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Ray's Hell Burger (I Don't Get All The Hoopla)

I work in Rosslyn about 1 block away from RHB and have now eaten there on three occasions. Ive had the grilled and au poive burgers with assorted fixings and I just dont get what the big deal is about these burgers. They are good but Ive had equally good burgers at various places within walking distance of RHB (and in much more relaxing atmospheres). The long awaited french fries are ok, although they'd be better served by having 5 Guys up the street supply them. I just don't see this as a "destination" place and it's certainly not worth fighting the crowds, fighting to get a table, and once seated, having to dine in near chaos on an "ok" burger and fries.......

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  1. Maybe you could explain what you didn't like about them (other than, understandably, the crowds)? Just saying "They weren't great" doesn't really tell us anything.

    2 Replies
    1. re: reiflame

      With all the accolades Chowhounders and others give this place, I just don't get it. Go to any of the local pubs or restaurants in the Rosslyn/Arlington area, and you'll be served up a hamburger that is equally as good, yet in a much more pleasant atmosphere. Don't get me wrong, the burger is better than 5 Guys, Fuddruckers, etc, I just dont think it's at the "world famous" level that everyone seems to pump it up as.

      1. re: ciaoda

        If there are any pubs in the area serving 10oz burgers, made from meat ground fresh several times daily from never-frozen prime-grade meat, gently hand-formed and not compressed, cooked on an open flame grill without being pressed down, with a huge variety of free toppings, for SEVEN DOLLARS, please let us know.

    2. I'm not sure how to help you get it, if that's what you want.

      1. I think that the Rays burger is very good, better then most, but not as good as the Truffle Cheeseburger at Palena or Central, (which has my favorite burger)

        1 Reply
        1. re: Jeremy303

          Yeah, except the Central burger with fries will set you back $20 with tax and tip.
          :)

        2. So please tell us which places you think are as good.

          22 Replies
          1. re: Steve

            I didn't read that cioda didn't think Ray's was good, just that he has had better dining experiences at other places. Honestly, I think that few restaurants are really worth all the hoopla. The only times I've been to Ray's for a burger, there was no backup at the ordering counter, an no more wait for the server to bring my food than at Five Guys. What hoopla?

            At the end of the meal though, it's still a hamburger, but what separates it from the run-of-the-mill bar burger is the pedigree of the meat all the way from carcass to grill, the way it can be dressed up (if you like that sort of thing), the efficiency, and the price. It's a formula that works for a whole lot of people.

            I probably eat a restaurant burger once a month. Sometimes it's Ray's, sometimes it's Five Guys, once it was Cowboy Cafe because someone reported their burgers were good and it's on the list for an airline-miles-for-dining plan that I'm in. It, too, was an excellent burger, but it was for a late lunch, I ate in a booth over on the bar side because there was nobody in the restaurant side, and it was noisy and smoky, so not as good an experience as Ray's.

            1. re: MikeR

              mr. alka loves the cowboy cafe burger, too. i wasn't as impressed. it seemed to be somehow *ball" shaped. it's tuesday nights that they are half-price. you can't beat that! (i really like the shrimp and grits at cowboy, and their green chile pork).

              and it won't be too much longer for the smoky bar side, with the new anti-smoking law taking effect.

              i still haven't tried ray's, but hate lines. when can i go and avoid the lines?

              1. re: alkapal

                I was at Ray's last Monday about 2:20 PM and the place was practically empty. Just one person ahead of me ordering at the counter, and my burger and fries came out in less than 10 minutes.

                Stave off your lunch appetite for a couple of hours and go get yourself some hoopla. <g> Don't go overboard with the toppings, free or bought. There's a great temptation there. A simple cheese, maybe the mushrooms, a slice of onion. The roasted garlic and grilled onions have been too messy unless, like I did, you give up on eating your burger with your hands and work on it with a knife and fork.

                1. re: MikeR

                  And I think Two Amy's and Pizzaria Paradiso are over-rated as well. I guess for the area these places (including Rays) are fine but you guys review these places as though they are the second coming.....

                  1. re: ciaoda

                    ciaoda, what are your top favorite burger / pizza places in the area?

                    1. re: woodleyparkhound

                      Ive had equally good burgers at Houstons, Matchbox, Cheesecake Factory, Chadwicks, Clydes and others. For pizza, I'd have to say Piola's in Rosslyn, Mamma Lucia in Rockville and perhaps the Italian Store,

                      1. re: ciaoda

                        "perhaps the italian store" is right. anthony's in falls church is better than italian store.

                        1. re: alkapal

                          Ooo, thanks for the tip alkapal! I drive by Anthony's constantly and have never been in!

                          1. re: FoodieGrrl

                            I've been to Anthony's once and never felt the urge to return. Typical acidic tomato sauce, cheese has no fresh dairy flavor. For MOR pizza, Italian Cafe in Falls Church is a good pie and quite a bit better.

                            1. re: Steve

                              Thanks, Steve. Where in FC is Italian Cafe? I don't think I've ever seen it?

                            2. re: FoodieGrrl

                              foodiegrrl, make sure you get it "extra crispy." i don't think it's an acidic tomato sauce, at all. nor is it sweet. the sausage and pepperoni are good (although i must admit italian store's pepperoni is better).

                              the cheese has been delicious, and remarkably so.

                              i don't have any idea when steve went, but i'd venture it is not lately -- say, in the past couple of years.

                              1. re: alkapal

                                You're right, it's been a while. I guess it will be up to FoodieGrrl to take the Anthony's challenge.

                                But unless they have changed ownership, I don't foresee this pizza being different than hundreds of other pizza and sub places.

                                1. re: Steve

                                  we went years (many) ago, and stopped going for a few years. then we got disenchanted with pie-tanza (and joe's USED to have a good sicilian style), so returned to anthony's. it was dramatically better -- esp. when we ordered it extra crispy, as it was crunchy crust in the middle, unlike italian store (which is always gloppy). the last time we went --maybe 6 weeks ago, the mozzarella was especially buttery.

                                  the bonus when we order extra crispy is the pepperoni gets a little caramelization on the edges, which i like. and, as i said upthread, the sausage is good quality -- not the sausage "crumbles" things, but real slices of well-spiced and non-fatty italian sausage.

                                  so....anyhow...the fewer people who go to anthony's, the easier it is for me and mr. alka to be seated without a wait.....

                                  and...well, if you think the pizza is like hundreds of other pizza places, so be it.

                                  1. re: alkapal

                                    I'm confused. Are you saying that Ray's Hell now serves pizza? Awesome! How does it compare to Pepe's in New Haven? And is it true that there might be poutine on the menu soon?

                                    1. re: crackers

                                      no, that'd be at landrum's "ray's the dough."

                          2. re: ciaoda

                            Do you like burgers well-done? At least a couple of places you mentioned won't cook burgers to medium rare.

                            which could explain why you don't taste a difference...

                            1. re: DanielK

                              Maybe that's it, I do like them cooked through......

                    2. re: alkapal

                      alkapal, I was there 3 weekends ago at about 3:00 pm on a Sat. and, much to my surprise, found no line and lots of empty tables. That's the first time I've been to the new, larger location. I attributed it to that, but it could have been just luck.

                      1. re: woodleyparkhound

                        thanks, mike and wphound. so ray's is open from lunch through the afternoon till night? every day?

                        1. re: alkapal

                          According to Yelp, they are open Mon-Sun. 11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.

                      2. re: alkapal

                        I'm there once or twice a month and I don't think I've had to wait more than five minutes to order since they've moved and it's usually less than that. The only time of day I haven't been to the new location is lunchtime during the week. Once you order, you wait less than ten minutes for your food to arrive.

                        1. re: cookiegirl

                          Me too, since they expanded, no more of a wait than ordering anywhere else.

                  2. This is going to sound really rude... and I don't mean it to be at all, but it is going to sound that way... maybe you just don't taste a huge difference in beefs? I grew up on a beef farm and can taste the difference between different fat ratios, prime, grassfed, grainfed, etc, but not everyone probably can taste all those things; perhaps you just don't really discern the difference? I am that way with scotchs or whiskey, I just don't taste a lot of the differences so it is wasted on me- therefore I don't drink expensive ones I let my Hubby do that because he can tell. Anyway I don't mean it to be rude, so I hope you don't see it that way.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: ktmoomau

                      I really don't dissect my meals like that. I thought the burger and toppings were fine. I just don't think it's the type of burger that I would travel 20 miles for. The bun isnt the best; the side dishes (and fries) aren't the best; they don't serve fountain drinks or milk shakes;
                      the ambiance sucks; it's just not an overall fantastic dining experience for me; hence, I dont get all the hoopla.......

                      1. re: ciaoda

                        I think the operative phrase here is "travel 20 miles for." I've never had an Urban Burger burger because I'd have to travel 20 miles for it. I've never had a Central burger because I'd never pay $18 for one. But since Ray's is 5 miles away, I can go at a time when it's not very busy and I don't care about white tablecloths and waiters, the ambiance is fine for me for a once-every-few-months change.

                        It's OK. You don't really have anything to "get" about it.

                        1. re: ciaoda

                          Then ignore the hoopla, and just go where you like. The only hoopla I hear about Rays is on this board. If I never visited this website, I probably would not have known that Ray's Hellburger existed (except for Obama's visit covered in the Post). You might be tempted to think everyone rhapsodizes over a hamburger based on what you read here.