About Ray’s Hell Burger
The crowds have long since died down, and President Obama no longer is showing up to treat a head of state to a quintessential taste of American fast food. But Michael Landrum’s burgers—hand-ground from trimmings of the prime beef he sources for Ray’s the Steaks, his working-class steakhouse—are still as good as ever, thick and dripping with juice. The Mack remains the area standard, the cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, and onion of our dreams, but it’s hard to resist the more clever combos, including a burger topped with chili and jalapeños. Don’t expect atmosphere—seriously, most fast-food joints have more going on in the room—but one of the “adult” milkshakes, spiked with booze, will go a ways toward cocooning you. The unorthodox Landrum recently debuted a “restaurant within a restaurant” at the Arlington location, devoted to what he calls Zemblan cuisine—Nabokov fans will get the reference, though you need not have read the émigré Russian master to appreciate the many varieties of the famed Georgian cheese bread khachapuri on offer, including one topped with superb steak tartare.
Also good: B.I.G. Poppa burger, with blue cheese, mushrooms, and grilled onions; steak-and-cheese with eggs and Swiss; steak-and-cheese with mushrooms, Swiss, and grilled onions; khachapuri with shakshouka; tea service.