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Posted at 06:00 PM ET, 10/04/2011

The next best thing to a Ben’s half-smoke


Co-owner Nizam Ali has a plumbing problem, which is creating a temporary clog in the Ben’s half-smoke pipeline. (Bill O'Leary for The Washington Post)
Ben’s Chili Bowl is closed until the weekend due to plumbing work, creating a serious but temporary power vacuum in the city’s half-smoke empire. Who will save us from this nightmare?

Have faith: Ben’s may be the most famous outpost of the city’s iconic half-beef, half-pork sausage temptation, but the U Street eatery isn’t the only place in town to find the meaty goodness of a half-smoke. Sure, you can still get one at Ben’s Next Door, but it’ll cost you more. Why not take this as a sign to branch out?

At Florida Avenue Grill, it’s customary to order a half-smoke with two eggs, biscuits and hash browns. Take note: Half-smokes are only served until 1:30 p.m. during the week, and 3:30 p.m. on weekends.

The Passenger on Seventh Street NW by the Convention Center also offers a tasty rendition of the chili half-smoke, although it does have a more distinguishable meat flavor than the venerable Ben’s original. Blasphemy!

Barracks Row’s DC-3 is a temple of hot doggery, and the small but polished operation’s D.C. Hot Half-Smoke hits all the right notes. It’s best served with a side of fried pickles, which are made to order and cut to the size of potato chips.

Arlington’s Weenie Beenie offers perhaps the best approximation of the Ben’s experience. Not only is queing up outdoors part of the ordering process, as it frequently is at Ben’s, but the no-frills menu and in-and-out service will seem familiar as well. One big, added bonus: It serves onion rings.

Finally, let’s not ignore your friendly, neighborhood hot dog cart vendor. Our favorite is parked at the corner of 15th and L streets NW. Two half-smokes, a soda and chips for $5? Not even Ben’s can top that.

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By  |  06:00 PM ET, 10/04/2011

Categories:  Comfort Food | Tags:  Alex Baldinger

 
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