Address: Ace of Cups Bar, 2619 N High Street, Columbus 43202
Days/Hours of Operation: Fri-Sun (12pm – 8pm)*
The original Ray Ray’s BBQ trailer circa 2010
Late in the fall of 2009, plumes of smoky applewood began to cover the corner of Pacemont and High. It was coming from a shack that had suddenly appeared out of nowhere in the parking lot of a non-descript carryout. This was no ordinary shack, the owner of Ray Ray’s (Jamie), used to own a BBQ restaurant up on 161 called Smackies. He closed the restaurant and started the shack because he wanted to go back to the philosophy of “one man, one smoker, good BBQ”.
Jamie offers up the usual BBQ standards – ribs, brisket and pulled pork. There are two kinds BBQ ribs, fall off the bones or the tender yet meaty (neither one better than the other – it’s more about personal preference). Ray Ray’s ribs falls into the latter category. It is smoked for hours and is finished on the grill mopped with the mild sauce which is has a great balance of molasses and spices without being overtly tart and sweet. There are three sauces, not including the special 90 minute IPA – mild, hot and habanero hot.
In the summer of 2010, Jamie added one more tasty treat, grass fed beef brisket, available on Sundays. It comes with a special sauce made with the Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA. What’s the difference with the GFBB and normal beef brisket? I may be sued for this comment but one isn’t necessarily better than the other. Both are probably some of the best brisket in town. GFBB is definitely has more minerality in taste and texture wise can be little drier since grass fed beef is a little leaner (tip: always ask for the fat side of the brisket, fat = flavor). The mustard based sauce is a perfect complement to the intense beefiness and the floral character of the 90 minute IPA really comes through.
The non grass fed brisket is super tender and packs a lot of nice smoky fatty flavor, note the smoke rings on the brisket above (also a good sign that the meat has been smoked for hours). It is a really something to watch Jamie slice the brisket, there is a certain harmony between the meat and the knife because of the tenderness and the hours that goes into smoking the meat. As for the pulled pork, it gets the same loving attention from Jamie. The pork was deftly pulled and chopped till tender enough without being too mushy (over-chopping can cause mushy meat). The seasoning on all the meats is not over complicated and this allows the essence of the meat and smoke to take center stage.
Of all the sides, the greens are the standout, they aren’t cooked to death like the usual southern greens. What you get is a satisfying bite out of the firmness of the green in a nicely balanced slightly spicy vinegary hammy broth. On a cold day, ask Jamie for some of the pot likker to warm you up while you wait for your food. The mac and cheese reminded my eating partner of a cheesier version of the Kraft mac and cheese she grew up with. It’s not the best mac and cheese out there but it did touch a soft comfort food spot in her. Other sides offered are baked beans and coleslaw. For the sweet tooth, there is usually banana pudding and fruit cobbler all made by Jamie’s wife.
Ray Ray’s produces some of the best lip smacking BBQ in town. Run, don’t walk to it.
*Closing hours are listed as 8pm but RR closes shop once the meats run out and this usually happens around 6:30pm.
**Note this review is from 2010.