National Hamburger Week Day 2: Ray’s Hell Burger, Arlington


The best thing about the D.C. burger boom is that there are now so many options for quality burgers, the once perpetually-packed Ray's is now accessible at just about anytime, any day. During the nascent days of the Arlington burger joint, it was not uncommon for the line during both lunch and dinner to stretch out the door. And good luck finding a parking spot. Now you can roll into the place 10 deep at 6:30 p.m. on a weekday and still find a seat for everyone. Works for us. (The addition of Ray's Hell Burger Too just four doors down doesn't hurt either.)

The hole-in-the-wall was our destination for Day 2 of National Burger Week because we've never had a bad burger at Ray's. Sure, we've had a just-decent burger or two, but like we said before, a miss at Ray's is oftentimes better than other joints' hits.

Fortunately our latest visit reaffirmed their spot on our list as one of D.C.'s best and after downing one of Ray's beef bombs for dinner yesterday, it makes us wonder why more joints can't replicate the burger magic they do here. I mean, let's be honest, we're talking about ground beef here-- it's not complicated shit. But that's a burger rant for another day; we're here to extol the gloriousness of our Burger Week Day 2 burg. If you didn't know, Ray's has begun offering smaller 1/3 lb. burgers for pussies those watching their figures, but if you're not still teething or training to become a vegetarian, then it's only right that you opt for the 10 ounce beast. We were feeling the need for some heat, so we went all Terror Squad and hooked up the Big Punisher-- a diablo burger with pepper jack, charred jalapenos, grilled onions and Piranha Sauce. And despite our shitty experience with the bacon yesterday, we threw a couple of strips of the swine on there as well.

And hot damn, this really is a good fucking burger. It's just so right. The patty is massive and the beef is juicy, well-seasoned with that crusty char that tastes like it just came off the backyard grill. The jalapenos are fresh and crisp, packing enough heat to bring sweat to your brow, but not so much that it overwhelms the rest of the burger. The thing is a messy little bitch though, and you're gonna need a napkin or 12 to get through it, but when you can smell burger on your hands two hours later and it makes you hungry all over again, you know they're doing it right. Sure, the bun is for shit --it's a little stale and falls apart two bites in-- but the bread is never (and should never be) the highlight of a burger and it's never gotten in the way of enjoying our Ray's. Two days in and two burgers down for National Burger Week. Damn, we love this job. Ray's Hell Burger | 1725 Wilson Boulevard | Arlington |

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