Last week, I attempted to be a vegetarian—and failed miserably. I thought it wouldn’t be too difficult, since I tend to cook vegetarian meals most of the time anyway. But after a full week of subsisting on salads, sweet potato risotto, and roasted brussel sprouts (recipes to follow in a later blog post), I suddenly developed a serious craving for red meat. And boy, do I mean SERIOUS—I had dreams of devouring thick, juicy burgers and steaks for days.
On Saturday night, I decided it was time to end my short stint as a vegetarian and indulge my craving for red meat. My boyfriend (who was shocked I suggested we go out for burgers) and I excitedly headed to Ray’s Hell Burger in Rosslyn, known for its thick burgers, gourmet fixings, and bargain prices. Ray’s Hell Burger also gained a lot of publicity last March, when President Obama and VP Joe Biden made stopped in for an unannounced lunch visit. (On a side note, I love that we have a foodie First Family.)
Ray’s Hell Burger is located in a mini mall/restaurant row on Wilson Blvd., Rosslyn’s main drag. It’s right next to Pho 79 (another of my favorite haunts) and Guajillo, a festive Mexican cantina (more on this later in the post). Though short on ambience, it more than makes up for this shortcoming with its flavor packed burgers.
The menu offers a basic burger ($6.95) with your choice of gourmet toppings which range from charred jalepenos to Ray’s Heck Sauce. The basic burger can be cooked in various styles, including blackened with Cajun spices, Diablo grilled (brushed with a spicy chipotle marinade), and au poivre with a black peppercorn crust. Other fancier toppings are available at an additional charge: imported double cream brie ($1.50), roasted bone marrow with persillade ($5.00), and seared foie gras with truffle oil ($10.00) to name a few.
There are also signature Ray’s burgers, all of which have clever names (I was definitely cracking up while reading the menu). I absolutely had to order the B.I.G. Poppa ($7.95; pictured above) when I saw it on the menu: not only for the hilarious name (the caption reads, “We like it when you order B.I.G. Poppa), but also for the delicious combination of ingredients. The B.I.G. Poppa is an au poivre (black peppercorn crusted) burger with cognac and sherry sauteed mushrooms, grilled red onions, and aged Danish bleu cheese, all on a grilled warm bun.
From the moment I tasted the B.I.G. Poppa, it was pretty much love at first bite–and confirmed that I am, in fact, a lifelong carnivore. The crackly peppercorn crust subdued the intense flavor of the bleu cheese, which allowed the flavor of the meat to really shine. Ray’s Hell Burger uses trimmings from its sister restaurant, Ray’s the Steaks (which is also AMAZING), in its burgers, so the patty is extra thick, juicy, and flavorful. The cognac and sherry mushrooms and grilled red onions added a decadent touch to an already luxurious burger, and the lettuce and tomato added a hint of freshness. I washed the burger down with a 16oz glass of the on-draft root beer ($2.00)—not too sweet, and perfect with the burger.
My boyfriend ordered the Soul Burger Number One ($8.95), dubbed “the hardest working burger in chow business.” The Soul Burger comes with applewood smoked bacon, swiss cheese, cognac and sherry sautéed mushrooms, and grilled red onions. In my opinion, it paled in comparison to the B.I.G. Poppa, but it was still delicious nonetheless. I could definitely taste the quality of the ingredients in every bite: the bacon was thick and not too smoky, the swiss cheese mildly nutty, the mushrooms earthy, and the grilled onions sweet. We also split an order of large fries, which were crispy and golden–but it was clear that the burgers were the stars of the meal.
After our burger bonanza, I was stuffed. I looked at my boyfriend and declared, “I’m so full, I’m miserable!” He agreed. But somehow…we still managed to have room for dessert.
My boyfriend spotted sopapillas on Guajillo’s (pronounced Wa-hee-yo) menu and demanded we order it for dessert. Sopapillas are fried bread puffs drizzled with honey–almost like a churro minus the sugar and cinnamon. Guajillo serves theirs with a huge bowl of vanilla ice cream–a steal for $7. The sopapillas were definitely enough for 2 people (the waiter laughed when I asked whether we should order 2) and a delicious deep fried ending to a fabulous night.
1713 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA 22209
1727 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA 22209-2503