In the past I've been somewhat critical of the chili at Ben's Chili Bowl. I changed my mind the other day.
For those of you who don't know, Ben's Chili Bowl is a historical restaurant here in Washington, DC. It boasts everyone from Martin Luther King, Jr, Bill Cosby, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway, Nat King Cole, Redd Foxx, Dick Gregory, Donny Hathaway, Roy Ayers, Chris Tucker, Bono, Ted Koppel, President Obama, and untold numbers of politicians from America and overseas. It was a popular hub of activity during the civil rights movement. After MLK got assassinated Ben's got permission to stay open past curfew to feed the cops, firemen, and peaceful black activists. During the bad times that followed, police used the upstairs to monitor area drug dealers. I don't know where I'd heard of it, but it was one of two DC restaurants that I knew about when I moved here. Not by name, but by appearance.
I tried eating there a few times over the years. I found the chili to taste burnt and usually gave me a stomach ache. But, when my brother was here last week he had to eat there. It was really crazy cold while he was here. So, naturally, chili was needed. And, I have to admit, it was pretty good. Since Ben's death a couple of years ago his sons have opened up Ben's Next Door for more formal dining. I'm guessing they may have tweeked the chili recipe, too. I like it a lot more and, finances willing, I'll eat there more often.