Food and Drink

ROC Guide Highlights DC Restaurants

Photo courtesy of
‘Ben’s Chili Bowl’
courtesy of ‘Michael T. Ruhl’

When picking a restaurant for your next meal out, why not choose a place where workers haven’t coughed all over your dinner because they’ve been forced to work with the flu?

Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-United) and their local branch ROC-DC just released their first annual Diners’ Guide: a Zagat-like booklet that scores national and local restaurants based on how they treat their workers. The guide includes the 150 highest revenue restaurants in America as well as some local spots already working toward better standards for their employees.

Some of the results aren’t exactly shocking (no, Hooters doesn’t lead the industry in fair treatment of their workers). Others may be more of a surprise: Capital Grille, for example, makes it onto a special list of shame for restaurants charged with discrimination and wage theft.

Continue reading

Adventures, Entertainment, Essential DC, Food and Drink, Fun & Games, Life in the Capital, People, Special Events, The Daily Feed

Ben’s Chili Bowl At Six Flags America!

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘CstrzRock’

If you enjoy all the roller coasters, water rides, shows, family attractions for all ages, funnel cake, cotton candy, etc. already available at Six Flags America! then as of today you’ll be able to add chili and half-smokes to your list.

Our favorite chili and half-smokes from historic Ben’s Chili Bowl will be served at two locations: Hurricane Hot Dog in Hurricane Harbor water park and Colonial Cheesesteaks in the theme park. This endeavor will be Ben’s first theme park location and only the fifth place in the Washington, DC area where guests can dine on these famous DC eats.

The Daily Feed

French Pres. Stops By Ben’s for a Bite

Photo courtesy of
‘I have a dream…’
courtesy of ‘voteprime’

When visiting Paris, it could be considered culturally appropriate to pick up a crepe or a glass of wine. But, if you’re French president Nicholas Sarkozy or First Lady Carla Bruni and you are visiting DC, you do the right thing: you stop by Ben’s Chili Bowl for lunch. Reliable Source has reported that Mrs. Sarkozy-Bruni had the famous half-smoke while President Sarkozy went with the chili burger; his two sons also joined and grabbed burgers at the U. St establishment.

I’m not up on my diplomacy protocols, but given that Obama doesn’t even get to eat for free, I do not believe the Cosby exemption is transferable. Not sure what international custom related to the Ben’s standard may be – I just hope they didn’t fill up before dinner with President Obama this evening.

Update: There are now photos and video of the experience.

Entertainment, Essential DC, Food and Drink, Fun & Games, Life in the Capital, Special Events, The District, The Features

We Love Events: Big Kids Block Party

Photo courtesy of
‘The Good Stuff’
courtesy of ‘DaveFayram’

In last weekend’s Washington Post, the article “Tips on Throwing a Neighborhood Block Party,” detailed the ins and outs of how to–legally–plan, promote and execute a block party in DC.

So now, my friends, it’s time to get the block partying on!

Look no further than the Big Kids Block Party, Saturday, October 3 from 6pm to midnight at Marion and Q St NW in DC’s Shaw neighborhood.  The party is being hosted and organized by the Q Street Nehighborhood Association, is properly sanctioned by local DC authorities and, as a BIG kids block party, is for the 21+ crowd (photo ID will be required for entrance.)

Did I also mention all the local restaurants/shops that are providing provisions for the event? I’m talking 200 half-smokes from Ben’s Chili Bowl, Mr. Yogato fro-yo (and they’ve got some sort of 100 yogurt cup competition up their shelves AND gift card giveaways,) lots of tasty goodies from Julia’s Empanadas, a cotton candy machine, rice crispy treats and more. Continue reading

Special Events, The Daily Feed

TEP & Ben’s Chili Bowl Fundraiser TODAY!!!

Photo courtesy of

‘Summer = Grill = Hotdogs!’

courtesy of ‘TheBusyBrain’

I know it’s last minute on a Sunday, but if you’re in the mood for some half-smokes, beer and good company, all in the name of raising funds for The Equity Project (TEP) Charter School, this gathering is for you. DC’s very own Ben’s Chili Bowl is sponsoring the event and generously providing half smokes, chili, cheese, the works. There will also be vegetarian options and other delights.

Suggested donation: $20. Brokeass? Throw us $5 or a six pack and they’ll call it even. The party is being hosted by TEP Capital Campaign Board members, who are raising funds for a facility, since charter schools are not provided an actual building.

Location: 605 Q Street NW, (2 blocks from Howard/Shaw metro stop)

Time: 6-9pm Continue reading

Food and Drink, Night Life, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Ben’s Next Door

Citrus District, Ben's Next Door

"Citrus District, Ben's Next Door" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr

Catching up with friends who’ve been away from DC for a while is always interesting. You want to take them someplace that’s different, that shows the changes of the city over the past five years or more, but also you require a vibe which allows you to actually hear each other. I had this challenge recently with a friend who’d returned to DC from living in London, so naturally I wasn’t going to kill myself trying to impress her, I just wanted to find a place that simply said “Welcome Back to Washington.”

We found it at the bar at Ben’s Next Door. What could be more Washingtonian than the new bar and restaurant opened by the Ali family of Ben’s Chili Bowl fame? I mean, have you seen the crazy lines of tourists outside Ben’s lately? I had to show her how the legend of U Street continues to grow. 

Funnily enough, we made it just before the news of chef Rock Harper’s departure. I’m really glad we both had the instant instinct to stick to the bar. It’s a looooong one (53 feet, to be exact), which always makes me a bit nervous about service, but there was no need to worry. We spent several hours catching up under the careful eye of bartender Anthony, who made sure we never wanted for anything. 

It was a real locals crowd that night, U Street denizens cheering on the Caps against the Pens, but it never got too loud and there was a happy buzz to the place. Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Obama Smokes Up @ Ben’s

Ben’s Chili Bowl by dbking

President-elect Barack Obama chowed down with Mayor Fenty at Ben’s Chili Bowl this afternoon.  Since the owners recently changed their “eat for free” policy to include Bill Cosby and Obama, I’m guessing he didn’t have to pay much for that half smoke.  Asked if this was his first time at Ben’s he replied, “It is, actually, and it was terrific.”

There’s no word on whether or not Obama and Fenty were out boozin’ it up prior to their trip to Ben’s – a right of passage here in DC.