When Virginia Ali and her husband Ben first started brainstorming about the dream of opening their own little restaurant, the first thing they had to do was decide what kind. A full-service ordeal was off the table for them, and Virginia says that hamburger places were a dime a dozen: “We thought we could try the old American hot dog.”
One of the many elements that has continued to distinguish Ben’s Chili Bowl over the past 60-some-odd years is Ben’s special chili recipe, of course. Virginia says that it was Ben who first came up with the idea to make their own play on the concept of the half-smoke, a special local breakfast-sausage-turned sandwich. “He was the one who came up with the idea of a breakfast sausage going into a nice steamed hotdog bun, cutting it and dressing it with mustard, onions and homemade chili sauce,” says Virginia.
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