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The only way to do this that won't turn into a complete C.F. is via a poll - I'll be happy to set one up if people would like (and if you trust my nominations). Thing is though, even *here* there's a

Despite the name confusion, and perhaps the format confusion, Ray's To The Third serves all of the original Ray's Hell Burger menu--with perhaps the absence of Epoisse as a cheese option. I know it

This should (and probably will) go in Auld Lang Cuisine, but does anyone remember Blue and Gold in Clarendon? That was my go-to place for a burger and a beer in the late 1990s.

Haven't been to that location, but I grew up in Indiana and it was a staple. David Letterman did an episode recently showcasing the one that opened right next to the Ed Sullian Theater. The CEO bought the naming rights to my alma mater's business school, so I suppose I should defend it. Besides the hamburger and shakes, they also do spaghetti with chili on top that served me well during my undergrad days. Much better than their closest competitor Johnny Rockets. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Steak n' Shake. Objectively, though, for most members on this board, that spot will have been already filled by 5 Guys or maybe Silver Diner.

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On my way back home from the outer banks I noticed that there is a Steak n' Shake in Fredericksburg, Va. I didn't stop because I had just filled up in Williamsburg on Pierce's Pitt BBQ. Serious Eats thinks highly of it, as do folks on this thread. Anyone stop by yet?

Had to drive down to Virginia Beach this past weekend - I stopped here around 1:30pm on a Thursday. The service inside was *painfully* slow. They seem to prioritize the drive-thru over the dining area, so if you're going to stop, make sure you can spare about 20-30 minutes. The folly is that these burgers are *not* car friendly at all and fell apart rather easily.

The restaurant itself is not exactly easy to get into, as coming from either direction on I-95 requires a U-turn in an extremely dense commercial area on a high-traffic road (Route 17). They also should have made the place a bit larger instead of investing in about 40 parking spaces behind the restaurant - the interior is almost claustrophobic (the waiters have to dodge chairs and people), and the reception area at the front has no standing or sitting room, so more than three waiting parties creates a pretty annoying log jam.

The burger itself was reasonably tasty but nothing special. I have no idea whether this is due to the newness of the location, or if they're forced to use a different supplier of beef since it and the other Virginia location outside of Richmond are pretty much the only ones for ~300 miles in any direction. I do suggest, however - that this is one place where you actually *want* to get a triple, as a double was just too small for me. They made a mean Peanut Butter Cup shake, though - not a single straw-full or gulp was devoid of candy bits.

Don't go out of your way to try this place, but if you're headed north or south on I-95 during an "off hour" there's really no harm in trying it for novelty's sake. It seemed rather well-populated, so I'd guess it'll only be a matter of time before it expands northward.

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Pretty soon In-'n-Out will be FORCED to come to DC simply because *every other goddamned premium burger chain* will be here. -_-

I was in L.A. a couple of weeks ago, and noticed a Five Guys....In-n-Out is not anywhere near as good as Five Guys, and that's not even a compliment...!

If Habit Burger comes east, now we're talking about some interesting fast food.

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[it's whatever you want, since you started the topic!] laugh.gif

The cheeseburger at Palena kicks more ass than a Cossack dancer in a crowded elevator.

---

[The following posts have been split into separate threads:

Palena (mdt) - pre-Thanksgiving, 2010

Palena Cafe (Donrocks) - post-Thanksgiving, 2010

BTS (Burger Tap & Shake) (squidsc)

Smashburger (destruya)]

Sometimes I wonder if I'm the hardest-working person in the world. :(

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Can we get an attempt at ranking the best burgers in our area....I was happily walking around with the knowledge gained from this site and from personal experience that the burgers at Palena Cafe and PS7's in the bar were the two best in the city, if not in the general metropolitan area. With PS7's now committed to history, is it time to re-calibrate the bidding?

I'm assuming that Palena Cafe would still top a list of the ten or so best, and I'll go ahead and add Ray's to that list. My recent travels have given me some respect for Monty's in Springfield, which is certainly the best hamburger in Springfield. I'm sure the Washingtonian has a list, and I'm sure the Washington Post has a list, but does the Rockwell Community have its own list?

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Can we get an attempt at ranking the best burgers in our area....I was happily walking around with the knowledge gained from this site and from personal experience that the burgers at Palena Cafe and PS7's in the bar were the two best in the city, if not in the general metropolitan area. With PS7's now committed to history, is it time to re-calibrate the bidding?

I'm assuming that Palena Cafe would still top a list of the ten or so best, and I'll go ahead and add Ray's to that list. My recent travels have given me some respect for Monty's in Springfield, which is certainly the best hamburger in Springfield. I'm sure the Washingtonian has a list, and I'm sure the Washington Post has a list, but does the Rockwell Community have its own list?

The only way to do this that won't turn into a complete C.F. is via a poll - I'll be happy to set one up if people would like (and if you trust my nominations). Thing is though, even *here* there's a danger of a place like Five Guys winning (think about it: if you live in Chillum, are you going to vote for Smashburger?)

"Lists" from Washingtonian or Washington Post are completely meaningless unless one person authors them, and even then it's just one person's opinion.

It's a lose-lose for me because if Five Guys wins, they'll have it plastered all over their wall and I'll live in disgrace; if Palena wins, Frank Ruta won't care enough to act on it and I'll live in anonymity.

That said, should we do our first ever DCDining Award for "Best Hamburger?"

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The only way to do this that won't turn into a complete C.F. is via a poll - I'll be happy to set one up if people would like (and if you trust my nominations). Thing is though, even *here* there's a danger of a place like Five Guys winning (think about it: if you live in Chillum, are you going to vote for Smashburger?)

"Lists" from Washingtonian or Washington Post are completely meaningless unless one person authors them, and even then it's just one person's opinion.

It's a lose-lose for me because if Five Guys wins, they'll have it plastered all over their wall and I'll live in disgrace; if Palena wins, Frank Ruta won't care enough to act on it and I'll live in anonymity.

That said, should we do our first ever DCDining Award for "Best Hamburger?"

Do it, C.F. or not. This Community should have a "Top xx List" of burgers, pizzas, fried chicken and, um, kibbeh nayeh....

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The only way to do this that won't turn into a complete C.F. is via a poll - I'll be happy to set one up if people would like (and if you trust my nominations). Thing is though, even *here* there's a danger of a place like Five Guys winning.

"Lists" from Washingtonian or Washington Post are completely meaningless unless one person authors them, and even then it's just one person's opinion.

So should we do our first ever Member Award for "Best Hamburger?"

I think that our rather deeply plumbed well of shared knowledge, a common desire to support independents (and see them succeed and flourish for the common good) and well, plain good taste and epicurean prowess ;) will mitigate the odds of that happening. If our results reflect the those typically found in the Washingtonian and the like, well, you'd better devise a better mousetrap for this veil of tears.

ps. didn't someone (perhaps from DR) put forth a kick-ass chart for ranking burgers? "Gourmet" vs. fast and greasy? Did I see it in Kliman's Washingtonian piece?

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It's possible to have a discussion about it without offering a reward/award.

This *is* a discussion about it without offering a reward/award. That's a given.

But I've had a mind to do something like this for awhile now (not just for "Best Hamburger, but also Best Restaurant, Best Chef, etc. - essentially, annual awards) - we're more qualified than anyone else, so why not test the waters. I'd like to see our Members become empowered, and this is one way to do it. Plus, contests are fun, and those who don't want to participate, don't have to.

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I wouldn't vote in a poll because I don't eat burgers at restaurants. I think if you use an honor system where people who vote are self-limited to those who have had many area burgers, you'd get a better result. Maybe you can put up the nominees, give people some time to try them all, and then open the polls. Some good topics would be burger, pizza, roast chicken. Maybe people can join in the nomination process as well by naming their favorites.

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ps. didn't someone (perhaps from DR) put forth a kick-ass chart for ranking burgers? "Gourmet" vs. fast and greasy? Did I see it in Kliman's Washingtonian piece?

Why, yes.

My list would include Green Pig's bacon cheeseburger, Central's Hamburger, and Ray's Hell Burger (of the remaining Ray's outlets, I've only had the Ray's to the Third version). It's been many years since I've had Palena's burger, and didn't love it (the bun was too big, or at least it once was, and they over cooked it both times I tried it). I always order my burgers blood-rare with bacon and cheese, when available.

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In the last six+ months, whenever I have been craving a hamburger, we point the car north and sit at the bar at Dino. Maybe dean is using crack on his burger, I don't know, but it's been consistently my favorite burger in DC ever since trying it.

I get mine rare, nick gets his blue- they're juicy, delicious, finger-licking-messy burgers. Since I only crave a burger once every month or two, that means we haven't been to Rays in a while, which we should rectify. Hrmm. Maybe I'll get a cheesesteak.

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I'm with Eric - the honor system dictates that in order to vote, you should have tried all of the nominees in a category.

Yes, that would be the honorable thing, wouldn't it.

You should write the James Beard Foundation and let them know your thoughts.

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The best burger that I have ever eaten was not at Palena (though I do love that burger), not Craige on Main’s (just a little too manipulated for my taste), but at the bar at Bourbon Steak. I am sure that most will balk at spending $20 on a burger, but this is made with assorted cuts of dry aged prime meat for a 75/25 blend.

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Yeah, the more I think about it, the harder it will be for Don to come up with nominees (for example, I once had a really great burger at Bobby Van's, and another one at Billy Martin's, but I doubt either one will make the cut). And then every one who votes has to taste every burger on the list....

A couple of approaches come to mind.

1 - Don can come up with a list and a select group of "tasters" can try each one and rank them.

2 - Everyone (who is registered on this site) can send in their top 10 and some altruistic volunteer can count the ballots.

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I'm with Eric - the honor system dictates that in order to vote, you should have tried all of the nominees in a category. Otherwise what the poll is telling you is where the density of membership is highest.

Yes, that would be the honorable thing, wouldn't it.

You should write the James Beard Foundation and let them know your thoughts.

Yeah, the more I think about it, the harder it will be for Don to come up with nominees (for example, I once had a really great burger at Bobby Van's, and another one at Billy Martin's, but I doubt either one will make the cut). And then every one who votes has to taste every burger on the list....

A couple of approaches come to mind.

1 - Don can come up with a list and a select group of "tasters" can try each one and rank them.

2 - Everyone (who is registered on this site) can send in their top 10 and some altruistic volunteer can count the ballots.

Kib,

Read between the lines of my post. *Nobody* has a requirement that you must try every restaurant nominated for an award. Nobody. If I'm wrong, someone please cite a counterexample to my claim.

If that requirement existed, there would be no such thing as "Food Awards." They would not exist.

There are two options:

1) I could do it myself, yes, and it would have meaning, but I really don't want to.

2) We can use "existing industry standards" - you can only vote for a place you've tried.

Even if you've been to all the nominees, it doesn't mean you've caught them each on a representative day. The *only* way to "know" is to:

1) Go to every nominee

2) Multiple times (current industry standards for a new review is three)

Ain't gonna happen. Happens nowhere in terms of contests and awards. Doesn't exist.

Every food award you've ever seen, from any source, requires, *at most*, that you've dined at the restaurant you've voted for.

Given this ... we can play the game by the existing rules, or we can opt out and let everyone else fool the world into thinking their "Best Of" awards are based on fair and just rules, even though they aren't.

The dirty underbelly of restaurant journalism - this is only the tip of the iceberg, my friends.

On a related but tangential note, I found out the other day that a fairly popular local restaurant blog is "pay for play." Yes, of course, anyone with half a brain knows that certain local restaurant media outlets (internet and otherwise) are nothing more than paid PR under the guise of reporting, but I didn't know about this one; however, when I actually went and looked at the content of the website - which I realized I did for the very first time - it was obvious.

And now you know ... why my Looking Glass Self perception is that some people in this town don't like me very much - and I don't give a flying fuck (I used to; I don't anymore).

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I am in for this...but I challenge any of you to come into Willow and have our Willow Burger. If its not in the top 5 burgers youve ever had , I will buy it back :o It seriously blows away any local burger in the area....Yes, I'm that confident in it,,and I've had most of what people think are the top burgers in the area. So come on on for the Burger Throw Down :D

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It's a lose-lose for me because if Five Guys wins, they'll have it plastered all over their wall and I'll live in disgrace; if Palena wins, Frank Ruta won't care enough to act on it and I'll live in anonymity.

That is hilarious and should be your signature line, or be put on a T-shirt or something.

As for burgers in the running, I'd nominate the "Le Burger" from Bastille in Alexandria. My wife and I tried that place the other night and couldn't resist a burger that was topped with foie gras. Here's the description from the menu:

Le Burger

Smith Meadow Farm beef burger*, duck confit, foie gras 23

Caramelized onion marmelade, aioli*, tomato, lettuce. Pommes frites

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I am in for this...but I challenge any of you to come into Willow and have our Willow Burger. If its not in the top 5 burgers youve ever had , I will buy it back :o It seriously blows away any local burger in the area....Yes, I'm that confident in it,,and I've had most of what people think are the top burgers in the area. So come on on for the Burger Throw Down :D

Damnit, going to have to continue to pay for my burgers :)

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I need to try the Dino and Central burgers, the problem is there are so many other things I like on those menu, going for a burger is always hard. I would like to try to Bourbon Steak burger too. Will put Bastille on the list too. Hubby surely won't mind some burger taste offs. Maybe we could put together some DR Burger tasting events at various restaurants? (I won't lie that one at Willow would be super convenient for me)

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In the last six+ months, whenever I have been craving a hamburger, we point the car north and sit at the bar at Dino. Maybe dean is using crack on his burger, I don't know, but it's been consistently my favorite burger in DC ever since trying it.

I get mine rare, nick gets his blue- they're juicy, delicious, finger-licking-messy burgers. Since I only crave a burger once every month or two, that means we haven't been to Rays in a while, which we should rectify. Hrmm. Maybe I'll get a cheesesteak.

I am lucky enough to live around the corner from both Palena and Dino (have been to both many many times) but I've never had the burger at Dino (too many other great options). So recently when I had a burger craving, I stopped by Palena and was disappointed. While the burger was ok - it wasn't great. I consistently have better burgers at Clydes (usually in Chevy Chase which is what I typically get there). I actually thought Palena's pickles that come with the burger were the best part of the plate which is saying alot (both the pickles were really good and the burger wasn't). So now after reading these reviews of Dino's burger which Dean does always tout as good I'll guess I'll have to finally try it for my next craving. Now if only some more places in Cleveland Park were open for lunch. It is a shame we have tons of great restaurants but almost none of them are open for weekday lunches.

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Would I be voting for the memory of that perfect Palena burger circa 2005-06? Or the last lousy one I had last year?

Mr. BLB thinks Dino has the best burgers in town and he did some pretty serious leg work to try out a bunch of others.

Ray's and Central are sentimental favorites of mine.

I was extremely disappointed in the burger at Range yesterday.

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A couple other foods for thought:

1) Do we vote for absolute best, price not being an object? In other words, which burger would you want if someone else was buying it?

2) Do we vote for basic burgers, or gussied up versions? Many places offer several varieties of burgers.

3) Beef only?

I suppose this debate could drone on endlessly, and I'll just have to announce the standards based on what I think makes the most sense (for now, my initial instinct is: 1) yes, absolute best 2) a particular burger, not just a restaurant name 3) beef, or primarily beef).

Keep the posts coming, and at some point (not for awhile yet), I'll come up with a list of nominees. There's no rush to get this done, and I'd rather it be done thoughtfully than quickly. After all, this is really important. :P We could also do several categories (and I don't see any compelling reason not to): Absolute Best Hamburger, Best Hamburger Restaurant, Best Hamburger Under $10, Best Non-Beef Hamburger, etc.

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My list would include Green Pig's bacon cheeseburger...

Green Pig's cheeseburger (non bacon) is also really good.

I am lucky enough to live around the corner from both Palena and Dino (have been to both many many times) but I've never had the burger at Dino (too many other great options). So recently when I had a burger craving, I stopped by Palena and was disappointed. While the burger was ok - it wasn't great. I consistently have better burgers at Clydes (usually in Chevy Chase which is what I typically get there). I actually thought Palena's pickles that come with the burger were the best part of the plate which is saying alot (both the pickles were really good and the burger wasn't)....

Would I be voting for the memory of that perfect Palena burger circa 2005-06? Or the last lousy one I had last year?

Not to pile on, but I felt the same way. I had a burger at Palena last month, and it just wasn't as good as the one I'd had years ago.

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It should be a plain beef burger with typical toppings such as lettuce, onion, tomato, ketchup, mustard or mayo.

See I quibble with this point. Everyone likes their basic burger their own way (I like it plain - no cheese or veggies with ketchup and mustard, sometimes adding sauteed onions and/or mushrooms). Not to mention everyone likes the temperature different (I like medium-rare). That being said, so many burger places put their own spin - like Palena's truffle cheese and mayo or Umami burger's really good combos (I had such a good one in LA, I hope it gets out here soon) to just name a few. So I'd say you just vote on which is the best burger you've eaten somewhat recently (say last 6 months or so) to your personal liking and simply describe its details. You should of course have more than one as there is no need to have direct one to one comparisons. If you wanted exactly the same burger all of the time you would never try a new one :-)

Here is my vote for best burger based on consistency (it is good every time):

Clydes of Chevy Chase hamburger (comes with decent fries and a pickle spear).

Size: about 1/3 pound - big/filling but not montrous

Protein: grass-fed beef

Temperature:Medium-rare (charred well on outside and nice and juicy inside - enough to dribble down your hand some)

Bun: Soft, buttered - not the most amazing bread on its own but does a great job of maintaining a stable sandwich and sopping up meat juices

Toppings: plain no cheese with Heinz ketchup and mustard (sometimes they have Gulden's spicy brown, other times Dijon - either works for this burger)

Best part: always cooked perfectlly to order and great meaty flavor.

Last time eaten: about 1 month ago. (Probably had about 20 over the past two years pretty evenly spaced about every 1-2 months - mostly dinner, but some at lunch too).

This is my sample on how I recommend you post your personal best burgers. I'm sure there are burgers that have better meat or cheese or other toppings. Let's hear everyone's voten and categorize why this particular burger is the best.

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My point is you can't compare a foie gras burger to a non-foie gras burger.

This brings up an interesting point about what people should base their vote on. For example, Green Pig's menu lists both a "bacon cheeseburger" and a "cheeseburger." The former is not the latter with bacon on it, it has bacon mixed into the meat and is a different beast entirely. The "cheeseburger" is a fine cheeseburger; the "bacon cheeseburger" has a texture and smoky goodness that ranks it among the best "burgers" in the city. The cheese, which is especially gooey and melted into the meat, is critical here too. So, if I walked into green pig and ordered a plain hamburger, I'd wonder what the fuss was about.

I think the burgers need to stand or fall on how they're served by the restaurant. If somebody offers a foie gras burger and that is the burger you'd most like to eat in DC, then you should vote for that burger. If it's a place like Ray's where you can add whatever you want from a large number of choices, it's fair to consider "Ray's Hell Burger" generically. But if a place is famous for a burger with special toppings, then that's the burger it should be judged on.

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A couple other foods for thought:

1) Do we vote for absolute best, price not being an object? In other words, which burger would you want if someone else was buying it?

2) Do we vote for basic burgers, or gussied up versions? Many places offer several varieties of burgers.

3) Beef only?

I suppose this debate could drone on endlessly, and I'll just have to announce the standards based on what I think makes the most sense (for now, my initial instinct is: 1) yes, absolute best 2) a particular burger, not just a restaurant name 3) beef, or primarily beef).

Keep the posts coming, and at some point (not for awhile yet), I'll come up with a list of nominees. There's no rush to get this done, and I'd rather it be done thoughtfully than quickly. After all, this is really important. :P We could also do several categories (and I don't see any compelling reason not to): Absolute Best Hamburger, Best Hamburger Restaurant, Best Hamburger Under $10, Best Non-Beef Hamburger, etc.

Also, what constitutes "our area"?

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Also, what constitutes "our area"?

Anything that would be in this forum, but probably not Richmond or Frederick. Let's face it, the further away you get from the Lincoln Memorial or maybe Glen Echo Park (which is the culinary centroid for the DC area), the less votes a place is going to get anyway.

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If non-beef burgers have not yet been kicked out of contention, I would nominate 2941's Daffy burger. A duck patty topped with foie gras on a nicely toasted brioche roll, it's a hard formula to mess up and they didn't mess it up.

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What happened to this hamburger thread?  Dinos? Ray's Hell Burger? Central? Willow?  Garden District (aka Standard)?

marketfan, what are you asking? About the contest we were talking about having?

If so, it's okay by me, and I can set it up if everyone wants me to.

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marketfan, what are you asking? About the contest we were talking about having?

If so, it's okay by me, and I can set it up if everyone wants me to.

Yes, please. I think it's important that this community has a say in "best" anything. Hamburgers are as good a place to start as any.

And now for a more personal note. My son is in his third week of Marine boot camp at Parris Island, and in his three notes to me thus far, he is hankering for a Ray's Hellburger. Apparently, food is the most-discussed topic among Marine recruits in boot camp, owing to the relative scarcity of quantity and quality at Parris Island, and Ray's gets multiple shout-outs because it is relatively known outside the DC area as one of our bastions of fine burgers.

However, I know the original Ray's is now mixed in with Ray's to the Third across the street in Rosslyn, and the burger menu at the 3rd is relatively small compared to the selection at the originals. So, when my Marine son returns in December, perhaps with a few buddies in tow, where can I score him a real genuine Ray's Hellburger these days?

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Yes, please. I think it's important that this community has a say in "best" anything. Hamburgers are as good a place to start as any.

And now for a more personal note. My son is in his third week of Marine boot camp at Parris Island, and in his three notes to me thus far, he is hankering for a Ray's Hellburger. Apparently, food is the most-discussed topic among Marine recruits in boot camp, owing to the relative scarcity of quantity and quality at Parris Island, and Ray's gets multiple shout-outs because it is relatively known outside the DC area as one of our bastions of fine burgers.

However, I know the original Ray's is now mixed in with Ray's to the Third across the street in Rosslyn, and the burger menu at the 3rd is relatively small compared to the selection at the originals. So, when my Marine son returns in December, perhaps with a few buddies in tow, where can I score him a real genuine Ray's Hellburger these days?

Despite the name confusion, and perhaps the format confusion, Ray's To The Third serves all of the original Ray's Hell Burger menu--with perhaps the absence of Epoisse as a cheese option.

I know it may seem lesser due to all of the additional options, but trust me, it is the same product and the same original staff producing the same burger.

That being said, I know it is not the same.

It is not the same, it will never be the same, and it breaks my heart too.

On a positive note, we continue to, as we always have, offer a significant discount to all military, police and first responders while seated at a table.

And without change since 2007, we offer a $5 grab and go to all uniformed personnel--Burger of choice, side and drink.

I agree, Kibbee Nayee, that we can do better, and I strive 14 hours a day to do so.

As to your son, I can not imagine a greater source of pride for any man or family, and he does us all an honor which we neither can imagine nor do we deserve.

An officer in The Marine Corps is the greatest any American can be. A rifleman or a non-com even better.

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Despite the name confusion, and perhaps the format confusion, Ray's To The Third serves all of the original Ray's Hell Burger menu--with perhaps the absence of Epoisse as a cheese option.

For whatever it's worth, the very first time I ordered a Hell Burger, I got it with Epoisses, and I didn't see what all the fuss was about. The Epoisses had drowned out the beefiness, and was a mistake - as much as I love Epoisses, the world is better off without it as a Hell Burger topping. Now *bone marrow* is another story!

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As to your son, I can not imagine a greater source of pride for any man or family, and he does us all an honor which we neither can imagine nor do we deserve.

An officer in The Marine Corps is the greatest any American can be. A rifleman or a non-com even better.

These words are on their way to Parris Island right now. You will be providing much praise and honor to those young men.

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