The TJMS Tour is live from D.C. and of course they couldn’t hit the capital without talking Virginia Ali, the owner’s of the legendary restaurant Ben’s Chilli Bowl. She and three sons and two of their wives run the restaurant.
The eatery has been around for 56 years and got started because Ali’s husband, the original Ben, was injured in an elevator accident and could not complete dental school. With his dreams of dentistry permanently on hold, Ali ultimately became a maitre’d at a a popular D.C. restaurant. Because the couple needed to make money, they decided to open a restaurant. Chili became the theme because there were already so many burger spots in D.C. at the time.
“We wanted to do something he (Ben) was familiar with and Chili and chili dogs are a good match,” says Ali. “We have all the burger places here but no hot dogs.”
Ben’s is so popular that even the President has been there, along with many other luminaries, including Martin Luther King, over the years. Popular items on the Ben’s Chili Bowl include the “Half Smoke” a half-pork, half beef smoked breakfast sausage in a steamed hot dug bun with with mustard, cheese and chili.
Ben’s Chili Bowl is a favorite of embattled comedian Bill Cosby and Ali says despite his troubles, he’s still a friend of the restaurant.
“He’s still part of the family,” Ali says.
They now have a location at Washington National Airport and are opening a new location at 10th and 8th Street in NE Washington, D.C.
For more information on Ben’s Chili Bowl, click HERE.