Monday, August 17, 2009

in my new neighborhood

One thing I did this weekend is find a place to stay for September as I work out long-term plans! I didn't make the decision until Sunday but it may have been influenced from hanging out in the neighborhood the day before....

Saturday I (with my roomates once again!) headed up to U-street to go to a thifting (post on my awesome finds coming soon!) One roomate and I got a little hungry so we decided to go to one of my favorite places- Ben's Chili Bowl. I am a fan of potatoes, melty cheese, and all things greasy. Thus, Ben's Chili Bowl's chili cheese fries are pretty much the BEST thing ever in my book. When we got there, they had just made a fresh batch of fries so the fries were super crispy and delish. The cheese is the standard Velvetta type that is so bad but so good. And the chili is excellent. My friend is a vegetarian, so we got the veggie chili cheese fries (I definitely recommend spliting an order) and I doubt anyone could tell it was fake meat in there. I am not sure if I'd really want a bowl of the chili on it's own but it's perfect over the fries.

Ben's has been around forever in DC (okay, since 1958) and EVERYONE goes to Ben's. There are pictures of famous people all over the place which is especially funny because Ben's is a dive. But in the best way. Whenever you go, there will be a line. 10am for breakfast or 3am for drunk food.

When I was in DC just before the inaguration, President Obama ate there with Mayor Fenty. I happened to be in area that same night (like 8 hours later) and went with a group of friends. There was already a sign over the table where he ate marking it. I'm sure that President Obama didn't end up eating there just because Ben's chili is so good. When Ben's opened on U-street, the area was known as the "Black Broadway." According to Ben's website, patrons included Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Bessie Smith, Ella Fitzgerald, MLK Jr, Nat King Cole and more. Bill Crosby is a favorite of the house. When Dr. King was assassinated, there were riots in DC and much of the U-street area was destroyed. Ben's recieved permission to stay open though the riots despite the curfew and provided shelter and medical care. After the riots, the area went through several tough decades but now has had a lot of growth. Ben's serves as a crucial landmark for the area's identity. And serves up a mean basket of chili cheese fries (meat-optional.)

(Sorry for the slightly awkward photo. We ate our chili cheese fries way to fast to get a photo but I found this one on TripAdvisor. )

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