Ray’s BBQ Shack

4529 Old Spanish Trail
Houston, TX 77021

Phone: (713) 748-4227
Hours: M-Sat 11-8
Website: www.raysbbqshack.com
Twitter: @RaysBBQ1
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Rays-Real-Pit-BBQ-Shack/118825488139482

Opened 2011
Pitmaster Ray Busch and Herb Taylor
Method Hickory in a gas-fired rotisserie

TMBBQ Rating: 3.5

TMBBQ Buzz

Comments from our joint finder app.
Went for "My Ribs" and "Your Ribs". Both good but latter wins out. Brisket definitely dry; was hard for me to get into. Sausage was okay. Definitely try key lime pie. Enjoyed the decor. Overall a good, not great Q place.
Rahul Yaratha @ Big Boys Barbecue, 2014-09-17 23:24:47
Brisket sandwich was good. And that's all she wrote as there is nothing else (chicken, sausage, turkey, potato salad, etc). Not even my friends who all went to Tech even heard of this place. Scratching my head on such a high TM ranking.
Rahul Yaratha @ Tom and Bingo’s Hickory Pit Bar-B-Que, 2014-09-17 23:21:48
We had Friday night dinner here. Brisket was tender and delicious. A little too much fat for my husband, but my daughter and I thought it was PERFECT. Good seasoning and good bark. No sauce needed. Homemade creamed corn is the best I have ever had. Coleslaw is delicious and not overdressed. We finished the meal with the homemade fried strawberry pies - one of the tastiest desserts I have ever put in my mouth. Live music. Dishes served family style. <$40 for 3 people including soft drinks and several beers. Definitely will go back!
Marcy Newman @ Two Bros. BBQ Market, 2014-09-17 22:16:13
Just average
David Monasmith @ Crossroads Smokehouse, 2014-09-17 17:42:33
Brisket was good, pulled pork over sauced. Over all it was ok at best. Prob won't be back here. I was surprised it made the TM list, I think they missed it on this list.
epp @ Lamberts Downtown Barbecue, 2014-09-15 17:43:26
Amazing! Every time!
John Brotherton @ Snow’s BBQ, 2014-09-13 13:22:59
Three meat combo with gravy excellent
doug_wallace @ Tony DeMaria’s Bar-B-Q, 2014-09-12 15:49:29
Was unbelievable. Now the brisket was another story, it was chewy and bland. This place was always my favorite go to joint. The first place I went to eat upon arriving in Austin. The last 4 times over a six month period have been disappointing, seems like his heart is not into it.
Bob Conti @ John Mueller Meat Co., 2014-09-11 23:41:28
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Review

Ray's BBQ Shack 02

August 22, 2014

In a gas station just south of the University of Houston campus you’ll find some of the best fried catfish you’ll ever eat and some great barbecue to go along with it. The barbecue comes from the experienced hands of co-owner Ray Busch who has been serving smoked meat to the public via a food truck since 1985. He didn’t settle down here until he made his good friend Maxine Davis his business partner three years ago. He gained more than just a partner when in 2013, Maxine brought her son Herb Taylor on as a pitmaster in training. After a six year stint in the NFL (his Packers jersey hung on the wall above our table) he was ready to learn the restaurant business.

The place was popular on a Friday afternoon, but the line moved quickly. Don’t be dissuaded if there are a few folks ahead of you since you’ll need the time to look over the extensive menu. It’s a mash-up of Southeast Texas cajun, fried fish, and barbecue. If it’s barbecue you’re looking for, then it’s hard to beat the four meat sampler plate for under $15. The only problem is you’ll have to choose between one of the many house made links. A large link of spicy, smoked boudin could serve as a full meal plus side dish. It’s heavy on the rice, which Busch says differentiates Southeast Texas boudin from what is served over in Louisiana. They also smoke it here which gets the casing just crispy enough to eat right along with the link. The smoke coupled with the spice will make it hard to ignore on any future visits.

Ray's BBQ Shack 03

Other sausage options at Ray’s include the Lott link which is an all beef sausage that is another signature of Southeast Texas. I kicked myself when I noticed it for the first time on the online menu after I got home. I might just hop a flight to try it, but the house recipe beef and pork sausage was a solid stand-in. The spices were reminiscent of a crawfish boil and the smoke was laid on thick. It was one of the more unique sausages I’ve had in a while.

While we ate, Busch talked about a seafood sausage that he’s been working to perfect. Look for it on a future menu, but there’s plenty of seafood options already. Thick slabs of cornmeal-breaded catfish were fried to golden perfection. The coating shattered when bit into, and a rush of salty seasoning eliminated any need for tartar sauce. I don’t remember a better bite of catfish. I tried to persuade Busch to make it one of the meat options on the barbecue sampler platter. He wasn’t sold on the idea, so for now it’s a build your own surf and turf at Ray’s.

The rest of the smoked items were hit and miss. Both the chicken and brisket had good smoke, but came out dry. The skin on the chicken was flabby and hard to bite through. Most of the fat was gone from the lean brisket, but it was still good and tender. You’re better off specifying fatty brisket on your visit. A dark crust on the spare ribs held great smoke, and like the rest of the menu, they don’t skimp on the seasoning. The meat came from the bone nicely, so well that I couldn’t stop until the last juicy bite.

Ray's BBQ Shack 01

Just like the care they put into the stars of the menu, the supporting cast gets plenty of attention. I’d just tried some fried corn from a North Texas barbecue joint a few weeks before this visit. It was an ear covered in deflated kernels dripping with grease, so I ordered this one skeptically. Wow. What a difference a little breading can make. It’s not the most heart-healthy option. It’s not quite chicken-fried, but I could be persuaded to dip it into some cream gravy. The spicy rice was basically jambalaya without all the meat. It seems built to go along with the fried seafood, but was still enjoyable.

I was introduced to Ray’s through the Houston Barbecue Festival, so I was already familiar with their potential, but the quality of food coupled with the less than ideal location is a reminder that you can sometimes find great barbecue in unexpected locations. If I lived in Houston this is the place where I’d probably be a regular, even if it is in a gas station.

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