Photograph by Darrow Montgomery
Sorry, Ben’s Chili Bowl, but there’s a new king of D.C.’s signature sausage. It’s available just a mile away from the iconic U Street NW tourist trap in a smoky sliver of a barbecue joint. Chef Rob Sonderman starts with a spicy half-pork, half-beef link from Manger Packing Corp. in Baltimore, which also supplies Ben’s and is considered the half-smoke’s progenitor. The snappy frank is topped with a hearty ladle full of rich burnt ends brisket chili amped with chipotle, ancho, and New Mexico chilies. Chopped red onions, shreds of cheddar and jack cheese, and a wiggle of bright yellow French’s mustard are the finishing touches. Perhaps the best part is that you don’t have to wade through a busload of picture-snapping Minnesotans to enjoy it. Not yet, anyway.