A New Ben's Chili Bowl, A Bit of Go-Go, and A Whole Lot of D.C. Soul!

A New Ben's Chili Bowl, A Bit of Go-Go, and A Whole Lot of D.C. Soul! IMG_4733

Ben's Chili Bowl H Street

Go-go, so named because the music just goes and goes, is a love child of the blues, funk, salsa, gospel, and soul that emerged in the '70s- Abdul Ali in How Washington, D.C. ,Turned its Back on Go-Go, the Music It Invented

Go-Go music is quintessentially D.C.!

It tells the story of a vibrant and resilient people. It carries hope drenched in raw, at times raunchy humor. It's syncopated soliloquies and tribal beats stir within the most conservative among us, a primal urge to dance.

Go-Go is a D.C. cultural mainstay that speaks to the soul.

Another cultural mainstay, dating back to 1958, is Ben's Chilli Bowl. A D.C. local favorite, Ben's Chili Bowl speaks through the stomach to the soul.

It makes sense then, that one complimented the other during the highly anticipated grand opening of the second H Street location of this classic D.C. eatery.

Loved by locals.

Visited by presidents and dignitaries, tourists and celebrities.

Featured on the travel channel: Man Versus Food, No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain, and Bizarre Foods America, Ben's Chilli Bowl has been delighting palettes for generations.

A form of R&B founded in D.C. by Chuck Brown with roots in Africa -call and response, congas. It has jazz improvisation, it utilizes arrangements, it's instrumental, it reminds me of a drum circle, it's tribal at its core. - Mark Williams, Former Trombonist with Chuck Brown

We found our way, to the grand opening of the second Ben's Chili Bowl on H street by way of my husband Mark, a former D.C. resident and trombonist with the late but legendary Chuck Brown.

The afternoon was blazing. The sky broke apart into an abyss of blinding white light which cascaded acutely off of any and every metal surface. The pavement was so hot it was sticky. The notoriously humid D.C. air was almost drinkable, but somehow it didn't matter,  a crowd was gathering. A crowd that was growing by the minute.

Out the door of the new Ben's Chili Bowl, a line, snaked for a block and a half. In front of the bandstand, revelers gathered, dancing despite the heat, despite the sweat, to the intoxicating rythms of the Chuck Brown Tribute Band.

I wanted to run for shade, (eventually I did, sneaking into the pristine new Ben's Chilli Bowl before the rest of the public was let in- we were the first to be served!) but I found myself dancing, my one year old bouncing joyously in his carrier, my three year old bending his knees, swaying his hips to the rythms.

To the left of me, secret servicemen ushered the mayor and senators through the crowd. To the right, people of every age, race and social economic demographic effectively broke it down to the music.

For decades, the D.C. community has rallied behind Ben's Chili Bowl, it survived the race riots of the 60's, like a giant oak, it has stood the test of time.

They say it's the chili- soulful, spicy, sweet.

Some swear it's all about the chili bowl half smoke.

Whatever your flavor, whatever your fashion, Ben's is simple, sloppy, soulful, stick to your ribs food. They even have turkey options for those who don't eat red meat.

Since we ducked into the restaurant early, before the public was allowed in, to escape the heat, we were among the first to be served. Ohm even made it on the evening news as he sampled some chili fries.


No visit to Washington, D.C., is complete without a visit to Ben's Chili Bowl and while you're there, find some Go-Go music to listen to. It's just as unique to D.C. as Brass Band is to New Orleans, though much less popular across the country which means, it's kind of like a well kept secret, one you need to discover for yourself.