In the last few days of summer, seek out that backyard favorite – better than what you can make at home. But you’ll have to look for it…this is on-a-mission dining.
Ray’s Hell Burgers
Everywhere you turn, people are griping (with reason!) about the economy, and food costs are rising like crazy. Ray’s Hell Burgers is the type of restaurant you want to seek out in a time like this: no frills, just great food.
Even knowing the small strip mall in Arlington where Ray’s Hell Burgers (and Ray’s the Steaks) is located, it still took some sleuthing to find it. From Ray’s the Steaks, walk down the strip mall to number 1713. This door is all you’re going to find:
Be prepared to swoop in on a table as soon as you see one open up. And also be forewarned: this is basically your middle school cafeteria setting. Ray’s the Steaks looks like a ballroom compared to this hole in the wall.
There are a few printed paper menus lying around, so grab one and stand as out of the way as you can be to glance it over. Basically, all you need to decide are how you want your burger, how you want it cooked (and good luck to you if you say well-done in this establishment), and what kind of cheese you want. Do not think you’re going to make this decision at the counter – choose before you get to the no nonsense faces by the register. Oh – and take cash.
I don’t know when it became so difficult to make a good burger. I make a pretty good burger at home, but I can’t make anything from close to the quality of meat that you’ll get at Ray’s Hell Burgers. Everyone in the open kitchen has their station: the guy butchering the steak-quality meat, the gal grinding it into the meat grinder, the two girls weighing that meat on a little scale and forming into patties, the guy on the grill manning the onions…it’s a machine back there. And what they produce is a helluva burger.
Brian beat me with his burger au poivre: the meat was juicer, the flavor better. I will only order a Ray’s Hell Burger this was from now on. They also have just about any cheese you could want on a burger for a surcharge ranging on how fancy your cheese is. I stuck with white cheddar and wasn’t disappointed.
During the summer, you also get a small ear of corn on the cob and a watermelon wedge. No word yet on how that will change with the seasonal fruits and veggies.
We also decided to cap off our summer evening doing what you do in the summer: we went for s’mores. Cosi serves them over a can of Sterno, and we had a great time teaching Jack how to get the marshmallow just crispy charred enough so that it’s gooey the whole way through. A really wonderful evening.
Best for: A good burger at a great price: we averaged less than $10 a person – yes, please!
Worst for: A romantic date night or vegetarians. It’s burgers here and burgers only.