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Turning Back the Clock with Virginia Ali of Ben's Chili Bowl

Ben's Chili Bowl - Places to Eat on U Street - Washington, DC

The Ben's Chili Bowl matriarch discuss the early days of the famed half-smoke-vending eatery.

You might have heard that Washington, DC has experienced a significant resurgence in recent years, as new restaurants, retail and attractions flock to the city. Few people have witnessed as much change in the District as Virginia Ali, who, along with her husband Ben, opened up the DC institution Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street in August 1958. They have seen the race riots of the late 1960s that led to decay in the 1970s and 1980s, endured the construction of the Metro's Green Line in the late 1980s that reduced U Street to a major construction zone, as well as the revitalization of U Street as a mecca for dining and nightlife.

To say Ben’s has been a success is an understatement, as the Ali family owns and operates numerous locations across the Washington, DC metropolitan area, including Reagan National Airport and Nationals Park. And in 2009, 10 days before his inauguration, President Barack Obama stopped by for lunch.

Take a look as Virginia Ali discusses this Washington, DC landmark.

While you’re visiting U Street, check out our list of the best things to see and do.