HOUSTON, TX – Giddy-up Houston. It’s rodeo time. And after a long day in the saddle, nothing satisfies the chuck-wagon better than barbeque. It is, after all, the official meat of Texas.
But not all barbeque is created equally. Welcome to Ray’s.
“You have a lot of people that have different taste buds,” Owner Ray Busch says, “but what we found out is that a lot of people really like their meats to be smoked very good. You know, you have some places with a hint of smoke, but here we actually give it a lot of smoke.”
Now, we know what you’re thinking: this is Texas and in Texas we smoke with mesquite, right? Well, that may be fine for the backyard, but it takes a true pit master to know the subtle differences between types of wood and the way they smoke.
“Mesquite burns real hot — I mean burns real hot,” Busch explains, “hickory has a light pungent type taste.”
The place on Old Spanish Trail has only been open a few years, but if it seems longer, there’s a reason. Chew on This: Ray Busch has been selling barbecue in Houston for nearly thirty years — from a food truck.
“I actually started with just a barbecue pit,” he laughs. “I mean, I had just a barbecue pit that I used to pull behind my pickup truck.”
But after retiring from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, he and longtime business partners Maxine Davis and Herb Taylor had a decision to make.
“In 2009 we all sat down together and decided, you know, let’s talk about opening up a storefront location,” Taylor explains.
And in a town known for barbecue, it was a risk. But one that’s paid-off. After only a few years, the trio is already considering expanding to a bigger location just to fit all their customers inside.
“We would like multiple locations, but we want to perfect what we have first,” Davis says.
After all, good barbecue takes time. And after thirty-years, Ray’s is still doing things the old-fashioned way.
“It’s one of those things where you have to be here, you have to love it and you have to have a passion for it,” Ray says, “which we all do.”
And if that’s not a recipe fit for Texas, none ever existed.