City Desk

The Needle: Ben’s Suburban Chili Bowl Edition

The Orange Line's Chili Bowl?: Until Nationals Park opened, there was only one place in the world to get an authentic Ben's Chili Bowl half-smoke, and that was on U Street. Now, of course, there's the ballpark stands, but the real change may come in a bit; Ben's is thinking of expanding to Dupont Circle, H Street NE, and Clarendon, Springfield, and Prince George's County. Maybe the Clarendon spot makes sense—U Street, after all, was once known as "the Black Broadway," and Clarendon could now easily be called "the Bro Broadway." Still, if the expansion means Ben Ali's surviving relatives make more money, we're for it. +2

Peanuts For All: Yes, the District has a cash flow problem. And yes, any money to help open new parks helps. But we're beginning to worry a bit about the precedent set by the new Planters Grove section of Marvin Gaye Park, sponsored by Planters Nuts and shaped like Jimmy Carter's favorite legume. It's not so much the corporate branding of public space, as it is the photo of Mayor Vince Gray giving a giant peanut mascot a high five. This is the nation's capital here, folks; can we try to retain some dignity? At least make the peanut doff its cap before greeting our elected leaders. -1

I Speak For The Trees: The outrageous heat sweeping the city isn't just bad for people, it's also bad for trees. So District officials want help keeping some of the youngest ones hydrated—and they'll give you the tub to do it with. The more trees, of course, the more shade there is, which makes this program a win for everyone. At least until the fall comes along. +1

Tacos For Some: The battle between food trucks and restaurant owners isn't the only one that hinges on whether portable food businesses have an edge over the bricks-and-mortar ones. In Adams Morgan, local restauranteurs are objecting to the Latino market that sets up in Unity Park, saying some of the food vendors don't follow proper permitting regulations. As a result, the market now only operates on Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays; Saturday hours hav been canceled, pending a resolution. No taxation without tacos! -2

Yesterday's Needle rating: 48 Today's score: 0 Today's Needle rating: 48

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