We recently featured DC’s U Street neighborhood here on Hood Hopper, where you saw a big nod to the famous U Street restaurant Ben’s Chili Bowl. It looks like the U landmark is opening a new location on H Street NE, which is big news because of the historical significance of the restaurant in its original location.
DCist has a “heretical” take on the news, saying the lofty position granted to Ben’s has more to do with its history than the quality of its food.
The author writes:
The original U Street location is made that much more compelling because of its longevity and its story. It’s an institution, but like many institutions, we’ve granted it such exalted status despite some shortcomings in what it’s supposed to do best—food. That’s not to say it doesn’t do what it does well, but that what it does is pretty low on food scale to begin with. Being local and having a long history certainly adds some cachet, but it doesn’t make the food taste any better.
They admit that the H Street location is a logical choice, though. The strip has grown to become a nightlife destination, with new bars and restaurants opening all the time:
Moreover, opening on H Street NE is smart. First off, they’ll certainly attract plenty of bar-goers, just as they do on U Street. But more importantly, H Street has much the same history and appeal as U Street did and does. Ben’s is a known quantity to D.C. residents from all backgrounds, and it will seem like a welcome addition to a commercial corridor that is being turned upside down, for better and for worse.