture behind processed meat here in our nation’s capital.

Another good question, who’s Ben? Ben Ali immigrated from Trinidad and studied dentistry at Howard University. He opened the restaurant in 1958 with his soon to be wife, Virginia. The restaurant played a unique role in the civil rights movement and has been the heart and soul of DC ever since.

The half-smoke for those who haven’t tried it (what’s wrong with you?) is a 1/4lb. half pork, half beef smoked sausage on a warm steamed bun and topped with mustard, onions and spicy homemade chili. Made to order, these dogs can be split or grilled on request.

Chili Bowl faithfuls rejoiced earlier this year upon learning that there will be a new location added at 1001 H Street NE!

Half-smoke not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.


3 thoughts on “Ben’s Chili Bowl: Chili Half-Smoke

  1. Pingback: Garden District: Summer Feast for Two | Best Thing on the Menu

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