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arlington eats: cafe asia and ray's hell burger reviews

Posted Apr 29 2012 3:22pm
This weekend was my last weekend in the DC metro area for the next month! Next weekend I'll be in Miami, followed by two full weeks in NJ going to weddings and (hopefully) knocking out some planning for ours , and by the time I'm back in our nation's capitol I'll be moving out of my current place and into the apartment I'll be sharing with Mike in Arlington!

Arlington gets a bad rap among those who live in DC proper. There are a lot of people who flat out refuse to come into Virginia to hang out, shop, or live because its "too far away" and "boring." Mike has lived here for three months now, and I've found the area accessible, moderately priced, and fun! Sure, there are lots of chains and big box stores, but there are also gems like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's within walking distance, not to mention the fabulous farmer's market every Saturday. And if you know where to look, there are plenty of tasty independent eateries as well.

Mike and I enjoyed two of them this weekend!

Friday night we checked out Cafe Asia , which is within walking distance of our apartment, always busy, and seemed to have a cool vibe from the street. I had just come from a sweaty, intense Rocket Flow Yoga class, followed by a hike up the Rosslyn Metro escalator, so I was famished.

To start, I ordered the house salad, which consisted of cabbage, carrot, scallions, greens, and peanut dressing. It was as big as my head and delicious.

Gotta love the sweaty post-yoga shine.
Oh, and my total yoga hair .
We ordered four different maki, though we had a harder time choosing than normal, since we self-limited the menu; the FDA is recalling sushi-grade tuna as the cause of Salmonella poisoning, so we decided not to chance it. Instead, we ordered rolls made with shellfish and smoked salmon.

I would tell you what these all were, but Mike and I can never
remember what we've ordered by the time our food arrives.
I would rate the sushi as average. They all kind of had the same flavor profile (salty) and even though we ordered one roll that was supposed to have a japanese mayo and another that was supposed to be spicy, we couldn't figure out which was which after having eaten everything. Overall, there's better sushi for your money in Arlington (like Hikaru , which often offers Groupons), and the setting wasn't cool enough to make me want to go back. 

Saturday, after a three mile run on the treadmill, we decided to walk over to Ray's Hell Burger for lunch. Mike had gone there with his coworkers a few weeks ago and raved about it. (Obama also took Russian President Dmitri Medvedev here a few years ago , which makes it extra cool to me!) I'm typically not a huge fan of beef, but I make exceptions for really good quality beef, and that's what's served here.

Let me be clear: Ray's Hell Burger is not a fancy eating experience. In fact, the restaurant's signs are either computer print outs or hand drawn, and the drinks are served in paper cups...but the food is five-star quality.

Ray's Hell Burger - the most delicious burgers
in the DC area. Try the BIG Poppa (top right)
and the New Jack Zing (bottom left)!

We paid $7.99 for my burger, the BIG Poppa- an au poivre "little devil" topped with aged danish bleu cheese, sherry sauteed mushrooms, and caramelized onions. The ingredients were all top-notch, and this ranks among the best burgers I've ever had, hands down. What's amazing about it is that even after eating the whole thing (and some fries, yum!) I was comfortably full but not in the awful, unhealthy food coma that normally occurs after eating a worse version of this food.

If you have a hankering for a burger, Ray's Hell Burger is absolutely worth the "long" trip on the metro to Arlington. ;)

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