Dear Lord, do I love food.
And as much as I like a nice, classy restaurant with fancy food, I’m just as happy with a slice of pizza or a hot dog at the ballpark. (In fact, as I write this, I am eating cake batter-flavored fro yo out of a paper cup. Awesome.) Yes, I love eating, but I think one of the greatest things about food is its ability to bring people together and create some great stories and lasting memories.
That’s why the news of Ray’s Hell Burger’s permanent closing is especially tough to take—more than most restaurants in the DC area, it embodied all the things that make food so awesome. Of course, the burgers at this Arlington institution were other-worldly—there was nothing much better on this earth than a grilled Little Devil with tons of toppings and lots of Ray’s Heck Sauce (obvi). A huge line always greeted you as soon as you came in the front door, but you knew that the wait for your burger would be worth it—and it always was.
But while I of course think about the great burgers when I think of Ray’s, I first think of the great times I had there with great friends. That time we sat at the same table Barack Obama and Joe Biden had dined at? (I’m pretty sure that this is true—let’s just pretend that it definitely is.) The impromptu walk to Ray’s on the 75-degree St. Patrick’s Day last year? Eating Ray’s takeout around a friend’s coffee table before an epic birthday night out? It’s hard not to think of a Ray’s memory that doesn’t put a smile on my face.
You see, places like Ray’s take us back to certain times in our lives—certain memories we carry with us long after the last bites of burger are taken. There’s just something about sharing good food with people we care about that makes a great meal taste even better. And ever since I came to DC, Ray’s has been one of those places for me—a place where new acquaintances started to turn to friends who then turned into a second family. We came from different states, and even different countries, but the great food was something to bond over as we learned more about each other and evolved into the tight group we ultimately became.
But dang, one of those Little Devils would be good right about now!