All About Ben’s Chili Bowl History
from 1958 to Now
Our temporary mural on U Street features John Wall and Bradley Beal!
Photo by Ned Dishman
Members of the Ali Family (and George Clinton!) celebrate the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
The Washington Nationals’ Teddy and many, many more came out to show their love for The Bowl at our 58th Anniversary celebration!
Joey Chestnut wins the 2015 Ben’s Chili Bowl World Chili Eating Championship at the Taste of DC. Pictured with him are Sonya “The Black Widow” Chestnut, former winner Tim “Eater X” Janus, and the Ali’s: Virginia, Sonya, Vida and Suraya.
On July 8th we welcomed our 3rd Ben’s Chili Bowl street location at 1001 H ST NE. It’s a large and beautiful location open all day from breakfast to late night.
Ben’s Chili Bowl DCA opens in the B/C Terminal – Concourse Level (pre-security) at Reagan National Airport!
Ben’s Chili Bowl Rosslyn opens at 1725 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22209 as our first new stand-alone location in over 55 years!
Congrats to the winners of the first annual Ben’s Chili Bowl Half Smoke Eating Contest at the H Street Festival!
Hundreds of friends and fans came out to celebrate our 55th Anniversary on August 22nd, 2013.
We made the list of Smithsonian’s 20 Best Food Destinations Across America! Here’s some cool history from them: “Bill Cosby has been a loyal customer since he served in the Navy in nearby Quantico and Bethesda in the 1960s.”
Peaches is honored for 35 years with us! In case you didn’t know, she’s the one in charge of the chili. <em>All</em> of it.
For the first time in over two years, we’ve added new menu items! Enjoy our Rice Bowl, Salad Bowl, Gourmet 1/2lb. Burger, or a Tuna Dog on your next visit.
Tim “Eater X” Janus celebrates winning the 2012 Chili Eating Championship after having eaten two gallons of Ben’s chili in just 6 minutes!
Ben’s Chili Bowl presents the Second Annual World Chili Eating Championship at Taste of DC.
The mural in Ben Ali way opens to the public. Painted by artist Aniekan Udofia, the mural features President Barack Obama, Donnie Simpson, and Chuck Brown, the “Godfather of Go-Go.”
Nizam Ali is named Chairman of the Board for Think Local First, an organization that works with local businesses to help strengthen DC’s economy.
Ben’s Chili Bowl presents the First Annual World Chili Eating Championship at Taste of DC.
Joey Chestnut celebrates his Chili Eating Championship win with a trophy and members of the Ali family.
Ben’s gift shop opens and begins shipping chili, half-smokes, and more via an online store.
Ben Ali passes away. He will forever be terribly missed
President-elect Barack Obama eats lunch at Ben’s just 10 days before his inauguration.
Patrons pack the inaugural night of food and entertainment at Ben’s Next Door.
Mayor Adrian Fenty presents Ben and Virginia Ali with a key to the city.
The menu at the Nationals Stadium outpost features customer favorites including the famous half-smoke.
The owners of Ben’s join a coalition of ten small local businesses to convert operations to 100% wind energy.
Ben’s wins the prestigious Gallo of Sonoma ‘America’s Classics’ Restaurant Award from the James Beard Foundation.
Hundreds attend the 45th anniversary of Ben’s Chili Bowl.
Ben and Virginia Ali are inducted into the D.C. Hall of Fame.
DC Councilmember Jim Graham names the alley between Ben’s and The Lincoln Theatre “Ben Ali Way.”
Ben’s celebrates its 40th anniversary. This milestone is promoted by Bill Cosby with a feature story on CNN.
U Street-Cardozo (later U Street African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo) Metro Station opens
After years of delays, construction on the U Street-Cardozo (as it was then known) WMATA Metrorail station began in 1987. This photo – taken in 1989 – shows the front of Ben’s as part of the station’s infrastructure is being prepared to be lowered into the ground. Throughout much of the construction Ben’s was kept open by just two employees: Virginia Ali and an associate.
Construction begins on the U Street-Cardozo Green Line station
Bill Cosby holds a national press conference at Ben’s Chili Bowl to celebrate The Cosby Show, thrusting Ben’s into the national spotlight.
Ben’s donates food to participants in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Poor People’s Campaign.
Stokely Carmichael obtains special permission to keep Ben’s open after curfew to provide food and shelter for those working to restore order after the riots of 1968.
Ben’s donates food to participants in the March On Washington for Jobs and Freedom.