First Look: Ray's Hell-Burger
Comments () | Published September 12, 2008
Cheap Eats 2011 Cheap Eats (2010)
Ray's Hell-Burger
Address: 1725 Wilson Blvd. , Arlington, VA 22209
Phone: 703-841-0001
Neighborhood: Arlington, Arlington, Clarendon/Courthouse
Cuisines: American, Deli/Quick Bites
Opening Hours: Open Sunday through Thursday 11 to 10, Friday and Saturday 11 to 11.
Nearby Metro Stops: Clarendon, Court House
Price Range: Inexpensive
Dress: Informal
Noise Level: Chatty
Reservations: Not Accepted
Best Dishes Cheeseburger; Big Poppa burger; Burger of Seville with foie gras; tater tots.
Price Details: Burgers, $7 (some cheeses are $1 to $5 extra).
At Ray's Hell-Burger, trimmings are first-rate and the roster of cheeses includes a wonderfully runny Époisses, a Danish bleu, and aged cheddars. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

At Michael Landrum’s new burger place, Ray’s Hell-Burger, the decorations include a pirate flag, butcher-shop diagrams, and piles of red meat waiting for the grinder in a starkly lit open kitchen. It might look like something out of Sweeney Todd, but instead of the worst pies in London, you’ll find the best burgers in Arlington. Or anywhere in the area.

That’s quite a feat considering that everyone from culinary superstar Michel Richard to Top Chef also-ran Spike Mendelsohn is battling for burger supremacy. Landrum’s thick patties—you get a hefty ten ounces for $6.95—are made from a blend of hand-trimmed prime beef, some of which comes from his Ray’s the Steaks restaurant a few doors down. Charred over an open flame and cooked to order, they eat like steaks; you can even order one “au poivre.”

You’ll pay up to $5 extra for certain fancy cheeses, including a wonderfully runny Époisses, but a Danish bleu and a smoky mozzarella are both a buck. Embellishments such as sherried mushrooms and caramelized onions come free. So do the sides: corn on the cob and watermelon wedges.

If we have a complaint, it’s with the sesame brioche bun, which is too puffily thick and tends to be dry. But that’s a quibble. As long as Landrum’s manning the meat grinder, we’re game to go to hell anytime.

Subscribe to Washingtonian
Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 09/12/2008 RSS | Print | Permalink | Restaurant Reviews