Back to Hell: Ray’s Hell-Burger Is Reborn

Plus a special grilled cheese menu from Michael Landrum.

Photograph by Scott Suchman

There’s been a hole in our burger-loving hearts ever since Michael Landrum closed his Ray’s Hell-Burger and Hell-Burger Too locations in Arlington. Sure, you can still snag patties at his sit-down restaurants, but there’s a certain beauty in digging into an American-cheese-smothered Mack in a temple devoted to its glory.

Now there’s reason to celebrate: Landrum says Hell-Burger has reopened across the street in the former Ray’s to the Third space. While virtually nothing has changed in the look, the former sit-down restaurant has switched over to counter service and boasts an entirely new menu

The eatery, though much larger than the original burger joints with 125 seats, will operate similarly. Guests can come in and order small or large burgers (such as “little devil/big devil”), which are brought to the tables alongside beverages, including wine and beer. Filling out the lineup of flame-broiled patties are cheesesteaks—including an over-the-top version decked out with fried eggs—and grilled chicken sandwiches. An old-fashioned popcorn machine churns out buttery kernels for free while guests wait. 

The man behind Ray’s the Steaks has never been known for catering to the meatless crowd, but hell may have frozen over. 

“We’re rolling out the welcome mat for vegetarians,” says Landrum, who’s added a selection of “hot and buttered” grilled cheeses made with brioche Texas toast. Simple, griddled American or more elaborate combinations such as pepper jack, avocado, and charred jalapeños can all be ordered with house-made tomato soup for dunking. Carnivores can always opt to add a slab of bacon or get a sidecar of chili instead of soup. 

The good burger news doesn’t stop here. Guests at Ray’s the Steaks can try a new lineup of patties fashioned out of meat specially dry-aged for the dish. The “inferno burger” menu takes on a Dante theme. There’s a good chance you’re going to taste heaven—followed by some level of inner torment—when ordering the “third circle” topped with foie gras, bone marrow, and porcini mushrooms. 

Ray’s Hell-Burger. 1650 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 703-974-7171. Open daily 11 to 10. Find Anna Spiegel on Twitter at @annaspiegs

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.