The residents of major American cities have a lot to brag about: sports teams, notable citizens, famous architecture. But few things instill as much civic pride like food does. Whether it’s a hole-in-the-wall deli, a decades-old steakhouse or a hot dog drive-in, every city seems to have that iconic eatery locals swear by and tourists regularly swarm. Here are the must-eat spots from 20 big cities.
Ben’s Chili Bowl
For tourists walking down U Street, Ben’s is immediately recognizable because of its old timey façade. It’s well-known for its famous clientele—President-elect Barack Obama dined there before his inauguration in 2009 and Bill Cosby has been a loyal customer since he served in the Navy in nearby Quantico and Bethesda in the 1960s. And it has a storied past: Riots erupted in the area after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968, shutting down the city, but Ben’s stayed open. But the restaurant’s claim to fame is the half-smoke, a spicy quarter-pound pork and beef sausage on a warm steamed bun, topped with mustard, onions and a spicy homemade chili sauce. You can even order the half-smoke, along with hot dogs and burgers, during breakfast hours, and grab a booth or stool that hasn’t budged since 1958.