Ben’s Chili Bowl – Nationals Stadium

23 06 2009
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” – Traditional Saying

I ordered the premier dish at Ben’s, the half smoke all the way. I hadn’t eaten half smokes in years until the ballpark opened up last year. Every time I go to a game now, I try and sneak at least one half smoke in. As one of the few unique culinary dishes that DC has to offer, I was somewhat disappointed with my meal that evening. Attendance was extremely low due to the weather and because of this Ben’s was almost empty. If you’ve ever been to a game on a nice night, then you know that this is an anomaly. Ben’s simply was not grilling as much as they normally do, so the food was not as fresh as normal either. The casing on the sausage was definitely tougher than usual and the chili just seemed a bit flat and stale.

Despite the shortcomings of this particular half smoke, I still enjoyed it, although perhaps not as much as usual. I’m a big fan of chili dogs, so this was the natural progression. Normally I dislike yellow mustard, but in this dish it works perfectly to compliment the chili and the spices of the half smoke. The onions provide little bursts of flavor throughout the chili with the cheese transforming the dish into the delicious, gooey mess that it is.

The problem of freshness exists for many restaurants who serve high volumes, so I wouldn’t discourage anyone from going to Ben’s II, but I would advise caution and recommend going only when there’s somewhat of a crowd. Most of all, this outing has gotten me pumped for a future outing to the real Ben’s Chili Bowl to allow them to redeem themselves and for me to enjoy an excellent half smoke.

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