Our Timeline

All About Ben’s Chili Bowl History
from 1958 to Now

John Wall and Bradley Beal featured on a termporary mural. Photo by Ned Dishman

Our temporary mural on U Street features John Wall and Bradley Beal!

Photo by Ned Dishman

Grand Opening of NMAAHC

Grand Opening of NMAAHC

Members of the Ali Family (and George Clinton!) celebrate the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Ben's Chili Bowl Celebrates 58th Anniversary

The Washington Nationals’ Teddy and many, many more came out to show their love for The Bowl at our 58th Anniversary celebration!

2015 Chili Eating Competition

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.

H Street location opens

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.

DCA Location Opens

DCA Location Opens

Ben’s Chili Bowl DCA opens in the B/C Terminal – Concourse Level (pre-security) at Reagan National Airport!

Rosslyn location opens

Rosslyn location opens

Ben’s Chili Bowl Rosslyn opens at 1725 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22209 as our first new stand-alone location in over 55 years!

Half-smoke eating competition

Half-smoke eating competition

Congrats to the winners of the first annual Ben’s Chili Bowl Half Smoke Eating Contest at the H Street Festival!

55th Anniversary

55th Anniversary

Hundreds of friends and fans came out to celebrate our 55th Anniversary on August 22nd, 2013.

Smithsonian 20 Best Food Destinations

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’ Profile

Peaches' Profile

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.

H Street

H Street

Ben’s breaks ground on a new location at 1001 H St. NE.

New Menu Items

New Menu Items

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

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

Ben’s Chili Bowl presents the Second Annual World Chili Eating Championship at Taste of DC.

Mural opens in Ben Ali Way

Photo by Just Chasing Rabbits (http://www.justchasingrabbits.com/2016/03/the-best-thing-we-ate-in-washington-dc.html)

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 named Chairman of the Board for Think Local First

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

Ben’s Chili Bowl presents the First Annual World Chili Eating Championship at Taste of DC.

Joey Chestnut wins First Annual Chili Eating Competition

Joey Chestnut celebrates his Chili Eating Championship win with a trophy and members of the Ali family.

Ben’s Chili Bowl opens at FedEx Field

Ben’s Chili Bowl opens FedEx Field location.

Ben’s Chili Bowl Foundation is founded

Ben’s Chili Bowl Foundation is founded.

Ben’s gift shop opens and begins shipping via online store

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

Ben Ali passes away. He will forever be terribly missed

Photo of President-elect Barack Obama at Ben's

A great day for the Bowl.

President-elect Barack Obama eats lunch at Ben’s just 10 days before his inauguration.

President-elect Barack Obama eats lunch at Ben’s just 10 days before his inauguration.

Ben’s Next Door inside photo

Ben’s Next Door inside photo

Patrons pack the inaugural night of food and entertainment at Ben’s Next Door.

Ben’s Next Door opens for business

Ben’s Next Door opens for business.

Mayor Adrian Fenty gives Ben & Virginia Ali the key to the city.

Mayor Adrian Fenty presents Ben and Virginia Ali with a key to the city.

Ben’s Chili Bowl Nationals Stadium photo

The menu at the Nationals Stadium outpost features customer favorites including the famous half-smoke.

Ben’s Chili Bowl opens Nationals Park location

Ben’s Chili Bowl opens Nationals Park location.

The owners of Ben's join a coalition of ten small local businesses to broker a deal to convert operations to 100% wind energy.

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

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

Hundreds attend the 45th anniversary of Ben’s Chili Bowl.

Ben and Virginia Ali are inducted into the D.C. Hall of Fame

Ben and Virginia Ali are inducted into the D.C. Hall of Fame.

DC Councilmember Jim Graham named the alley adjacent to Ben’s 'Ben Ali Way'

DC Councilmember Jim Graham names the alley between Ben’s and The Lincoln Theatre “Ben Ali Way.”

Ben's Chili Bowl celebrates 40 years in 1998

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

U Street-Cardozo (later U Street African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo) Metro Station opens

Green Line Construction outside Ben's in 1989

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

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

Bill Cosby holds a national press conference at Ben’s Chili Bowl to celebrate The Cosby Show, thrusting Ben’s into the national spotlight.

Bill Cosby visiting the Bowl in 1983

Bill Cosby visiting the Bowl in 1983

Ben's employees in the 1970s

Ben’s employees in the 1970s

Ben's donates food to participants in SCLC's Poor People's Campaign

Ben’s donates food to participants in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s Poor People’s Campaign.

1968 riots

1968 riots

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.

Virginia Ali at the grill in 1964

Virginia Ali at the grill in 1964

Ben's donates food to participants in the March On Washington

Ben’s donates food to participants in the March On Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Ben and Virginia open Ben's Chili Bowl

Ben and Virginia open Ben’s Chili Bowl with a $5000 investment in an former pool hall on U ST. They marry 2 months later.