City Desk

Obama, Fenty Visit Ben’s Chili Bowl

Barack Obama made his first foray as president-elect into local Washington today, joining Mayor Adrian M. Fenty at about 1 p.m. for a chili half-smoke.

The AP and WaPo have coverage, and here's the official pool report:

The president-elect departed the Hay-Adams at 11.35 in the motorcade to film an interview segment with George Stephanopoulos, to be aired tomorrow. He arrived at 11.40 and departed an hour later with DC mayor Adrian Fenty in tow.

The pair reached the 50-year-old Washington fast food institution, Ben's Chili Bowl, at 12.55. The president-elect posed with diners and staff in all three rooms of the restaurant, before returning to the counter to collect his order: a chili half smoke and sweet tea, and cheese fries and water for Mr Fenty. The president-elect paid with a $20 bill, telling the counter attendant who asked if he wanted change, "No, we're straight."

The president-elect and mayor took a two-person table, and joked with diners as they ate. Mr. Obama returned to the counter for shredded cheese, Mr. Fenty's water and some napkins.

Asked about the importance of the visit, Mr Obama said: "it means I'm going to get a hot dog." He said it was his first visit to the restaurant. He would not be drawn on a sporting preference for Maryland and Georgetown.

Oh, and if you're wondering what a half-smoke is, read Dave Jamieson's definitive profile of the foodstuff.

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