Best: Ray’s Hell Burger
1713 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, (703) 841-0001
2nd Best: BGR: the Burger Joint
4827 Fairmont Ave., Bethesda, (301) 358-6137
Ever since Michael Landrum opened Ray’s Hell Burger last year, the rest of the local patty makers have been pretty much vying for second place on the hamburger hit list. Yep, Landrum’s 10-ounce burger is that good, particularly when topped with one of the artisanal cheeses available for a modest markup. Landrum’s hand-crafted blend is the key; his team grinds and mixes it in-house, combining small-but-select amounts of steakhouse meats with more traditional burger cuts for a patty that never lacks for beef flavor. The same holds true for the titular sandwich at BGR: The Burger Joint, the Bethesda shop where owner Mark Bucher also takes a steakhouse approach to building the perfect hamburger. His blend incorporates prime, dry-aged cuts of chuck, sirloin, brisket, and hanger, which is formed into a generous patty, grilled (not griddled), and served on a potato brioche bun. The cooked-to-order burger starts drooling juices from the moment you pick it up. The differences between Landrum’s burger and Bucher’s could perhaps be summed up this way: At both joints, you’ll have to resist the urge to pick up a straw and suck the loose juices off your plate. But at Landrum’s place, you’ll have to resist the urge to suck the juices off your neighbor’s plate, too.