The Ben's Chili Bowl Experience: Disgusting or Delicious?

When I posted the photo on Wake and Wander’s Facebook and Twitter pages, one of my friends wrote me. He asked me how many beers I had before eating the chili and cheese covered smoked sausage served up at Ben’s Chili Bowl in the District of Columbia.

All right, I’ll be honest: A few.

Earlier we hung out at Standard, a barbecue and beer garden at the corner of 14th and S streets. The nice day translated into a warm evening, and we sat outside at the picnic tables (there is very limited indoor seating) and drank steins of Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier (which I enjoyed at the San Diego Brew Fest last summer).

Standard has a well respected menu and we munched on a few appetizers – onion rings and hush puppies – but my friend wanted me to experience Ben’s, so we hit the streets. The brisket sandwich is apparently a Standard staple, but it will have to wait for another time. It was my friend’s birthday and he was craving Ben’s, so I had to give the man his day.

A note on Ben’s: Barack Obama and Bill Cosby eat there for free, however Wake and Wander does not. Bummer, but I’ll give it a go – I’ve heard good things. My friend ordered for me, a half smoke all the way.

I’ll be honest again: I was a bit skeptical when I opened up the aluminum foil. There was chili and cheese everywhere – I could barely see the smoke – and I wondered not only how it would taste, but how I would feel after.

I found it to be an experience similar to eating deep dish pizza in Chicago: Delicious on the way down – yet at the end of the day, the complete definition of temporary satisfaction. That said, I could see it going over really well at their location in Nationals Park.

Despite the messy appearance, I did enjoy the taste of the chili and I would go back for a cup on a cold day – the spices would certainly warm you on a winter night.

However with spring upon us and the flowers in bloom, I’ll leave the smokes to the 2 a.m. crowd.


Ben's Chili
Photo courtesy of Standard.
Photo courtesy of Standard.

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