The Washington Post

Where to find half-smokes without Ben’s

Looking for this? Just because Ben's is closed for a few days doesn't mean you're out of half-smoke options. (Jeffrey MacMillan/For The Washington Post)

Have faith: Ben’s may be the most famous example 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. And 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 DC 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 freqently 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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Alex Baldinger is editor of the Going Out Guide blog, which covers food, drink, arts, music, events and other curiosities in the D.C. area. He is forever in search of a great sandwich.

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