When one thinks of the famous Ben’s Chili Bowl, chili is probably the first thing that will come to mind. So when the adjoining Ben’s Next Door Restaurant and Bar is mentioned, no one would ever think about scallops, filet mignon, or chicken and waffles. There is an immediate difference in ambiance as soon as you walk into BND, you feel as though you stepped back in time into a bluesy jazz lounge.
Located on the ever so popular U Street NW, the warm colored shotgun restaurant is much bigger than it appears to look on the outside. With canary yellow painted brick walls decorated with musical artwork on the right side of the eatery, the bar area is sizeable and lively. All the way back is a quaint second floor that lends to a more secluded and private feel.
With flat screen televisions casually placed around, BND makes it easy to catch the game and a relaxing meal. The menu was generous with appetizers, soups and salads, sandwiches and lunch/dinner entrées.
Sipping on a “Natty Boh” ($4) and munching on a jalapeño biscuit from the bread basket while exploring the menu was relaxing. After going back and forth between several items; Shrimp and Organic White Cheese Grits ($20) was the winner. And a winner it definitely was, creamy white cheese grits beneath succulent sautéed shrimp and tomatoes in a white wine sauce was light yet full-bodied and satiating.
Ben’s Seafood Sampler ($25), lightly fried shrimp, fried catfish and a crab cake is perfect for someone’s first visit so they can experience a few of the different offerings BND has to offer. Served with two of BND’s several signature sides ($4), this meal is made for the famished diner. One of the more popular BND sides is the kale, and understandably so; sautéed with turkey, this flavorful side dish makes one forget that they’re even eating a vegetable!
BND can and seems to be a local spot that has enamored their patrons. From the chill vibes to the delicious food, BND will be a U Street staple for years to come!