Cheap Eats 2011: Ray’s Hell-Burger

Of all the restaurants President Obama has visited in Washington, the only one to have merited a second visit is this bare-bones burger joint.

The patty prized by POTUS is ten ounces of prime, aged beef, ground on the premises and grilled over an open flame. It eats like a steak. With lettuce, tomato, onion, and cheddar, it’s eminently satisfying.

You don’t need to upgrade the cheese, but a cave-aged cheddar is excellent, as is a runny Époisses. And more-convoluted concoctions, such as the Doggcatcher, capped with roasted bone marrow and persillade, are as delicious as they are clever. Fries are hand-cut, and the rich shakes conjure soda fountains of old.

Also good: The B.I.G. Poppa (with blue cheese and sautéed mushrooms); Soul Burger Number One (with bacon, Swiss cheese, mushrooms, and grilled red onions); the classic, American-cheese-topped Mack burger; wild-boar burger; mac and cheese; coleslaw.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.