Since 1958, Ben's Chili Bowl has been a downtown DC favorite, but mostly because it is a landmark in DC. Having been visited by celebrities such as Bill Cosby and most recently even our President, Barack Obama, it is well known throughout the city. Recently, they opened a location prior to security in the Reagan National Airport in DC so I thought I'd check it out.
The decor is reminiscent of the 50's with old diner-style tables and chairs. The bright yellow floor brings warmth and brightness to an otherwise clean diner atmosphere.
The menu is quite simple -- you can have veggie chili in a small or large bowl, chili on a salad, or chili in a rice bowl. Alternatively, you could choose a vegan Boca burger though I'm not sure if the bun is vegan. There is also a veggie hotdog, but it is not vegan.
So I went with a simple order of veggie chili topped with fresh onions and tomatoes. Ben's veggie chili is their original recipe made with texturized vegetable protein, kidney beans, tomatoes, green peppers and onions. It really isn't that great -- it's just an old-school chili made the way they used to make veggie chili back in the day. It was a fine meal -- nothing special, but a hearty meal in the airport. I ended up dousing it in hot sauce as it is a bit too mild for me.
Chris also ordered the fries, which he seemed to like.
One thing that bothered me was their use of styrofoam, which is very uncommon in the DC-area and very unenvironmentally friendly. I hope they reconsider the materials they serve their food in and choose more environmentally friendly options in the near future.
All in all though, I'm happy to just have another option in DCA and I'd definitely eat here again. Please welcome Ben's to DCA!