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Ben’s Chili Bowl Eyeing Expansion in Clarendon?

by ARLnow.com July 12, 2011 at 3:28 pm 7,688 57 Comments

The owners of Ben’s Chili Bowl are considering opening a new location in Clarendon, the Washington City Paper reported today.

Kamal and Nizam Ali are said to be looking at a half-dozen different locations in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, including Clarendon.

Currently, the U Street landmark — famous for its half-smokes and its Bill Cosby connection — only has one other satellite location: in Nationals Park.

Photo via Ben’s Chili Bowl

  • VA^2

    Sure beats another burger, pizza, or cupcake joint. The chile is not nearly as good as Hard Times, so i probably wouldn’t go anyway.

  • Hikin’ the Pike

    Bring it to the Pike!

    • NorthArlingtonian

      Judging from all the comments I read, the Pike may be a better place for Ben’s. I like Ben’s a lot, love the U street corridor, and I don’t care for Hard Times! And to ClizzleDizzle, you need to lighten up!

  • ML

    They should put one in Tysons Corner!

  • yep

    I’ve never had it. Is it more of a legacy thing where people go there because their parents went as kids etc., or are the chili, chili dogs etc REALLY that good?

    • The former. It’s not good… at all.

      • J

        heard it’s overrated

  • Arlingtonian

    I like Ben’s a lot, but the finest half-smokes I’ve ever had are the ones from Weenie Beenie.

    • Pedro

      Indeed. Weenie Beenie is the best. A somehow-surviving true oasis in Arlington. And there’s no reason to fear the day laborers across the street either. If you’ve never eaten at the Beenie, give it a shot.

      Ben’s just isn’t as good and a Ben’s in Clarendon would inevitably be lame.

      • Soul Food

        If you guys like Weenie Bennie….check out Margrets up Shirlington Road a little farther…..

        • Address?

          • Daniel


        • Frenchy B

          Thanks for the reminder, I’ve been meaning to check that place out.

    • wat

      hooray Foo Fighters

    • JamesE

      Weenie Beenie is where the arlnow singles meet will be held.

  • Aaron

    The problem is that Ben’s isn’t particularly good — unless it’s well after midnight, you’re on U St., and the quality of the food isn’t exactly your primary motivation.

    I really hope that the owners know that they’re mostly a schtick. The U St. location is a cultural landmark and people will continue to go and pay tribute. If people in Clarendon want a pretty good chili dog for a reasonable price, though, they can and should go to Hard Times.

    • AJ


  • BerryBerryCold

    Please NO!

    Maybe Baliey’s Crossroads or Seven Corners.

    • ArlHoodSouthie

      No, not here either. They need to seek opportunities outside the area and leverage their brand in LA, NYC, and Chicago.

      • Sausage Historian

        Nah, places like Chicago think they are already God’s gift to cased meat products. The half-smoke is claimed as indigenous to DC, I don’t see other cities embracing it.

        • LyonParker

          You need a union card in Chicago to case a sausage.

  • DudeGuy

    Ben’s Chili Bowl is not good at all… well at lest their chili is not good, I cant speak for their other menu items. As for Hard Times… when your “No Meat” chili is better than your meat chili something is wrong.

  • Arlingtongirl

    I love Ben’s. Thier veggie chili is so much better Hard Times!! Come to Clarendon!!!

  • KalashniKEV


    Pike maybe, but PGC is more appropriate.

    • ClizzleDizzle

      Indeed. I am afraid it will attract certain unwelcome elements.

    • Vik

      I don’t think a hot dog joint is going to bring “unwelcome elements”. That loaded statement has some pretty ridiculous implications. Clarendon will still be a relatively educated and affluent area with Ben’s, it’s not the type of food that makes people behave the way they do in the rougher areas.

      • ClizzleDizzle

        It will make people behave different in their rougher areas. Believe, I’ve eaten their and suffered from Uncle Ben’s revenge.

        • NPGMBR

          What “certain unwelcome elements” do you mean?

    • LVGuy

      we get it. You don’t like black people.

  • Cyrus

    Everyone will have brown flip flops after walking out of that place…

  • steve85

    What is the problem with them coming to Clarendon. Its just a new place to eat @. Geez

  • othersideoftheriver

    Bye, Hard Times, and no loss!

  • CW

    Just threw up a little in my mouth for several reasons.

    Don’t come in on Hard Times’s stomping grounds…their “chili” is not even close to what HT offers.

  • Dr. Kwok

    U Street can keep Ben’s Chili Bowl along with the drive by shootings throughout the day.

    • BerryBerryCold

      Agreed on this one. Just look at Saturday night. A few blocks from the “Target” and Best Buy in Columbia Heights there was a triple shooting with two fatals.

  • ClizzleDizzle

    Would this be considered reverse gentrification?

  • Kwiki Mart

    Is it just me or does Hard Times chili come with a huge heaping pool of oil on top? At least that’s what mine looked like. I felt sick for two days after eating it. Maybe I just got a bad batch.

    • DR

      You can order the Texas chili dry so there isn’t so much grease.

      • Clarendude

        Or, you can order it wet so there’s extra grease !

    • Tabby

      I agree, greasy and foul. I make awesome chili–why go out for some garbage that’s been sitting around all day or week?

      • General Zod

        Post your recipe tabby!

  • JamesE

    Clarendon! How original!

  • Parker Lyons

    Keep Ben’s, DC. Can you take the Cheesecake Factory too? Before long Clarendon will have a flagship Olive Garden or Applebees right in the middle of it.

    • Andy

      I think having one or two national chain restaurants in Clarendon is good. It siphons a lot of people away from the places I prefer to go.

      • Daniel

        I never thought of that… +1

  • steve85

    Why r u people talking about crime when its all about food. You people on here are idiots. Food doesn’t bring in crime. Just embrace the fact that you don’t have to all the way to U St. to get a good chili dog.

    • NorthArlMom


  • Me ke

    We really just need a good place for breakfast on a Saturday and Sunday that doesn’t cost a ridiculous amount of money. I went for a simple breakfast with one other person at the silver diner…40 bucks for breakfast. really? We need mama lucias to open here… I go all the way to silver spring for that!!!

    • TJ

      I would have a hard time fitting $20 worth of SD breakfast in my gullet. What the heck did you get that cost that much?

    • DarkHeart

      Gotta cover your overhead, and that’s just been going up and up since Market Common and its ilk starting making Arlington less friendly to mom and pop.

    • Jules

      Go to Bob and Ediths!

  • TMP

    You’d think Shirlington would be a better fit, given that Busboys and Poets and CakeLove are there as well.

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  • LuvDusty

    Not a big fan of BCB myself. Would rather see a Chipotle open up in Clarendon.

  • YES!

    Ski Chalet on Columbia Pike! Bring Ben’s to COLUMBIA PIKE!

  • Dave

    Ben’s is SO much better than Hard Times. It’d be awesome if they moved to Clarendon, though I’d be afraid it be Nats Park quality, which isn’t nearly as good as the actual restaurant. If you’re judging Ben’s based solely on what you’ve had at Nats Park, then you really haven’t had the best of what they have to offer.

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