Went to Ben’s Chili Bowl about a week ago, a place I’ve been meaning to go to for a long time.

Let’s leave the food aside, to start. Ben’s was loud and full of energy. I liked that. It seemed like everyone was having fun, talking, and sharing good food. What else do we have, really?

I also find local institutions like Ben’s fun just because they’re very different from my normal experience. For example, scrapple, grits, and “half-smokes” are on the menu. I rarely, or never, have the chance to eat these things. It’s nice to be able to sample an entirely new set of dishes, and it makes me feel reassured, generally, that I am making some effort to try new things.

It’s fun to see places like Ben’s run, too. The food’s the center of the experience. It’s good, and cheap. It’s consistent. It’s served quickly.

I ordered the plain chili (I missed their breakfast platters, unfortunately). It was good, though it’s not the best chili I’ve ever had. I also had the potato salad, which I usually don’t like but which was really good.

For this entry, I’m posting a snippet of the audio from my visit instead of a picture. I think that will convey the atmosphere better, and there are plenty of pictures on the Internet already, see e.g. the Wikipedia entry for Ben’s. I will also write a later post about putting audio into a blog entry, and how easy / difficult that is nowadays. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to make this audio work in Internet Explorer yet, but it should work in most other browsers.