Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
Ken’s Chili Bowl was never much of a rival to the historic U Street eatery Ben’s Chili Bowl. Ben Ali Jr., of the original chili outpost, says he didn’t consider the knockoff spot on Kennedy Street NW a serious competitor: “Someone told me about it, and I went up there, but it was so small and pitiful, God bless them, that I didn’t even bother to look at the menu.” Now owner Nnamdi Obi-Rapu, who took over the carryout some two months ago, is out of the chili-bowl business. Late last month, the Ken’s sign came down; it is slated to be replaced by one reading “Chuckie’s Chicken House.” Ali isn’t exactly surprised by the demise of Ken’s. “We have another store in the Reeves Center—I take the same chili and the same hot dogs over there every day, but people tell me it’s not the same,” he says. “If I can’t re-create this, I know they can’t.” —Sarah Godfrey