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Ben's Chili Bowl

1213 U St. NW
Washington , D.C. , United States
(202) 667-0909

This humble joint is a mecca for chili-dog lovers as well as a time capsule, since it was one of the few neighborhood businesses that survived the riots after Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. The restaurant looks more or less the same as it did in 1958, when owner Ben Ali first opened for business; the original Formica counter, red vinyl booths, and shiny stools are all still here. And though Ali's sons Kamal and Nizam run the show nowadays, they still serve up the same meaty, secret-recipe chili, split-and-grilled "half-smoke" sausages (Bill Cosby's favorite), and gooey-crispy cheese fries as their dad did.

Tip: Though they're not as well-known, breakfasts at Ben's are worth a trip across town. The big plates of eggs, hotcakes, and corned-beef hash all come with sides of home fries, grits, and piles of crispy fried apples.

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