Last April, I had a chance to visit DC on a business trip (how's that for backlogged!) and instead of focusing on what I was supposed to actually accomplish for work, my mind drifted instead to what I wanted to eat. The only thing that actually came to mind was Ben's Chili Bowl, a joint made famous by President Obama for something called the "half smoke." While I never really expect any hot dog to transcend all culinary achievement, I was definitely intrigued when I saw Danny's photo of it - noting that it looks like a poo covered hot dog. Going by my faithful doctrine, that meant one thing: it had to be good. Also I'm a huge fan of processed meat and chili, so there really wasn't much that could go wrong here. Plus, look at that line! While that would normally be a deterrent in Chinatown, for non-Asian cuisine? That many people crowding a single establishment gives me a food-stiffy. What glory does this pseudo-shit covered meat amalgam hide? Is it as wonderful as our dear leader say it is?
That shit is so cash.
That said, I'm also the type of guy who's okay with NYC hot dog carts (not with the price, but with the taste), questionable street meat, and weird deli sandwiches - so take whatever I say about the half smoke with a grain of salt, but shit... they've got their chili and hot dog knowledge down. Sure, NYC has Crif Dog, which for all intents and purposes is 'okay,' and we have Japadog, which I think is insanely overpriced for what it is, but is still good, but whoever Ben is... he basically shits on them when it comes to dog tech.
THIS IS 'MERICUH. Look at this All-American meal - an order of a half smoke, a giant bowl of perfectly golden fries, and a huge-ass chocolate shake. I'd be unpatriotic if I didn't eat it all. And you know what? It was wonderful. Surrounded by freedom, I hugged my arteries with the love of thousands of calories. The delicious sweetness of hearty chili, whose consistency was halfway between lentil and meat, combined with a saltiness unmistakably associated with heavily processed meats bundled oh-so-tight in a snappy casing overwhelmed my tasted buds with flavor (and my heart with imminent pain). Past that... it was inevitable, Ben's half smoke would surely deliver freedom to my bowels in a way that hasn't been seen since we signed the Declaration of Independence. Just kidding, it wasn't that monumental, but it was damn good. At the end of the day, it's just a hot dog covered with chili, but me saying that alone should be good enough. Both those things are fucking fantastic and should need no further endorsement.
tl;dr - I found more food that looks like poo, this time it's a chili dog that some dude named Obama fucking loves. It tastes like Freedom, and will likely liberate your asshole the next day.
Ben's Chili Bowl
1213 U Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20009