RAY’S TO THE THIRD

Address: 1650 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22209

Ray’s Hell Burger was a place that I had heard a lot about, from both word-of-mouth and reading up online about burger places in the local area. So while I was dismayed when I initially heard that the restaurant closed before I could try it, I was then glad to hear that they opened up Ray’s To The Third across the street from the old location.

After a tiring day yesterday of moving around furniture, my friend Chris, his dad, and I took the trip into Arlington where I got my sample of the Hell Burger that I had been waiting for.

There were seven different burger options that were available on the menu, but I decided to go with the build-a-burger route for my first Hell Burger. The restaurant features two burger sizes: Little Devil (a little over 1/3 pound) and Big Devil (10 oz.). I was definitely in a hungry mood, and opted in for the Big Devil. Ray’s offers four different cooking styles with your burger: grilled (added steak seasoning), au poivre (seared with black peppercorn crust), blackened (seasoned with cajun spice blend), and Diablo (grilled with Chipotle sauce). I went for the au poivre style this time, but would certainly like to try the other styles as well, since they all sound very good.

For burger toppings, I went with pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, grilled onions, sauteéd mushrooms, and a fried egg. I also special requested for the kitchen to make is “gusher style,” or putting the cheese into the hamburger itself so when you bite into it, the cheese will ooze out. It sounded pretty cool and I was up for trying something new.

The burger itself tasted delicious. It became quite a mess real quick, as I had to compress the burger just to be able to take the first bite. In doing so, I broke the yolk of the egg and also managed to squeeze some of the cheese out from the meat (the joys of “gusher style”). I thought that the meat was cooked very well and to the temperature that I had indicated. The meat also had really good flavor and the toppings mixed together to make for a delicious combo.

My only qualm with the burger was with the size of the bun. For the Little Devil-sized burger, that bun was just the right size. However, with the Big Devil, the patty would stick out over the edge a good half-inch all the way around, and the bottom bun started to mush up as it was absorbing all the juices. My only change would be to recommend using a bun that would fit the burger to size, as I felt like I was just gripping the patty during the end of eating that burger.

The burgers come with unlimited fries, which was certainly nice (although with such big burgers, I didn’t eat all too many fries since the burger filled me up). In addition to burgers, the restaurant also features chicken sandwiches, steaks, and their famous “steak & cheese” combo. The dining area is laid out to accommodate groups both small and large, with decorations on the scarce side of things. The new location is built into the first floor of a newer apartment building, so there is certainly a fair number of windows letting in light from the outside.

While I can’t say if this new location’s burgers live up to how the original Ray’s Hell Burger used to serve them up, I had a positive impression after eating here for the first time. The burgers were flavorful and the available combinations you could try are enough to keep you going back for quite some time. The price range also fits that more of the “gourmet burger” category, and I do think that the price is worth it, especially when the fries are included. I look forward to coming back and trying their other burgers in the near future.

Here are my rankings for Ray’s To The Third:

Food: 4.5 / 5
Everything on the burger tasted great and there are plenty of mouth-watering options to choose from. If they had a bigger bun for the Big Devil burger size, it would seal the deal.

Atmosphere: 4 / 5
For a restaurant in that area, I thought that it could use a little more interior decoration to add to the atmosphere. There was light music playing in the background and people were relatively quiet when having conversations at their tables.

Service: 4 / 5
The food came out pretty quickly from the kitchen and our waitress checked in on us during our meal to see if we had what we needed.

Price: 4.5 / 5
I think for a burger and fries combo, the pricing in this “gourmet burger” category is pretty good.

Overall: 17 / 20 (85%)

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