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Ben’s Chili Bowl Mural To Start From Scratch

The iconic U Street half-smoke joint is changing with the times

The five-year-old mural on Ben’s Chili Bowl was painted over last night.
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Over Wednesday night, Ben’s Chili Bowl quietly erased all evidence of its famous portrait mural of alleged sexual predator Bill Cosby, as well as Barack Obama, Donnie Simpson, and Chuck Brown.

The timing of the historic eatery’s planned paint job had to do with the administration changeover and “the end of an era,” Ben’s artist-in-residence W. Ellington Felton tells Washingtonian. Whitewashing the mural—a surprise to the public—was first reported by Popville.

Now the community has a chance to weigh in on whose mugs will be plastered on the visible wall next, via an online survey in which voters can pick up to six people.

“After five years of braving the elements, its time to refresh and repaint the mural,” says the voting page.

The 60-some candidates on the list include a wide range of local and international celebrities, including Harriet Tubman, Anthony Bourdain, George Lopez, Misty Copeland — and Cosby.

Open since 1958 on U Street, Ben's Chili Bowl has been serving half-smokes smothered in their signature chili since day one.

Cosby became a notorious fan back in the sixties, and ever since, the chili half-smoke has continued to draw crowds of locals, tourists, and politicians in huge numbers. Obama first caught a craving in 2009.

Ben’s has various locations throughout D.C. area; its Arlington restaurant deleted Cosby’s image last June.

The line to celebrate Ben’s fiftieth anniversary.
Roy Lewis

Ben's Chili Bowl

1213 U Street Northwest, , DC 20009 (202) 667-0909 Visit Website