Ben’s Chili Bowl, Grand Opening at Reagan National Airport (DCA) Tomorrow (Wed.)

Photo courtesy Ben’s Chili Bowl

From a press release:

“On Wednesday, July 23rd, Ben’s Chili Bowl will celebrate the opening of the historic D.C. restaurant’s first ever airport location. “Ben’s Chili Bowl is an iconic part of Washington, D.C.’s rich culture,” said Jack Potter, President and CEO of Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. “It is fitting to have Ben’s at the airport, welcoming travelers and giving them their first taste of the region.”

The Ben’s Chili Bowl ribbon cutting will be held at the restaurant’s new location, pre-security in the B/C Terminal of Reagan National Airport. The Chuck Brown Band will perform at the event in honor of the late, great Chuck Brown, another Washington, DC icon.

Visitors to Washington, DC have usually heard about Ben’s Chili Bowl long before their arrival. Many remember the news of President Obama stopping by to enjoy a Chili Half Smoke. Ben’s has been seen on Man vs. Food, CNN, Oprah, Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, Good Morning America, Larry the Cable Guy, Pauly Shore, The Daily Show, and countless other national and international shows. People often think of Bill Cosby when they think of Ben’s because he has been a longtime friend and Half Smoke aficionado.

Ben’s Chili Bowl has also been seen in films like Russell Crowe’s State of Play, Denzel Washington’s The Pelican Brief, and Don Cheadle’s Talk to Me. In the old days, guests included Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway, Nat King Cole, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and many other luminaries. More recently, French President Sarkozy, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, members of the US Congress, and many other noteworthy political figures have stopped by to sample the world famous Ben’s cuisine. 21st Century pop culture icons including Chris Rock, Usher, Bono, Tyrese, Nick Cannon, Chris Tucker, Sara Jessica Parker, Serena Williams and others have also been seen on recent visits.

In addition to being known as the place in DC where everyday people brush shoulders with celebrities, Ben’s Chili Bowl has also been honored to receive numerous awards and accolades, including the prestigious “America’s Classics” award from the James Beard Foundation. In 2008, Ben and Virginia Ali were given the Key to the City by DC Mayor Adrian Fenty, and in 2009 Ben’s was honored by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. In 2010, the George Washington University enshrined Ben’s Chili Bowl’s historic papers, documents and photos into its main Gelman Library, and all documents have been digitized for students and scholars throughout the world to examine. And in 2013, Ben’s won the Steve Harvey Golden Spatula Award for Best Chili in America.

In spite of all the world recognition and fame, local residents of DC, Maryland and Virginia know the real truth about Ben’s Chili Bowl, and that truth is simple. They know that Ben’s is first and foremost about FAMILY and COMMUNITY. For over 55 years, Ben’s has graciously served the people, and every guest has always been embraced as family. When segregation was still alive, Ben’s offered a peaceful gathering place and safe haven for ALL people, regardless of any differences in background or perspective. Society has grown and changed, but Ben’s remains the same and continues to celebrate people from all walks of life as they come together to eat, laugh, and discuss life as they see it. And now people are welcome to enjoy many more magical and memorable moments of food and fun at Ben’s Chili Bowl’s first airport location!”

26 Comment

  • brookland_rez

    I can see long lines for airplane bathrooms being an issue. Gives a whole new meaning to air turbulence.

  • Still waiting for the Ben’s Chili Bowl Bowling Alley!

  • Cool. I’m disappointed, though, that like a significant portion of the food & bev at Reagan, it’s outside the secure area. I’m all about getting a bite before my flight, but I hate worrying about the checkpoint line spiking while I’m trying to enjoy my food.

    • Emmaleigh504

      A million times this! I like to enjoy a bite when all the stress if over.

    • Yep, I’m not sitting down to eat until I’m through security.

    • If it was inside the terminal you could take Ben’s on a plane. Oh no.

    • 100% yes. It would be expensive and might not even be possible, but they should push out the security permiter halfway into the big wide hall, allowing everything on the far wall to be past security and allowing for people to walk between the piers post-security. Especially with US Airways running so many connecting flights through DCA now, this would be a HUGE improvement.

      • The bigger problem (and this is off-topic) is that the TV screens showing the departure times/gates aren’t even at the Metro entrance to the airport. You have to roll the dice and pick a wing (A or B) to find them and then trek back if you’re wrong. THAT IS THE REAL PROBLEM HERE FOLKS! CAN I GET AN AMEN

    • This is because terminals B & C were completed 3 years before 9/11 & the advent of security theater. It wasn’t a big deal that restaurants were away from gates when passing through security took significantly less time.

  • I wonder if they’ll have the full menu, or the ball park version?

  • Encountering Ben’s Chili Butt at your own apartment at 3am is one thing, but at 30,000 feet among recycled air? This may be exactly what Dulles needs to get some of their market share back.

    • I can’t possibly imagine eating Bens and getting on a plane. The full life cycle from mouth to exit is about 2 hours, max. Make for an uncomfortable ride.

      • yeah, uncomfortable for everyone else…

      • Agreed. I live around the corner from Ben’s and love it to death, but airport + Ben’s is a horrendous combination. And, of course, a bunch of idiot tourists without any common sense will eat there.
        I’ve always been worried about a chemical attack on a plane, but I never assumed it would be gas attack by a guy from Missoula.

  • Haaaa!!! Bens chili butt!!!! Yeah seriously though. I would NEVER eat this before sitting for hours on a plane!

    • justinbc

      While I agree with that sentiment, there are many people who show up to the airport to pick up guests and get something to eat while waiting. There are also tourists traveling to DC who have heard about Ben’s and might be inclined to stop there after getting off the plane if it’s right by the exit points.

      • I don’t think nearly as many people hang out inside the airport to pick up passengers, post-9/11. They’re usually circling the terminal or waiting in the cell phone lot. Which is where they should put a Ben’s!

  • Bathroom visits are one thing, but the smell from people eating this and burping it up later while they sit next to me is horrifying.

  • Where/what is this “Reagan National” you write of?

  • There is going to be some serious air rage going on when the sloppy eater next to you spills his chilli on your clothing!

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