Best Celebrity-Watching With Side of Half-Smoke

Best: Ben’s Chili Bowl
1213 U St. NW
2nd Best: Torrie’s at Wilson’s
700 V St. NW
For months, half-smokes at Ben’s Chili Bowl have been served with an extra side of glitz. The U Street institution has come recommended by Bill Cosby, whose name floats above the open kitchen, stating that the Coz always eats free. But a new sign has been erected in Ben’s to remind patrons that their order of cheese fries is now being consumed on holier ground: the president sat here, it reads. After Obama’s lunchtime stop with Fenty last December, celebrities like Usher and In Living Color alum Tommy Davidson have been spotted ceremoniously dipping from the chili bowl. The combination of the sausage and the celebrity would be enough to give any onlooker heart trouble. Instead, skip Ben’s long non-VIP line and head up to Torrie’s at Wilson’s, where the half-smoke is less celebrated but easier to come by. There, take in some more leisurely celeb-watching: Torrie’s at Wilson’s walls are lined with signed head shots of ghosts of celebrities past, from Davidson’s In Living Color co-stars to a handsome double portrait of newly re-crowned D.C. politicians Hill and Bill Clinton. Sure, there’s little chance that a bona-fide celeb will take a seat in one of Torrie’s at Wilson’s wraparound booths, but you never know: Bubba would love this place.
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