When Anthony Bourdain was recently in town filming an episode of No Reservations—which, yes, included the requisite visit to Ben’s Chili Bowl—he was perplexed as to why the half-smoke institution has so many online haters. He wanted my opinion on the matter. Here’s what I said: D.C. is a political town; we love tearing down our leaders. (Actually, I think I said something more cliché, about killing kings.) No matter. Ben’s has withstood 50 years of mudslinging, not to mention riots, Metro construction, and countless visits by former mayor Anthony Williams in an effort to establish street cred. What more do people want? Ben’s is one of the few culinary landmarks in this town not associated with JFK trying to shtup some bimbo, it remains a steadfast supporter of its Shaw neighborhood, and it still serves the best half-smoke around. It’s OK to love Ben’s, particularly on its 50th anniversary. A series of celebratory events kicks off with tonight’s gala, hosted by Bill Cosby. THE EVENT BEGINS AT 8 P.M. AT THE LINCOLN THEATRE, 1215 U ST. NW. FREE. Tickets will be available at Ben's starting Monday, 8/18.