Ben’s Chili Bowl

The Place: Ben’s Chili Bowl

Where: 12th and U Streets NW

Why Live Near Here: The person who wants to live near this DC landmark is likely a person who can stay up past 10pm and likes being in the thick of things in one of the District’s craziest bar scenes… and probably who enjoys a late night greasy spoon on the nights you’ve had a drink or two too many.

Things to Know: Unless you are super new to DC, you likely know about about Ben’s Chili Bowl and have seen it grow from just one original establishment at 1213 U Street NW into 4 DMV area locations.  Most people also know that Ben’s has been a staple in the U Street neighborhood since it opened in 1958, but here are a few lesser known facts that might make you love it even more:

  • When the neighborhood was in a bit of a decline in the decade following the riots of 1968, Ben’s staff was reduced to only one employee.
  • When the metro’s green line was being dug out from 1986 to 1991, the construction carved a 60-foot canyon in the street that cut off practically all traffic to the area’s shops and Ben’s was the only business on its block to survive.
  • Ben and Virginia Ali were inducted into the D.C. Hall of Fame, and in 1999 the alley next to the restaurant was renamed “Ben Ali Way.”
  • According to a 2007 New York Post article, in the summer of 2007, the owners of Ben’s led a coalition of ten small local businesses to broker a deal with a local energy company to convert operations to 100% wind energy.

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