Bay Area Meet President Obama's Hang Out

Bay Area foodie reviews Ben's Chili Bowl

It may not have needed President Barack Obama eating there to become famous but it didn't hurt.

Barack Obama drops in on Ben's Chili Bowl in D.C.;

On my third, and last day, in D.C., I wanted to take things easy. I was craving something casual yet satisfying and so I went to Ben’s Chili Bowl for lunch, where only a few months ago Obama famously said “What’s a half-smoke?”

Admittedly, I didn’t know what a half-smoke was at the time, either. But I do now, and Internet, it is good. I ordered one along with a side of chili cheese fries, which was so heavy that our dining group of five easily shared. 

Touted as Bill Cosby’s favorite, the chili half-smoke is a quarter pound of smoked sausage on a steamed bun, topped with onions, mustard, ketchup and spicy chili sauce. The sausage was hefty, strong and smoky. With the chili cheese fries, they made for an exceptionally big lunch, one that kept me full (and happy) well through the day.

I spent the rest of the day at the Smithsonian, revisiting the Freer and Sackler Galleries and the National Air and Space Museum that I enjoyed so much when I first played tourist in D.C. a several years ago. After a quick Korean dinner in Virginia that evening, I packed up and was ready for the next leg of my trip: Jamaica.

Mariam Hosseini is a Bay Area native who has been writing about food and travel for six years. She blogs regularly at

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