When we pulled into T-Ray’s Burger Station, we knew we would be getting a different sort of fuel from the former Exxon Mobil station. It was around noon on a weekday, so rather than hunt for a spot in the packed side lot; we simply pulled right up to the pump and got ready to fill up. The pumps are old and weathered, advertising long forgotten prices of gas. You might expect a faded receipt to be waiting in the machine for some forgetful patron from years past.
The interior is plastered with 1950s roadside tchotchkes and college sports memorabilia. The ice chest that once held bottled cold drinks holds vegetables for easy access. The Ms. Pac-Man game beeps and whirs in the corner, worn from the Florida sun and years of overexcited children. The rest of the furnishings only matched in the sense that they all shared the same dented and battered enamel look.
We’d arrived just in time to get caught up in the lunch rush. All around us young businessmen took a quick lunch while older locals chatted away about anything and nothing. T-Ray’s is a local watering hole, but is just as well known for having the best burgers in the area. We decided to test out their creativity and ordered their Portobello Mushroom Sandwich, with a side of corn nuggets. Neither of us was quite sure what a corn nugget would look like, much less taste like, but we were excited to find out. We found a colorful table outside with mismatched chairs and sat down beneath the aging gas station overhang and enjoyed the weather while we waited for our fare.
They might have the best burgers in fifty miles, but it’s a safe bet that they have the best Portobello sandwich in a hundred miles.
T-Ray’s is run by a father and son team. We didn’t get a chance to say hello to T-Ray himself, but his father “Big Ray” Mullis brought us our ‘shroom burger. It was pretty imposing at first glance, massive slices of grilled Portobello, covered in sautéed mushrooms and a heaping amount of Swiss cheese. There was also a massive slice of fresh tomato peeking out from beneath the bun between thick slices of onion.
The first bite was deceiving; the Portobello was so thick that it was like biting into an incredibly tender cheeseburger covered in all the right toppings. It was so rich and meaty that it was hard to believe that this wasn’t beef. The onions were cooked just enough to release their natural sweet flavor, but kept a crisp pickle-like crunch. The tomato, as thick as the mushroom, provided a great counterbalance to the rich and savory flavors. After the first few bites, it did become a bit unmanageable, so we resorted to utensils. The corn nuggets were interesting. They are basically just spoonfuls of sweet corn covered in a cornmeal batter and then deep fried. We dipped ours in ketchup, but they might be better with something with a bit more of a kick to round out the sweet flavor of the corn. It was a delicious bite to have in a local place. They might have the best burgers in fifty miles, but it’s a safe bet that they have the best Portobello sandwich in a hundred miles.
T-Ray’s is located at:
202 South 8th Street
Fernandina Beach, FL 32035
They are open:
M-F 7am to 2:30pm
Sat 8am to 1:00pm