Ray’s Hell Burger
Kansas Citians don’t have to travel to Washington, DC to find a good burger, but if you find yourself in our nation’s capital, hop on the metro and take it to the Courthouse stop and walk the few blocks to Ray’s Hell Burger.
Ray’s Hell Burger is an offshoot of the wildly successful Ray’s the Steak. Both concepts feature top quality meat served in a no frills setting. Neither restaurant accepts reservations, but most people don’t mind the long waits because of the payoff once they sit down.
At Ray’s Hell Burger, customers form a line the length of the narrow restaurant. Diners are asked not to take a table until they pay for their order and get a number. There’s ample opportunity to study the menu, which consists of nothing but burgers and fries. But it’s a bit more complicated than that. The humongous 10 oz beef patties (no veggie or turkey burgers here) can be served with a myriad of toppings at no extra charge, including pickles, jalapenos, grilled onions, roasted garlic and a couple of specialty sauces. For a small upcharge, you can add cheese, including brie, Stilton and smoked gouda, as well as guacamole, bacon and even foie gras and bone marrow. To make the process easier, the menu also features a number of signature combinations.
I tried the B.I.G. Poppa, an Au Poivre Burger, described as a ” Black Peppercorn Crust, Aged Danish Bleu Cheese, Cognac & Sherry Sauteed Mushrooms, Grilled Red Onions”. It’s not for the dainty eater, or someone without an appetite. I managed to plow through almost the entire sandwich–I loved every bite. I’m very picky about my burgers–I don’t eat meat very often and when I do it had better be special, and this was.
The French fries were just okay. The sweet potato fries were better, but they both struck me as an afterthought. I get that the emphasis is on the burgers, but considering that fries go with hamburgers the way jelly goes with peanut butter, I think Ray’s would be well-served by paying a bit more attention to their preparation, preferably with skins and double-fried.
Adding to Ray’s appeal is that the basic burger costs $6.95. Given that two hands and one very wide mouth are needed to manage it, that’s a real bargain, especially in one of the country’s most expensive cities.
Rumor has it that a second location will be opening in the coming months in the very trendy Adams-Morgan area.