• Here’s to a half century of chili dogs! Ben and Virginia Ali opened their landmark U Street restaurant, Ben’s Chili Bowl, 50 years ago today. To celebrate, the Ali family—sons Kamal and Nizam run the place now—threw a free gala at the Lincoln Theatre last night. The emcee was the Bowl’s most famous regular, Bill Cosby. Festivities continued with a block party outside Ben’s that kicked off with a press conference at 10:30 this morning. A Washington Post feature discusses the restaurant’s storied past and exciting future: The brothers are gearing up to open a spinoff next door—with a liquor license—in the fall.
•Ben’s is still going strong after 50 years, but many other restaurants aren’t so lucky. Metrocurean has a “death reel” of restaurants that shuttered this summer.
• Despite all of these restaurant closings and rising food costs, openings are still on the horizon. Frozen Tropics reports on two new Atlas District spots: Radius Pizza at the Ohio and the H Street Country Club. Radius Pizza will replace the old Ohio, a diner-style spot that served Southern fare and burgers for decades. H Street Country Club—which looks close to opening—fills the former Phish Tea Cafe space.
• Embarrassing news for Wine Spectator: The New York Times Diner’s Journal blog reports that the respected wine magazine gave an Award of Excellence to a restaurant that doesn’t exist.
• What does superhuman swimmer Michael Phelps—whose recommended daily calorie intake is 8,000 to 10,000—eat for breakfast? In high school, he recounts in his autobiography Beneath the Surface, he’d head over to Pete’s Grille in his hometown of Baltimore to start the day with this multicourse feast:
“Start with three sandwiches of fried eggs, cheese, lettuce, tomato, fried onions, and mayonnaise; add one omelet, a bowl of grits, and three slices of French toast with powdered sugar; then wash down with three chocolate chip pancakes.” (via Serious Eats)
• In a short review of Nando’s Peri-Peri in Chinatown, the City Paper’s Tim Carman complains about bad service but concedes that he arrived at the restaurant ten minutes before closing, prompting some backlash from online commenters. Read on past the second short review—an unsurprising rave for Ray’s Hell Burger—to check out the interesting exchange between Carman and readers in the comments.