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Ray's Hell-Burger - Great Hamburgers at City Vista - Closed


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How did you order your burger today? Med-rare and it came a bit too rare? Just asking so I can get my first burger there just right!
I ordered it "recommended," which means a warm red center. By the time I was pretty well through it, I was finding parts that were a bit more rare than I was expecting.

There's a link in one of the posts upthread that has a photo of the board that describes the cooking options.

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I went to the City Vista (and only remaining) location of Ray's Hell-Burger last night. We each got a large The Funky President ($10), one order of French Fries ($3.50, enough for two), and a Diet Che

Is a hamburger place really a must visit anywhere? Like you travel to DC, and though there is so much SE Asian, Ethiopian, Indian, as well as new American, Ray’s is a must? 100% disagree. Unless

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My older son and I ate there today, and I agree that "recommended" was too cool and blue. Next time for me, medium rare. But otherwise, spectacular.

Hard to imagine burgers without fries, alas.

Also, hard to imagine gourmet burgers without beer, but such is life.

Nevertheless, spectacular. The sauteed mushrooms and onions are sublime, the meat is beyond sublime, whatever that is. Superlime?

Michael was there, hacking meat. Always a comforting sight. I would say that the man makes it look easy, but that's not exactly the case. The man makes it look easy for him. Kids, don't try this at home.

We saw "Mongol" this weekend, watching Michael hack meat reminds me of Genghis Khan hacking his enemies, and I mean this in the nicest possible way. It is a good movie, see it. And go to Michael's and eat the burgers.

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I've decided to think of having a burger here like having a burger at a picnic -- so chips instead of fries, and soda instead of beer, but with corn (!) and watermelon (!)

It was nice to see everyone there tonight -- sorry for not shaking hands like a nice person, Jake -- but trust me, you'll thank me! After washing, Purell, washing, washing, washing, the odor of Epoisse lingers on :lol:

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I've decided to think of having a burger here like having a burger at a picnic -- so chips instead of fries, and soda instead of beer, but with corn (!) and watermelon (!)
That's what we thought too. It was like being at a cookout.
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Stopped in Saturday night for what were definitely the best burgers - ever. Mine was diablo with bacon and blue cheese. Delicious! I am a toppings gal...but next time, I think that a simple slice of cheese will probably be enough. The meat is so flavorful and juicy that it can easily stand on its own. And I am so looking forward to my next Ray's hell experience.

The orange soda was great, but I sampled my friend's root beer and we definitely need a pitcher of that next time. We also enjoyed the corn and watermelon. While I love fries, it was refreshing to enjoy a burger without them.

Thanks to Michael and Jamie for excellent service and hospitality. You guys are off to a great start! See you again soon.

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Has anyone taken a burger home? Various complexities of life may make it much easier for me to go pick up burgers and bring them home, rather than dine in situ. But the comments above about the juice vs. bun battle scare me. Will the burger become a meat cobbler? (Sorry if I missed a responsive post in the hurricane of commenting.)

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I've been going to Ray's for 3 years now, and when Michael first mentioned he was opening a burger joint in the same area (around the corner from my house), I could hardly believe my good fortune.

I've gone 3 times in the last 48 hours now, and all my good intentions about getting fit this summer may go out the window unless I start training for the MCM.

My first burger was taken grilled (recommended), sauteed mushrooms, charred jalapenos, and gruyere. The combination of flavor profiles was phenomenal, with the jalapenos adding just the right touch of heat. But all of that is based around working with the best tasting meat I've ever had in a burger, bar none. I've been in search of the perfect burger for a long time, sampling burgers all around the country, some traditional, some foo-foo notreallyaburgers (foie gras on a burger?!), and I'll say without any reservation that Michael has created the best tasting burgers I've ever had.

The noon crowd on Saturday was a bit of a mad-house, but it was nice to see the staff reacting well, and the patrons patiently waiting...you could almost cut the tension in the air with a knife as people eagerly anticipated the arrival of their heaven in a bun. The look of delight in everyone's eyes as they took their first bite just made the wait for your own that much more intense.

When it arrived, the burger was cooked perfectly, really highlighting all the best qualities of the meat. Just cutting it in half and looking at it, I could feel my mouth watering. I first pulled off a small piece of the burger to sample the meat by itself...the first bite absolutely melted in my mouth with the flavors. The rest of the burger's accompaniments really complimented the meat, never overshadowing the bright flavors of the meat itself.

Lunch on Sunday was with another group of friends, and we arrived around 1:20 trying to come after the rush of the previous day...the place was full, instead of packed, and the line moved quickly. I had sauteed onions, roasted garlic, and cave aged amish cheddar this time around (same burger prep), and it's amazing how different the burger tasted while still having that amazing base flavor throughout. The cave-aged amish cheddar was unbelievable.

Dinner on Sunday, and I finally got to bring my wife (she'd been working all weekend)...arrived at 9 or so, and was hoping I could sneak in without Michael realizing what an addict I was. When we arrived, I thought I was all clear, as I didn't see him in the back....until 10 minutes later he walked in. Busted! I had this one with no cheese, sauteed peppers, onions and the hellsauce. The hellsauce is a really nice concoction adding a little kick and some more creaminess to the mouth feel. My wife had sauteed mushrooms, and the gouda, and the gouda was phenomenal as well.

Needless to say, I'm completely hooked. My most sincere thanks to Michael and his staff for creating such wonderful establishments, and treating their patrons to such fantastic food. It's so refreshing to see a restauranteur set the bar so high for food quality, while also keeping prices completely reasonable. A real rarity in this era of restaurants (and I feel especially in this area), Michael consistently delivers the goods.

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The burgers and corn were excellent but I think I may order the burger cooked medium next time, instead of recommended.
Just out of curiosity, what makes people want to have their burgers cooked a bit longer than others? Is this a safety issue or a flavor/texture issue?
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Just out of curiosity, what makes people want to have their burgers cooked a bit longer than others? Is this a safety issue or a flavor/texture issue?
It's more of a texture issue for me. The meat is high quality and ground right there. If they served it in a raw preparation, I would eat it. But, for ground beef that is cooked, I'd like it a bit more cooked than it was yesterday. But it's an art, not a science :lol: ...and they haven't even been open a week.
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Went on saturday about 7:30 with friends'. There was a steady flow of people but definitely not a madhouse, I think we timed it just right. My one frienddoesn't normally eat beef and didn't quite realize what RHB was about before going, but after seeing everyone else's burgers she caved and ordered one anyways. By the end of the meal she was solidly back in the meat eating category!

Back to the burgers - I got a diablo recommended with a bunch of toppings and it was awesome the meat spicy but not overpowering. I defnitely think less toppings is the way to go as they almost distract from the wonderfullness of the burgers themselves.

To echo some other sentiments - my one nit is that the buns do not stand up to the juicy goodness of the burgers themselves' dissolving after a couple of bites. Some sort of toasted brioche might have a better chance of surviving I think.

I'm definitely looking forward to going back and trying the other burger options.

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my one nit is that the buns do not stand up to the juicy goodness of the burgers themselves' dissolving after a couple of bites.
My recommendation to my college friend the other night was to eat it with the top of the bun on the bottom -- that is, to eat the burger upside down. The top can withstand a lot more juicy meatiness -- with sauce and cheese! -- than the bottom of the bun -- I can even put my burger down briefly when I flip it this way.
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My recommendation to my college friend the other night was to eat it with the top of the bun on the bottom -- that is, to eat the burger upside down. The top can withstand a lot more juicy meatiness -- with sauce and cheese! -- than the bottom of the bun -- I can even put my burger down briefly when I flip it this way.

The problem with doing that is that the beef doesn't hit your tongue first then....i tried both ways, and I was surprised what a difference it made.

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My recommendation to my college friend the other night was to eat it with the top of the bun on the bottom -- that is, to eat the burger upside down. The top can withstand a lot more juicy meatiness -- with sauce and cheese! -- than the bottom of the bun -- I can even put my burger down briefly when I flip it this way.

I tried that too - didn't help. Bun was still gone 2/3 of the way through.

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I got takeout yesterday; had blue cheese with bacon, mushrooms and onions, cooked recommended with diablo. The entire burger was great; the bun was a little soggy but to be expected with a 10 minute drive. The blue cheese taste was a little sharp for me but that was entirely my fault for not realizing that in advance. Whatever you want to say about Michael Landrum he is serving a great burger at a very good price. I did find it ironic that the crowd was about 80% courthouse post-frats.

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It's a great burger! If you jam the burger with too many runny toppings (huge juicy tomatos, slathery sauces, drippy pickles and peppers), the bun gets sucked into the giant, moist mound of beef the way fruit punch gets sucked into a Bounty papertowel on a kitchen floor. It requires a fork or to have no one looking at you while you have your way with a load of meat.

Definately worth the heart attack!!

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Just out of curiosity, what makes people want to have their burgers cooked a bit longer than others? Is this a safety issue or a flavor/texture issue?
I really have no fear of meat safety with meals cooks under the supervision of Michael Landrum. The man is the consummate professional.

Just prefer the way it tastes, yes, and the way it feels in the mouth. Rare meat tastes too cool, too bloody, not enough Maillard reaction. Give me medium rare.

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Whoops, duplicate post. Well, let me say something else here then.

After eating burgers at Michael's new place I craved a steak at Rays, so went back there for dinner for a ribeye. Man, that was good!

Medium rare, just the way I like it, everything else perfect.

If we are going to trek from the wilds of Fairfax to deepest Arlington for dinner, odds are we'll go for the steaks, but it's nice to have the choice.

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Just out of curiosity, what makes people want to have their burgers cooked a bit longer than others? Is this a safety issue or a flavor/texture issue?

For me it's a temporary safety issue- I'm 39 weeks pregnant. Told hubby to order my burger (grilled, cave-aged Amish cheddar, and bacon) medium well and secretly hoped for slightly closer to medium. My burger (announced as "well done" by the server) was just shy of medium well and PERFECT- juicy and delicious and just how I'd wanted it. I am in love with this place. With the corn, watermelon, and pitcher of root beer I was in summertime heaven.

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Time to chip in my review.

Some background, I have been going to Ray's for several years now. I live in Centreville so getting to Arlington is a bit of a hike so I don't go as often as I would like. Whenever I get a "birthday" dinner, Ray's the Steaks is always my choice. When we had our inagural draft for Nationals season tickets, we had it at Ray's. The Post covered it and I even got my picture in the paper.

Fast forward to Monday. I find out that Ray's Hell Burger has opened. I immediately tell the wife that we need to go. Ahh, but there is one small complication. We have an infant at home and therefore we don't get out much. The trip to Ray's Hell Burger would have to be put on hold.

Jump ahead to yesterday. The day before my wife's return to work. I ask my wife if I can take the boy out of the house so she can get some stuff done and get ready for work without worrying about the baby. Normally I take him on a long long walk, but he had already spent 2 hours in the stroller that day and my legs weren't going to be able to handle another 2 hours. I know. I'll take him on a car ride.

Now everyone who's had an infant with colic knows that a car ride can work wonders in getting them calmed down. The key though is that the car has to keep moving. Its like the movie Speed. The baby has to go 55 or he blows up. Traffic lights are hell with this so once I get out with him I head to the interstate.

Well, if I'm on the interstate I can go east or west on 66. I figure I'd go east. Oh darn, I drove all the way to Arlington. Oh well, I may as well get something to eat. Where could I get something in Arlington.... Where....

So there I am, in the parking lot by Ray's. Unfortunately parking was at its normal premium and I had to park down the hill. I took the sleeping baby out of the car and hiked the two blocks to Ray's Hell Burger. I actaully walked past it the first time, the restraunt is so unassuming. For a moment I feared that this was some cruel hoax that the internet played on me. Curse you cruel internet! How could you toy with my emotions like that!? Fortunately I doubled back and found it.

I could already tell that Ray's Hell Burger was getting a lot of the spill off from Ray's the Steaks. 2 hour wait for a table? No problem. Maybe a burger will tide you over.

There was a line but it moved well. Someone actually came out from behind the counter to take my order. Nice easy process.

As I waited, the place really started to fill up and all the tables were full. Michael (I'm pretty sure it was him) stopped by to see the baby and give me grief for wearing a Five Guys t-shirt (A poor wardrobe choice, I admit). It took about 10 minutes and my burgers were ready. Good thing too since the baby had finally woke up and was starting to express his displeasure. I grabbed the baby, grabbed the burgers, went down the hill.

The Review

Burger A- My wife's burger

Grilled, Recommended w/ grilled onions, peppers, mushrooms and mayo. Cooked perfectly. One of the highlights of no longer being pregnant is my wife can get burgers that are not burned to a crisp. The toppings were delicious, especially the mushrooms. When my wife found out where I had gone I got the "You drove all the way to Arlington?" bit. One bite of the burger and all was forgotten. She really really enjoyed it.

Burger B- My son's burger. Unfortunately since he is three months old and lacks teeth I had to help him out by eating it for him. The things parents have to put up with.

Au Poivre, Recommended w/ bacon, blue cheese, grilled onions, peppers, mushrooms and mayo. Cooked perfectly. Recommended may be too rare for some people. Not me. The cracked pepper was not overpowering, I actually barely noticed it. There was much less than you would normally see on a steak the burger had more of a sprinkle.

You could tell that a high quality of meat was used. It actually tasted that someone took a steak from next door, put it through the grinder and put it on a bun. Unfortunatly the burger came without most of its toppings, only the cheese. Having tasted the toppings from my wife's burger, I could tell I was missing out.

Burger C - My Burger

Grilled, recommended, w/ bacon, the $4 aged Amish cheddar, grilled onions, peppers, mushrooms and mayo. Cooked well done (it's an art, not a science). It was a testament to the quality of the meat that even well done, the burger was still juicy. I admit the aged Amish cheddar was an impulse buy but damn was it good and worth the 4 bucks. I actually snuck a bite of this one in the car before I drove back to Centreville. Unfortunately this one also came without most of its toppings as well (missing the peppers, onions and mushrooms). Again, having tasted my wife's burger, I was missing out.

Verdict

If you ask my wife, everything was great. The one burger that had to be right was perfect. Me, I was mildly let down simply because I had built the trip up in my mind. After reading the reviews I was expecting a perfect experience but only got a pretty good one. The two burgers I ordered both had problems both of which can be chalked up to the place being mobbed and in its first week of operation.

If the crowds are any indication, this place should be able to print money. Especially once word of its existence reached a wider audience. I can only hope that one day Michael will start to offer the blue cheese sauce or the brandy mushroom sauce used at RTS as a topping (I could bathe in that stuff.) To the poster who wondered whether or not the burgers travelled well I can report that they travelled to Centreville just fine with buns intact. We actually didn't have any problems with the buns disintegrating.

I close this post with some advice. If you travelled 25 miles for some burgers, double check them before you leave. Oh yeah, and never, ever wear a Five Guys t-shirt to another man's burger joint.

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I think he means he mostly expected a bunch of fat losers from the Internet : )
We were all there - :lol: - just kidding, but it was nice to see several DR.com friends in the place while enjoying my burger last night.
Michael (I'm pretty sure it was him) stopped by to see the baby and give me grief for wearing a Five Guys t-shirt (A poor wardrobe choice, I admit). ...never, ever wear a Five Guys t-shirt to another man's burger joint.
Say hi next time :lol: I got a chuckle out of your shirt, as I saw you heading out the, burger bag in one hand and baby carrier in the other.
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I read that, thanks. The reason I asked about the burgers being spicy is that I'm nearing the end of my pregnancy and can't do spicy foods at the moment. I would, however, love a good burger. It sounds like Ray's won't do me in.

I can't stand spicyhot stuff, while being pretty fond of spicyflavor stuff. I had a bite of the boyfriend's diablo sauce burger, and found it yummy, and not really what I'd call hot, really more what I'd call spicyflavor. Then again, it was just one bite, it might have been a less sauced bite.

Has anyone taken a burger home?

Boyf&I have gotten all ours to go, and they've all transported just fine. If you're especially worried, you could probably ask them to put the lettuce on the bun before the meat, they seem really open to requests of that sort.

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best fries ever !!

Thanks Michael :lol:

Are there any plans to expand the menu to include fries? More?
Help.
Congratulations for needing it. I don't eat as much meat as most Donrockwell members, but when the craving strikes, it's great to have an option of this caliber.

Even though taste-tests reveal the general public prefers greenhouse to field tomatoes (what do they know?), I agree with sentiments above about tomatoes and would welcome restricting their inclusion to the months when beefsteaks have great flavor and texture.

For that matter, I don't see the point of lettuce, though arugula, coleslaw, watercress or wilted mustard greens would complement some of the current list of toppings.

I'd also welcome a bun that matches the quality of the beef, something that doesn't disintegrate. A hearty potato bread, onion-rich Kaiser, pumpernickel roll...

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For that matter, I don't see the point of lettuce, though arugula, coleslaw, watercress or wilted mustard greens would complement some of the current list of toppings.

I'd also welcome a bun that matches the quality of the beef, something that doesn't disintegrate. A hearty potato bread, onion-rich Kaiser, pumpernickel roll...

Burgers are about the only use I know of for iceberg lettuce. It isn't there to add taste but is there rather as a juice shield for the bun. Iceberg's leaves are large enough to cover an entire burger whereas alot of leafy vegetables are not. Now, places that put shredded lettuce on burgers should just be shot.

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Took the family here on Saturday night. I had the Diablo as recommended, and can honestly say this is probably the best burger I have ever had (in a restaurant). However, My kids didn't like theirs, (admittedly they are kids and don't have great taste in food).

Uh, I don't want to come off like a penny pincher, but, I thought it was a little pricey. It adds up quickly. $1 for cheese, $1.50 for bacon, (I will skip it next time, as the burger needs no porky enhancement and it was kind of lost to the HUGE patty)... little 12 ounce soda for $2 (kids can drink these quite quickly BTW).

so for the 4 of us, 4 burgers, 5 sodas, just shy of $60. I will be back, just not as often as I would like, (and without the kids, sorry kids).

Oh, I didn't have any soggy bun problems, and I didn't even do my usual trick of putting the lettuce on the bottom. Also, you don't need a lot of topping on this burger, lettuce, tomato and cheese are quite sufficient.

I'm making myself hungry... Maybe it is worth the price tag.

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Uh, I don't want to come off like a penny pincher, but, I thought it was a little pricey.
:lol:

Where do you take your kids that's less pricey?

I'd also welcome a bun that matches the quality of the beef, something that doesn't disintegrate. A hearty potato bread, onion-rich Kaiser, pumpernickel roll...
Sometimes I like to be imaginative with my burgers, but when it comes right down to a top notch, all-American burger, there's really no substitute for the nutritionless, white hamburger roll (maybe toasted in a little bit of butter).
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...

Uh, I don't want to come off like a penny pincher, but, I thought it was a little pricey. It adds up quickly. $1 for cheese, $1.50 for bacon, (I will skip it next time, as the burger needs no porky enhancement and it was kind of lost to the HUGE patty)... little 12 ounce soda for $2 (kids can drink these quite quickly BTW).

...

Oh, I didn't have any soggy bun problems, and I didn't even do my usual trick of putting the lettuce on the bottom. Also, you don't need a lot of topping on this burger, lettuce, tomato and cheese are quite sufficient.

...

I agree that it doesn't need alot of toppings, and without alot of toppings this is a pretty darn reasonably priced burger. What you described (lettuce, tomato, cheese) is an $8 burger. In my mind, for the quality of burger, that is a steal.

$2 for 12 oz sodas doesn't seem too unusual for a restaurant either. And water is always a reasonable alternative -- save the calories for more meat :lol:

Oh and for the record, the bun held up fine for me as well.

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:lol:

Where do you take your kids that's less pricey?

Dim Sum we usually get out for about $50, and we eat a lot, Pho usually runs about $30-40. Other than that, we don't eat out much I guess...

I agree that it doesn't need alot of toppings, and without alot of toppings this is a pretty darn reasonably priced burger. What you described (lettuce, tomato, cheese) is an $8 burger.

Aha, I added bacon, (which, by the way was a little flabby. I like my burger bacon crispy.) that makes it $9.50

I'm really not complaining. It was a bit of a shock, as I said it adds up quickly. For me, because I appreciate it, $11.50 for a burger and soda is ok. For my kids, who didn't appreciate or eat it, not so much. They prefer McDonalds, (SHOCKER!)

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Dim Sum we usually get out for about $50, and we eat a lot, Pho usually runs about $30-40. Other than that, we don't eat out much I guess...

Aha, I added bacon, (which, by the way was a little flabby. I like my burger bacon crispy.) that makes it $9.50

I'm really not complaining. It was a bit of a shock, as I said it adds up quickly. For me, because I appreciate it, $11.50 for a burger and soda is ok. For my kids, who didn't appreciate or eat it, not so much. They prefer McDonalds, (SHOCKER!)

I'll bet 4 bacon cheeseburgers and cokes at TGIFriday's costs more than at Ray's...

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Pho usually runs about $30-40.

I would argue that the prices for pho at Pho 75 next door can run equal to the prices at Hell-Burger. A large bowl of pho with some extra toppings and perhaps a plum soda or coffee drink could probably run you 10 bucks or so - which is pretty much what I paid for a burger with gruyere and a Boylan's the other day.

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I'll bet 4 bacon cheeseburgers and cokes at TGIFriday's costs more than at Ray's...

Oh, I don't doubt it, but that comes with fries.

:lol:

But seriously, I worked at a Fridays for about three months right around Y2K, (and yes, I am ashamed to admit it.) I wouldn't, and haven't, set foot in one of those cesspools since.

Again, I am not complaining about Ray's Hell. I just thought that some pricing info could be helpful, and I didn't do the math as I was placing my very minimalist (I'm a purist) order. I wouldn't tip the sacred cow, I'd eat it!

I'll see you in Hell, Shehamforash! :lol:

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The burger place is a great value and as I said I had a great meal there, but with some of the more expensive toppings it can be a pretty pricey burger for what is essentially a cafeteria-style meal. Nothing wrong with saying that. Obviously if your 8 year old wants bacon, guacamole and taleggio you are going to eat cheaper elsewhere...

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I would argue that the prices for pho at Pho 75 next door can run equal to the prices at Hell-Burger. A large bowl of pho with some extra toppings and perhaps a plum soda or coffee drink could probably run you 10 bucks or so - which is pretty much what I paid for a burger with gruyere and a Boylan's the other day.

The kids just have a small, (not an option at Ray's) plain, and they eat it, (well, most of it). I usually have a #12 and an Iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk, (sometimes I am a little more adventurous with the bowl, but not often.) My better half has the same. Add onions in vinegar, a sprite and a lemonade and you are looking at $30-$40 (depending on the grown up portions)... When it comes to Pho 75, I know what I am talking about.

I'll bet 4 bacon cheeseburgers and cokes at TGIFriday's costs more than at Ray's...

On second thought, I'll take that bet. What's at stake?

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The kids just have a small, (not an option at Ray's)

IIRC, on opening day, Michael said that you could ask for a "small" burger and get a 5oz. patty instead of 10oz. Never saw it on the menu board so don't know if that's not going to be offered, or if it's going to be one of those secret menu items that you have to know about to order.

What's a cheeseburger/fries at TGIF? $9? $2 for a drink? Yes, you get fries, but the burger is 7 oz, not 10.

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In truth, the lack of table service and cramped quarters makes it extremely unlikely to become an Arlington kids' place like Rio Grande, Taquiera or Pie-tanza. Not that it's a bad thing, just that I can't imagine parents looking for a relatively easy meal with, say, under-7 children would choose to wait in line, hope for a table, etc.

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Best news in a long time - can't wait to go. The vegetarian wife is just going to have to enjoy her meal of watermelon and rootbeer.

BTW - Michael might be the coolest proprietor ever. Amazing restaurants AND quotes Clipse? Come on now. Va Beach represent.

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Call the authorities. This place is a problem. I returned from California on Sunday and drove directly from Dulles to Ray's and had the Soul Brother #1 burger, "the hardest working chow in the business." I returned yesterday and had a burger with mushrooms, grilled onions and Vermont white cheddar. I ordered both burgers to go, brought them home, and enjoyed them with a glass of red wine. Only shame kept me away tonight.

Also on the menu (with subtitles I will have to add later):

The Big P.O.P.P.A.

The Let's Get it On

The New Jack

The Mack

Why does Michael know so many r&b and hip-hop songs? Why does Michael look so happy? Why would I dare to ask these questions?

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In truth, the lack of table service and cramped quarters makes it extremely unlikely to become an Arlington kids' place like Rio Grande, Taquiera or Pie-tanza. Not that it's a bad thing, just that I can't imagine parents looking for a relatively easy meal with, say, under-7 children would choose to wait in line, hope for a table, etc.
I would bring my kids there anytime (Then again I bring my kids to RTC).

Great Service;

Burgers - corn - watermelon - Ice Cream - Root Beer in a Mug.

Picnic in the parking lot if too crowded - Perfect for kids of all ages.

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