Ben Ali, founder of the iconic U Street restaurant Ben’s Chili Bowl, died Wednesday evening. He was 82.
Ali, a native of Trinidad, opened Ben’s Chili Bowl with his wife, Virginia, in 1958. The spot has been known for, among other things, being a date night place for comedian Bill Cosby and his wife, and being the only U Street business to last through the 1968 riots. The restaurant is famous for its chili and half-smokes, the latter considered by some to be D.C.’s signature dish.