Native Washingtonian 101 — Talking half smokes

Looking for local delicacy? Forget crabs – get a half smoke.

Half smokes are hot dogs combined with sausage and well, let’s just say other stuff. Whatever, it just tastes good. They’re bigger and tastier than regular hot dogs.

I used to order half smokes from stands when traveling around the country and people looked at me like I was crazy. I couldn’t understand why until learning half smokes are a Washington thing. Who knew we were so cultured? Other places have different sausages that are like half smokes, but only Washingtonians make them the right way. They may be on a street cart in the city, but probably not.

The mecca of half smokes is Ben’s Chili Bowl at 1213 U St. N.W. President Obama ate one there. It’s a local joint that has good food and better atmosphere where everyone with the price of a dog is welcome. Ben’s also has a stand at Nationals Park during baseball season.

Ben’s specialty is putting chili on half smokes. A lot of people like onions and mustard. You might want a breath mint after eating one.

Personally, I prefer them without chili. Just ketchup and mustard for me. But, if you want the real experience, order a half smoke with the works at Ben’s.

About Rick

Rick Snider is a native Washingtonian, long-time journalist and licensed tour guide since 2010.
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