The Mack, Ray's Hell Burger - Arlington, Virginia, USA

I went out of my way a little to visit Ray's Hell Burger. Granted, I was in Arlington anyway to make the usual touristy visits, but having read about the background with this restaurant in that , I thought it would be pretty cool to swing by.

Going in, I was not sure what to expect. The first thing you encounter is a world map covered in pins from customer's home countries -- a nice touch. However, moving further in to the restaurant was underwhelming. The atmosphere was drab and generally the interior looked uninspired. Still, burgers speak louder than interiors...

The menu looked strong with varied and exciting burger choices. Top of the list was 'The Mack': American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle, red onion and 'Awesome Sauce' - more of an American burger classic ingredient line-up.

This burger was interesting. I'll start with the good -- the patty. Over a third pound of aged 'premium steak', hand-trimmed and custom-ground in-house. This really was a thick, juicy patty delightfully flavoured and driving incredible taste. The quality of the meat was evident with each bite, especially as it was cooked a perfect medium rare.

The rest of the burger reminded me of a Five Guys, but with a soggier bun. This was to be expected given how thin the bun was in relation to the patty, which frankly dominated the burger. Although this imbalance somewhat everything off, I know I would much rather be eating more cow than more salad.

The sauce was awesome - as its title suggested: a typical burger sauce, perhaps with a slight kick to it. I think the burger would have benefitted from a touch more of it to add to its dirty nature, but the taste still pulled through. The cheese and pickles were also a nice touch.

This was a great burger, with the highlight coming through the meat in particular. The patty was one of the finest I have had for a long time and cooked to perfection. However, the drawback was the bun which was too thin and quickly became soggy as a result. The sauce, cheese and pickles drove extra flavour building on that dirty burger feel too, reminiscent of Five Guys. A top burger indeed -- shame about the decor.

Patty Master Musings:

  • For those unaware, this was the burger joint famously visited by Barack Obama.
  • Medium rare meats cooked well in burgers really are special. To emphasise again, if I was just scoring the patty, this would likely be a 10/10.
  • To add to the disappointment of the decor, the drinks machine was also out of order. What is up with that?
  • Did I Dip It? Not necessary -- oozing with juices from the patty and the tasty 'Awesome Sauce'.

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