Ray’s Hell Burger on Flickr.
My buddy and I are taking to the Northern Virginia & D.C. streets to find out which hamburger joint serves the best burger. We’ve read all the major reviews, but want to try the signature sandwiches from some of the top contenders and decide for ourselves.
Today we tried “The Mack” at Ray’s Hell Burger in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington, Va. Our burgers were topped with sauteed mushrooms, lettuce, beefsteak tomatoes, red onions, dill pickles and a slice of American cheese. The burgers were served on toasted brioche rolls with “Ray’s Heck” sauce. Price for burger: $7.99.
Results - (1 is worst, 10 is best)
Patty: 8 - Ray’s burger maestros hand-shape their house-aged ground beef into gigantic patties that make for a hot, juicy mess. Hell Burgers are not for eaters seeking a quick, neat snack. These monsters are full-fledged meals, and will require their consumers to pack the requisite bib. We asked for pink centers in our patties, which was fortunate, because at 10 oz. each, our burgers would have taken half an hour to cook “well done”.
Bun: 6.5 - Such a hefty burger requires a sturdy bun to keep it in check, and Ray’s toasted brioche rolls almost do the job, almost. Our burgers were dripping off the plates before we even started in on them, but the buttery, crisp-edged buns held up very well to all the moisture. We would have preferred a slightly more spongy bun instead of the firm, starchy rolls that held our burgers, as this might have helped us hold onto our burgers better.
Toppings: 7 - The folks at Ray’s Hell Burger don’t skimp on their bountiful selection of toppings, which is both a blessing and a curse. In our case, the blessing came in the form of rich, meaty tomatoes, sharp red onions, thick, pucker-inducing pickle wedges, and a smattering of earthy, sauteed mushrooms. The curse was trying to get the burgers to our mouths without half of those toppings spilling out all over the table. You might need a fork and knife for this hellish mess of a sandwich.
Fries: 6.5 - The fries at Ray’s are a nice accompaniment to their giant burgers, but don’t really stand out on their own. Our order of sliced, fried potatoes were hot and crispy, but with a dash less salt than we’d have preferred. We were also missing a gourmet condiment that Ray’s used to offer to those who dined in. The sweet, chunky, home style ketchup that made their average fries oh so much more interesting has been replaced by the boring, and no doubt less expensive Heinz variety.
Service: 7 - The folks behind the cash register were pleasant enough, even if it was obvious that they were in a hurry to get the ever-persistent crowd through the line as quickly as possible. On the up side, the staff does hand deliver customers’ meals to their tables, and one especially friendly employee checked in with us as she was clearing a nearby table.
X-factor: Besides giving all customers the choice of a dozen free toppings, Ray’s also gives members of the Armed Services an awesome discount on their food. Tasty and patriotic!
For more info about Ray’s Hell Burger, check out their Web site: www.rayshellburger.com, or follow them on Twitter @RealHellBurger