Ray’s Smokehouse BBQ

Review by: Michael Stern

First things first: ribs. Beautiful spare ribs, as tender as you want them to be, but not so soft that they deprive you of the carnivore’s pleasure of sinking teeth into meat and feeling it detach from bone. The meat is infused with smoke that halos the elegance of pork, and it is glazed with sauce that is tangy, sweet, and barely pepper-hot. Ray’s Smokehouse ribs are terrific, some of the best in town.

Beef can be a second-class citizen (or non-existent) in many southern BBQ parlors, but here it is an honored presence. Brisket arrives carved into slices so tender that a knife is irrelevant and pressing with the edge of a fork seems like brutality. Even if they are drizzled with Ray’s good sauce, I enjoy picking these pieces up with my fingers — they’ll fall apart from plate to mouth — then licking fingers of that magic mix of natural beef juice, smoke, and BBQ sauce.

Pork is top-drawer, too, hacked to nearly hash-like consistency, mostly tender but interspersed with chewy and crunchy filaments from the edge of the smoked shoulder. It isn’t as juicy as the brisket and ribs, but that’s raison d’être for sauce. Ribboned with the cinnabar red emulsion, this pork sings — either in a sandwich or as focal point of a plate.

Side dishes are worthy if not memorable. Mac ‘n’ cheese is rich and chewy — a good companion. Collard greens are gentle-flavored, inevitably playing second fiddle on a plate with all the flavor pyrotechnics of the brilliant BBQ.

Ray’s is a humble restaurant where much business is take-out (and all meals come on disposable dishware). But it also is a welcoming place to sit and eat, its personality expressed by dining room decor that includes religious homilies and images of African-American heroes from blues music and politics. Do note the limited hours of operation: Thursday, Friday & Saturday from 11am to 6pm. Ribs can be sold out well before closing.

Directions & Hours

11am - 6pm
  • Monday: Closed
  • Tuesday: Closed
  • Wednesday: Closed
  • Thursday: 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Friday: 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Saturday: 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Sunday: Closed

What To Eat

BBQ Ribs

BBQ Brisket

Chopped Pork

Macaroni & Cheese

Collard Greens

French Fries

Texas Toast


Ray’s Smokehouse BBQ Recipes


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