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About Ben's Chili Bowl and Halfsmokes.com

Ben's Chili Bowl on historic U Street in Washington, DC was opened in 1958 by my parents, Ben and Virginia Ali. They had 3 sons and I am the youngest. My name is Nizam and my sister-in-law Sonya Ali heads up our e-commerce and catering divisions and she is the one that ships out every box to you, directly from our restaurant. She or I respond to your emails at orders@benschilibowl.com. I do my very best with our website and online store HalfSmokes.com.

We are a family business through and through. My dad Ben passed away in 2009 at 82 years old but before he did, he and my mother Virginia celebrated 50 years of marriage, 50 years of their restaurant Ben's Chili Bowl, and the got to see our first black President walk through the front door of Ben's.

Virginia Ali is now 87 years old and she started the restaurant with her husband Ben when she was only 24. Every August 22nd, Ben’s Chili Bowl celebrates our founding. But it’s not just a birthday, it’s a celebration of DC’s African American history, culture, and character. It’s a celebration of our city, and U Street’s resilience. Its a celebration of family and of the American dream. 

We are blessed to still be in business and to have great customers like you. When you support Ben's and halfsmokes.com, you support our Ben's Chili Bowl Foundation, our community and all those we serve. Its a shame that we only have Ben's Chili Bowl restaurants in the Washington, DC metro area, but we are so happy and proud to be able to ship our food to your home, where ever you live in our great country. Food brings us all together and we hope that you and your family enjoy ours. All our best to you and your family.


Nizam Ali (in the grey sweatshirt with Sonya in the striped cardigan. And of course, Mom)

Please note that we ship only on Mondays and Tuesdays. Our shipping office is closed all day Wednesday and from Friday at 5pm until Monday at 9am. However, you can send a message toi= our team at any time using our online form.



Business Gifts

Whether it’s to reward your staff or show appreciation for a client, giving the gift of Ben’s is a great way to say “Thank You”! Select a memorable gift from our wide selection of food, merchandise, and e-Gift cards available to ship nationwide or for local pickup right here at HalfSmokes.com. Another option is to let us create one or more custom gift baskets with personalized messaging - just drop us an email at orders@benschilibowl.com with any details on the intended recipient and your ideal gift experience.

From Our Kitchen to Your Table