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Ray's Hell-Burgers Opens in Arlington

crackers Jul 1, 2008 05:02 AM

Michael Landrum, the owner of Ray's the Steaks in Arlington (and Ray's the Classics in Silver Spring) is opening is latest venture today - the long awaited Butcher Burgers - aka Ray's Hell Burgers, in the same strip as RTS (1713 Wilson Blvd). I'm not affiliated with this venture in any way at all, but a huge fan of both RTS and RTC, so I thought I'd pass along the news.

It sounds like it's a very straightforward burger place - charcoal grilled 10oz premium and prime aged beef burgers, with a choice of toppings. Most of the (free!!!) toppings are easily recognizable to anybody who's ever eaten at RTS: sauteed mushrooms, grilled red onions, beefsteak tomatoes, roasted garlic, and also sauteed peppers and charred jalapeno peppers. Bacon and guacamole are also available for a charge, as will be a number of great cheese toppers- aged Vermont cheddar, Danish Bleu, Italian Gorgonzola, Swiss Swiss, smoked mozz, Brie and many others. Even Epoisse. Imagine a medium rare Epoisse bacon burger! oh my.

In summer, corn on the cob and a slice of watermelon will be on the side, gratis.

And to make it even more irresistable, there is Dominion rootbeer on tap and a bunch of Moorenko ice cream flavors to add for a rootbeer float or just a scoop.

I don't know what the price point is, but hope to find out soon from personal experience. And no, no fries. :)

It is supposed to be open every evening at 5pm, and weekends starting at noon.

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  1. m
    MartyL RE: crackers Jul 1, 2008 06:19 AM

    I blogged on it below, under the heading "The Single Best Bang for the Buck in the D.C. Area."

    It is, believe it or not, $6.95. And it's delicious.

    1. k
      kneelconqueso RE: crackers Jul 1, 2008 07:00 AM

      sounds great. i'm pretty sure i'll be there tonight, but wow, i totally expect the lines to be worse here than at RTS.

      aren't they also opening a ray's the classics in the navy league building?

      1 Reply
      1. re: kneelconqueso
        crackers RE: kneelconqueso Jul 1, 2008 08:13 AM

        The great thing is that if the line is too long at RTS, Landrum can tell disgruntled patrons to go to Hell!

      2. c
        chowmac RE: crackers Jul 1, 2008 07:14 AM

        Does anyone know if they will be doing takeout?

        1 Reply
        1. re: chowmac
          DanielK RE: chowmac Jul 1, 2008 07:25 AM

          Yes, they will be doing takeout!

        2. chaofun RE: crackers Jul 1, 2008 08:21 AM

          uh... awesome! crackers thx for the breaking news... again!

          1. DanielK RE: crackers Jul 1, 2008 04:50 PM

            Holy crap. Already 30 minute waits at 5:30pm today.

            Luckily, I got there at 5:00. :-)

            Go. Go now. You will not find a better $7 burger anywhere. Does it compare to Palena/Central? Well, it's not the same kind of upscale atmosphere, no brioche bun, no table service. But it's freakin $7, and it's made from the same aged steaks that Landrum is already serving at RTS.

            3 Replies
            1. re: DanielK
              c
              cookiegirl RE: DanielK Jul 1, 2008 05:56 PM

              I waited about 20-25 minutes when I got there at 7:45. And it was worth the wait. DanielK is right, it's a different atmosphere from Palena/Central, but the meat is obviously prime and freshly ground. Michael was butchering it right behind the counter. I love the root beer on tap - my float kept me satisfied until my burger was done.

              1. re: cookiegirl
                m
                mkbrew RE: cookiegirl Jul 1, 2008 06:01 PM

                This place serves serious burgers for serious people. The Diablo (with a spicy chipolte marinade) is a wonderful piece of meat. The buttery corn on the cob and the watermellon are nice, refreshing sides. The service obviously needs to work out some kinks, but it was opening night and the meat and its preparation was impeccable. Not to mention everything was FREE. It was a wonderful surprise to find that they were not charging for anything tonight.

                1. re: cookiegirl
                  k
                  kneelconqueso RE: cookiegirl Jul 1, 2008 09:16 PM

                  i think we waited for 20 minutes or so as well. i really didnt mind, since the burger was amazing and the food was free anyway.

                  i am pretty sure this is the best burger ive ever had.

              2. c
                caphill2320 RE: crackers Jul 2, 2008 06:45 AM

                Ok, where exactly in the shopping center is this? Did it take over the Village Bistro spot?

                2 Replies
                1. re: caphill2320
                  DanielK RE: caphill2320 Jul 2, 2008 07:31 AM

                  Guajillo is 1727, RTS is 1725, Village Bistro is 1723, Pho 75 is 1721, and Hell-Burger is a couple of doors further down at 1713.

                  1. re: DanielK
                    l
                    Lori D RE: DanielK Jul 2, 2008 08:24 AM

                    It's where Cafe Poulet used to be.

                2. littlew1ng RE: crackers Jul 2, 2008 08:15 AM

                  does anyone know the hours/days? same as rays? we'd like to go this sunday but don't know if it'll be open.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: littlew1ng
                    monavano RE: littlew1ng Jul 2, 2008 08:51 AM

                    See M. Landrum's post here
                    http://www.donrockwell.com/index.php?...

                  2. l
                    lmnopeas RE: crackers Jul 2, 2008 06:26 PM

                    I ate there tonight and it was extraordinary. There was a short line to order, but I was able to get one of the handful of tables after ordered. I had a grilled burger with onions and peppers and hell sauce and gruyere. Although I can't say that I remember every burger that I've ever had, this may be the best ever.

                    The meat was incredibly tasty and juicy. So many restaurant burgers are just garbage and I was really prepared to be disappointed by this place, but it exceeded my expectations many times over.

                    I highly recommend it.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: lmnopeas
                      m
                      MikeR RE: lmnopeas Jul 3, 2008 04:01 AM

                      Have they started charging yet? I've been wanting to go, but didn't want to break the string of free burgers for those who got 'em. <g>

                      Has anyone been there for long enough to have a sense of whether tables turn over reasonably promptly? I'd hate to stand in line to order my food only to find that when it was ready, there was no place to eat it.

                      Are there official hours yet? Closing/cutoff time? Landrum's post on Don Rockwell's board was a bit ambiguous ("we plan to open . . . "). Since it's not open for lunch yet, I'm wondering about a Sunday dinner.

                      1. re: MikeR
                        DanielK RE: MikeR Jul 3, 2008 05:25 AM

                        They only didn't charge the first night.

                        They opened promptly at 5 the first two days, and people reported getting served well after 9pm so far.

                        Opening night, tables were turning quickly, and there were a number of takeout orders. After only two nights of service, I'm not sure there's enough data to answer your question yet! When the weather is nice, there's always the benches in front of RTS!

                        1. re: DanielK
                          crackers RE: DanielK Jul 3, 2008 06:58 AM

                          They were charging last night. From what I heard, they intended to charge the first night too. The first few orders off the grill were gratis because of quality control issues, and then the word spread like wild fire, erroneiously, that all the burgers were going to be free all night. Being the magnanimous and wise restaurateur that he is, ML decided not to disappoint those who arrived later expecting free burgers.

                    2. s
                      stever500 RE: crackers Jul 4, 2008 05:52 AM

                      Thx for posting this. I never heard of this new joint, and I live in Gaithersburg, but if it's that good, I'm THERE at some point. It will make for a great road trip.

                      My favorite burgers are Matchbox mini burger, Houstons, and Palena Cafe so I'm exciting to try this place. And they're not $13.95? Even better! I'm trying to understand why they don't serve fries... What DO they serve with them? How many seats? What's seating like? Desserts?

                      Steve R

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: stever500
                        n
                        nc213 RE: stever500 Jul 4, 2008 07:01 AM

                        as the OP notes, the burgers come with a slice of watermelon and corn on the cob and there is Moorenko ice cream for dessert.

                      2. m
                        MikeR RE: crackers Jul 4, 2008 06:41 AM

                        This may not be a politically correct question given the obvious nature of the menu, but do they serve anything for the non beef-eaters other than ice cream? One of my regular dinner companions always orders chicken and probably wouldn't want to go to a restaurant that served only hamburgers, no matter how good they are. (but I would!)

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: MikeR
                          DanielK RE: MikeR Jul 4, 2008 08:39 AM

                          At the moment, the only "entree" they offer is the burger.

                          As to stever500's questions, they don't offer fries, nor an explanation as to why they don't offer fries. They do have Route 11 chips, though, along with some other smaller brands.

                        2. f
                          ficelle RE: crackers Jul 4, 2008 08:24 AM

                          Ray's Hell-Burgers - Question please ???????is it open today July 4th and if so what time 5PM or are they open earlier because its a Holiday. Many Thanks.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ficelle
                            j
                            JoeHoya RE: ficelle Jul 4, 2008 12:53 PM

                            Landrum himself answered this over at Don Rockwell:

                            "We will be open today, from 5 on--as will The Steaks and The Classics.

                            One thing to mention, since it was noted somewhere that we have not specified closing hours. We have pretty much been serving until 11 or so or later each night we have been open, based on demand and traffic flow.

                            Just like at The Steaks and The Classics, as long as we have people coming in, we keep serving and rarely do we ever turn anyone away--as long as we are able, we will always turn the grill back on and throw on another order."

                            Sounds like tonight may be a great night to try to hit up Ray's the Steaks!

                          2. m
                            MikeR RE: crackers Jul 4, 2008 01:28 PM

                            I see that next Wednesday's Washington Post will feature burger tastings.

                            Please, please, Post, keep our little secret (as much as it's a secret) a little longer. I haven't had the patience to eat at Ray's The Steaks for a couple of years now. At least let me try the burgers before it goes over the top.

                            Maybe, just maybe, the article was written before Hell's Burgers opened, but I understand that news is news, and they print all the news that fits.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: MikeR
                              j
                              jaydreb RE: MikeR Jul 6, 2008 07:46 AM

                              Anyone know if they are open for lunch today (Sunday)? Or dinner only?

                              1. re: jaydreb
                                m
                                MikeR RE: jaydreb Jul 6, 2008 08:28 AM

                                Don't know about Sunday. I suspect that weekends at this point may still be in the experimental stage. There are no visible signs posting the hours. No sign with the name of the place, either, so you have to know that it's there, which, I suppose is a good thing, at least for a while.

                                I suppose I shouldn't let the secret out, but I was in the neighborhood yesterday (Saturday) about 2:30 in the afternoon so I pulled into the parking lot to scope out the new Ray's Burgers, figuring they'd be closed but at least I'd know where it is and maybe get a glimpse of the inside. The door was propped open and people were inside eating.

                                Unfortunately, I had a reasonable breakfast, wasn't even thinking about lunch, and I was completely unprepared for eating a 2/3 pound burger so I didn't sample the wares, but next Saturday I'll be ready if they're ready for me.

                                1. re: MikeR
                                  j
                                  jaydreb RE: MikeR Jul 6, 2008 08:30 AM

                                  Thanks. Michael's post indicated that they're open for lunch on weekends, but I wasn't sure when that started. At least they were open yesterday. I'll go check it out.

                                2. re: jaydreb
                                  DanielK RE: jaydreb Jul 6, 2008 08:33 AM

                                  RHB, according to Landrum, opens at 5p on weekdays, and 12n on weekends.

                                  Quoth Landrum, on DR: "We have pretty much been serving until 11 or so or later each night we have been open, based on demand and traffic flow.

                                  Just like at The Steaks and The Classics, as long as we have people coming in, we keep serving and rarely do we ever turn anyone away--as long as we are able, we will always turn the grill back on and throw on another order.

                                  I fully expect that we will be serving until midnight or so on a regular basis rather soon--even on weekdays--and would not be surprised if we end up going well into the night on weekends."

                              2. f
                                FoodieGrrl RE: crackers Jul 7, 2008 01:59 PM

                                Is it open on Mondays?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: FoodieGrrl
                                  DanielK RE: FoodieGrrl Jul 7, 2008 02:32 PM

                                  Yes. All of the Ray's locations have been open 7 days for some time now.

                                2. m
                                  MikeR RE: crackers Jul 12, 2008 12:44 PM

                                  I got mine!

                                  Based on my walk by the shop last Saturday at about 2:15 and seeing that it wasn't busy at all, I went there hungry at about the same time today and found it quite packed. Still it took me only a couple of minutes to order, and I snagged a table before my burger arrived.

                                  There was a delivery mix-up - apparently when you have a common name like Mike you have to sit pretty close to the kitchen to be sure you hear your name before someone else thinks he hears his. After sitting at the table for about 20 minutes, one of the servers came over and asked what I had ordered. When I told him, he said they gave my burger to someone else and that he'd bring me the next medium one off the grill, which he did, just a couple of minutes later.

                                  It was a little past what I'd call medium, but still fine. Really tasty, great texture and cooked with just a bit of a crust on the outside. Great eating, but honestly, with the wait, the crowd, and the noise, it wasn't much fun. By the time I finished, about 3:00, the place had quieted down considerably and about half the tables were empty. I must have come in just on the tail end of a peak.

                                  I'll try it again, for sure, but maybe next time plan it as an early dinner rather than a late lunch.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: MikeR
                                    a
                                    arugulafilesdc RE: MikeR Jul 20, 2008 06:10 PM

                                    I finally tried Ray's today.

                                    The burger was tasty. The meat wasn’t greasy and the huge patty was matched with the right amount of cheese. I ordered the burger cooked "recommended" and it was just right: warm and red in the center. It could have used a touch more seasoning or maybe the hell sauce for a little more flavor. The burger came with the new bun (apparently the old ones were falling apart) and it was good, but a little too big, maybe? The watermelon and corn were a welcome substitute to french fries. If I had fries, I would have had to lie down on the floor and wait for a crane to bring me home.

                                    Ray’s would benefit from two improvements: frosted mugs for the root beer and air conditioning. Otherwise, the price is right ($7.95) and the food is tasty.

                                    photo here http://arugulafiles.typepad.com/the_a...

                                    1. re: arugulafilesdc
                                      z
                                      Ziv RE: arugulafilesdc Jul 20, 2008 07:58 PM

                                      Arugula, I am with you on the oversized hamburger buns, I had to chase my burger from one side of the bun to the other, but it was worth it. Grilled with grilled onions and mushrooms it was a very good burger all the way around. I ordered mine medium and it was just a bit charred, touch of pink in the center, very flavorful. The dill pickle was a bit bland so I tossed it and enjoyed both the burger and the root beer immensely. The iced mugs would be a nice touch. Friendly competent staff, great burger, very good price, all in all this place is a winner. I used to be a huge fan of the old 5 Guys, but with Ray's Hell Burgers around I won't be seeing the 5 Guys too often.

                                      1. re: arugulafilesdc
                                        m
                                        MikeR RE: arugulafilesdc Jul 21, 2008 04:46 AM

                                        I didn't realize that there was a bun change. When did that happen? I had my Ray's burger a week ago (Saturday 7/12) and followed the recommendation to cut the burger in half. After a few bites, the bun was in quarters, so I guess it "fell apart." It got too messy and I finished the job with a fork. Just as well to save a few carbs.

                                        It's easy to over-analyze this. I had my burger without cheese, but with a topping that looked pretty much like what was in your photo. Could be that it could be improved by a different assembly sequence. The juice from the grilled onions, garlic, and peppers soaked the top of the bun, but the bottom was nicely protected by the lettuce leaf. Maybe by stacking it (bottom to top) as bun, lettuce, tomato (if used), grilled onion stuff, burger, cheese, top (with mustard if used). That way the lettuce would keep the bottom bun from getting soaked, and the cheese would glue the top bun together.

                                        Back to my morning coffee. ;)

                                    2. s
                                      sweth RE: crackers Jul 21, 2008 10:13 AM

                                      Been there a couple of times now.

                                      First time got a "Soul Burger #1" (bacon, swiss, mushrooms/onions), medium-rare; the burger was a little closer to rare, which I could have forgiven except that they use a very loose pack on the meat, and so when it's that rare, the meat just falls apart (as my burger quickly did). The toppings were fine, but the meat itself was a little underseasoned. Crumbly bun issues were confirmed.

                                      Second time (yesterday), I got the New Jack (cajun blackened, w/ onions, roasted jalapenos, pepper jack), medium. This time, the meat was well-seasoned (to be expected given the cajun blackening), but overdone--much closer to medium-well, which just a hint of pink in one bite, and pretty dry. The toppings were also fine on this one; as a warning, the roasted jalapenos are nice and fiery. The bun did appear to have been reworked, as there was no crumbling that I noticed.

                                      The corn and watermelon were fine both times.

                                      All in all, I'd say it's a great value, but a little inconsistent and not as earth-shattering as some are claiming.

                                      -----
                                      Ray's Hell Burger
                                      1713 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22209

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: sweth
                                        littlew1ng RE: sweth Jul 21, 2008 02:16 PM

                                        shun the nonbeliever!

                                        just kidding. i agree it's got some work to be done, but it's certainly quite nice to have a good, hearty burger joint in the 'hood besides five guys.

                                      2. alkapal RE: crackers Jul 23, 2008 04:48 AM

                                        did i hear: no a/c???

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: alkapal
                                          a
                                          arugulafilesdc RE: alkapal Jul 23, 2008 04:17 PM

                                          Yes, you heard right, no AC. At least when I went (and admittedly I've only been once)

                                          1. re: arugulafilesdc
                                            j
                                            Jason1 RE: arugulafilesdc Jul 29, 2008 06:44 AM

                                            Does anyone have any updates to the AC issue? I'm planning on stopping by this weekend with a 1-year old, but I'm concerned about no AC, especially with the temperature in the mid-90's and humid this weekend. Is it unberably hot in there, or do they have some airflow?

                                            1. re: Jason1
                                              l
                                              Lori D RE: Jason1 Jul 29, 2008 08:40 AM

                                              I was there last night. There is some AC (and a large fan), but it's underpowered for the space. It was pretty warm in there, but not at the level it would have been if there was absolutely no AC.

                                              It was pretty crowded, enough that I got my order to go. I would think that, with a small child, I might be concerned about waiting for seating unless I went at an off hour.

                                              There is now house made lemonade at $1.00 per glass (quite tasty), and printouts of the menu at the front so you can make your decision while in line.

                                        2. m
                                          MikeR RE: crackers Jul 23, 2008 06:45 PM

                                          There goes the neighborhood. Ray's Hell Burgers made it to the Post today.

                                          The day I was there, it wasn't very hot and the door was propped open, so it probably doesn't have air conditioning yet. Thinking ahead, I hope it has heat for the winter.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: MikeR
                                            beauxgoris RE: MikeR Jul 23, 2008 10:07 PM

                                            I really want to try this place.

                                          2. t
                                            takajin RE: crackers Jul 24, 2008 01:05 PM

                                            We've been twice so far and it will probably become a regular for us since we live in that area.

                                            The burger justs tastes so fresh! As it should since they are butchering the meat fresh in the store. I feel like it could use a bit more seasoning throughout (I've had just the grilled both times), but it's still a really good burger.

                                            My only wished for change is a smaller burger (well, and beer too). 10 oz on a big bun is a big committment for me, with or without the sides. And I really hate wasting food. I'm rather happy they don't serve fries.

                                            I've had the soul burger and a grilled burger with their sauted 'shrooms and grilled onions. No bun problems either time (actually impressed with how well the buns held up given the juiciness of the burger). Cooked to order well enough both times (medium).

                                            Interestingly they've already raised their prices on some of their "specialty" burgers. I first went two weeks ago and the soul burger was $7.95. This week, the price for the soul burger was at $8.95.

                                            Have taken out both times, so haven't noticed AC issues. But they really need to make a nice large sign with clear print (not the printed 1-page menus hanging on the walls) that makes clear the menu choices and the process for ordering. If the lines are long, the current lack of system and signage is really confusing to people who are either new or don't know what they want until the get close enough to read the small signs.

                                            But a great deal regardless. I'd love to try some of the other new burger joints in town for comparison, but doubt I'll get around to it anytime soon given the quality of Ray's product, the price, and my proximity to them.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: takajin
                                              m
                                              MikeR RE: takajin Jul 24, 2008 05:49 PM

                                              "If the lines are long, the current lack of system and signage is really confusing to people who are either new or don't know what they want until the get close enough to read the small signs."

                                              The one time I was there (a Saturday afternoon) there was a stack of those one-page menus by the door, but I didn't notice it until I was walking out. I did see a few people standing in line with those "menus" and I wondered where they got them.

                                              I noticed something that nobody's mentioned yet, and that was a sign that said something like "Cash only, No-Fee ATM on the premises." I don't recall seeing the ATM, but I assume it's there somewhere, and it's a nice gesture.

                                              1. re: MikeR
                                                alkapal RE: MikeR Jul 25, 2008 04:18 AM

                                                ray's hell-burgers is cash only?

                                                1. re: MikeR
                                                  4
                                                  4X4 RE: MikeR Jul 25, 2008 05:32 AM

                                                  That makes me picture a surly guy behind the counter yelling, "No burger for you! Next!"

                                                  1. re: MikeR
                                                    d
                                                    dcskinsfan RE: MikeR Jul 25, 2008 06:56 AM

                                                    It is definitely cash-only. I was there Monday, but the ATM is past the cash register around the corner.

                                                2. ktmoomau RE: crackers Aug 16, 2008 06:29 PM

                                                  Finally got to Ray's Hellburgers-
                                                  WOW.

                                                  The flavor of the burger, the ground steak is just amazing. I had the Big Poppa and it was really good, I didn't need mustard or ketchup, the flavor of the meat was just so good. I had it au poivre, recommended temp and the peppercorns with the flavor of the steaky beefy meat really was great. Next time I just want a tangy or spicy sauce and mushrooms, no cheese as it didn't need it, it is so rich and delicious it is good just as it is.

                                                  At first I thought I would be annoyed with no french fries, but the corn and watermelon were perfect with it, they tasted light and fresh and mixed with the heavy steak taste of the burger well.

                                                  They have print outs of the menu at the doors, and it is posted in a few places, I didn't notice it being too hot, but it was such a nice day today. This is better than Tallula's burger which was my favorite in the area because of the quality of their meat, but this one was just like ground steak grilled to perfection. They have a NO CHARGE ATM in the place, which takes away any annoyance of cash only. The tea was good too, it was a nice spicy tea they used, not like a lipton, I liked it.

                                                  Anyway thought I would give my two cents, oh and went at 8- 8 15 and there was no line, and it wasn't too hard to get a table, although it got a little busier at 8 30.

                                                  I can't imagine anyone comparing to this. We will see.

                                                  1. h
                                                    HuntingtonWoodsKid RE: crackers Aug 18, 2008 04:53 PM

                                                    Ate at Ray's Hell Burger on 8/17 at about 5 p.m.. The place was moderately busy. As others have reported, the quality and flavor of the meat were excellent. The corn on the cob was very tasty as well. I kept it fairly simple and had my burger with white cheddar and mushrooms. The bun still needs work. It was too fluffy for my taste and provided, as some folks have commented, an unappealing bread to meat ratio. At the risk of sounding curmudgeonly, I also feel the need to kvetch a bit about the lack of fries,the lack of ice for the soft drinks, and the fact that the soft drinks, with the exception of the root beer on tap, come in single serving bottles. Perhaps some of the choices Mr. Landrum has made have to do with the tiny size of the space and the need to keep things as simple as possible. Nevertheless, because of these limitations, I don't plan on becoming a regular at Ray's Hell Burgers.

                                                    8 Replies
                                                    1. re: HuntingtonWoodsKid
                                                      DanielK RE: HuntingtonWoodsKid Aug 18, 2008 05:49 PM

                                                      He has publicly stated that he will not serve fries, due to a) taking the shine away from the burgers, and b) the substantial added prep time to do them right.

                                                      As far as single-serving soft drinks, that's a hallmark of all of his places. None of his sodas are corn syrup based, only cane sugar, so a fountain system is out of the question. The exception is the root beer on tap, not fountain.

                                                      1. re: DanielK
                                                        Gonzocook RE: DanielK Aug 21, 2008 12:30 PM

                                                        Hmmm... You seem to know something about soft drinks, so: (1) why would corn syrup vs. cane sugar make a difference? Didn't fountains exist back in the cane sugar days? (2) How is a "tap" different from a "fountain"?

                                                        1. re: Gonzocook
                                                          DanielK RE: Gonzocook Aug 21, 2008 01:06 PM

                                                          To the best of my knowledge, none of the soda producers who use cane sugar rather than corn syrup then process the beverage down to a syrup can, that can later be reconstituted at the fountain with CO2. I assume it's chemically possible, but someone else will have to weigh in on that.

                                                          As far as root beer, the one RHB serves (Old Dominion, I believe) comes in kegs, and is brewed just like beer. Hence, draft. When you get Barq's or MUG or one of those, it's produced just like the sodas above - distilled down to syrup, and reconstituted at the fountain with CO2.

                                                          Why would anyone go to this much trouble? You can read a lot about it, but corn syrup is a pretty nasty product, and really should be avoided as much as possible. Reference OMNIVORE'S DILEMMA by Michael Pollan, for one.

                                                          1. re: DanielK
                                                            m
                                                            mselectra RE: DanielK Aug 25, 2008 07:48 AM

                                                            Not to get this too far off track, but Old Dominion root beer in bottles does have HFCS (I just had some at another restaurant and was disappointed to see this). Are you all saying the draft version doesn't?

                                                            1. re: mselectra
                                                              DanielK RE: mselectra Aug 25, 2008 02:03 PM

                                                              I did a little Googling, and it looks like their acquisition by Coastal/Fordham/Anheuser last year may have affected some of their products, as they discontinued the stellar Tupper's Hop Pocket, and seem to have added corn syrup to the root beer, at least in bottles.

                                                              I can't find a reputable source that says whether or not there is corn syrup in the draft version.

                                                              1. re: DanielK
                                                                x
                                                                xdcx RE: DanielK Aug 26, 2008 08:09 AM

                                                                for as long as I can remember, going on 10 years at this point, it's included HFCS in addition to honey.

                                                          2. re: Gonzocook
                                                            d
                                                            dcandohio RE: Gonzocook Aug 21, 2008 01:11 PM

                                                            For one thing, most corn syrup based sodas have High Fructose Corn Syrup, which is very bad for you. Most fountain soda providers now use only corn syrup based products. Yep, back in the "old days" fountain sodas were based on cane sugar.

                                                        2. re: HuntingtonWoodsKid
                                                          ktmoomau RE: HuntingtonWoodsKid Aug 19, 2008 06:53 AM

                                                          I got the iced tea and it came in a cup with ice, they also have lemonade served that way you could probably ask for a cup with ice?

                                                        3. f
                                                          foodiecritics RE: crackers Aug 18, 2008 09:13 PM

                                                          I finally got to check out Rays Hells Burgers... It is one of the few places that really lives up to the hype. Burger is a very high caliber cut of meat. In fact while we were waiting the butcher was preparing the cuts of beef and explained to us the ratios that he used and why.
                                                          This is definitely one of the best burgers I have ever had.
                                                          Staff was extremely friendly the cash only thing is a bit inconvenient but easy to overcome.
                                                          I agree with other posts that there should be fries but oh well chips were not bad and next time we will probably bring fries from one of the local places in clarendon before arriving.
                                                          Burger was cooked to perfection and we tried all the different ways of preparing it since there were six of us. I preferred the blackened, the grilled was the standard.
                                                          Numerous toppings and cheeses allow for numerous possibilities.
                                                          The other posts are correct there is very limited table space so either get there early or later than the rush if you can.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: foodiecritics
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                                                            MikeR RE: foodiecritics Aug 19, 2008 03:34 AM

                                                            Bring your own fries?!! My gawd, man, how can you EAT so much? The corn makes me feel just a little less full so I can finish the burger. I'll admit that I eat less now than when I was a growing boy, but I'm stuffed from just a Ray's burger.

                                                            Last time I was there, I took the meat off the bun and ate it with a fork, eating just a couple of bites of bun as if it was bread from the bread basket. Not very classy, but it didn't fall apart in my hands, and it's probably better to cut the carb intake a bit anyway.

                                                            1. re: foodiecritics
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                                                              arose RE: foodiecritics Aug 19, 2008 07:23 AM

                                                              This is my favorite burger in D.C. hands down. I love that they cook it very pink as the standard. Just the way a burger should be cooked. It means that they trust their meat, the quality, the preperations and the purveyor. All good signs. Before I ate I knew that it was a 10 oz burger. but I didn't get it, these things are huge. I totally couldn't finish it though I desperately wanted to. I got my burger au poivre with cheddar and onions.

                                                              We didn't have a problem getting a table, but we went on a wednesday night. The corn was succulent but the water melon wasn't very juicy. The rootbeer was great, I just wished they had real beer too. It would really make the burger.

                                                              mmm mmm mmm I just can't wait to go back.

                                                            2. x
                                                              xena1441 RE: crackers Aug 20, 2008 07:43 AM

                                                              We went last night (Tuesday) around 6 pm and there was barely a line. I looked behind the register and they had quite a crew working. By 6:30, we were almost finished eating and there was a wave of people that came in. I think its best to get there before 6 if you're in a hurry.

                                                              I had the grilled burger with mushrooms, grilled red onions, and a side of the piranha sauce which was amazing. The burger was cooked perfectly and my bun did not crumble. The watermelon was juicy and a great compliment (I also for once didn't feel gross after eating at a burger place).

                                                              Cannot wait to go back and try everything else.

                                                              6 Replies
                                                              1. re: xena1441
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                                                                enoisone RE: xena1441 Aug 21, 2008 09:42 AM

                                                                I went to hell-burger on wed nite at 5pm.Got my order in about 4 min..Med-rare w/jalepenos and cheddar(i did not add any condiments).The meat was cooked perfectly,just as i expect from association w/ray's steak.It was seared w/peppercorn which was a nice touch.For me the downside was the bun.From reading the previous posts it sounds like the bun has been an issue before.I thought it was too much dense bread,which i think would be improved by toasting a short time.I found myself pulling it apart as i ate it.About 1/3 of the bun ending up on the plate.I will end by saying the price was right w/ all the free extras.I probably will return.Great burger w/ a mediocre bun.

                                                                1. re: enoisone
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                                                                  cabster RE: enoisone Aug 21, 2008 02:01 PM

                                                                  I must have been there the same time you were! Wednesday at 5:00. Loved it!! Best burger I've had in ages--grilled, medium-rare, bleu cheese, mushrooms. I agree that the roll is less than wonderful, but who cares when the burger is so amazing. Can't wait to return. I just wish I didn't have to worry about cholesterol!

                                                                  1. re: enoisone
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                                                                    enoisone RE: enoisone Mar 20, 2011 07:59 AM

                                                                    2 1/2 years later and i've probably returned to RHB about 25+ times. I do think this is the best burger i've had in my 6 1/2yrs in the District. It's always cooked a perfect med-rare and the free toppings can't be beat. This is truly a Steak-Burger.
                                                                    Now, back to the bun. I don't know if it's my imagination or the bun has changed/ improved,but now it's holds up to this awesome burger.
                                                                    Since my last review,they've added Mac n Cheese and fries. Good fries,but really good MnC,really creamy and nice blend of cheeses. So glad i'm in walking distance to this gem.

                                                                  2. re: xena1441
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                                                                    Aza Mila RE: xena1441 Aug 23, 2008 12:56 PM

                                                                    I had the side of piranha sauce today during my first Ray's visit. I needed to de-cob the corn to consume it and I found that a bit of the sauce mixed with corn and fresh tom made a really tasty side dish. As long as they continue to offer the piranha sauce I will be adding it - yum ! I am getting my burger "recommended" instead of medium next time as I like less cooking and I look forward to adventures in cheese choices i.e. Gruyere, Gouda, and aged cheddar.

                                                                    1. re: Aza Mila
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                                                                      Rick RE: Aza Mila Aug 23, 2008 06:36 PM

                                                                      Just trying to figure out if you get free refills on the root beer? People keep saying that everything but the root beer is single serve.

                                                                      1. re: Rick
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                                                                        Aza Mila RE: Rick Aug 23, 2008 08:22 PM

                                                                        No - there are no free refills. It is very high quality Old Dominion Brewery root beer and is sold in a glass, mug, or pitcher. So 3 sized are available.

                                                                  3. m
                                                                    MarcDC RE: crackers Aug 24, 2008 10:00 AM

                                                                    I went yesterday and had an Au Poivre burger, cooked "recommended", with Bel Paese cheese, Roasted Bone Marrow with Persillade, and Bacon. I also got some of the Piranha sauce on the side. OMG... honestly, it was the best burger I've ever had. Nothing else has come close.

                                                                    And FYI, the owner, Michael Landrum, recommends you cut the burger in half before you eat it. So, you know, DO THAT.

                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                    1. re: MarcDC
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                                                                      Rick RE: MarcDC Aug 24, 2008 05:43 PM

                                                                      Just what is this Piranha sauce that we're hearing so much about? I'll be visiting DC next weekend and am excited to have dinner here, but don't know how to get my burger yet!

                                                                      1. re: Rick
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                                                                        MarcDC RE: Rick Aug 25, 2008 07:21 AM

                                                                        It's a spicy green sauce, made with jalapenos and a couple of other things. I got it on the side so that I could taste it first. It's free so I highly recommend you try it.

                                                                      2. re: MarcDC
                                                                        Dennis S RE: MarcDC Dec 23, 2008 11:04 AM

                                                                        Marc - can you give more insight on the reason to cut it in half before eating? I FINALLY got by there today for lunch and it was amazing! I had the B.I.G. Poppa, fwiw.

                                                                        1. re: Dennis S
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                                                                          MikeR RE: Dennis S Dec 23, 2008 12:00 PM

                                                                          Taking the first bite is less messy and you get plenty of meat and bun and topping if you chomp at a pointy end rather than a round edge. At least that's my plane geometrical analysis.

                                                                          Additionally, you get a good look at how it was cooked, and if it's too much one way or the other, you can exchange it before getting tunred off by the first bite. (but you might as well take a bite anyway - they'll still take it back)

                                                                          1. re: MikeR
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                                                                            sweth RE: MikeR Dec 23, 2008 02:13 PM

                                                                            When they first opened, the buns were also a little flimsy, and cutting the burgers in half helped ameliorate the problem of your bun collapsing out from under your burger.

                                                                            1. re: sweth
                                                                              crackers RE: sweth Dec 23, 2008 02:44 PM

                                                                              And to really geek out about it - I take the patty out of the bun before I cut it so that when I cut it, the juices don't all run into the bottom bun. Then I cut the buns in half too and reassemble the half I want to eat. The other half usually gets put in a to-go box, bun and meat separately . Those cheesy tater tots are waaaay too good - they don't make it into the to-go box.

                                                                              1. re: crackers
                                                                                Dennis S RE: crackers Dec 23, 2008 04:09 PM

                                                                                Nicely progressed!

                                                                                The buns I had today had a soggy spot on the periphery, but otherwise held up. I thought they were going to fall apart so much more (and I did have a good amount of juice from the Md-Rare burger).

                                                                                To add my 2 cents on a different aspect of this thread - no additions are needed - at least for the Poppa. The Jack - or whatever Cajunish incarnation he has competed for my attention. I'll be back soon.

                                                                                1. re: crackers
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                                                                                  kneelconqueso RE: crackers Dec 23, 2008 06:58 PM

                                                                                  i cant say i liked the cheesy tater puffs. they lacked texture, and just tasted like salty air to me. i did appreciate the effort though.

                                                                            2. re: Dennis S
                                                                              DanielK RE: Dennis S Dec 23, 2008 07:04 PM

                                                                              I cut it in half because then it stops cooking, so my MR burger stays MR.

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                                                                            WestIndianArchie RE: crackers Aug 25, 2008 07:01 AM

                                                                            Wow, believe the hype. My co-workers said it was better than 5 guys....which I just find hard to believe.

                                                                            I'm a believer (c) The Monkees

                                                                            I got the "Let's get it on" and a cone of Moorenko's Salty Pralines and Cream.

                                                                            Burger - Juicy, Cooked to Medium
                                                                            Toppings - Great
                                                                            Boylan's Cherry - I'm a fan
                                                                            Ice Cream in Waffle Cone - Awesome.

                                                                            1. c
                                                                              caphill2320 RE: crackers Aug 28, 2008 09:17 AM

                                                                              Is there any talk about opening up for lunch during the week? Our office is super close and we would LOVE to go at lunch time.

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                                                                                julialimei RE: crackers Oct 12, 2008 07:26 PM

                                                                                I was excited to finally, finally get to try this out for myself, and I'm now a true believer. Had a perfectly excellent burger with VT cheddar, mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, and pickles. It was cooked perfectly, though a little crumbly. But I can't complain. The meat was just delicious.

                                                                                My only disappointment was that it appears they no longer serve corn on the cob and watermelon (which I suppose is a bit passed season) for free. Some folks seemed to have orders of corn on the cob on separate plates, but all of the burgers just came out with a chunk of orange. Does anyone know if this is now standard?

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: julialimei
                                                                                  DanielK RE: julialimei Oct 13, 2008 07:30 AM

                                                                                  This is now standard. They had said from the beginning that the corn and watermelon was an intro offer only for the summer.

                                                                                  The sides are $1-$1.50 - quite reasonable for the large serving you get.

                                                                                  1. re: DanielK
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                                                                                    Lori D RE: DanielK Oct 14, 2008 10:35 AM

                                                                                    They also now have a combo plate - cheeseburger plus side plus drink for $10. Corn on the cob (in a larger portion than was served this summer gratis) is one of the sides.

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                                                                                      julialimei RE: Lori D Oct 14, 2008 12:28 PM

                                                                                      Okay, thanks so much Daniel & Lori. Next time I go in, I'll have to scope out the sides. Some of them looked really great, but we were a bit disoriented trying to order without having seen the menu (they were out of print menus when we were there) until the last minute. Mmm, I'm getting hungry thinking about it :-) Thanks again!

                                                                                2. alkapal RE: crackers Oct 15, 2008 04:46 AM

                                                                                  they only have printed menus, of which they run out? no whiteboard menu, at the very least? gee!

                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: alkapal
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                                                                                    MikeR RE: alkapal Oct 15, 2008 05:25 AM

                                                                                    I recall a whiteboard menu, and a menu above the ordering counter though there may have been some changes or additions that didn't make it to that menu yet. Problem is that by the time you get to where you order, it's usually busy enough so that you don't want to spend too much time reading and making a decision. People behind you will start blowing their horns. <g>

                                                                                    They usually have a pile of printed sheets on a shelf by the door that you can pick up as you come in, but unless you know it's there, it's easy to miss. And after you've been there a few times you probably already know what you want and don't need a menu.

                                                                                    1. re: MikeR
                                                                                      beauxgoris RE: MikeR Oct 20, 2008 04:10 PM

                                                                                      What other sides to they have besides corn?

                                                                                      1. re: beauxgoris
                                                                                        crackers RE: beauxgoris Oct 20, 2008 06:03 PM

                                                                                        There's a really good mac and cheese. I like it with a few hits of whatever hot sauce is on the table.

                                                                                        At lunch on Friday they filled 700 burger orders.

                                                                                        1. re: crackers
                                                                                          beauxgoris RE: crackers Oct 20, 2008 06:05 PM

                                                                                          Any fries? Sweet potato perhaps?

                                                                                          1. re: beauxgoris
                                                                                            DanielK RE: beauxgoris Oct 20, 2008 06:46 PM

                                                                                            No deep fryer!

                                                                                            They have corn, mac&cheese, potato salad, cole slaw, and a couple of others.

                                                                                    2. re: alkapal
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                                                                                      julialimei RE: alkapal Oct 23, 2008 11:21 AM

                                                                                      There was a big whiteboard menu (or was it a chalkboard?) above the registers, but the problem was just as Mike described...by the time we were close enough to read the whiteboard, we were at the register and there was a long, long line behind us, so we were trying to be speedy. There were supposed to be print menus on the shelf by the door (we looked), but they were out. A lot of them had been piled up right next to the register (which we saw as we were ordering), so they just needed someone to pick them up and take them back to the entryway. I think I saw someone do this as we were eating later on. So I guess we just had bad timing. Bad timing, but oh, great burgers!

                                                                                    3. s
                                                                                      Steve RE: crackers Oct 23, 2008 02:00 PM

                                                                                      I have been three times so far and these are my favorie burgers in the area. However, in my three viists, I have ordered seven burgers, and all of them have been waaaay overcooked. On my first visit, I was by myself and ordered a burger medium rare and it came out medium well. Still delicious and addictive. My next vist, same thing, only this time it was closer to well done. Third visit, with two others. All three burgers ordered medium rare, two came out medium well and the third well done. Returned the well done burger and got back a burger medium well. Oh well. I'll still patronize the place because it is delicious, cheap and convenient, but I have had better elsewhere Just not in the DC area.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: Steve
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                                                                                        Lori D RE: Steve Oct 23, 2008 02:34 PM

                                                                                        I've been 4 times so far. Always ordered recommended (medium rare) and always got my burger that way.

                                                                                        The burgers are indeed delicious. However, three out of the four times I have been, I have overindulged. The only time I didn't feel as if I had overdone it was when I had a (somewhat) plain order.

                                                                                        I will be back, for sure, but I am rationing my visits, as it really is too much food for me, and I don't think that the burger would keep well to eat as leftovers.

                                                                                      2. crackers RE: crackers Jun 5, 2010 08:20 PM

                                                                                        Whoa: Table service.

                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: crackers
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                                                                                          lulubelle2020 RE: crackers Jun 8, 2010 06:44 PM

                                                                                          I'm so excited to try it! I've heard great things and will hopefully go this weekend.

                                                                                          1. re: crackers
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                                                                                            Just Visiting RE: crackers Mar 20, 2011 02:56 PM

                                                                                            Are you talking about Hellburger, the Sequel (i.e., the place towards the right-hand end of the strip as you are looking at the restaurants/stores?)? Because they've had table service since day one.

                                                                                            Or are you telling us that the original now has table service?

                                                                                            1. re: Just Visiting
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                                                                                              will_5198 RE: Just Visiting Mar 20, 2011 04:26 PM

                                                                                              Considering the post is from last June -- ie, when Hell-Burger Too opened -- I'd imagine he / she is talking about Too.

                                                                                              1. re: will_5198
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                                                                                                Just Visiting RE: will_5198 Mar 21, 2011 04:15 AM

                                                                                                Oops!

                                                                                                1. re: Just Visiting
                                                                                                  alkapal RE: Just Visiting Mar 21, 2011 04:17 AM

                                                                                                  LOL, well, you are -- after all -- "just visiting."

                                                                                            2. re: crackers
                                                                                              chowser RE: crackers Oct 3, 2011 12:04 PM

                                                                                              Yeah, and they take credit cards at the new one.

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                                                                                              mdpilam RE: crackers Oct 3, 2011 09:40 AM

                                                                                              Finally made it out to try Ray's Hell Burger (Too). I ordered the Big Punisher, which seemed to come recommended highly, especially in regards to spiciness. The burger came out as ordered - medium rare, which is not as easy as you'd think (getting a place to cook your medium rare burger actually medium rare), and the patty itself was very good - juicy and beefy. The bun looked like it was going to be good, but it was just ok. The toppings did little to stand out and provide much flavor to the burger's flavor profile, but they were solid. I didn't find it to be spicy though. The onion rings looked good, but I opted for just the burger.

                                                                                              Overall, I'd say this is easily the best burger I've had in DC, but I'd stop short of calling it a really great burger. Of the remaining "contenders" I have to try Palena Cafe's and Bobby's BP and Central (?).

                                                                                              -----
                                                                                              Ray's Hell Burger
                                                                                              1713 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22209

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: mdpilam
                                                                                                RobertM RE: mdpilam Oct 4, 2011 05:46 AM

                                                                                                Please, Report back when you hit em all.

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