While you might find this rather surprising, this was in fact our very first visit to Ray’s Hell Burger. We know, we know.
That’s not to say we haven’t dined at some of Michael Landrum’s other fine establishments… because we have. Trust us. In fact, we had dinner years ago at the original Ray’s the Steaks location which is now, you guessed it, where Hell Burger is situated. That’s not to be confused with Ray’s Hell Burger Too, which is just down the street.
But in order to commemorate our inaugural visit to the place to get a burger in this town, we had to go on my 30th birthday. Yes, it was my real birthday this time around.
But enough with the side stories, let’s get to the beef. And let me tell you, there was a lot of it!
While Hell Burger keeps it simple by offering one entrée, there are so many permutations one can come up with given the smorgasbord of burger styles, cooking temperatures, toppings, and cheeses that it can almost be a little overwhelming. Sorry folks, there are no alternate burgers here for those who are vegetarians or don’t eat red meat. This is purely a burger place.
Yet what makes Ray’s even better is the price: $6.99 for 10 ounces of hand-trimmed, freshly grounded beef. And while cheeses, bacon, or even roasted bone marrow (yes, that is an option!) might cost you extra, there are a plethora of toppings offered free of charge which range from cognac & sherry-sautéed mushrooms to charred jalapenos.
As for my burger, I ordered it Au Poivre-style (seared with a black peppercorn crust), cooked medium, and topped with lettuce, tomato, grilled red onion, sautéed mushrooms, pickles, and piranha sauce (fiery, spicy green sauce).
Rachel kept it simple with their original burger, added their secret steak seasoning blend, and topped it with lettuce, tomato, pickles, grilled onions, and mushrooms. She just recently started liking real burgers (normally she would opt for the veggie burger), and this one definitely took the cake in her mind. Sure it was messy and a little hard to eat, but it was worth every bite.
We also split an order of sweet potato fries as well as a black cow milkshake. Hey, I mean if we’re doing Hell Burger for the first time we might as well do it right, right?
When the burgers arrived at our table, I nearly had to do a double take. To say they were monstrous would be an understatement. Let’s just say I don’t think the old Wendy’s lady would have any trouble finding the beef.
My burger was outstanding, although I kind of second-guessed ordering it Au Poivre-style after taking a bite of Rachel’s. Not that I didn’t like the peppercorn crust, but I was really able to enjoy the natural flavor of the beef moreso with Rachel’s patty than with my own.
The toppings were of high-caliber as the grilled onions and sautéed mushrooms were delicious but I felt the bun was rather ho-hum. It was able to keep the contents of the burger intact given all the juices and oils packed inside (which is important in its own right), but the bread was just average.
Meanwhile the fries were nice and crispy but nothing memorable. The black cow milkshake, on the other hand, was excellent. The vanilla/chocolate concoction was absurdly thick, impressively rich, and ultimately complemented the early summer weather as a refreshing treat.
I don’t need to tell you more about Ray’s than what you’ve already heard, but if you haven’t been yet, skip the overhype (as well as the lines) of Shake Shack and head over to this great local institution instead.