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Hey, isn't that: Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy order a half-smoke at Ben's Chili Bowl

Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy at Ben's Chili Bowl on Tuesday. (Reuters/Benjamin Myers)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, along with Sarkozy's son from a previous marriage, had lunch at U Street fixture Ben's Chili Bowl on Tuesday afternoon. Sarkozy and his wife (looking gorgeous and sporty-casual in dark slacks) had a chili burger and a half-smoke; the boy had a burger. Sarkozy is in town for a private dinner with President Obama at the White House on Tuesday night.

UPDATED, 6:40 p.m.: Obama addressed this later, of course. "Shows his discriminating palate," POTUS told reporters.

By The Reliable Source  |  March 30, 2010; 2:16 PM ET
Categories:  44: Obama's Washington , Hey, Isn't That...?  
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This story marks the end of civilization as we know it. The French (!) president eating mystery meat and canned chili in DC!

Posted by: Trout1 | March 30, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Le half smoke and les freedom fries!

Take that, neocons and teabaggers!

Posted by: bs2004 | March 30, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

I think this is great. Apparently Trout1 has never eaten at Ben's. The chili is homemade and half smokes are a DC tradition. What, you think the French president should come to DC and eat French food??? That makes no sense. He is eating DC history.

Posted by: SweetieJ | March 30, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

The chili is NOT homemade, he admitted it in an interview.

Posted by: Trout1 | March 30, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Those Half Smokes are nasty, and the Chili sucks. I frankly don't know what all the fuss is about.

I wonder if Bill Cosby is getting a cut of the proceeds at Ben's Chili Bowl or perhaps his taste buds are shot.

Posted by: Special_One40 | March 30, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

This man strikes me as a light weight one term French president. My feelings were confirmed when I find out he has ties to the Carlye Group the company with ties to the Bush family, and if not corrupt plays on the same playground with those that are corrupt.
France could do better.

Posted by: ArchieHaase | March 30, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Ben's Chili Bowl, much ado about nothing.

Posted by: TooManyPeople | March 30, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Let them eat cake!

Geez, they'll be farting all night at the White House. Lincoln's ghost will be roaming Lafayette Park to escape the fumes.

Posted by: chunche | March 30, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Maybe he can sell a franchise to Russia.

Posted by: mortified469 | March 30, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: nivla | March 30, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Bon appetit, monsieur et madame! Vous avez manger un gout de D.C.

Posted by: Lindemann777 | March 30, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I've never been to Ben's Chili Bowl, but I agree that half smokes are absolutely disgusting. I bit into one once (because I didn't understand the vendor's accent when he was trying to tell me that he ran out of hot dogs), and when I saw what I had bit into, I wanted to hurl. All sorts of interesting objects and textures all meshed together. I think I shortened my life span that day.

Posted by: forgetthis | March 30, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

j'aime les demi-fumees...

avec chili, s'il vous plait...

Posted by: pmendez | March 30, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

*French President Sarkozy wipes his hands of chili and mouth of cheese as he turns to smile at the First Lady Carla Bruni*

Nicolas Sarkozy: "That was quite the hotdog...can't d'recull them ever being zees guud in France. Vee haf to a get a nice..uh, how do you say eet..."

Carla Bruni: "...Ben's Chili Bowl. Yes, eet vas very good. Did you enjoy it boys?"

Sons: "Yes mom! We love it!"

*Sarkozy looks briefly in the direction of First Lady Carla Bruni, then rolls down the window a bit*

Nicolas Sarkozy: "Seems zee air quality is diminishing in zees cyar at an alarming rate, wouldn't you say so First Lady?"

*Cara's sons grab their noses and wince*

Sons: "What's that smell? Zeet smells like, old hotdog..."

Carla Bruni: "I am sooooooooooo soddy. I zink it's zees hotdog. My stomach feels like it's being moved by a can opener. I need to find zee closest bathroom please!"

*President Zarkosky has limo drop off First Lady at the closest hotel restroom followed closely by bodyguards*

Nicolas Zarkosky: "Boys, remind me to make a note...not to make hotdog veet a chili in eet if the city eez going to smell like THAT!"

Posted by: cbmuzik | March 30, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

A lot of meowing going on today. I am not a pork eater but gladly make an exception for Ben's half smokes. Whether the chili is made on the premises is incidental; it is great and I never have found similar tasting chile anywhere else. I suspect that if Ben's was at Tyson's Corner instead of U Street, your opinions would be different.

Posted by: ajlerner1 | March 30, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

cbmuzik, I like how the Sarkozy family suddenly becomes Russian halfway through your story. The last name even changes to "Zarkosky"! Very impressive. I should have seen it coming when you decided that the French would pronounce "car" as "cyar," but I was so riveted that I had no idea what would happen next.

Posted by: | March 30, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Only in America . . . I am sure the late Ben Ali had no clue that his namesake restaurant would become an DC icon that would host the common, the noble and the glitterari alike. Btw, all this after surviving and thriving the race riots, decline and gentrification of the neighborhood. Only in America, is this a great place or what!

Posted by: meldupree | March 30, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

cbmuzik, I like how the Sarkozy family suddenly becomes Russian halfway through your story. The last name even changes to "Zarkosky"! Very impressive. I should have seen it coming when you decided that the French would pronounce "car" as "cyar," but I was so riveted that I had no idea what would happen next.

Posted by: | March 30, 2010 4:58 PM |

I apologize. That's what happens when you don't do a spell check. I know they aren't


Posted by: cbmuzik | March 30, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Ben's is a beloved Washington institution, and rightly so! But, I have to agree with others, not because the food is great...

Posted by: bowmanrand1 | March 30, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm sooooo thrilled - somehow Mayor Fenty didn't end up in this picture!!!

Posted by: missboo | March 30, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

"...along with Sarkozy's son from previous marriages..."

Are we to assume that Sarkozy's son has multiple mothers? I had no idea that the French could produce a single child during a menage a trois encounter.

As to the comments about the French eating at Ben's Chili Bowl, fans of that establishment (and I am one of them) would feel right at home eating lunch at a typical Paris sidewalk cafe. The menu usually includes "sandwiches jambon" (ham sandwich), "croque monsieur" (grilled ham and cheese sandwich, and (yes) "hot dogs" (hot dogs, because the French would never, ever, call it a "frankfurter.").

Posted by: hisroc | March 30, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

lol.....At least it didn't create an international incident. But Mr. President, get a clue. It's a fricken chilli dog. At least consider sending the next head of state who visits to one of DC's more finer, upscale restaurants, say....Five Guys. ;-)

Posted by: steven09 | March 30, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Ugh. The history behind Ben's is cool but the food is just not good. The chili tastes like Hormel and the dogs suck.

It's embarrassing that now heads of state fall for this tourist trap.

Posted by: ghokee | March 30, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

The captured International Merchant banking cartel puppet president looks like he aged 15 years( must be the jet lag and the soul sucking job)

Posted by: orionquest | March 30, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

This doesn't speak too well for the chef at the White House if you have to go to Ben's for lunch. No dinner for Netanyahu and lunch at Ben's for the Sarkozy's. Are we saving money yet?

Posted by: tempestite | March 30, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

some people use there brain political education and human loyality for the country they been elected for, to be president or prime minister - and those who missing that mininum they use cyber "a la media circus" communication
It is a shame that you are not a Man any more as you use to before you were maried Mr Sarkozy... is someone made you to loose your confident for to sign up with the circus.... and if so what make you think the circus need 100s of directores in the name of brothers and friends... one company with 100s directors sound just as bad as your look a like a.... image

Posted by: ein33q | March 30, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Ha! Doreen Gentzler just echoed my sentiments about the farting to come.

Posted by: chunche | March 30, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

The French first lady is gorgeous.

I hope the French President and his wife were told that this food is for tourists and is not what Washingtonians eat.

Posted by: johng1 | March 30, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

It's called a "Royale with Cheese"...

Posted by: princeleo | March 30, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Publicity stunt to make him appear more folksy and to show them together (given the rumors of both having affairs).

They probably had their stomachs pumped by 2:30 pm.

Posted by: chunche | March 30, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

I can't say as the chili impressed me, but the only mystery is how they make the half smoke so (with apologies to VP Biden) effing good.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | March 30, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

I have nothing against Ben's Chili Bowl, but there are some very fine DC native owned restaurants that would have gone a lot further from a diplomatic standpoint than a chili dog. This would have been appropriate if they had just come from a baseball or hockey game, but for diplomatic lunch?!. I can see the headlines in Paris now......let them eat "halfsmokes"....

Posted by: Pstacy | March 30, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Better than lunch with Carla Bruni is "afternoon delight" with Carla Bruni

Posted by: hyroller56 | March 30, 2010 7:09 PM | Report abuse

I prefer to call it Ben's Diarrhea Bowl.

Posted by: Corn_Laden | March 30, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, Mr. President, I've spent quite a bit of time in DC before returning to my dear old France and NOT voting for you in 2007, and I could have advised you of tons of better places to eat ; especially considering that a greasy Philly cheesesteak from the Metro Center foodcourt is still, in my view, healthier than what you've just had.
Shows who's got style, and who hasn't : Obama's family lunch in a Parisian restaurant while you expected him to visit you at the Elysee Palace instead showed how little he appreciates your company (can't blame the guy for that). Your little Chili adventures just show how bad you want to be like him. Pathetic.

Posted by: clem_flejou | March 30, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

If you criticize the half-smoke and chili at Ben's as "mystery meat and canned chili", Trout1, then two things are true:

1) You do not know what you are talking about;

2) You are not a Washingtonian.

Congrats, jacka$$.

Posted by: tamalpas | March 30, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

I hope they told the French president he has entered an aids active zone...

Posted by: DwightCollins | March 30, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse


it burns on the in and on the way out!!!

even for a president and his wife

Posted by: nader123 | March 30, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

"Garcon, Bring me zee cheelee dawg, sil vous plait"

Posted by: randysbailin | March 30, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Carla looks like a giant next to Nicholas Sarkozy. I don't know why but I just can't stand them. They remind me of a French version of the Salahi's: social climbing fakes, as obvious as a knockoff Hermes Birkin bag.

Posted by: Latinowood | March 30, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Wow... I've never seen so many people hating on Ben's.

There's some major ODS going on here...

Posted by: mason08 | March 30, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

This of course is a PR gimmick. If hot dawgs on the White House lawn were good enough for the King and Queen of England in 1939, and boy, has Great Britain benefited from that stunt threw the years, then a chili burger meal should provide la France with at least Air Force re fueling tanker contract.

Posted by: mayagrafix | March 30, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

[For a light hearted take on our present peril]

Posted by: libertyatstake | March 30, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse

The food at Ben's is horrible. I've had the half-smoke and I've had the chili. Granted, it's a DC institution, but certainly no place to recommend to out-of-towners other than to say you've been there and done that.

Cart them out to Virginia to dine at the Vienna Inn - now that's some fine food!!!

Posted by: adjjones | March 30, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Interesting to hear Obama use the word "discriminating" in its old-fashioned sense, when it didn't refer to negative attitudes toward himself.

Posted by: swmuva | March 30, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Virginia. You take visitors to Virginia.

Of course you don't like Ben's; you have no geographic or culinary taste.

Pat yourself on the back, jacka$$.

Posted by: tamalpas | March 30, 2010 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Her face has that botox look.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | March 30, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

Cart them out to Virginia to dine at the Vienna Inn - now that's some fine food!!!

Posted by: adjjones | March 30, 2010 9:18 PM


Living in Oakton, I could not agree with you more. But Ben's chili cheeseburgers are pretty awesome, too.

Posted by: hisroc | March 30, 2010 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Now that is a woman. Not like that hideous beast of Barry's.

Posted by: screwjob11 | March 31, 2010 12:05 AM | Report abuse

I am no fan of half smokes, but I love Ben's smokes.Good for the French Prez for dining at a DC landmark.
Now that is a woman. Not like that hideous beast of Barry's.
Posted by: screwjob11 | March 31, 2010 12:05 AM
Dear screwjob11, Lenscrafter's called. Your glasses are ready.
Smooches, a proud, beautiful, black woman who could pass for Michelle's twin. You know. President "Barry"'s wife.

Posted by: yeswecan3 | March 31, 2010 12:20 AM | Report abuse

Bon appetite! Thanks for stopping by!

Posted by: eabgarnet | March 31, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

I love Ben's.
I love half smokes.
I love Ben's chili half smokes.

Vive le Ben's Chili Bowl!

Posted by: PrinceBuster21 | March 31, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Bon appétit! I’ve seen cockroaches crawling around in the dining room at Ben’s Chili Bowl.

Posted by: DCTaxpayer1 | March 31, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

nothing is homemade there anymore....all canned, processed stuff.

Posted by: SofaKingCool2009 | March 31, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

He sure as hell isn't going to jeapordize his life by going to a State Dinner at the White House, those are now a thing of the past. If the so-called Secret (Slacker)Service can't even protect our own President, no Head of State is safe.

Posted by: manfromthefuture | March 31, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

"hot dogs" (hot dogs, because the French would never, ever, call it a "frankfurter.").

Posted by: hisroc | March 30, 2010 5:20 PM |
Not since we kicked Germany out... But it makes me think of a funny joke, Why does Paris have tree lined boulevards? Because the Germans like to march in the shade...

Posted by: BillStoner | March 31, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

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