Tales from the Trail

Ben’s Chili Bowl serves up half smoke to French leader

French President Nicolas Sarkozy may come from one of the world’s culinary capitals, but it seems whenever he comes to America more simple fare awaits him – hot dogs or sausages. USA

In 2007 when Sarkozy visited President George W. Bush at the family estate in Kennebunkport, Maine, he was offered a lunch of hamburgers and hot dogs as the leaders tried to improve relations strained by the Iraq war.

Three years later he comes to Washington and where does he stop before going to the White House? Ben’s Chili Bowl.

The casual restaurant which serves hot dogs, sausages, and chili, has been around for more than 50 years and seen its share of  history along the way. Customers have included Martin Luther King Jr., Bill Cosby, Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald.

Sarkozy apparently had one of Ben’s famous half-smokes – a pork and beef smoked sausage — for lunch, that’s about as American as you can get without the apple pie.

D.C. diner adds Obama to list of famous patrons

WASHINGTON – President-elect Barack Obama made an impromptu foray into his new hometown on Saturday with a visit to D.C. landmark Ben’s Chili Bowl and threw health-consciousness to the wind: a chili half-smoke, and don’t hold the shredded cheese.USA-OBAMA/

“Where the food at?” Obama asked the staff as he walked through the restaurant accompanied by Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty, shaking hands and posing for pictures.

The neighborhood diner in the city’s U Street district has served up food to the likes of Bill Cosby, Ella Fitzgerald and Martin Luther King, Jr. since it opened its doors in 1958.