Ben’s Chili Bowl, where only Barack Obama and Bill Cosby can eat for free, is just one highlight of DC’s U Street. After chowing down on a killer half-smoke with chili, you can stretch your legs and explore the street that first gained fame in the early 20th century as Washington’s ‘Black Broadway.’ Then it was home to Langston Hughes and Duke Ellington and hub for African American culture and nightlife in the city, and today it’s enjoying a new renaissance, with distinctive shops like moojoo ken, top jazz clubs like Bohemian Caverns, popular bistros like Cafe Saint-Ex and Marvin, and a collection of wine bars like Vinoteca and Cork. In celebration of Inauguration Day, the bookstore cafe and gathering place Busboys and Poets will be open 24 hours, and Cake Love, our favorite place for homemade cakes, will be offering a special confection named 44, a “Salty Caramel layer cake to honor our 44th President” with individual slices for $4.40.
Traveler staffers Janelle Nanos and Krista Rossow had a blast making this walking tour photo gallery of U Street, part of our extensive Inauguration Guide to DC. But when they stopped at Ben’s Chili Bowl and Krista pulled out her camera to photograph one of the famous half-smokes, the waiter stopped her. “Wait a minute,” he said as he took the plate back to the kitchen. Uh-oh, thought Krista and Janelle. A minute later the waiter returned, with the half-smokes sweetly decorated, as if they were birthday cakes. Thanks, Ben’s!
Photo: Krista Rossow