A Burger a Day in May: The Mack and Its Little Minions

Michael Landrum keeps it crazy--not to mention delicious--with his meat creations.

The Mack—a Cheap Eats Hall of Famer. Photograph by Erik Uecke.

The meatwiches at Ray’s Hell-Burger arrive decked out in seared foie gras or bone marrow, but we love the simplest of the bunch: the Mack, dressed humbly with American cheese, creamy “heck sauce,” tomato, and the McDonald’s-esque trinity of lettuce, onion, and pickles. The classic combination landed the burger in our latest issue (on newsstands now), in the “Cheap Eats Hall of Fame,” a collection of all-time favorite dishes.

While Ray’s empire builder Michael Landrum says the name references the 1973 cult hit The Mack, starring Richard Pryor, the sandwich is clearly an homage to the other Mac. The salty-sweet-greasy-meaty combo hits all the right addictive flavor buttons, with a bonus side of nostalgia: If you ever loved McDonald’s–and most of us have at one point in our lives—it’s a must eat.

If you want to sample the Mack without Hell-Burger-long lines, you’re in luck. Landrum’s latest project, Nice ’n’ Greasy, Steak ’n’ Cheesy, is opening today in the former Hell Burger Too space with a miniature version of the beloved burger. Landrum has dubbed his sliders Little Minions: two-ounce patties topped with heck sauce, American cheese, and an optional pickle chip. The wee Macks can be ordered individually, and in groups of 3, 6, 9, or a “devil’s dozen” (13). If it seems a little crazy to start a meal with a minion appetizer and then follow up with a meaty steak ’n’ cheese, well, that’s kind of the point: “Crazy is what we do,” says Landrum.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.